Division III Committee Recommends Single-Elimination Tourney Format

Under a recommendation made recently by the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Committee, all rounds in the national tournament would be single-elimination.

That would reduce the quarterfinals from the current format of two games plus a possible mini-game, to one winner-take-all game.

The committee also forwarded three recommendations to the Division III Championships Committee dealing with brackets. The tournament now includes nine teams, which means a preliminary game is required to set the eight teams for the quarterfinals.

The men’s committee says each recommendation would place the preliminary game in the East.

The news release does not indicate if a Western team would be flown east should an odd number of Western teams be selected.

This year, six Eastern teams and three from the West made the tournament. Operating under a strict policy of playing within regions, the play-in game was held in the West. Wisconsin-Superior defeated St. Thomas 2-1, then went on to win the national championship.

According to the NCAA, the committee noted that the two teams playing in the preliminary-round game have one opportunity to advance, while the quarterfinalists have two. The group also noted that the current structure creates a feeling that the “play-in” game is not as important as the rest of the tournament.

Additionally, the committee noted that a single-elimination format would result in fewer days of missed class. The teams would be participating in one game on a Saturday, as opposed to the current Friday-Saturday format.

The proposed brackets, which weren’t made public, allow for both the East and West regions to have two teams advance to the semifinals. The only time this would not be the case is when only two teams from the West qualify for the championship. The committee believes it is important for the West region to have the opportunity to host the championship as well.

These recommendations will be discussed at the next Division III Championships Committee meeting later this year.

The committee recommended Bob Emery of Plattsburgh State as chair, replacing Dan Harris of the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

The women’s committee recommended automatic qualification spots for the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, the New England Small College Athletic Conference, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference East and West leagues. That would give automatic qualification to every Division III women’s hockey conference.

Earlier this year, the committee had to pick between Elmira and Wisconsin-Stevens Point for the only Pool B at-large bid. Each team had only one loss after the regular season and the conference tournament. Elmira was selected and won the first Division III national championship, while Stevens Point, which finished 26-1, stayed home.