NCAA DI Men's Hockey

Frozen Four National Championship Game Predictions, Preview: Denver Vs. BC

Frozen Four National Championship Game Predictions, Preview: Denver Vs. BC

Boston College meets Denver in the NCAA men's hockey national championship at the Frozen Four. Analyst Chris Peters predicts the winner and more.

Apr 12, 2024 by Chris Peters

One more game remains in the men’s college hockey season. No. 1 Boston College and No. 3 Denver will square off for the national championship to conclude the 2024 Men’s Frozen Four in St. Paul in a meeting between the two best scoring attacks in the NCAA. This is going to be a great one.

This will also be a rematch. Denver went into Conte Forum on Oct. 21 and earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory in one of the best matchups of the early season. Carter King scored with 2:02 remaining in regulation to give the Pioneers the win.

A lot has changed since that early-season tilt. Boston College only had four more losses the rest of the season and are riding a 15-game winning streak into the national championship as the clear No. 1 team in the country.

Denver, meanwhile, is similarly hot. The Pioneers have won eight consecutive games including a double-OT thriller in the first round of the NCAA tournament against UMass. They ousted No. 2 Boston University Thursday night in the national semifinal at the Frozen Four to punch their ticket to Saturday’s game. DU is also seeking its second national title in three years and a record 10th all time.

How Do Boston College And Denver Match Up?

There is so much to look forward to in this matchup, not the least of which is these being the top two scoring teams in the NCAA. Denver averaged 4.7 goals for per game, while BC averaged 4.6 goals per game. The next closest teams average 4.1.

This contest will feature five of the top six players when it comes to points-per-game as well. BC boasts four such players – Will Smith (SJS), Gabe Perreault (NYR), Cutter Gauthier (ANA) and Ryan Leonard (WSH), while DU has Massimo Rizzo (PHI). 

While the offensive performers will be standouts to be sure, both teams have gotten sensational goaltending throughout the NCAA tournament.

Denver’s Matt Davis has been out of this world at this time of year. Going back to the NCHC championship game, which Denver won, Davis has allowed just one goal in each of his last four starts. He has a .967 save percentage over that span, which included his herculean 46-save performance against UMass in that double-OT showdown. 

Jacob Fowler (MTL) of Boston College, however, has been brilliant as well. He is the first goalie to shut out Michigan in any of their 28 trips to the Men’s Frozen Four. He owns a .942 save percentage in three NCAA tournament games, allowing just five goals on 86 shots against. The Hockey East Goaltender of the Year continually shows up in big games.

There’s not a ton separating these teams, but if there is one area of clear advantage it would appear to be special teams. BC also owns the nation’s best penalty kill with a success rate of 88.9%. They’re second in power play percentage with a 29.3% mark on the advantage. Denver’s special teams are much further down the list with the 19th-best power play and a PK that ranks 46th in the NCAA.

Boston College vs. Denver National Championship Game Predictions

Boston College 3, Denver 1

This is going to be a tight game. Both teams have a number of offensive weapons that can exploit the opposing defenses, but both teams have had goalies playing lights out. Based on what we’ve seen in the tournament so far, we will likely see both teams fall below their average goal output this season.

Denver did a tremendous job against Boston University in the national semifinal after having a suspect start to the game. They stuck with their gameplan and stayed patient, eventually flipping the balance of possession and making it harder for BU to get good looks at Davis in net. That’s going to present challenges to Boston College, which can be very opportunistic. DU is limiting mistakes, which is going to make it harder on BC’s elite transition game.

The Eagles, despite being badly outplayed in the first few minutes of their game, showed just how dangerous they can be. They scored on their first shot of the game, seizing on a Michigan turnover. They scored twice with four-on-four opportunities as well.

More than anything, for BC, their stars showed up time and time again. All four of the team’s goals were scored by their leading point producers this year. You just have to figure that they’re all going to impact the game. Freshman Will Smith is the leading scorer in the country with 71 points. Cutter Gauthier is the nation’s leading goal scorer with 38. And those two don’t play on the same line.

That is going to put a lot of pressure on Denver’s defense, which has been as good as it’s looked all year over its last four games. They aren’t relying solely on their blueliners to do all the defending. The Pioneers are getting contributions from their forwards in the defensive end and can transition as well as anybody. DU’s top defensemen Zeev Buium, Sean Behrens (COL) and Shai Buium (DET) have all played at an exceptional level and each can get pucks up the ice quickly. They’re going to provide a bigger test for Boston College than perhaps they’ve seen at this stage of the season.

Meanwhile, you have two of the outstanding coaches in the NCAA. Denver’s David Carle also may have unique insight into how to slow down BC’s stars as he coached seven different Eagles on Team USA at the World Juniors this year. There’s no doubt the Pioneers will be prepared. BC’s Greg Brown is the national coach of the year and has been pushing all of the right buttons lately as BC has been by far the nation’s most consistent team.

Denver has really slowed teams down, holding each of their last four opponents to just one goal. There’s no question Matt Davis can steal a game for them. That said, this Boston College attack is unlike anything they’ve faced. This BC team is even better than they were when Denver took that 4-3 win earlier this season.

Boston College has an offensive attack that comes at you in waves. No one has been able to truly slow down their top two lines and as good as Denver has been this year, I don’t think they’re going to be able to get in the way of this runaway train.

BC needs the tiniest of openings to pull away in a game. Barring perfection from Denver and Matt Davis in particular, I can’t see the Eagles falling short in this national championship game. I do, however, think this is going to be their toughest game yet and should be a classic Game 7-style battle between two of the nation's best teams.

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