Minnesota and North Dakota, longtime rivals from the NCAA's Western Collegiate Hockey Association, have faced off every season since 1947 until this year, when Minnesota joined the Big Ten. Even though they didn't meet in the regular season, the two have advanced to the Frozen Four semifinals on April 10.
"I almost had a kind of inkling about it once North Dakota won [Saturday]," Minnesota coach Don Lucia told The Associated Press
. "It's like, 'I guess we have to win now, because we can't go a year without playing.'"
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The winner of the two will advance to meet the winner of the Boston College-Union matchup.
"Going to the Frozen Four, it never gets old. It's a thrill," Lucia added. "To be able to come back this year and get back to Philadelphia, it's a real credit to our group of guys."
It's been more than 10 years since The Gophers emerged national champions in 2002 and 2003, and the team will now have the chance to right its wrongs — like when it lost semifinal games to North Dakota in 2005 and Boston College two years ago.
Boston College beat out UMass-Lowell 4-3 on Sunday, reaching the Frozen Four for the 11th time in 17 years.
Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox made 24 saves on Sunday to clench his fourth shutout of the season, while Justin Kloos scored two of The Gophers' four goals. Wilcox is the Big Ten player of the year and Hobey Baker Award candidate.
"I think that we got some momentum right away with our first shift getting in deep and then we just kept going," said Kloos. "There was no doubt in our minds that we were going to be able to keep the momentum after that first one went in."
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