Frozen Four embodies the good in college sports

Posted April 08, 2011, at 8:33 p.m.
Last modified April 08, 2011, at 9:39 p.m.

There is a certain tingle that still exists when one awakes to the sound of the Notre Dame fight song being played by the Fighting Irish band — live outside your window.

That was the case Thursday morning in St. Paul where the Frozen Four is taking place.

All that is good about college sports seems to surround this yearly event.

Saturday night, Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth will play for the NCAA Division I college hockey championship, so one will not get to hear the Irish bandsmen, but be not forlorn. The Wolverines and Bulldogs have their musicmakers on hand.

College hockey’s premier event drew more than 19,000 for the semifinal games Thursday, and they were outstanding matchups.

Michigan upset North Dakota by shutting down the second-leading offense in Division I. Michigan coach Red Berenson calls his goaltender “the miracle.”

That would be Shawn Hunwick, an unassuming senior who came to Michigan as a walk-on with no promise of ever playing.

Michigan kept bringing in goaltenders who were supposed to be No. 1 and Hunwick kept hanging around.

Berenson said, “He was a No. 3 with no promise to ever play. On December 11 in the Big Chill game (outdoors against Michigan State) he wasn’t supposed to play, but we had an injury so he started. We won 5-0, the players rallied around him, so he got the job.”

Thursday he shut out North Dakota, facing 40 shots, the second-most on the year for him.

Minnesota-Duluth will counter with its own miracle.

Their equipment manager, Chris Garner, had a bone marrow transplant in August as a pre-leukemia treatment. The players didn’t know if he would be back for this hockey season.

He is. In his honor they wear a “bravery” bracelet. The players say they never take it off. Garner is their inspiration.

Michigan has won nine titles, more than any other program, in their record-setting 24 trips to the Frozen Four.

Minnesota-Duluth has never won a title in its 50 years in Division I and has been to the Frozen Four just four times.

Jack Connolly, their All-American center, said, “We are looking to make history in our program.”

At the beginning of the NCAA tourney, the USA Hockey/USA Today poll had Michigan ranked sixth and Minnesota-Duluth 12th.

The heavy favorites are long gone and the two left have played the underdog role most of the season.

No more.

The goaltender who could will face the team wanting to make history.

There will be one more miracle on Saturday night.

SEE COMMENTS →

View stories by school

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Sports