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The Face-Off Tackle Empire: The 2014 Frozen Four Chat Part II Championship Edition

Now with more Gopher chaos!


I still can't believe that Minnesota win over North Dakota. Talk about the craziest finish in almost any sporting event I have ever seen, but I suppose that should just be expected when there is this much on the line and the teams are about as good as you are going to get in the Frozen Four, huh? Anyhow, I asked GoAUpher, our resident Gopher hype man here at OTE, to give me his thoughts on that win - both coherently and incoherently - and here is what he sent me:

I mean, if there is an advertisement to why we need a larger B1G hockey conference, this should be it. All fans should have a chance to go full reactionary and have as much fun as GoAUpher did, right? And if not, I think at minimum you should be able to then calm down and come up with a response like he did later:

GoAUpher: As for today? Well, I'm tired but happy. That was easily the most exciting goal I've seen in my time as a Gopher hockey fan (I was really only a football and basketball fan in 2002 when the amazing Koalska/Potulny combo from the 2002 Natty Title game happened), and that means the good vibes are going to last for a while. The whole thing was just so crazy and the jubilation was so sudden and overwhelming. I went from being ready to have my heart ripped out (UND had really been on a tear for a while, plus their PP) to pure joy.





The Finals Chat

So I had some original content planned when I wrote Part I, but after that first night of hockey, I scrapped it. FWIW, Big Maple did predict Union and Minnesota in almost perfect scores. Additionally, NC_Buckeye has some really good thoughts on expansion, stipends, and other stuff that we'll have to chat about at another time. But, in the interest of actually following what was going on, I asked for some feedback on what we'll see tonight. Here is what I got:

1) How crazy was that Minnesota win? I mean, BC technically had a chance on that last shot, but HOW CRAZY WAS MINNESOTA?

NC_Buckeye: The thing is -- the Gophers were frustrated the whole game. UND did exactly what they intended to do and it was working. For 2 whole periods, Minnesota was not playing like they usually play. But they never gave up. And their diligence was rewarded with .6 seconds left to play. Guess my character question was answered.

Saw on the news the next day there was much celebrating in Minneapolis that night. As much as Gopher fans were celebrating another trip to the finals, I think they were having fun with how they ripped the hearts out of every [redacted] fan. I read more than a couple comments on TDG that UND tears were delicious. I imagine it's not easy being a Gopher fan. But Thursday night was a good night to be a Minnesotan. Good on them.

What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Big Maple: In my 40+ years of watching and playing hockey I don't think I have seen anything quite like that. I've seen tons of last second heroics here and there, but nothing quite like that. 9 seconds left, down a man because of a penalty, and a face off in your own end. So what happens? They go the whole length of the ice and a guy gets his first goal of the season with .06 left on the clock, wins the game and sends them to the national final. The writers of the Mighty Ducks movies couldn't even dream that up, it's too unbelievable. The UND players who were on the ice in stunned silence says it all, you have to feel for those guys (Hey Gopher fans, not really, wink wink).

Jesse: Full disclosure. I had made a mistake and had plans with my dad that night and had to watch on a delay via DVR. I had seen tweets flying in about it, though and kind of cheated to catch up and WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING PEOPLE!?!?!? I have watched a decent amount of hockey in my life, and like Maple said, it's just nothing you can imagine happening. The picture of the two benches right after the goal is scored is the perfect image for sports. In an instant you can have the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

With that said, I think I might have learned more about Union on Friday. I was pretty sure they were legit, but that was a pretty great way to hold BC down. While they did get a chance at the end, you had to be impressed by the relentlessness of Union's defense. When they got a body on him, they made Gaudreau almost look mortal... almost.

2) On that note, talk a little bit about what you see as the turning points in the Union-Minnesota matchup. Do you see either team as specifically more well positioned right now? More importantly, how excited are we to not see that monstrosity of tan/bronze/flesh whatever sweaters BC was wearing. I know Big Maple said they would look bad, but gross.

NC_Buckeye: From the 2 periods I saw of Union-BC -- Union appears to be a very deep, balanced squad. As we all said in the previous piece. But getting past UND now gives the Gophers a chance to get back to playing the way they are used to playing. To unleash the juggernaut. And I don't think Union will be able to frustrate them the way UND did.

Lost in the final .6 seconds of Thursday's night game was the performance of Adam Wilcox. By my count, the [redacted] had 3 very good opportunities (maybe 4) that would have resulted in points had not Wilcox been minding the net. I think Wilcox is going to demonstrate why he should have been included in the "Hobey Hat Trick" (ugh... that's hokey... from now on I'm calling them the Final Three). He's going to make the difference in this game.

Big Maple: It's a one off game for the whole ball of wax, doesn't matter what has happened in any other game this season. you know both teams are going to leave it all out on the ice. Both teams had dramatic victories, so I think both teams are in the same place emotionally. Both teams are fast, and have lightning quick transition games, I fully expect a hard fought war.

Jesse: I think this will all come down to Minnesota playing to potential. Union's defense is better than North Dakota's, and honestly, NoDak kept Minny in check for most of their matchup. In fact, the entire reality of it taking a guy who had not scored a goal all season to for sure extend the Gopher's season is a pretty damning assessment of how the pace had been dictated for them. I think Wilcox will hold up his end of the bargain tonight, but if they think Union rolls over for them, they'll be sorely mistaken.

3) Alright, who wins and what score?

NC_ Buckeye: Sorry Maple, Jesse. You guys are wrong. Tonight the Gophers will win their 6th national championship.

Minnesota 4, Union 2.

Big Maple: I think Union wins this by a goal in OT, a low scoring game where both goalies come up huge at times. So I'll say union 3-2 in OT. (not that I would be upset if the Gophers won, I would be elated). I am so looking forward to this one. Bring on the final!

Jesse: I mean, I picked Minnesota to win already, but I am trying to work backwards a little bit here after seeing both teams play. I don't know. I will go something crazy like Minnesota winning 6-5 in what turns into a barn burner with some more third period magic. Sounds fun, right?

So there you have it. Consider this the open thread for tonight's matchup. Normal rules apply. Don't be stupid, don't post illegal streams, don't be a jackass - includes homophobia, sexism, racism, etc - and have fun. See you then!

Game Time Details

Who: Union (N.Y.) [31-6-4] vs. Minnesota [28-6-6]

What: I don't know, just a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Where: Philadelphia, PA; Wells Fargo Center

When: Tonight, April 12, 7:30 Eastern/6:30 Central