The 2022 NCAA DI men's ice hockey tournament bracket has finally been revealed, which means there's only one thing to do: Predict who's going to win.
A lot of difficult decisions went into these predictions. Like every tournament, there will be upsets, and trying to pick where the upsets will take place was most definitely the hardest part.
SEE THE FIELD: Click here to view the official bracket.
Let's dive into the full predictions.
Allentown, PA regional
No. 1 Michigan vs. American International
In 2019, American International upset then-No. 1 St. Cloud State, 2-1, in the first round. It was a stunning tournament loss for a really good St. Cloud State team.
That won’t be the case this season. Michigan should have no issue advancing past AIC.
Prediction: Michigan’s offensive attack is too much for AIC to handle. The Wolverines advance.
Quinnipiac vs. St. Cloud St.
This is a really cool matchup between the top overall ECAC team in Quinnipiac and one of the top NCHC teams in St. Cloud State.
The Huskies had a bit of a cold second half. Since Jan. 28 against North Dakota, St. Cloud State went 4-8-4. The Huskies play in the NCHC, so life is a bit more difficult. On the other hand, Quinnipiac has been on another level this season.
Prediction: The Bobcats shut down St. Cloud State’s veteran core of forwards to move on to the regional final.
Regional final: No. 1 Michigan vs. Quinnipiac
This is a battle of strengths. Michigan boasts the country’s third-best offense with 153 goals for. A forward group of Matty Beniers, Brendan Brisson, Kent Johnson, Thomas Bordeleau and many others have no issue putting up goals. The same can be said for the defensemen.
There are very few teams equipped to keep Michigan’s offense at bay. Quinnipiac is one of them.
FINAL RANKINGS: Check out the final Power 10 of the season
The Bobcats rank No. 1 in the nation in goals against with only 42 goals allowed in 40 games. They’re known for their stingy defense and they only allow an average of 18.8 shots against per game. When those shots do get through, goalie Yaniv Perets is there to stop them. His 0.96 goals against average is the best in the country. So are his 11 shutouts. His .948 save percentage ranks second.
Prediction: Quinnipiac shuts down Michigan. It won’t be easy, but the Bobcats are confident and will successfully keep it a low-scoring game. It’s my first "hot take" of these predictions, but I have Quinnipiac advancing to the Frozen Four.
Loveland, CO regional
No. 4 Denver vs. UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell has Owen Savory in net. He was a top-10 goalie in the nation all season long. The River Hawks’ 71 goals against ranks fourth in the country.
I still don’t see them getting past Denver. The Pioneers' depth up front is overpowering and this Denver team has all the tools to go deep.
Prediction: Denver advances to the regional final.
Minnesota Duluth vs. Michigan Tech
Michigan Tech was quietly one of the better teams in college hockey this season. The Huskies get overlooked in the CCHA due to Minnesota State’s dominance, but they went 21-12-3 on the season. Most importantly, they went 16-8-2 in conference play. Forward Brian Halonen posted 44 points in 36 games this season and is a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
Still, Minnesota Duluth is red hot. The Bulldogs survived the gauntlet of the NCHC playoffs, sweeping St. Cloud State and then beating Denver and Western Michigan. Even more impressive: Goalie Ryan Fanti posted two shutouts against Denver and Western Michigan, stopping all 55 shots faced.
Prediction: Minnesota Duluth continues its hot streak and advances to the regional final against Denver.
Regional final: No. 4 Denver vs. Minnesota Duluth
Ah, they meet again.
A nice NCHC matchup would make for a terrific regional final here. In the five games the two teams played against each other this year, Minnesota Duluth had the edge, winning three games.
I’m going to say Denver is motivated from the loss in the NCHC Frozen Faceoff and knows this Minnesota Duluth team well enough to overpower it offensively and finally break through Fanti.
Side note: The last time Minnesota Duluth was in the regional final, the Bulldogs went to five overtimes.
Prediction: While Minnesota Duluth gets the Frozen Faceoff, Denver gets to go to the Frozen Four. The Pioneers advance.
Worcester, MA regional
No. 3 Western Michigan vs. Northeastern
Despite losing to Minnesota Duluth in the NCHC championship, Western Michigan was one of the most consistently good teams in the NCHC this season. The Broncos’ 136 goals for is fourth-best in the country.
With top point-getters like forwards Drew Worrad and Ethen Frank, plus defenseman Ronnie Attard, Western Michigan produced lots of goals in a difficult NCHC.
