No ECAC Northeast team has hosted an NCAA game or received a first-round bye in the past, but Mass.-Dartmouth’s success (25-2-1) this season has put it in a position to do so.
Unfortunately, the Corsairs may have to play a road game after all.
While Mass.-Dartmouth was awarded the top seed in the Eastern Region and a first-round bye, the Corsairs may have to travel to fourth-seeded Middlebury for their quarterfinal game on Saturday. Middlebury, which has won the past three national titles, hosts sixth-seeded Fredonia on Wednesday, and if the Panthers win, they will host the game. If Fredonia wins, it will travel to Mass.-Dartmouth.
According to Keisha Campbell, NCAA liaison to the Division III men’s hockey committee, Mass.-Dartmouth applied to host a first-round (play-in) game at Hetland Arena, but not a second-round (quarterfinal) game. Since Middlebury was the only school among the three (Fredonia, which finished fifth in the SUNYAC but upset Buffalo State, Oswego and Plattsburgh to win the SUNYAC title did not put in a bid of any kind) it is the first choice to host.
This was confirmed by committee chair Vincent Eruzione, who said that while this seems like a technicality, the bids are not transferable to other rounds.
“This happens all the time in other sports,” said Eruzione. “We can’t take one bid and transfer it to another situation. Unfortunately, we can’t make an exception.”
Eruzione said the rule is in place to avoid last-minute scrambles to make sure facilities are adequate and available.
“We want bids,” he said. “Otherwise we have teams waiting to see if they are in (the tournament) before determining if they can host. We encourage and reward teams that put in bids ahead of time to avoid these situations.”
Since neither Mass.-Dartmouth nor Fredonia put in a bid to host a quarterfinal game, Mass.-Dartmouth will be allowed to host the game if Middlebury is eliminated from the tournament, according to Eruzione.
Mass.-Dartmouth has issued a release indicating that it will only host if Fredonia wins defeats Middlebury but has made no other comment concerning the situation.