UND going against Boston University in semifinals


David L. Dodds

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UND going against Boston University in semifinals

Most of the University of North Dakota men’s hockey squad are well versed in the hoopla that surrounds the NCAA Frozen Four tournament.

One year removed from a stunning last-second (literally) loss to arch rival Minnesota in the 2014 national semifinal game, UND returns to the Frozen Four with a seasoned mix of veterans, young playmakers, the nation’s best defensive corps and a Hobey Baker finalist in net.

They’ll face the Terriers of Boston University (BU) in this year’s late semifinal tilt at 7:30 p.m. CT, Thursday, in the Terrier’s home away from home in TD Garden.

"On the larger stage in terms of college hockey, it's a great match-up in the national semifinal," said UND Men's Hockey Coach Dave Hakstol. "Obviously in Boston University's hometown, not too far from their campus, it brings a great spotlight, a great stage to college hockey with the history and tradition of both programs"

While some UND players admit that last year’s club was just happy to be in the Frozen Four, this year, there’s a sense that it’s all business in the quest to hang an eighth national championship banner.

"I've noticed there's a lot of outside things that can distract a team, and it was a good experience to go through that last year," said UND defenseman Nick Mattson. "I think we're not as wide-eyed about the whole experience this year and we're much more focused."

No. 1 UND (29-9-3) will take on a team in No. 2 BU (27-7-5) with a comparable hockey pedigree to its own powerhouse history. The Terriers, winners of seven straight games, punched their Frozen Four ticket by winning the NCAA Northeast Regional in Manchester with 3-2 wins over Yale (OT) and Minnesota Duluth. BU boasts the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense (3.85 goals/game) and power play (25.6 percent), an offensive attack that is led by freshman Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist Jack Eichel, the national leader in points (67), points per game (1.76) and assists (43).

UND owns a 12-9-2 (.565) edge in the all-time series with BU. The most recently played games were in November 2013 when BU skated to a win and a tie over visiting UND. The two programs have met five times in the NCAA Tournament, with UND winning three of them, including a 6-4 win in the 1997 national championship game in Milwaukee. The last meeting in the national tournament came in 2004-05 ? Dave Hakstol’s first year as UND head coach ? when UND blanked BU 4-0 in the East Region semifinal in Worcester.

UND and BU join Providence College and Nebraska Omaha (UNO), led by former UND head coach Dean Blais, as the last four NCAA Division I hockey teams standing in this year’s tournament. UNO and Providence will face-off in the Frozen Four’s early semifinal match at 4 p.m. CT, on Thursday. The semifinal winners will play for the national championship at 6:30 p.m. CT, on Saturday, April 11.

UND’s last national championship victory came in 2000 against Boston College.

David Dodds University & Public Affairs writer

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