A quick look at the 2015 Frozen Four after Boston University, North Dakota, Providence and Omaha earn spots

Providence beat Denver for its first trip to the Frozen Four since 1985 (photo: Matt Eisenberg).

One side of the Frozen Four bracket features teams that have combined for 12 national championships and 43 Frozen Four appearances.

On the other side, the national championships column is empty and Frozen Four experience is slight.

Boston University will play North Dakota in a semifinal matchup of two of the most accomplished programs in college hockey history. Providence and Omaha are matched in the other semi, with the Friars making their first Frozen Four appearance in 30 years and the Mavericks their first ever.

The Terriers and UND are both No. 1 seeds; Providence emerged from the East Regional as a No. 4 seed, while UNO was the No. 2 seed in the Midwest.

They’ll meet at TD Garden in Boston for the Frozen Four on April 9 and 11.

North Dakota leads the field with 48 NCAA tournament wins and seven national titles but hasn’t won one since 2000 despite seven Frozen Four appearances since. This is UND’s 21st time in the national semifinals overall.

Boston University won the 2009 national championship, its fifth, and is making its 22nd Frozen Four appearance. That’s third behind Michigan and Boston College.

Providence has made it to three Frozen Fours in the past, but the most recent was in 1985 when goaltender Chris Terreri led the Friars to the national title game, where they fell to Rensselaer.

Omaha was 0-for-2 in NCAA appearances before this weekend’s West Regional, but coach Dean Blais is a Frozen Four veteran, having led North Dakota to titles in 1997 and 2000 and a runner-up finish in 2001.

The Providence-Omaha game is scheduled for 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 9, with North Dakota-Boston University following at 8:30. The championship game is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 11. The semifinal games are on ESPN2, while the title game is on ESPN.

Boston University and North Dakota have met once before in the Frozen Four, with UND winning the 1997 championship game 6-4 in Milwaukee on the strength of a five-goal second period.

UND also won a 2005 first-round NCAA tournament game against the Terriers 4-0. Boston University advanced to the second round of the 1990 NCAA tournament by winning the last two games of a best-of-three home series against UND.

More recently, the Terriers went 2-1-1 in a two-season series completed over the previous two seasons. North Dakota won the first of those games behind Connor Gaarder’s only collegiate hat trick on Nov. 2, 2012, but BU won the next night in Grand Forks, then got a win and tie at home last season.

Overall, North Dakota leads the all-time series 12-9-2, including a 2-1 record on neutral ice.

The semifinal will be considered a neutral site, but the Terriers might as well consider TD Garden a second home.

Boston University is 4-0 this season at the home of the Boston Bruins, with championships in the Beanpot and the Hockey East tournament. Since the building opened in 1995, the Terriers are 40-16 there.

As a Hockey East team, Providence also is familiar with TD Garden, but its record is much less impressive.

The Friars lost Hockey East semifinal games there in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and haven’t won a game at TD Garden since a Hockey East semifinal win over Maine in 2001.

Omaha has won the only two games it has ever played against Providence, both in regular season tournaments. The Mavericks won 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 13, 2001, in the Omaha Cup third-place game. They beat the Friars 4-2 on Nov. 25, 2005, in the first round of the RPI Holiday Tournament.

1 COMMENT

    • I see actually the exact opposite. Providence magic runs out, and BU wins very close game with home crowd behind them. Think BU wins it all.

      • Not sure I would count on that big of a “home crowd” for BU. In the discussion of which college hockey teams travel best UND is always a part of the conversation. So the UND faithful will represent for sure. I am sure that BU will have more fans but it will be a lot closer than you think. There is a reason that UND fans say every game is a home game.

          • Yeah and I would think that most of the fans will go for the earlier game also. I don’t know about BU fans but UND fans are all just waiting/expecting a call from the UND coaching staff asking for their notes from the previous game so most of them will be there to see the team they plan on playing on Saturday just in case they get that call!

