Pioneers ready for Frozen Four showdown with North Dakota

Photo Credit: Samantha Rogan, Twitter

After a characteristically hard practice, Danton Heinen, Trevor Moore, and Grant Arnold joined DU head coach Jim Montgomery to talk about tomorrow’s matchup with archrival North Dakota in the Frozen Four.

“It’s time to get down to business,” Montgomery said after praising the city of Tampa and the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. “Looking at North Dakota, we know they’re a great team. We’ve been .500 against them throughout the year. It’s going to be a great college hockey game.”

While the story tomorrow may be the 6th meeting of archrivals, there is much more at stake for all four teams competing in the Frozen Four. Denver knows that and they’re embracing the bright lights on college hockey’s biggest stage.

DU is by far the least playoff tested team of the four in Tampa, but it’s the businesslike mindset that got them to this stage and, according to Montgomery, it will be the same businesslike mindset that will make it possible for the Pioneers to bring home the sport’s ultimate prize.

With DU’s businesslike attitude comes the intense practices and game-ready mindset every time the Pioneers step on the ice.

“A lot of our personality on the ice in games comes from our personality in practice,” Montgomery said. “A lot of that emanates from me. We’re not used to [the Frozen Four atmosphere], so we have to get back to what matters most, and that’s our preparation.

Stressing the atmosphere of preparation and ‘sticking to the process’ is important in an atmosphere such as this with so many reporters and so many media outlets in attendance. That atmosphere is only amplified by the fact that Denver and North Dakota, long-time rivals, will clash for the sixth time this year.

Coming into the Frozen Four, DU and UND have split the five games thus far down the middle at 2-2-1. It seems only appropriate that the rubber match of the season series between two of the best teams in the country is in the Frozen Four.

“I think North Dakota and Denver both deserve to be here,” Arnold said. “This college hockey game embodies everything Division I hockey is. There’s great coaching, there’s great speed, there’s highlight reel players, there’s great defense, great goaltending, and a great rivalry. It’s an awesome stage for the rubber match of this rivalry.”

It’s difficult to overlook the history of these two programs on this stage. In national championship games, Denver has the 3-1 edge over North Dakota including the 2005 championship game when Denver beat UND 4-1.

2005 was also the last time either program was in the National Championship game. This is, of course, DU’s first appearance in the Frozen Four since that year, but North Dakota has gone 0-for-6 in the Frozen Four in that same span.

“This is just going to be another North Dakota-Denver game with a lot of intensity and a lot of fire behind both teams,” Arnold said of the added intensity between the two rivals. “There’s more at stake, no question about it. It’s going to be an awesome game.”

Added Arnold, “Once tomorrow begins, it’s going to be four teams trying to make it to a national championship.”


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