Men's hockey tourney field unveiled
Three of last year's Frozen Four participants are among the 16 teams in this year's NCAA men's hockey tournament.
Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State and UMass Lowell all earned berths to play for another shot at the national title in Philadelphia. The bracket was released Sunday afternoon on ESPNU.
Minnesota, Boston College, Union and Wisconsin -- in that order -- are the No. 1 seeds in this year's tournament.
The road to Philly will seemingly go through the Land of 10,000 Lakes, as the Golden Gophers will get to open the tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., against Robert Morris.
Union and Wisconsin earned two of the tournament's automatic bids by winning their conference tournaments. The other automatic qualifiers were UMass Lowell, Robert Morris, Minnesota State and Denver, with each winning its respective league tournament as well.
Minnesota led the 10-team pack notching at-large berths in this year's tournament, along with Boston College, Providence, Vermont, Notre Dame, St. Cloud State, Ferris State, Colgate, North Dakota and Quinnipiac, which was last year's runner-up.
Last year's national champion, Yale, did not make this year's tournament, finishing 17-11-5 overall and losing to Quinnipiac in the quarterfinals of the ECAC tournament.
Quinnipiac is a No. 2 seed in this year's tournament, along with UMass Lowell, Notre Dame and Ferris State.
Hockey East led all leagues with five tournament berths, followed by the ECAC and the NCHC with three apiece. The Big Ten and WCHA each received two bids, while Atlantic Hockey received one. Robert Morris is the only first-timer in this year's tournament, as the Colonials earned Atlantic Hockey's berth by topping Canisius in the league tournament final.
Boston College, the Northeast region's No. 1 seed, is looking to extend a peculiar streak in this year's tournament, as the Eagles have won each of the last three national titles in even years (2012, 2010, 2008) and have not missed a Frozen Four in an even year since 2002. They have location and talent working in their favor, as they open at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., and are led by Hobey Baker Award favorite Johnny Gaudreau, who leads the nation in both points per game and goals per game.
East regional top seed Union, which is making its fourth straight tournament appearance, is led by Flyers draft pick Shayne Gostisbehere, who could be playing in his potential future home rink if his team makes it to the Frozen Four.
Wisconsin, the Midwest region's top seed, topped Ohio State in an overtime thriller Saturday in the inaugural Big Ten tournament.
Regional play begins Friday in Cincinnati (Midwest) and Bridgeport, Conn., (East) and on Saturday in St. Paul, Minn., (West) and Worcester, Mass., (Northeast). The Frozen Four will take place April 10 and 12 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
The East and Northeast Region winners will meet in one of the Frozen Four matchups, with the West and Midwest winners meeting in the other.