2016 NCAA Frozen Four Preview: Top-ranked Quinnipiac takes on BC program that is no stranger to championships

By DJ Powers
Alex Tuch - Boston College

Photo: Boston College forward and Minnesota Wild prospect Alex Tuch (#12) is heading into the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four with some momentum after a good showing at the Northeast Regional (courtesy of John Crouch/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

And then there were four.

Boston College, Denver, North Dakota and Quinnipiac comprise this year’s NCAA Frozen Four, which will be held at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. Both semi-final games on April 7th will be aired live on ESPN2, at 5:00 PM and 8:30 PM EDT respectively. The winners of each semi-final will advance to the National Championship game on April 9th, which will be aired live on ESPN at 8 PM EDT.

The four teams feature a combined 31 NHL prospects, although not all are expected to play.

Semi-final #1: Boston College vs. Quinnipiac University

This year marks not only the first Frozen Four meeting but also the first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting between Boston College and Quinnipiac. In addition, this matchup features two of the NCAA’s top 2016 draft-eligible defensemen in Boston College’s Casey Fitzgerald and Quinnipiac’s Chase Priskie.

Boston College will be making their NCAA-leading 25th Frozen Four appearance, and first since 2014. The city of Tampa last hosted the Frozen Four in 2012, and that is where the Eagles won their most recent National Championship.

Boston College won the Northeast Regional, defeating Harvard and Minnesota-Duluth respectively. Junior netminder Thatcher Demko (VAN) was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player after allowing one goal in the semi-final vs. Harvard and had a brilliant performance against a relentless Minnesota-Duluth team in the regional final. The San Diego, CA native leads all Frozen Four starting netminders in both shots faced (63) and shots saved (60) in the NCAA Tournament. Most recently, Demko was named to the “Hobey Hat Trick” as one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

Although Boston College has been able to spread their goal-scoring wealth throughout their forward lines for much of the season, only four forwards have registered goals in the NCAA Tournament so far. One of those scorers is All-Regional selection Alex Tuch (MIN). The Baldwinsville, NY native posted a pair of goals in the semi-final versus Harvard, then was held pointless in the regional final versus Minnesota-Duluth, snapping a four-game point streak.

One of the best stories coming out of the Northeast regional for Boston College was the outstanding play of freshman defenseman Casey Fitzgerald. The North Reading, MA native posted a pair of assists in the regional en route to earning a spot on the All-Regional team. Fitzgerald and defense partner Ian McCoshen (FLA) comprise one of the Frozen Four’s best and most mobile defensive pairings.

Top-ranked Quinnipiac University will be making their second Frozen Four appearance and first since 2013. In addition to Boston College, the Bobcats have also never faced Denver or North Dakota in the Frozen Four.

Quinnipiac comes into the Frozen Four riding a five-game winning streak. The Bobcats won the East Regional, defeating RIT and UMass-Lowell respectively.

Senior netminder Michael Garteig was named the East Regional MVP after stopping a combined 41 of 42 shots in an excellent performance. The Prince George, BC native currently leads all Frozen Four netminders in both goals-against average (0.50) and save percentage (.976) in NCAA Tournament play so far.

The biggest story for Quinnipiac coming out of the East Regional was the return of junior Sam Anas. Despite not being fully healthy, Anas was one of the guiding offensive forces behind the Bobcats’ run into the Frozen Four. The Potomac, MD native registered an assist and netted the game-winner in the regional final versus UMass-Lowell en route to being named to the All-Regional team.

Another junior putting on an excellent performance in the regional was defenseman Devon Toews (NYI). The Abbotsford, BC native posted three assists in the regional semi-final versus RIT and effectively helped stifle UMass-Lowell’s offensive attack in the regional final. His performance also earned him a spot on the All-Regional team. Toews currently leads all Frozen Four players with a +7 in NCAA Tournament play.

BC vs Quinnipiac | Denver vs. North Dakota

Follow DJ Powers coverage of the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four and her Twitter account via @DJPowersHF