The 2016-17 NCAA DI hockey season started 6 months ago with 60 teams. After last night, there are 2 more remaining playing for the National Championship on Saturday night (8pm on ESPN). 60 teams. At least 1,000 games. And it comes down to 2 teams from the NCHC tomorrow night after Denver smoked Notre Dame 6-1, and Minnesota Duluth managed to score in the final minute of regulation to knock off Harvard 2-1. We’ll start with the less exciting of the two.
Denver 6 – Notre Dame 1
In the 3 games so far for Denver this NCAA Hockey Tournament, they’ve outscored their opponents 17-6. They started off with a 5-2 win over Michigan Tech, then a 6-3 win over Penn State to get to the Frozen Four, and then last night’s 6-1 performance against ND. 17 goals in 3 games on the biggest stage. They’re 3rd goal of the night looked like the first game between Team Iceland and Team USA from D2.
Looks like Lennay Kekua was out there playing defense for ND. It’s just been way too easy for the Pios this tournament. Nobody is even close to competing with them. Penn State made it a game for about 7 minutes the other week but that’s been the only 7 minutes of this tournament that Denver hasn’t looked like they were men playing against boys. 5-0 at the end of the 2nd period last night and that’s all she wrote for Notre Dame’s run as a 4-seed in this tournament. We knew that Denver was going to win this one but that wasn’t just a win. That was a destruction. That was a pillaging. We’re talking 2013 BCS Natty Championship all over again. That was Notre Dame realizing they made a huge mistake by punching their ticket to Chicago. And that was Denver just doing Denver things.
Minnesota Duluth 2 – Harvard 1
Absolute heart breaker for Hahvahd. 30 seconds left in regulation. Looking like we’re about to head into a #BucciOvertimeChallenge. And then Minnesota Duluth decides they don’t want to give away free hockey to the crowd at the United Center and it’s Alex Iafallo with the go ahead goal.
That is a big time play that takes some big time balls from Willie Raskob. Final minute of the game in front of 19,000 fans with a trip to the National Championship on the line. Could have easily let one fly there and prayed for a rebound. But flips the hips, fakes the shot, pulls up and puts that pass right on the money for the win.
Minimal window open there to work with and he had to put the perfect touch on that puck. If that’s not a completely perfect pass, this game goes to overtime. And even with the perfect pass, Harvard almost sent it to an extra period anyway.
“A quarter of an inch this way and it would have gone in. A quarter of an inch, Charlie” – Gordon Bombay” – Luke Esposito
So now we have Denver and Minnesota Duluth meeting up for the 3rd time this season. Minnesota Duluth won the conference just a few weeks ago but they did so over North Dakota. The first matchup was a 4-3 win for Denver. The next was a 3-1 win for the Bulldogs. I think right now Denver’s offense is just too much to stop. Minnesota Duluth can try to grind this one out all they want but when you have to go up against guys like Troy Terry and Henrik Borgstrom, all you can do is pray you don’t end up getting danced around on SC Top 10 the next morning. The Bulldogs have only given up 5 goals total this tournament so do I think Denver gets their standard 5-6 goal performance on Saturday night? Ehhhh maybe not. But Minnesota Duluth also hasn’t scored more than 3 in a game and that probably won’t cut it against the Pios.
Final Prediction: Denver 4 – UMD 2 with an empty netter