2011 Frozen Four National Semifinal Preview - Minnesota Duluth vs. Notre Dame
The first national semifinal in the Twin Cities is being played by two teams that would love nothing more than to hoist their first hockey national championship trophy in school history: Minnesota-Duluth and Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs advanced home after taking care of business in the East Regional. In the first round, UMD beat Union. Then in the regional final, it took out the top seed in the tournament, Yale, by a score of 5-3.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, found a way to pull out two wins in the Northeast Regional. In their first round game the Irish sneaked past Merrimack, 4-3 in overtime. Then in the regional final, they defeated the University of New Hampshire, 2-1.
This is a classic Frozen Four matchup. On one bench you have a great top line (UMD) and on the other you have a great defensive unit (Notre Dame).
Some people think that Duluth has the best line in the game. 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. The key to stopping this line for the Irish will be defenseman Sean Lorenz, who boasts a remarkable plus-minus of 29 for the Irish.
Also in this matchup, you have a very experienced roster for the Bulldogs against a team full of young kids who want to prove that they belong in Notre Dame. However, the Irish are led by two talented freshmen T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee along with forwards Ryan Guentzel and Calle Ridderwal. Both squads are very solid in the realm of goaltending: UMD has junior net minder Kenny Reiter; for Notre Dame it is sophomore Mike Johnson.
Most experts believe that this game is going to be the closer of the two national semifinals. The keys will be special teams and goaltending. Whoever wins those two battles will most likely advance to play on Saturday against either Michigan or North Dakota, and will get a chance to claim their first ever hockey championship.
This should be a very exciting first game on Thursday at the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul. The puck will drop just after 4 p.m. Central time, and the contest can be seen on ESPN 2.
So grab a cold one and watch an amazing hockey game played in an amazing atmosphere.
By Alex Bausch
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