Roseau's Aaron Huglen ready for another crack at NCAA Frozen Four
The sophomore forward tallied seven goals and 15 points for Minnesota this season.
FARGO — When the team bus pulled up at Fargo's Scheels Arena two weeks ago, some good memories flashed back for Aaron Huglen.
The forward from Roseau, Minn., spent three seasons with the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League.
"It just felt like home," said Huglen, now a sophomore at Minnesota.
Huglen then added another good memory in Scheels Arena.
With his Gophers trailing underdog Canisius in the second period of the NCAA Fargo Regional, Huglen scored a key goal to tie it. It started an avalanche of goals for the Gophers, who pulled away for a first-round victory.
"We needed that goal at that time," Huglen said. "So, thankfully the puck went in."
Two days later, Minnesota beat St. Cloud State to earn a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four.
On Thursday, Minnesota will play Boston University at 4 p.m. in Tampa's Amalie Arena in the first semifinal game. Quinnipiac will take on Michigan at 7:30 p.m. in the other semifinal.
The NCAA national championship game will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"Last year, we came up short," Huglen said. "Thankfully, we get another crack at it, so we're thrilled about it."
A year ago, Minnesota State-Mankato beat Minnesota 5-1 in the Frozen Four semifinals in Boston.
A large portion of the Gophers roster — especially on defense — returned for this season to make another run at it.
Up front, a few Minnesota players moved on, opening the door for more playing time for Huglen.
The 6-foot, 170-pound draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres has tallied seven goals and 15 points in 36 games. His shots-on-goal total has increased from 51 to 85.
Huglen is playing an average of 16:19 per game. During the regional, he centered Rhett Pitlick and Brody Lamb.
"It's been great," Huglen said of his sophomore season. "When you're on a good team, things go well for you personally, so it's great that way."
Minnesota won the Big Ten regular-season title and lost to Michigan in the league's playoff championship.
In the NCAA Fargo Regional, they pulled away from Canisius with a six-goal third period to win 9-2 before topping St. Cloud State 4-1 in the regional final.
Minnesota arrived in Tampa on Tuesday, looking for its first NCAA title in 20 years.
"Every year is tough," Huglen said. "We're thankful to make it. Obviously, we have a lot of talent on our team. We worked hard. We're just happy to be there."
NCAA Frozen Four
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa.
Semifinals: Boston University vs. Minnesota, 4 p.m. Thursday; Quinnipiac vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Championship: 7 p.m. Saturday.