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Gophers draw Omaha, get No. 2 seed in men's hockey regional

The road to St. Paul for the Gophers men's hockey team runs through South Dakota, and to reach the NCAA Frozen Four for the third consecutive season — this time at Xcel Energy Center — they will need to beat Nebraska Omaha and possibly Boston University in Sioux Falls.

The NCAA announced the field and pairings for its hockey tournament on Sunday, with Minnesota placed as the No. 2 seed in the Sioux Falls Regional. The Gophers (22-10-5) will play No. 3 seed Nebraska Omaha (23-12-4) in a regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. Top-seeded Boston University (26-9-2) will play No. 4 seed Rochester Institute of Technology (27-10-2) in the other semifinal at 4 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.

This will be the fourth consecutive year that the Gophers have qualified for the NCAA tournament under coach Bob Motzko. They reached a regional final in 2021, the Frozen Four semifinals in 2022 in Boston and the national championship game last year in Tampa, where they fell 3-2 in overtime to Quinnipiac.

No. 1 overall seed Boston College (31-5-1) will play Michigan Tech (19-14-6) in the Providence Regional, which will be played Friday and Sunday. No. 2 seed Wisconsin (26-11-2) faces No. 3 Quinnipiac (26-9-2) in the other Providence semifinal.

In the Springfield, Mass., Regional on Thursday and Saturday, No. 1 seed Denver (28-9-3) meets Massachusetts (20-13-3), and No. 2 Maine (23-11-2) plays No. 3 Cornell (21-6-6).

In the Maryland Heights, Mo., Regional on Friday and Sunday, No. 1 seed Michigan State (24-9-3) faces No. 4 Western Michigan (21-15-1), and No. 2 North Dakota (26-11-2) meets No. 4 Michigan (21-14-3).

The Gophers have played both Nebraska Omaha and Boston University in recent years in the NCAA tournament. In 2021, Minnesota beat the Mavericks 7-2 in a regional semifinal in Loveland, Colo. Last year, the Gophers topped the Terriers 6-2 in the national semifinals.

Nebraska Omaha received an at-large bid to the tournament after falling 4-1 to Denver on the NCHC Frozen Faceoff title game on Saturday in St. Paul. The Mavericks have been one of the hotter teams in the country down the stretch, going 12-3-2 since Jan. 26. UNO averages 2.95 goals per game (31st nationally) and gives up 2.79 per game (25th nationally).

NCAA Frozen Four bracket

Boston University lost 6-2 to Boston College in the Hockey East tournament championship on Saturday night and earned an at-large NCAA bid. The Terriers average 4.05 goals per game (fourth nationally) and give up 2.41 (seventh).

Rochester Institute of Technology won the Atlantic Hockey Association tournament to secure its NCAA berth. The Tigers average 3.92 goals per game (sixth nationally) and give up 2.31 (fifth).

This will be the Gophers' 41st NCAA tournament appearance, which is tied with Michigan for the most. They have reached the Frozen Four 23 times, winning five titles.

The Frozen Four will be played April 11 and 13 at the Xcel Center. This will be the fourth time for the Frozen Four in that venue, and each previous time a University of Minnesota team won the title. The Gophers beat Maine 4-3 in overtime in 2002, Minnesota Duluth topped Michigan 3-2 in overtime in 2011 for its first national championship, and the Bulldogs beat Notre Dame 2-1 for the title in 2018.

The Gophers are the only Minnesota team that advanced to the NCAA tournament, ending a five-year run of the state getting at least three teams in the tourney. In 2021, all five Division I Minnesota teams made the tournament. Each won at least one game, and St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota State Mankato all reached the Frozen Four.

Ticket information

The Minnesota athletic department receives a limited number of regional tickets. Season ticket holders may request tickets to the tournament through their Gopher Ticketing Account, and the deadline to request tickets is 4 p.m. Monday. The general public can purchase tickets on Ticketmaster.