The NCAA Championships and Competition Cabinet has approved the choices of the Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Committee to have Providence, R.I. and Minneapolis, Minn. host NCAA regionals in 2003.
“We selected cities that have a tradition of hosting successful events,” said Jack McDonald, outgoing committee chairman and Quinnipiac athletic director. “We are very excited and know they will do a great job.”
The announcement comes as the Division I tournament expands in 2003 from 12 to 16 teams, the first time expansion has occurred since 1988. Four regionals will be held, with each consisting of a two-day, four-team event. Regional semifinals will be held on the first day with the winners meeting the following day for the right to advance to the Frozen Four, which will be held April 10-12 in Buffalo, N.Y. at HSBC Arena.
Dates for the regionals have also been announced. The East Regional in Providence will take place on Sat.-Sun., March 29-30, 2003, in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Formerly known as the Providence Civic Center, the arena was also the site of the 2000 NCAA Championship, won by North Dakota. Providence College will serve as the host institution.
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities will host the West Regional on campus at Mariucci Arena on Fri.-Sat., March 28-29, 2003.
The two new sites join Worcester, Mass. (Northeast; March 28-29) and Ann Arbor, Mich. (Midwest; March 29-30) as regional choices for the first year of the expanded tournament.
Ticket information and game times will be announced at a later date. The Frozen Four in Buffalo has already been sold out.
The Championships and Competitions Cabinet also approved two additional regional site selections for the 2004 tournament. Manchester, N.H.’s Verizon Wireless Arena will be the site of the Northeast Regional on Fri.-Sat., March 26-27, 2004. The University of New Hampshire is the host.
The Midwest Regional will be held at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Sat.-Sun., March 27-28, 2004, hosted by Western Michigan University.
Also hosting regionals in 2004 are Albany, N.Y.’s Pepsi Arena (East; hosts ECAC and Rensselaer) on March 27-28 and Colorado Springs, Colo.’s World Arena (West; host Colorado College) on March 26-27. The Frozen Four will be held on April 10-12, 2004 at the FleetCenter in Boston, Mass.
Among the other changes for 2003, the committee recommended an automatic bid for the six-team College Hockey America, bringing the total number of automatic bids for the expanded tournament to six. Ten at-large teams will be chosen, the most ever.