The field for 2016 Frozen Four is set, and the national semifinals are a study in contrasts in terms of the history between the teams.
In one game, top overall seed Quinnipiac will play Boston College for the first time. In the other, longtime conference rivals North Dakota and Denver will meet for the sixth time this season and the 275th (or 276th) time overall.
The Bobcats and the Eagles drew the early semifinal, with a 5 p.m. EDT faceoff scheduled on April 7 in Tampa, Fla. The Fighting Hawks and Pioneers take the ice at 8:30 p.m.
The semifinals are on ESPN2. The April 9 championship game is on ESPN, with an 8 p.m. EDT start.
Three of the six teams with the most all-time Frozen Four appearances are in the field: Boston College leads all teams with 25, while North Dakota has 22 and Denver has 14. Quinnipiac is making its second appearance.
The Pioneers and Fighting Hawks will be playing for the 275th or 276th time, depending on which school’s records you use. (North Dakota leads the all-time series 142-122-11 in its records but 142-121-11 in Denver’s.)
It will be the seventh meeting in the NCAA tournament and the fifth in a Frozen Four. Denver won national championship games over North Dakota in 1958, 1968 and 2005, while North Dakota beat Denver in the 1963 title game.
Most recently, North Dakota beat Denver 6-1 to make the 2011 Frozen Four.
The Pioneers have had to go through North Dakota at some point in the NCAA tournament in four of their seven championship runs.
The Fighting Hawks also have seven national championships, tied with Denver for second behind Michigan’s nine titles.
They’re making their third straight Frozen Four appearance. It’s only the third time in the 14-season era of the 16-team NCAA tournament that a team has accomplished that feat; North Dakota had one, a four-year run from 2005 to 2008, and Boston College had the other from 2006 to 2008.
Overall, it’s the Fighting Hawks’ 22nd Frozen Four appearance, breaking a tie with Minnesota for fourth-best and tying Boston University for third.
Denver and North Dakota split their season series, with each sweeping a home series. They also tied 1-1 in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff third-place game on March 19.
On the other side of the bracket, Quinnipiac and Boston College will be playing for the first time when they open the Frozen Four at Amalie Arena.
The Bobcats are 5-1-2 against Hockey East schools this season, with the loss coming to Boston University on Dec. 12, ending a 17-game unbeaten run to start the season.
The Eagles are 2-1 against ECAC Hockey teams, with two wins over Harvard and a loss to Rensselaer.
Boston College will break a tie with Michigan for the record with its 25th Frozen Four appearance. It’s the Eagles’ eighth appearance in the last 13 seasons, including in every even-numbered year since 2004.
The Eagles won the championship the only other time the Frozen Four has been held in Tampa, in 2012.
Quinnipiac is the relative newcomer in the group, making just its second Frozen Four appearance. The Bobcats beat St. Cloud State 4-1 and lost to Yale 4-0 in the 2013 tournament in Pittsburgh.
North Dakota, the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament, claimed its spot in Tampa by beating Northeastern and Michigan in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.
Boston College won the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass., by defeating Harvard and Minnesota-Duluth.
Denver downed Boston University and Ferris State in the West Regional in St. Paul, Minn.
Quinnipiac advanced to the Frozen Four by beating Rochester Institute of Technology and UMass-Lowell in the East Regional in Albany, N.Y.