Backed by Northlanders, Mavericks and Gophers to clash in Frozen Four semifinals

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The puck has been dropped on the 2022 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Frozen Four in Boston.

In the first game on Thursday, the University of Denver bested the University of Michigan 3-2 in overtime behind a game-winning goal from sophomore forward Carter Savoie.

Their title foe will be the Minnesota clash champion between the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Minnseota State University-Mankato Mavericks.

"They’re the big dogs, they always have been," Mavericks junior forward Ryan Sandelin said about the Gophers. "They always will be. They’re the gold standard for hockey in Minnesota and we want to prove to people who we are and what we’re about."

Last season Mankato, making their second straight Frozen Four appearance, bested the Gophers 4-0 in the quarterfinals to advance.

"Last year, I wouldn’t say it’s fresh in our minds, but it was definitely a bit of a wake up call for us," Gophers junior goalie Justen Close said. "I think we learned from that and we’re ready to go going in this time."

This year, the Gophers snapped their eight-year Frozen Four drought and are in Boston seeking what could be the program’s first national championship since back-to-back titles in 2002-2003. They’re led by Grand Rapids native Blake McLaughlin who’s second on the team in points with 33.

He’ll be matched up against a duo of Hermantown boys in Ryan Sandelin and Wyatt Aamodt, who’ve combined for 45 points at Mankato this season.

Puck drop between the Gophers and Mavericks is set for 7:30pm Thursday night. The winner will battle Denver for the national championship Saturday at 7pm at Boston’s TD Garden.