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Four teams participated in the first NCAA men’s hockey tournament to take place in Duluth, Minnesota. The 21st iteration of the tournament was held in 1968 at the Duluth Arena Auditorium; home of the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. The semifinals at the time were played on separate nights. The first night of the tournament on March 14 saw the number one seed in the West, Denver, take on the number two seed in the East, Boston College. Both teams were looking to bring another hockey championship trophy back home to campus. At the time, Denver had last won an NCAA title in 1960. That tournament was held in Minneapolis and was the first one to be played outside of Colorado. Boston College had previously won the second-ever tournament in 1949 and finished runner-up in 1965.

The Pioneers defeated the Eagles 4-1 in front of the crowd in Duluth and went on to face North Dakota in the championship game two nights later. Denver shut out North Dakota 4-0 in the title game and earned its fourth championship trophy. It was the second Minnesota city where Denver had won a championship with both being at North Dakota’s expense. Flash forward fifty-six years to the present day. Denver and Boston College are set to face off in the NCAA tournament once again; this time in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It will be the first time the two will meet in the championship game. If the Pioneers are victorious, the program will jump ahead of Michigan in all-time NCAA hockey championships. If Boston College wins, it will be the program’s sixth NCAA hockey championship, putting it in a tie for third place with Wisconsin.

Photo Credit: Kynewisbok Yearbook, Vol. 70, 1968

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By the time the December 1987 series between Michigan and Boston College rolled around, it had been nearly 39 years since the two teams first met in the inaugural NCAA tournament semifinals in 1948. Throughout that time span, the Wolverines and Eagles had faced off five times in a combination of NCAA tournament and regular season games. Michigan had yet to lose a game to the Eagles.

Boston College traveled to Ann Arbor in December 1987 for just the second time ever; the first being in January 1980. The Wolverines took care of business with a score of 6-2 in the opening game of the non-conference series. The following game needed an extra period of hockey in order to decide the winner. Michigan scored the overtime goal and defeated Boston College 5-4, ensuring the team’s perfect record against the East Coast team remained intact.

These two teams will share the ice in the second Frozen Four semifinal in Saint Paul this Thursday. Both programs have come a long way since that first NCAA tournament. Boston College has indeed defeated Michigan since 1987. In fact, a big win for the program was the victory over Michigan in the 2004 regional final that sent the Eagles to the Frozen Four. The Wolverines are tied for the Division I men’s lead with nine NCAA titles while Boston College has five. This will be Michigan’s 41st NCAA tournament appearance and 28th Frozen Four; both NCAA records. The Eagles are second with 26 Frozen Four appearances. For two programs that share this much history in the sport, it’s only fitting they will face one another on the national stage yet again.

Photo Credit: “Bryan Deasley, UM Hockey, 1987/88; BL019271.” In the digital collection Art Images for College Teaching. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed April 04, 2024.

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At the onset of the inaugural Hockey East season in 1984, the conference announced it scheduled four inter-league crossover games against WCHA teams. Boston University hosted Denver that season and both games were decided in overtime. The two teams would end up playing one another every season after that up through the 1990-91 season. The Terriers and Pioneers were no strangers to one another before this crossover. The teams had played two previous regular season series in the early 1980s. More notably, the first two games in the all-time series occurred on neutral ice in the NCAA tournament beginning with the 1960 national semifinals. Denver defeated Boston University 6-4 and later won the program’s second NCAA title after defeating Michigan Tech.

The January 1986 crossover series took place in Denver. The Pioneers won the first night 5-4. The Terriers earned a series split after a 3-1 win in the following game. Throughout the 14 games the teams played in the 80s, the teams were evenly matched throughout the decade with a 6-6-2 series record. These two teams will once again meet on neutral ice in the first semifinal game on Thursday. The winner will face another hockey blue blood in either Michigan or Boston University. Denver is currently tied with Michigan for the NCAA lead with nine championship trophies which ups the ante. Boston University has won five NCAA men’s hockey titles in its history. The Terriers last won the title in 2009 while Denver is looking for its second championship trophy in three years. Denver is also looking to win an NCAA championship in its third Minnesota city (1960 in Minneapolis and 1968 in Duluth). A lot of history between these programs with more history to be made this week.

Photo Credit: Digital Collections at DU

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The men’s hockey rivalry between Colorado College and Denver is one of the most played rivalries in college hockey. It’s constantly leap frogging with the Michigan and Michigan State rivalry for most games played. At the time of this posting, the Tigers-Pioneers rivalry sits at 339 games played while the Wolverines-Spartans rivalry is at 341. After this weekend’s series in Colorado Springs, the series will once again be tied. And that is where it will stand until the 2024-25 season unless these teams meet in the conference tournaments this month. No matter how many games are played between two teams, it all must start somewhere.

