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by Heath Price-Khan / Arizona Coyotes
Kevin Porter
College Hockey’s best teams battled it out all weekend for a berth in this year’s Frozen Four in Denver and the Coyotes bevy of prospects fought hard to get their squads to the promise land.

East Regional

The #1 ranked Michigan Wolverines rolled to a berth in the Frozen Four led by a guy that will be wearing a Coyotes uniform next season. Hobey Baker candidate, Kevin Porter came ready to play and delivered four goals in a 5-1 victory over Niagara. His linemate Chad Kolarik chipped in with five assists. Chris Summers was the only Coyotes’ prospect that was held off the scoresheet that night. For Porter, the four goals were a career high and the most scored in a tournament game since 1990.

Michigan closed out the East Regional with a dominant 2-0 win over Clarkson and once again it was Porter and Kolarik doing the damage. Porter had a goal and an assist and Kolarik added a helper to lead Michigan into the Frozen Four.

For the weekend, Porter had five goals and one assist, and Kolarik had six assists. They are clearly the front runner to win it all and these guys are giving Coyotes’ fans a lot to be excited about.

West Regional

The opponent for Michigan would come out of the West and provide the Wolverines with a familiar foe from the gridiron. Most experts did not have the fourth seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish penciled in for a trip to Denver, but they entered this regional with a different plan. The weekend started with an upset of Daniel Winnik’s alma mater, The University of New Hampshire. The Irish lit up the Wildcats 7-3, led by two goals from Christian Hanson (Son of Dave Hanson from Slapshot’s “The Hanson Brothers”) and moved on to face defending National Champion Michigan State. Once again, Hanson delivered with a goal and an assist as Notre Dame punched their ticket to Denver with a convincing 3-1 win to earn their first ever berth in the Frozen Four.

Northeast Regional

Blake Wheeler
Blake Wheeler’s Minnesota Gophers entered this regional with the hope of making another trip to the Frozen Four. Those dreams were ended by the Boston College Eagles who prevailed 5-2. Coyotes 2006 7th round draft pick Benn Ferriero led BC with a goal and two assists. Wheeler chipped in with one assist for the Gophers, but it was not enough to extend their season.

In the regional final, BC went to overtime with the number one seed Miami (Ohio). At the 12:12 mark of OT, Joe Whitney scored a miraculous goal that sent BC to their third consecutive Frozen Four.

Midwest Regional

Kyle Turris and the Wisconsin Badgers entered this region as the host with games being played on campus at the Kohl Center in Madison. With the home crowd rocking, the Badgers took care of business and disposed of Denver 6-2. Turris had an assist on a second period goal by defenseman Jamie McBain, and was clearly one of the most skilled players on the ice all night.

The only thing standing in between Turris and a berth in the Frozen Four was perennial power North Dakota. The Badgers would take a 1-0 lead on a remarkable pass from Turris, who found McBain on the far side of the net for a fantastic goal. The announcers described it as a no look pass and the replays proved their point. Turris’ showed the type of supreme vision that only the best players in the world have.

Kyle Turris drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Wisconsin would take a 2-0 into the third period, but the Fighting Sioux scored two goals early in the period in less than a minute.

In overtime, the crowd was electric in Badgerville as they stood on their feet trying to will their team to the Frozen Four. Unfortunately, it did not take long for North Dakota to end that quest as Andrew Kozek scored just 1:47 into overtime to claim the final ticket to Denver.

That ended Kyle Turris’ first season at Wisconsin so now the question is whether he will return for his sophomore season, or turn pro and join the Phoenix Coyotes.

Frozen Four Preview

When you think about great rivalries in college athletics you always have to mention the Michigan/Notre Dame football rivalry. Now these storied programs head to the ice for what will be their most meaningful duel ever at the rink. Michigan will be a heavy favorite in this game with Kevin Porter leading the charge, but in a one game elimination showdown anything is possible.

The other national semifinal features two of the usual suspects at this event. Few programs can match the history that Boston College and North Dakota bring to the table. This will be a dogfight as east meets west for a shot at playing for all the marbles.

After watching all the regionals, it would be hard to go against the Wolverines. They have a hot goaltender in Billy Sauer coming off a shutout. Chris Summers anchors a talented defense that can match the speed of their opponent’s forwards, and contribute on the offensive end. Speaking of offense, Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik can provide plenty of that. These guys can take over a game and that is what you need at the big dance.

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