A Terrier’s Thoughts on the Frozen Four

Of all the 60 teams in NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey, only one was fortunate enough to have played all four of the remaining 4 teams left in the Frozen Four this season. That team was the Boston University Terriers. They traveled to Denver in October to play the Pioneers twice. They had a home game in November, and the Beanpot Final in February vs Harvard. They hosted Notre Dame in late February for a pair. And lastly they faced off against the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs this past Sunday in Fargo, ND in the West Regional Final with a trip to the Frozen Four in Chicago on the line. The Terriers went 2-5 vs the Frozen Four, being outscored 23-19.

This week I had the chance to catch up with BU Senior forward Nick Roberto (5-9-14) to get his take on the Frozen Four participants.  As well as touching on the epic double OT win vs North Dakota to set up the game vs Minnesota-Duluth.

Senior Nick Roberto’s goal tied the Hockey East playoff game vs Northeastern @ 2 in the 3rd period.

Thanks again for doing this! I know you have classes & exams so I really do appreciate you taking the time.


Tough loss to end the season & your BU career. But you must be proud of how hard the Terriers played this last weekend? And obviously all year.

I was very proud of how this team competed this year. We were the youngest team in college hockey but we always gave it our all.

That last game against UMD, you were down 2-1 & tied it on a Patrick Harper goal with 3:13 left in the 3rd to force OT. I imagine that’s been tough to handle but knowing you guys didn’t quit must help?

Our young guns really came up big for us this year, Harpers goal was filthy and I really thought we took over for the last 3 minutes, and heading into OT we had a lot of confidence. Tough penalty called, I think if we didn’t have a scoring chance out of it then the penalty might not have been called.

Especially after that epic North Dakota game the day before. 3 OT’s in 2 days is crazy! People will remember this ND game for years. 56 saves for Jake Oettinger and an additional 51 blocked shots! You guys laid it all out this weekend.

17 for (Brandon) Hickey! Crazy game! A lot of fun, place was electric!

What’s your take from the North Dakota game?

I actually thought NoDak was harder to play against than Duluth because of the home crowd and how they built off of it.

You must’ve felt good assisting on the 3rd goal in the 3rd. Did you think that should seal it?

I actually told Connor LaCouvee if we get to 5 minutes left we will win in regulation. ND was pouring it on us after we scored two quick ones. Once the glass broke I thought that would kill their momentum, but it didn’t.

What was the bench like during the review of the ND OT goal?

The bench was obviously upset, but the longer the review took the more we believed it was not a good goal so we got some life back.

Must’ve felt real good winning on such a beautiful goal basically in their building? How was that atmosphere?

It was crazy, electric and of course the play by (Clayton) Keller to find Charlie (McAvoy) backdoor was special. Its always good going into enemy territory and beating them!

Best as I can tell, only BU played all four of the Frozen Four teams this season. BU went 2-5 & were outscored 23-19.
I’ll work my way back thru the teams seeing that it was Minnesota-Duluth that ended it for you.

Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs NCHC Tournament Champs #1 Seed West Regional Winner
You matched up quite evenly with the Bulldogs, pretty damn close stat wise. Both coming off OT games the day before. UMD has 7 Seniors & 6 Juniors to your 3 & 6. Do you think experience was their biggest advantage?

Obviously UMD has had special year to date. Basically top 2 all year and it showed, they have a great goalie, solid D-corps that was actually missing one of their best D-man (Soucy) and then their forwards are big and fast. They were more experienced than us and it showed at times throughout the game, but I thought we took it to them for the most part.

How was it playing a ’91? (Sr. Brenden Kotyk) Crazy! Did you guys just run out of gas? They are a big, physical team too. Did that contribute to the loss? How good are the Bulldogs?

Well, to win this tourney you need a hot goalie and UMD has one (Hunter Miska). The saves he was making Friday against OSU carried into our game Saturday. Duluth has played against the best of the best all season which helped them a lot. They block shots, play a North South game and are well coached. They have a tricky match up with Harvard in the semis though.

Harvard Crimson ECAC Regular Season & Tournament Champs #1 Seed East Regional Winner
You split with the Crimson this year. A 5-3 win @ home in November. You had the game winner that night. That game was back and forth. Each team carried the play. You guys broke it open in the 3rd. The 2nd meeting was the Beanpot Final. A Harvard win, 6-3. That too was a back & forth affair, this time it seemed they wore you down in the 3rd. Is Harvard the real deal? I think they are. I think they are solid goalie – out.

