The top four offenses in NCAA Division I men’s hockey are the four teams left in the running for the 2022 national championship.
The Frozen Four will start in Boston on April 7 with Michigan facing Denver at 5 p.m. ET and Minnesota State playing Minnesota at 8:30.
Denver has the most prolific scoring team in the country (4.28 goals per game), followed by Minnesota State (4.1), Michigan (4.02) and Minnesota (3.61).
The Wolverines, Mavericks and Pioneers were No. 1 seeds in their regionals. It’s the first time since 2017 that three top regional seeds advanced to the Frozen Four and just the second time in 19 tournaments with a 16-team format that there have been three No. 1 seeds and a No. 2 seed (Minnesota).
Denver (29-9-1) is making its 17th Frozen Four appearance, not including a trip in 1973 that was vacated for using ineligible players. It has been in four of the last six Frozen Fours and won in 2017.
The Pioneers, who defeated UMass Lowell 3-2 and Minnesota Duluth 2-1 in the Loveland Regional, are looking to tie Michigan for the all-time lead with a ninth NCAA title.
This is the ninth time that the Frozen Four has been played in the Boston area, and the Pioneers have been in six. They won at Matthews Arena (then known as Boston Arena) in 1960 and at TD Garden (then known as FleetCenter) in 2004.
Minnesota State (37-5) joined UMass as teams making their first Frozen Four trip during the 16-team tournament era who also made it back in the next tournament. The Minutemen lost in the 2019 championship game before winning the title in 2021; the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mavericks would love to follow in those footsteps, and they’ll be looking to erase memories of last year’s 5-4 semifinal loss to St. Cloud State. That was only the second time all season they allowed more than four goals.
Minnesota State got past Harvard 4-3 and Notre Dame 1-0 in the Albany Regional, with Dryden McKay earning his 10th shutout of the season in the final.
The team just up the road is waiting for the Mavericks in the semifinals. Minnesota (26-12) moved into a tie with North Dakota and Boston University for third all-time with its 22nd Frozen Four berth by downing UMass 4-3 in overtime and Western Michigan 3-0 in the Worcester Regional.
It’s the first time in the semifinals for the Gophers since 2014, when they lost to Union in the championship game. They have never played another team from Minnesota in the Frozen Four but that’ll end on April 7. Minnesota leads the all-time series 37-16-6 but the Mavericks won the last meeting, a 4-0 decision in the 2021 NCAA Loveland Regional final.
The Gophers were on the other side of a shutout in a regional final on Sunday, with Justen Close making 24 saves. The Minnesota-Minnesota State game will mark the second time in three Frozen Fours that one of the semifinals features two teams that qualified with a shutout. The other was Denver vs. UMass in 2019; It had never happened before then.
Michigan (31-9-1) completed the Frozen Four field with a 7-4 victory against Quinnipiac on Sunday, two days after it won an Allentown Regional semifinal 5-3. The Wolverines lost the last two games of the regular season to Notre Dame but went 6-0 in March to break a tie with Boston College by qualifying for their 26th Frozen Four.
Boston also has a special place in Michigan fans’ hearts: The Wolverines won their last of a record nine NCAA titles there in 1998. They’re the first No. 1 overall seed to advance to the Frozen Four since Denver in 2017.
Michigan has the NCAA record with 27 tournament victories but it was held out of last year’s event because of COVID-19.