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Odds, picks, predictions for Denver vs. Minnesota State in Frozen Four

Mavericks, Pioneers hit the frozen pond for a winner-take-all game to determine college hockey supremacy

Minnesota State Mavericks defenseman Benton Maass celebrates after scoring a goal against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the second period of the 2022 Frozen Four college ice hockey national semifinals at the TD Garden. Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota State will look to end a 42-year drought Saturday night when the Mavericks battle Denver in the championship game of the NCAA Frozen Four. The Mavericks advanced to the championship game after a decisive 5-1 win over Minnesota. Minnesota State won their last hockey championship, an NCAA Division II title, in 1980.

Denver is looking for its ninth NCAA hockey championship and first since 2017 when the Pioneers beat Minnesota-Duluth. The Pioneers advanced the championship game after an exciting 3-2 overtime win against Michigan in the other semifinal game. Carter Savoie had the game-winning goal at 14:53 of ovetime to send Denver into its 12th championship game.

The Pioneers will need another big effort to breakthrough the smothering Minnesota State defense. Even if they do, there will be Dryden McKay, the recently announced Hobey Baker Award winner, in goal as the last line of defense. McKay made 16 saves Thursday as the Mavericks’ structured, discipline play on both ends of the ice frustrated Minnesota.

The Mavericks were able to spread the wealth on offense with five different goal scorers. It’s the way that head coach Mike Hastings likes it — where the sum of the team is greater than its parts. Ten years ago Hastings took the job in Mankato convinced he could turn the glum Mavericks program around. His team is 60 minutes away from proving him right.

No. 1 Minnesota State (Mankato): 38-5-0

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll Ranking: 1

Tournament history

First round: Won over Harvard, 4-3
Quarterfinal: Won over Notre Dame, 1-0
Semifinal: Won over Minnesota, 5-1

Players to Watch

Goalie Dryden McKay: 38-4 record, .934 save percentage and 1.28 goals-against-average; 2022 Hobey Baker Award winner; All-CCHA First Team.

Forward Nathan Smith: 19 goals, 50 points; All-CCHA First Team; 2022 Olympian (Team USA); No. 91 pick in 2018 NHL Draft (Winnipeg Jets) has since been traded to the Arizona Coyotes.

Defenseman Jake Livingstone: nine goals, 30 points; All-CCHA First Team.

No. 1 Denver (Mankato): 30-9-1

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll Ranking: 3

Tournament history

First round: Won over UMass-Lowell, 3-2
Quarterfinal: Won over Minnesota-Duluth, 2-1
Semifinal: Won over Michigan, 3-2 (OT)

Players to Watch

Forward Bobby Brink: 14 goals, 56 points; Hobey Baker Award Finalist; All-NCHC First Team; No. 34 pick in 2019 NHL Draft (Philadelphia Flyers)

Forward Carter Mazur: 14 goals, 36 points; NCHC All-Rookie Team; No. 70 pick in 2021 NHL Draft (Detroit Red Wings)

Forward Carter Savoie: 22 goals, 44 points; All-NCHC Second Team; No. 100 pick in 2020 NHL Draft (Edmonton Oilers)

Goalie Matchup

Minnesota State: McKay (38-4, three shutouts, .934 save percentage and 1.28 goals-against-average)

Denver: Magnus Chrona (27-8-1, six shutouts, .909 save percentage, 2.16 goals-against average)

Denver vs. Minnesota State odds on DraftKings Sportsbook

Puckline: Denver -1.5 (+210), Minnesota State +1.5 (-280)
Over/under: Over 5.5 (+115), Under 5.5 (-145)
Moneyline: Denver -120, Minnesota State -110

The Pick

Moneyline: Minnesota State (-280)
Goal total: Under 5.5 (-145)

Prediction: Minnesota State 3, Denver 1