On Wednesday, the NCAA and the Men's Ice Hockey Committee announced finalists to host the 2015-18 Frozen Fours. Boston's TD Garden is one of ten finalists to host college hockey's final weekend in either 2015, 2016, 2017 or 2018. Here are the ten finalists:
- TD Garden, Boston
- First Niagara Center, Buffalo, N.Y.
- Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
- Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
- Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
- Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
- Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
- United Center, Chicago
- Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Fla.
It's a strong set of finalists, though you can probably go ahead and cross off a few of these cities off the list straight away. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia hosted last year and this year, respectively, so I can't see either city being awarded another Frozen Four this soon. Washington D.C. (2009) and Tampa (2012) have also hosted in recent years, likely taking them both out of the running as well.
That leaves six cities vying for four bids. College hockey hotbeds St. Paul and Boston seem like logical hosts for the next round of Frozen Fours. The former last hosted in 2010; the latter has been on some sort of double-secret hosting probation from the NCAA since last hosting in 2004. I don't think the NCAA will continue to shut Boston out and will reward the Hub with a Frozen Four over this next cycle.
The NCAA also needs to keep the Minnesotas, Wisconsins and North Dakotas of the world happy, lest Grant have to create more Der Untergang parody videos -- so I'd imagine Chicago will get a serious look as a potential first-time host. While this finalist list is a strong field, there is a decided lack of western destinations on this list (Denver or other points west? Detroit? St. Louis?). That should work into Chicago's favor, particularly with the Frozen Four having been "east" for each of the last three seasons and four of the last six. I expected that trend to snap back towards the west over this next cycle, but with only two true "western" cities in the mix, there's likely to be more of an even split.
St. Paul, Boston and Chicago all seem to be likely hosts for the next round of Frozen Fours, leaving one bid left for one of Buffalo, Columbus or Brooklyn. The first two aren't exactly the most exciting of host cities, but Buffalo may get a long look particularly with Terry Pegula's sizable investment in Penn State's men's program. However, with the Islanders moving from Nassau Coliseum to Barclays Center, the arena is going to want more hockey events and I can see the NCAA giving the fourth bid to Brooklyn. Keeping hotel/travel costs down for long-time attendees will be a concern for any New York City-based Frozen Four, but I think the NCAA will at least give it a shot.
Wild guess here, but I'm thinking that the NCAA awards Frozen Fours to St. Paul (2014), Boston (2015), Chicago (2016) and Brooklyn (2017). Then again, who knows. If you would have told me in 2004 that I was attending the last Frozen Four in Boston for the next decade plus, I would have said you crazy.
Leave your picks for the next round of NCAA Frozen Fours below.