DU PIONEERS COAST
A win away from Frozen Four
cincinnati » In just its fifth year of Division I hockey, Penn State stands in the way of the University of Denver’s quest for an eighth national title.
The third-seeded Nittany Lions routed No. 2 Union 10-3 in Saturday’s second Midwest Regional semifinal to set the stage for Sunday’s regional championship against the top-ranked Pioneers at the U.S. Bank Arena. The winner advances to the NCAA Frozen Four, to be held April 6-8 at Chicago’s United Center.
Penn State (25-11-2), the Big Ten Conference Tournament champion, scored the last seven goals against Union. The game was tied 3-3 midway through the second period before the Nittany Lions took control.
“They are a great transition team that is incredibly resilient,” DU coach Jim Montgomery said of Penn State, which finished fourth in the Big Ten regular season. “You look at what they’ve done over the last two weeks, winning that Big Ten championship with back-to-back, double-overtime games (against Minnesota and Wisconsin) and then coming out with a dominating performance against Union with the offensive flair. It shows that we’re going to have to be great in our transition to defense and we have to make sure we force them to play in their D-zone.”
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky, who played forward at Colorado College (198589), is close friends with DU assistant coach Tavis MacMillen, who coached under Gadowsky at Alaska-Fairbanks for four seasons ending in 2002-03. When Gadowsky left the Nanooks to become coach at Princeton in 2004, MacMillen was hired as his successor.
Gadowsky was hired in 2011 to lead Penn State to Division I, and Montgomery thinks the Gadowsky-MacMillen relationship could help the Pioneers prepare.
“Tavis knows how he coaches them; he knows what he’ll be telling his players,” Montgomery said.
Penn State entered Saturday scoring 3.97 goals per game, ranking second nationally. Denver has the country’s top-ranked defense, allowing just 1.80 goals per game.