Commentary

Breaking down the 2009 Frozen Four

Originally Published: April 6, 2009
By Inside College Hockey

A weekend without college hockey left the Inisde College Hockey staff eager to get down to Washington, D.C., and excited about this week's Frozen Four games. We start coverage with a regroup of our updated team capsules -- the basics on what to expect from all four participants.

2009 Frozen Four

Verizon Center | Washington, D.C.
Bracket | Schedule/results

Thursday, April 9, on ESPN2HD:
5 p.m. ET: Bemidji State vs. Miami (OH)
8:30 p.m. ET: Boston University vs. Vermont

Saturday, April 11, on ESPNHD:
7 p.m. ET: National Championship

BEMIDJI STATE | BOSTON UNIVERSITY | MIAMI (OHIO) | VERMONT

Bemidji State Beavers

(Back to top) Bemidji State

Location: Bemidji, Minn.
Record: 20-15-1 overall (12-5-1 CHA, first)
Qualified: CHA tournament champions
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Third (most recent, 2006)
Frozen Four Appearance: First
Head Coach: Tom Serratore
Key Players: sophomore F Matt Read (36 GP, 14-25--39), senior F Tyler Scofield (34 GP, 22-16--38), freshman D Brad Hunt (9-23--32), sophomore G Matt Dalton (19-10-1, 2.16, .921)

How They Got Here: Bemidji State played a masterful weekend in defeating Notre Dame 5-1 and Cornell 4-1 in the Midwest Regional at Grand Rapids, Mich. Goalie Matt Dalton made 59 saves on 61 shots in the two games, and Tyler Scofield had six points, recording two goals and an assist in each victory.

What You Need to Know: The College Hockey America champions were probably the most impressive team of any in the regionals, but took different routes to each victory. They scored two first-period goals in the win over Notre Dame, and then rallied from a one-goal deficit against Cornell.

How They'll Advance: The Beavers need to keep on doing what's worked for them, and that was playing excellent overall defense in front of Dalton. The Beavers made great reads and safe, smart plays with the puck and checked their assignments. If defense wins championships, the Beavers shouldn't be counted out this weekend.

What Might Trip Them Up: Most of the team's scoring has come from one line in the NCAA tournament, as the trio of Scofield, Matt Read and Matt Francis combined to score six of Bemidji State's nine goals at the regional. All of the teams are good when you get to this point in the season. If Miami (Ohio) or either potential championship game opponent takes away that first line, the Beavers will have to find other options.

Line notes: Ben Kinne (8 goals), Brandon Marino (7) and Travis Winter (6) are Bemidji State's most dangerous scorers outside of the top line. Junior defenseman Chris Peluso is the only NHL-drafted player on the Beavers' roster.

Boston University Terriers

(Back to top) BU

Location: Boston, Mass.
Record: 33-6-4 overall (18-5-4 Hockey East, first)
Qualified: Hockey East tournament champions
NCAA Championships: Four (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995)
NCAA Appearance: 31st (most recent, 2007)
Frozen Four Appearance: 21st
Head Coach: Jack Parker
Key Players: sophomore F Colin Wilson (41 GP, 15-37--52), sophomore F Nick Bonino (40 GP, 17-30--47), senior D Matt Gilroy (43 GP, 8-28--36), freshman G Kieran Millan (27-2-3, 1.85, .923)

How They Got Here: The Northeast Regional showed that BU is talented enough to post the biggest rout of the tournament thus far, and poised enough to survive a tight game against a team that probably deserved to win. The Terriers beat Ohio State 8-3 after building a 6-0 lead, and then edged UNH 2-1 when a cross-crease power-play pass was deflected in by a Wildcat penalty killer with 15 seconds remaining.

What You Need to Know: The most dominant team in the regular season is seeking its fifth tournament title of the 2008-09 season. The Terriers won the IceBreaker to start the year, the Denver Cup at the turn of the new year, the Beanpot in February and the Hockey East championship in March. They lost on back-to-back nights only once all year (against Vermont, Nov. 21 and 22) and had a 13-game unbeaten streak to close the regular season (10-0-3).

How They'll Advance: In the two games the Terriers lost to Vermont earlier this season, the Terriers scored the game's first goal but Vermont responded to lead 2-1 after the first period. UVM scored the eventual winners in the third period. With that in mind, the Terriers need to step on the gas, if they score first, by getting the next goal and putting the pressure on Vermont to make something happen.

What Might Trip Them Up: The Terriers were victimized by UVM's special teams in the regular-season losses back in November -- the Catamounts went 4-for-8 on the power play and scored a short-handed goal. The Terriers would do well to shed their propensity for ill-advised penalties. BU hasn't played its best hockey of the year in the past few weeks, but has still done enough to advance. Close wins over UMass Lowell in the Hockey East final and New Hampshire in the Northeast Region final went in favor of the Terriers. Might their close-game fortune run out?

