Can the Miami Redhawks Advance to Their First Frozen Four in Program History?
The Redhawks have been in this position before, one win shy of a trip to college hockey's prestigious national semifinals, known as the Frozen Four.
Three times in the last four years, Miami of Ohio has fallen to the Boston College Eagles in the NCAA Tournament, and two of those season-ending loss have come at this very stage.
This year's Redhawk team carries with it the emotion of those defeats, especially last season's, in which the Eagles made a dramatic comeback to defeat Redhawks en route to an NCAA Championship victory against Notre Dame.
Yet this younger and less experienced team that relies on the ability of two freshman goaltenders to protect the net on any given night appears to be less anxious and more determined than ever.
Last night, Miami defeated the Denver Pioneers by a score of 4-2, sending the one-seed in the Minneapolis regional back home, wondering what had just taken place at Mariucci Arena, home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Justin Mercier, Alden Hirschfeld, Bill Loupee, and Andy Miele all scored for the Redhawks, who are now 3-5 in NCAA Tournament games under Coach Enrico Blasi.
The team's matchup tonight will be against a University of Minnesota-Duluth team that will be riding after a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Princeton in which the Bulldogs scored two goals in the last minute to force overtime against the third-seeded Tigers.
The last-minute rally by UMD was unprecedented, as they used a six-on-four empty-net advantage to put the puck past the Princeton goaltender. To make things even more exciting, the game-tying goal by Evan Oberg came with a mere 0:00.08 left on the clock. In the extra period, the Bulldogs' Mike Connolly scored the game-winning goal on a power play resulting from Princeton's Cam MacIntyre being called for a tripping penalty.
Tonight should prove to be an interesting battle between teams who have not faced each other since the 2006 regular season, when the Redhawks defeated the Bulldogs to win the Ohio Hockey Classic in Columbus, OH.
The question for the Redhawks is whether or not they will start Cody Reichard or Connor Knapp in goal. Reichard looked very solid against the top-ranked Denver squad, but the two freshman netminders have been alternating starts all season.
Who will Coach Blasi start between the pipes tonight? Tune in at 9:00 p.m. EST to ESPNU to find out which team will be representing the West Regional in this year's Frozen Four in Washington D.C.
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