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Thoughts from the Frozen Four

Saturday, 04.11.2009 / 10:13 PM / Blog Central

By Michael Blinn - NHL.com Staff Writer

10:13 PM ET - A few more awards left...

The 2009 NCAA All-Tournament team:

F -
Tommy Wingels, Miami
F -
Colin Wilson, BU
F -
Nick Bonino, BU
D -
Kevin Roeder, Miami
D -
Colby Cohen, BU
G -
Kieran Millan, BU

2009 Most Outstanding Player:
Colby Cohen, Boston University

Deserving of big thanks are the Washington Sports Alliance, the Verizon Center, and the U.S. Naval Academy for hosting the weekend's events; as well as the fans, student-athletes, and other contributors for showing why NCAA hockey is exciting and fun.

That's it from Washington, D.C., looking forward to next year at Ford Field in Detroit.

10:04 PM ET - That's it, folks

Colby Cohen's shot from the point skipped off a Miami defender, up into the air, and fluttered past Reichard into to the far post.

The tally was met almost instantaneously by the Terriers bench emptying out and jumping over a triumphant Cohen along the BU defensive end boards.

It's game over here, 4-3, this year's NCAA National Champions are the Boston University Terriers - the fifth time in school history they've accomplished such a feat, and the first time since 1995. Helmets and sticks are littered on the ice, and the celebrating is still  in full swing on the ice.

In the stands, it's no different, as the BU faithful haven't left their feet in the last five minutes, clapping, shouting, and thanking the senior class continuously.

10:02 PM ET - On his head

If Miami is to fall here, tonight, it will not be the fault of Cody Reichard. The freshman goalie has stopped several big shots for the RedHawks, including a number of them in this OT period. He's a big reason that game is still going at a 3-3 tie, instead of over 12:30 ago.


9:55 PM ET - Silence is golden, telling

Inbetween whistles, theres a lot of good-natured singing and shouting, but when the puck is in play, the arena quiets down to levels not seen on this weekend - the nerve level is up in the stands, and for good reason.

9:47 PM ET - Up, up, up

If the crowd has anything to say about it, this period is going to be high-energy, high-speed, and loud, loud, loud.

Both ends of the rink have engaged in a shouting match as to who can cheer louder, though BU seems to have an edge, on the ice, it's anyone's game.

Everyone is on their feet here - no one wants to miss a second.

9:35 PM ET - It's a new game

The teams are preparing for overtime, and this game seems to be a very good example of this year's postseason - clutch goals with seconds remaining. In fact, BU has had to use such goals in three straight games now, a sign of a team that has the ability to score at will.

They've definitely swung the pendulum heading into the extra frame, though it only takes one from either team to end it.

It bears noting at this point, the scoreboard has been playing the Top-10 College Hockey overtime games, and the fans in the stands are eating it up. While Miami fans have to be a bit disheartened to have a two-goal lead with three and a half minutes remaining, Terrier fans can't be sitting back either - they've seen what can happen when their team takes a period off, and they know that BU won't have a chance to come back next time.

9:31 PM ET - No, Really...

With 17.4 seconds left on the clock, Nick Bonino had tied the game at 3-3.

There's no denying the importance of Bonino's goal, nor what it means for the Terriers, who live to see sudden death against the RedHawks in OT, as the team is 23-0-3 when he gets on the scoresheet.

9:29 PM ET - Not done yet

The BU swarming has paid off so far, as Zach Cohen snuck a second-chance backhand shot behind Reichard with just under a minute remaining.

9:26 PM ET - Unconventional

BU coach Jack Parker has elected to play the next few minutes without a goaltender; Millan is on the bench, and the six BU skaters are throwing everything at the net.

9:20 PM ET - Adding on

Trent Vogelhuber just ripped a shot from in between the circles, sniping it into the bottom right-hand corner, past the outstretched left leg of Millan.

It's hard to tell who was jumping higher - Vogelhuber and his Miami teammates along the boards, or RedHawks fans, who have broken out into a chant of, "Yes, we can!"

