For the second year in a row, there will be a new NCAA champion in menâ€™s D-III hockey.
Defending champion St. Norbert, along with perennial tournament participants Middlebury and Norwich, all lost in their respective conference tournaments and each failed to receive an at-large bid. They are the three winningest D-III programs this decade.
The NCAA Division III Menâ€™s Ice Hockey Committee announced tonight the field of 11 teams for the 2009 Division III Menâ€™s Ice Hockey Championship.
Six conferences have been awarded automatic qualification. The remaining five teams were selected at-large by the committee.
The championship playoff format involves three first-round games and four quarterfinal games that are played on the campuses of the participating institutions. All games in the championship are single elimination. The four quarterfinal winners advance to Lake Placid, New York at Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center for the semifinals and championship game, which will be played March 20 and 21.
Conferences receiving automatic qualifications are:
ECAC East — Babson (13-13-1)
ECAC Northeast — Nichols (25-3-0)
MIAC — Gustavus Adolphus (17-10-0)
NESCAC — Amherst (21-4-1)
NCHA — University of Wisconsin-Stout (22-5-2)
SUNYAC — Plattsburgh (24-1-2)
Hobart receives the Pool B at-large bid, while the UW-Superior, Elmira, St. Scholastica and Neumann enter the field as the four Pool C at-large selections. The ECAC West and NCHA both landed three teams in the field. It is the first time two conferences have each qualified three teams to the tournament.
All three first round games will be played in the East Region and all will be played on Wednesday. Babson travels to Amherst, Nichols visits Hobart, and Neumann will travel to face conference foe Elmira. The Neumann/Elmira winner will travel to Plattsburgh, and the other two first round winners will meet in Saturdayâ€™s quarterfinals.
In the West Region, Gustavus Adolphus will travel to UW-Superior and St. Scholastica visits UW-Stout. Both are quarterfinal games and will also be played on Saturday.
Despite a 27-1-1 record, MCHA regular season and playoff champion Adrian did not receive a bid. No MCHA team has ever made it to the NCAA D-III menâ€™s hockey tournament.