I made a comment on twitter that I have read so much literature on the Frozen Four that I could coach any of the four teams this weekend. While this may be a bit of a stretch, as I couldn’t coach my way out of a paper bag, the information overload has become exhausting. It seems every 10 minutes College Hockey News is pinging my phone with a new angle on the Sioux Gopher rival, which ends up being a tweak or rework of a story I already read. This has made the 11 day break between games drag on for what seems like an eternity. I may not remember our players numbers by the time the puck is dropped tonight. Also, I can’t claim complete innocence in all of this, as I had my own trip down memory lane in the Sioux Gopher rivalry but tried not to overdue it.
University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux vs. University of Minnesota Gophers (Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center)
I wish I had some statistic like ‘Everytime Grimaldi plays the Gophers they curl up in the fetal position and cry’ that I could point to that would assure you (and myself) that North Dakota is going to stomp Minnesota tonight. However, a lot of the stats and experts don’t favor our chances. They think Minnesota is too fast, too talented, too unbeatable. However, I seem to remember this same storyline not more than 13 days ago when we had to play the Wisconsin Badgers…how’d that turn out for us?
When breaking down the different facets of the game I don’t see as one-sided of a matchup as others do. On offense, I’m not going to argue we have better forwards, as the Gophers have produced more consistently than our guys up front. However, I do see Grimaldi as a player that will make plays in big games and has scored some pretty awesome goals against the maroon and gold, including the first of his career. That being said, I’ll give the edge to UMN.
In goaltending every Minnesota fan, including the unrelenting homer Lou Nanne, hails Adam Wilcox as the next coming of Patrick Roy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very athletic goaltender and makes some nice saves but I’m starting to believe our guy Zane Gothberg is just as good and has a higher ceiling when it comes to future development. Also, there are only 2 goalies going into the Frozen Four with GAA of under 2, Wilcox is not one of them and Gothberg is. I’m going to call goaltending a wash.
On the defensive blue line the Sioux have more points than anyone in the nation. Our freshman play like seniors and are scoring at a ridiculous pace. Both goals against Ferris State started on the stick of Paul Ladue, who made sure each puck got to the net through the traffic. Minnesota, on the other hand, is more stingy giving up only 2 goals a game. This is almost a role reversal to the typical Sioux Gopher matchup where UND would have the in-your-face, knock you on your ass defenders. I personally (understanding I may have a conflict of interest) like our defensive setup more than Minnesota’s, who also has a good group. So that leaves me with Minnesota having the edge with forwards, even in goaltending, and UND having the defensive edge. Maybe a trip to the title game isn’t so crazy now, is it?
UND 4-2 w/ENG