Harvard is one of the best teams we played this year. We split with them this year, but they were a different team from November to Febraury. Obviously giving them two 5on3 goals doesn’t help us, but Harvard probably has the best top 6 forwards in college, a solid d-corp, and their goalie (Merrick Madsen) is making all the saves he should be and not letting in flukey goals. HU is well-coached and well disciplined. Their PP is lethal and everyone contributes in their lineup. They’re very solid.


Harvard’s Tyler Moy battles BU’s Nick Roberto for positioning out front.

Both teams are pretty well represented in the upperclassmen. Harvard ranks better in goals per game, by a goal. And defensively both are relatively the same, allowing 2 per. Will UMD outmuscle Harvard? I think Harvard is sneaky strong. They don’t look big but they can hit & play tough. Am I correct there? You’ve played the ECAC 5 times this year & NCHC 3 times. Will UMD have a strength of schedule factor over Harvard? At this point does that even matter? Will Harvard’s speed win out? Who does Harvard need to be most concerned about? What about UMD? What would you say each team’s key to victory is?
How do you see this one going? Who do you think will skate onto Saturday night?

I think Harvard will make life difficult for UMD d-men down low. Harvard plays an honest game with little turnovers, and their forwards can really move the puck well and create offense off turnovers. I think UMD’s strength will be HU’s biggest problem, and Miska will keep them in the game. I think if Harvard wins the penalty game they will be fine. Harvard will win this game, but it will be similar to our game against UMD, a back and forth game. I say Harvard wins 4-2.”

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Northeast Regional Winner
You split with the Irish a month ago to end the regular season. A 3-1 loss on the Friday game. If I remember correctly ND was buzzing that night but you guys pounded them in the 3rd and they held on. On Senior Night, the next night you won 4-1 to seal up a share of the Hockey East Regular season title. That night you were all over them. I really like the Irish D men, they seem to be 200ft guys. Are the Irish good or lucky?

At this point of the year, its all about your goalie and all four teams in the Frozen Four have a tremendous goalie. I think Cal (Petersen) is one of the best goalies I’ve played against and Notre Dame will go as far as he takes them. ND overall is solid, they have an electric forward in  Anders Bjork but also have other highly skilled guys. Their D-men are not the flashiest but they get the job done. I thought Lowell would win this Regional, but ND is well-coached and well balanced. They are going to have a lot to handle with Denver.

Nick Roberto gets the jump on Anders Bjork.

Denver Pioneers NCHCRegular Season Champs #1 Seed Overall Midwest Regional Winner
They beat you both nights in Denver, 4-3 & 3-1. Those games were your 2nd & 3rd of the young season. You had 7 Freshman just starting out their collegiate careers that weekend. They too had 7 Freshman just starting but did have the ICE Breaker in Denver the previous weekend. BU was down 4-1 going into the 3rd but you fought back to get it close. 2nd night was a 2-1 affair that a Denver empty netter made it worse than it was, at 3-1. Talk about their roster. Its loaded!

Denver is the best team we played all year. They were missing one of their best players in
(Dylan) Gambrell against us too. They are the most balanced team I’ve played against in college this year. They are lead by their stud players, but even their not so highly talked about players contribute every night as well. They get that big PP goal when they need to. DU’s defense is not the biggest in college, but boy do they compete!

Notre Dame beat some very good teams to get here. Do they have enough to beat Denver? Like BU, the Irish are slightly bigger, heavier, & younger than DU. Statistically they are close in offensive #’s but DU has better defensive #’s. What do the Irish have to do to stop the Pioneers? Who needs to be huge for ND? Who does DU have to focus on, besides Anders Bjork? How good is Denver? Are they for real? Denver tied & lost to PC this December 2-2 & 3-1, while ND beat PC 3 times & tied once this year, 4-1, 3-3 in mid-February @ Compton. And 5-0 & 5-2 in HE playoffs in March, also @ home. Can we make anything of that?
How do you envision this one? Who will win?

Playing Denver at Denver was a challenge for us, I would love to have played them in a neutral site later in the year to truly see how we stacked up against them, but we missed our opportunity to. If ND wins this game it will because of Cal stealing this one, but I just think DU has more depth than ND does. I ‘ll say Denver wins 4-1.”

Anything you’d like to add to either game?

Best of luck to everyone in the Frozen Four, both games will be exciting to watch and the Final should be a fun one too!”

Overall going off of your 2 winners, who will be the 2016-17 NCAA Champions in Chicago on April 8?

“I think Denver will take down Harvard. Harvard is very good team, but I think Denver’s experience will be a factor. Both teams have a dangerous PPs. It should be a fun game to watch, with a lot of high-end talent players making plays up and down the ice. I think Denver takes this one but I would not be surprised if Harvard pulls it off.  Denver 6 Harvard 3.”

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