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Field is set for NCAA Frozen Four at KeyBank Center on April 11

Providence College may have a ready-made local following for its game with defending champion Minnesota-Duluth.

In the other game, UMass and Denver will be a battle of freshman goaltenders from Scandinavia.

Those are just two of the storylines for the Frozen Four that will come to KeyBank Center to decide the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championship.

Semifinal games on April 11 will be at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Both games and the championship final on April 13 at 8 p.m. will be shown on ESPN2.

Providence and UM-Duluth were the last to clinch berths to the Frozen Four with victories in regional finals on Sunday. Three of the four regionals ended in shutouts.

Providence shut out Cornell, 4-0, at Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., behind senior goalie Hayden Hawkey, who had 19 saves, to win the East Regional.

UM-Duluth defeated Quinnipiac, 3-1, in the Midwest Regional final at Allentown Pa. The Bulldogs didn’t break through against Quinnipiac goalie Andrew Shortridge until Peter Krieger scored at 15:12 of the second period.

Quinnipiac got on the board on a power-play goal by Craig Martin with 2:03 left, but Duluth got its third goal from Parkay Mackay with 57 seconds left.

On Saturday, UMass defeated Notre Dame, 4-0, in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H., and Denver eliminated Atlantic Hockey Association champion American International, 3-0, in the West Region in Fargo, N.D.

Providence has Buffalo and Rochester connections.

Former Sabres coach Ron Rolston is in his second season as an assistant coach for the Friars. Freshman forward Tyce Thompson is the brother of Tage Thompson, who played most of the season with Buffalo and is now with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

The Friars’ defensive corps includes Jacob Bryson, who was Buffalo’s fourth-round draft choice in 2017. Bryson had an assist on the first Providence goal on Sunday.

One of the top prospects on the Providence team is Jack Dugan, a 21-year-old freshman from Rochester.

It will be the fifth Frozen Four apperance for Providence, but first since the Friars won the NCAA championship in 2015.

UMass and Denver received shutout performances from first-year netminders in their regional finals.

Filip Lindberg from Finland backstopped the UMass victory over Notre Dame. Denver’s Filip Larsson from Sweden turned back AIC.

The Denver Pioneers will be appearing in their 17th Frozen Four, although one appearance was vacated by the NCAA. This will be their third appearance in the last four seasons. Denver has won the tournament eight times, most recently in 2017.

The Minutemen, on the other hand, will be making their first Frozen Four appearance. They will have one of the most-watched prospects at KeyBank Center in defenseman Cale Makar. A sophomore, Makar was a first-round NHL draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2017. Makar scored his 16th goal of the season in Saturday’s victory and leads the nation with 32 assists.

It will be the third straight Frozen Four appearance for UM-Duluth, which has won two national titles and finished as the runner-up twice.

None of this year’s Frozen Four appeared here in 2003, the last time the event came to Buffalo. Minnesota, with Sabres draft choice Thomas Vanek in the lineup, defeated New Hampshire, 5-1, to win the championship last year.

Cornell and Michigan were the other Frozen Four teams.

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