Good afternoon from PPG Paints Arena, where the NCAA Frozen Four begins at 4 p.m. (Central) with St. Cloud State facing Minnesota State Mankato, followed by Minnesota Duluth vs. Massachusetts at 8 p.m. Both games are on ESPN2.
A crowd of 4,500 is expected for today's games, limited to 25% of capacity by the NCAA. Judging by the greeting that the Huskies and Mavericks received when they took the ice for pregame warmups, it should be a boisterous gathering of Minnesotans.
On my short walk from the adjacent hotel to the arena, I came across several groups of fans from Minnesota – including all three of the Minnesota teams in the tournament, plus a pair of longtime Gophers fans sporting sweaters with the nameplate "B1G MISTAKE.''
There is some news from Pittsburgh today. Minnesota Duluth sophomore goalie Ryan Fanti, who was expected to back up freshman Zach Stejskal, will not be available to play, a source said. The Duluth News Tribune first reported that Fanti did not travel with the team because of COVID-19 protocols. Stejskal, who started the NCAA Midwest Regional final against North Dakota before cramping up and being relieved by Fanti, will start against UMass, and junior Ben Patt will be the backup.
Wednesday was a busy day of coverage previewing the Frozen Four. Go to startribune.com/sports for more coverage, and follow me on Twitter @RJstrib for in-game updates.