The NCAA’s Frozen Four gets going today and all four teams vying for a national championship feature BCHL grads.
The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first matchup at 3 p.m. PST today at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The second game today has the Michigan Wolverines taking on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 6:30 p.m. PST.
It’s the second-consecutive trip to the big show for both Notre Dame, who lost in the semifinals last year to Denver, and for Minnesota-Duluth who got to the finals in 2017 but were defeated 3-2 by Denver.
Minnesota-Duluth’s roster features former Penticton Vees defenceman Jarod Hilderman who has six points in 15 games as a sophomore. The Bulldogs qualified for the NCAA tournament after finishing third in the standings in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) regular season and finishing fourth in the NCHC tournament. The Bulldogs got to the Frozen Four after beating Minnesota State 3-2 in overtime and following up with a 2-1 win over Air Force in the first week of the NCAA tournament.
Former Powell River Kings defenceman Matt Joyaux will suit up for Ohio State after putting up 10 points in 27 games in his senior season. The Buckeyes finished second in the Big Ten standings and also finished second in the Big 10 tournament, losing 3-2 in overtime to Notre Dame in the finals. Ohio State started the NCAA tournament by beating Princeton 4-2 and getting by Denver 4-1 en route to the Frozen Four.
Michigan’s roster has former Wenatchee Wild forward Dakota Raabe, who put up six points in his freshman season, as well as former Vernon Vipers forward Dexter Dancs, who has 26 points in 38 games in his senior year. The Wolverines finished third in the Big 10 regular season standings and lost in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. Michigan beat Northeastern 3-2 and Boston University 6-3 on their way to the Frozen Four.
Notre Dame’s roster includes former Langley Rivermen defenceman Tony Bretzman, former Powell River Kings defenceman Luke Ripley and former Nanaimo Clippers forward Bo Brauer, who are all in their senior season. The Fighting Irish finished at the top of the Big 10 regular season standings and also won the Big Ten tournament by beating Ohio State in the final. They are the highest remaining seed in the NCAA tournament as the number two overall. Notre Dame beat Michigan Tech 4-3 in overtime and got past Providence 2-1 to reach the Frozen Four.
There are 25 NHL-drafted players in the Frozen Four this year and several draft hopefuls including Michigan’s Quinn Hughes and Minnesota-Duluth’s Scott Perunovich.