NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — It’s time for another edition of your weekly Maverick Hockey Quick Hits.
It’s the week of the NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.
Words that haven’t come to life since 2019.
Regional puck drops for the field of 16 begin this Friday - and, for the first time, all five Minnesota D-I programs will have a shot at the national championship.
Let’s break it all down in this edition of Maverick Hockey Quick Hits.
Coming in, the UMD Bulldogs are the two-time defending champions.
This year, Duluth enters the Fargo Regional with a much younger team and will have a tough match-up right out of the gate with the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan making its 38th appearance, tied for the most of all time.
The other Fargo match-up is between the first overall seed and tournament favorite North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks will face American International College. Both are champions of their respective conferences.
Wisconsin headlines the Bridgeport Regional. The Badgers will face Bemidj State for a game that could go either way, but the Beavers will need an answer to Hobey Baker Award finalists Cole Caufield, Dylan Holloway and the Badgers’ many other weapons.
UMass and Lake Superior State complete that portion of the bracket. Both teams earned the automatic bid by winning their conference title. Though, it’s UMass’ game to lose.
In Albany, Boston College, who ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country, will face-off against the last team in Notre Dame, due to ECHC champion St. Lawrence having no choice, but to withdraw.
St. Cloud State and Boston University make-up the other half. Should be a gritty game, both teams battle-tested in the regular season and can go far.
The Loveland Regional will showcase the Minnesota Gophers and the Minnesota State Mavericks.
The Big 10 conference champion Gophers, who had an exceptional regular season with Jack LaFontaine leading the way, will face the Omaha Mavericks a team that was on the bubble and has a big opportunity to make a name for themselves.
Last but not least, the Minnesota State Mavericks and Quinnipiac will face-off. Both teams can prove a lot with a tournament win. MSU has failed to move beyond the first round in the last six appearances. The puck drop for that one will be Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN3.