Harvard junior goaltender Merrick Madsen, a sixth round pick by the Flyers in the 2013 draft, leads his No. 3-seeded Crimson onto the ice against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the first semifinal matchup on Thursday.
Harvard, 28-5-2 on the year, hasn’t lost a game since dropping an 8-4 decision to Dartmouth on January 24. They rolled through the latter half of their conference schedule since that loss to the Big Green, they won the Beanpot for the first time since 1993, and easily got by Yale, Quinnipiac and Cornell to take the Whitelaw Cup as ECAC tournament champs.
Their national tournament started with a 3-0 win over Providence College — in Providence at the East Regional, nonetheless — and they advanced to the Frozen Four with a tough 3-2 win over Air Force.
Their high-powered offense, particularly their power play, has been key in their success all year. Madsen has led them the entire way, too, boasting a best-in-the-nation .892 win percentage this season for his team and a 13th-ranked save percentage at .922 among goalies who have played at least 33 percent of their teams’ minutes.
Harvard, playing in its first Frozen Four since 1994, is looking for its second-ever national championship. They were last champions in 1989.
Minnesota-Duluth returns to the Frozen Four for the first time since winning the national championship in 2011, doing so with a pair of 3-2 wins against Ohio State and Boston University in the regionals. They were NCHC Frozen Faceoff champions, beating Western Michigan and North Dakota to win that conference title, and they have just one loss to their name since mid-January.
In the late game, underdog Notre Dame faces off against the nation’s top team entering the tournament, the University of Denver Pioneers. The Fighting Irish had the toughest road to the Frozen Four of any team here, needing to beat No. 4 overall Minnesota in the first round and Hockey East tournament champion UMass-Lowell in overtime to get to their first Frozen Four since 2011.
All times listed are Eastern, all seeds are overall seeds in the national tournament. All games are streaming live on the WatchESPN app. All games played at the United Center in Chicago.
National Semifinals, Thursday
- No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs vs. No. 3 Harvard Crimson, 6 p.m., ESPN2
- No. 1 Denver Pioneers vs. No. 13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 9:30 p.m., ESPN2
National Championship, Saturday
- Denver/Notre Dame vs. Minnesota-Duluth/Harvard, 8 p.m., ESPN