Minnesota Gophers Open NCAA Tournament vs Yale as #1 Seed in West Regional

Jonathan Daniel

The Gophers were given the #2 overall seed in the tournament, and are in a regional that includes Niagra and North Dakota. The Gophers are one of six WCHA schools to make the tourney and they and Wisconsin were the only two future Big Ten schools to get in. Minnesota plays Yale at a not-so-work-friendly time slot this Friday afternoon at 1pm CST on ESPNU.

The Minnesota women just won the national title (again), and now the eyes of Gopher Hockey fans move to the men's team. Hopefully some of the women's awesome and inspiring performance has rubbed off on the Don Lucia's club, as they looked disinterested in a 2-0 Final Five semi-final loss to Colorado College last Friday. Part of the issue may have been that they already knew had the #2 overall seed in the NCAA's locked up before that game even began, or were expecting to get arch rival North Dakota and instead drew CC so there was a bit of a letdown. Whatever it was, it wasn't pretty, and there'll be no looking past anybody from here on out if they hope to get to Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four. After Sunday's last ever CCHA final saw Notre Dame end Michigan's streak of consecutive NCAA appearances at 22, the Gophers knew their opponent would be Yale and they'd play Friday afternoon in the opening round in Grand Rapids, MI.

What was still left to be determined was who else would be in their regional, and we found out Sunday night that also at Grand Rapis would be the 10 seed Niagra and the eight seed...North Dakota (the full bracket of 16 teams is here). It would seem all too perfect for the Gophers and Whioux to meet one last time for the right to go to the Frozen Four, and maybe it does set up too perfectly- after all, they were on a collision course to meet last Friday in the Final Five semis too until Colorado College had their say. As much as both fan bases will want a UM/UND regional final, neither school can afford to overlook their first round opponent, as both are legit tourney teams. Yale has been a top 20 team all season with quality wins at CC and Denver and tied BC 3-3, while Niagra had 23 wins this season and finished 10th in the Pairwise.

The U and UND are two of the six WCHA teams to make it in the conference's final season as we know it: Wisconsin (faces Mass-Lowell) and Denver (vs host New Hampshire) are in the Northeast region in Manchester while Minnesota-State (who got a tough draw in Miami) and JBSU (vs Notre Dame) are in the Midwest in Toldeo, Ohio. The B1G haters can note that Minnesota and Wisconsin are the only two members of that future conference to make it.

We'll have much more on the tournmanent and The U's matchup with Yale this week, but for now we know the opponent and the time (a very unfriendly-for-work time of 1pm Friday afternoon) as the road to Pittsburgh begins.

GN NOTE: If you are interested in tickets for the Frozen Four...TiqIQ has teamed up with Primesport for Frozen Four tickets. Currently, the average price for the session 1 semifinals is $303.20, while the finals (session 2) sits at $166.80. Both events are at the Consol Energy center in Pittsburgh.

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