The Union College hockey team missed out on a chance of playing Boston College in last year’s NCAA hockey tournament Frozen Four.
If the Dutchmen want to get back to the Frozen Four, they will have to go through the defending NCAA champion Eagles.
Union (21-12-5) will face Boston College (22-11-4) in the East Regional semifinal at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., it was announced Sunday night during the NCAA Hockey Selection Show. The game will be televised by ESPNU. The Dutchmen, who won the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn., last season, are the No. 3 seed in the East. BC is No. 2.
“Once you get to the NCAA tournament, there’s going to be good teams, no matter who you are playing,” Union junior defenseman and team captain Mat Bodie said in the team’s locker room at Messa Rink after the pairings were announced. “It just so happens we are playing the defending national champions. We’ve had a target on our back for a lot of the year. Now, we can put a target on their back.”
The other semifinal pits ECAC Hockey regular-season champion and top-seeded Quinnipiac against Atlantic Hockey tournament champion Canisius, the No. 4 seed. That game will be played at 5:30 p.m. The semifinal winners will play in the championship game Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
The Dutchmen earned an automatic bid by winning their second straight ECACH tournament title with a 3-1 victory over Brown on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Union is in the NCAAs for the third straight year. The Dutchmen lost to Ferris State, 3-1, in last year’s Frozen Four semifinals. Ferris State lost to BC, 4-1, in the final. Ironically, ESPNU was re-airing that game prior to the selection show.
The Eagles, who lost to Boston University, 6-3, in the Hockey East tournament semifinals on Friday, received an at-large bid.
It will be the first meeting between Union and BC. The Eagles have won five NCAA titles, including four under coach Jerry York. Besides last year, the other titles were in 2001, 2008 and 2010.
“You give credit where credit is due,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “They’re one of the best hockey programs, if not the best hockey program, in college hockey the past few seasons. It’s well-earned and well-deserved. You want to respect your opponent, but at the same token, not respect them in the fact that we have to play our game and just stick to our systems.”
The East Regional was the first bracket posted on the show. As the Union-BC matchup appeared on the TV, the players had no reaction. They treated it like a business meeting.
“We have a standard set here at Union,” said junior goalie Troy Grosenick, who won the Most Outstanding Player of the ECACH tournament. “Just getting in is not good enough. Just like last year, we want to get in and we want to make some noise. Obviously, we’ve set a pretty high standard for ourselves last year. Now, it’s all about working hard and eclipsing that point.”
The Eagles are led by sophomore forward and Hobey Baker Award finalist Johnny Gaudreau, who has 20 goals and 30 assists.
BC also features senior defenseman and Clifton Park native Patch Alber. Alber, who missed several games because of a torn meniscus, has three assists in 17 games.