After an exciting NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, we are down to the final four teams vying for the chance to etch their names in the history books.
The tournament started with a bang as we saw last year’s reigning champ, the No. 3 ranked University of Denver, get shut out by No. 12 ranked Cornell University 2-0, meaning there will be a new champion crowned in 2023.
The favorites to win the tournament this year are the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who finished 28-9-1, though they fell in the Big 10 championship game to the University of Michigan Wolverines. With one of the strongest top lines in hockey, led by 2022 third-overall pick forward Logan Cooley, who ranked second in the nation in points with 20 goals and 37 assists in his first season with Minnesota. The Golden Gophers will be looking to avenge their loss in the semifinals to their rivals, Minnesota State University, and look to win their first championship since 2003. So far in the tournament, Minnesota has had no issue easily defeating the Canisius College Golden Griffins 9-2 and the St. Cloud State University Huskies 4-1.
The Quinnipiac University Bobcats entered the tournament as the second seed. Led by forward Collin Graf, who is third in the nation in points and scored 20 goals and 36 assists this season, the Bobcats finished the season with a record of 32-4-3. So far in the tournament, Quinnipiac has had no issue whatsoever as they beat Merrimack College convincingly 5-0, followed up by an even more impressive 4-1 victory over the Ohio State University Buckeyes. The Bobcats have never won a championship before so they are eager for their first title in program history.
The number four seed entering the tournament belonged to the Michigan Wolverines, who are led by 2023 NHL top U.S. prospect Adam Fantilli, who scored 29 goals and had 35 assists during the season. In the Big 10 championship, Michigan pulled off the upset over Minnesota for their second-straight Big 10 crown and will now look to try and win their first championship since 1998, which would, in turn, give them the record for most championships at 10. While the Wolverines schooled the Colgate University Raiders 11-1 in the first round, they narrowly bested their rivals, the Penn State Nittany Lions, after it was 1-1 after regulation, center Mackie Samoskevich scored just 55 seconds into overtime with a wrist shot on the fast break.
At the No. 5 seed we have the Boston University Terriers, who are making their first Frozen Four appearance since 2015. Led by one of the nation’s best two-way defensemen, Montreal Canadian Lane Hutson, who scored 15 goals along with 33 assists on the season, helping lead BU to a 29-10 record. The Terriers will be looking to win their first championship since 2009. Luckily for the Terriers, they had no problem ousting the Western Michigan University Broncos 5-1. Cornell posed the most daunting problem for head coach Jay Pandolfo’s group, forcing BU to defend extensively. While the score might have been close in the end, the strong defense allowed the Terriers to advance with a 2-1 victory only surrendering a goal with under a minute to play.
The first game of the Frozen Four will be on Thursday, April 6, as No.1-ranked Minnesota will face off against No. 4-ranked Boston University, with the puck getting dropped at 5 p.m. followed by Quinnipiac vs. Michigan at 8 p.m. The championship game will be held on Saturday, April 8th, with puck drop at 8 p.m. While Minnesota appears to be the favorite, nothing is guaranteed in hockey.