Apologies to all the Sioux fans who apparently came here looking for fawning praise of their team's performance today. They got absolutely blown out by Boston College, and there's not a lot of positives to point out.
I will say that the Sioux looked nothing like the North Dakota team that played much of the second half of the regular season. They just happened to hit a rough patch at the wrong time in the season. They were able to get away with it in the regional tournament since they had a pretty easy draw. They ended up beating a team that needed an automatic bid to qualify for the tournament, and squeaked out a win against a team that didn't belong in the tournament. Today, against an opponent of equal ability, they got hammered.
A lot of the problems North Dakota had against Princeton, specifically some defensive breakdowns, happened again today. The difference was that Jean-Philippe Lamoureux wasn't playing well at all today, as opposed to his stellar play in the regional final. North Dakota's powerplay also look completely out of sync this afternoon, which was something they really relied upon against Princeton.
Also, for as anti-Gerbe as I've been all year, he did have a great game today. For what it's worth, I have absolutely no problem with him being on any All-American team, because he's definitely one of the best players in the country. But the fact remains that he's also one of the very few players in the country to draw a non-fighting suspension from his league, which should probably eliminate him from an award where one of the main criteria is on-ice character.
The second game of the day between Notre Dame and Michigan was a great one. It was like a great heavyweight fight where one team would get knocked, then pick themselves up off the mat and deliver a heavy punch of their own. Any game with about 4 huge momentum swings like that is a great one.
Billy Sauer was almost painful to watch for Michigan. It really seemed like he had turned a corner with a solid season, and great play in the regional final. Then he let in three goals, all shots he should have stopped, with each goal getting progressively softer. It was a pretty gutsy move by Red Berenson to switch goalies after the first period, but probably a move that had to be made because of the way Sauer struggled.
You have to give Notre Dame a lot of credit for not panicking after Michigan tied the game in the third period. It's probably a concern that Michigan was able to crawl back into the game after Notre Dame built a big lead, though I thought 3 of Michigan's 4 goals came off lucky bounces for Michigan.
Ryan Thang and Kevin Deeth really played outstanding games for Notre Dame. Notre Dame has some great senior leaders in guys like VanGuilder and Sheahan, but I really think their sophomore class brings a lot of talent and energy to the table, and is a big reason why they've been so good the past two years. On a similar note, Michigan's freshmen line of Matt Rust, Carl Hagelin, and Aaron Palushaj played a great game for Michigan. They bring a lot of effort and intensity every night, and are a big reason why Michigan was, and will be, so successful.
It sets up an interesting final match-up between Notre Dame and Boston College. Notre Dame has beaten BC the last three times these teams have met, including a 7-1 win in Boston last year. Boston College is playing exceptional hockey right now, while Notre Dame just seems to have fate on their side. Hopefully it should be another fast-paced, high-scoring game.