Finally, it’s about time to get down to some hockey. The four teams face off tonight; Minnesota Duluth takes on Providence at 5 p.m. and Denver faces Massachusetts at 8:30 p.m. Both games can be watched live on ESPN2.
FROZEN FOUR 2019: Live blog, updates and schedule
Before the puck drops, let’s take one more chance to really get to know the players you need to be looking out for down on the ice.
First, here’s a breakdown of the entire field:
Graduate student: 1
England, Iowa, Manitoba, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Norway, Ohio, Saskatchewan, Virginia: 1
Tallest player: Minnesota Duluth’s Riley Tufte and Providence’s Vincent Desharnais, both measuring 6’6”.
Shortest player: Denver’s Liam Finlay and Kyle Mayhem, both measuring 5’7”.
MEET THE TEAMS: Preview each Frozen Four squad
Now, on to some names to watch.
If you can’t wait to see some goals, keep an eye on…
Providence’s Josh Wilkins
Wilkins leads the Friars in goals (19) and points (45), and is tied in leading the entire Frozen Four field in goals for the season. The Raleigh, N.C. native has six points in five NCAA tournament games, and five of those came in this season’s East Regional where Wilkins posted three goals and two assists to help his team advance to the Frozen Four. He’s tied for third in NCAA tournament points this season among Frozen Four players. Lastly, Wilkins has reached a career-high with 19 goals, tied with Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicius for most by any Frozen Four player. He’s got 10 goals and 16 points over the last nine games.
PREVIEW: Providence vs. Minnesota Duluth
If you’re a sucker for blueliners, watch…
UMass’s Cale Makar
Looking to impress someone with your college hockey knowledge? Throw out Makar’s name and you’ll be all set. The sophomore defenseman has absolutely lit up the board this season and is a major player in helping turn the Massachusetts hockey program around. Makar is Colorado’s No. 4 overall draft pick from the 2017 draft, and committed to playing two years of college hockey before heading to the big leagues. He leads UMass, all defensemen, and the Frozen Four field in points (48) and assists (32). Makar was unanimously named Hockey East player of the year, and, oh yeah, he’s one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker.
As UMass prepares for its initial venture into the uncharted waters of #FrozenFour play, coach Greg Carvel was asked to describe his favorite moment along the journey to get here. ⤵️ https://t.co/Tp1nrszU56— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) April 11, 2019
If butterfly saves give you butterflies, stay tuned for….
Minnesota Duluth’s Hunter Shepard
Shepard has a pretty good record in the NCAA tournament...if you consider 6-0 a good record (we do). The junior goalie has a .920 save percentage for the season, and in career tournament appearances has compiled a 1.13 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. Shepard has now made a school-record 79 consecutive starts and is one of six NCAA DI goaltenders who has appeared in and started all of his team’s games this season. The junior enters this Frozen Four weekend with the most NCAA tournament wins of any active goalie in the country, and, fun fact, he’s the only current DI netminder to backstop his team to a national title.
If you really only watch pro hockey…
We’ve got some of those, too. Check out….
Minnesota Duluth’s Riley Tufte
Tufte went with the Dallas Stars in the first round, 25th overall, in the 2016 NHL entry draft. Tufte’s got 18 points on 112 shots in the season, and he enters the 2019 Frozen Four with a bucket of experience. Although the Minnesota Duluth program doesn’t have a long history of Frozen Four experience, Tufte is one of only five Bulldogs to tally a point in a Frozen Four. The junior forward looks to become part of the first group of Bulldogs to ever play in three separate Frozen Fours. Add that experience to his special teams skills — Tufte leads all Bulldogs in career power play goals (13) including a team-leading seven this season — and we think it’s time to turn off the Stanley Cup and turn on the Frozen Four.
GET READY: 71 facts to know before the 71st Frozen Four
If you’re from Buffalo, N.Y., root for hometown hero….
Providence’s Jack Dugan
Dugan hails from nearby Rochester, N.Y., making the freshman forward the closest native to the Frozen Four’s host city. Dugan leads his team in assists and tallied on 10 goals throughout the season for 39 points. The 2017 Vegas draft pick has gone to work in his rookie season, now sitting one mark shy of 40 points on the season. No Providence freshman since Rob Gaudreau and Mike Boback (1988-89) has reached the 40-point mark.
If you’re wondering what hockey’s like at 5,280 feet, ask...
Denver’s Jarid Lukosevicius
Lukosevicius is topping charts and a broadcaster’s pronunciation nightmare. He enters the Frozen Four with 105 career points — third-most among all players — and leads all Frozen Four players with 62 career goals and 20 career game-winning goals. The senior forward also leads all players in NCAA tournament scoring with nine points in 11 games, and he joins teammate Colin Staub to lead all players with 157 career games played. So you could say he’s seen some ice time. If he gets on the board tonight, watch out. Denver is 12-0-2 when Lukosevicius scores.
2019 BRACKET: Follow the journey
If you say “Hei” instead of “Hello”, meet...
Providence’s Kasper Bjorkqvust
The Friars’ junior forward is one of five tournament players from Europe, and one of three that hails from Finland. The Esposo native is one of only two Europeans to be a team captain in all of college hockey, and he’s the only European captain playing in this year’s Frozen Four. Bjorkqvist is one of the highest point producers for Providence, notching 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points throughout the season. Oh, and he’s a Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick.
Callan Sheridan is a graduate of Saint Peter's University and has produced content for The Press Enterprise, the American Junior Golf Association and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Follow her on twitter at @calsh_13.