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NCHC Final Four Preview : College Hockey News

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March 16, 2023

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by Avash Kalra/Senior Writer (@AvashKalra)

Denver's Jack Devine

Denver’s Jack Devine

The NCHC returns to St. Paul, Minn., this weekend with a pair of intriguing semifinal matchups on Friday in advance of the league’s championship game Saturday night.

As is typical of this weekend of the college hockey calendar, overarching questions regarding the possibility of an NCAA Tournament appearance loom. Underdogs Colorado College (facing Denver in Friday’s matinee) and North Dakota (facing St. Cloud State in the nightcap) need to win the NCHC tournament to advance to the NCAA field of 16, as both lower seeds are on the outside looking in based on the current Pairwise rankings.

No. 1 Denver (30-8-0) vs. No. 7 Colorado College (12-21-3)

Quarterfinals: Denver swept Miami, Colorado College swept Western Michigan

Having already played in three different arenas this season (each team’s home rink, in addition to Denver’s Ball Arena), rivals DU and CC meet again, this time with a trip to the NCHC title game on the line. It’s been a lopsided rivalry of late though, and Denver won all four of this year’s regular-season meetings against the Tigers. 

The Pioneers, who are the only team in the league to advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff every year of the conference’s existence, have won 11 straight against CC and are a remarkable 33-5-4 in the series since November 2014. But the last time that the schools faced off in a conference semifinal or final was in the 2005 WCHA Final Five, when DU won the championship game 1-0. Both teams went on to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four that year.

“We know them really well,” said Denver head coach David Carle. “We spent three weeks preparing for them because of the two single games and then this last weekend, so we know them exceptionally well. To go to [Western] and sweep them, we know what kind of a feat that is, so they are coming in with a lot of confidence. I am sure they are going to want to stick it back to us for the regular-season performances. We will need to be at our best.”

The big question for the reigning national champions is how healthy they are heading into this weekend. In a dominant sweep of Miami last weekend, the Pioneers were without several big names — including goaltender Magnus Chrona and leading scorer Massimo Rizzo, both of whom were named All-NCHC First Team selections this…

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