Frozen Four heats up: semifinals capsules
With March Madness over, do not fear. You can still satisfy your NCAA sports fix with the start of the Frozen Four on Thursday night. The semifinal round will feature matchups between Yale and UMass Lowell as well as St. Cloud State and Quinnipiac. Thursday night’s games will determine who will go to the finals on Saturday.
Not a huge college hockey fan but interested in watching? Read on! We’ll break down each matchup for you.
Yale vs UMass-Lowell
The 20-12-3 Yale Bulldogs are the first Ivy league school to advance to the Frozen Four since Cornell did it in 2003. Yale, along with Quinnipiac, is trying to become the first ECAC national champion since Harvard in 1989.
Yale is up to a tough task against a red-hot UMass-Lowell team. The River Hawks stand at 28-10-2 and are riding a seven-game win streak into Thursday night’s game. The biggest storyline is their star goalie who amazingly enough is just a freshman. Connor Hellebuyck owns the nation’s top spot in winning percentage (20-2-0), goals-against average (1.31), save percentage (.953) and shutouts (6).
“Connor has been great,” UMass-Lowell junior forward Josh Holmstrom said. “I don’t think he’s playing like a freshman right now. He’s very calm in his demeanor and he doesn’t let too many things get to him.”
Yale certainly has quite a barrier to get over as they try to advance to the finals, and this matchup should provide a great game.
St. Cloud State vs. Quinnipiac
Quinnipiac is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and rightly so as they have been the definition of consistency all season. The Bobcats at one point rode a 21-game unbeaten streak (18-0-3) this season. At 29-7-5 now, they have cooled off a bit but still pose a very big threat to St. Cloud. Quinnipiac’s success comes from their ability to play as a team as they have received key contributions from everyone on the roster all year long. Coach Rand Pecknold is very happy with what he has seen all season, and feels good going into Thursday night’s game.
Don’t count St. Cloud State (25-15-1) out though. They have a lot riding behind them in terms of emotion and pure determination. Fifth-year senior Drew LeBlanc sat out for much of last season due to injury, yet he is skilled enough that he could have turned pro. Instead, LeBlanc chose to return for his redshirt senior season and will play with his heart on his sleeve for his last chance at making it all the way.
“I think he had the feeling that he had unfinished business and he wanted to come back and do it the right way,” St. Cloud coach, Motzko said. “He was coming back more for team reasons, and I couldn’t be any happier for him. It was a pretty gutsy call for him because he had opportunities to leave.”
Where/when to Watch:
Yale vs. UMass-Lowell: 4:30 ET on ESPN2
St. Cloud vs. Quinnipiac: 8:00 ET on ESPN2