INCH spoke with coaches of teams that have played this year’s Frozen Four participants. We offered them anonymity in exchange for their candid takes on strengths and weaknesses of the 2012 quartet.
MINNESOTA vs. BOSTON COLLEGE
MINNESOTA (28-13-1 overall, 20-8-0 WCHA)
WCHA regular-season champions
NCAA West Regional champions
There’s a lot of similarities with these two teams; it’s not as if there’s a big difference between them in the way they play the game and the type of talent they have.
They have a lot of skill … they’ve got good size, they’ve got skill and speed. That’s a nice asset to have with your forwards. They’ve got good balance. Most of their guys can skate well, so they’re definitely good offensively and have a lot of the puck skills to generate offense and get pucks to the net.
You’re going to have to play well defensively to beat them. They have speed and they create a lot of offense with that speed. They play the transition game well—if you turn over the puck, they capitalize off of them.
You’ve got to put pressure on their defense, get pucks in behind their defensemen, and forecheck aggressively. You can also generate offense by being patient with the puck. Not turning pucks over is very important. Both [Minnesota at Boston College] have good offensive transition and their defensemen activate off the rush and, generally, you’re going to see at least a three-man rush and in many instances, four.
Most Recent Minnesota Line Chart
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing||Notes|
|7-Kyle Rau||27-Nick Bjugstad||24-Zach Budish||The third line of Nate Condon, Travis Boyd, and Taylor Matson combined for three goals, five assists, and a plus-minus rating of +8 in the Gophers’ West Regional wins against Boston University and North Dakota.|
|11-Sam Warning||19-Erik Haula||21-Jake Hansen|
|16-Nate Condon||22-Travis Boyd||9-Taylor Matson|
|14-Tom Serratore||13-Nico Sacchetti||17-Seth Ambroz|
|4-Seth Helgeson||12-Justin Holl||35-Kent Patterson||Minnesota has won nine of its last 11 games since being swept at Denver Feb. 10-11.|
|10-Ben Marshall||20-Mark Alt||1-Michael Shibrowski|
|6-Jake Parenteau||29-Nate Schmidt||30-Jake Kremer|
BOSTON COLLEGE (31-10-1 overall, 19-7-1 Hockey East)
Hockey East regular-season champions
Hockey East tournament champions
NCAA Northeast Regional champions
[Goaltender Parker] Milner’s the big reason why they’ve turned the corner. They’ve always had the talent and the offense and it was just a matter of them getting consistent goaltending. He’s made the difference for them in the last month.
Their goaltending has really solidified, and they’ve played well outside of that. I think right now, Milner’s playing with a lot of confidence, so you’re going to have to get people to the net and crash the net. Milner’s got decent size and plays his position well. The biggest thing that I’ve seen with him right now is that he’s really controlling his rebounds well.
It’s not a matter of slowing them down, but more a matter of picking your poison. You have to be conscious of their top three lines. It’s a matter of offsetting their depth by making good puck decisions and not throwing pucks away and giving them opportunities to get in transition.
You have to play with discipline and keep them off the power play. They have a lot of weapons, and you can’t just isolate one or two guys.
Most Recent Boston College Line Chart
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing||Notes|
|9-Barry Almeida||24-Bill Arnold||21-Steven Whitney||Sophomore forward Bill Arnold has 17 goals on just 76 shots on goal. In Hockey East play, he scored 14 goals on a mere 48 shots.|
|19-Chris Kreider||12-Kevin Hayes||12-Destry Straight|
|13-Johnny Gaudreau||11-Pat Mullane||22-Paul Carey|
|27-Quinn Smith||18-Michael Sit||10-Danny Linell|
|4-Tommy Cross||8-Edwin Shea||35-Parker Milner||The Eagles were the first team to blank both regional opponents since 2006, when eventual national champion Wisconsin and runner-up Boston College did it.|
|2-Brian Dumoulin||6-Patrick Wey||1-Brian Billett|
|7-Isaac MacLeod||3-Patch Alber||30-Chris Venti|