Frozen Four Preview
Host Kyle Cannillo, alongside Andre Magaro and Jeremy Schooler, talks all things college hockey. The Frozen Four is finally here and it's a bit of a surprise. Listen to the recap of the crazy events that unfold in the first few rounds and preview the four remaining teams competing for a national championship:
The Frozen Four of the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament is set and needless to say, it’s quite the surprise. In a tournament filled with more upsets than ever before, there are finally four remaining teams. Denver will take on Massachusetts, and Providence will battle Minnesota-Duluth.
No. 8 Denver vs No. 4 Massachusetts
Just two years after winning the national championship, the Denver Pioneers find themselves in position once again to win it all. This year, however, was not the program's best. People are critical of Denver’s ability to win a championship this season, largely to do with their opponents. The Pioneers faced a cold Ohio State team, who played just one game in 28 days.
What is most surprising is who they defeated in round two. The Pioneers were set to battle the nations top team St. Cloud State University until lowest seed American International College stunned the college hockey world and upset the big fish. Unfortunately for AIC, their Cinderella run came to an end the next day, as Denver handled them comfortable. Now the Pioneers must face Massachusetts, debatably their hardest competition yet.
The UMass Minutemen have, without a doubt, looked like the most powerful team in the NCAA tournament to this point. They defeated No. 13 Harvard University and No. 12 Notre Dame University without sacrificing a goal. The score in each game was 4-0.
Hobey Baker Award favorite Cale Makar has led the Minutemen to their most successful season in program history. Makar is the fourth overall pick with the Colorado Avalanche and in just a few days, he could put himself in position to win a Stanley Cup. Makar, however, is staying in the moment, as UMass has a serious chance at winning a national championship in Buffalo. Just a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable for a program that had near zero-success in its existence.
No. 14 Providence vs No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth
Nearly nobody predicted the Providence Friars to be in a position to battle the defending national champions Minnesota-Duluth. In round one of their regional, Providence was doomed. In just the first period, Minnesota State, one of the most well-built teams in the country, scored three goals in the opening frame. It all seemed over for the Friars until a locker room speech by captain Kasper Björkqvist turned the game upside-down. Providence scored six unanswered goals to stun Minnesota State and advance to the next round.
Similar to Denver, the opponent the next day was not who they expected. The No. 11 Cornell Big Read upset No. 6 Northeastern by a score of 5-1 and met Providence in the next round. The Friars played a well structured and smart game as they defeated the Big Red by a score of 4-0 to head to the Frozen Four.
Minnesota-Duluth has advanced to the Frozen Four to defend their title in the most bizarre fashion. In round one of the NCAA Tournament, the college hockey world was just three minutes away from seeing its second jaw dropping upset. The 15-ranked Bowling Green Falcons lead 1-0 over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in Allentown, Pennsylvania with just three minutes remaining.
Sure enough, the Bulldogs tie the game late and win it in overtime. In game two against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, Minnesota-Duluth once again won another low scoring, one-goal game. The Bulldogs have won three consecutive one-goal games and are surely pleased that they are playing Providence in the national semi-final.
Take these predictions with a grain of salt. After all, this NCAA Tournament saw more upsets than favorites win. That being said, there is nothing quite like momentum. Cale Makar and the UMass Minutemen are designed to beat the Denver Pioneers. Minnesota-Duluth is the all around best team in this tournament.
The Frozen Four will end in a UMass vs Minnesota-Duluth national championship showdown. The Bulldogs should win another one-goal game and claim the national title in back to back years.
Kyle Cannillo is a broadcast journalism major at Penn State. To contact him email email@example.com.