Last month in Philadelphia, Union became the 20th program to win an NCAA Division I men’s college hockey championship. Since 1948, teams have competed for the coveted trophy, and the Dutchmen will raise a banner celebrating this past season that will hang forever.
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at all twenty teams who have made it to the mountaintop. Today, we’re discussing the top five programs of all time. Follow the links to have a look at #20 through #16, #15 through #11, and #10 through #6.
#5 Boston University Terriers
National Championships: 5 (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009)
Frozen Four Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2009)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 32 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 12 (most recent, 2009)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 14 (most recent, 2009)
Hobey Baker Award Winners: LW Chris Drury (1998), D Matt Gilroy (2009)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Cleon Daskalakis (1984), John Cullen (1987), Shawn McEachern (1991), David Sacco (1993), Mike Grier (1995), Jay Pandolfo (1996), Chris Drury (1996, 1997), Michel Larocque (1999), John Curry (2007), Colin Wilson (2009)
Other notable former players: Tony Amonte, Adrian Aucoin, Shawn Bates, Nick Bonino, Chris Borque, Joe DiPenta, Rick DiPietro, Paul Fenton, Mark Fidler, Mike Fidler, Scott Lachance, Dan LaCouture, Rick Meagher, Freddy Meyer, Jack O’Callahan, Tom Poti, Joe Sacco, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dave Silk, Mike Sullivan, Keith Tkachuk, Ryan Whitney, Brandon Yip, Scott Young
Boston University didn’t join the ECAC until the 1961-62 season but still managed to appear in four Frozen Fours as an independent in the 1950s. Jack Parker had a remarkable nine-season stretch with the Terriers from 1989 until 1998, winning 254 games (against just 82 losses), five Hockey East regular season chmapionships, and four Hockey East playoff titles. BU also advanced to nine straight NCAA tournaments over that span, appearing in the Frozen Four seven times with a national title (1995) and three runner-up finishes. The Terriers have only appeared in one Frozen Four in their past nine NCAA tourneys, but they made the most of their visit to Washington, D.C. with a pair of one-goal victories to earn the program’s fifth national title.
#4 Boston College Eagles
National Championships: 5 (1949, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012)
Frozen Four Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2012)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 33 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 13 (most recent, 2012)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 14 (most recent, 2014)
Hobey Baker Award Winners: C David Emma (1991), D Mike Mottau (2000), LW Johnny Gaudreau (2014)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Scott Harlow (1986), Brian Leetch (1987), Craig Janney (1987), Tim Sweeney (1989), Greg Brown (1989, 1990), David Emma (1990), Brian Gionta (1999, 2000, 2001), Jeff Farkas (2000), Ben Eaves (2003), Tony Voce (2004), Patrick Eaves (2005), Chris Collins (2006), Nathan Gerbe (2008), Cam Atkinson (2011), Brian Dumoulin (2012), Johnny Gaudreau (2013), Kevin Hayes (2014)
Other notable former players: Andrew Alberts, Harvey Bennett, Brian Boyle, Doug Brown, Scott Clemmensen, Steven Gionta, Bill Guerin, Peter Harrold, Steve Heinze, Chuck Kobasew, Krys Kolanos, Chris Kreider, Ben Lovejoy, Marty McInnis, Ian Moran, Joe Mullen, Brooks Orpik, Marty Reasoner, Cory Schneider, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Shannon, Tim Sheehy, Ben Smith, Kevin Stevens, Bob Sweeney
The Jerry York era has been astounding at Boston College. In twenty seasons behind the bench, York has collected seven regular season titles, nine league playoff titles, fifteen NCAA tournament appearances, ten Frozen Four bids, and four national championships. But the flip side of that equation is that in the 47 seasons that BC competed for an NCAA title before York’s arrival in Chestnut Hill, the Eagles only played in the national title game three times and won exactly one championship (1949). So the question is this: are we talking about the storied history of Boston College, or the storied history of Jerry York?
#3 Minnesota Golden Gophers
National Championships: 5 (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003)
Frozen Four Appearances: 21 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 35 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 6 (most recent, 2007)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 15 (most recent, 2014)
Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Neal Broten (1981), G Robb Stauber (1988), C Brian Bonin (1996), D Jordan Leopold (2002)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Steve Ulseth (1981), Bryan Erickson (1982, 1983), Scott Bjugstad (1983), Pat Micheletti (1985), Robb Stauber (1989), Larry Olimb (1992), Brian Bonin (1995), Mike Crowley (1996, 1997), Jordan Leopold (2001), Keith Ballard (2004), Ryan Potulny (2006), Adam Wilcox (2014)
Other notable former players: Russ Anderson, Mike Antonovich, Nick Bjugstad, Aaron Broten, Paul Broten, Tom Chorske, Ben Clymer, Alex Goligoski, Tom Gorence, Darby Hendrickson, Paul Holmgren, Craig Johnson, Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Trent Klatt, Reed Larson, John Mariucci, Paul Martin, John Mayasich, Chris McAlpine, Jack McCartan, Rob McClanahan, Joe Micheletti, Corey Millen, Warren Miller, Kyle Okposo, Tom Pederson, Lance Pitlick, Mike Polich, Mike Ramsey, Erik Rasmussen, Dave Snuggerud, Thomas Vanek, Blake Wheeler, Tom Younghands, Doug Zmolek
With this most recent season in the books, Minnesota is now tied with Michigan for the most NCAA tournament appearances (35), but they’ve also missed the tourney six times in the past 17 seasons. The past three seasons have put the Gopher faithful in a much better mood, however, with three straight league titles, two Frozen Four appearances, and a combined record of 82-30-12 (.710). In the six-team Big Ten, Minnesota will be in a position to add quite a bit of new hardware to the trophy case every season.
