The opening segment of the road to the 2013 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Frozen Four was revealed tonight on ESPNU. The regionals will be contested this upcoming weekend, March 29-31, in four different cities and venues.
The following are the brackets, with numbers indicating overall seeds, and team records in parentheses (stats from collegehockeynews.com and uscho.com).
EAST REGIONAL (Providence, R.I.; Dunkin Donuts Center)
Saturday, 5:30 and 9 p.m. (ET), Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
1. Quinnipiac (27-7-5) vs. 16. Canisius (19-18-5)
6. Boston College (22-11-4) vs. 12. Union (21-12-5)
Quinnipiac held the No. 1 spot in the nation for most of the second half of the season, and at one point went 21 games without a loss. The Bobcats, who last made the NCAAs in 2002, were eliminated in this year's ECAC semifinals after winning the league's regular-season title. Goaltender Eric Hartzell is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the nation's top player, and has gone 26-5-5 with a .935 save percentage. Quinnipiac also allows just 1.62 goals per game, lowest in Division I.
Canisius advanced to its first-ever NCAA field by besting Mercyhurst in the Atlantic Hockey title game. Kyle Gibbons leads the Golden Griffins in scoring (20 goals, 22 assists), while Canisius is also one of the top penalty-killing teams in the nation with a 90.5 percent success rate.
Boston College won last year's national championship in Tampa—its third in five years—but did not win either the Hockey East regular-season or tournament titles this season for the first time since 2009. The Eagles are led in scoring by Johnny Gaudreau (20g, 30a), a Hobey Baker finalist. Coach Jerry York may be back on the BC bench this weekend after dealing with a detached retina once more.
Union made its Frozen Four debut last year and has won the last two Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament championships. Goaltender Troy Grosenick is back after last year's national semifinal run, and he went 16-9-5 this season with a 2.06 goals-against average in 32 games.
WEST REGIONAL (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Van Andel Arena)
Friday, 2 and 5:30 p.m. (ET), Saturday, 4 p.m.
2. Minnesota (26-8-5) vs. 15. Yale (18-12-3)
8. North Dakota (21-12-7) vs. 10. Niagara (23-9-5)
Minnesota, which last won NCAA titles in 2002 and 2003, was ranked No. 1 in the nation for a good portion of the 2012-13 season, and shared the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season crown with St. Cloud. Key players for the Golden Gophers, who average a nation-best 3.5 goals per game and have nearly a 25 percent success rate on the nation's top power play, include forward Erik Haula (16g, 33a) and goalie Adam Wilcox (25-7-5, 1.85).
Yale made the NCAA tournament after Michigan lost in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association title game to Notre Dame, as the Wolverines would have grabbed an automatic bid otherwise. The Bulldogs were shut out in both games of the ECAC Championships last weekend in Atlantic City , but are led in scoring by New Jersey native and Pittsburgh Penguins draft choice Kenny Agostino (15g, 22a).
North Dakota fell short in its bid for a fourth-straight WCHA playoff trophy this spring, and last finished first in the nation in 2000. Hobey Baker finalists and NHL draft choices Corban Knight (Florida/15g, 33a) and Danny Kristo (Montreal/24g, 26a) power the UND offense. North Dakota also averages 3.30 goals per game, good for fifth in Division I.
Niagara, which last made the NCAAs in 2008, won this year's Atlantic Hockey regular-season crown, but fell in the league semifinals to Canisius. Purple Eagles goaltender Carsen Chubak (25-5-5, 1.81, .941) is a Hobey Baker finalist.
NORTHEAST REGIONAL (Manchester, N.H.; Verizon Wireless Center)
Friday, 4:30 and 8 p.m. (ET), Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
3. UMass Lowell (26-10-2) vs. 14. Wisconsin (22-12-7)
7. New Hampshire (19-11-7) vs. 9. Denver (20-13-5)
UMass Lowell won its first-ever Hockey East Association regular-season and playoff titles this season, and came one win short of last year's NCAA Frozen Four while making its first national appearance since 1996. The River Hawks are powered offensively by forwards Joseph Pendez (13g, 23a) and Scott Wilson (15g, 19a), and have won five straight games and 12 of their last 13 contests. Connor Hellebuyck has gone 18-2-0 in net, including five shutouts, and is first in the nation in save percent (.949) and second with a 1.39 GAA.
