It’s championship weekend in college hockey.
All six conferences in the NCAA are in action this weekend in men’s ice hockey. By the end of the festivities on Saturday, six teams will have been crowned conference champions.
This weekend is the first step in solidifying the field for the NCAA national tournament, which is set to begin later this month. After the conference championships wrap up on Saturday, the 16 teams participating for a chance to reach the Frozen Four will be announced on Sunday, March 16.
Plenty of future NHLers are going to be playing this weekend. The most notable names competing for a chance at a conference title are 2021 first-round pick Luke Hughes, 2022 first-rounders Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud, and top 2023 prospect Adam Fantilli.
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What teams make it to the national tournament?
College hockey has a different process for selecting teams for its national tournament. Only 16 teams make the field, but six programs are going to lock in their spot this weekend, as the conference championship winners all earn an automatic bid to the tournament.
The remaining 10 teams are selected on an at-large basis by a committee and determined by Pairwise rankings. According to the 2022-23 pre-championship manual, a program must have a record of at least .500 and must have scheduled a minimum of 20 games against Division I competition in order to be eligible for the tournament.
The committee also takes into account strength of schedule, the eligibility of student-athletes for NCAA championships and the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) when determining the final teams elected to play in the national tournament.
NCAA hockey conference championship schedules
A rematch of the 2022 Big Ten title game is on deck for 2023, as Minnesota faces Michigan in the conference championship. The Wolverines knocked off the Golden Gophers last year by a score of 4-3.
There’s no shortage of star power in this matchup. Minnesota has Big Ten Player of the Year Matthew Knies, two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Brock Faber and conference co-scoring champions Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud.
Michigan counters with Adam Fantilli, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and All-Big Ten First Team selection Luke Hughes.
|Championship||Saturday, March 18||8 p.m.||No. 1 Minnesota vs. No. 2 Michigan|
Hockey East has its two semifinal games on Friday before deciding the winner on Saturday at TD Garden.
Providence is aiming to continue its Cinderella run, going against top-ranked Boston University. The Terriers have the Hockey East Rookie of the Year in Lane Hutson, and fellow Hockey East First-Team All-Stars, Matt Brown and Domenick Fensore.
Merrimack squares off against UMass Lowell in the second semifinal. Alex Jeffries of Merrimack was named a First-Team All-Star and was a runner-up for the conference scoring champion.
|Semifinal||Friday, March 17||4 p.m.||No. 7 Providence vs. No. 1 Boston University|
|Semifinal||Friday, March 17||7:30 p.m.||No. 5 UMass Lowell vs. No. 2 Merrimack|
|Championship||Saturday, March 18||6:30 p.m.||TBD vs. TBD|
Like Hockey East, the NCHC has its two semifinal games on Friday before the championship game on Saturday.
Colorado College faces off against defending NCHC champions and 2022 national champion Denver. These two teams have two of the best goalies in the conference, as the Pioneers have conference Goalie of the Year Magnus Chrona and the Tigers have Goalie of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidate Kaiden Mbereko.
In the other semifinal, St. Cloud State takes on North Dakota. The Huskies of St. Cloud State have Player of the Year finalist Jami Krannila at the helm, while Rookie of the Year winner Jackson Blake powers the offense of the Fighting Hawks.
|Semifinal||Friday, March 17||3 p.m.||No. 7 Colorado College vs. No. 1 Denver|
|Semifinal||Friday, March 17||6:30 p.m.||No. 6 North Dakota vs. No. 4 St. Cloud State|
|Championship||Saturday, March 18||7 p.m.||TBD vs. TBD|
ECAC Hockey also has its semifinals this weekend as well, taking place prior to championship Saturday.
Up first is Quinnipiac and Colgate. The Bobcats are backed by the two-time ECAC Goalie of the Year, Yaniv Perets. The goaltender is also a Hobey Baker finalist, along with his teammate Collin Graf.
It’s an Ivy League matchup in the other semifinal with Harvard and Cornell. Sean Farrell led the conference in scoring with the Crimson.
|Semifinal||Friday, March 17||4 p.m.||No. 5 Colgate vs. No. 1 Quinnipiac|
|Semifinal||Friday, March 17||7:30 p.m.||No. 3 Cornell vs. No. 2 Harvard|
|Championship||Saturday, March 18||7:30 p.m.||TBD vs. TBD|
Minnesota State is aiming to go back-to-back in the CCHA, as the Mavericks face the Wildcats of Northern Michigan in the conference championship.
Northern Michigan has its work cut out against top-ranked Minnesota State. That Mavericks squad boasts David Silye, the CCHA Forward of the Year, and Jake Livingstone, the CCHA Defenseman of the Year.
|Championship||Saturday, March 18||5:07 p.m.||No. 4 Northern Michigan vs. No. 1 Minnesota State|
In Atlantic Hockey, only Canisius and Holy Cross remain standing.
The Golden Griffins of Canius defeated Army West Point and Niagara on their way to the championship game. The Holy Cross Crusaders stunned the top two teams in the conference, RIT and American International, on their playoff run.
|Championship||Saturday, March 18||6:05 p.m.||No. 4 Canisius vs. No. 7 Holy Cross|
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