Frozen Four: How BC, BU, Denver and Michigan can win it all


The men’s NCAA hockey tournament, which started with 16 teams looking to earn a trip to St. Paul, Minnesota, is down to the Frozen Four, with some of the sport’s blue bloods vying for the national championship.

Three of the four No. 1 seeds — Boston College, Boston University and Denver — emerged from the regionals, with Michigan, a 5-2 winner over Michigan State, the fourth top seed, rounding out the field.

The Wolverines made their third straight Frozen Four with a 5-2 win over their Big Ten rivals Sunday at Maryland Heights, Missouri.

BC, the No. 1 overall seed, fought off defending national champion Quinnipiac, 5-4, in overtime to win the Providence (Rhode Island) Regional earlier in the day.

On Saturday, Boston University, the top seed in the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Regional, and Denver, No. 1 in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Regional, punched their tickets with wins over Minnesota and Cornell, respectively.

The final four teams have won a combined 28 national titles, with Denver and Michigan tied for the most of all time with nine each, and Hockey East rivals BC and BU winning five each. Denver won the championship in 2022, BC’s last title came in 2012, BU’s in 2009 and Michigan’s in 1998.

The national semifinals are set for April 11 and the championship game April 13 at the Xcel Energy Center. Every game of the tournament will be aired on the ESPN family of networks and streamed on ESPN+.

Below is the tournament schedule, which will be updated with results as games are played. (An interactive bracket that will be updated can be found here.) Additionally, we have a look at the four contenders, including what each teams needs to do take home the championship.

Every game of the NCAA men’s hockey tournament, including the Frozen Four and championship game, will be available on ESPN+. Subscribe to watch!

Frozen Four schedule

All times Eastern

at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

National semifinals, April 11

Denver vs. Boston University, 5 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN+)

Boston College vs. Michigan, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN+)

National championship game, April 13
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+)

Teams at a glance

Boston College (33-5-1)



Lane Hutson notches go-ahead goal for Boston University

Lane Hutson sneaks the puck into the net to give Boston University a lead they don’t relinquish.

How the Eagles got here: The defending national champs had the No. 1 overall seed on the ropes as Quinnipiac took a 4-3 lead over Boston College in the first minute of the third period and nearly made it hold up. But the Eagles tied it with 4:44 remaining and won in overtime when Jack Malone poked home a loose puck after a scramble in front of the Quinnipiac net.

Entering the game, BC was clearly the hottest team in the country and had won its three postseason games (Hockey East, NCAA) by a combined 20-4 score. But when faced with the considerable pushback of Quinnipiac, the Eagles were up to the task, showing how adept they are at taking advantage of their scoring chances and how hard it is to keep them down for 60 minutes.

“It was a good game for us in terms of handling that adversity that coach is talking about and being down and not getting out of the fight,” Malone said. “There’s a lot of benefits and a lot of positives that we can take away from this game moving forward.”

History lesson: BC qualified for its 26th Frozen Four, second most all time behind Michigan. The Eagles have won their past 14 games to match the program record for wins in a season (33). BC has won five national titles, the last in 2012. Ryan Leonard had a pair of two-goal games at Providence, giving him 31 on the season to break the BC freshman record (Brian Gionta, 1997-98).

Providence takeaways

How BC can win it all in St. Paul: The key for the Eagles may be for them to not start showing their age now. BC is the youngest team in the country (Denver and BU are not far behind), but the Eagles aren’t only young, they rely heavily on underclassmen. Their five top scorers, with an astounding 291 combined points, are freshmen or sophomores, and 74.2% of the team’s points come from underclassmen. Goalie Jacob Fowler also is a freshman. The group already has played in a lot of big games (seven BC players won gold for the U.S. at world juniors, plus their 1 vs. 2 matchups with BU and the Hockey East tournament at sold-out TD Garden), but the Eagles certainly were on the ropes against Quinnipiac, a veteran team with national title experience. In recent years, that’s the sort of team that has had the most success in the Frozen Four.

