It took overtime, but the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team has their opponent for the 2013 WCHA Final Five semifinals at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. tonight — the Colorado College Tigers.
Many fans believed when they looked at the conference tournament schedule that the Golden Gophers were to get an exciting game against rival North Dakota in front of a sold-out house in St. Paul this evening. The Tigers of CC had other plans when they dispatched UND 4-3 in overtime last night in the tournament’s first round.
That OT win sets up tonight’s semifinal game against CC for the Gophers. Minnesota traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo. earlier in the season for a match-up with the Tigers. A convincing Friday night win back on Dec. 7, 2012 set the Maroon and Gold up for a sweep against a solid CC team.
Minnesota was well on their way to that road sweep when they led 4-1 after the second period in the series finale on Saturday. The Tigers again had other plans and scored three unanswered goals in the third to tie the Gophers and leave a sour taste in their mouth going into the holiday break.
The Gophers showed some resolve and have played great hockey ever since. Just three indoor losses for the team since Saturday night’s cat game back in December.
Minnesota did lose outdoors to Wisconsin at Soldier Field. A mulligan on the schedule if the teams would have dueled at Kohl Center or Mariucci Arena.
The Badgers will take on St. Cloud State University in the afternoon semifinal game at Xcel Center. The winner of each semifinal will move on to the WCHA Final Five Championship game tomorrow at 7:10 p.m. CT again from the X.
This plucky Colorado College team has faced a good amount of adversity as of late. They were the only team in the league to go on the round in the opening round of the playoffs and get a best-of-three series win. They needed all three games to defeat the Denver University Pioneers in their home building last weekend.
A lot of ice time has been logged for CC in the last couple weeks and the Gophers know it. Minnesota is fresh off their tough series win over Bemidji State in the playoff opener and may not be happier to see the Tigers this evening instead of UND.
North Dakota would have been the tougher opponent on paper tonight against the Maroon and Gold, but the Tigers are playing well and riding a hot goalie from nearby Plymouth, Minn. in senior Joe Howe.
The Wayzata High School grad played spectacular versus NoDak last night and will have to do so again as he will likely start against the Gophers.
Howe was in the nets for that Friday night loss back in December. So they have already beaten him once and Minnesota will take all the advantages they can get.
The 7:07 p.m. CT face off draw from Xcel Energy Center tonight could be the last for the Gophers as a member of the WCHA. Lets see if Minnesota can get one step closer to another conference trophy. The Broadmoor Trophy is just two wins away for Minnesota.
It would be a nice way to go out on top of the league heading to the NCAA Tournament and to Big Ten Hockey.