Game Preview: UND vs. Boston College

April 5, 2007. St. Louis, Missouri. The NCAA Frozen Four semifinal. Yet another in a seemingly endless string of bouts between two heavyweights. Arguably the two hottest teams in the tournament: Boston College, winners of 12 straight games, versus North Dakota, winners of 19 of their last 21 contests. A furious final seven minutes turns a 2-2 tie into a 6-4 Eagles victory.

This type of game has become almost commonplace for these two clubs. Over the last nine seasons, Boston College and North Dakota have met six times in the NCAA tournament, including 4 times in the Frozen Four and twice for the National Championship.

Before we look forward to this Friday’s matchup, let’s look back at some memorable moments in what has become an intense rivalry….

March 28, 1999. Madison, Wisconsin. BC defeats UND 3-1 (en) in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Sioux, who received a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament, lose for only the sixth time all season, and finish the year at 32-6-2, one game short of the Frozen Four.

April 8, 2000. Providence, Rhode Island. UND defeats BC 4-2 (en) in the NCAA title game to claim its 7th national championship. The Sioux rally from a 2-1 deficit after two periods.

April 7, 2001. Albany, New York. BC defeats UND 3-2 (OT) to win its first NCAA crown since 1949. Krys Kolanos nets the game-winner at 4:43 of overtime after UND scores twice in the final four minutes of regulation to even the score.

March 26, 2005. Worcester, Massachusetts. UND defeats BC 6-3 in the NCAA East Regional Final to advance to the first of three consecutive Frozen Fours. Colorado College, Denver, and Minnesota also advance, setting up an all-WCHA Frozen Four.

April 6, 2006. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. BC defeats UND 6-5 in the Frozen Four semifinal. North Dakota scores twice in the final five minutes to make it close, but it’s too little, too late.

While the fans love to look back and wonder, the players and coaches are focused on the upcoming weekend. UND junior forward and reigning Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan was asked if he viewed this Friday’s contest as some sort of “revenge game” from the past two years.

“Not at all,” Duncan said. “For us, this is the second game of our season. We want to keep developing as a team. We’re looking at this game as a tremendous challenge against a great opponent. I think both teams are familiar with each other because of our history over the last couple years which should make for a very exciting and competitive game.”

Both teams lose just a handful of players from last season. Boston College will miss Brian Boyle and Joe Rooney. North Dakota will have to do without Jonathan Toews, Brian Lee, and Chris Porter. But the Eagles and Sioux are loaded with offensive talent and defensive experience. UND carries 14 juniors and seniors on its roster; BC 15.

So the difference may very well come down to these names:

Jean-Phillippe Lamoureux and Cory Schneider.

UND’s Lamoureux (21-12-4, 2.42 GAA, .913 SV last year) is back for his senior season between the pipes. BC’s Schneider (29-12-1, 2.15 GAA, .925 SV) departed for the pros, giving up his final season of eligibility.

So while North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol knows what he can expect from his senior netminder, Boston College head coach Jerry York thinks he knows what he has in John Muse and fellow freshmen goaltenders Alex Kremer and Andrew Margolin.

“We have some really top-end offensive players and we’re very solid defensively,” York says of his Eagles squad. “I think Johnny [Muse] is going to give us enough strength in goal.”

Both Boston College and North Dakota faced an early test in non-conference action last weekend. North Dakota downed Michigan State University 6-0 in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game (Grand Forks, North Dakota), while the Eagles fell to Michigan 4-3 in overtime in the opening game of the Ice Breaker Invitational (St. Paul, Minnesota). BC recovered from its opening round loss to defeat RPI 4-1 in the consolation game.

“It’s good for the team,” York said of having to face Michigan and North Dakota in its first three games of the season. “We’ve got to get prepared for Hockey East and the challenges it has.”

Boston College Team Profile

Head Coach: Jerry York (14th season at BC, 312-170-42, .635)
This Season: 1-1-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East
Last Season: 29-12-1 (NCAA runner-up), 18-8-1 Hockey East (2nd)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Nathan Gerbe (25-22-47 last season), Junior F Benn Ferriero (23-23-46), Senior D Mike Brennan (0-11-11). Junior D Brett Motherwell (3-25-28) and Senior D Brian O’Hanley (2-3-5) are out of the lineup indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Junior F Brock Bradford (19-26-45) is on the roster this year but is out ten weeks or so after suffering a broken arm in the second period of Friday’s overtime loss to Michigan.

North Dakota Team Profile

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 80-45-11, .629)
This Season: 1-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (31-26-57 last season; 2007 Hobey Baker Award winner), Junior F T.J. Oshie (17-35-52), Junior D Taylor Chorney (8-23-31), Senior D Robbie Bina (10-22-32), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (21-12-4, 2.42 GAA, .913 SV)

By The Numbers

Last Meeting: April 5, 2007. Boston College and North Dakota battle in the Frozen Four semifinals, with the Eagles prevailing 6-4.
Last Meeting in Chestnut Hill: October 29, 2004. BC wins 5-3, scoring three times in the first 15 minutes of the game. Jerry York gets career victory number 700.
Most important meetings: The Sioux and Eagles have met twice to decide the National Championship, with UND taking the title in 2000 and BC winning it all in 2001.
All-time: UND leads the all-time series between the schools, 11-9-0 (.550). The teams first met on December 29, 1959, with the Sioux winning 5-3. In addition to the more recent playoff meetings listed above, UND and BC also played in national semifinal games in 1963 and 1965, splitting the two contests. When the newly-formed Hockey East began play in 1984-1985, it created a five-year interlocking schedule with the WCHA. During that time, Boston College and North Dakota met 7 times, with John “Gino” Gasparini’s Fighting Sioux squad going 5-2-0 against Len Ceglarski’s Eagles.

Game News and Notes

UND Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux has started the last 26 games in a row for UND, the fourth longest streak in Sioux history. Boston College head coach Jerry York is in his 36th season of coaching, and holds a career mark of 779-505-76 (.601). The Eagles have made the NCAA tournament the past five seasons and the national championship game the last two. Dave Hakstol joins Jack Parker (Boston University) and Doug Woog (University of Minnesota) as the only coaches to take their first three teams to the Frozen Four. North Dakota and Boston College each have seven NCAA victories over the past three seasons, and are the top two teams over that span. The game will be televised live nationally on CSTV at 7 p.m. Central time. After the game on Friday, UND will battle Northeastern (Boston, MA) on Saturday in non-conference action, while Boston College will head to Burlington, Vermont for a Sunday clash with the University of Vermont Catamounts in the conference opener for both teams. UND opens its conference schedule with a two-game series at Michigan Tech (Houghton, MI) on October 26-27.

The Prediction

Judging from last Friday’s 6-0 shutout of Michigan State, UND will not start slowly this season. Goaltending and special teams play will be keys. Both teams can be lethal on the power play and stifling on the penalty kill. The edge goes to UND and senior netminder Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who proved last weekend that he can play big in big games. UND 4-2.

Click here for the UND/BC Game React. Thanks for reading, and, as always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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