This year's Frozen Four will be held in Tampa, certainly not a rabid hockey town. Half of this year's entrants -- Ferris State and Union -- you've probably never heard of. So BC Interruption is here to give you, the NHL fan that doesn't know the difference between the ECAC and the CCHA or the hybrid icing rule something to cheer for.
Here BC Interruption's alphabetical team-by-team rundown of who you should be rooting for in the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa.
Anaheim Ducks. You are probably rooting for a Minnesota-Ferris State final. Scout Casey Hankinson played for Minnesota from 1994-98, while Ferris State lays claim to Jason Blake (for the 1994-95 season, anyway, before he transferred to North Dakota). Given that Blake transferred from FSU, the lean here is probably Minnesota.
Boston Bruins. No question the hometown B's should be pulling for Boston College in this one. Hobey Baker winner Mike Mottau is the lone former collegian on the B's roster. The Bruins also selected BC senior captain Tommy Cross in the 2nd round (35th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Buffalo Sabres. You would think the Sabres would lean BC given the Nate Gerbe connection, but the Sabres roster actually has more Gophers than Eagles at the moment. 2002 Hobey Baker winner Jordan Leopold and 2003 WCHA Rookie of the Year Thomas Vanek helped lead the Gophers to back-to-back National titles in 2002 and 2003. Minnesota's freshman forward Christian Isackson is also a draft pick of the Sabres -- 7th round, 203rd overall in the 2010 entry draft. Lean: Minnesota.
Calgary Flames. Flames fans should be pulling for Boston College next weekend, as both Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau are Calgary draft picks. Arnold was selected in the 4th round of the 2010 entry draft (108th overall), and Gaudreau was picked up a year later in almost the identical spot in the following year's draft (4th round, 104th overall). The 2001 title game hero, Krys Kolanos, is also in the minors for the Flames.
Carolina Hurricanes. Hurricanes fans are split between rooting for Minnesota and BC. Carolina doesn't have any former collegians from any of the Frozen Four teams on the roster, but does have the draft rights over an Eagle and a Gopher. BC's junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin is a 2nd round, 51st overall draft pick of Carolina in 2009, while Gophers sophomore defenseman Mark Alt is a 2nd round, 53rd overall pick in 201.
Chicago Blackhawks. There are a total of five Frozen Four connections on the Blackhawks roster, with a slight lean towards BC. Both BC's Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes are on the current roster, as is Minnesota's Nick Leddy. BC's Kevin Hayes is a first round draft pick of Chicago in 2010, while Minnesota's Justin Holl was taken 54th overall in the same year's NHL Entry Draft.
Colorado Avalanche. There are a whopping seven college ties on the Avs between BC and Minnesota, with the Gophs edging the Eagles 4-3. Minnesota's Erik Johnson became just the third college player to be selected No. 1 overall in the NHL Entry draft in 2011, joining Rick DiPietro and Joe Murphy. BC's Chuck Kobasew won a National title with the Eagles in 2001 and is also on Colorado's roster. Scout Neil Shea (1982-86) and Paul Carey (5th round, 135th overall) rep BC, but three Minnesota players are either in the minors or draft picks of the Avalanche -- Ryan Stoa (2005-09) and current players Kent Patterson and Nate Condon.
Columbus Blue Jackets. Cam Atkinson is holding it down for BC, but Gophers again outnumber Eagles in Columbus. Assistant coach Todd Richards (1985-89), Jake Hansen and Seth Ambroz all have ties to the Blue Jackets organization. Lean: Minnesota.
Dallas Stars. Alex Goligoski played for the Gophers from 2004-07 and was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American in 2007. In addition, senior forward Nico Sacchetti was a 2nd round, 50th overall draft pick of the Stars in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Only fitting that the Stars should be pulling for Minnesota in this one.
Detroit Red Wings. BC's Patrick Eaves suits up for the Wings. Eaves was a two-time All-American (first-team in 2005, second-team in 2004) and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2005. The only other Frozen Four tie in Hockeytown is Minnesota freshman defenseman Ben Marshall, a 2010 seventh round draft pick. Current players over draft picks, obviously. Lean: BC.
Edmonton Oilers. No Frozen Four ties. Might as well root for the underdogs? Lean: Union or Ferris State.
Florida Panthers. The Panthers have former BC netminder Scott Clemmensen, who won a National Championship in his final college game in 2001. However, the Panthers also have two Gopher draft picks in Nick Bjustad (1st (19), 2010) and Kyle Rau (3rd (91), 2011). Lean: Minnesota.
Los Angeles Kings. BC's Rob Scuderi is the only Frozen Four tie-in for the Kings. Scuderi was a workhorse for the Eagles from 1997-2001 and holds the Boston College record for career games played (169). Was a member of the 2001 National Title team. Lean: BC.
Minnesota Wild. As one would expect being located in Minnesota, the Wild have four different ties to the Minnesota program. Jeff Taffe is currently in the minors, having won a National Title with the Gophers in 2002. In addition, sophomore forward Erik Haula is a 7th round, 182nd overall draft pick of the Wild in the 2009 Entry Draft. Minnesota also has two more ties to the Gophers program in the front office in Assistant Coach Darby Hendrickson (1991-93) and Amateur Scout Marty Nanne (1985-88). This one is easy. Lean: Minnesota.
