The first semi-final (5 p.m.) pit’s the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers, in their first national tournament appearance, against the Wisconsin Badgers of the strong WCHA. RIT is a true Cinderella-story, playing in just their fifth season as a D1 program. The school awards no scholarships to athletes and no former Tiger has played even a minute in the NHL in the program’s 48-year history.
BC got to Detroit by defeating Alaska-Fairbanks, 3-1, and then winning a slugfest against Yale, 9-7, in the Northeast Region final. In the Midwest Region, Miami (OH) first beat Alabama-Huntsville, 2-1, then went on to win a hard fought double-overtime game against Michigan, 3-2.
Wisconsin took down the Vermont Catamounts, 3-2, and then St. Cloud State, 5-2, in the West Region. In the East Region, Rochester stunned the WCHA champ Denver Pioneers, 2-1, then ended the Hockey East regular-season champs season, beating the UNH Wildcats with apparent ease, 6-2.
There should be plenty of great hockey yet to come for the Division 1 Men, and I for one am rooting for the underdog Tigers to take the title home to New York. The National Title game will be played on Saturday, April 10, at 7 p.m.