Hanging banners, but not THE banner
When North Dakota won the WCHA regular season and Final Five championships, the Sioux refrained from touching the trophies. They had bigger goals in mind.
After UND’s 2-0 loss to Michigan in the Frozen Four semis on Thursday, it was clear that conference titles, the 32-9-3 record and the numerous individual awards weren’t even close to enough for North Dakota.
“We failed (at) what we were trying to do,” senior defenseman Derrick LaPoint said. “We were trying to win a national championship and we didn’t do it. We can look at what we’ve done and, yeah, it’s great. But this is the biggest stage and you want the biggest trophy.”
LaPoint was just one of seven seniors on this talented Sioux roster, which sees one of the deepest senior classes graduate without a national title to their credit.
“To not do it, it’s a failure, at least in my mind,” LaPoint added. “We had an outstanding season and won those games and championships. But to not win a national championship, it’s a failure in my mind.”
Fresh out of the tournament, Notre Dame has fresh faces for the future
Despite falling to Minnesota-Duluth in the first national semifinal on Thursday, the staff and players in the Notre Dame program have to be optimistic about their future.
The Irish have two of the country’s best freshmen in T.J. Tynan and Anders Lee. Add to the mix sophomores Riley Sheahan (forward) and Mike Johnson (goalie), and one could expect Notre Dame to be contending for a national crown again next April in Tampa.
Maroon and very gold
When the playoffs started, Minnesota-Duluth decided to bleach their hair to build chemistry for the postseason. With the Bulldogs making a run to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, just two hours from Duluth, UMD fans thought they would show up sporting similar hairdos to the ones the players have.
Hundreds of maroon and gold-wearing Bulldog fans were at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, with the gold stretching from head to toe. For the many fans that didn’t want to actually change their hair color, blonde wigs did the trick.
One person who you won’t find with blonde hair is coach Scott Sandelin, who laughed and simply said “no” when asked if he would be taking part in the color change now that his team is in the finals.
Frozen Four Thursday Three Stars
1. Shawn Hunwick, G, Michigan – The Wolverine netminder turned aside all 40 shots he faced to help his team shutout North Dakota, 2-0.
2. J.T. Brown, F, Minnesota-Duluth – The rookie scored his 16th goal of the season, added an assist and made tons of great plays in UMD’s 4-3 win against Notre Dame.
3. UMD power play/Michigan defense – The two victorious teams took very different routes to the championship game. Minnesota-Duluth was very creative on the man-advantage, going 3-for-6 with seven shots. Michigan, on the other hand, stifled North Dakota with 16 blocked shots, was a perfect four-of-four on the penalty kill and did all the little things right in its own end to preserve the win.