Pairings were released earlier this morning for the 2009 NCAA Men's Division 1 Ice Hockey Championship, confirming the road Notre Dame will face as it seeks to not only get back to the title game but win its first hockey title in school history.
The Fighting Irish will take on the Bemidji State Beavers on March 28 in the Midwest Regional Semifinal* which will be held at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. The game will be televised on ESPN Classic at 7:30pm EST.
The Irish/Beavers winner will advance to the Midwest Regional Final on March 29 (8:00pm EST on ESPNU) to take on the winner of the Northeastern/Cornell matchup. The winner of the Midwest Regional Final will earn a spot in the Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.
This marks the Beavers' third trip to the Division 1 NCAA Tournament and their first contest against the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame comes into the tournament riding the nation's longest winning streak at 10 games. Last season the Irish barely made the tournament as they snuck in with a #4 seed through an at-large bid after stumbling late in the season and failing to win the 2008 CCHA Championship.
The Irish took advantage of their berth in the tournament though, as they powered their way to their first ever championship game appearance. Notre Dame fell 4-1 to the Boston College Eagles, who claimed their 4th national championship.
An automatic bid for winning the CCHA Championship left only the doubt of "whom" the Irish would play in the tournament, not "if" they would make it.
It's time to get down to business and give ND a reason to light the #1 sign on top of Grace Hall.
For those unfamiliar with the NCAA hockey tournament the amount of teams in the bracket is significantly less than for basketball. This should not be a hard concept to grasp as there are many southern/western schools that do not have the climates to encourage such activity. The east coast has hockey while the west has water polo.