When it was announced March 21 that five of the 16 NCAA hockey tournament teams hailed from their state, Minnesota residents figured there was a decent chance one or maybe two could make it to Pittsburgh for the 2021 Frozen Four.
Well, after Minnesota-Duluth shocked No. 1 North Dakota Sunday morning in the longest (and perhaps greatest) college hockey game ever played, it was guaranteed that half the field would hail from the State of Hockey.
Then Sunday afternoon, St. Cloud State University, playing without their leading scorer, surprised the sports media and Albany Regional top seed Boston College in a 4-1 triumph. It’s the Huskies second-ever trip to college hockey’s ultimate stage; the other time was seven years ago, also in Pittsburgh.
“The only way we were gonna beat Boston College was if we played as a great team,” St. Cloud State head coach Brett Larson said after the win. “Obviously it was a great game against a great program, and we’re fortunate to be walking out of here and heading to the Frozen Four.”
With Minnesota State and the University of Minnesota battling Sunday night in Colorado, a third Minnesota spot was already locked in. The Mavericks quickly came out and dominated the Gophers, 4-0, to clinch the school’s first-ever Frozen Four appearance.
It’s also the first time in nearly 30 years that three schools from the same state made the Frozen Four, which commences April 8 at PPG Paints Arena in the Steel City.
St. Cloud State takes on Minnesota State in one national semifinal, while two-time defending national champion Duluth battles the only non-North Star State team, the University of Massachusetts.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.