With 3:32 left to play here, Miami is well on its way to the first National Championship in school history, though it's important to not to underestimate the BU offense - they were number one in the country for a reason. They can score in bunches, and it will be up to the Miami defense and Reichard to make sure they don't.

9:12 PM ET - On Tommy's Wingels

Carter Camper's shot from the slot was stopped by Millan, but the rebound came onto Tommy Wingels' stick, and he wasted no time depositing the puck into a wide-open net. At 12:31 into the third, Miami has taken a 2-1 lead.

More importantly, the goal has energized them further. The RedHawks followed with some quick rushes, and seem to have caught BU on their heels.

The stands are even louder, and the Miami fans can defnitely have an effect on the Terriers - they're making lots of noise.

9:01 PM ET - Brimming with emotion

With less than 20 minutes remaining in regulation of this game, the fans aren't holding back their emotions.

John DuBois and Jerry Hann, Miami alumni who own and manage an off-campus bookstore in Ohio, are excited.

"We're 20 minutes for our first National Championship," Hann laughed. The feelings are lost on his family, either. "My 15-year-old son was in school on Thursday and we had him down here on Friday morning."

The family connection is perhaps a bit bigger for DuBois, who's daughter is a RedHawk freshman, and in the stands as well. While she'll be in school for a few more years, her father knows that the program will do well during her tenure as well.

"There's only five seniors," he said. "They're going to be pretty good for a while."

Their success tonight will mean more than alumni pride, however, as their bookstore will also reap the benefits via t-shirts and other Championship apparel.

That could get in the way of Boston University fans' wishes as well.

Buster Walker, who's decked out in a red BU windbreaker and hat, was there the last time his team took it all.

"I was a freshman last time," he said. "Each of those teams is unique; each had some phenomenal things about them. It'll be a good feeling."

Those phenomenal things won't guarentee a title,and Walker, a '98 grad and member of the men's crew team, knows it.

"It's a battle," he said. "BU came in here as the superpower, and Miami as the underdog, but they're checking hard and skating hard."

8:37 PM ET - Two for the money

To the lockerrooms they go, tied 1-1 after two periods.

Thus far, the game has been categorized by both squads having issues.

Miami has had several opportunities alone with the puck by the net and ample time to do something with it, but they've allowed their over-anxiety to plague them, and it's showing with a lot of shots going wide, directly into Millan's pads, or flittering in front of the net only to be cleared away by Terrier defenders.

The Terriers, on the other hand, are content to put their immeasurable talent on display, and have attempted to beat RedHawk defensemen by going one-on-one, instead of finding an open teammate, or allowing a play to set up. While the moves are certainly highlight reel, the BU bench is going to have to find another way to get it done.

Whichever team can solve their problem first will steal the momentum here, and it will go a long way over the next 20 minutes.

8:28 PM ET - Broken Record

BU's Jason Lawrence just had one of the best chances of the game when he picked off a Miami breakout pass and had a wide and clear lane to fire at Reichard, who did a great job of both taking away the net, and absorbing any possible rebound.

Not to be outdone, Millan is getting a piece of everything that comes his way, getting that big glove hand on everything that gets close to him.

The goaltending is really a key in this game, as it is in any other, and both Reichard and Millan are here to play tonight.

8:20 PM ET - Things just got fast


Due to a series of bad BU line changes, the last few minutes of things game have turned to alternating rushes, though neither team has been able to capitalize.

Miami's forwards seem to be a bit jumpy with their opportunities, getting victimized by a strong defensive backcheck, and an itchy trigger finger. The Terriers are doing a good job of flipping the play against their stunned opponents, though both goalies,Miami's Cody Reichard and BU's Millan are standing tall.

The crowd is really getting into the back-and-forth style the game has taken on in the past few minutes, with the chatter alive and well, being heard over the bands' attempts to rile them up further.

8:02 PM ET - When you're right...


