COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 2023 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four will have a strong American presence as 81 players with U.S. development roots prior to their collegiate careers will faceoff for the national title this weekend.
The NCAA Men’s Frozen Four begins Thursday (April 6) at Amalie Arena in Tampa with the University of Minnesota taking on Boston University at 5 p.m. ET (ESPN 2), followed by Quinnipiac University facing the University of Michigan at 8:30 p.m. (ESPN 2). The winners will faceoff Saturday (April 8) at 8 p.m. for the national title (ESPN2).
USA HOCKEY EXPERIENCE
A total of 33 players have represented the United States in international competition, including Drew Commesso (Norwell, Mass./Boston University), Brock Faber (Maple Grove, Minn./University of Minnesota) and Matt Knies (Phoenix, Ari./University of Minnesota) who were part of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team.
Eleven players, including Gavin Brindley (Estero, Fla./University of Michigan), Seamus Casey (Fort Myers, Fla./University of Michigan), Ryan Chesley (Mahtomedi, Minn./University of Minnesota), Logan Cooley (West Mifflin, Pa./University of Minnesota), Dylan Duke (Strongsville, Ohio/University of Michigan), Luke Hughes (Canton, Mich./University of Michigan), Lane Hutson (Chicago, Ill./Boston University), Sam Lipkin (Philadelphia, Pa./Quinnipiac University), Rutger McGroarty (Lincoln, Neb./University of Michigan), Luke Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn./University of Minnesota) and Jimmy Snuggerud (Chaska, Minn./University of Minnesota) helped Team USA capture the bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship earlier this year.
A collective 23 players who have skated as part of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program are competing in the 2023 Men’s Frozen Four.
Team Captain Luke Hughes at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
A total of 53 players have skated in at least one USA Hockey Player Development Camp and 25 have played in the BioSteel All-American Game. USA Hockey’s Player Development Camps are held annually in June and July to provide week-long training sessions. The BioSteel All-American Game is an annual event that provides the best U.S. players eligible for the NHL Draft the opportunity to showcase their skills on a national stage.
JUNIOR LEAGUE TIES
Among those Americans competing in this year’s Frozen Four, 73 have roots in USA Hockey junior hockey leagues. Of those, 64 spent time in the United States Hockey League, the only Tier I junior league in the United States, and 17 skated in the Tier II North American Hockey League.
Collectively, 18 states will be represented by players in the Frozen Four, including Arizona (1), California (3), Connecticut (3), Florida (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (7), Michigan (13), Minnesota (23), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (2), New York (9), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (3) and Wisconsin (1).
FROZEN FOUR STAFF NOTES
All four of the coaching staffs in the Frozen Four include coaches who have served on a U.S. national team staff. Most recently, Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold served as the head coach of the 2023 U.S. National Junior Team that brought home the bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. Pecknold also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team which earned a silver medal in the 2018 IIHF U18 Men’s World Championship and the U.S. Men’s National Team that competed in the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
Bob Motzko, head coach at the University of Minnesota served as the head coach of the gold medal-winning 2017 U.S. National Junior Team before serving in the same capacity for the 2018 squad that won bronze. Additionally, Motzko was as an assistant coach for the 2014 U.S. National Junior Team.
Jay Pandolfo, head coach at Boston University, has represented the U.S. on the international stage as a player on two occasions, at the 1999 IIHF Men’s World Championship and 1994 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Additionally, Minnesota associate head coach Steve Miller worked on five consecutive U.S. National Junior Team staffs from 2017-21, helping the United States earn gold medals in 2021 and 2017, as well as a silver medal in 2019 and a bronze in 2018.
Brennan Poderzay, the Gophers’ goaltending coach, and Cal Dietz, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, also have ties to USA Hockey. Poderzay spent six years as a scout for the NTDP and Dietz has been on staff for several events with the U.S. Women’s National Team, including the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, 2022 and 2021 IIHF Women's World Championship and 2019 U.S. Women's National Festival in Lake Placid, New York.
In addition, Mike Corbett, assistant coach at Quinnipiac, served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-17 Select Team that finished second at the 2019 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. Joe Maher, the head strength and conditioning coach at Michigan, has also been on U.S. staff, specifically at the 2011 World Junior Championship where the U.S. captured bronze.