When the Bulldogs and Minutemen meet for the title on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN2), a pair of balanced teams will face off. Here are three key players for each team:
3. Marc Del Gaizo, defenseman: The freshman might have been the best player on the ice for the Minutemen in their 4-3 overtime victory over Denver in Thursday’s semifinals, and not just because he scored the winner in overtime. Del Gaizo also had an assist and a team-high four shots on goal.
2. Filip Lindberg, goalie: The freshman from Finland had two shutouts in NCAA regional play. He made 37 saves in the semifinal win.
1. Cale Makar, defenseman: The sophomore won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player and could be playing for the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs next week. Makar had an assist against Denver, giving him 49 points on 16 goals and 33 assists this season.
3. Nick Wolff, defenseman: The junior from Eagan set the tone for the Bulldogs’ physical victory over Providence, and he was key in clearing traffic in front of the net. Wolff took a penalty, and the Friars made UMD pay with a power-play goal, so he’ll have to take care to not cross the line.
2. Justin Richards, center: The sophomore scored the Bulldogs’ first and last goals, and was outstanding in the circle, winning 16 of 26 faceoffs. Richards, whose father Todd is the former Wild coach, is tied with Parker Mackay for the team scoring lead with 31 points.
1. Hunter Shepard, goalie: Quite simply, the junior from Cohasset is the backbone of this team. He has allowed eight goals, and never more than two, in his seven career NCAA tournament games. If he repeats that performance on Saturday, it’s highly likely the Bulldogs hang another national title banner.