Miami stole some momentum from their penalty kill, and turned right up the ice at the end of it.

At 2:01 into the period, Gary Steffes scored on a rebound sitting in the crease to knot the game at 1-1. The goal was reviewed to see whether or not Redhawks forward Andy Miele was in the crease, interferring with Terriers goalie Kieran Millan, though the videowas inconclusive.

Immediately following, Miami forward Justin Mercier caught Millan out of position on the left-side goal line, but put the puck off the goal-line - BU needs to regoup, and fast before they let things get out of hand.

8:01 PM ET - We're back!

BU begins the period on the power play, something that Jack Parker has to hope keeps them from faltering the middle period like they did against Vermont two nights ago.

Miami will most definitely be on the hunt.


7:42 PM ET - One down, Two to go

As the first period comes to an end, it's a pretty even game so far, despite the 1-0 score.

Miami is allowing the Terriers to be creative with the puck, but are playing a shut-down defense that prevents them from going anywhere with it. One area they must improve upon before the next period is in front of the net - the Redhawks have allowed a good amount of pucks and bodies there, and while they've done an excellent job of clearing the puck from harm's way.

BU, as previously mentioned, needs to stay out of the penalty box. They took three penalties in the first, and if that's a trend that keeps, it will be hard for them to establish any kind of rythym, let alone stop Miami from doing so. It's a big benefit that they're special teams are among the nation's best, but even so, killing off three penalties per period is a tall task for the most disciplined of teams.

7:32 PM ET - Lead-ing off

Freshman forward Chris Connolly just buried a puck from the doorstep at 15:15 of the first, a rebound of a shot from the point from Chris Warsofsky that appeared to bounce off of several players on it's way to the net.

It was the 17th shot of the period, a sign that both teams are here to play tonight, and good news for the fans, who are coming together with surprising force. Their claps, yells, chants, and any other noise they're coming up with are loud and borderline overwhelming.

7:20 PM ET - Not the right tone

Just about halfway through the period, the Terriers have killed off two penalties, with strong positional play and good shot-blocking. While it's important that they continue to assert themselves defensively, the must stop giving the RedHawks the ability to set up in their zone, as well as play disciplined in order to keep their bench from tiring early on.

7:07 PM ET - Presence of Stands

There's still a good-sized contingent of Bemidji State fans; it seems their road trip neccessitated a longer stay than that of Vermont fans, whose numbers have dwindled.


6:56 PM ET - Excitement Rising

With the arena pretty close to full, it's getting easier to tell where fans' allegiances are.

At the end of the Star Spangled Banner, the Verizon Center erupted into dueling chants of, "Let's go RedHawks," and "Let's go Terriers!"

The excitment is rising, and the puck is about to drop - no matter who you're rooting for tonight, everyone will get their money's worth.

6:26 PM ET - Color Confusion

The teams have taken the ice for warmp-ups, and it's no easier to tell which fans are rooting for which team.

Making things even more difficult (if that's possible) are the school bands. Miami, wearing red jerseys on the ice, are represented by a band in white. BU is in their white jerseys, while their band wears read.

The crowd is filtering in, and they're wasting no time making plenty of noise.

6:06 PM ET - Searching for Serenity


There's players sitting on each of the benches, taking things in before they suit up.

The Miami players have taken to sculpting a big Miami "M" out of pucks, while the BU players, not to be outdone, are creating their own art.

The Terriers are wearing "Burn the Boats" t-shirts, something they've done all season, but the direct meaning of the term is unknown to anyone outside the locker room.

Coach Jack Parker, who admits he has one of the shirts, said last night that the meaning will not be revealed until after tonight. Whatever the rally cry means, it seems to to have worked for BU this season.

Both sides, however seem happy to take everything in, and are in search of a calming factor before warm-ups.

April 11, 5:49 PM ET - Red and White feelings

According to the scoreboard over center ice, there's just under 73:00 left before the puck drops on tonight's National Championship game, and the feeling in the air is pretty palpable.

