A quick look at the 2017 men’s Frozen Four: Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Harvard and Notre Dame

Notre Dame celebrates an overtime victory over UMass Lowell in the Northeast Regional final Sunday (photo: Richard T. Gagnon).

The host is crashing the party for regional No. 1 seeds at the 2017 NCAA men’s Frozen Four.

Notre Dame, the No. 4 seed in the Northeast Regional and the host school at the United Center, is the only team bound for Chicago that wasn’t a top seed in a regional.

Still, with Denver, Minnesota Duluth and Harvard qualifying for the NCAA semifinals, three top seeds at the regional level are in the Frozen Four for the fifth time in 15 seasons of a 16-team tournament.

Minnesota Duluth and Harvard will play in the 5 p.m. CDT semifinal on Thursday, April 6. Denver and Notre Dame are scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

The semifinal winners meet at 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday, April 8.

Minnesota Duluth (27-6-7) and Harvard (28-5-2) have some similarities going into their national semifinal game.

Both are on lengthy winning streaks — 16 games for the Crimson, seven games for the Bulldogs.

Both have won one national championship, and both came in overtime in St. Paul, Minn. The Crimson beat Minnesota in 1989; the Bulldogs beat Michigan in 2011.

Both won their state or city championship this season — the Beanpot for Harvard and the North Star College Cup for Minnesota Duluth.

And both won their conference playoff championship.

The Bulldogs are making their fifth Frozen Four appearance and first since the 2011 championship.

They advanced with overtime victories over Ohio State and Boston University in the West Regional in Fargo, N.D.

The Crimson are going to the Frozen Four for the 10th time but the first in 23 years. They toppled Providence and Air Force in the East Regional in Providence, R.I.

Minnesota Duluth has a 9-4 record against Harvard, but the teams haven’t played since December 1996.

The Bulldogs swept an NCAA first-round, total-goals series against the Crimson in 1985, winning a pair of 4-2 games in Duluth.

Denver leads its series against Notre Dame 35-10-5, with the teams playing to 1-1 and 2-2 ties in Denver in January 2016.

The Pioneers and Irish were conference foes in the WCHA from 1971 to 1981, when Notre Dame left for the CCHA.

The Fighting Irish (23-11-5) lost to UMass Lowell 5-1 in the Hockey East semifinals on March 17, but they got revenge on Sunday. A 3-2 overtime victory over the River Hawks in the Northeast Regional final followed a 3-2 victory over regional top seed Minnesota in the opening round.

Notre Dame is the eighth regional No. 4 seed to make the Frozen Four in 15 seasons since the tournament expanded to 16 teams. Providence (2015) and Yale (2013) won the national championship as a fourth seed.

It’s the third Frozen Four appearance for the Irish, who fell to Boston College in the 2008 championship game and lost to Minnesota Duluth in the 2011 semifinals.

Denver, meanwhile, has the most Frozen Four experience of the four programs. The Pioneers (31-7-4) are in the national semifinals for the 15th time (16, if you count a 1973 runner-up finish that the NCAA later vacated for infractions).

And it’s a second straight national semifinals appearance for Denver, which lost to North Dakota in Tampa, Fla., last season.

The Pioneers have lost just once in their last 17 games, that being a semifinal defeat to the Fighting Hawks in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff. They defeated Michigan Tech and Penn State in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

37 COMMENTS

  1. Three #1 seeds: Denver, Duluth and Harvard make it to Chicago. Lots of ‘chalk’ in the tourney this time.

  2. Who was it who said a few days ago that the NCHC wasn’t looking like the strongest conference?? Wonder where they went.

    • 66% of the NCHC teams that could make it…made it to Chicago. There were 4 teams total; however, with 2 NCHC teams at the same regional it was impossible for both to make it. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad odds.

    • That was me Jonathan. I admit when I am wrong and I was. Hats off to Denver and UMD. Great teams. I think my Lowell team can play with either team, but they didn’t win so it is what it is. If we can all be honest here, Hockey East has been the better conference over the last 10 years. If Denver or UMD win it this year, you have to give props to the NCHC. Both look awesome. Harvard has some scary talent and Notre Dame is physical, but not quick enough. Looks to be an excellent Frozen Four. Enjoy

      • Bob, everyone will agree that over the past 10 years Hockey East has been better than the newly formed NCHA the majority of those years. However Hockey East takes a backseat to the old WCHA and now the NCHA with out Minnesota, Wisconsin and Minnesota Statr is still better than Hockey East.

  3. BIG demonstrated its strength in numbers. The total undergraduate enrollment of the three schools in the regionals is over 136,000. The total undergrad enrollment of their four opponents, three of whom won, not quite 27,000. Tiny Union College, with 2300 students, was routed by Penn State, with a student body over 46K.

    • Great investigation, fantastic statistics. These numbers point out that enrollment and cash mean little, hockey tradition more important.

  4. I hope the closest our 2 refs (Koharski and Miller) get to United Center ice is scraping the surface during TV time-outs. The last four minutes they absolutely sucked, choking on their whistles. I was near center ice and saw Plant get hit by PSU player absolutely leaving his feet. They looked for 10 minutes at the same replay we got in the arena, proving conclusively he left his feet, then they refused to give him the 5 he deserved. A minute later, a great hip check was called tripping by these jokers. Don’t know what league they are from, but they make Todd Anderson look like a pro.

    • PSU got away with a min of 4 penalties tonight….officiating was horrible. This coming from someone who thinks way too many penalties are called in general. Troy Terry was incredible. So was ND’s Bjork….reminds me of Eichel a little bit.

    • One of my fellow columnists said he thinks they were ECAC refs. All of us agreed the Penn State player should have gotten 5.

      • Koharski is Hockey East and he was terrible all year. A no brainer…….. leaving the ice with both feet AND hitting the DU player in the face; a disgrace the ref didn’t call it immediately, worse they blew it after watching the replay.

      • The worst part is, if they called a two minute charging immediately they could have bailed themselves out. Once they made no call and went to replay, they had to call a 5 or nothing. Sorry long but happy day coming back, didn’t get online until now.

      • I’m going to stick my neck out and assume you are going to Chicago, too. Should be three great hockey games. All four teams have goalies capable of carrying them all the way.

    • Totally agree and I said the same things. I said “he left his feet” before they even discussed it, and the tripping call was just a massive hip check. Plant’s OK, so it really doesn’t matter.

  5. First, congratulations to DU, UMD, Harvard and ND. A trip to Chicago may be necessary. UMD vs Harvard could be a killer game.
    Shout out to UML, AF and OSU, all put up great performances.
    Heard U Sports is looking for a new team……Cornell should apply.

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