When the 2021 NCAA Hockey Tournament opens Friday, nearly one-third of the 16-team field will hail from the “State of Hockey.”
For the first time ever, all five Division I men’s ice hockey teams based in Minnesota will play in the NCAA tournament during the same year. The entire field was announced Sunday evening, and Minnesota, Minnesota State-Mankato, Minnesota-Duluth, St. Cloud State and Bemidji State all are included.
The University of Minnesota finished second in the Big Ten regular season to Wisconsin, then beat the Badgers last week in the conference tournament final. Back in the tournament for the first time in four years as the top seed in the West Regional in Loveland, Colo., the Gophers open against Nebraska-Omaha.
St. Cloud State, second place to North Dakota in both the NCHC regular season and tournament, is headed east to Albany, N.Y., as the No. 2 seed. The Huskies have now made the NCAA tournament seven of the last eight occurrences, yet seek their first tournament win since 2015. They face Boston University.
Minnesota State, which won the WCHA regular-season title but fell in the conference tournament semifinals, also travels to Colorado as No. 2 seed. They’ll face Quinnipiac, as the Mavericks — who’ve made the tournament six times since 2013 — continue to seek their first-ever NCAA tournament victory.
Two-time defending national champion, Minnesota-Duluth, a third place NCHC team, is headed to Fargo as the No. 3 seed. The Bulldogs play Michigan. North Dakota, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, headlines that Midwest Regional.
Bemidji State, which took fourth in the WCHA regular season and lost in the conference tournament semifinals, is headed to the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn. The Beavers, making their first NCAA tourney appearance since 2010, take on the region’s No. 1 seed, Wisconsin.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.