We’re less than two months away from getting the official area for the 2023 NCAA men’s hockey event, so it is an ideal time to revisit our Frozen Four predictions, first made in October.
These are the 4 groups that might have the perfect probability of advancing to the Frozen Four, proper now, because the second semester ramps up. All stats and data by means of Sunday, Jan. 22.
The Golden Gophers have been as marketed up to now after coming into the 12 months ranked No. 2, as they’re one of many deepest groups within the nation with top-tier expertise anchoring the lineup. They have constantly landed within the top-five or top-three all year long up to now, and are No. 1 within the PairWise.
SCOREBOARD: Click or faucet right here for the newest scores round Division I men’s hockey
Minnesota (18-7-1) has the good thing about enjoying in opposition to different nationwide contenders within the Big Ten, arguably Division I’s hardest convention this season. They are 12-3-1 in convention, together with a sweep of Michigan earlier within the season. Against ranked opponents, the Gophers are 12-6-0, splitting with the Wolverines this weekend.
Bob Motzko’s squad is third in objectives per recreation with 3.9, surrendering 2.5. Both particular groups items have been between the sixth-ranked energy play (25.3) and the penalty kill (82.6).
— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) January 21, 2023
In phrases of manufacturing, the Gophers have been led by two of the perfect freshmen in Division I in Jimmy Snuggerud (12-18–31) and Logan Cooley (12-19–31) in addition to one of many high returners in Matthew Knies (15-12–27). They have two top-tier blue-liners within the Hobey Baker dialog in Brock Faber and Jackson LaCombe. Between the pipes, Justin Close has been among the many finest with a .920 save proportion, a 2.14 GAA and 4 shutouts.
Minnesota is recent off its twenty second Frozen Four look all-time final season, bowing out to Minnesota State within the semifinals.
The reigning nationwide champions are nonetheless as sturdy as ever, holding down the No. 1 spot for a lot of the season before a slip-up in an upset to Alaska Fairbanks earlier in January. Denver is presently third within the USCHO ballot as of Jan. 22, touchdown fifth within the PairWise.
TOP STORIES: Click or faucet right here for 5 storylines to observe within the second half of the season
The Pios (19-7-0) are 6-6-0 in opposition to ranked opponents, struggling a sweep at No. 4 St. Cloud State this weekend, and have the benefit of enjoying in a difficult convention just like the NCHC, which they’ve gone 10-4-0 up to now.
Averaging 3.7 objectives per recreation and permitting 2.3, DU has been in a position to win in any style this season. The energy play is a menace (24.2), however the penalty kill (75.9) has struggled, particularly of late.
Few cores can match that of Denver’s, whether or not it is the likes of Massimo Rizzo (10-22–32), Casey Dornbach (11-16-27) or one of many high goal-scorers within the nation in Carter Mazur (17- 6–23). The Pioneers even have one of the crucial harmful offensive defensemen in Division I in Mike Benning (7-16–23). In the crease, Magnus Chrona had a troublesome collection at SCSU, however he stays as stable as ever with a .911 save proportion, a 2.26 GAA and three clean sheets.
Great persistence by Casey Dornbach. Great end by Carter King.
Game all tangled up at 1-1. pic.twitter.com/LIdxvj5aBp
— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) January 21, 2023
The core has beneficial successful expertise, and David Carle’s staff returned key contributors from final 12 months’s staff, trying to be well-positioned for an additional run.
St. Cloud State
The Huskies are coming off an enormous sweep of NCHC foe Denver this weekend, blowing out the Pioneers 7-3 before shutting them down in a 2-0 win. They moved right into a tie atop the convention with DU and are actually second within the PairWise.
OH HOW SWEEP: How No. 4 St. Cloud State earned enormous NCHC sweep over No. 3 Denver
SCSU (18-6-0) had already overwhelmed Denver as soon as this season before choosing one other spectacular victory in a break up with Minnesota initially of the month. They’re 10-4-0 in one of many higher conferences, and 7-3-0 in opposition to ranked packages.
St. Cloud is top-10 in objectives per recreation (3.5) and tied for first in goals-against per recreation (1.9). The 25 p.c energy play has been great, though the penalty kill sits at 79.6 p.c.
— St. Cloud State Men’s Hockey (@SCSUHuskies_MH) January 22, 2023
The Huskies have a balanced assault, led by veterans like Jami Krannila (13-16–29), Zach Okabe (15-12–27) and Grant Cruikshank (16-10–26) along with among the finest offensive defensemen within the nation this season in Dylan Anhorn (5-20–25). Brett Larson has a two-headed monster in purpose with Dominic Basse (.934 SV%, 1.74 GAA, 3 SO) and Jaxon Castor .927 SV%, 1.85 GAA, 2 SO).
