The team travels to face-off with the Providence Friars in the first round
With the WCHA championship locked up for the MSU men’s hockey team, their next test will be the first round of the NCAA tournament this weekend, as they start out the first round of the tournament with a very tough matchup on Saturday against the No. 11 Providence Friars in Providence, Rhode Island.
Minnesota State is currently one of the hottest teams in the country. Currently ranked third in the nation, the Mavericks are 18-2-1 ever since the calendar flipped to 2019. They are also winners of their last seven games, including a five-game sweep of the WCHA tournament, with their last game being a miracle win over Bowling Green at the Verizon Center.
However, being third in the country apparently gets you a 1,400-mile road trip in the NCAA tournament. St. Cloud State and Massachusetts both received favorable draws, while Minnesota-Duluth also has a long road trip to Allentown. The distance for MSU is comparable to Minnesota’s predicament from 2017, when they had to travel to Manchester despite being a 1-seed.
Making matters worse for MSU is their opponent. Their opponent, the 11th-ranked Providence Friars, will be playing in their hometown at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, where Friars men’s basketball already calls home. Providence was a top-10 team before Boston College took them out of the Hockey East tournament, and will surely look to recapture form against the Mavericks.
The Mavericks are coming off of one of the greatest comebacks in program history, scoring three goals in four minutes to win the WCHA championship over Bowling Green. But their track record in the NCAA tournament is anything but pretty. Their last tournament win was in 1991, and that was back when they were competing at the Division III level. In the DI tournament, MSU carries an all-time record of 0-5.
For anyone not looking to travel to Providence, the game will be televised on ESPNews. The game will take place at noon on Saturday. If the Mavericks advance, they will play in the Regional Final on Sunday against either Northeastern or Cornell.
Header photo: The Mavericks celebrating their victory over Bowling Green Saturday, March 23. (Kjerstin Hall | MSU Reporter)