Men’s NCAA hockey season kicks off today
The GIST: The gals took the ice first and now the fellas are finally crashing the boards, too. NCAA men’s hockey soft-launched last week, but the rinks are starting to heat up (not literally) today. So here’s the deal on how the season’s set up and who to watch throughout the bonafide gongshow.
How it works: There are 61 Division I men’s hockey teams: seven in the Big Ten, five independents and the rest spread across five hockey-specific conferences — Atlantic Hockey, CCHA, ECAC, Hockey East and NCHC. At the end of the season, 16 of those squads will have the opportunity to play for the natty in a single-elimination tournament.
- The six conference champs receive automatic bids, while the remaining 10 teams are selected by committee. The top four seeds host regional tourneys to determine the Frozen Four who will travel to Tampa to vie for the trophy in early April.
The favorites: Sliding into the top spot in the rankings is last year’s national champs, the Denver Pioneers, who are also tied with the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines for the most nattys in history at a whopping nine. Chasing Denver in the ranks? No. 2 Minnesota and No. 3 North Dakota, who have five and eight NCAA ’ships, respectively.
- And just in case you thought the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ reign was done, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State clock in at Nos. 4 and 5, respectively. Must be something in the (frozen) water.
The action: This weekend’s best games? No. 5 Minnesota State vs. No. 2 Minnesota, who face off tonight at 7:15 p.m. ET and again tomorrow at 7:07 p.m. ET. Nothing like L’Étoile du Nord.
- The other ranked matchup? No. 11 Notre Dame vs. No. 1 Denver tonight at 9:07 p.m. ET. The puck drops here.