        • Spoiled BU students didn’t go to Manchester in big numbers. A lot of the tickets were bought well in advance. I would bet that a lot of ND fans already have tickets. Love the North Dakota passion. PC and BU fans, not so much.

          • UND offered a ticket package including flight to Boston and it sold out in minutes. There’s no doubt UND is going to have a strong presence in the crowd at the Garden

    • I think that the PC streak runs out and they end up in the box a lot if they play like they did this weekend and if they do UNO will own them. I think the winner of the UND/BU games wins it all, just have no idea who wins that game, should be a great game.

  1. This bracket format is screwed up…Boston University Should play Providence and Ohmaha should get NoDak…imagine if RIT pulled it out against UNO…PC would have cake walked into the title game…. The way this is set up the best game looks like UND and BU…why not just reseed…I mean they have a week off?

      • You get this ever couple of year an AHA teams makes a run and everyone freaks out. People need to chill. Come tournament time AHAs obscurity helps it out a lot. No one knows what to expect. During the regular season everyone knows NoDak or BU…BC etc…but who really cares about Holy Cross until they sneak up and bite you in the ass….the fact is RIT is an exception and not the rule…

        • RIT is a different story. They are progressing very much like Union… A D3 school playing up without scholarships… but lacking a competitive conference. They’re attracting the late bloomer or player that isn’t recruited heavily but can be coached up by a very good coach and staff. The greatest difference in the UNO game was “finishing skill” talent and a superior goalie. RIT didn’t capitalize on its quality chances… UNO’s game-winning goal caught the goalie napping. Isn’t that difference between better scholarship players and non?

          • RIT went 14-9-5 in AHA…they didn’t exactly kill it in their weak conference. Where did Union finish this year? They are great stories but they tend be more anomalies rather than the born…I’m not taking anything away from RIT..I just dont see why BU doesn’t play UNO and UND plays PC..How does it make sense to have the Two and Three teams in the country play each other in the semi finals while the 8 plays the 15th

          • As far as I or anyone? knows, the NCAA does not re-seed it’s tournaments… period. Arguing about it makes no sense.

          • I think the decision not to re-seed is so that the schools in the tournament know exactly where they’ll go as the tournament progresses. Obviously, with the current setup for hockey that’s not a factor but for other sports with larger tourneys (multiple weeks, multiple sites) I can see where it’d make the logistics easier for the schools.

      • MSU was over rated in the first place. 27+ wins against teams like Alabama, Anchorage, etc does not earn you the number 1 seed. If you actually go back and unrank Ferris and the University of Michigan at the beginning of the year, they would be sitting at best 5th statistically. No one should be shocked that they lost first round. The WCHA has very little competition.

        • I kind of disagree, MSU outplayed them most of the game, and I thought the top of WCHA had more than a respectable year.

          • I kind of disagree….
            I would hope the “best” team in the playoffs out plays the worst team for most of the game. It is a massive joke if they don’t.

            And no. WCHA may have done better than the anticipated leftovers group, but it certainly wouldn’t merit any team getting a number one seed. There are wayyy too many weak games against weak teams, too many intra-conference games and over-inflated records. The bottom half of the division resembles more AHA than HEA or NCHC. The unbiased approach doesn’t accurently reflect the strength between divisions and instead relies too heavily on RPI based on record. Maybe when more than 2 HEA teams play the WCHA we’ll get a more accurate seeding.

          • Your opinion, which is fine… BUT MS-Mankato was #1 in the PWR, which measures the non-con, against weak teams, conference schedule, etc., and not in just an opinion poll.

          • True, it’s not an opinion poll, but it is a broken (albeit unbiased) system that does not accurately compare teams division to division.

            My argument stems further into the fact that this #1 seed lost (as did the higher ranked Michigan Tech) only to further explain the problem with the ranking given to the WCHA this year thanks to the PWR. I agree it shouldn’t be based entirely on polling, but the system is flawed with its given state.

