The NCAA men’s hockey tournament opens Friday, and an unprecedented three Minnesota teams earned No. 1 regional seeds and will try to arrange a reunion in Buffalo, N.Y., for the Frozen Four on April 11 and 13. “If Minnesota takes over Buffalo, I wouldn’t say no,’’ said Parker Mackay, captain of defending national champion Minnesota Duluth. The Bulldogs are joined by St. Cloud State and Minnesota State Mankato. A look at the three:
ST. CLOUD STATE
Seed: No. 1 overall, No. 1 in West Regional, Fargo
Record: 30-5-3, NCHC regular-season champion, NCHC Frozen Faceoff runner-up.
Opponent: American International, 6:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN3 webcast).
Huskies at a glance: St. Cloud State has been the No. 1-ranked team for most of the season and has won 16 of its past 19 games. Leading the Huskies are a pair of Hobey Baker Award finalists, defenseman Jimmy Schuldt (10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points) and forward Patrick Newell (21-25-46). St. Cloud State is a balanced, high-scoring team, with six players with more than 30 points. Goalie David Hrenak is 23-4-2 with a 2.19 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
Yellow Jackets at a glance: American International (22-16-1) of Springfield, Mass., is making its first NCAA appearance. The Yellow Jackets won the Atlantic Hockey regular-season and tournament titles. They are led by forward Blake Christensen (16-30-46) and Tobias Fladeby (18-7-25). Goalie Zackarias Skog has a 2.75 GAA and .896 save percentage.
Seed: No. 2 overall, No. 1 in Midwest Regional, Allentown, Pa.
Record: 25-11-2, NCHC regular-season runner-up, NCHC Frozen Faceoff champion.
Opponent: Bowling Green, 3 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU).
Bulldogs at a glance: UMD is peaking at the right time, coming off a 3-2 double-overtime win over St. Cloud State in the NCHC final. The Bulldogs are 8-2 in NCAA tournament play since 2016, with last year’s championship and the 2017 runner-up finish to Denver. UMD sports a deep lineup, led by forward Justin Richards (10-18-28) and mobile defenseman Scott Perunovich (3-25-28). Richards is a son of former Wild coach Todd Richards. Minnesota Duluth might have the best tournament goalie in the country in Hunter Shepard (1.87 GAA, .918 save percentage). Shepard has allowed nine goals over his past eight postseason games.
Falcons at a glance: Bowling Green (25-10-5) lost 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota State Mankato in the WCHA tournament final, as the Mavericks scored two goals in the final 1:44 of regulation with their goalie pulled. The Falcons are in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990. Forward Max Johnson (19-23-42) has 10-power play goals. Bowling Green ranks second nationally in team defense, allowing 1.82 goals per game. Goalie Ryan Bednard has a 1.77 GAA and .926 save percentage.
MINNESOTA STATE MANKATO
Seed: No. 3 overall, No. 1 in East Regional, Providence, R.I.
Record: 32-7-2, WCHA regular-season and tournament champion.
Opponent: Providence, noon Saturday (ESPNews).
Mavericks at a glance: Minnesota State Mankato is making its seventh NCAA tournament appearance and is seeking its first victory. The Mavericks are 19-2-1 since Jan. 1, with both losses by a goal. German forwards Marc Michaelis (19-22-41) and Parker Tuomie (14-25-39) pace MSU in scoring. Freshman goalie Dryden McKay is 24-6-2 with a 1.65 GAA and .931 save percentage.
Friars at a glance: Providence (22-11-6) is a well-rested team, having lost to Boston College in a Hockey East quarterfinal series that ended March 17. Before that, the Friars finished the regular season on a 5-0-1 stretch. Josh Wilkins paces Providence in scoring (16-24-40), while goalie Hayden Hawkey has a 1.89 GAA, .919 save percentage and a nation’s-best seven shutouts.