Wisconsin, which won its last NCAA title in 2006, claimed its first WCHA Broadmoor Trophy since 1983 when it bested Colorado College, 3-2, on Saturday night in Minnesota. The Badgers are 10-2-0 in their last 12 games and have won six straight outings. Michael Mersch (23 g, 13a) is Wisco's top threat, while the netminding chores are handled by Joel Rumpel (16-8-4, 1.85, .933).
New Hampshire has hosted a regional four times in the past, but the Wildcats haven't made a Frozen Four since 2003 when they lost to Minnesota in the title game. UNH, which is led in scoring by Kevin Goumas (10g, 32a), went just 2-3-2 in March and missed out on a chance at the Hockey East regular-season title. The Wildcats are ninth in the country in allowing just 2.32 goals per game, and goaltender Casey DeSmith has gone 18-9-7 with five shutouts.
Denver, which last won NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005, has now qualified for six straight national tournaments, but didn't get to the WCHA Final Five this year after being swept by Colorado College. Nick Shore (14g, 19a) is the Pioneers' top point-producer, while DU is 10th nationally on the power play (21.9 percent).
MIDWEST REGIONAL (Toledo, Ohio; Huntington Center)
Saturday, 1:30 and 5 p.m. (ET), Sunday, 4 p.m.
4. Notre Dame (25-12-3) vs. 13. St. Cloud State (23-15-1)
5. Miami (24-11-5) vs. 11. Minnesota State (24-13-3)
Notre Dame outlasted both Ohio State and Michigan to win the final CCHA playoff title this weekend, as the league is disbanding after this season. The Fighting Irish return to nationals after missing the tournament last year, and after advancing to the final in 2008. Steven Summerhays is 21-11-2 in goal (1.94, .922) for Notre Dame, while Anders Lee (20g, 18a) provides scoring punch.
St. Cloud shared the WCHA regular-season title with Minnesota this year. The Huskies have one of the top scorers in the nation in Hobey Baker Finalist Drew LeBlanc (13g, 37a), and they average 3.36 goals per game as a team. Ryan Faragher has gone 22-13-1 (2.29, .914) in goal.
Miami was national runner-up in 2009, and has now qualified for eight consecutive NCAA tournaments, although it hasn't been to a Frozen Four since Detroit in 2010. Hobey Baker Finalist Austin Czarnik (14g, 22a) is one of the Red Hawks' top scorers this season, while Miami also allows just 1.73 goals per outing. Ryan McKay has gone 12-6-2 in goal as a freshman, and is tops in the nation with a 1.37 GAA, and second with a .948 save percent
Minnesota State is returning to the Big Dance for the first time since 2003. Matt Leitner (17g, 30a) is atop the Maverick scoring scroll, while Stephon Williams has gone 21-11-2 in net. MSU went just 4-4 in its last eight contests, but is in the national top 10 in both goals for (3.17) and against (2.38) per game.
Who will win the 2013 NCAA D-I men's hockey title?
Conspicuously absent for the first time since 1990 is Michigan, which had to beat Notre Dame today in the last-ever CCHA Championship to gain the league's autobid, but fell by a 3-1 score. The Wolverines' loss opened the door for Yale to garner the last at-large bid to this year's national tournament.
Also missing is Boston University, which needed to win the Hockey East autobid to qualify for the NCAAs this year. BU's loss on Saturday to Mass Lowell also marked the end of head coach Jack Parker's 40-year, 897-win tenure behind the Terrier bench.
The NCAA regional winners (East vs. Midwest, West vs. Northeast) will meet on Friday, April 11, at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, the first time the Frozen Four will be played in the Steel City. The championship game will be played two days later between the semifinal victors.
Boston College won last year’s NCAA title, and also finished first in both 2010 and 2012. Boston University claimed national supremacy in 2009, while Minnesota-Duluth turned the trick in 2011. Michigan State won the CCHA's last national title in 2007.