The sidewalks out front of the Verizon Center are filled with red-and-white clad fans, though, it's hard to tell whose fans are whose, as both teams share colors.

It's the same in the stands; the only way each teams individual fans will be told apart tonight will be when they're cheering, though, even then, it'll be a challenge.

8:00 PM ET - Deep rosters

The 2009 RBK Hockey/ACHA All-American teams are as follows:

2nd East

G -
Zane Kalemba (JR) - Princeton
D - Maury Edwards (SO) - Lowell
D - Kevin Shattenkirk (SO) - BU
F - Mark Arcobello (JR) - Yale
F - Jacques Lamoreaux (SO) - Air Force
F - James Marcou (SO) - Masachusetts

2nd West

G - Chad Johnson (SR) - Alaska
D - Chay Genoway (JR) - North Dakota
D - Erik Gustafsson (SO) - Northern Michigan
F - Carter Camper (SO) - Miami
F - Erik Condra (SR) - Notre Dame
F - Chad Rau (SR) - Colorado College

1st East
G - Brad Thiessen (JR) - Northeastern
D - Matt Gilroy (SR) - BU
D - Zach Miskovic (SR) - St. Lawrence
F - David McIntyre (JR) - Colgate
F - Viktor Stalberg (JR) - Vermont
F - Colin Wilson (SO) - BU

1st West
G - Alex Stalock (JR) University of Minnesota-Duluth
D - Ian Cole (SO) - Notre Dame
D - Jamie McBain (JR) - Wisconsin
F - Louie Caporusso (SO) - Michigan
F - Aaron Palushaj (SO) - Michigan
F - Ryan Stoa (JR) - Minnestoa

There's quite a bit to say about these selections; there are team leaders, conference leaders, and NHL draft picks among them - there's not enough room in this blog to talk about everyone.

7:28 PM ET - Deserving recipient

The 2009 Hobey Baker Award winner is Matt Gilroy, much to the delight of the BU red-and-white heavy crowd.

While his path to this award has been chronicled in plenty of places, there's no question he's very deserving, and you can hear it in his speech, as he thanks Thiessen, Wilson, Coach Parker, and his teammates.

He's got the self-effacing humor on display, thanking his parents for spending their time and a "boatload of their money," on his way to college (as a walk-on, he didn't recieve a scholarship until his junior year).

7:06 PM ET - Fan Favorites

The Verizon Center has filled up quite a bit more, all here to watch the Hobey candiates arrive.

The applause for Gilroy and Wilson is a bit louder now - a good amount of it coming from the Gilroy clan themselves. His parents are here, along with all eight of their children, as well as most, if not all of his teammates.

6:35 PM ET - A big (helping) Hand

The 14th annual Hockey Humaitarian Award goes to Missy Elumba, a Northeastern senior on the women's hockey team, who has been recognized as college hockey's best citizen.

Elumba has worked tirelessy with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, as well as travelled to Calucutta, Indian and Mexico to work with the poor and dying. In her free time, she's also worked with the mentally challenged in her free time.

Being able to spend so much time aiding other communities, on top of her own, while maintaining a busy schedule as a full-time student athlete, is an inspiration to us all.

5:56 PM ET - Hoots, Hollers, and Echoes

There's a handful of people sitting in the Verizon Center at the moment; the door opened about an hour ago in preparation for tonight's events. In 30 minutes, the Hockey Humaitarian Award winner will be announced, followed by the Hobey Baker Award.

In fact, there's a run-through of tonight's award show going on, and at every mention of Bu players Colin Wilson and Matt Gilroy, the slow-growing crowd of 100 or so, plus the Terriers' band is yelling and clapping - they don't seem to care that no one else is here yet, and they're making it sound like the joint is sold out.

Once the awards are given out, the college hockey faithful will be treated to the Frozen Four Skill Challenge. Similar to the NHL All-Star version, seniors, both male and female, from around the country were nominated by their coaches and voted in by fans via online ballot (it's worth mentioning that Gilroy was voted in, but since he'll be playing tomorrow night, he won't be testing himself tonight).

