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Frozen Four notebook: Bulldogs, Crimson are near mirror images of each other

They enter next week's NCAA Division I men's hockey Frozen Four at United Center in Chicago with a large group of seniors and a lengthy winning streak. They're a team that's tournament tested, having won a few titles already in 2016-17.

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They enter next week's NCAA Division I men's hockey Frozen Four at United Center in Chicago with a large group of seniors and a lengthy winning streak. They're a team that's tournament tested, having won a few titles already in 2016-17.

Yes, that's a description of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. It's also UMD's opponent at 5 p.m. on April 6 at the Frozen Four, the Harvard Crimson. The national semifinalists are in many ways mirror images of each other.

"They are a very talented team that's on a pretty good winning streak right now. We just have to figure out how to beat them," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said Tuesday during a pre-Frozen Four teleconference with reporters. "Just watching them (in the Beanpot tournament), I was impressed with the way they played. They've had a tremendous year. I'm very impressed with their team and they're deserving to be here with the year they've had." 

Both UMD and Harvard have seven seniors on the roster, but the Crimson come to Chicago on a 16-game winning streak and 18-game unbeaten streak (17-0-1) that started after a 6-3 loss to Dartmouth on Jan. 17. The Bulldogs are winners of seven straight and are 15-1-3 since starting the new year 0-2-1.

Since catching fire in January, the ECAC co-regular season champion Crimson and NCHC runner-up Bulldogs have both won a trio of titles, too. Harvard won the Beanpot, ECAC tournament and last week's East Regional. The Bulldogs tourney titles came from the short-lived Minnesota equivalent of the Beanpot - the North Star College Cup - as well as in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff and West Regional.

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Harvard coach Ted Donato, a 1991 Harvard graduate who is in his 13th season coaching his alma mater, said winning those tournaments helps from a confidence and experience standpoint.

"Our guys played in front of a soldout crowd in the Beanpot championship against a really good (Boston University) team. I think that's an experience that our guys will lean on and take confidence out of," Donato said. "We're looking forward to another great opportunity with a great venue with a great opponent. It gives us something to use as a reference point. Obviously it's a whole new situation, but I do think it's helpful to the overall team psyche." 

The seven seniors for each team may be the biggest advantage both bring to the Windy City.

The Bulldogs are led by a senior captain in Dominic Toninato, who has 16 goals and 12 assists. His senior linemate, Alex Iafallo, has a team-high 19 goals and 30 assists with seven goals and 15 assists during a 13-game scoring streak. Iafallo has posted two points in each of the last seven games.

Harvard boasts the nation's best scoring offense averaging 4.14 goals per game. It has its five leading scorers all among the top 30 scorers in the country. The top three - Alexander Kerfoot (16-28-44), Tyler Moy (21-23-44) and Sean Malone (18-24-42) are seniors.

"It's been a great part of our success, the fact that we have great senior leadership, guys that have played in the NCAA tournament ... guys that have learned from past success and failures," Donato said. "It's been a great season mainly because of our core leadership, which comes from our senior class."

Soucy's status remains unchanged

Sandelin gave another update on the availability of senior defenseman Carson Soucy on Tuesday when asked by reporters, and it remained the same as three days ago in Fargo.

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"It's still a weekly evaluation," Sandelin said. "He's made some great progress. We're really hoping that by next Thursday, we'll have him in our lineup."

Soucy, who is back to skating with the team in practice, has missed the last seven games with a lower-body injury.

Sandelin up for national coach of the year

Sandelin is once-again up for the Spencer Penrose Award, which is given to the NCAA Division I men's coach of the year by the American Hockey Coaches Association. This is Sandelin's third time being nominated for the award. He won in 2004.

To be nominated for the Spencer Penrose Award, a coach must have guided his team to the Frozen Four or have been named the conference coach of the year. Sandelin is one of four past recipients to be nominated along with Notre Dame's Jeff Jackson (2007), Massachusetts-Lowell's Norm Bazin (2013) and Union's Rick Bennett (2014).

Mike Sertich won the award with the Bulldogs in 1984.

NCAA FROZEN FOUR
At United Center, Chicago
Thursday, April 6
Semifinals
Minnesota Duluth (27-6-7) vs. Harvard (28-5-2), 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Denver (31-7-4) vs. Notre Dame (23-11-5), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, April 8 Championship
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Related Topics: BULLDOG SPORTS
Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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