The 2014 NCAA men’s hockey tournament has been an exciting event thus far, but the battle is down to the Frozen Four and the excitement level is through the roof.
With an eclectic mix of prototypical powerhouses and a surprise championship challenger—Boston College, Union, Minnesota and North Dakota all played well enough to advance this far—the competition in the final two rounds will be intense.
While much of the focus in March and April is dedicated to a different NCAA tournament, hockey fans will argue that the real madness happens on the ice.
Here is all the vital information needed to enjoy the Frozen Four.
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
When: April 10th and 12th
Watch: ESPN and ESPN2
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Bracket: Interactive Bracket via NCAA.com
|Date||Time (ET)||Matchup||TV Info||Predicted Winner|
|April 10||5 p.m.||Boston College vs. Union||ESPN 2||Boston College|
|April 10||8:30 p.m.||Minnesota vs. North Dakota||ESPN 2||Minnesota|
|April 12||7:30 p.m.||NCAA National Championship||ESPN||Boston College|
Breaking Down the Frozen Four
The 2014 NCAA men’s hockey championship will be awarded this Saturday after four of the toughest teams battle it out in order to prove their supremacy.
With three of the top programs in the nation in the mix—Boston College, Minnesota and North Dakota have a combined 65 appearances in the Frozen Four—the focus will be if these programs will live up to the lofty expectations.
As for Union, the school is making its first appearance in the Frozen Four since 2012 and only its second appearance in the school’s history. While the advantage in experience goes to the other three programs, few teams are playing as well as the Dutchmen.
Union finished the season with a 30-6-4 record and has a 15-game winning streak. It was the team’s unique mixture of elite offensive pressure led by Shayne Gostisbehere and defensive consistency that brought the team to the Frozen Four this season.
ESPN’s John Buccigross broke the news about Gostisbehere’s allergies:
While the Dutchmen have been good, there is no shortage of elite competition.
One of the most experienced teams in collegiate hockey is Boston College (28-7-4), and the program will be the first test for Union. The Eagles are led by the top offensive player in the nation Johnny Gaudreau (35 goals and 77 points), but the team must focus on its defensive pressure.
Boston College may have won three national titles in the last six years, but this is the first time since 2012 that the school has made the Frozen Four. If the Eagles get past the Dutchmen, there will be another stout team waiting for them.
The other matchup in the Frozen Four will be the battle between Minnesota (27-6-6) and North Dakota (25-13-3).
The two schools are widely regarded as two of the best hockey programs in the nation, but the teams took very different routes to this point. The Golden Gophers came into the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and a favorite to win it all.
Which remaining team has the best chance to win the national title?
Minnesota has a potent offensive unit and a top-notch defense, but the real key to the success of the school is goaltender Adam Wilcox. As one of the top goalies in the nation (25-5-6 record, 1.89 goals-against average and .934 save percentage), Wilcox will give North Dakota problems all day.
Not to be outdone, North Dakota sophomore goaltender Zane Gothberg is also one of the best backstops in college hockey. The issue will be whether or not the defense can live up to the expectations and play well enough to shut the Golden Gophers down while still protecting Gothberg.
With two of the most interesting matchups imaginable, the 2014 Frozen Four is must-watch television.
*All stats via NCAA.com.