BOSTON – On Saturday night, Ryan Sandelin will attempt to accomplish what his father, Scott, has done three times: win a national championship.
Ryan and his Minnesota State Mankato teammates will face Denver in the men's Frozen Four championship game, looking to bring an NCAA title to southern Minnesota. Ryan is relishing the chance for his dad to get to see him play on college hockey's biggest stage. He also could gain a bit of revenge for this father, whose Minnesota Duluth team lost to Denver in the Loveland (Colo.) Regional final.
"It's really special. He doesn't get a lot of opportunities to watch me play,'' Ryan said. "I kind of use it as a motivator for myself to play at the highest level because I only get so many opportunities in the year where he's in the stands.''
Ryan also has a history with Boston and the Frozen Four.
"It's the first Frozen Four he ever made it to [in 2004],'' he said. "I was a little kid; that was really special. That's the first memory I have of Bulldog hockey. To be back in this setting doing it all over again is kind of full circle.''
Ryan leads the Mavericks with 21 goals, has 33 points and is a plus-33 this season.
Changes coming for Gophers
With their 5-1 loss to Minnesota State on Thursday night, the Gophers began an offseason that will include some changes on their roster.
Leading scorer Ben Meyers, a junior, is expected to soon sign a free-agent contract with an NHL team.
"I know he won't be back with us next year,'' Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of the Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist. "At his age , you know, it's time to go. I get that with him. We're going to have a blast watching him. So happy. Made the Olympic team. A kid that was not drafted, didn't have a huge name a couple years ago, but he sure has one now.''
Sophomore defensemen Brock Faber and Jackson LaCombe are second-round draft picks of the Kings and Ducks, respectively, and there's a chance they could leave early. Freshman forward Matthew Knies, an Olympian who was one of the Gophers' best players in the postseason, has an NHL frame at 6-3 and 210 pounds and is a second-round pick of the Maple Leafs.
"I think it will settle in later in the future that this was the best year of my life,'' Knies said after Thursday's game. "Honestly, this was the most fun group I've been a part of.''
- Gophers junior forward Colin Schmidt, who has a 4.0 grade-point average in finance, won the NCAA's Elite 90 Award, which goes to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's 90 championships.
- Thursday night's semifinal game between the Gophers and Minnesota State had no penalties. That's only the second time in Frozen Four history that has happened, the first being the 1950 third-place game between Michigan and Boston College.