April 10, 2:00 PM ET - Hats off for this trio


By the end of tonight, someone will have an extra piece of luggage to carry around D.C. for the weekend, but it will inevitably end up back in Boston.

No, the Hobey Baker award, given annually to college hockey’s best player as voted Division I coaches, members of the media, NHL scouts, and USA Hockey among them, and this year, they’ve got a hard choice.

As evidenced by last night’s BU-Vermont game, any conversation about the best player in the country must involve Terriers sophomore Colin Wilson. He’s put up 55 points through 42 games, and even those numbers showcase his versatility.

Five game-winning goals, six on the power play, and one shorthanded. What situations is Wilson not on the ice for?

“I think Colin Wilson's best hockey is still ahead of him,” said his coach at BU, Jack Parker. “And, unfortunately, it probably won't be here. But he's had a great two years here. He's certainly capping it off with a great run in the playoffs. Having him get as many points as he did this year and be the leader -- at times he's been like a man playing with boys.”

Parker knows his hockey players. He’s seen NHLers such as Chris Drury, Tony Amonte, and Rick DiPietro among them come through his program. He could have another to add to that list from this year’s team alone: senior defenseman Matt Gilroy joins teammate Wilson as a Hobey Hat Trick finalist.

Gilroy, a former walk-on who went from playing forward to an All-American blueliner, anchors one of the top defenses in the country. He’s another guy who Parker can deploy in any situation, as his 38 points compared to 12 penalty minutes can attest. Through all the accolades and attention, Gilroy remains the consummate teammate.

“The individual stuff came because we played like a team all year,” ha said. “I think me and [Wilson] have been on the side of getting those awards. But if we weren't on this team, none of that would have happened. It's been such a great part, being a part of this team.”

While it may seem that being on the Terriers is a prerequisite to be in the running for the Hobey, Brad Thiessen bucks the trend as the third candidate. Playing down the street from BU at Northeastern University, the junior goalie was arguably the best netminder in the country. He played every minute of every game in net for NU, and his 25 wins, .931 save percentage, and 2.11 GAA all put him among the national leaders.

His efforts were more than enough to break the Huskies streak as a mediocre team and straight to a national title contender - as well as earn a pro contract in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization at the season‘s end.

It’s a pretty good mix for the Award - a forward, a defenseman, and a goalie, but regardless of who walks away with it, it’s one more trophy that Boston teams have earned this season.

11:10 PM ET - Red on Red

Even a last ditch effort from Vermont's Dan Lawson couldn't stop it.

His diving swat to keep the puck out of an open Vermont net was all for naught, as the buzzer sounded, ending the Catamounts' hopes for an NCAA title.

The Terriers' 5-4 win was not only exciting down to the last minute, but also sets up Saturday's Championship Final with Miami.

Vermont fans gave one last cheer for the season - possibly their most hearty on the night, while BU fans, celebrating, will get to give a couple more.

11:05 PM ET - It's palpable


There's just over a minute to play here, and BU fans are on their feet, ready to cry victory.

Catamount fans, not to be outdone, are on their feet and cheering harder than they have all game, praying loudly for one last miracle.

11:01 PM ET - Bull in a China shop

Why go for one when Colin Wilson can have two?

Off an offensive zone draw, he stepped right past his man, ripped a hard shot off of Madore's right pad, picked up his own rebound and potted his second of the game. It was effortless and skillful at the same time.

He really is a man among boys, possibly the most NHL-ready player in the NCAA, and that play just showed it.

10:56 PM ET - ...But maybe a bit too soon

Chris Higgins has been showing off his passing wizardy all game, but he picked the right time to do it himself.

He put the rebound of a Jason Lawrence shot behind Madore in a score reminiscent of the one BU used to beat New Hampshire two weeks ago - with a little help from opposing defender MacKenzie.

