It's about time!
College hockey's premiere championship event returns to Xcel Energy Center April 5 & 7, just a few short weeks after Minneapolis' Ridder Arena played host to the Women's Frozen Four. St. Paul is hosting the tournament for the first time since 2011, when the State of Hockey's own University of Minnesota Duluth took home the title.
Here are a couple of other fun facts surrounding the 2018 NCAA Men's Tournament:
•This year marks the 10th time Minnesota has hosted the Men’s Frozen Four in the tournament’s 70-year history. The Frozen Four has previously been held at Williams Arena in Minneapolis (twice), the DECC in Duluth (twice), the former Saint Paul Civic Center (three times), and at the X (twice).
•Minnesota becomes the first state to host both the women's and men's frozen four tournament in the same year.
•The University of Minnesota and University of North Dakota both missed the NCAA tournament this year -- the first time since 1978 that neither team made the 16-team field.
•There are 73 Minnesotans in the NCAA tournament.
•St. Cloud State University earned the No. 1 overall seed. All three Minnesota-represented teams are in the West Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Our staff at MHJ took a stab at who we want to see claim that championship banner, plus we reminisce about our own favorite Frozen Four moments.
Frozen Four picks: Minnesota State, Denver, Notre Dame, Northeastern
Championship: Minnesota State over Notre Dame. The Mavericks have never won a NCAA Tournament game, but this year's squad has a high-powered offense, power play and team defense that can get the job done in Saint Paul. Plus we featured their captain C.J. Suess, a fellow Forest Lake native, on the December issue of MHJ!
Favorite Frozen Four memory: The 2011 Frozen Four in Saint Paul. West 7th Street was closed off for fans all day and night. TVs were outside for folks who couldn't make it into the game. UMD won its first-ever title against Michigan in overtime (Kyle Schimdt!). After the game, a cover band played Purple Reign in the middle of the street and it started raining.
Frozen Four picks: St. Cloud State, Princeton, Notre Dame and Northeastern
Championship: St. Cloud State tops Notre Dame. How can you go against
future Gopher coach Bob Motzko and his squad from Central Minnesota? They've remained No. 1 in college polls for a large portion of the year (in one of the toughest conferences) and have the pieces in place to win that national championship
Favorite Frozen Four Memory: I was late to the hockey-loving game but Gopher Hockey turned my passion from lukewarm to hot when they won in 2002. Overtime, St. Paul, you really couldn't have written it any better (until the following year for the back-to-back)
Senior Vice President
(and Gopher Hockey alum)
Frozen Four picks: Minnesota, oh...they aren't in the tourney? OK the next closest school SCSU, plus OSU, Michigan, Notre Dame (Hello Big Ten!!!)
Championship: SCSU over Notre Dame. In a battle between two teams who have played at a high level all season. Minnetonka's own Jimmy Schuldt will carry the success of the Skippers onto the same Xcel Energy Center ice and add an NCAA Ice Hockey Championship to SCSU.
Favorite Frozen Four memory: 1975 St. Louis MO, Gophers vs Michigan Tech (with the best band in all of college hockey) in a game I attended, proudly watching my brother Paul playing for Tech. The Gophers were highly-favored to win that year only to lose 6-1 in the final. The year before (1974) in Boston it was the opposite, Tech favored, losing to the Gophs, 4-2. Both teams went on to play the rubber match in the 1976 Final in Denver, the Gophs going down 3-0 in the first period only to come back and win. Same two schools and coaches, Brooks vs MacInnes, playing in the Final three years in a row! Don't believe that has ever happened since or perhaps ever before.
Frozen Four picks: Denver, St. Cloud State, Michigan, Michigan Tech
Championship: St. Cloud State over Michigan. Won't be an easy road to get to the Frozen Four, but this year's St. Cloud squad looks poised to raise a banner. Dominant team this season in a very competitive conference.
Favorite Frozen Four Memory: Definitely seeing the UND men's hockey team win its eighth national championship in 2016. Added bonus that the game took place the day my husband and I got married, and we got to watch it from our wedding reception at The Ralph.
Senior Account Executive
Frozen Four picks: Denver, St. Cloud State, Michigan, Notre Dame
Championship: St. Cloud State over Notre Dame. The Huskies enter the tournament as the #1 overall seed looking to win the school's first ever National Championship. Bob Motzko is an elite head coach and will have his team ready to make a run at history.
Favorite Frozen Four Memory: Watching the Gophers win back-to-back National Championships in '02 & '03 with Thomas Vanek winning MVP of the '03 Frozen Four.