            Statistical analysis and comparisons require adequate sample sets and I just think the statistical comparisons made with 10 non-conference games against teams two or three times removed is a stretch.
            Shouldn’t head to head record be the deciding factor? Perhaps the most important criteria? or common opponents seems more relevant as a “pairwise” comparison than RPI (which again is based on win %)? Teams shouldnt be better against common opponents, split head to head and get “paired” lower based on RPI.

            As more and more teams join the NCAA Div.-I ranks, the current PWR analysis will do a poorer and poorer job assessing the competition. The PWR is based strongly on RPI, which is based highly on win %, which was clearly overinflated for the WCHA after this tournament.

        • I actually thought the NCHC seemed overrated… Seriously. If they were *that* good, with all that *great* competition, certainly Duluth, Denver *and* Miami should’ve come out of the East, and the NCAA would’ve had to rename the tourney the Frozen Five. /sarc

          • Jokingly, you’re going to get your head handed to you if you keep that up… For better or worse, lots of NCHC hard-cores on this site. Best conference? That’s an some sort of ego or self-gratification thing. I’m for who the best teams are, and hopefully, the best team is.

    • Sorry the top team got upset. Why don’t they reseed the NCAA basketball tournament as well? It’s a tournament, not a popularity contest is why. UNO went 1-2-1 against North Dakota this year btw

      • You have 16 teams and four rounds. Comparing the hockey tournament and the basketball tournament is dumb. So you think after the seasons that BU and NoDak had they shouldn’t get to play the lower/ranked teams???

        • Totally agree. It’s just like the old NHL style of re-seeding after the first round.

          I’ve always been a fan of the two best teams playing in the final, or setting it up in a way to. It is always disappointing to have the major matchup in the semis and have an unwatched final.

        • I am a huge UND fan and what difference does it make. In your world you seem to think there is a huge difference between any of these teams right now, so in your scenario both BU and UND would win and have to play each other anyway. Reseeding is silly at this point. You have four really good teams and you are going to have to play two really excellent games to win it all, so who cares which order you play them in. Plus after watching this weekend, not so sure that I would want to Providence over BU right now. Neither will be easy but Providence plays a nasty game.

          • Totally agree about PC vs. BU. I see ND, PC, Denver and St. Cloud as more intense than BU. Eichel seems to float around and avoid contact. Doesn’t want to get injured before the draft. PC is playing much better than BU. Maybe BU wakes up against ND. ND is a little nasty so BU might have to pick it up.

      • There are many many people that think you should reseed once the BBall tourny gets to the Final Four. It’s a common topic on any sports show this time of year. I would like to see them reseed in hockey at the frozen four too. In a single elimination tournament, the higher seeds deserve the advantage gained by playing so well throughout a whole season.

      • What? Not sure I understand what you mean? They set it up so that UND and BU who are #2 and #3 overall respectively would meet in the semis, so that if the other two top seeds would have make it #1 would have played #4. So no they didn’t decide that before the teams were placed in the regions I don’t think. They always set it up so that it would be that way from what I can tell.

    • First of all if they were to reseed, then UND would play PC because UND is the top seed left and PC is the worst seed left. So if they were going to do this it would be UND/PC and BU/UNO. But I disagree with you, if all of the #1 seeds had made it UND #2 overall should have been set to play BU the #3 overall seed. They will never reseed the FF and shouldn’t.

  2. The two schools in the Frozen Four that are not #1 seeds had an extra week to prepare for the regionals because they were eliminated early in their conference tournaments. Perhaps that early elimination benefitted them in the long run.

    • I don’t think that helps in the FF case… I think coaches, particularly Blaize and Hackstol, would rather they play next week. BC and Quinnipiac both looked flat, out of sinc with their 2 weeks off. Having that razor sharp edge and being in true game shape can fall off quickly.

      • Quinnipiac was in the ECAC final four, so they didn’t have two weeks off. On the other hand, Yale, that had two weeks off, took BU to overtime and UMD, that had two weeks off, easily defeated Minnesota and played well against BU. BC appears to be the exception.

  3. Feel bad for Miami and Denver having to play on Providence’s home ice when they were not even the host. The NCAA in it’s infinite wisdom got this wrong. No offense to Providence, but I doubt they win in any other regional.

