2011 Frozen Four National Championship Preview - Minnesota-Duluth vs. Michigan
And it all comes down to one game.
Tonight at 6 PM CT a winner will be crowned either for the first time in school history (Minnesota Duluth) or the 10 th time in school history (Michigan).
The sports world loves clichés, and this championship game is no different. This is the perfect ‘David vs. Goliath’.
The Bulldogs from Duluth have never won a national championship and are only playing in their second championship game ever, while on the other bench, Michigan, is quite used to this stage however they haven’t been on it for a while. The Wolverines last Championship came in 1998.
However much this might look as the classic David vs. Goliath both teams were not supposed to be in this game.
Coming into the 2011 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament, this game was supposed to be an epic showdown between the two best College Hockey teams all year, Yale vs. North Dakota. However, both teams were upset. Yale by UMD and North Dakota by Michigan. So, it’s only fitting that these two teams meet to decide who will be national champion.
Both of teams have found different ways to get to this point.
UMD is lead by the best line in college hockey. The line of Connolly, Connelly and Fontaine is very dangerous. Jack Connolly, a junior, has 58 points; the other Connolly, Mike, who is not related to Jack, is also a junior and has 53 points. Senior Justin Fontaine owns 55 points for the Bulldogs. That’s amazing: a line with balanced scoring and 166 points all told.
And they added to their totals on Thursday. Both Connolly’s had Power Play goals and Fontaine had 3 assists on the night.
Also, for the Bulldogs they have been winning games because of their special teams. They were 3-5 on Power Plays against Notre Dame, and killed all 5 of Notre Dame’s Power Play opportunities.
While Michigan on the other hand, Michigan has gotten to this stage because of hot goaltending by Shawn Hunwick. On Thursday, Hunwick stopped on 40 shots that he faced against arguably the best offensive team in the nation. Also, besides goaltending, the wolverines have played great defense and have gotten timely goals from their senior class who refuse to go quietly in this tournament.
So, the championship should be very interesting. Will Michigan be able to stay out of the box in order to win? Will Minnesota Duluth be able to sneak one or two past Hunwick?
The script is almost complete; the final chapter will be finished at 6 PM on Saturday on ESPN 2 at the Xcel Energy Center in the Twin Cities.
By Alex Bausch
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