Harvard Frozen Four Bound
The Harvard Crimson hockey team is going for title as only four teams remain in the chase for 2017 Men’s NCAA Ice Hockey Championship. The Frozen Four stage is set in the windy city of Chicago where Harvard will meet the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on Thursday, April 6th at 6 p.m. On the other side of the bracket, Denver University and Notre Dame will square off in the late game at 9:30 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPN2, with the championship game taking place on Saturday, April 8, at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
Harvard secured the top seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament fresh off winning the ECAC Hockey playoffs. It was the Crimson’s 10th ECAC Hockey title and second in the last three years. In its 24th NCAA Tournament appearance, Harvard drew the Providence Friars in its first-round game. The Crimson took down the Friars 3-0 thanks to a dominant performance from junior goaltender Merrick Madsen, who stopped a career-high 41 saves in the opening-round game. The Crimson lit the lamp early in the second period to break the scoreless tie and added a late goal in the period to extend their lead to 2-0. The defense held strong as Harvard was rewarded with their first NCAA Tournament win since 1994 and first tournament shutout since 1987.
The Crimson then found themselves in an East Region final against the Air Force Falcons. Harvard got off to a fast start in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, taking a 3-0 lead almost halfway into the second period. Sophomore Viktor Dombrovskiy got the Crimson on the board in the first period to take the early lead while Madsen held strong with 10 saves. The momentum continued into the second when the Crimson scored twice in under a minute to grab a 3-0 lead. Air Force turned on the jets and got right back in the game with two goals of their own just 15 seconds apart. The third period belonged to the Crimson defense who held the Falcons to only eight shots in the frame, including only one in the first nine minutes to preserve the lead and extend their win streak to 16-straight games, the longest winning streak in program history. Following the game, goaltender Madsen was named the East Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, the first Harvard player to earn MOP honors at an NCAA Regional.
Though the Crimson are riding a very impressive winning streak, the Bulldogs of Minnesota-Duluth also enter the Frozen four on a current seven-game win streak of their own. This is Harvard’s 10th Frozen Four in program history and first since 1994, while the Bulldogs make their fifth appearance and first return since their 2011 championship. Minnesota-Duluth owns the series record (9-4) between the two with the last meeting coming 1996. A fun note: the Bulldog’s also won their version of the “Beanpot” this year taking home the North Star College Cup.
Harvard wasn’t the only team from the Boston area in the field of 16 when the tournament began; in fact, it could have been a Boston-on-Boston semifinal if Minnesota-Duluth hadn’t beat Boston University 3-2 in the West Region final. Umass Lowell also fell in their regional final 3-2 to Notre Dame.
For tickets and more information on the Frozen Four, visit http://www.ncaa.com/sports/icehockey-men/d1.