Bruins Beat: Bruins and the Frozen Four

They say, “All good things must come to an end,” and that happened to the Bruins in their 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night. Boston came in to Detroit to face a team that had a six-game losing streak, while the Bruins were riding a three-game win streak. Easy pickings right, wrong…at the end of the night the Boston win streak was over, and on the plus side for the Red Wings their losing streak had ended. For Boston the dreaded ‘injury bug’ has once again hit them, they were already without David Pastrnak and Trent Frederic – and before the night was over they had lost Hampus Lindholm for at least the third period – and possibly longer. In the postgame conference coach Bruce Cassidy explained regarding Lindholm, “He seemed OK in there, so I don’t think it’s serious. But obviously when you don’t come back then you don’t know until you get better information.” As for his summary of the Detroit loss, “We didn’t get any saves when we needed them, we broke down, had some defensemen that got beat one-on-one, they mismanaged pucks. They just need to be better in those situations. But there’s a few rebounds there, puck plays that caused some problems for us as well.” The Bruins begin to wind down their road trip Friday (7:00pm), when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston is now in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 93 points each, tied with Tampa who now has one game in hand. The Washington Capitals will host Boston on Sunday in a 1:30 matinee. The locals return to TD Garden ice on Tuesday to host the St. Louis Blues, and follow up with the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (7:00pm).

FROZEN FOUR BACK IN BOSTON

The NCAA Frozen Four returns to TD Garden, ready to display the excitement of college hockey. The pair of semifinal games will be played tonight, Thursday, April 7th. Michigan will take on Denver Pioneers in the 5:00pm opener, with Minnesota Golden Gophers and Minnesota State Mavericks on the ice for the second game beginning at 8:30pm. Sadly, local hockey fans will not have the opportunity to watch any of their New England teams participating, as none of the group from the East managed to stay in it to the 2022 Frozen Four. TD Garden last hosted the NCAA Frozen Four in 2015, and featured two New England teams in the championship final – The Providence Friars and the Boston University Terriers. Providence emerged victorious, defeating Boston University by a 4-3 score, earning them their first national championship in program history.

Michigan, making their 26th appearance in the Frozen Four will be taking on the Denver Pioneers. These two teams finished the season with pretty even records, Michigan posted an impressive 31-9-1, and Denver just two wins shy, compiling a 29-9-1 tally. On paper, Denver, making their 17th Frozen Four appearance, really shines at home, having earned 17 of their 29 victories on home ice, to go along with one tie, and one loss…probably not much of an advantage when the game is being played miles away in Boston. Bobby Brink, chosen in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft, by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round, 34th overall, is among the 12 NHL picks on the Denver roster. Another Pioneers standout to watch is freshman Carter Mazur, whose offense will be much needed to get past a strong Michigan team. Brink led the country in scoring (14 goals, 14 assists, 56 points), and was recently chosen as one of the Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist, along with Ben Myers (Minnesota) and Dryden McKay (Michigan State). The winner will be announced here in Boston on April 8th.

Michigan has been described as having the talent to beat most any team in the country, especially when they are able to score the first goal. But, it is also noted that they have a tendency to lack the ability to keep the momentum going, often allowing teams to get back into the game. The Wolverines must score quick and often, and keep the pressure on and not allow their opposition to get back into the game – not an easy task for sure! Michigan players most likely to make a mark in the games include, freshman defenseman Luke Hughes who found the back of the net 17 times in his freshman season; center Matty Beniers, a local from Hingham, MA, who led the team with 43 points; and 6’6” – 213 lb. defenseman Owen Power, a point a game player for the Wolverines (32 in 32 games), and a number one overall 2021 draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres.

Thursday night’s second semifinal game will have Minnesota Golden Gophers versus Minnesota State Mavericks. Players to watch in the 8:30 game for Minnesota’s Gophers are, Ben Meyers (Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist); netminder Justen Close who had a stellar season with 14 wins, a 1.83 goals-against-average, and a .929 save percentage; with 6’3” – 210 lb. forward Matt Knies, a 2021 second round Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, who is both physical and can score goals.

Minnesota State Mavericks bring excitement with Nathan Smith, a major part of State’s potent offense; and their Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist, Dryden McKay who fills the net nicely for Minnesota State, putting up impressive numbers, a 1.28 goals-against-average, and a .934 save percentage. The National Championship game is set for Saturday, April 9th, with a scheduled 8:00pm puck drop.

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