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Grimaldi Powers North Dakota To Frozen Four

Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi earns MVP honors in helping North Dakota to Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 12:20 PM ET / News
By "Hockey Pat" McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Grimaldi Powers North Dakota To Frozen Four
Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi earns MVP honors in helping North Dakota to Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi celebrates one of his three goals against the University of Wisconsin in the Midwest regional semifinal. (Photo Credit: Eric Classen, UNDsports.com)

Florida Panthers prospect Rocco Grimaldi and the University of North Dakota are having a tournament to remember. In the first two days of the NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament, Grimaldi has led North Dakota to victories over Wisconsin and Ferris State on the way to qualifying for a berth in the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.

Grimaldi (drafted 2nd round, 2011) scored a hat-trick in North Dakota’s 5-2 over Wisconsin and played a key role in the team’s 2-1 double overtime victory over Ferris State in the Midwest regional final.

In their 2-1 double OT victory over Ferris State on Saturday night, the University of North Dakota capped off their longest game in NCAA Tournament history with an overtime winner scored by Connor Gaarder. The goal wrapped up a wild regional final and punched North Dakota’s ticket to Philadelphia.

Riding the momentum from his three goal performance in the regional semifinal, Grimaldi was named the tournament’s MVP. Grimaldi leads UND in scoring this season with 39 points (17-22-39) in 41 games.

The trip to the Frozen Four will be the 20th in North Dakota’s storied history but this time the traditional hockey powerhouse will be something of an underdog. UND barely snuck into the tournament, receiving an at-large berth after Wisconsin defeated Ohio State for the Big Ten title. As a fourth seed in the Midwest Regional, North Dakota upset the top-seeded University of Wisconsin 5-2 thanks in large part to Grimaldi’s performance. He and his teammates will be watching Sunday’s action intently as they await their Frozen Four opponent.

North Dakota will face the winner of Minnesota and St. Cloud State’s clash on Sunday evening. Minnesota advanced to the West Regional Final after their 7-3 win over Robert Morris on Saturday. Panthers prospect Kyle Rau led the way for the #1 ranked University of Minnesota, recording a goal and an assist in the victory.

In other tournament action, Union College defeated Providence College 3-1 to advance to the Frozen Four out of the East Region. In the Northeast Regional, Boston College defeated the University of Denver 6-2 in their first round matchup.

Panthers’ prospects Michael Matheson (1st round, 2012) and Ian McCoshen (2nd round, 2013) played important roles on the blueline in BC’s victory. Matheson contributed two assists in the win, helping BC advance to the Northeast final against UMass-Lowell. Boston College’s win was largely powered by a four point (2-2-4) performance from Kevin Hayes, the younger brother of Florida Panthers forward, and BC alum, Jimmy Hayes.

The Frozen Four will be set in ice following Sunday’s action, and the semifinal games will kick off in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 10. While we do not know who Grimaldi and the North Dakota will face in their first Frozen Four matchup, we do know that if the games resemble the first rounds at all, they are sure to offer plenty of edge-of-your-seat excitement.

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
 
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