From the Freep: Men’s hockey prepares to play Gophers in St. Paul

By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The matchup between an eighth and ninth seed in should be, by its nature, one of the closest games of any NCAA tournament. The ninth-seeded Boston University men’s hockey team has plenty in common with its West Regional semifinal opponent, the eighth-seed University of Minnesota, but the differences between the teams’ styles will likely determine which one advances to play on Sunday.

Both teams are coming off semifinal losses, and both the Terriers (23-14-1, 17-10-1 Hockey East) and the Gophers (26-13-1, 20-8-0 WCHA) rely on a strong offensive attack. The Terriers’ 3.58 goals per game lead Hockey East, and the Gophers’ 3.55 rank second in the WCHA.

But while Minnesota’s defense is a difference-maker – holding opponents to 2.2 goals on 24.6 shots per game – BU leans more heavily on its goaltending, giving up 34.6 shots per game while taking 32.

BU senior goalie Kieran Millan has been up to that challenge all year, especially in the Hockey East playoffs, but his 39 saves weren’t enough in the conference semifinals, where BU lost 5-3 to the University of Maine. Four of the Black Bears’ goals in that game came on the power play, and BU coach Jack Parker said special teams will be crucial in Saturday’s game.

“In general, our power play has been a big part of our success all year long up until our recent outage, so to speak . . . so we’re trying to turn that around,” Parker said. “Penalty kill and special teams are always huge in these types of games, so we’d like to stay out of the box and take advantage of any power-play opportunities we get.”

Read more at dailyfreepress.com.

From the Freep: Men’s hockey headed to St. Paul as third seed in NCAA West Regional

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

Despite losing in the Hockey East Semifinals Friday night, senior captain Chris Connolly of the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team was all smiles Sunday afternoon.

The reason? Connolly and the Terriers are headed to Connolly’s home state of Minnesota for the West Regional of the 2012 NCAA Tournament in St. Paul.

After a two-year absence from the national tournament, the Terriers earned an at-large bid due to a 23-14-1 overall record this season. BU is the ninth overall seed in the tournament and will face eighth-seeded University of Minnesota on Saturday at 4 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Fourth-seed University of North Dakota and 14th-seed Western Michigan University fill out the rest of the West Regional bracket.

“This is quite a field, and I think every bracket has tough draws,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “Certainly ours is a tough draw for everybody.”

Read more at dailyfreepress.com.