    • Providence didn’t play on home ice. In fact I’m not sure they played in DD Center at all this year. Home town yes. Home ice, no. BTW, don’t seem to hear any yapping about ND playing an hour from home in Fargo. A lot of people seem to think it’s okay for the western teams to be close to home but not so much so for the east.

      • North Dakota was the 1 seed, Providence was the 4 seed and the last at large in the tourney. Apples and oranges. The NCAA could have avoided the discussion by putting Providence in Manchester. Denver and Miami could have avoided the discussion by winning games they should have won.

        • North Dakota was also the “host school” in Fargo and Brown University was the host school in Providence. Providence should have been playing North Dakota in Fargo on Friday night.

          • Any team can take on the responsibility and put in a bit to host. Obviously when they do this they are all hoping their team makes the tourney and they get the home town advantage. But the bids are due years in advance and the sites are awarded years in advance so Brown just put in a winning bid and got the right to host. It basically means their athletic dept is responsible for putting on the tourney.

          • Apparently, all they have to do is ask. There was a regional hosted in Green Bay a few years ago that Michigan Tech either hosted or co-hosted. They weren’t close to making the tournament that year, though.

        • Joe, In reality Yale was the last at large in. To my knowledge, PC was never out… Yale ONLY got in because Harvard made the final and won the ECAC tournament. Had Quinnipiac or Colgate won it, Yale would have finished 17 or 18 in the PWR. Just saying…
          And as the coulda-shouldas for Miami just don’t fly. The record shows they’ve choked for years (since 2006 anyway) vs. HEA teams in NCAAs… Last weekend was no different.

    • I am not sure playing in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is really “home ice”. If the game was played in the Pepsi Center in Denver, I still think Providence would have won. Denver won a national championship in Boston about 10 years ago. They were going to win that championship no matter where the game was played.

      • Providence should have been placed in Fargo as they were 15th in the PWR. Doubtful they win in Fargo. A team in the fourth band should not be rewarded with playing in their home town when they are not the host.

        • We’ll never know if PC wins in Fargo, since that would have occurred in an alternate universe. In this universe, I have no doubt Providence is in the FF. And I believe they played their way in. It was also stated flat out that PC was placed in Providence for attendance. They should perhaps change the rules so no team plays within 1000 miles of their campus. BU should play in Nome, Alaska. Denver can play in Charlestown, SC, etc.

          • Denver always has to travel. The top seeds should play close to home, they earned it. The lower seeds shouldn’t and should have to travel. Granted they won their games but Providence got a big boost by being placed in the East Regional. A 4th seed doesn’t deserve that, they should have to travel plain and simple.

  4. I’m sorry it’s not my beloved Eagles in the FF, but the painful (for me) truth is that they finsihed the season as a mediocre team, and Demko didn’t play well enough to save their bacon; but I’m thrilled for the Friars.
    Miami and Denver whining over PC being home, while maybe understandable, is also sour grapes. A 1 and 2 seed should be able to beat a 4 seed that was damn lucky to be there, having lost to a mediocre UNH team in the quarters of the HE tourney; Miami post season choking continues, and hats off to a Friars club that’s seizing an opportunity.
    Melrose was right about rhe Friars; they are big, and dangerous when they actually use their size to their advantage. It took awhile, but once they started to believe in themselves yesterday vs. Denver, they took over the contest, and Gillies proved himself once again to be an elite Div. 1 goalie.
    Parisi’s GWG was an absolute snipe, worthy of and very similar to Rodrigues’ GWG goal for BU the night prior vs. UMD.
    Providence is proving to be the little school that could, the ONLY university in the country in the last two years to place teams in both Div. 1 national hockey and basketball tournaments; Let’s go FRIARS!!

    • Agreed on Eagles… An solid, OK, but uneventful year. Providence really was the stronger team most of the year, and UML probably stronger overall as well. Good news is, no more having to hide their very mediocre senior class. If BC’s roster can stay intact (with limited defections) they will be better next year. Then again so will UML, UNH, BU, among others. After a bit of an up and down year, HEA should regain it’s as a conference next year.

