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Predicting NCAA Hockey’s Frozen Four

Oliver Antone, Writer

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With the college season coming to a close, March Madness is now upon us, the glorious few weeks where the pure emotion of a team of college students drives them to a championship. In the end, one group of talented young men gets to hoist a trophy and get one final photo. Wait, you thought I was talking about basketball? Goodness no!

Instead of getting caught up in the hype of college basketball, my eyes are set on Chicago for the NCAA’s Frozen Four hockey championship, and quite honestly, I’m expecting quite the surprise. And so, I present to you today my NCAA Playoff predictions for the 2017 Frozen Four.

So, what will the bracket look like? Quite honestly that is very hard to predict, so I’ll give it my best shot. I predict Air Force to come from the Atlantic Division, Minnesota from the Big 10, Harvard out of the ECAC, Denver out of the NCHC, and Bemidji State out of the WCHA. But what about the top Division in the country, the Hockey East? While it pains me to say, and it may drop a few jaws, I believe that Boston College will win the Hockey East Tournament. Their overall season success and failure of the other Hockey East powerhouses, with the exception of semifinalist Notre Dame, will power them through the final two series of the Hockey East Tournament.

Now, the tournament itself. While I’ve made my predictions, there’s still 10 teams that need to find their way into the tournament. Here’s what I think: Minnesota Duluth will be a little angry after failing to win its respective region tournament, but they’ll find their way into the tournament for sure. Boston University, despite a harsh loss in the Beanpot, will still find a seat due to previous success, and Penn State will also get back in. Notre Dame is most likely going to lose to Boston College in the Hockey East, but their stellar second half of a season will surely be enough to get them a bid. Western Michigan, North Dakota, and Cornell will enter the tournament due to their USCHO rankings. Ohio State and Vermont will have to prove themselves in the end but will end up in the bracket as well. Finally Providence College will come back in and hope to repeat its 2015 success and hang a banner at Schneider Arena.

How will this all play out? Great question. While I can’t predict the order of the tournament, I’ll give the Frozen Four my best guest: Denver, Air Force, Boston College, and Providence. The underdog story will come from Air Force and Providence, who will use pure momentum to blast past the first few rounds. Providence, being the North Division representative, will get practically home ice when it plays the first few rounds at the Dunkin Donuts Center, home of its basketball affiliate.

The Finals? Brace yourself, because you will be shocked. It will be Boston College vs. Providence College in the finals, with a Providence victory in overtime. So why Providence, and why over Boston College? The bitter rivalry needs a storybook ending from the two cities that stare each other down in every college sport. Providence will come end its season on a high note, with not only one of the greatest winning streaks in college hockey history, but also in one of the greatest comeback seasons of all time.

Providence started its season by dropping from the national rankings (after finishing 7th in 2016, and as the National Champions in 2015). A “rebuilding year” took a sudden turn when the Friars entered Hockey East play, defeated multiple nationally ranked teams (including Denver when it led in the rankings), and earned their way back into the rankings. Poor goaltending from the Friars’ side would be unimportant when their scoring would go off. However, BC defeated them both times they played and embarrassed them on a national scale in a horrid defeat at Frozen Fenway in January, just before the Friars’ winning streak began.

Notre Dame eliminated Providence from the Hockey East Tournament, which may be the last straw for the Friars. With plenty of rest and clutch scorer Garrett Gamez hopeful to return, Providence will be in top shape for the tournament. From there they will plow through their tournament opponents, and in a similar fashion to 2015, will claim the title in overtime, capping off an underdog story.

Of course all of this could be wrong, and if it is, I apologize, but this is what I believe the NCAA Frozen Four will look like. It is equivalent to an NCAA basketball bracket with the right amount of drama and action.

The puck officially drops on the Frozen Four on April 6 from the United Center in Chicago.

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Predicting NCAA Hockey’s Frozen Four