Welcome to The Skate – Frozen Four Predictions
The road to the Frozen Four – “The Skate” rather than The Dance – starts in about 45 minutes. 4 Regions, 4 teams each. 5 Conference Champions, 11 at-large berths. 1 Championship.
Miami begins in the Midwest Regional in Toledo, OH tomorrow, as we’ve already previewed. And previewed again… But what about those other teams in the Midwest? And who else is in this thing anyways? Let’s break it down and give you our 2013 Frozen Four predictions in the process.
Toledo, Ohio; Saturday/Sunday
Teams: Notre Dame, Miami, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State
Congratulations for winning the CCHA Tournament Championship, Notre Dame! You now get to face the WCHA Regular Season co-champion St. Cloud State Huskies! St. Cloud isn’t exactly on fire, however, having gone 8-5 since February. Notre Dame comes in having won 6 in a row, and is unbeaten in their last 9, with the two non-victories being a split of shootouts against Western Michigan.
Everyone has said it already, and we’ll repeat it here. This regional is wide open. There is so much parity in college hockey, and these two CCHA vs WCHA matchups could provide some of the best drama in the first 2 rounds of the tournament.
Alex, Doug: Notre Dame
Mike: St. Cloud
Providence, Rhode Island; Friday/Saturday
Teams: Quinnipiac, Boston College, Union, Canisius
The Quinnipiac Bobcats went ballistic in the middle of the season. They ran off 21 straight games without a loss. However, to finish, they only went 6-3-1, unlike last year’s Boston College team that won 74 games in a row and rolled to the championship. After their 3-2 loss to Cornell in the ECAC tournament, they came back and won 10-0 the next night. The Cats can score, that’s for certain and they should have no problem with Canisius.
The other matchup is the intriguing one, as 2 of last year’s Frozen Four teams face off. Union is another team that is firing on all cylinders lately. They are 8-2 in their last 10 and won the ECAC Tournament. BC is… well… BC. They just win. All the time. And it gets old. One of these days Jerry York will retire and they’ll go away for a bit. However, he hasn’t retired yet.
Alex, Mike, Doug: Boston College
Manchester, New Hampshire; Friday/Saturday
Teams: UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire, Denver, Wisconsin
UNH and Denver will square off, but it won’t matter here. It might be an interesting game, but the real draw is the UM-L and Wisconsin matchup. We may be overlooking this one, but UNH backed in to the tournament and brought Denver with them. Sure, they had nice seasons, but really didn’t impress throughout the second half of each’s season and both lost in the first round of their conference tournaments.
On the other hand, Wisconsin is doing what teams like Miami, Quinnipiac and Minnesota wish they had been doing: fighting like hell to get into the tournament. Now, they’ve won the WCHA tournament and are another team that is playing great at the right time.
Lowell is playing like crazy and earned their first ever #1 seed in the tournament. They started the season 2-5-1, but then in their last 30 games went a measly 24-5-1. They are also 12-1 in their last 13 games. They remind me a lot of Boston College last year: big, fast, determined. Their hurdle here should be beating Wisconsin. Someone’s got to win this clash of the titans.
Alex, Doug: UMass-Lowell
Grand Rapids, Michigan; Saturday/Sunday
Teams: Minnesota, North Dakota, Niagara, Yale
Okay…so the committee wanted to see a Minnesota vs North Dakota Regional Final. Can you blame them? I certainly cannot. Their games are always slug fests and we could be set up for another titanic struggle on Sunday. While they shouldn’t look past their opponents on Saturday, I think we can bank on a WCHA entrant to the Frozen Four from this region.
Yale comes in having been shut out in each of their last 2 games – to Union in the Semifinals and then Quinnipiac in the consolation game of the ECAC tournament. Yale could pose a threat, but Minnesota’s depth, size and speed will over power them. Much of the same should be expected for North Dakota.
We won’t take anything away from Niagara’s fantastic season. They are the first ever Atlantic Hockey team to make the tournament as an at-large bid, but are just 2-2 in their last 4. North Dakota is worse, having gone 2-3 in their last 5. However, North Dakota has the firepower that should get them at least to the regional final.
Alex, Mike, Doug: Minnesota
And to recap, here’s our overall Frozen Four picks (we’ll preview the actual 4 teams in 2 weeks) and championship predictions:
Alex: BC, Notre Dame, UM-L, Minnesota; BC over Minnesota for the title (BC apologist)
Mike: BC, SCSU, Wisconsin, Minnesota; BC over Minnesota for the title (BC apologist)
Doug: BC, Notre Dame, UM-L, Minnesota; Lowell over ND for the title
As you can see, I am the only sane person of the 3 Warriors that didn’t pick BC to win it all.
In any event, enjoy the games, everyone. They start RIGHT NOW!