      • BC graduates 0 impact players, but Matheson and Hanifan are big flight risks; if they stay, BC will very definitely return to elite status again. All bets are off if they lose both.
        Pretty much without a doubt, Eichel’s done, and he’s so pivotal to BU, that can’t help but translate to a drop-off from their present lofty perch.

        • That’s the truth. I think BU is definitely back to stay… Their recruiting class coming will help whether the storm.
          With all the hype, I figure Eichel is definitely done, but I’m not sure he is quite “NHL” ready. Gaudreau and Hayes were upper classmen that jumped right to the NHL. I wonder if Eichel might not be better served staying another year, to mature, get stronger.
          I can see Matheson going, but Hanifan might want to stay, too . As much puff as ESPN gave him, he played mediocre for him, and got out-muscled some vs Denver. A 2nd year at BC would be wise.

          • “As much puff as ESPN gave him, he played mediocre for him…” I had the exact same thought (though I love the kid no less!)
            I thought Gaudreau should and might wait, due to his size, but boy was I wrong, so that’s one reason why I’m so sure about Eichel leaving, who’s already a good size.
            I hear what you’re sayng about BU being back for the foreseeable, but I hope the hell not. I do hear that BC has an excellent incoming class; here’s hoping.

          • Well, I grew up in a Bruins and split BU, BC household. I didn’t attend either, so I’ve never felt compelled to chose. Instead, I have a passionate allegiance to all. The rivalry is that special.

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about BC not being in the FF this year. It may just be Coach York being the gentleman that he is, and allowing other teams to get in on the fun. One thing is for sure, he runs a terrific program and BC will not be out of title contention for too long. I’m not a BC fan at all, but Jerry York is truly a great person who runs a terrific program.

  5. For those people who had a problem with Providence playing “close to home”, lets expand that discussion a little.

    There is a larger discussion about going back to campusus for the 1st round of games like they once were. Those that are against it claim that it is too big of an advantage as the lower seeds have so little hope. Those that are for it say your attendance concerns would be greatly removed.

    I think you need to look at this last weekend to see why both those statements may have proven correct. UND was not at a home rink, though it was within 75 miles making it very easy for their fans to be there. That proximaty made for an atmosphere that was outstanding.

    If you think the closer to home rink has a competitive advantage, you only have to look at Providence. Their goalie played well, but do they really make the FF without that location? Who knows, but I’d bet it helped.

    That said, I believe they should go back to the campuses. Improved attendance and atmosphere would be gained. Quite honestly, the advantage of being closer to home should be given to the top seed over the others in the group. No matter what, however, stay with the 1 and done format. Do not go back to 3-game series.

    Am I too far off base here? Your thoughts?

    • I think the biggest criticism of the attendance issue was the timing of the Northeast games. 2pm game for BU in Manchester? My understanding is this was because of media requirements from ESPN, but c’mon. Without UNH in the tournament who did they think was going to be there?
      I’m torn on moving back to campus locations.

      • would love to know all the attendance as I heard that one of the midwest games drew 832 in announced attendance (heard that second hand so I don’t know if it is true).

        and I understand Mr. Allain’s concern, but I don’t think Providence deserved being closer to home than either of the 1 or 2 seeds

        Seems to me, if you want home advantage (like all other sports), you should earn it.

        • All I can tell you about South Bend (I live here) is that you couldn’t buy tickets last week. My suspicion is that the same sort of thing happened here as happened in Fargo for Tech/SCS – tickets were sold, but not used.

      • The times made a huge difference… My team was out so I just went for the games…I wanted to see BU play but Friday is a tough sell at 2:00pm. I also feel the mid west is really hard to do. Realistically the conferences are so large geographicaly speaking thats its impossible to ensure good attendance. The East and the Northeast regionals in feel do better because most of the schools are pretty closr

    • I’d go for it, but it has been stated that no desirable venue would accept or bid on a 3-night, 8-team tournament. Also, Yale’s Keith Allain was asked that same question, and he says it would be a huge mistake… It gives the top teams too much of an unfair advantage. I think we’re stuck.

