Four of the nation’s best collegiate hockey teams are set to take over the Amelia Arena in Tampa Bay, Florida tonight. Without even thinking about what teams are appearing in the contest, the stage itself poses a great evening of hockey. In the early matchup, Boston College will go up against Quinnipiac in what should be a very entertaining game nonetheless. These two teams have not played each other in either of their programs history. Coach York of BC has been studying up on how the Bobcats play, not having any experience against them. Then, Denver will take on rival North Dakota in the second semi-final matchup. These two teams each have seven NCAA championships which ties them for second place all time, two behind powerhouse Michigan. The winner will also take home the season series that is currently tied 2-2-1. The winners of each game will play each other Saturday night for the national title.
Boston College is a team who has experience in the National title series. Thursday will mark their seventh appearance in the past eleven years but haven’t won the title since 2012. This year they have quite the chance to take it home. The teams as a whole does not play individually or rely on one or two star players to carry the team on their back. The roster has depth with both senior and younger players who step up when in need. They have six players with over 30 points so far this season. When times are tough, coach York can rely on everyone on his team to step it up. But, no team would be this good without a brick wall in net and his name is Thatcher Demko. Demko leads the league with 10 shutouts and is a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. One name that does pose a threat to BC is Quinnipiacs Sam Anas who ranks eighth in the nation in points, sixth in goals and is tied with teammate Travis St. Denis for second in power play goals. If the Eagles get in penalty trouble these guys will take advantage of the situation.
Some can say Quinnipiac comes into the end of this tournament as the underdog because of the fact that it is just their second appearance in the series and they don’t even have a title compared to the other three teams who have several each. But don’t be fooled. They are going into the game blind of how BC plays. BC is a bigger more physical team that smaller Bobcat players will find tough to play around especially for star Sam Anas.
Overall Quinnipiac has just two players that have been drafted into the NHL against BC who has nearly ten more. They don’t have as much depth in their lineup as the opponents but they still have a chance if their first line can wear down the defense for a better opportunity for the rest of the team to come in and score. They will need to cash in on any mistakes that Boston College will make whether its defensive miscues or bad puck possession. Don’t count them out of the finals picture, but this game will definitely be entertaining considering the two teams are nearly equally ranked in scoring offense and overall defense.
Denver and North Dakota are fighting of their eighth national title to take over second place in league history for titles, leaving the losing team in third. BC has depth, Quinnipiac has a star and both Denver and UND have top lines. Denver’s first line includes sophomore Danton Heinen , freshman Dylan Gambrell and junior Trevor Moore that have a combined 139 points and are the teams top three scorers. UND has a similar lineup with senior Drake Caggiula, freshman Brock Boeser and sophomore Nick Schmaltz that combined for 144 points and also lead the team in scoring. This will play out to be a true battle of top lines and which one can preform best when game time comes. Making sure the match ups on the ice are right will also be key in the game ahead. Each team cannot misplay the opposing top line whether in be Denver’s Pacific Rim line or UND’s CBS line. I believe Denver may have a slight upper hand in this one. They are undefeated(2-0-1) in the past three games against UND and swept them in January.
Boston College takes home the first game, Denver beats North Dakota, and Denver will take home the National Title.