March 27, 2016: Denver Pioneers vs Ferris State
March 27, 2016: Denver Pioneers vs Ferris State

Top four players to watch at the Frozen Four

Maybe the best stat heading into Thursday’s semifinals of the Frozen Four might be this: Quinnipiac, North Dakota, Denver and Boston College are a combined 95-0-9 when leading after two periods.

It’s possible — but not probable — any of the teams could have accomplished the feat without the following four players.

These are ASN’s Frozen Four Players to Watch this weekend because of the impact they’ve had on their teams all season. Some have earned high praise; some have worked in the shadows.

Our picks in alphabetical order:


North Dakota | Freshman | Forward
Boeser’s 54 points (26 goals, 28 assists) led all NCHC freshmen in scoring and tied him for fifth nationally with all skaters.

The only freshman to finish with more points was Michigan’s Kyle Connor, who led the country with 71. Boeser, however, ranked third in plus/minus rankings with 38 points. Only linemates Drake Caggiula (41) and Nick Schmaltz (39) had higher plus/minus ratios.

Boeser is a first round pick in 2015 draft of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and his four game-winning goals tie for sixth most ever by a UND freshman. His 26 goals and 54 points rank fifth for UND rookies all time, and his 28 assists rank seventh.

He’s been an iron man for the team, too, playing in all 40 games while teammates have missed a combined 88 games to force 30 different lineups to be used.

Mostly known for his soft hands and ability to score, Boeser’s 13 assists in the month of March led the nation and his 17 points tied with Connor for most in the country.

Watch him in action:

Watch @UNDmhockey Brock Boeser, one of @DakotaHI four players to watch in the #FrozenFour:

— American Sports Net (@LiveOnASN) April 4, 2016


Denver | Junior | Defenseman

A fifth-round pick in the 2013 pick by the Colorado Avalanche, Butcher is one of the top offensive defenseman in the nation. His 38 points (8 goals, 23 assist) are tied for third in the country and more than double his output from his freshman and sophomore seasons (12 goals, 22 assists, 34 points).

The Pioneers are plus-22 in scoring when Butcher is on the ice. Like Ethan Prow of St. Cloud State, Jake Walman of Providence or Zac Werenski of Michigan, Butcher can ignite an offense with his ability to carry the puck and make plays.

Denver ranks eighth in the nation in scoring (3.3 goals per game), but fourth (3.54) since Jan. 1 when they went on their hot streak have lost only twice in 22 games.

Defensively, the Pioneers are tied for 13th overall (2.30 goals per game) for the season, but sixth (1.88) since Jan. 1.

Butcher’s 22 blocks in the month of March were the most of any player, tied with Prow.

Watch him in action:

Watch @DU_Hockey Will Butcher, one of @DakotaHI four players to watch in the #FrozenFour:

— American Sports Net (@LiveOnASN) April 4, 2016


Boston College | Junior | Goalie
As teammate Alex Tuch says, “Thatcher is our best player and the backbone of our team.”

Demko is the lone Hobey Baker Award finalist in the Frozen Four, and he is also a a finalist for the Mike Richter Award for college’s top goalie.

The 36th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, it’s easy to forget he came to BC as a 17-year-old recruit. At 6-4, 210 pounds he plays up to his size. He leads the country with 10 shutouts, carries a .936 save percentage and a 1.85 goals-against average into the tournament.

Most impressive is he’s doing it after surgeries on both hips prior to the start of the season.

“He had both labrums repaired,” BC coach Jerry York said, adding that it’s freed him up. “He’s much more flexible. He’s handled that really adversity really well and is much more mature as a player.”

Watch him in action:

Watch @BCHockeyNews Thatcher Demko, one of @DakotaHI 4 players to watch in the #FrozenFour:

— American Sports Net (@LiveOnASN) April 4, 2016


Quinnipiac | Senior | Forward

If Sam Anas is the heart of the top-seeded Bobcats team, Travis St. Denis is the soul.

Second in team scoring with 22 goals and 24 assists (behind Anas’ 50 points), St. Denis is the one senior who saw extended playing as a freshman when the Bobcats made their only other Frozen Four appearance.

In 151 career games at Quinnipiac he’s tallied 55 goals and 57 assists with 18 career power play goals, six game-winners and two shorthanded goal.

St. Denis is a gritty 5-7 forward from Trail, British Columbia, who does a little bit — or a lot — of everything. He teamed with goalie Michael Garteig and North Dakota’s Troy Stecher on the 2011-12 Penticton Vees team that finished 54-4-0-2 and won the RBC Cup as Canada’s Junior A champion, so he knows what it takes to win.

“Travis may be our best overall player,” Garteig said of his roommate the pas four seasons. “He plays both ends of the ice hard and does little things that go unnoticed and don’t show up in the boxscore, but as a goalie I notice them. He’s huge for our team’s success.”

Quinnipiac ranks fourth in scoring in the nation in scoring with 421 goals. BC, the Bobcats' semifinal opponent, is third with 432. Since March 3, the Bobcats have scored 77 (fifth in the nation) while BC has scored 56 (12th).

Watch him in action:

Watch @QU_MIH Travis St. Denis, one of @DakotaHI four players to watch in the #FrozenFour:

— American Sports Net (@LiveOnASN) April 4, 2016

  • Do you have a different difference-maker in mind? Vote below and share your predictions on @LiveOnASN.

Which Frozen Four player do you think will have the biggest impact?
[poll id="68"]

Photo credits: Brock Boeser courtesy Tyler Ingham/UND Sports; Will Butcher courtesy DU Athletics; Thatcher Demko by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images; Travis St. Denis courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

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