Line notes: The improved play of Trivino, according to coach Jack Parker, has made a big difference for the Terriers' all-freshman third line; Trivino scored in both regional games. Millan's only regular-season loss of the year came Nov. 22 against Vermont.

Miami (Ohio) RedHawks

(Back to top) Miami (OH)

Location: Oxford, Ohio
Record: 22-12-5 overall (17-7-4 CCHA, tied for second)
Qualified: At-large berth
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Seventh (most recent, 2007)
Frozen Four Appearance: First
Head Coach: Enrico Blasi
Key Players: sophomore F Carter Camper (38 GP, 20-20--40), sophomore F Pat Cannone (39 GP, 11-24--35), sophomore F Andy Miele (39 GP, 15-14--29), freshman D Chris Wideman (37 GP, 0-26--26)

How They Got Here: Like every other team in the Frozen Four, Miami won two games in its regional -- in the RedHawks' case, they downed WCHA opponents Denver and Minnesota Duluth in the West Regional in Minneapolis. Unlike everyone else, however, Miami needed to shake the memories of a lackluster four-week stretch to close the season. During that period, the RedHawks went 2-4-1 and were bounced from the CCHA tournament quarterfinals by Northern Michigan.

What You Need to Know: The RedHawks have platooned goalies for the majority of the season, with freshmen Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard more or less splitting duties. Knapp has made three more starts and has more wins than Reichard, but Reichard has a better save percentage and was the starter for both games in Minneapolis.

How They'll Advance: This team's strength is its balance. That depth makes it difficult for opposing coaches to match lines, and it's tough to wear them down. Also, Miami is traditionally one of the best penalty-killing teams in the country -- the RedHawks enter the Frozen Four ranked second nationally in that category. If your opponent is deeper than you 5-on-5 and wins 90 percent of its penalty kills, you're in for a long night.

What Might Trip Them Up: During its two significant skids this season -- a five-game losing streak in January and the aforementioned 2-4-1 stretch -- the RedHawks struggled to score goals. In those 12 games, Miami registered a total of 23 goals. Failing to score early or running into a hot goalie may cause the RedHawks, who've peppered netminders on a few occasions this season only to lose, to squeeze the sticks a bit. What's more, the scoring burden falls almost solely on the forwards.

Line notes: Miami has nine players with 20 or more points and six players with 10-plus goals. The RedHawks' top three lines are capable scoring units. Miami's defensemen have just nine goals this year, and only one in the past 10 games.

Vermont Catamounts

(Back to top) UVM

Location: Burlington, Vt.
Record: 20-11-5 overall (15-8-4 Hockey East, tied for third)
Qualified: At-large berth
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Fourth (most recent, 1997)
Frozen Four Appearance: Second
Head Coach: Kevin Sneddon
Key Players: junior F Viktor Stalberg (38 GP, 24-21--45), senior F Peter Lenes (38 GP, 15-16--31), junior F Brian Roloff (38 GP, 10-18--28), freshman G Rob Madore (15-9-4, 2.25, .916)

How They Got Here: The Catamounts had to play extra time to get here, as several minutes of play elapsed after Dan Lawson scored what video review proved to be the overtime winner in the quarterfinals against Air Force. It was Lawson's second goal of the game, making him the only multiple-goal scorer for Vermont on the weekend. The Catamounts used that offensive balance and two solid efforts from freshman Rob Madore in net to beat Yale, the ECAC Hockey champs (and "home" team in the regional), and Air Force.

What You Need to Know: The only team to beat Boston University twice this season, Vermont could make life miserable for the heavily favored Terriers. Forward Viktor Stalberg is the dynamic presence up front, this year's answer to Martin St. Louis in the Catamounts' previous Frozen Four appearance. Stalberg doesn't have a running mate, as St. Louis had in Eric Perrin, but Vermont can spread its next-best offensive players throughout the top three lines.

How They'll Advance: The Catamounts are accustomed to playing close, hard-fought games, which is what they are likely to see this weekend. While, like the rest of the field, this stage is new to them, one gets the sense that their leaders will help them manage the pressure. They seemed to get stronger as the Air Force game stretched to one and then two overtimes. That comes from the poise of seniors Peter Lenes and Dean Strong and the unflappable nature of coach Kevin Sneddon.

What Might Trip Them Up: Vermont's penalty kill was perfect in the Regionals, but that's been far from the norm for a group ranked 42nd in the nation. If that sounds like a mismatch against BU's potent power play, it is -- the Terriers scored on six of 15 opportunities in the teams' three meetings. If UVM survives the PK, the Catamounts still don't match BU's talent and depth, although they have overcome that in the past two meetings.

Line notes: Milo gets a lot of media attention for his baseball ability, but the Cornell transfer is an underrated complement to Stalberg on the right wing. Lawson's net-splitting OT goal was no fluke -- he's got a bomb from the point that has him fifth on the team in goals.

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