Badgers Take Frozen Four

The Frozen Four is what all collegiate hockey teams aspire to reach. For a short time this season many people thought that our Vermont Catamounts had a chance to be in this glorious position. But it was not to be. The Catamount’s league, Hockey East, was well represented by the Maine Black Bears and the Boston College Eagles who both made it to the final four. The top team in the tournament, the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota joined Maine and BC to make up an intriguing Frozen Four. The first semifinal pitted the Eagles versus the Fighting Sioux in a rematch of last year’s regional final, which North Dakota won handily 6-3. The Eagles jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. They were carried by their senior captain and Hobey Baker Award Finalist, Chris Collins, who finished the game with an impressive hat trick and lead his team on both the offensive and defensive end.North Dakota was able to crack through BC goalie Corey Schneider, who brought a six period shutout streak into the game. But their five goals were not enough to catch the offensively charged Eagles, who won 6-5.The other semifinal matched the Black Bears against the Badgers.Like Boston College, Wisconsin is lead by solid goaltending from Brian Elliot, who had his shutout streaked snapped in the semifinal, and stellar leadership from Robbie Earl, who lead the Badgers with two goals and an assist.The Badgers and Black Bears played even for the fist part of the game but Wisconsin used the leverage of a partisan crowd to lift themselves to a 5-2 victory and a date in the finals with Boston College.The Black Bears cut the lead to 3-2 on a goal with less then nine minutes remaining in the game. But the Badgers responded just a minute later and then put the game out of reach with an empty netter with just over a minute remaining.The final featured a clash of styles. The BC Eagles play a high energy, emotional style of hockey contrasted with the Wisconsin Badgers who play a very physical, fast game.But both teams rely heavily on their goaltender to lead them and keep them in games. And this is exactly what they did.Schneider kept the Eagles in the game by stopping 17 of 17 shots in the first period and making an incredible 37 saves in the game. But it was not enough against the physically superior Badgers, who won 2-1.Wisconsin had an absurd home ice advantage at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is just over an hour away from their campus in Madison. Of the 17,814 fan more then 17,000 were clad in red and cheering the Badgers.The Eagles jumped out to the early lead on a gritty goal by Pa Gannon off a pass from Dan Bertram.Bertram came out of the penalty box and outworked a Wisconsin skater for the put on the forecheck and fed Gannon streaking in front of the net. Gannon put a backhanded shot high over Elliot’s shoulder to give BC a 1-0 lead.That lead would only last until the first minute of the second period.The Badger’s Earl got checked at center ice and was making his way to the bench when he saw his teammate, Joe Pavelski, steal the puck in the Eagle’s zone. Earl, selected the Most Outstanding Player in the Frozen Four, immediately rushed towards the net and got a beautiful pass from Adam Burish that he buried in the back of the net.The teams would continue to play even until midway through the third period.Boston College committed eight penalties in the game and had been able to kill all of them. But with 10:28 remaining in the third period Wisconsin finally broke through on the power play.Tom Gilbert, a self described “offensive defenseman,” received a pass from Pavelski and ripped a shot from between the circles that found its way past Schneider to the back of the net.The Eagles played hard the rest of the period but were not able to break through against Wisconsin resilient power play defense that has not given up a goal in 36 opportunities.Boston College had a great chance at the end of the game but Peter Harrold hit the inside of the right post with 1.7 seconds left in the game.”Unfortunately, a quarter-inch to the right and it bounces out,” Harrold said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes, I guess.”