The first-ever game between Colorado College and Denver took place during the Pioneers’ first season in 1949-50. The Tigers had a head start at hockey and had already solidified their program that began in 1937. So it wasn’t surprising that the Tigers swept the Pioneers in Colorado Springs. However, it was much more lopsided than you likely expected. Colorado College outscored Denver 26-0 during the weekend after winning the first-ever game between these teams 16-0 on January 6, 1950, and then following it up with a 10-0 shutout. The Pioneers would have to wait until December 7, 1951 before the team won its first game against Colorado College in its 10th try. To say a lot has happened since that January 1950 weekend would be a massive understatement. The Pioneers now hold a winning record of 196-122-21 over the Tigers. Denver is tied with Michigan for the most Division I men’s NCAA hockey titles at nine.

Games 340 and 341 will take place this weekend in a home-and-home series. Denver is ranked 4th nationally and currently second in the NCHC standings while Colorado College’s resurgence this year has vaulted the team to 10th in the national rankings and 4th place in the conference. The last time the teams played a series when both were in the Top 10 of the national polls was December 2, 2011.

Photo Credit: The Colorado College Tiger; January 12, 1950.

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More than a decade before the NCHC and Big Ten Hockey were introduced, St. Cloud State and Michigan were a part of the WCHA and (original) CCHA, respectively. Prior to the 2001 NCAA tournament, the two teams had never faced one another on the ice. That changed during the national tournament that season where the teams met on the big stage.

Going into the tournament, the Huskies landed an automatic bid as the WCHA Tournament champions. This earned St. Cloud State the second seed in the West Regional and a first round bye. The Wolverines were an at-large bid after finishing third in the CCHA regular season and runner-up in the conference tournament to the rival Spartans. As a third seed in the West Regional, the Wolverines defeated Mercyhurst 4-3 in the opening round to advance to a date with the Huskies.

While Michigan was a lower seed, the team held the home ice advantage in the regional played in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Wolverines jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period before St. Cloud State got on the board in the second. Mike Cammalleri scored toward the end of the second period to extend the Wolverine lead to 3-1. A power play goal by St. Cloud State less than two minutes into the third period brought the Huskies to within one but the ultimate game winner was scored by Geoff Koch several minutes later. The Huskies added another power play goal late in the third period, but it wasn’t enough. Michigan won the game 4-3 and advanced to play Boston College in the Frozen Four. The Eagles defeated the Wolverines in the semifinal en route to its second national title.

Overall, this was Michigan’s 24th appearance in the NCAA tournament and third for St. Cloud State. Both teams will play a series this weekend at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. It will be the third and fourth games played between the programs and first time the teams will play one another in the regular season and outside the state of Michigan.

Photo Credit: St. Cloud State University, “The Chronicle [March 26, 2001]” (2001). Chronicle. 3477.

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Heading into the 2006-07 season, the Michigan State Spartans men’s hockey team had high hopes. The reigning CCHA Tournament champions had narrowly missed out on the 2006 Frozen Four – losing by one goal to Maine in the Regional Final. The same could be said for the Boston College Eagles. The 2006 team lost in the NCAA championship game the year before to Wisconsin and the Eagles hoped to avenge that loss the following season.

The Spartans received an at-large bid as the three seed in the Midwest Region of the 2007 NCAA Tournament after losing in the semifinal of the CCHA Tournament. Boston College, on the other hand, won its Hockey East Tournament and was the two seed in the Northeast Region. The two teams made it to the 2007 championship game in St. Louis after impressive NCAA tournament wins.

The title game came down to the final minute as the teams were deadlocked 1-1 since halfway through the third period. A three-on-one breakaway for the Spartans resulted in a near-miss. But the team capitalized in the Boston College zone as Justin Abdelkader scored the game-winning goal with just 18.9 seconds left in regulation. Michigan State would score an empty net goal with two seconds left to seal it. This was the third NCAA hockey championship for Michigan State and first since 1986. It was the second title game loss in a row for Boston College. The Eagles perseverance would pay off in 2008. The third time was the charm as the Eagles defeated Notre Dame in the 2008 NCAA championship game.

The Eagles will play host to the Spartans this week in Chestnut Hill. Boston College has been victorious in the three games the teams have played since the 2007 title game. However, Michigan State holds the all-time series lead 16-9-1 dating back to December 1958.

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The Massachusetts Lowell and Merrimack men’s hockey programs both currently reside within Hockey East. The River Hawks and Warriors have been members since the 1980s yet the rivalry between the two Massachusetts schools predates Division I. In 1981 the two teams were Division II hockey schools and faced off in the ECAC 2 championship game. Massachusetts Lowell had been a member of ECAC 2 since 1968 while Merrimack had joined at the onset in 1964.

Several years earlier, Merrimack won the inaugural Division II national championship in 1978. Massachusetts Lowell won the following season in 1979. The two teams played in the Third Place game in 1980 with Massachusetts Lowell coming out on top in a high scoring affair 8-7. These two successful – and familiar – Division II foes met on the ice again in 1981 for another playoff game.

The Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks were known as the Lowell Chiefs at the time. The school changed its nickname in 1991 when it joined the University of Massachusetts system. The 1981 ECAC 2 championship game was played March 7, 1981, and it turned out to be a high scoring affair. Lowell outlasted Merrimack 6-4. It was the program’s second conference title in three years and the 14th win in a row at the time. In fact, the team never lost another game that season and ended up winning the Division II national championship. Lowell defended its title by completing the feat the following season as well and even defeated Merrimack in the semifinals en route to the second trophy in a row. Lowell made the leap to Division I hockey prior to the 1983-84 season and Merrimack did so later in the decade prior to the 1989-90 season. Both joined Hockey East and continue to be a part of the conference to this day.

The River Hawks and Warriors will meet this weekend in the Hockey East semifinals at TD Garden in Boston. It is the first Hockey East semifinals appearance for Merrimack since 2011. UMass Lowell made the semifinals last season. The River Hawks have won the Hockey East tournament three times (2013, 2014, 2017) while Merrimack is in search of its first Hockey East tournament title.

Photo Credit: 1981 Lowell Sojourn Yearbook

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St. Lawrence first fielded a varsity hockey team during the 1925-26 season. The team played three games in its inaugural season with the first game taking place February 13, 1926, against nearby rival Clarkson. It was an away game at Potsdam and the Clarkson team defeated the Saints 1-0 on home ice. St. Lawrence fared better in the second game when the Saints defeated Massena American Legion by a score of 2-1. The third and final game of the short season was against Clarkson once again – this time on home ice. The result was similar to that first game in that Clarkson won by one goal with a final score of 2-1. The 1926 St. Lawrence Gridiron Yearbook stated it was a one goal game. However, there are other records of this game that state it was 3-1. Either way, Clarkson won the second meeting.

St. Lawrence was victorious on the ice once during the season, but the contest is considered an exhibition in the college history books as it took place against a non-collegiate team. St. Lawrence may not have achieved an official collegiate win in that first season, but it achieved two very important milestones. The first is that it saw the beginning of a hockey program that is currently approaching nearly 100 years of existence. The second is that the very first game in program history kicked off a long-standing rivalry that continues to this day.

The rivalry between St. Lawrence and Clarkson is nicknamed the Route 11 Rivalry as the schools are separated by just 10 miles. The two teams will renew the rivalry this weekend in a home-and-home series. St. Lawrence and Clarkson have played one another 218 times prior to this weekend.

Photo Credit: 1926 Gridiron Yearbook

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The Denver and Colorado College hockey programs debuted the Gold Pan trophy in 1994. It’s awarded every season to the team that wins the most head-to-head regular season games between these two teams. The creation of the formal trophy certainly wasn’t the beginning of this in-state rivalry. In actuality, it began four decades earlier when the two teams met on the ice for the first time January 6, 1950. It was just the fifth game in program history for Denver while the Tigers were playing in the program’s 12th year of existence.

The featured photo was taken at some point between 1953 and 1959 at the old University of Denver Arena. The home team is wearing the dark crimson sweaters while the visitors are sporting the white sweaters with Tigers written diagonally down the front. In the head-to-head games played between the two teams throughout this time frame, the Pioneers won 20 games compared to the Tigers’ 13.

The battle for the Gold Pan trophy resumes this weekend where Denver will look to retain the trophy for the fourth-straight year. The home-and-home series this weekend will be a little special this time around in that Friday’s home game for Denver will be played at Ball Arena – home of the Colorado Avalanche. Saturday’s game will take place at Ed Robson Arena on the Colorado College campus. This is the second season the Tigers have played in the new arena.

Photo Credit: Digital Collections at DU

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The 50th annual Great Lakes Invitational tournament took place at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in 2014. The participating teams in this event were Michigan, Michigan State, Ferris State and Michigan Tech. The Wolverines and Huskies faced off in the first game of the tournament with Michigan upsetting the Huskies 2-1 despite being outshot 41-21.

The second game of the tournament kicked off that same night. It was the third game of the season between the Spartans and Bulldogs after the teams split a series just two months earlier. There was no scoring in the first frame yet both teams saw plenty of time in the penalty box. Six penalties were awarded in the period with each team receiving two roughing calls. Brent Darnell started off the scoring for the Spartans with a goal early in the second period. The rest of the game went scoreless until Thomas Ebbing scored an empty netter to seal the game for Michigan State.

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Old foes Michigan and Michigan State met in the championship game the next night. The game took place after the Huskies defeated the Bulldogs in the consolation game. Andrew Copp scored for the Wolverines in the first period of the nightcap to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Zach Hyman added to the lead in the second period. Michigan State sophomore Rhett Holland cut the lead in half in the third but it wasn’t enough as the Wolverines claimed the 2014 Great Lakes Invitational tournament title. It was the team’s sixth win in a row at Joe Louis Arena and the Wolverines improved their record in the tournament’s championship games to 8-5.

The 2022 Great Lakes Invitational begins this week and will take place at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This is the first time the arena and city has hosted the holiday tournament. Ferris State will take on Michigan State in the second game of the tournament. This will be the third time Ferris State has participated in the tournament and the Bulldogs are looking for the first tournament win. Both of these teams also faced one another in the 2019 Great Lakes Invitational Tournament. The Spartans are 49-39-4 all time during the tournament and will be looking to capture the first tournament title since 2009.