Montreal Canadiens. The school's career leader in goals, BC's Brian Gionta is the only Frozen Four alum on the Canadiens current roster. Gionta was a three-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Award (1999, 2000, 2001) and arguably the greatest college hockey player to never win the award. The Habs do have a Minnesota tie in the front office -- Amateur Scout Pat Westrum (1967-70) -- but the lean here is definitely BC.
Nashville Predators. There are two Gophers in the Preds system -- Ryan Flynn (2006-10) is currently in the minors while sophomore forward Zach Budish was a second round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. The only BC tie down in Nashville is Director of Hockey Operations Brian Poile, a '97 alum. Lean: Minnesota.
New Jersey Devils. For a long time the Devils maintained no shortage of BC ties within the organization. Recently the number of BC ties has dwindled and today, the Devils have more ties to the Gophers than they do the Eagles. BC's Peter Harrold ('06) is the only Frozen Four alum on the active roster, while Stephen Gionta ('07) is in the minors. But Harrold and Gionta are now outnumbered by Minnesota's Jeff Frazee ('08) and Mike Hoeffel ('11) -- in the minors -- as well as junior defenseman Seth Helgeson, a 4th round, 2009 selection of the Devils. Lean: Gophers.
New York Islanders. Gophers outnumber Eagles 2:1 on the Islanders active roster. Marty Reasoner ('99) is repping the Heights while Kyle Okposo and Aaron Ness represent the Gophers. (Move to Brooklyn already!) Lean: Minnesota.
New York Rangers. If Rangers fans have finally gotten over thinking BC is trolling them by keeping Chris Kreider from signing by extending the Eagles season, the rooting interest for the Blueshirts is still Boston College. BC's Brian Boyle and Minnesota's Stu Bickel are both on the active roster, with first round draft pick and NHL-ready Kreider tipping the scales in favor of BC.
Ottawa Senators. Only one Frozen Four tie in Ottawa -- Minnesota's Jim O'Brien ('07). Easy lean. Minnesota.
Philadelphia Flyers. There are no former collegians anywhere to be found on the Flyers roster, in the minors or through the Entry Draft. There are, however, two Frozen Four ties in the front office. GM Paul Holmgren is a Minnesota alum (1974-75) while BC's Joe Mullen (1975-79) serves as Assistant Coach. Flip a coin.
Phoenix Coyotes. See: Edmonton Oilers, above.
Pittsburgh Penguins. A total of three Frozen Four programs are represented within the Pens organization. BC's Brooks Orpik (1998-2001) and Ben Lovejoy (2003-04 ... do we count Ben?) are the Eagles alum on the Pens active roster. Minnesota's Paul Martin (2000-03) and Ferris State's Chris Kunitz (1999-2003) are also on Pittsburgh's roster. But in the minors, the scale tips in favor of Boston College, with both Brian Gibbons ('11) and Carl Sneep ('10) representing the Eagles. Lean: BC.
San Jose Sharks. The Eagles are well represented in San Jose with three players in the Sharks organization. BC's Benn Ferriero is the only player on the current roster, while Ferriero's former teammate Nick Petrecki is in the minors. In addition, BC's sophomore blueliner Isaac MacLeod is a 5th round, 136th overall draft pick of the Sharks in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Minnesota's Tony Lucia ('10), head coach Don Lucia's son, is currently in the minors for San Jose. Lean: BC.
St. Louis Blues. Minnesota has two players in the Blues minors -- Jay Barriball (2008-11) and Cade Fairchild (2007-11) -- as well as Amateur Scout Mike Antonovich, a '71 alum. Lean: Minnesota.
Tampa Bay Lightning. The only former player on the host Lightning's roster is BC's Ryan Shannon (2003-07). Shannon was a second-team All-American and first-team All-Hockey East in both 2004 and 2005 for the Eagles. Ferris State's Pat Nagle ('11) is currently in the Lightning's minors. Lean: BC.
Toronto Maple Leafs. Minnesota's Phil Kessel, the 2006 WCHA Rookie of the Year, is the only Frozen Four tie on the Leafs' active roster. BC is repped by Assistant Coach Scott Gordon, an '86 alum. Lean: Minnesota.
Vancouver Canucks. Both BC's Andrew Alberts ('05) and Cory Schneider ('07) are on the Canucks current roster, but the Gophers edge the Eagles for total number of school ties. The Minnesota-Vancouver ties include Keith Ballard ('04), Jordan Schroeder ('10) and draft pick Taylor Matson. Lean: Minnesota.
Washington Capitals. There are four Gophers in the Caps system to just one Eagle. Minnesota: Ryan Potulny ('06) and Michael Carman ('10), both in the minors, and draft picks Travis Boyd and Nick Larson. The Eagles one tie to the Capitals is junior defenseman Patrick Wey, a 4th round selection in the 2009 draft. Lean: Minnesota.
Winnipeg Jets. Minnesota's Blake Wheeler is the only current Jet who played for a Frozen Four program. But it's Ferris State which edges out Minnesota for number of ties to Winnipeg. The Bulldogs' Zach Redmond ('11) is currently in the minors, while Scout John Perpich was the head coach at Ferris State from 1986-90. Lean ... they finally have an NHL team to call their own ... Ferris State.
Special thanks to College Hockey Inc.'s College Connections page.