    • The problem is setting up these Regionals way in advance and then not having a local team ( Notre Dame ) play. In the Boston area you could have BU, BC or Lowell host as all have nice arenas. North Dakota or Minnesota in the west. And then maybe Denver, Omaha ( new arena next year ), Penn State, Michigan and Minnesota Duluth. All depending if they make the tourney. OR have 2 Regionals with 2 teams coming out of each one.

    • I think you are on track by going back to campus. In essence, UND should not be penalized for having a winning program with a large and loyal fan base. If North Dakota gets to host and play in a regional at the Ralph, then they deserve it. If BU hosts a regional and plays in the tournament at Agganis, then they too deserve it. Since when do we need to handicap for lower ranked teams? It’s not working.

      What is the real issue here? Revenue at the regionals? Attendance at the regionals? Giving an “unfair” advantage to a 4 seed by placing them at a regional site that also happens to be their home town?

      ESPN has given college hockey a national audience through their complete coverage of the tournament. It is a shame the NCAA cannot come up with a better system to assure all regional buildings resembled what occurred in Fargo. I am not a UND fan, but who can argue with the long term success of their program and the size of their loyal fan base?

      • JCN: “It is a shame the NCAA cannot come up with a better system to assure all regional buildings resembled what occurred in Fargo”.
        The building was pretty empty during the Tech/SCS game. Both teams deserved better.

    • “That proximaty (sic) made for an atmosphere that was outstanding.”
      I’d make a qualifier to what you said there. The Michigan Tech/St. Cloud game was played before a sea of empty seats – the only areas with spectators appeared to be in the limited areas allocated to the two participating teams, and the standing room area that filled with North Dakota fans as soon as they opened the doors. Granted, all those seats were sold as part of the doubleheader, but the owners of those seats were all outside tailgating until the marquee game began. Pro tip: completely empty sections in a 5,000 seat building do not an “outstanding atmosphere” make. Trust me on this – I’m a Detroit Red Wings fan. Check out all the empty seats at “sold out for the gazillionth consecutive time” Joe Louis Arena.

      I don’t know how one could possibly go to a campus site for a “one-and-done” format for a four-team regional, because you’d simply be re-doing the Fargo situation, where the hometown fans crowd out everyone else for ticket sales and then nobody bothers to show up for the games not involving the home team. Not fair for the visiting three teams. If you gotta have the atmosphere (presuming you want to keep the empty week between the regionals and Frozen Four), then you go best-of-three at campus sites for two weekends, removing either one weekend of on-campus conference playoffs or leave those and drop the conference tournaments like the Final Five and Frozen Faceoff entirely. After all, wasn’t everyone wailing and teeth-gnashing over conference tourney attendance just a week ago?

    • They could do it like the NIT in basketball – the higher seed plays at home until the FF.

      Here’s another idea to replace the full bracket format. It’s a round robin style, but the scheduling depends on the outcomes.

      In each region, there are two games Fri evening (notice I said evening): 1v4 and 2v3.

      Then, on Sat, the winners from Fri play the losers of the other game. So let’s say 1 beat 4 and 3 beat 2.
      1 would play 2 and 3 would play 4 on Sat.

      Finally, on Sun, there would be one or two games, depending on what’s needed. If two teams are 2-0, they play on Sun; winner goes to the FF. The other game is not played, since those two teams are both 0-2.

      There would not be any ties.
      If two teams have the same record, their head-to-head result is used to decide who goes on.

      If, after the games on Sun, three teams are 2-1 (making head-to-head results useless), then goal differential would be used to determine the winner of the region.

      The nice thing about this setup is you get at least two games (which fans would appreciate), and if you blow it one night, you still have a chance to redeem yourself.

  6. Yeah saw that… There’s an article from yesterday on the USCHO home page. No surprise, makes sense… He’s ready to go.

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