10:48 PM ET - Speaking the truth

Mr. MacAuley turns out to be wise man.

With Terrier forward Brandon Yip in the penalty box, Vermont blueliner Drew MacKenzie picked a good time to bury his first career college goal to make it 4-3, in favor of the Catamounts.

While there's a lot of potential for the tally to be yet another momentum changer, it appears that BU has no intention of backing down, with just over 8:00 to play.


10:34 PM ET - Nerves of Steel

With the third period underway, things are back to the way they were in the first; BU fans are shouting, Vermont fans are matching them, and the show in the ice is certainly getting good.

"I'm a little bit nervous," Dan MacAuley said. "But I'm confident in our team. They'll come out and be flying."

A 30-year season ticket holder from Belmont, MacAuley is one piece of a group that includes his son and his best friend. He's seen the Terriers are their best, and knows when they're at their worst.

"They have a tendancy to take periods off," he says of this year's squad. "They need to stay out of the box, and I think we'll be fine."

Fine is a pretty good term for a team that finished the season with the number-one ranking, the top offense, and the third-best defense in the country. But a guy like MacAuley, well, he knew what would happen well before he flew to Washington this week.

"Pretty early on, we knew we had something special," he laughs.


10:13 PM ET - Turning the Tables

Nick Bonino has atoned for his mistakes. His penalty lead to Burrows' powerplay goal, but given his shot on the man advantage, he didn't disappoint.

Bonino dangled through the legs of a Vermont defender, and then casually flipped a pass over the Vinny Saponari, who laced it past Madore.

That goal could just be the tide turning the other way, as the teams head to the lockerroom between periods.

9:52 PM ET - Check, please

The Terriers have been taunting fate all period, and Vermont is making them pay for it.

Despite their ranking as the top penalty-killers in the country, they've taken a number of penalties, and Vermont has capitalized.

Justin Milo tied the game on a power-play goal, and shortly thereafter, Josh Burrows sniped one over the pad of Millan and into the net, giving the Catamounts their first lead. All three goals have come within the last six minutes or so, and the Vermont fans are absolutely volcanic - they're all on the edge of their seats, waiting for the next chance to leap up in the air.

The BU crod has become a bit more subdued, though they're trying to bring their boys back into it with more "Let's go Terriers!" and "Go BU!" chants.

9:39 PM ET - Back in it!

Just seconds after having a potential goal-against reviewed, Vermont is back out with a renewed sense of urgency. Wahsontii Stacey finally broke through Millan to put the Catamounts on the board, and the rest of the team as responded in the like.

There's been a bit more sniffing around the BU net, and the Terriers need to figure out how to stop it if they want to stay on top.

The fact that the Millan is positioned in front of the Vermont fan base this period might not be helping so much, as his presence has only made them more loud and raucous.


9:15 PM ET - Plenty left to go

Through 20 minutes, it's 2-0 BU. The Terriers have a strong edge in shots, 14-7, but Rob Madore is still making plenty of big saves to keep his team in it.

This game has some big implications Madore, a freshman, along with his BU counterpart Kieran Millan, another first-year man, as far as next season goes. Hobey Hat Trick candidate Brad Theissen forwent his senior year and signed in Pittsburgh, leaving the hole wide open for any Hockey East goalie to take over the reigns. A strong showing here in Washington could carry over into next season and put either netminder on the map.

Before either can lay claim to next year's crown, they've still got another 40 minutes to show their stuff.

9:10 PM ET - Through the needle

The Terriers are out to a two-goal lead on a goal that might have been prettier than Wilson's tally just a few minutes ago.

Senior forward Chris Higgins threaded a pass through a Vermont defender legs - a hole made smaller by the fact he was on one knee to prevent it - the Jason Lawrence, who put the puck in the top corner of the net.

The Catamounts just got a very good look at how good of a finisher Jason Lawrence has become this year, though much of the credit goes to Higgins, whose second helper of the night was nothing less than artistry.

