BOSTON -- For the first time in 11 years, college hockey's grandest stage is TD Garden. The NCAA Frozen Four in Boston kicks off with the semifinals on this Thursday night with the 5 p.m. opener pitting Providence and Omaha, a pair of underrated teams that impressed in their respective regionals to advance to this point.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 (and TSN2 in Canada) with John Buccigross, Barry Melrose and Quint Kessenich on the call. Westwood One Radio (Sirius/XM 91) will provide worldwide coverage with Sean Grande and Cap Raeder.
The Friars are in their first Frozen Four in 30 years after capturing the East Regional title at Dunkin' Donuts Center while UNO beat Harvard and RIT in South Bend, Ind. to advance for the first time in program history.
Providence, which looks for its first all-time win against UNO, finished second in the Hockey East standings but dropped a three-game quarterfinal series to New Hampshire. The Friars went on to beat Miami and Denver in their home city as the No. 4 seed during the regional. Junior captain Noel Acciari scored a goal in each win and added an assist to claim Most Valuable Player honors.
PC is the eighth No. 4 seed since 2003 to advance to the Frozen Four, but only one (Yale in 2013) has ever won a national championship. Junior Nick Saracino leads the team with 22 assists and 35 points, including four points in postseason play.
The Mavericks, picked sixth in the NCHC preseason poll like fellow Frozen Four participant Boston University in Hockey East, won just two of their final 11 games entering the NCAA Tournament before ousting Harvard and RIT by a combined 8-1 score.
Omaha's roster sports 18 underclassmen, including second-year leading scorer Austin Ortega who set a new NCAA single-season record with 11 game-winning goals. Senior Ryan Massa, who pitched a 40-save shutout of RIT in the March 29 regional final, leads all Division 1 goaltenders with a .939 save percentage.
Here are tonight's lines:
FRIARS (24-13-2, 13-8-1 Hockey East)
Shane Luke - Ross Mauermann - Trevor Mingoia
Nick Saracino - Noel Acciari - Brian Pinho
Kevin Rooney - Mark Jankowski - Brandon Tanev
Steven McParland - Stefan Demopoulos
Jake Walman - John Gilmour
Kyle McKenzie - Josh Monk
Tom Parisi - Anthony Florentino
(extra) Mark Adams
MAVERICKS (20-12-6, 12-8-4-3 NCHC)
David Pope - Jake Guentzel - Austin Ortega
Jake Randolph - Tyler Vesel - Justin Parizek
Avery Peterson - Dominic Zombo - Luke Nogard
James Polk - Tanner Lane - Jono Davis
Brian Cooper - Joel Messner
Luc Snuggerud - Brian O'Rourke
Ian Brady - Grant Gallo