Memo: NCAA to proceed with 2021 national men’s college hockey tournament April 8-10 in Pittsburgh

In a memo from the NCAA obtained by USCHO Tuesday, it has been learned that the NCAA intends to play the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh on April 8 and April 10 from the PPG Paints Arena.

All six conferences will receive one automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, even if that team plays fewer than 13 D-I games during the season.

As for choosing the tournament field, basically, the traditional PairWise formula will be used, but there will be significant flexibility and subjectivity used. The six criteria, outlined in the NCAA memo includes:

  • Win/Loss Record
  • Strength of Schedule
  • Head-to-Head Results
  • Results vs. Common Opponents
  • Quality Wins
  • Home/Away Weighting

There will be ability to move teams up and down based on the recommendations of a both the NCAA committee and a six-person advisory committee, combined of which comprised two regional advisory committees.

Ultimately, the tournament will be selected by the six-member NCAA committee, But the advisory committee, used in many other NCAA sports and events, will be comprised of six coaches, three from both eastern and western conferences. They include Notre Dame’s Jeff Jackson (Big Ten), Bentley’s Ryan Soderquist (Atlantic Hockey), Lake Superior State’s Damon Whitten (WCHA), New Hampshire’s Michael Souza (Hockey East), Rensselaer’s David Smith (ECAC Hockey), and St. Cloud State’s Brett Larson (NCHC).

A total of 16 teams will qualify for the tournament and will play at regional sites in Fargo, N.D., Loveland, Colo., and Bridgeport, Conn. The final location is being finalized after Manchester, N.H., backed out last month. Multiple sources indicate that either Albany, N.Y. or Springfield, Mass., are potential regional sites.

According to NCAA Men’s Division I committee chair Mike Kemp, the intention is to allow 25 percent attendance capacity at both regional and Frozen Four sites. That, though, is still dependent on local regulations for maximum capacities and social distancing requirements. If PPG Paints arena in Pittsburgh would be allowed a full 25 percent capacity, that would be just short of 5,000 fans allowed in the building each game.