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Frozen Four boasts new teams and a new outlook as college hockey showcase hits Pittsburgh

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    The UMass-Lowell team gathers at center ice during NCAA college hockey practice at the Consol Energy Center, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Pittsburgh. UMass-Lowell is scheduled to play Yale in a semifinal at the Frozen Four on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (The Associated Press)

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    The UMass-Lowell team stretches at center ice during NCAA college hockey practice at the Consol Energy Center, Wednesday, April 10, 2013 in Pittsburgh. UMass-Lowell is scheduled to play Yale in a semifinal at the Frozen Four on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (The Associated Press)

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    A St. Cloud State player skates over a logo at center ice during an NCAA college hockey practice at the Consol Energy Center, Wednesday, April 10, 2013, in Pittsburgh. St. Cloud State is scheduled to play Quinnipiac Thursday in a Frozen Four semifinal. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) (The Associated Press)

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    Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm can't stop a shot byYale forward Cody Learned (12) with Yale forward Carson Cooper on defense during an NCAA college hockey practice in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Yale is scheduled to face UMass-Lowell in their Frozen Four game on Thursday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (The Associated Press)

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    Yale goalie Jeff Malcolm, left, blocks a shot by teammate Clinton Bourbonais during an NCAA college hockey practice in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (The Associated Press)

College hockey's showcase event will be staged in Pittsburgh on Thursday and Saturday in a week of firsts for the sport.

For starters, the Frozen Four has never been to Western Pennsylvania. And three of the four teams in this year's tournament at Consol Energy Center — Massachusetts Lowell, St. Cloud State and Quinnipiac — have never been to the national semifinals. To top it all off, Yale, the fourth member, is hardly a grizzled veteran. In fact, it's been 61 years since the Bulldogs have made it this far.

Indeed, power programs such as Boston College, Michigan and Minnesota aren't here, and a first-time champion will emerge. Just further proof of the growth of college hockey, where the so-called little guys can catch up with the heavyweights of the sport ... quickly.

The tournament will include three games in two sessions. Both sessions are sold out, and the final is on Saturday.