SCSU has certified for 4 straight tournaments, however has fallen brief every time, reaching the Frozen Four for a second time in 2021 and dropping to UMass within the nationwide championship. Maybe that is the 12 months they buck the development.
The No. 5 Terriers (17-6-0, 11-4-0 HEA) endured one of many tougher schedules in Division I by means of the primary a part of the season, and appear like one of many strongest groups on the east coast proper now, sitting sixth within the PairWise.
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BU is 9-2-0 since Dec. 1. Against ranked groups, the Terriers are 11-5-0, together with top-10 wins over Michigan, Harvard and UConn.
First-year head coach Jay Pandolfo has injected life into the Terriers and has them enjoying the suitable manner constantly. They’re placing up 4.2 objectives per recreation (2nd), whereas permitting 2.7. Both particular groups items have been proper at or above common with the ability play at 22.9 p.c and the penalty kill at 80.4.
BU has gotten contributions from all through the lineup, however two skaters have actually separated themselves from the pack: Hobey Baker nominees in senior ahead Matt Brown (11-23–34) and freshman defenseman Lane Hutson (9-18–27). There’s fellow nominee Dom Fensore, including eight objectives and 18 factors from the again, in addition to key veterans, like Jay O’Brien and Wilmer Skoog, and affect freshmen, like Ryan Greene. In purpose, Drew Commesso has recovered from a rocky begin to the 12 months, even when his numbers nonetheless aren’t glowing with a .905 save proportion and a pair of.74 GAA. Backup Vinny Duplessis stays one of many higher contingency plans as properly.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) January 21, 2023
The Terriers have not been to the Frozen Four since 2015, however, proper now, this season appears nearly as good as any to make it again.
Also within the combine
Quinnipiac, Michigan, Penn State, Western Michigan
There’s nonetheless loads of hockey left to be performed this season, and loads of groups in and across the high 10 have circumstances to make proper now.
Quinnipiac remains to be proper there, even after a disastrous weekend within the convention. After taking maintain of the highest spot within the rankings two weekends in the past, the Bobcats misplaced for the primary time since Oct. 22 once they fell flat in a 4-0 shutout at No. 16 Cornell on Friday. They adopted it up by blowing a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss at unranked Colgate on Saturday. At 18-3-3, QU is allowed to lose, however this weekend is unquestionably regarding. They nonetheless have an all-world goaltender in Yaniv Perets, an excellent coach in Rand Pecknold and high choices like Colin Graf and Zach Metsa. We’ll see how they reply the remainder of the best way.
UPSETS: How No. 16 Cornell topped no. 1 Quinnipiac | How Colgate handed QU a second straight loss
Michigan is correct there with Minnesota by way of doubtlessly having probably the most proficient roster in all of Division I. Whether it is blue-chip prospects like defenseman Luke Hughes and ahead Adam Fantilli, doubtlessly the second general decide on this 12 months’s NHL Draft, or massive scoring threats in Mackie Samoskevich, Michigan has loads of offensive punch. The knock appears to be consistency in addition to goaltending. Erik Portillo has taken a step again this 12 months, and the Wolverines have left some wins on the desk.
From one Big Ten contender to a different, Penn State has been a pleasing shock in faculty hockey this season. The Nittany Lions have been picked to complete second-to-last within the convention preseason ballot, however rapidly dispelled that concept. They have massive wins in splits in opposition to Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio State, and had alternatives to win within the losses, too. PSU is unquestionably within the dialog and will preserve shocking Division I.
Western Michigan rounds out the pack right here. The Broncos have arguably the two finest skaters in faculty hockey this season between the nation’s main point-getter in freshman Ryan McAllister (11-29–40) and the highest goal-scorer in senior Jason Polin (23-13–36) . WMU can rating with the perfect of them, however goaltending and protection are undoubtedly issues. They’re additionally nonetheless behind Denver and St. Cloud within the NCHC
National champion prediction
I went with the Gophers initially of the season, and I’m sticking with them now.
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They appear like the entire package deal proper now between expertise, talent and training. Minnesota not solely has lots (and I imply lots) of star energy on the high of the lineup between Snuggerud, Cooley and Knies, however they’ve some do-it-all defensemen in LaCombe, Faber and Luke Mittelstadt along with a plethora of key depth choices, like Bryce Brodzinski. Not to say the goaltending, as Close seems like he might be the kind of netminder a staff can depend on throughout a championship run.
They shall be battle-tested lots popping out of the Big Ten, and have various gamers with beneficial experiences from final 12 months’s run to the Frozen Four.
Obviously, there’s a number of runway left within the 2022-23 marketing campaign, so we’ll simply must see the way it all shakes out the remainder of the best way.