Gophers focused, ready for Boston College

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The Minnesota men's hockey team had a busy day in Florida on Wednesday in preparation for its first Frozen Four game in seven years. The Gophers will square off against top-ranked Boston College tomorrow night at 7:00pm CT on ESPN2 for a spot in the NCAA championship game on Saturday.
Go Gophers! Nate Condon
Go Gophers!
Nate Condon and the Gophers practiced for an hour at the Tampa Bay Times Forum today.
Go Gophers!

"We're excited to play Boston College," said Gopher head coach Don Lucia about the Eagles of Hockey East, who will come into Thursday riding a 17-game winning steak. "We see and understand how well they've been playing and it's going to be a great challenge for our players."

The game will be played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., the southernmost location for a Minnesota men's hockey game in the team's history.

Following a late arrival after a charter flight on Tuesday night, the team had a 9 a.m. wake up call on Wednesday. The Gopher players had breakfast together at 9:30 before walking to the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The team was sent off by the cheerleaders, who were joined by Goldy the Gopher, and the school band playing the Minnesota Rouser.

Upon arrival at the rink, members of the team conducted a round of interviews with several media outlets, including ESPN, Westwood One, and the NCAA. Other Thursday semifinalists Ferris State and Union were finishing up the same routine beforehand.

After a talking to the media, the Gophers hit the ice for the first time in Tampa for a one-hour practice.

As was the case in at the West Regional in St. Paul two weeks ago, Minnesota ended its practice session with a shootout competition. Sophomore defenseman Jake Parenteau won the shootout by scoring on four straight shots. Zach Budish, Jake Hansen, and Seth Ambroz also reached the final round.

Lucia, senior captain Taylor Matson, and sophomore defenseman Nate Schmidt then capped the day at the rink by attending a press conference down the hall from the locker room. The rest of the players talked to other members of the media outside of the locker room.

"This year's been something special," said Matson. "This team seems to come together on the ice and it just motivates guys harder than I've ever seen."

The Gophers finished the night with a championship reception on the Yacht Starship before heading back to the hotel for dinner. Minnesota will start its day on Thursday with an 8:30 a.m. wakeup call.

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