Air Force hockey to play Western Michigan in NCAA Tournament opener

Posted March 20, 2017

Two years ago, the Gophers played in New Hampshire, losing to Minnesota-Duluth in the first round. The Bulldogs (No. 2 overall seed and 25-6-7 on the season) will play Ohio State on March 24 at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Irish (21-11-5), finishing fourth in their final season in Hockey East, meet the Gophers (23-11-3) at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday in the Northeast Regional, held at SNHU Arena in Manchester, N.H. Minnesota is the region's No. 1 seed and the Irish the fourth seed.

The Irish and Gophers most recently met on November 6-7, 2015, when Notre Dame hosted Minnesota for a weekend series. However the other teams competing for the last #1 seed could not get the job done.

It also happened in 2007, 2008 (the hockey team advanced to the NCAA title game), 2011 (hockey advanced to the Frozen Four and women's basketball played in the NCAA title game), 2013 (the women's basketball squad played in the NCAA national semifinals) and 2016 (the men's basketball squad advanced to an NCAA regional final). Don Lucia's club will square off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Lucia's alma mater) in the opening round of the tournament.

That was assured today when the Irish hockey team was one of 16 schools to appear in the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship bracket. The Buckeyes are in the West Regional in Fargo while the Nittany Lions are in the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati.

We will have a full preview of the Northeast Regional later this week.