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Breaking down the Frozen Four: Boston College vs. Minnesota

Coaching

Advantage: Boston College. In recent seasons, no one has led his team to the Frozen Four more than Jerry York, right. "Unless you're Boston College, you don't get here every year," said Gophers coach Don Lucia, who was on the hot seat after missing the tournament the past three seasons. He, too, is a championship coach, though, winning titles in 2002 and 2003.



Gophers

Location: Minneapolis

Conference: Western Collegiate Hockey Association

U.S. College Hockey Online national ranking: 6th

Coach: Don Lucia, 13th season (318-172-54, 597-327-83 overall)

Leading scorer: Erik Haula (20 goals, 28 assists, 48 points)

Leading goaltender: Kent Patterson (28-13-1, 2.24 goals-against average, .911 save percentage)

NHL players produced: 98, including 18 first-round picks

Notable alumni: Herb Brooks, (1980 U.S. Olympic hockey "Miracle on Ice" coach), Garrison Keillor (host of the radio show A Prairie Home Companion), Natalie Darwitz (current captain of the U.S. women's Olympic hockey team)

Frozen Four appearances: 20

National championships: 5

Eagles

Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Conference: Hockey East Association

U.S. College Hockey Online national ranking: 1st

Coach: Jerry York, 17th season (444-222-60, 911-557-94 overall)

Leading scorer: Chris Kreider (22 goals, 21 assists, 43 points)

Leading goaltender: Parker Milner (27-5-0, 1.70 goals-against average, .935 save percentage)

NHL players produced: 50, including 13 first-round picks

Notable alumni: Matt Ryan (Falcons quarterback), Lesley Visser (sportscaster), Doug Flutie (former NFL quarterback)

Frozen Four appearances: 23

National championships: 4

Offense

Advantage: Boston College. The Eagles boast three legitimate scoring lines, a rarity in college hockey. The quickness of forwards such as Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold allow the Eagles to play an up-tempo game. The Gophers are no slouches on the offensive end, either. They lead the nation at 3.67 goals per game. True to form, Minnesota posted 12 goals in its two tournament games.

Defense

Advantage: Boston College. A close call. The Eagles put on a defensive clinic in their most recent game, a 4-0 victory against defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth in the region final. By forcing turnovers, BC shortened the rink and scored two goals within a minute of each other. Did we mention the Eagles are on a 17-game winning streak and did not give up a goal in their two games in the tournament? Having defenseman Brian Dumoulin, a Hobey Baker semifinalist, doesn't hurt, either. While Minnesota is tied for eighth in the country at 2.21 goals allowed per game, that is the worst of the four teams in the Frozen Four.

Advantage: Boston College. Both teams had question marks entering the season, and both found suitable solutions. Right now, the Eagles' Parker Milner has the hot hand as he has yet to allow a goal during the NCAA tournament. Additionally, he is a large reason why Boston College is riding a 17-game winning streak.

Special teams

Advantage: Minnesota. The slightest of edges to the Gophers. Their 23.4 percent conversion rate on the power play is better than the Eagles' 21.7 percent, and they have three power-play goals so far in the tournament. In reality, neither team gains a large advantage during power plays.



The pick

It would be hard to find two more similar, elite teams. Even their school colors are close. BC coach Jerry York joked the two squads are so identical, they basically play each other in practice. The points of differential are the quickness of the Eagles' forwards and their overall depth. Don't downplay the value of experience. This is the first Frozen Four appearance for this group of Gophers while half of BC's roster won a title in 2010.

Laura Keeley's pick | Boston College 4, Minnesota 2

Gophers Eagles
28-13-1 Record 31-10-1
3.67 Goals scored per game 3.5
2.21 Goals allowed per game 2.04
23.4 Power-play percentage 21.7
81 Penalty-kill percentage 88
13.6 Penalty minutes per game 12.6


Denver coach George Gwozdecky led his team to victories over both Minne sota and Boston College this seaso n. His analysis:

"The teams are almost mirror images of each other. They have great transition games, very strong special teams, dynamic forwards and outstanding defense. In years prior, Minnesota struggled to play defensively, and it looks like they've found that balance this season. BC has always had a great system and gotten their guys to buy into it. Boy oh boy, BC is dynamic up front and can score quickly. I do think that the winner of this game will win the Frozen Four. Nothing against the other two teams, but both BC and Minnesota have a strong, high-caliber offense to go along with their defense.

Goaltending





Capsule information written by Laura Keeley, Times staff writer

Breaking down the Frozen Four: Boston College vs. Minnesota 04/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 10:46pm]
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