The NCAA men’s Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida, is down to two teams, with a blue blood facing a new blood for the national title. Minnesota, seeking its sixth national title but first in 20 years, will face Quinnipiac, which is searching for its first national title, Saturday night (8 ET, ESPN2/ESPN+) at Amalie Arena.
The Golden Gophers and Bobcats were the top two teams in the country for most of the season and were the top two seeds in the 16-team NCAA field. In the national semifinals, Minnesota defeated Boston University 6-2, while Quinnipiac neutralized Michigan’s high-powered offense and beat the Wolverines 5-2.
Entering the Frozen Four, Minnesota ranked second in the nation in scoring (4.21 goals per game), while Quinnipiac was third (3.95). Quinnipiac also was No. 1 in scoring defense, allowing just 1.54 goals per game, while Minnesota ranked sixth at 2.24.
Minnesota is making its 23rd appearance in the Frozen Four, while Quinnipiac, which has the best record in the country at 33-4-3, is making its third appearance. The combined 76 Frozen Four appearances by the four teams is by far the most of all time, and the four teams have a total of 40 NHL draft picks on their rosters, including eight first-rounders.
Saturday’s national championship game will be at Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It will air on ESPN2 and will be available to stream on the ESPN app and ESPN+.
Below is the schedule, highlights from the semifinals and a look at the Gophers and Bobcats. For a bracket that will update as games are completed, click here.
All times Eastern
at Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
April 6: National semifinals (ESPN2/ESPN+)
Minnesota 6, Boston University 2
Quinnipiac 5, Michigan 2
April 8: Minnesota vs. Quinnipiac, 8 p.m. (ESPN2/ESPN+)
Luke Mittelstadt’s 2 goals propel Minnesota to the Frozen Four final
Luke Mittelstadt tallies two goals in the third period as Minnesota defeats Boston University 6-2 in the Frozen Four semifinals.
Adam Fantilli’s second goal levels game vs. Quinnipiac
Adam Fantilli’s slap shot hits the back of the net for the Michigan Wolverines vs. Quinnipiac.
Teams at a glance
How the Gophers got to Tampa: Minnesota, the top overall seed, trailed upstart Canisius midway through their regional semifinal, but it always seemed like it was just a matter of time before order was restored. That happened in the second period, when the Gophers embarked on an 8-0 spurt, with three of the goals coming on the power play, for a 9-2 final.
Minnesota handled St. Cloud State in the Fargo final, with freshman star Logan Cooley giving the Gophers a 2-1 lead early in the second period and setting up a big insurance goal midway through the third. Cooley has 30 points while in the midst of a 15-game scoring streak.
History lesson: The Gophers are in the Frozen Four for the fifth time since their last national title in 2003. They played BU in the 1995 Frozen Four semifinals at Providence, a 7-3 win for the Terriers.
Andrew Raycroft’s Fargo takeaways
The No. 1 overall seed looked the part. Minnesota outscored its opponents 13-3 over two games in Fargo and never really seemed to be threatened. If not for the brilliance of St. Cloud State goaltender Jaxon Castor in the first period of Saturday’s regional final, the Gophers would have run away with it.
Minnesota is the favorite for a reason. It has a dynamic forward group, led by Bryce Brodzinski (four goals, one assist) this weekend, and an extremely deep back end anchored by Jackson LaCombe and Brock Faber, and the big-save goaltending of Justen Close (45 saves).
How Minnesota can win it all: With all their depth and talent, Minnesota is the team to beat, but at the Frozen Four, the Gophers will need to be more disciplined with the puck in their own zone and do a better job staying out of the box (eight minor penalties over two games in Fargo).
How the Bobcats got to Tampa: After blanking Merrimack in the semis, Quinnipiac erased an early deficit against Ohio State with a pair of goals, from Christophe Fillion and Skyler Brind’Amour, 15 seconds apart midway through the first period. The Bobcats then turned on their trademark defense (1.54 goals per game, best in the country) and hung on to beat the Buckeyes despite being outshot 26-9 over the last two periods.
Sophomore Yaniv Perets stopped 49 of 50 shots over the weekend, and Quinnipiac improved to 8-3 on the season when its opponent scores first.
History lesson: This is the third Frozen Four for Quinnipiac. The Bobcats were national runners-up in 2013 (beat St. Cloud State, lost to Yale) and 2016 (beat Boston College, lost to North Dakota).
Colby Cohen’s Bridgeport takeaways
Quinnipiac’s neutral and defensive zone play is top notch. The Bobcats seem to play a 1-1-3 or a 1-3-1 at times and they force teams into turnover after turnover. This weekend, the teams they played created zero offense for themselves. The one goal Quinnipiac gave up to Ohio State was off a bad turnover that turned into a breakaway, but otherwise I am not sure I have seen more dominant defensive hockey in a regional for as long as I have been covering them. Their entire team is full of older, stronger, 200-foot players, and they are going to give Michigan a look that they have not seen this season.
Quinnipiac’s Sam Lipkin is a star. Lipkin’s size and strength are notable for a true freshman, and the touch he has on the puck created some goals for the Bobcats. Lipkin also possesses the confidence to call his own number and shoot the puck, which isn’t always easy when you are surrounded by fourth- and fifth-year players. His play creates a ton of space for linemate Colin Graf, who is one of the nation’s top scorers.
How Quinnipiac can win it all: No Division I team has won more games in the last decade than the Bobcats, and over the last two seasons they have a .795 winning percentage. The next step for this program is to hang a national championship banner. They will face Goliath in Michigan, but Quinnipiac cannot be discounted because of their ability to dominate in the neutral zone. The Bobcats are comfortable in low-scoring games and when playing in their own end, which they will need to be in order to beat Michigan and then either BU or Minnesota. It will come down to goaltending and frustrating their opponents with their stingy trap.
Quinnipiac’s unbelievable goal counts after review
Cristophe Tellier’s goal is initially ruled no good but is overturned on review, giving Quinnipiac a 3-1 lead.
Manchester, New Hampshire, Regional
Thursday: Boston University 5, Western Michigan 1; Cornell 2, Denver 0
Saturday: Boston University 2, Cornell 1
Boston University wins Manchester Regional
Fargo, North Dakota, Regional
Thursday: St. Cloud State 4, Minnesota State 0; Minnesota 9, Canisius 2
Saturday: Minnesota 4, St. Cloud State 1
Minnesota wins Fargo Regional
Bridgeport, Connecticut, Regional
Friday: Ohio State 8, Harvard 1; Quinnipiac 5, Merrimack 0
Sunday: Quinnipiac 4, Ohio State 1
Quinnipiac wins Bridgeport Regional
Allentown, Pennsylvania, Regional
Friday: Penn State 8, Michigan Tech 0; Michigan 11, Colgate 1
Sunday: Michigan 2, Penn State 1 (OT)
Michigan wins Allentown Regional