Quinnipiac’s blueprint: Coach Rand Pecknold has built a fantastic program at Quinnipiac — five straight NCAA berths, nine in the past 11 years, three Frozen Fours and a national championship last season. While the Bobcats came up short in defending their title — a goal that led defensemen CJ McGee and Jayden Lee to return for a fifth season — the culture lives on. “It’s a brotherhood. It’s more than that,” Lee told College Hockey News. “Since the first day I stepped onto campus I’ve just been able to grow as a person and as a hockey player.” McGee said, “We never get to put this jersey on again and play games here. That’s really just unfortunate. It stinks.” — Steve Richards

Boston University (28-9-2)



Sam Harris scores power-play game-winning goal vs. Cornell

Denver’s Sam Harris gets the win with a power-play goal to head to the NCAA men’s hockey Frozen Four.

How the Terriers got here: On the surface, BU had the easiest time in the regionals, but that certainly doesn’t mean it was a breeze. After cruising past RIT, the Terriers fell into a 2-0 hole against Minnesota before battling back to take a 4-3 lead with less than five minutes left in the second period. BU then put the clamps on the Gophers’ attack in the third period before icing the win with a pair of empty-net goals.

“When you are up by a goal in the third period, you expect the other team to push,” BU coach Jay Pandolfo said. “But we played on our toes. We kept pushing, played on our toes. And when they did have a little push, we were there to sacrifice our bodies to block some shots.”

The Terriers showed off their star power against Minnesota with Lane Hutson scoring the go-ahead goal and Macklin Celebrini contributing three assists, including a pair of beauties to spark the comeback rally. Celebrini, the 17-year-old phenom, has 32 goals and 32 assists.

History lesson: In its 24th Frozen Four, BU is making back-to-back appearances for the first time in 27 years. The Terriers lost to Minnesota in the national semifinals in 2023. BU has won the national title five times, the last in 2009.

Sioux Falls takeaways

How BU can win it all in St. Paul: After Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 lead, BU showed great patience in sticking to its game, getting on the board late in the first period, then scoring three times in the second. That dedication to the game plan will serve the Terriers well if they can maintain it during the Frozen Four. With 12 goals in their two regional games, they showed why they are the overall No. 2 seed and why Denver will have its hands full.

Disappointment for Minnesota: The Gophers played in two of the most dramatic games of the tournament, coming from behind against Omaha in the third period, then jumping out to the lead against BU. Jaxon Nelson scored three straight goals over the two games and almost willed the Gophers to the Frozen Four, where Minnesota would have had a nice home-ice advantage. — Andrew Raycroft

Denver (30-9-3)



Frank Nazar III’s incredible between-the-legs pass sets up Michigan goal

Michigan extends its lead over Michigan State as Frank Nazar III sends an unbelievable pass to Gavin Brindley for a goal.

How the Pioneers got here: Denver, the highest scoring team in the country, entered the NCAA tournament averaging 4.85 goals per game. In two games combined — 7½ periods in fact — at Springfield, the Pioneers failed to reach that mark. Entering the regional, Denver hadn’t won a game all season in which it scored fewer than three goals. But back-to-back 2-1 wins over UMass (double OT) and Cornell earned the Pios a trip to the Frozen Four.

That ticket was in doubt until the very end of the regional final, as Denver goalie Mark Davis held off a furious Cornell rally, making a game-saving save on Ryan Walsh in the closing seconds. The pair of tight, physical wins exemplified the improvement of the Pioneers defense, which was an issue the first half of the season but has allowed fewer than three goals in eight of their last 11 games.

“You look at our team, we’re comfortable playing any type of game now,” Denver coach David Carle said. “We have a lot of confidence regardless of the style of play.”

