You can officially say goodbye to all but one of last year's Frozen Four finalists after Saturday's 2016 NCAA Division I men's hockey tournament action.
The defending NCAA champion Providence fell on the first day of action, leaving No. 1 North Dakota and No. 3 Boston University as the only remaining 2015 Frozen Four finalists left in the tournament. North Dakota had the more difficult matchup on paper, facing the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines in the Midwest Regional Championship.
Michigan had the best player on the ice in Hobey Baker favorite and Winnipeg Jets prospect Kyle Connor. Connor extended his consecutive-game point streak to 27 games with his 71st point of the season. Michigan actually trailed 2-1 in the third period before captain J.T. Compher tied the game at 8:39.
But North Dakota wrested back control of the game in two quick strikes. Rhett Gardner tipped in a shot from Paul LaDue at 12:03, and Coltyn Sanderson tipped in another a little more than a minute later to give the Fighting Hawks a commanding 4-2 lead. LaDue's empty-netter sealed the 5-2 win and a Frozen Four berth for the second straight year for North Dakota.
The 2015 championship runner-up fared much worse. Boston University looked lost and confused in the biggest rout of the tournament: a 7-2 loss at the hands of No. 2 Denver. The Terriers never recovered from a disastrous first 23 minutes, in which goals from Blake Hillman, Dylan Gambrell, Will Butcher and Matt Marcinew staked the Pioneers to a commanding 4-0 lead. Denver scored six unanswered before the Terriers got on the board late in the third period, but by then it was obviously too late.
Denver is on the cusp of reaching their first Frozen Four berth since winning the national title in 2003 and 2004. But to do so they'll have to go through ...
Ferris State. Yes, the No. 4 Bulldogs from Michigan pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament on Saturday, grinding out a 5-4 overtime win over No. 1 St. Cloud State. The Huskies rode a six-game winning streak and a 33-31 shot advantage but never gained the lead once over the underdogs. St. Cloud trailed 4-2 heading into the second period, but goals from Mikey Eyssimont and Gerald Mayhew knotted the score at 4-4 to send the game to overtime. The Huskies held the momentum at that point, but Jared VanWormer stunned St. Cloud with the winner 18 seconds into overtime to send the top seed packing and the Bulldogs onto the next round.
The other top seed playing on Saturday fared much better. No. 1 Quinnipiac has looked like the nation's best team for awhile now, and they didn't disappoint in a 4-0 win over No. 4 RIT. Once again, goalie Michael Garteig was the Bobcats' best player with 19 saves and a hard-earned shutout win. Travis St. Denis scored the opening marker on Quinnipiac's power play, which continues to be their best weapon. Goals from Scott Davidson and Soren Jonzzon helped send Quinnipiac to the next round.
The only other game to go to overtime Saturday belonged to the No. 2 University of Massachusetts-Lowell in a 3-2 win over No. 3 Yale. Kevin Boyle was busy in net for the River Hawks, stopping 35 of 37 shots against in one of the tournament's best performances by any goalie. Michael Fallon opened the scoring early for Lowell, but the Bulldogs tied it soon after with a goal from Frankie Dichiara and took the lead with a goal in the second. Lowell got the last laugh, though, as Joe Gambardella scored the tying goal in the third and the game-winner in overtime.
Boyle wasn't the only goalie with a game-changing night in net. Thatcher Demko backstopped No. 2 Boston College to a 3-2 win over No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth late on Saturday. Demko made 23 saves in the win, as the Eagles move on to face the winner of Lowell and Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four. Eagles captain Teddy Doherty was the star of the game, with two goals in the first and second periods.
With one half of the preliminaries to go, here's the bracket from the NCAA:
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