With the final ACHA D2 Rankings released on Feb. 14, the University of St. Thomas claimed the WCCHA’s first ever direct bid to Nationals while Minnesota-Crookston, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will all compete at the ACHA Central Regionals next weekend.
St. Thomas recently completed their best ever regular season with a 27-4 record that included a WCCHA Southeast Division Championship and overall WCCHA title, claimed last weekend at the Carla Berg Cup Playoffs. The three wins it took to lift the Carla Berg Cup, coupled with a loss by Concordia-Wisconsin, their nearest rival for the #2 spot, was enough for the Tommies to jump the Falcons in the final rankings. The Tommies will now prepare for thier trip to Boston, MA, and the ACHA National Championships, where they will compete from March 17-21.
The Tommies know one of their group opponents in Pool C – two-time defending National Champions University of Mary, who finished #1 in the West. UST will also face Southeast #3 and Northwest #4, spots to be filled based upon Regionals. Despite drawing the toughest possible #1 seed, St. Thomas aren’t likely to be phased, having split a series at U. of Mary earlier this year.
Heading to ACHA Central Regionals representing the WCCHA are #6 Minnesota-Crookston, #10 Minnesota, and #13 Wisconsin. The Golden Eagles have reached their first Regionals in year 3 since restarting their hockey program, a significant step in their development on both the Regional and National level. By virtue of a strong performance at the WCCHA Tournament, UMC finished in a Regional bye position, meaning they will by-pass the quarterfinal round and first play next Saturday as the higher seed against a team TBD.
Two additional repeat WCCHA attendees will be in St. Louis as well, #10 Minnesota and last year’s Nationals attendee, #13 Wisconsin. Minnesota dropped a few spots between the penultimate and final rankings, but still hold a higher seed for the Quarterfinal round. The Gophers will face off against Regionals debutants #11 Lake Superior State, looking to move on to play one of the higher seeds on Saturday.
#13 Wisconsin held their spot in the final rankings to grab a spot in the quarterfinal round. Although curiously a bit low in the Rankings, the Badgers are well versed in the path to Nationals, having traversed the same challenge last season. First up for the Badgers is in-state challenger #8 Marian, with the winner moving on to Saturday’s semifinal round.
The 2023 ACHA Men’s Division 2 Central Regional Tournament will take place Feb. 24-26, 2023 at the Maryville University Ice Center in Chesterfield, Missouri. The 2023 ACHA National Championships will take place March 17-21, 2023 at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts. For those unable to attend, all Regionals and Nationals games can be streamed both live and on-demand via HockeyTV.