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UND gets No. 1 overall seed for NCAA hockey tournament; set to face American International first round

Fighting Hawks will play the Yellow Jackets at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Fargo's Scheels Arena.

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(Top from left) UND assistant coach Karl Goehring, head coach Brad Berry and associate head coach Dane Jackson watch NCHC officials with the Fighting Hawks bench as a goal is reviewed in the first period of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship against St. Cloud State Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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The last NCAA hockey tournament featured a stunning result.

In 2019, No. 16 overall seed American International beat No. 1 St. Cloud State 2-1 in Fargo's Scheels Arena, knocking out the tournament favorite.

UND hopes history won't repeat itself.

In the first NCAA tournament in two years, the Fighting Hawks will be the No. 1 overall seed, and they found out Sunday that they'll play that same American International team in the same building where the Yellow Jackets pulled off that stunner two years ago.

UND and American International will play their regional semifinal game at 8:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN3. The other matchup in the Fargo regional is No. 2 seed Michigan vs. No. 3 seed Minnesota Duluth at 3 p.m. Friday.

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"Obviously, (American International) beat a strong team in St. Cloud, the No. 1 seed overall, and that will really resonate with our group here, knowing it's a situation where 16 teams earned the right to be in the tournament," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's a blank-slate approach. It's one of those things where we're not looking back on how they got there or what their record is. . . everyone has a blank slate. It's a one-game shot. It's that urgency side of it, making sure we play our game here and just concentrating on what we have to do with our job at hand."

American International is one of nine Division-I programs that UND has never played (Arizona State, Long Island University, Penn State, Bentley, Mercyhurst, RIT, Sacred Heart and UConn are the others).

The Yellow Jackets (15-3) won Atlantic Hockey's regular-season and postseason titles.

The Fighting Hawks (21-5-1) won the National Collegiate Hockey Conference's regular-season and post-season titles.

They are the only teams in the NCAA tournament that won both their league's regular-season and playoff championships.

For the Fighting Hawks, it will be their first NCAA tournament game since 2017. They missed the NCAAs in 2018 and 2019. Last year, they were on track to be the No. 1 overall seed, but the tournament was wiped out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's kind of ironic that it's the same situation as last year with us being the top seed," Berry said. "Now, we finally get a chance to try to do something special here."

UND will hold the NCAA tournament's No. 1 overall seed.

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Since the NCAA tournament field expanded to 16 teams in 2002-03, UND has only carried the overall No. 1 seed one other time. That was in 2003-04, when a team led by Zach Parise and Brandon Bochenski grabbed the top slot but lost to Denver 1-0 in the regional championship game. The Pioneers went on to win the national title that season.

"You can tell our guys are really excited," Berry said. "We had a really good week of practice last week and another one today here. Guys are excited about getting the opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament here. Guys have done a good job of focusing on the job at hand and what to do to stay safe and prepare each and every day. It's finally here. We have an opportunity to do something we didn't last year."

All five of Minnesota's Division-I teams are in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. Minnesota is a No. 1 seed in Loveland, Colo., Minnesota State-Mankato is a No. 2 seed in Loveland, Minnesota Duluth is a No. 2 seed in Fargo, St. Cloud State is a No. 2 seed in Albany and Bemidji State is a No. 4 seed in Bridgeport, Conn.

The Beavers last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2010.

There was a stunning development Sunday afternoon when ECAC champion St. Lawrence, which carried the league's automatic bid, had to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test. Because of their withdrawal, Notre Dame got into the tournament.

If any more teams pull out before 6 p.m. Monday, a replacement team will be slotted in their place. Once it hits 6 p.m. Monday, the bracket is set, and if anyone has to pull out, their opponent will get a walkover.

2021 NCAA men's hockey tournament

Fargo Regional (Friday-Saturday)

1. UND vs. 4. American International, 8:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN3)

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2. Michigan vs. 3. Minnesota Duluth, 3 p.m. Friday (ESPNU)

Saturday's final, 5:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Bridgeport Regional (Friday-Saturday)

1. Wisconsin vs. 4. Bemidji State, noon Friday (ESPN2)

2. UMass vs. 3. Lake Superior State, 5:30 p.m. Friday (ESPNU)

Saturday's final, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)

Albany Regional (Saturday-Sunday)

1. Boston College vs. 4. Notre Dame, noon Saturday (ESPNEWS)

2. St. Cloud State vs. 3. Boston University, 5:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPNEWS)

Sunday's final, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Loveland Regional (Saturday-Sunday)

1. Minnesota vs. 4. Omaha, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)

2. MSU-Mankato vs. 3. Quinnipiac, 3 p.m. Saturday (ESPN3)

Sunday's final, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

No. 1 overall seeds in 16-team NCAA era

2020 -- no tournament

2019 -- St. Cloud State (lost first round)

2018 -- St. Cloud State (lost first round)

2017 -- Denver (won national championship)

2016 -- Quinnipiac (lost in national championship game)

2015 -- MSU-Mankato (lost first round)

2014 -- Minnesota (lost in national championship game)

2013 -- Quinnipiac (lost in national championship game)

2012 -- Boston College (won national championship)

2011 -- Yale (lost in regional final)

2010 -- Miami (lost in Frozen Four semifinal)

2009 -- Boston University (won national championship)

2008 -- Michigan (lost in Frozen Four semifinal)

2007 -- Minnesota (lost in regional final)

2006 -- Wisconsin (won national championship)

2005 -- Boston College (lost in regional final)

2004 -- North Dakota (lost in regional final)

2003 -- Cornell (lost in Frozen Four semifinals)

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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