History lesson: This is Denver’s 19th Frozen Four appearance and its fifth in the past eight tournaments. The Pioneers’ nine national titles are tied with Michigan for the most all-time; they last won in 2021 and also took the title in 2017. They’ve reached 30 wins for the third consecutive season, a first in program history.

Springfield takeaways

How Denver can win it all at St. Paul: The Pioneers had to be encouraged by winning in the tough, physical style that typifies the NCAA tournament, but to win you have to put the puck in the net. In Springfield, Denver flashed its speed and skill when it found some room to work with — and the Pios don’t need a lot — and to win another title, they’ll have to take advantage of their opportunities. Those chances likely will continue to be scarce in St. Paul.

Hats off to the working folks: Day 1 in Springfield was a long one — more than seven hours of hockey, with puck drop shortly after 2 p.m. for Denver-UMass and the Cornell-Maine nightcap ending around 9:30 p.m. That meant a whole lot of overtime for the staff at the Mass Mutual Center, who surely were thankful the NCAA has added an off day before the regional final. — Steve Richards

Michigan (23-14-3)

How the Wolverines got here: A trip to the Frozen Four seemed unlikely in mid-February when Michigan was 15-12-3 and had slipped to No. 17 in the USCHO poll. But since then, the Wolverines are 8-2, showing an uncanny ability to win tight games — six of those wins have come in one-goal games.

All those nail-biters bring a lot of pressure on the goaltender, but Michigan’s Jake Barczewski has seemed right at home. He was, in fact, right at home in the regionals as he grew up about 20 minutes from the arena. Barczewski, a grad transfer from Canisius, made 38 saves against Michigan State after keeping North Dakota at bay while his teammates overcame a sluggish start in their opener.

“Just like all of us, Barzs has been through his ups and downs,” Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said. “And throughout that whole time, everyone believes in him.”

History lesson: Michigan is in the Frozen Four for a record 28th time. It’s the Wolverines’ third straight appearance, something they last accomplished in 2001-03. While their nine national titles match Denver for the most in NCAA hockey history, they haven’t won it all since 1998 and have just two titles since 1964. Michigan is 1-8 in its last eight Frozen Four appearances.

Maryland Heights takeaways

How Michigan can win it all in St. Paul: The Wolverines outscored their opponents 7-2 in the third period of their two regional games, showing the closing ability that is key to winning championships. Michigan provided two upsets, on paper at least, in knocking off North Dakota 4-3 and taking down in-state rival Michigan State 5-2, and will face an even bigger challenge in Boston College, the unquestioned No. 1 overall seed. The Wolverines will look to avoid losing their fourth straight Frozen Four semifinal (vs. Quinnipiac last year, vs. Denver in 2022, vs. Notre Dame in 2018) — it’s great to get this far, but you want to win too. Dylan Duke paced Michigan at Maryland Heights with four goals and one assist.

A hot ticket: Besides the drama on the ice, ticket prices were the talk in St. Louis. With three programs with some of the biggest fan bases in the country playing in a 2,500-seat arena, tickets were scarce. This was the most competitive bracket on paper, and it lived up to the hype. All three games in the regional were up for grabs with less than 10 minutes left in the third period. — Andrew Raycroft

Regionals recap

Springfield (Massachusetts) Regional


Denver 2, UMass 1 (2OT)
Cornell 3, Maine 1


Denver 2, Cornell 1

Denver wins Springfield Regional

Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Regional


Boston University 6, RIT 3
Minnesota 3, Omaha 2


Boston University 6, Minnesota 3

Boston University wins Sioux Falls Regional

Providence (Rhode Island) Regional


Boston College 6, Michigan Tech 1
Quinnipiac 3, Wisconsin 2 (OT)


Boston College 5, Quinnipiac 4 (OT)

Boston College wins Providence Regional

Maryland Heights (Missouri) Regional


Michigan State 5, Western Michigan 4 (OT)
Michigan 4, North Dakota 3


Michigan 5, Michigan State 2

Michigan wins Maryland Heights Regional

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