Gophers advance to Frozen Four with win over SCSU

Minnesota forward Justin Kloos battles for the puck against the St. Cloud State Huskies in the NCAA West Region final in St. Paul, Minn.

Ann Heisenfelt/Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Justin Kloos made sure Minnesota didn’t waste its chance to face one of its oldest rivals on the game’s biggest stage.

Kloos scored twice and Adam Wilcox made 24 saves to help the top-seeded Gophers beat St. Cloud State 4-0 on Sunday night in the NCAA West Regional final.

Minnesota (27-6-6) will face North Dakota in the Frozen Four semifinals in Philadelphia on April 10. Boston College will play Union in the other semifinal.

Gophers 4, Huskies 0

The Minnesota-North Dakota rivalry dates to 1930. Before this year, the last time the two former WCHA foes hadn’t met in the regular season was 1946-47. The Gophers left the conference and won the inaugural Big Ten title this season, while North Dakota finished second in the new NCHC, then slipped into the tournament as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region.

"I almost had a kind of inkling about it once North Dakota won (Saturday)," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "It’s like, `I guess we have to win now, because we can’t go a year without playing.’"

The Gophers are making their third trip to the Frozen Four since winning national titles in 2002 and 2003. They lost to North Dakota in the semifinals in 2005 and fell to Boston College in the semis two years ago. This year’s bracket gives them a chance to avenge both of those defeats.

"Going to the Frozen Four, it never gets old. It’s a thrill," Lucia said. "To be able to come back this year and get back to Philadelphia, it’s a real credit to our group of guys."

Kloos opened the scoring on a wraparound with 8:51 to go in the first period, beating Huskies goalie Ryan Faragher, who was scrambling back to the crease after getting tangled up in traffic.

Photos of the Week: 3/23/14-3/30/14

"I think that we got some momentum right away with our first shift getting in deep and then we just kept going," said Kloos, who leads Minnesota with 15 goals. "There was no doubt in our minds that we were going to be able to keep the momentum after that first one went in."

Seth Ambroz and Kloos scored in the second period, and Kyle Rau capped the scoring with a power-play goal in the third.

Wilcox, the Big Ten player of the year and a Hobey Baker Award candidate, had his fourth shutout of the season.

"They shut a lot of things down. We never got a power play. It was a difficult night for us to get anything going," Huskies coach Bob Motzko said. "They had a little bit more jump. We didn’t."

Faragher stopped 12 of 15 shots for the third-seeded Huskies (22-11-5) before he was pulled in favor of freshman Charlie Lindgren, who finished with 19 saves.