March 23, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS (GopherSports.com) - For the 35th time in the program history, the No. 1 Minnesota men's hockey program is bound for the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament with the 2014 NCAA West Regional set for March 29-30 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The Gophers will take on Robert Morris in the regional opener on Saturday (4:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2) while St. Cloud State and Notre Dame will play in the second regional semifinal on Saturday (8:00 p.m., ESPNU). The NCAA West Regional Championship is set for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday on ESPNU with the NCAA Men's Frozen Four slated for April 10-12 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
"We're excited to be hosting the West Regional with a great field of teams coming to St. Paul," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said. "Robert Morris has certainly earned the right to play in this tournament as have St. Cloud State and Notre Dame, and we are looking forward to a great weekend of hockey."
The top overall seed for the tournament, Minnesota enters the NCAA tournament with a 25-6-6 overall record as the inaugural Big Ten regular-season champions. The Gophers are led by Hobey Baker Award and Mike Richter Award finalist Adam Wilcox, who ranks second nationally in save percentage (.933), third in goals against average (1.91) and fourth in wins (23). Minnesota is captained by Nate Condon and Kyle Rau.
"This is a great time of year, and we're thrilled to be back in the national tournament," Condon said. "We're looking forward to a great matchup with Robert Morris and hopefully we'll have the chance to play for a trip to the Frozen Four on Sunday. "
Saturday's semifinal marks the first-ever meeting between Minnesota and Robert Morris. The Colonials earned an automatic bid and the program's first-ever invite to the NCAA tournament after winning the Atlantic Hockey Association title. After starting the season 2-12-2, Robert Morris rallied in the second half for a 19-17-5 overall record under head coach Derek Schooley.
The Gophers are 53-28-12 all-time against St. Cloud State including a 4-1 win earlier this season at Xcel Energy Center as part of the North Star College Cup. Minnesota split two games with Notre Dame earlier this year in South Bend and are 24-14-3 all-time against the Irish. Don Lucia is a Notre Dame alum while his son, Mario, is a sophomore for the Irish.
Xcel Energy Center will host its third NCAA regional this weekend, having previously done so in 2010 and 2012. Minnesota, which is 21-13-0 all-time at Xcel Energy Center, won the 2012 NCAA West Regional at the venue and advanced to the program's 20th Frozen Four.
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