8:56 PM ET - Who else?

Colin Wilson got the Terriers offense jump-started in grand fashion by tipping a feed from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk through his legs, and those of Vermont goalie Rob Madore 11:19 in the period.

8:38 PM ET - On and Off the ice

The puck has barely dropped on the Vermont - Boston University matchup, and the it's already going full bore in the stands.

To say that both ends of the rink are alive and well is a severe understatement. They cheer every shot, save, and hit.

It alternates in almost perfect time:

Go BU!

Let's go Cats!

Go BU!

Let's go Cats!

On the ice, the players are matching their fans' intensity, and will make for one heck of a game.

8:12 PM ET - Putting the "Super" in "Superfans"

If there's a group of fans to be reckoned with tonight, they're wearing Vermont's green and yellow, in all varieties.

There's tall, fuzzy hats, green wigs, and two-to-three rows of guys in hockey gear. They don't so much as speak as they do yell. Everything out of their mouths is a cheer.

"We all drove 10 hours to be here," they say. "Vermont doesn't have a pro sports team, so UVM is our pro hockey team."

There's a wide array of students, alumni, parents, club hockey players, and fans, and they all have an appreciation for their background.

"We were there for Martin St. Louis, Tim Thomas, and Eric Perrin," one says. "We all went to their hockey camps."

"We've waited 12 years for this," one chimes in. The other nod their heads in agreement. "Last time we were here, we got screwed on a handpass."

If fan support has anyting to do with it, that won't be the case this time around.

7:43 PM ET - All grown up

Even though this year's edition of the Denver Pioneers weren't on the ice, the team's coach, George Gwozdecky, is in the building.

The Pioneers were expected to make a pretty good run to D.C., but they were stopped pretty soundly by Miami in the first round of the West Regional. Making matters more interesting, Gwozdecky's former player, assistant coach, and current protege, Enrico Blasi, was the man behind the RedHawks bench.

While it may have been easy to start concentrating on next year, Gwozdecky instead spent last week helping Blasi prepare, and it seems to have paid off.

7:27 PM ET - Sewn up

With time running out on the clock, Dalton made his way to the Bemidji bench for an extra attacker; but Wingels scored his second of the game into an empty net, all but sending the Miami faithful into a frenzy.

They've waited long enough - four straight shots at the Frozen Four and now, going to Saturday's Final game. There's clapping, towel waving, and the fight song is being played by the school's band, but it's hard to hear over the cheering.

Bemidji fans, to their credit, gave theRedHawks a pretty good clapping, before sending their boys back home with a standing ovations for the boys in green. There's some sadness in their end of the rink, but no one appears to be leaving yet - there's still another game to be had in just over an hour minutes.

7:15 PM ET - Pouring it on

Miami's intensity has carried over to the third. With just over half remaining in the final frame, they've put 12 shots on Dalton and have held the Beavers to just six shots of their own.

6:52 PM ET - There's still hope

Nancy Bensen did not come this far to see her boys lose.

She and her husband of 51 years, Jim, spent 28 hour on a 'fan bus' from Bemidji, Minnesota.

"We should've flown," she laughs, "But this was much more fun. There were 49 passengers and two drivers. It was mostly college kids."

What better way for Jim, the former Bemidji State University president, to celebrate his 72nd birthday? The pair, who live in Bemidji, say they're still active in the community as well, and that community has grown in the past few weeks, with the Beavers' status as underdogs.

"We got a lot of support on the bus," Nancy says. "Whenever a car would go by, they'd toot their horn for us."

6:40 PM ET - Two down, but no one's out

There's no more surprise in Miami's game - they took it to the Beavers this period, and leave the ice with a 3-1 lead. They've used their size, speed, and excellent penalty killing to get ahead and stay there heading into the third.

It's important to note, though, that several games leading up to the Frozen Four were decided by literal last-second goals, so it's hard to count Bemidji out right now.

6:21 PM ET - We've got a game, folks!

