Athletics & Recreation

Frozen Four returns to Colorado after 32 years

The Pioneers still have a long road to travel in the world of college hockey, just to make it back home.

As the regular hockey season winds down, the playoffs loom and the college hockey world looks to Denver, host to this year’s NCAA championship series, the Frozen Four. The University of Denver is a co-host with the city of Denver and the Pepsi Center for the event April 8–12.

If the Pioneers can fight their way through conference and regional qualifiers, coach George Gwozdecky’s squad could find itself playing — not just playing host — at the big event.

Gwozdecky, who was on the panel that five years ago pitched the idea of returning the Frozen Four to Colorado for the first time in 32 years, said excitement is building and predicted the series will boost statewide youth hockey programs that have been developing rapidly.

He shared his enthusiasm at a news conference March 5 at the Pepsi Center, flanked by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Colorado College hockey coach Scott Owens and Air Force Academy coach Frank Serratore.

“It would be a dream come true for all of us and the event if all of us could be represented,” Gwozdecky told his fellow coaches. “It’s going to blow every other Frozen Four out of the water, I guarantee.”

In addition to the two semifinal games April 10 and the championship game April 12, DU and the city will host other celebrations. The University of Denver’s Magness Arena will be home to a youth hockey clinic for area players on April 12; registration is free and opens March 10 online.

The city will also host a pep rally, which includes a concert by local band Opie Gone Bad, at 1 p.m. April 11 at Skyline Park, off Arapahoe Street between 15th and 18th streets. Other events include practice sessions open to the public at the Pepsi Center April 9; and award presentations and a college hockey skills competition at the Pepsi Center April 11.

Jon Schmeider, executive director of the Metro Denver Sports Commission, said visitors are expected to spend up to $13 million over the weekend in Denver, benefiting local businesses and the economy.

Hickenlooper, who spoke of learning to play hockey on his aunt’s frozen swimming pool as a boy, expressed support for all Colorado collegiate hockey programs and thanked the University of Denver for its role as co-host.

He predicted the Frozen Four in Denver would be a big success and said it is just part of what’s shaping up to be a historic year in Colorado, as the Democratic National Convention heads into Denver in August.

“The Frozen Four is a warm up — or I guess you call it a chill down — for the minor convention we’re going to have here in August,” Hickenlooper joked.

The schedule for the entire Frozen Four weekend can also be found online. Tickets for the semifinal and championship games are sold out.

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