DARK HORSES: Check out the 7 dark horse teams in the men's tournament
But…there needs to be an upset somewhere and Northeastern has been a team I’ve had my eye on as a good candidate to produce one.
One hot goalie can steal a game at any level of playoff hockey, and Northeastern netminder Devon Levi fits that build. His .952 save percentage leads the nation and his 1.52 GAA ranks third. He’s one of the 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists and it would surprise no one if he stole a game against Western Michigan.
Prediction: Levi stands on his head and carries Northeastern past Western Michigan.
Minnesota vs. Massachusetts
This might be one of the closest matchups in all of the regional games. Both teams showed lots of resilience in the second half of their seasons.
Minnesota went 12-4-0 after star goalie Jack LaFontaine left for the NHL. That was a big shift from the 12-8-0 record Minnesota had before LaFontaine left. The Golden Gophers rode goalie Justen Close all the way to the Big Ten final.
UMass dealt with a ton of injuries around midseason. But the Minutemen always found ways to win, which has become their trend since Greg Carvel took over as head coach. They also showed this en route to winning the Hockey East championship this year and the national championship last year.
Prediction: This will be a close one, but UMass keeps it a low-scoring game and advances to the regional final.
Regional final: Northeastern vs. UMass
A Hockey East regional final will ensure that there will be at least one Massachusetts-based team in Boston for the Frozen Four.
UMass and Northeastern faced off twice this season, with the Minutemen sweeping the series. They also chased Levi fairly early in the second game and won, 6-0.
DRIVE TO REPEAT: How Greg Carvel would like to repeat in 2022
Prediction: While UMass won’t chase Levi in this one, the Minutemen will skate past Northeastern and into the Frozen Four for the third-straight tournament.
Albany, NY regional
No. 2 Minnesota State vs. Harvard
Harvard is a great young team with great players like Matthew Coronato, Nick Abruzzese and Sean Farrell. The Crimson went on a terrific run through the ECAC playoffs to win the championship. It’s also certain they have a bright future.
But Minnesota State should have no problem getting past Harvard in Round 1.
Prediction: Minnesota State advances to the regional final.
North Dakota vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame has proven its ability to beat really good teams. Being in the Big Ten, the Fighting Irish took on Michigan and Minnesota four times each in the regular season. While they went 1-3 against Minnesota, they won all four games against Michigan.
SCOREBOARD: Keep up with all the games during the tournament
While North Dakota will most likely be without star defender Jake Sanderson, the Fighting Hawks went 7-1 to end the regular season. They’ve proven to be resilient and dominate the NCHC, going 17-6-1.
Prediction: North Dakota edges out Notre Dame to advance to the regional final.
Regional final: No. 2 Minnesota State vs. North Dakota
While North Dakota had lots of success in the NCHC this season, the Mavericks went 35-5-0 this year and dominated. They have the most goals for in the nation (167) and have given up the second-fewest (51).
Minnesota State can hit you with top scorers like Nathan Smith and Julian Napravnik. At the other end is goalie Dryden McKay — one of the top goalies in college hockey.
Prediction: Minnesota State has “Frozen Four” written all over it. The Mavericks advance to their second-straight Frozen Four.
Matchup No. 1: No. 4 Denver vs. Quinnipiac
Quinnipiac will have just shut down Michigan. Shutting down another high-powered offense in Denver will prove to be too big a challenge.
SCHEDULE: Check out the Frozen Four schedule
Prediction: Denver advances to the national championship
Matchup No. 2: No. 2 Minnesota State vs. UMass
Minnesota State opened the season by sweeping UMass, spoiling the Minutemen’s banner-raising weekend. But that was back in October, so it’s hard to put a lot of stock into that in April.
In this prediction, UMass will have gone on quite the run and star Bobby Trivigno will have done everything in his power to get the Minutemen to yet another Frozen Four. But Minnesota State proves to be too well-rounded and powerful for UMass again.
Prediction: Minnesota State advances to the national championship
Matchup: No. 2 Minnesota State vs. No. 4 Denver
Minnesota State and Denver have been two of the best teams in college hockey all season long. It would surprise no one if these two squads take the ice on April 9 for the national championship.
LIVE UPDATE: Click here to follow the entire tournament from start to finish
Both of these teams carry terrific offenses. The real difference-maker in this game will be Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay.
Just a year after losing a heartbreaker to St. Cloud State in the Frozen Four, Minnesota State will power through Denver and win the 2022 DI men’s hockey national championship.