Behind The Scenes

At the Frozen Four, both favorites and ‘Cinderfellas’ lace up skates

It seems Cinderella missed the Ball in NCAA Division I championship basketball games.

Both men’s [Kentucky and Kansas] and women’s [Baylor and Notre Dame] titles were decided by powerhouse showdowns.

Not that we are complaining, but there is something magical about the NCAA tournaments that allows fans to pull for the unexpected underdog and lets ESPN shine a spotlight on a new fan base.

Well have no fear, men’s college hockey is here: Cinderella’s — or in this case, Cinderfella‘s — horse drawn carriage will arrive in Tampa, Fla. a few days later than normal, but arrive it will.

The 2012 Frozen Four features not one, but two, first-appearance teams in the semifinals, both wishing to make it past midnight.

On Thursday, April 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET first-time NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship semifinalists Union and Ferris State will attempt to advance to a first national championship game.

Frozen Four veterans Boston College and Minnesota will face-off in the semis on Thursday as well, at 8 p.m., for a chance to continue a tradition of hockey excellence. Winning teams will collide after a day of rest on Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 for the final game of the season.

Only one team will walk away wearing the crown, though many — like the NHL stars featured recalling Frozen Four memories in the video above — will have the experience of their lifetimes.

If that’s not enough reason to tune-in, here are a few more:

• Once again the legendary hockey voice of Gary Thorne will carry every glass-crushing moment over the airwaves, alongside the expert analysis of Barry Melrose.

• ESPN will debut a first in the television production of hockey, using the Advanced Replay Tool (ART) developed by ESPN Emerging Technology. The resource allows commentators and producers the ability to instantaneously embed graphics within a replay.

• Melrose’s take on the weekend for NHL fans: “I really enjoy the Frozen Four. It’s always a reminder that the NHL playoffs just around the corner.” He’ll be keeping his eyes on Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota) and Chris Kreider (Boston College) as two players who have bright futures in the NHL.

In the video above, several current NHL stars reflect upon their Frozen Four experiences.

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