From the season-opening Ice Breaker Tournament to the Frozen Four, college hockey features a variety of special events that put the schools and student-athletes in the spotlight throughout the season.
College hockey pioneered the modern outdoor hockey game with the 2001 "Cold War" (right) between Michigan State and Michigan. Those schools met again in the 2010 "Big Chill" at Michigan Stadium, attracting a crowd of 109,901, the most ever to watch a hockey game. Other programs to participate in outdoor games include Boston College, Boston University, Connecticut, Ohio State, Sacred Heart and Wisconsin.
Other in-season events include the Beanpot (featuring four Boston schools at TD Garden), Red Hot Hockey between BU and Cornell at Madison Square Garden and a variety of annual holiday tournaments like the Great Lakes Invitational at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. Traditional on-campus events like Rensselaer's Big Red Freakout! and Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival also highlight the schedule.
Postseason schedules take teams to conference tournaments at a variety of neutral sites like Xcel Energy Center. The NCAA Tournament features 16 teams and begins with four regional sites and culminating at the Frozen Four.
Ice Breaker Tournament
The annual Ice Beraker Tournament marks the traditional start to the college hockey season. Celebrating its 15th season in 2011-12, the Ice Breaker brings together four of the nation's top teams from different conferences.
This year's event will be held in Grand Forks, N.D., at the Ralph Engelstad Arena and will feature hosts North Dakota, Air Force, Boston College and Michigan State. Games will take place Oct. 7-8.
A terrific opportunity to put the spotlight on college hockey just as the season gets underway, the Ice Breaker also provides a tough early season test for some NCAA championship contenders. Past Ice Breaker champions include Boston University (three times), New Hampshire (twice), Boston College, Colorado College, Denver, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State and Vermont.
The event has taken place at a mix of on- and off-campus sites, visiting top venues such as Xcel Energy Center (St. Paul), Scottrade Center (St. Louis) and Kohl Center (Madison, Wis.).
Ice Breaker Tournament History
NCAA Frozen Four
The NCAA crowns its national champion at the culmination of the college hockey season, the Frozen Four, each spring. Held before sellout crowds at NHL arenas, the Frozen Four consists of the two semifinal games and one championship game, played over three days. Each game is broadcast live on ESPN or ESPN2.
The Frozen Four is the culmination of the NCAA Tournament, which has been held each year since 1948. The tournament expanded to its current 16-team format in 2003.
Over time, the Frozen Four has become more than just the games - it's a weekend long celebration of college hockey. Thousands of fans attend year after year, regardless of the teams involved, creating crowds filled with dozens of different jerseys. On the day between games college hockey celebrates some of its best, with the presentation of the Hobey Baker Award, the Hockey Humanitarian Award and the AHCA All-America Teams.
Upcoming Frozen Fours will be held in Tampa (2012), Pittsburgh (2013) and Philadelphia (2014).
“It was a great atmosphere for the kids to be in. I thought the whole tournament was tremendous. It's a phenomenal experience. I mean, this is one of the best venues you could have in this tournament, if not the best. It's a hockey city. It's a great building and a great atmosphere.”
-- Minnesota Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin on the Frozen Four
“What the Beanpot means to me? Quite simply, there are two words that come to mind: tradition and emotion. Anyone who has a pulse around here knows about the tradition of the Beanpot. I'm a local kid. I grew up in Scituate. I started coming to the Beanpot about the same time I started playing hockey.”
-- David Silk, former BU forward and 1980 Olympic gold medal winner
-- Michigan defenseman Jon Merrill on The Big Chill