NCAA Hockey: Getting to Know the Gophers Opponent, North Dakota

UND celebrates Connor Gaarders overtime goal - Eric Classen UND athletics

UND qualified as the NCAA tournament as the last at-large bid. UND needed a win by the Wisconsin Badgers against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship, in order for them to qualify for the NCAA tourney. Some have said that UND backed into the NCAA tourney. Even some of the pundits are saying the same thing. To be honest with you, it was close.

Good Afternoon Wilderness! This Thursday, North Dakota and Minnesota will play in the semifinals of 2014 NCAA Frozen Four. I am going to give you a brief preview to Thursday's semifinal match-up.

Match-up: University of North Dakota (25-13-3, .646) versus University of Minnesota (27-6-6, .769)

NCAA Frozen Four Semifinal game

Date: Thursday, April 10, 7:30 p.m. CT

Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

TV: ESPN2

Season Series: The two teams didn't play during the regular season.

All-time series record:  Gophers lead the series 138-130-15

Last 10 games: Gophers lead the series 3-6-1.

Common opponents: UND (6-4-1), UMN (7-3-0)

UND qualified as the NCAA tournament as the last at-large bid. UND needed a win by the Wisconsin Badgers against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten championship, in order for them to qualify for the NCAA tourney. Some have said that UND backed into the NCAA tourney. Even some of the pundits are saying the same thing. To be honest with you, it was close.

Chris Peters of the USA of Hockey said this, "UND barely made the national tournament, but ended up dispatching Wisconsin with a last-minute goal and getting past Ferris State in overtime to make it back to the Frozen Four.

Sure, that happened. UND did make the tourney as the last at-large bid, but you don't win 25 games and back into the Frozen Four. While UND is not the mighty Gophers or Boston College, they are a good team that can beat anyone on any given day.

Once you get into the tourney anything can happen and seeding really doesn't matter any more once you get to the Frozen Four. I doubt Minnesota will over look North Dakota. Did Yale back in before beating Minnesota (one seed), North Dakota (two seed), UMass-Lowell (one seed) and Quinnipiac (one seed)?

Minnesota was one of the best teams in the nation all season long. The Gophers won the inaugural Big Ten Hockey Conference regular season championship. There’s not a lot you can say about them. The Gophers roll four lines and have the sixth ranked offense and second ranked defense overall, nationally. They're definitely the favorite in this match-up.

Both teams must play under control

While North Dakota and Minnesota have played 283 times (UND Stats), UND plans to approach this game like any other game. The mission, keep an even keel and not lose their head.

"I think you've got to try your best to approach it like any other game," junior forward Mark MacMillan. "I think any time there's a rivalry game, especially between us and the Gophers, there's a little extra boost. Whether, it's a regular season game, or playing at the Frozen Four in Philly. You have to keep your wits about you, and make sure that you don't get too hyped up about it. But there's definitely always an extra boost when we play against the Gophers." (the Hockey Writers)

Historically, this has been an heated rivalry on the ice. Thursday's game will be more under control. There's way too much at stake

If I was a betting man and I am. I predict that you won't see these kinds of shenanigans on Thursday. The game is too important to be sitting in the penalty box, killing penalties.

Good luck to both teams on Thursday and may the best team win.

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