The NCAA Men's Frozen Four is the March Madness that all hockey fans need

The NCAA men's ice hockey tournament started with 16 teams and is now down to four. Collegiate ice hockey is a different kind of March Madness and the best is yet to come. Here is everything you need to know about the Frozen Four and the National Championship game.

2024 NCAA Division I Mens Ice Hockey Championship - Providence Regional
2024 NCAA Division I Mens Ice Hockey Championship - Providence Regional / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The madness that comes from the beginning of the DI men's hockey tournament is something else. Something that feels like Christmas morning excitement coupled with a big hug from your favorite person all while you're simultaneously experiencing anticipation anxiety of who's going to play in the Frozen Four. Whether you're a fan of one of the teams, just love the game of hockey, filled out a bracket (yes, there were brackets to be filled out for this tourney) or a combo of the three; college hockey's "March Madness" just hits different. It's short, sweet, and (sometimes) surprising!

Now we're into April and the stage is set. The four remaining teams will travel to St. Paul, Minnesota for the semi-finals, where they will take over the Xcel Energy Center on April 11.

Which teams survived to advance to the Frozen Four?

The third-ranked Denver Pioneers are taking on the second-ranked Boston University Terriers on Thursday, April 11 at 5 p.m. ET. The Michigan Wolverines will be battling the top-seeded Boston College Eagles later that same day, at 8:30 p.m. ET. All games will be on ESPN2/ESPN+.

How did we get here?

Rounds one and two consisted of four regional locations with each site hosting four teams. After a packed schedule from March 28 to March 31, each region crowned a champion with a trophy and an invite to the coveted Frozen Four.

Denver survived the UMass Minutemen in a double-overtime thriller, coming out on top 2-1 in the Springfield, MA regional opening game. The 92:28 time clock is the longest NCAA tournament game on record for the Pioneers. Two short days later they were back on the ice to face the Cornell Big Red in the regional finals — coming out on top 2-1 with a Sam Harris power play goal in the dwindling seconds of the middle frame proving to be the game winner.

Boston University faced the RIT Tigers (who were back in the tournament for the first time since 2016) in the opening round of the Sioux Falls, SD regional — dominating with a 6-3 win. BU then faced the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the regional final with BU's Lane Hutson netting the go-ahead goal to break the 3-3 tie in the second period. The Terriers went on to beat Minnesota by a final of 6-3.

University of Michigan erupted with a 3-goal third period in the first round of the Maryland Heights, MO regional, ending the North Dakota Fighting Hawks season. In the second round they faced the Michigan State Spartans, again erupting for a massive four-goal third period, securing their trip to the Frozen Four for the 28th time in program history. With a cross pass like this one from Michigan's Frank Nazar, they deserve to advance:

Boston College is the number one overall seed in this tournament, and rightfully so, as they have so much depth that can likely take them all the way. The Eagles, led by point-scoring machine winger Ryan Leonard, were able to get past Michigan Tech 6-1 in a wild opening game for their Providence, RI regional. In round two, BC had to face the defending NCAA champs in the Quinnipiac University Bobcats. This game was more even in scoring, with regulation ending tied, 4-4. The Eagles sealed their trip to Minnesota just over three minutes into OT, ending the Bobcats' chance of a repeat.

As I said before; short, sweet, and (sometimes) surprising!

The Championship game:

The winners of each Frozen Four match-up will advance to the National Championship game on April 13 at 6 p.m. ET. All the action will be available on ESPN2/ESPN+.