(ISN) – MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) – For the fourth-straight season and the 36th time in program history, the Gopher Hockey program will compete in the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, taking on Minnesota Duluth in the opening round of the Northeast Regional.
The two in-state rivals will face off on Friday, March 27 at 4:30 p.m. CT at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. Boston University and Yale will faceoff on the other end of the regional bracket at 1 p.m. on Friday with the Northeast Regional final on Saturday, March 28 at 4:30 p.m. The two regional semifinals will be televised on ESPNU with the championship game on ESPN2 (all three games will be streamed on Watch ESPN). All Gopher games will be broadcast on the radio on 1500 ESPN and the Gopher Radio Network.
“We’re excited to once again be competing for a national championship, and I’m proud of the way our guys stepped up to earn a bid this year,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. “We certainly have a great history and rivalry with Minnesota Duluth, and I’m sure we’ll see some exciting hockey this weekend.”
The Maroon & Gold enter the NCAA tournament as Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions with a 22-15-0 overall record. The Gophers topped Michigan 4-2 on Saturday to earn the conference’s automatic bid and give Minnesota its first conference playoff title since winning the WCHA’s Broadmoor Trophy in 2007 (also the last time Minnesota swept the conference regular-season and playoff titles). The Gophers captured this year’s Big Ten regular-season title with a 12-5-3-0 conference record for the team’s second-straight Big Ten title and fourth-straight overall – a program record for the modern era.
“We’re thrilled to be back in the NCAA tournament and to be taking on a team we are really familiar with in UMD,” senior captain Kyle Rau said. “This is a really competitive regional, and we’re looking forward to hitting the ice this weekend.”
Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth have seen each other four times this season in nonconference action with Minnesota holding a 134-78-17 all-time record against the NCHC competitor. The Gophers and Bulldogs have only met once in the NCAA tournament, a 3-1 win for Minnesota Duluth in the 2004 NCAA Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich. Meanwhile, the Maroon & Gold are 12-12-2 all-time against Boston University (5-3 in the NCAA tournament) and 14-6-0 all-time against Yale (0-1 in the NCAA tournament).
With five national championships in school history (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003), the Gophers boast a 55-36 (.604) record in NCAA tournament action. The Maroon & Gold have made 21 Frozen Four appearances including two in the last three years with Minnesota finishing as the national runner-up a season ago.