The beginning of the end of the long college hockey season occurred Thursday when Providence College defeated Nebraska-Omaha, 4-1, and Boston University beat North Dakota, 5-3, in the Frozen Four semifinal games at TD Garden in Boston. The Friars and Terriers, Hockey East rivals, will meet Saturday night for the national championship. They split their regular-season series, each winning at home
When did this ice marathon start? Would you believe Oct. 4? At six months, men’s hockey is the longest season of any college sport. The icemen start before many homecoming football games and end after both men’s and women’s Final Fours. Start before the World Series and end after Opening Day. As Gary Santaniello wrote in The New York Times Thursday, PC and Omaha will played 11 days after they won their regional titles, 18 days after Minnesota won the NCAA women’s hockey title and on the first day of the Masters golf tournament. They played as college softball and lacrosse teams approach the end of their regular seasons this month.
Travel logistics and television schedules account in part for the delay between the regional finals and the Frozen Four, he writes.
College seasons in general are out of whack. Football in mid-January? Lacrosse in February? Ridiculous. But as long as television executives throw money at the NCAA and college conferences, there’s no going back.
Coach Nate Leaman’s team made PC’s 11th appearance in the NCAA hockey tournament and their first Frozen Four showing since losing the 1985 final. The Friars are 25-13-2. They finished second in Hockey East with a 13-8-1 record. They lost a pair of 2-1 overtime games to New Hampshire in the Hockey East quarterfinals and received an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. They defeated Miami and Denver in the East Regional at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Against Omaha, Noel Acciari, Mark Jankowski, Tevor Mingoia and Nick Saracino scored for the Friars, and Jon Gillies made 25 saves. PC outshot ND, 48-26.
Omaha, also an at-large entry, finished is 20-13-6 and made its third NCAA appearance. The Mavericks lost in the first round in 2006 and 2011.
BU, the Hockey East champion and No. 3 seed, defeated Yale in overtime and Minnesota-Duluth in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Terriers improved to 27-7-5. North Dakota, the No. 2 seed, finished 27-11-3.