North Dakota: From Longshot to Frozen Four Finalist


When the Frozen Four tournament began, most said the University of North Dakota just snuck into the tournament and had no business being with the “big boys” of NCAA hockey. However, two games in and the fighting Sioux have upset two of the favourites on route to booking their spot in the final four.

Coming in as the number 14 seed North Dakota had a tough match against number four seed Wisconsin Badgers in the

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images. Credit to Scott A. Schneider

first round. They managed a surprising upset against the Badgers, taking the game by a score of 5-2. In round two they squared off against tournament favourites in Ferris State. It took a double overtime effort, but North Dakota managed to upset the favourites 2-1 in double OT to advance to the final 4 for the 20th time in their history.

The players of North Dakota owe their goaltender, Zane Gothberg a huge thank you for helping them hold off Ferris State in double OT. Gothberg made 44 saves in the game and is a major reason why the Fighting Souix are now heading to the final four. A stick tap also has to go out to former 2011 walk on and double OT hero Connor Gaarder who scored the game winning goal in the round of elite 8.

North Dakota was one of the last NCAA eligible teams to qualify for the Frozen Four tournament and owe their qualification to Wisconsin for winning the B1G 10 Championship. With no clear cut favourite and a one game elimination, North Dakota proved that anything was possible, pulling off two upsets in the 2014 Frozen Four.

Rocco Grimaldi was named tournament MVP after netting a hat-trick in the team’s opening game against Wisconsin and playing a key role in their double over time victory. Grimaldi was the teams leading scorer with 39 points this season. Grimaldi and teammates Connor Gaarder and Paul LaDue were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts.

A week ago, North Dakota was waiting for their Frozen Four future to play out and cheering for Wisconsin. Now North Dakota is waiting again, but this time for their opponent in the 2014 Frozen Four Semi-Final. Can North Dakota pull off one more upset on April 10th to earn a birth in the Frozen Four Finals? They’ll need Grimaldi and Gothberg to come up big to take home the NCAA Frozen Four title.