Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gophers Stomp North Dakota 5-2 in Regional Final to Advance to Frozen Four

By now you know what happened a few weeks ago when the Gophers took on the University of North Dakota for the right to travel to Tampa and play in the Frozen Four. Minnesota led the game from start to finish, never taking their foot off the gas and routing North Dakota to the tune of a 5-2 drubbing. Gopher goals were scored by Ben Marshall, Erik Haula, Taylor Matson, Travis Boyd and Nate Condon. I'll highlight the individuals that were the stars of the game below, but the more important point is this: the Gophers, a team picked to finish sixth in the league by the coaches, is one of the final four teams remaining with a chance to win the national championship. They will face Boston College, with the winner advancing to face the winner between Ferris State and Union College.

Regional Final: Three Gopher Stars of the Game

3. Kent Patterson - 2 GA, 24 Sv on 26 shots, 0.923 Sv%

Patterson made the game look easy, allowing very few rebounds and making all the saves he was supposed to make. In fact, the only goals he allowed were one to Danny Kristo off of a funny bounce and another to Mario Lamoureux when the game was 5-1 Gophers with just a couple minutes left in the third. Patterson has been the Gophers' best player all year, and in the playoffs they'll need him to be their best player in the frozen four if they're going to win the national championship.

2. Travis Boyd - 1G-1A-2P

Boyd has worked hard all year and has had very little to show for it on the stat sheet. He's been one of my favorite players to watch due to his hustle and his knack to win the puck on the forecheck. The freshman from Hopkins by way of the National Development Program in Ann Arbor couldn't have picked a much better time to score his first career goal, as his tally gave the Gophers a three-goal lead in the game. Boyd was good all game, and the goal helped seal the game. He's well deserving of the #2 star.

1. Nate Condon - 1G-1A-2P

Condon is a dynamic player, and his goal, the Gophers' fifth of the game, was of a style that we've come to expect from the sophomore. He took the puck from the red line and his speed turned a probable one-on-one rush into a breakaway, which Condon put away to absolutely clinch the game for Minnesota. He was solid all game, connecting on passes and making good decisions with the puck, even assisting on the Boyd goal. Condon has added some stickhandling abilities to his repertoire that consists of blazing speed, and he utilized every trick in his arsenal against North Dakota. He was the number one star of the game.

Upcoming: Gophers vs. BC in the Frozen Four

The Gophers will travel to Tampa and take on Boston College, winners of 17 straight and the best team in the country, in the second Frozen Four game of the day. BC is actually a team very similar in style and makeup to the Gophers: they have deep scoring, great goaltending and solid team defense. Both teams like to play a fast-paced, high-flying offensive game. When Minnesota is playing their best, they are the best team in the nation. Boston College is used to playing at their best, but they're a team that is also very good when they play to their potential. It should be a great game! Go Gophers!