The Boston University men’s ice hockey team, ranked fifth in the nation, is gearing up for an epic showdown against top-ranked Minnesota in the opening game of the 2023 Frozen Four at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Thursday. The game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, with streaming options available on ESPN+ and TSN+ in Canada.
BU has a rich tournament history, making its 38th appearance in the NCAA tournament, with 23 appearances in the last 33 tournaments. This will be their 23rd Frozen Four appearance and the first since 2015. BU has a strong track record in the Frozen Four, having reached the title game in three of their last three appearances and in five of their last six and six of their last eight trips to the Frozen Four. The Terriers boast an all-time record of 45-38-0 (.542) in NCAA tournament play, with 45 wins, which is the fifth-highest total in tournament history.
The Terriers come into Thursday’s game as the hottest team in the country, with a nine-game win streak dating back to February 24th, including impressive victories over No. 9/11 Western Michigan and No. 12 Cornell in the regional semifinal and final, respectively. Junior Drew Commesso was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional after stopping 37 of 39 shots faced in Manchester. Other standout players for BU include senior Ethan Phillips, who led the team with four points in the regional, and freshmen brothers Lane and Quinn Hutson, who were named to the All-Regional Team for their stellar performances.
BU and Minnesota have a storied rivalry, with their last meeting in the Frozen Four dating back to 1995 when BU defeated Minnesota 7-3 in the national semifinals. The teams have played 26 times since their first meeting in 1963, with a split record of 12-12-2, although Minnesota holds a 5-3 edge in the NCAA Tournament. BU defeated Minnesota in the 1971 NCAA title game for their first national championship, and the teams have also met in other venues over the years, including an exhibition contest in 1996 that BU won 4-3. Amalie Arena will be the 13th different venue where BU and Minnesota will face off. The teams have a history of thrilling games, with five previous meetings going into overtime, and BU remaining undefeated in those games with a record of 3-0-2.
Minnesota, the top overall seed in the tournament, boasts a strong record of 28-9-1 this season. They advanced to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive year after defeating Canisius and St. Cloud State in the Fargo regional with impressive performances from standout players like freshman Logan Cooley, who leads the team with 57 points, and senior goaltender Justen Close, who has a record of 25-9-1 with a 1.99 GAA and a .928 save percentage.