#2 University of North Dakota
National Championships: 7 (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000)
Frozen Four Appearances: 20 (most recent, 2014)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 29 (most recent, 2014)
Conference Playoff Titles: 7 (most recent, 2012)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 15 (most recent, 2011)
Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Tony Hrkac (1987), LW Ryan Duncan (2007)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: James Patrick (1983), Jon Casey (1984), Scott Sandelin (1986), Steve Johnson (1988), Russ Parent (1990), Greg Johnson (1991, 1992, 1993), Jason Blake (1997), Curtis Murphy (1998), Jason Blake (1999), Jeff Panzer (2000, 2001), Zach Parise (2003, 2004), Brandon Bochenski (2004), T.J. Oshie (2008), Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (2008), Matt Frattin (2011), Corban Knight (2013), Danny Kristo (2013)
Other notable former players: Earl Anderson, Murray Baron, Ed Belfour, Perry Berezan, Brad Berry, Brad Bombardir, Dave Christian, Mike Commodore, Matt Greene, David Hale, Alan Hangsleben, Dennis Hextall, Dave Hudson, Ryan Johnson, Bob Joyce, Brian Lee, Craig Ludwig, Brad Malone, John Marks, Troy Murray, Brock Nelson, Chris Porter, Russ Romaniuk, Gord Sherven, Doug Smail, Geoff Smith, Drew Stafford, Phil Sykes, Mark Taylor, Dave Tippett, Jonathan Toews, Gary Valk, Dixon Ward, Landon Wilson, Rick Wilson, Travis Zajac, Rick Zombo
Since 1957, North Dakota has just one stretch of “lean years”, otherwise known in Grand Forks as the Rube Bjorkman era. Bjorkman coached the Fighting Sioux from 1968-1978, and his teams collected exactly zero trophies. Otherwise, UND has been relevant and competitive throughout the history of the program, with multiple Frozen Four appearances in every decade. The longest title drought in program history is just seventeen seasons, the best such mark among the top five schools. The future is bright as well, with a current streak of twelve consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (the longest active streak in the country) and nine Frozen Four bids in the past eighteen years.
#1 Michigan Wolverines
National Championships: 9 (1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, 1998)
Frozen Four Appearances: 24 (most recent, 2011)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 35 (most recent, 2012)
Conference Playoff Titles: 9 (most recent, 2010)
Regular Season Conference Titles: 12 (most recent, 2011)
Michigan collected ten Frozen Four appearances and six national titles in the first ten seasons of the NCAA tournament. The stretch from 1957-1990 was positively horrid for the Wolverines, with just one WCHA regular season title and three appearances in the national tournament in a span of 33 years. Head coach Red Berenson brought the Maize and Blue back to prominence with 22 consecutive NCAA bids, twelve Frozen Four appearances, and two more national titles (1996, 1998). The bloom has come off the rose somewhat, however, as the Wolverines have not made the NCAAs since 2012 and have just two Frozen Four appearances in the past eleven seasons. Berenson’s teams are just 36-32-7 (.527) over the past two years, and the winds of change have started to blow in Ann Arbor.
Hobey Baker Award Winners: C Brendan Morrison (1997), C Kevin Porter (2008)
Hobey Baker Award Finalists: Denny Felsner (1991, 1992), Brian Wiseman (1994), Steve Shields (1994), David Oliver (1994), Brendan Morrison (1995, 1996), John Madden (1997), Bill Muckalt (1998), Mike Comrie (2000), Andy Hilbert (2001), T.J. Hensick (2005, 2007), Louie Caporusso (2009), Shawn Hunwick (2012)
Other notable former players: Gordon “Red” Berenson, Mike Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Andrew Cogliano, Greg Fox, David Harlock, Pat Hughes, Matt Hunwick, Jack Johnson, Mike Knuble, Mike Komisarek, Josh Langfeld, Bill MacFarland, Al Montoya, David Moss, Jeff Norton, Eric Nystrom, Jed Ortmeyer, Max Pacioretty, Rob Palmer, Steve Richmond, Dave Richter, Blake Sloan, Chris Tamer, Marty Turco, Mike Van Ryn, Aaron Ward
The Final Analysis:
It is very apparent to me that the top four teams in the rankings could really be placed in any order, and whichever program captures the next national title will vault to the top of the charts. It is perhaps most remarkable that the University of North Dakota is one of the hockey giants, considering that the other four schools in this installment all hail from the three hockey hotbeds in the United States (Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota).
So now it’s your turn. Do you agree or disagree? Who would you have as your number one program of all time? And check back later this month as we take a look at the five teams most likely to break through and win their first national title.
A special thank you goes out to SiouxSports.com user “franchise” for all of the information about Hobey Baker finalists for this article.
As always, thank you for reading. I encourage you to leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter (@DBergerHockey) for more information and analysis.