Best NCAA Hockey Tournament Ever?
FanHouse brings you full coverage of the 2009 NCAA Men's Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.
Even if you've never been a fan of historical superlatives or the needless comparing of events from different years, it's hard not to think about what the NCAA Men's Hockey Championship brought us in 2009. A sport not often thought about by mainstream sports folks produced some of the greatest drama you will find anywhere in this calendar year.
The fun started back on March 27, in the tournament's opening round. A field of 16 was divided up into four regionals of four teams each. The two number-one seeds to play that Friday, Michigan and Denver, met a quick demise. Michigan lost to Air Force, 2-0, while Denver fell 4-2 to Miami.
About an hour after the Denver-Miami game ended, Princeton and Minnesota-Duluth took to the ice at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. It was a game no one could have thought would be topped in the tournament. UMD was down two goals before staging a dramatic rally in the final minute. Fast-forward to the 3:05 mark to see the equalizer.
The Bulldogs went on to win, 5-4, on a power-play goal less than 14 minutes into overtime. Miami, however, beat UMD in the regional final.
The next day, March 28, New Hampshire and North Dakota came close to topping that game. In the Northeast Regional, UNH was down two in the third period, but pulled within one at around the halfway mark. Then, in the closing seconds, the Wildcats found a way to tie it. Go to the 6:30 mark for that goal.
UNH won the game on a goal early in overtime.
The next day, New Hampshire faced top seed and Hockey East rival Boston University for the right to go to the Frozen Four. The game went down to the final seconds. BU got a power play in a 1-1 tie, and they cashed in to win. You can see the winner at around the 8:00 mark.
In the Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich., Bemidji State did the improbable. The lowest-rated team in the entire tournament shocked Notre Dame 5-1 in the first round, before beating Cornell 4-1 in the regional final. The team, from a town of just 14,000 people, touched off a loud celebration back home with their win.
That brought everyone together for the NCAA Frozen Four in Washington, D.C. In the first game Thursday, Miami beat Bemidji State 4-1. The RedHawks then waited through a great second semifinal to see who they would play on Saturday. Boston University scored late to beat Vermont, 5-4. The Terriers and RedHawks met Saturday night, and it was nothing short of a classic.
With the wild finishes, highly-competitive and emotional hockey, and unthinkable upsets, you'd be hard-pressed to find an NCAA Tournament better than this one.