One side of the bracket is loaded with experience. The other is made up of the new kids on the block.
One side has nine national championships. The other has seven total NCAA tournament games.
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Despite the noticeable tilt in the experience scale, they’re all headed to Tampa, Fla., and the Tampa Bay Times Forum for college hockey’s biggest stage. The Dutchmen and the Bulldogs face off at 4:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 5; the Eagles and Golden Gophers skate at 8 p.m.
The semifinal winners play for the national championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 7.
Union and Ferris State will be the 33rd and 34th teams to ever skate in the Frozen Four, and adding two schools to that list in one season has been rare.
Not counting the first year, 1948, this is the sixth time two teams are making their Frozen Four debut in the same season. Miami and Bemidji State did so in 2009, but the last before that was 1988, when Maine and Lake Superior State joined the club.
The others: 1958 (Denver and North Dakota), 1953 (Minnesota and Rensselaer) and 1952 (St. Lawrence and Yale).
Boston College is a Frozen Four original: It was part of the first event in 1948 along with Michigan, Colorado College and Dartmouth. This is its 23rd trip to the national semifinals — second all-time to Michigan’s 24 — and fifth in the last seven seasons.
The Eagles have won the national championship four times — 1949, 2001, 2008 and 2010.
Minnesota is making its 20th Frozen Four appearance, with five NCAA championship banners (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003) in the Mariucci Arena rafters.
The Gophers lead the all-time series against the Eagles 14-11-2, with nine of those 27 games coming in the NCAA tournament.
Minnesota won the first game in the series between the schools 14-1 in the national semifinals on March 11, 1954, in Colorado Springs.
But BC has advanced three of the other four times the schools have been paired in the NCAAs, with a 5-4 game record that includes two-game, total-goals series in the first round in 1985 and 1987 and a three-game quarterfinal series in 1990.
They last met on March 28, 2008, when Boston College advanced to the Northeast Regional final with a 5-2 victory in Worcester, Mass.
The all-time series between Union and Ferris State is a little leaner.
The Dutchmen have won all four games played, two in Big Rapids, Mich., in 2006 and two in Schenectady, N.Y., in 2007.
Ferris State has a 3-1 NCAA tournament record, losing to eventual national champion Minnesota in the 2003 regional finals before beating Denver and Cornell as the second seed in the Midwest Regional to make this season’s Frozen Four.
Union is 2-1 in the national tournament, with a loss in last season’s first round and wins over Michigan State and Massachusetts-Lowell as the top seed in this season’s East Regional.
Minnesota advanced out of the West Regional, in which it was the second seed, on Sunday with a win over top seed North Dakota. The Gophers beat Boston University in the first round, and they have a 52-33 all-time NCAA record.
Boston College is the top overall seed in this year’s tournament, and it advanced out of the Northeast Regional by beating defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth on Sunday after handling Air Force in the semifinals. The Eagles are 43-38 in the NCAA tournament.
The four teams in the 2012 Frozen Four are the regular season champions from the CCHA, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East and the WCHA.