The Frozen Four is the annual semifinals and finals of the NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament. This part of the tournament is played at a neutral site that is selected before the season starts. For the entire tournament, 16 teams participate over four rounds to crown the champion. The champion for each of the six conferences automatically qualifies for the tournament, while there are 10 at-large bids given out to other worthy teams that did not win their conference tournament.
The first Frozen Four final was held in 1948, nine years after NCAA Basketball began playing the Final Four which has since become a cultural phenomenon. College hockey is a much more niche sport than college basketball, but hockey fans from all over the country still pack whatever arena is hosting the tournament to watch some of the most exciting college hockey of the season.
In 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Frozen Four was scheduled to be played in Detroit at the Little Caesars Arena, but the tournament was cancelled and never played. Consequently, the next Frozen Four will hopefully be played in 2021 at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, but if that tournament is cancelled too, the 2021 Frozen Four will be located in Boston at the TD Garden.
The most recent Frozen Four, held in 2019 in Buffalo, New York, was won by the University of Minnesota Duluth. This championship is not out of the ordinary for the Bulldogs recently as 2019 marked the team's third consecutive championship appearance and second championship in a row. In the Frozen Four, UMD beat Providence 4-1 in the semifinals before defeating Massachusetts 3-0 in the Minutemen's first title game appearance ever.
The Michigan Wolverines have won the most NCAA ice hockey championships in the history of the tournament. Michigan has won nine championships. These wins occurred in 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1964, 1965, 1996, and 1998. Along with having the most Frozen Four wins, Michigan also won the first-ever NCAA ice hockey championship in 1948. Two teams are right behind Michigan in these rankings as both Denver and North Dakota have eight championships to their name.
Since its inception in 1948, five teams have made the Frozen Four more than 20 times. The top teams are the Michigan Wolverines and Boston College Eagles with 25 appearances each. Then, Boston University and North Dakota both have made the prestigious tournament 22 times. Lastly, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (the Golden Gophers) have made the Frozen Four 21 times.