Thursday’s semifinals (ESPN2)
Minnesota Duluth vs. Harvard, 5 p.m.
Minnesota Duluth (27-6-7): The Bulldogs won the NCHC playoff title in Minneapolis, then survived two overtime games in the West Regional against Ohio State and Boston University. This is a rugged, physical and veteran (eight seniors) team in front of freshman goalie Hunter Miska (26-4-4, 2.21 goals-against average, .919 save percentage). Senior winger Alex Iafallo (19 goals-30 assists-49 points) is the scoring leader, playing on a line with captain Dominic Toninato and freshman winger Joey Anderson. Sophomore Neal Pionk is the offensive leader on a defensive corps that has good size.
Harvard (28-5-2): The Crimson’s only national title came in St. Paul in 1989, when coach Ted Donato was one of the team’s stars. Now his son, sophomore center Ryan Donato (21-19-40), has led Harvard to its first Frozen Four in 23 years. Like UMD, the Crimson has a lot of size. Freshman defenseman Adam Fox (6-33-39) has been outstanding, and 6-5 goalie Merrick Madsen (2.11, .922) has played every game.
Denver vs. Notre Dame, 8:30 p.m.
Denver (31-7-4): The Pioneers are deep with quality talent and have game-changers in freshman center Henrik Borgstrom (21-21-42) and sophomore Troy Terry (22-19-41), one of the heroes of the U.S. junior national gold medal team. Defenseman Will Butcher is one of three Hobey Baker finalists and was the player of the year in the NCHC as Denver won the regular-season title. Goalie Tanner Jaillet (26-5-4, 1.86, .928) has benefited from strong team defense. The Pioneers lost in last year’s semifinals to eventual national champion North Dakota.
Notre Dame (23-11-5): The Irish finished fourth in their final season in Hockey East (they now move to the Big Ten) but upset the Gophers and UMass-Lowell in the Northeast Regional. Junior Cal Peterson (23-11-5, 2.13, .929) is the team’s captain, played every game and was the top goalie in Hockey East. Junior center Anders Bjork (21-31-52) is the leading scorer, and Maple Grove’s Jordan Gross (10-21-31) the top-scoring D-man.
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m., ESPN