25 things about the Frozen Four

ASSOCIATED PRESS North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg is, appropriately enough, from Thief River Falls, Minn.
ASSOCIATED PRESS North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg is, appropriately enough, from Thief River Falls, Minn.
Posted: April 10, 2014

THE FROZEN FOUR is much more than a cute name. It is NCAA hockey at its best.

Granted, college hockey and Philadelphia go together like cheesesteaks and warm milk, but the four remaining teams each offer their own pieces of intrigue.

There's the local kid at Boston College who is hoping for one of the all-time homecomings. Fingers crossed, the Ghost of Union College will call the city of brotherly shove his home for a long time. And North Dakota and Minnesota, two of the sports' storied programs, renew their rivalry.

There is no fighting in college hockey, but there's plenty of intensity. Here are 25 things to know about the four teams that have come to Philadelphia to decide this year's NCAA champion:

1 North Dakota goalie Zane Gothberg appropriately hails from Thief River Falls, Minn. Since Nov. 30, he is 18-4-1 and his 1.71 goals-against average and .934 save percentage suggest he's been stealing games regularly.

2 Boston College's Johnny Gaudreau is the nation's leading scorer and a native of Carneys Point in South Jersey. Gaudreau, a junior and property of the NHL's Calgary Flames, has 35 goals and 77 points in 39 games. He started high school at Gloucester Catholic but graduated from Dubuque (Iowa) Senior High School.

3 Gaudreau registered his first career hat trick in BC's 6-2, opening-round win against Denver. He also chipped in three assists as he and linemates Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes accounted for all six goals.

4 Gaudreau's brother, Matthew, is a freshman at Boston College. He has played in eight games this season, with one goal.

5 Know who else grew up in Carneys Point? Actor Bruce Willis.

6 NHL draft picks on each team's roster: Minnesota 14, North Dakota 14, Boston College 10, Union 1.

7 North Dakota leading scorer Rocco Grimaldi, the MOP of the Midwest Regional, is 5-6, 172 pounds.

8 Union coach Rick Bennett was suspended for two games for going after RPI coach Seth Appert on the ice after a game in January. Forget any meltdown John Tortorella or Bobby Knight ever had. This guy lost his mind that day. It's on YouTube.

9 Minnesota plays North Dakota in tomorrow's second semifinal. It will be the 282nd varsity meeting between the two schools, which are former rivals in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

10 Boston College forward Patrick Brown's father, Doug, played 15 seasons in the NHL and was part of the Red Wings team that swept the Flyers in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals.

11 Conference-hopping wasn't limited to basketball and football. Minnesota played in the Big Ten this year. North Dakota is a member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. This was the inaugural hockey season for both leagues.

12 Union plays its home games at Frank L. Messa rink in Schenectady, N.Y. Capacity is 2,054. The Wells Fargo Center can hold up to 20,327 for hockey.

13 North Dakota recorded the most pulsating regional final victory to reach the Frozen Four when it beat Wisconsin, 2-1, in double overtime. Connor Gaarder was the hero.

14 North Dakota's defensemen average 2.76 points per game and have 31 goals in 41 games. Four of the blue-liners - Jordan Schmaltz, Nick Mattson, Dillon Simpson and Paul LaDue - have at least 20 points. New Hampshire is the only other school to have four defensemen with at least 20.

15 Minnesota's Kyle Rau has 47 career goals; 19 have been game-winners. He scored in overtime to give the Gophers the first-ever Big Ten regular-season championship. In high school, Rau scored in triple overtime to give Eden Prairie a Minnesota state championship.

16 Union is in just its second Frozen Four, though many of the players remain from the 2012 run to Tampa, which ended quickly in the semifinals.

17 Minnesota assistant coach Grant Potulny is the older brother of former Flyers farmhand Ryan Potulny.

18 Boston College's Jerry York is college hockey's winningest coach with 963 victories. He is in his 42nd year overall and 20th at BC. He won national titles with Bowling Green in 1984 and with Boston College in 2001, '08, '10 and '12.

19 Minnesota, Boston College and Union all were No. 1 seeds in their respective four-team regionals. North Dakota was a No. 4 seed.

20 Minnesota sophomore goaltender Adam Wilcox was the Big Ten player of the year. He's 21-10-3 in his career against ranked opponents.

21 Union was ranked No. 1 for the first time ever when the most recent poll came out just before the start of the NCAA Tournament on March 24.

22 The three Reilly kids on Minnesota's roster are brothers. Connor and Ryan are 22-year-old twins and forwards; Mike is a 20-year-old sophomore who plays defense.

23 North Dakota does not have a nickname. The school discontinued the use of "Fighting Sioux" after the 2013 academic season and will not have an official replacement until at least 2015. The school could pay homage to all the lawyers who bring frivolous lawsuits and call itself the "Fighting Sue." Rim shot.

24 This will be a fascinating few days for Union College's Shayne Gostisbehere, a third-round pick of the Flyers in 2012. Gostisbehere, or "Ghost" as his teammates call him, is 5-11, 170 pounds and one of the best defensemen in college hockey. He wears No. 24 and his name is pronounced GOSS-tiss-bear. However, when the Flyers' defense was especially porous in midseason, hopeful fans were calling him GotsToBeHere.

25 Gostisbehere says things are different from Union's previous Frozen Four trip. "We were just happy to be there," he said after Union won its spot in this year's Frozen Four. "This year, we want to do some damage. It's not good just getting there. We want to win the whole thing. We won't be satisfied until the job is done."

On Twitter: @EdBarkowitz

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