BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – March 18, 2018 – When the puck drops next weekend on the 2018 Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) will be represented by its regular season champion (Minnesota State) and its newly-crowned playoff champ (Michigan Tech).
Minnesota State, which leads the country with 29 wins and is second with a .756 winning percentage (29-9-1), is the second seed of the West Regional and will face third-seeded Minnesota Duluth (21-16-3) Friday evening at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Mavericks and Bulldogs, who each won a regular season meeting on home ice, are scheduled to get underway at 6:30 p.m. CT, with coverage provided by ESPN3/WatchESPN. Top-seeded St. Cloud State (25-8-6) and No. 4 seed Air Force (22-14-15) are the West's other two teams.
After going 5-1 on the road to win the 2018 WCHA Postseason Tournament, Michigan Tech (22-16-5) will be the No. 4 seed in the East Regional and will take on top-seeded Notre Dame (25-9-2) at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. The Huskies and Fighting Irish (who won the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships) will get underway Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2. They are joined in Connecticut by No. 2 seed Providence (23-11-4) and No. 3 Clarkson (23-10-6).
"On behalf of the entire WCHA, we are proud of Minnesota State and Michigan Tech and applaud them for advancing to the 2018 NCAA tournament," said WCHA President and Men's League Commissioner Bill Robertson. "The Mavericks have had one of the best seasons in the country, while the Huskies' recent run has been incredibly impressive. Our congratulations to Mike Hastings and Joe Shawhan, and the student-athletes, administrators and fan bases of both programs. We are excited to watch them carry the WCHA banner forward!"
Minnesota State is making its fifth NCAA tournament appearance in program history, including its fourth in six seasons under head coach Mike Hastings. In addition to leading the country with 29 wins, the Mavericks enter the tournament tops nationally in: Goals (151), goals per game (3.87), goal margin (+70), goal margin per game (+1.79), shots on goal allowed per game (22.00), shots on goal margin (+510) and shots on goal margin per game (+13.08). The MacNaughton Cup champion Mavericks dropped a 3-1 decision at Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 25, before blanking the Bulldogs 1-0 in Mankato on Jan. 23.
After going 24 years between NCAA tournament berths (1981-2015), Michigan Tech is making its second-straight appearance and third in the last four years. First-year head coach Joe Shawhan, who was a Tech assistant for the 2015 and 2017 tourney teams, guided the Huskies on an improbable run from WCHA tournament fifth seed to repeat champions after series wins at Bemidji State and Minnesota State, capped by a single-game championship victory at Northern Michigan. The Huskies are 8-3-0 in their last 11 games overall.
The winners of the West, Midwest, Northeast and East Regionals will advance to the 2018 Frozen Four, held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. on April 5 and 7.
2018 NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Tournament
West Regional, Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Sioux Falls, S.D. (March 23-24)
#1 St. Cloud State vs. #4 Air Force, 3 p.m. CT (ESPNU/WatchESPN)
#2 Minnesota State vs. #3 Minnesota Duluth, 6:30 p.m. CT (ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Championship: Saturday, March 24, 8 p.m. CT (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
Midwest Regional, PPL Center, Allentown, Pa. (March 24-25)
#1 Ohio State vs. #4 Princeton, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU/WatchESPN)
#2 Denver vs. #3 Penn State, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Championship: Sunday, March 25, 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU/WatchESPN)
Northeast Regional, DCU Center, Worcester, Mass. (March 24-25)
#1 Cornell vs. #4 Boston University, 1 p.m. ET (ESPNNews/WatchESPN)
#2 Michigan vs. #3 Northeastern, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN3/WatchESPN)
Championship: Sunday, March 25, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
East Regional, Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn. (March 23-24)
#1 Notre Dame vs. #4 Michigan Tech, 3 p.m. ET (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
#2 Providence vs. #3 Clarkson, 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU/WatchESPN)
Championship: Saturday, March 24, 6 p.m. ET (ESPNU/WatchESPN)
An interactive bracket of the 2018 NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Championship is available here: ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/icehockey-men/d1.