For the 3rd time in as many years tonight, BC meets North Dakota in the NCAA tournament, a matchup that has evolved into one of the better inter-sectional rivalries in college hockey (and will be continued with a regular season matchup at Conte Forum next year). Last year in Milwaukee BC did a fairly good job of rolling over the Sioux despite a 6-5 final score boosted by several late North Dakota goals, but don't expect a repeat performance in St. Louis tonight. North Dakota is big, fast, and tough. I can honestly say that I was pulling for Minnesota, the #1 team in the country heading into the tournament, to knock off the Sioux in their regional semifinal, as the Gophers didn't scare me nearly as much as North Dakota does. Their first line of Ryan Duncan, TJ Oshie, and Jon Toews is arguably the best in college hockey, and the addition of Brian Boyle to BC's defensive corps will be a major factor in our efforts to contain them. The Sioux also have a great defensive unit, led by Brian Lee and Robbie Bina, but I question their ability to stay with BC's speedier forwards. I think guys like Nate Gerbe and Joe Rooney will be very important tonight.
Ultimately, though, there is one area where the Eagles have a huge advantage and that is in the nets- North Dakota's Phillippe Lamorieux is a solid but unspectacular netminder; Corey Schneider, on the other hand, is Corey Schneider. I see that as the ultimate difference in the game; much like BC's initial two NCAA tournament games, I see this as a hard-fought affair between the two best teams in college hockey right now, but Corey Schneider is ultimately going to lead this team to victory.
Prediction: BC 2, North Dakota 1
Some links to keep you occupied until gametime:
Herald Scouting Report
Eagles in Line of Fire: Schneider Set to Face Potent North Dakota (Herald)
Intent BC Has Mean Streak: Determined on Title Fight (Herald)
Greene Sees Future in Black and white (Herald)
For BC and ND, It's Their Time of Year (Globe)
Schneider: Plenty of Work, Not Many Goals (Globe)
Time to Shine (Grand Forks Herald)
These Teams Know the Show (Grand Forks Herald)