NCAA men's Frozen Four Championship: Gophers vs. Quinnipiac

When: 7 p.m. Saturday | Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Fla.

TV: ESPN2 | Radio: 103.5-FM, 1130-AM

On Saturday night, the Gophers will try to win their first national championship since 2003, while their opponent, Quinnipiac, aims to win the crown for the first time in their third NCAA final. Here's a look at the Gophers and the Bobcats:


Record, accomplishments: 29-9-1; Big Ten regular-season champions and conference tournament runner-up; top seed in the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection.

How they got here: Defeated Canisius 9-2 and St. Cloud State 4-1 to win Fargo Regional. Defeated Boston University 6-2 in Frozen Four semifinals.

Coach: Bob Motzko, fifth season.

The skinny: The Gophers, who've been No. 1 in the country in the polls and PairWise Ratings for most of the season, will try to complete their goal of returning to college hockey's mountaintop and securing the program's sixth NCAA title. They certainly have a roster primed to do it, with 14 NHL draft picks and role players who complement all that talent. Minnesota's top line of freshman Logan Cooley centering sophomore left winger Matthew Knies and freshman right winger Jimmy Snuggerud is largely regarded as the best in the nation. Cooley, second nationally in scoring with 60 points on 22 goals and 38 assists, and Knies (21-21-42, seven game-winning goals), were two of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.. The Gophers get secondary scoring, too, with Bryce Brodzinski (19-12-31), Jaxon Nelson (9-17-26) and Mason Nevers (10-13-23) forming a strong second line. Motzko calls his defensive corps, led by Jackson LaCombe (9-26-35) and captain Brock Faber (4-22-26), the best he's ever had. Freshman Luke Mittelstadt (5-16-21) scored twice and junior Mike Koster (6-23-29) once against Boston U. on Thursday. In goal, senior Justen Close has been steady, going 26-9-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and six shutouts.

Projected lineup


Matthew Knies-Logan Cooley-Jimmy Snuggerud
Mason Nevers-Jaxon Nelson-Bryce Brodzinski
Rhett Pitlick-Aaron Huglen-Brody Lamb
Garrett Pinoniemi-John Mittelstadt-Connor Kurth


Ryan Johnson-Brock Faber
Mike Koster-Jackson LaCombe
Cal Thomas-Ryan Chesley
Luke Mittelstadt


Justen Close

Did you know? The Gophers and Quinnipiac have met only once, an 11-2 Minnesota win on Dec. 9, 2000, at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

The quote: "I'm just darn happy we're going to be playing. That's the first job when you get here is to punch your ticket to get to that game.'' – Bob Motzko, Gophers coach.


Record, accomplishments: 33-4-3; won ECAC regular-season championship; lost to Colgate in ECAC tournament semifinals; No. 2 overall NCAA seed as an at-large selection.

How they got here: Defeated Merrimack 5-0 and Ohio State 4-1 to win Bridgeport (Conn.) Regional; defeated Michigan 5-2 in Frozen Four semifinal.

Coach: Rand Pecknold, 29th season

The skinny: Quinnipiac has been No. 2 in the polls and PairWise for most of the season and will try to overtake the Gophers when it matters most. The Bobcats went 20-2 in ECAC regular-season play and are allowing only 1.6 goals per game, the stingiest defense in the nation. Leading that charge is sophomore goalie Yaniv Perets, who is 33-4-3 with nation's-best 1.48 GAA and 10 shutouts, plus a .932 save percentage, which is second in the land. Quinnipiac relies heavily on its top line of Jacob Quillan (18-19-37) centering Sam Lipkin (14-27-41) and Collin Graf (20-38-58), a trio that combined for three goals and four assists against Michigan. Secondary scoring comes from winger Ethan de Jong (19-21-40), defenseman Zach Metsa (9-25-34) and center Skyler Brind'Amour (14-18-32).

Projected lineup


Sam Lipkin-Jacob Quillan-Collin Graf
Desi Burgart-Skyler Brind'Amour-Ethan de Jong
Christophe Fillion-Victor Czerneckianair-Christophe Tellier
Michael Lombardi-T.J. Friedmann-Joey Cipollone


Jake Johnson-Zach Metsa
Jayden Lee-CJ McGee
Livari Räsänen-Jacob Nordqvist
Charles Alexis Legault


Yaniv Perets

Did you know? The Bobcats have three NHL draftees on their roster, 11 fewer than the Gophers.

The quote: "We don't mind being the underdog. Nobody gave us a chance to win tonight. And nobody gave us a chance to win on Saturday. But we'll find a way to figure it out.'' – Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac coach, after his team's win over Michigan.