The Frozen Four starts this Thursday and I wanted to give a little insight to each team, and my predictions. A couple of buddies and I did a bracket a couple weeks back and I'll admit, mine was off. I did not have Minnesota beating BU, even though I am strictly a Gopher fan, and I also did not have Ferris State in the Frozen Four. With that said, now that it's down to four teams they might be easier to evaluate and predict.
Boston College- Boston College is a fast team, and also a very deep team. They have 10 players with 20+ point totals. They move the puck well up the ice and have a good transition game. Are slightly better than Minnesota defensively, but have a bigger drop off in offensive production than Minnesota.
Minnesota- Minnesota was on fire at the beginning of the year. After a #14 preseason ranking, the Gophers came in and turned heads. Reason for this? Nate Schmidt stepped up big time. For a guy who didn't see much ice last year, and even spent time at forward, he came in this year as the quarterback on the power play and nearly led the nation in assists all season long. Also, Nick Bjugstad made huge strides. While by most standards Nick had a decent freshman year, the expectations for him were higher. He has been an offensive threat all season long, and teammate Erik Haula has been equally threatening. The Gophers sometimes struggle in their own zone, but Patterson has been good in goal, and they can get scoring from almost anyone on the team.
Union- Union is an interesting squad. The last two years I've watched them climb the USCHO.com ranking poll, but without much chance to see them play. They get the majority of scoring from their top 3 players. And while the gap between points on their team is small, the gap between the top 3 goal scorers and the fourth leading goal scorer is 10 goals. Union looked good in the Regionals, but now is time to see if they can balance out their scoring in what could be a low scoring tournament.
Ferris State-Not much of a scoring team, Ferris State plays a defensive game. They contain something most teams don't, two excellent goaltenders who have BOTH seen multiple games this year. Like Union, it is their first ever Frozen Four appearance. In the post-season, a hot goaltender may be exactly what you need, but Ferris State needs to find the back of the net if they want to advance to the finals.
Predictions: Ferris State vs. Union- It's been a nice ride for both of these teams, making their first trip to the Frozen Four, but for one of them the ride has come to an end. Ferris State, I'm sorry but I think it's you. Union has more offensive production and I like what the Dutchmen bring to the table. It'd be an even better run if Ferris State proves me wrong.
4-1 Union over Ferris State
Minnesota vs. Boston College- This should be a very good match up. These teams scoring is nearly identical, team defense is fairly close (BC has the edge), and both teams have reliable goaltending. I grew up watching Minnesota win back-to-back National titles and it's been 10 years since the first of the two, and I'm ready to see them win another. BC is very good, but if Minnesota can get out to a good start like they did against UND last weekend, I like their chances
3-1 (EN) Minnesota over Boston College
Minnesota vs. Union (National Championship)- Like I said, it's been a good run for Union, but if they face off in the title game against the Gophers, I don't think luck will be on their side. The Gophers have so much offensive output, mostly steady defense, and a great goaltender.
5-2 Gophers 2012 National Champions (we can hope)