The teams are getting into it, now. A second goal from Miami, this time from Alden Hirschfield, assisted by Wingels and Matt Tomassoni makes it 2-0 for the RedHawks, though before they have much ofa chance to enjoy it, Bemidji's Matt Read took a feed from Matt Francis and walked around an outstretched Reichard to close the gap.

It doesn't take long for Coach Enrico Blasi's RedHawks to re-assert themselves. Bill Loupee put one off of Dalton to get the lead back to two goals.


6:04 PM ET - First strike!

Tommy Wingels breaks open the game with a power play tally, burying a feed from Andy Miele and Jarod Palmer, just under four minutes into the second period.

The Miami fan section celebrates by chanting and taunting Dalton. "One, we want more! Sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve! It's all your fault! It's all your fault!"


5:50 PM ET - Bleeding 'Red'

The Miami fan section - the lower, right-handcorner of the arena - is pretty much a red-out. There are t-shirts, jerseys, hats, jackets; name a piece of apparel and someone will be wearing it.

Among the crowd of red are Alex Dombroff and Matt Mastrantuono, two member of last year's graduating class, and they're here for more than just the hockey.

"This is a chance for all of us to be back together," says Dombroff, who came in from New York City. His entire row is made up of red-and-white clad men, all nervously playing with their hands. "We're loud, but tonight we're going to kick it up a few notches."

Mastrantuono is psyched to see his team in the Frozen Four. Despite their best efforts, this is the first time the team has made it this far.

"We've have our hearts broken for a year," he says. "I've been dreaming of this for years. I 'red-eyed' it in 14 hours from Oregon."

Both Miami and Bemidji State are lower seeds in the tournament, however Mastrantuono is letting Beaver fans know where they stand. He's holding a sign that reads, "Hey Cinderella, it's midnight!"

"[Bemdji fans] will tell you that it means a lot for them," Dombroff says. "But it means just as much for us."

5:41 PM ET - One in the books

Dalton closed out the period with a couple of just beautiful glove saves, proving that this matchup will come down to the goaltending. If it weren't for his quick left-hand, this period would've ended differently thanthe 0-0 score the teams took to the locker room.

5:33 PM ET - You can hear the excitment!

There's about five minutes left in the first period, and the crowd is electric - they've got a reason to be. Both teams have had their fair share of scoring chances (Miami has seven shot; Bemidji 12), though neither has been able to crack the strong goaltending.

Beavers' sophomore goalie Matt Dalton has been busy with action right inside his crease, while Miami's Cody Reichard has seen the bulk of his saves come from his left-side boards.

Also, someone must have reminded the teams that fans love big hits, because Miami is certainly using their big bodies to send a message, but the smaller, quicker Bemidji team is applying their own brand of pressure, as well.

5:06 PM ET - And the puck drops


It's game on at the Frozen Four! Bemidji State and Miami University have the puck dropped and have set out to prove that neither deserve the "underdog" title.

On the far side of the rink, Bemidji fans have started the "Let's go Beavers!" chant, and the Miami fans respond in kind, with a "Let's go RedHawks" cheer of their own.

april 9, 4:50 PM ET - It's in the air, and on the streets

When I came into downtown D.C. this afternoon, it hit me pretty quickly.

A red-and-white Miami jersey on the street corner -- it only took a few minutes to see my first college hockey fan.

As I came closer to the Verizon Center, where the U.S. Naval Academy is hosting this year's NCAA Frozen Four, it became a scene. Not only did the number of jerseys increase, but the sea of teams reminded me just how well college hockey fans travel.

Sure, Boston University, Bemidji State, and Vermont made up the majority of fan-wear on the street, but there was also representation from Maine, New Hampshire, St. Cloud State, Minnesota, and Clarkson among them.

The locals have noticed, as well.

"There's a lot more people here this weekend," my cab driver told me. "I see a lot of people wearing hockey jerseys."

If only for the weekend, Washington D.C. has become the center of the college hockey universe.


Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning
2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series