St. Cloud State has a date in Fargo.
Minnesota Duluth has an appointment in Allentown, Pa.
And Minnesota State has a rendezvous in Providence, R.I.
Together, if the three top NCAA men’s hockey tournament seeds take care of business and win two games each, they’ll be shuffling off to Buffalo for the Frozen Four.
The NCAA on Sunday announced the tournament field, and for the first time since the formation of a 16-team field in 2003, Minnesota — or any state for that matter — has three No. 1 seeds.
St. Cloud State (30-5-3), No. 1 overall, opens NCAA play on Friday in the West Regional in Fargo. Minnesota Duluth, No. 2 overall, is the top seed in the Midwest Regional in Allentown, Pa., beginning Saturday. Minnesota State (32-7-2), No. 3 overall, is the top seed in the East Regional in Providence and also will open on Saturday.
“That’s pretty cool the way it turned out,’’ UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. “Hopefully, we can all win and advance. That would be even better.’’
St. Cloud State is the No. 1 overall seed for the second consecutive year and will face No. 16 seed American International (22-16-1), the Atlantic Hockey tournament champion, in the first round Friday. The other West semifinal at Scheels Arena in Fargo is No. 2 Denver vs. No. 3 Ohio State.
The Huskies, who have been ranked No. 1 for most of the season, won the NCHC regular-season title before falling 3-2 in double overtime to Minnesota Duluth in Saturday’s Frozen Faceoff final.
“We’re excited,’’ St. Cloud State first-year coach Brett Larson said. “We thought last night’s game was one of the best games we’ve been involved in this year. Obviously, the result didn’t go our way, but if we can play like that in the playoffs, I’ll take our chances.’’
St. Cloud State will try to avoid an upset by an Atlantic Hockey team. Last year, the Huskies fell 4-1 to Air Force in the West semifinals in Sioux Falls.
“They won their regular season and their playoffs, so it’s not like they just got hot here at the end,’’ Larson said of American International. “They’re a team that plays with patience and skill and they get up and down the sheet, so we know we’re in for a challenge.’’
Minnesota Duluth will begin the defense of its national championship by facing Bowling Green (25-10-5) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Allentown. The other Midwest semifinal is No. 2 seed Quinnipiac vs. No. 3 Arizona State at 6:30 p.m.
“They’ve had a great year,’’ Sandelin said of Bowling Green. “Any time you’re playing this time of year, you’re playing good teams.’’
Minnesota State, which beat Bowling Green 3-2 in overtime for the WCHA tournament title, will open East play against Providence (22-11-6) at noon Saturday in Providence and is seeking its first victory in seven appearances in the NCAA tournament as a Division I team. The other East semifinal will pit No. 2 Northeastern vs. No. 3 Cornell at 6:30 p.m.
“Everybody who’s in the tournament has earned it,’’ Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “The only way you move on is playing very good hockey against very good opponents. Just like last night, we’re going to have a very good opponent come Saturday.’’
Massachusetts (28-9) is the fourth No. 1 seed and will play in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. The Minutemen face Harvard at 2 p.m. Friday, with No. 2 Clarkson and No. 3 Notre Dame meeting in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
The Frozen Four will be April 11 and 13 at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo, N.Y.