CHICAGO -- For the fifth time in program history, the UMD men's hockey team is at the NCAA Frozen Four. This time, the Bulldogs are where the tournament bracket expected them to be, if inanimate objects could expect things.
UMD is the No. 2 overall seed in a tournament that saw the top three overall seeds get to Chicago. For an event full of parity for so many years, it's an interesting turn.
This semifinal matchup with Harvard features a lot of cool storylines. The best? UMD senior Carson Soucy is back in the lineup after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. There was a point in time where it wasn't certain he could have played again, even at this stage of the season. That Soucy was able to work his way back to health, and his teammates rallied around him to an extent like they did, says a lot about this group.
What does it change? With the emergence of Nick Wolff and continued stellar play of Neal Pionk (and let's not forget Willie Raskob's continued penchant for playing his best hockey when the ads at a rink are covered by NCAA signage), UMD's coaches have more choices for who to throw on the ice for clutch situations. The six as they're laid out -- with all due respect to seniors Brenden Kotyk and Dan Molenaar, who unquestionably are also a part of why UMD is here -- don't have to be that way the whole game.
If a particular situation calls for physicality, Soucy, Pionk, Kotyk, and Wolff are all options. If you need to move the puck, get Raskob, Molenaar, and/or even Pionk out there. Wolff has really taken steps as an offensive player, too. Kotyk will still be used on the penalty kill, where his stick and shot-blocking prowess are large factors.
Should be a fun game. Hope you enjoy the broadcast.
Iafallo - Toninato - Anderson
Osterberg - Johnson - Kuhlman
Tufte - Peterson - Mackay
Young - Thomas - Exell
Pionk - Kotyk
Soucy - Raskob
Wolff - Hilderman
Miska - Shepard - Deery
Donato - Kerfoot - Zerter-Gossage
Esposito - Malone - Moy
Zielonka - Horton - Krusko
Tringale - Pelton-Byce - Floodstrand
Sherman - Marino
Olson - Fox
Dombrovskiy - Anderson
Madsen - Gornet - Lee