After the dust settled from the Sunday night action, the Frozen Four was finally set. The NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Division 1 Championship in St. Paul, Minnesota is down to the final four teams: Michigan, North Dakota, Notre Dame and Minnesota-Duluth.
The number 1 ranked Fighting Sioux shouldn’t surprise anyone by making it this far and most people have them labeled as the favorite to be the last team standing. However, fans may be surprised by the two teams that jump start the next round of action on Thursday, April 7th at 5:00pm ET, with Minnesota-Duluth facing off against Notre Dame. I doubt many had these two meeting each other near the end of the dance, but both these teams deserve to be here. Minn.-Duluth had to take down a tough, well coached Yale team and Notre Dame had to defeat a University of New Hampshire team that was technically playing on home turf.
The following game that Thursday night at 8:30pm ET, will have Michigan taking on a top ranked North Dakota squad. Michigan’s road took them through a dangerous Colorado College team by defeating them 2-1. While North Dakota’s route seemed to be less challenging, with the Sioux peppering Denver 6-1.
The Championship game will conclude the tournament on Saturday, April 9th at 7:00pm ET on ESPN. In my opinion, I believe we’ll see North Dakota Fighting Sioux battling Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs for the title, with the Sioux putting up to much fight for the Bulldogs to handle. North Dakota, the number 1 ranked team, should finish out the season on top.
As a side note, the 2011 Frozen Four will feature 19 U.S. National Team Development Program (NTDP) alum. Michigan has the most with 8 players, while Notre Dame has 6, North Dakota 3, and Minnesota-Duluth 2. This NTDP stat was provided by Chris Peters in a recent Tweet. Check out his blog: The United States of Hockey.