Photo: David Sherman Photography
Coming into today’s Frozen Four rivalry game between the University of Denver and the University of North Dakota, much of the talk has been about the matchup of two of the top lines in all of college hockey. It’s North Dakota’s CBS Line (Drake Caggiula, Brock Boeser, Nick Schmaltz) vs. Denver’s Pacific Rim Line (Trevor Moore, Dylan Gambrell, Danton Heinen).
North Dakota’s top line has combined for 144 points this year. Denver’s top line has combined for 139 points this year. These are the top two lines of the four remaining teams and it’s not close. All of the national
obsession with coverage of these two lines is well-deserved and understandable.
Unfortunately, the way the sport of hockey works, more often than not, teams’ top lines rarely match up against each other on the ice. The home team always has the final line change, which means they get to match lines how they want to. Tonight, because Denver is the lowest remaining seed thus the de facto away team, head coach Jim Montgomery doesn’t have the luxury of matching his own lines against North Dakota’s.
Throughout all five of the matchups between the Pioneers and Fighting Hawks so far, the two top lines have rarely been on the ice at the same time. In Grand Forks in December, the Pacific Rim Line was still in its pre-birth stage while the CBS Line was already dominating UND’s opposition. In Denver in February, both lines combined for 17 points over the course of the two-game series, but it was rare to see them on the ice together.
With the biggest matchup of the season between the two teams on tap this evening, much of the college hockey world is clamoring to see these lines paired against each other. Include Jim Montgomery in that contingent.
“I’ve already kind of publicly tried to challenge Coach [Brad] Berry to let’s go head to head,” Montgomery said. ” It would be a hell of a show, but he wants to go with his defensive line against [the Pacific Rim line]. Maybe he’ll bite halfway through the game.”
Understandably, in the Frozen Four, Berry wants to give his team its best chance to win and he feels that matching one of his more defensive lines against the Pacific Rim Line achieves that. Montgomery feels the same, but it’s clear that he feels that matching the Pacific Rim Line against the CBS Line would give his team its best chance to win.
The goal this weekend for these teams, of course, isn’t to give college hockey fans what it wants to see. The goal is to win a championship. Regardless of whether these two lines see the ice together tonight, there will be good hockey at Amalie Arena.
If fans get treated to seeing the CBS Line and the Pacific Rim Line on the ice together, it will only be an added bonus. For now, the goal is to win two hockey games and bring home some hardware.