Following its first-ever ECAC tournament championship, the men’s hockey team on Sunday received a No. 2 seed in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Elis will face third-seeded Vermont at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.
As co-hosts of the East Regional, the Bulldogs were guaranteed to play their opening-round game in Bridgeport if they made the NCAA Tournament.
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“When I first took the job, that’s one of the things that Wayne Dean, our associate AD, reminded me: ‘By the way, we’re hosting the regional in three years at Bridgeport, and if you make it, we get to be the home team — no pressure,’” head coach Keith Allain said in Saturday’s post-game press conference. “Being in an NCAA Tournament is thrilling enough, and to be able to play it close to home where a lot of our family and our fans will get a chance to see us play, it’s going to be a great week for us.”
The winner of Yale’s matchup will face the winner of top-seeded Michigan and fourth-seeded Air Force in the East Regional Championship at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday for a berth to the 2009 Frozen Four in Washington, D.C.
In addition to Yale’s automatic bid, two other ECAC teams received at-large bids to the tournament, and both were seeded third. Cornell, which Yale defeated Saturday night, 5-0, to win the ECAC title, will play Northeastern in the Midwest Regional. Princeton will face the WCHA champions, Minnesota-Duluth, on Friday in the West Regional.
Friday’s contest will mark Yale’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 1997-’98 season, and only the third in the history of the program. Yale’s rout of the Big Red on Saturday secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the Elis.
Vermont, the fourth-place team from the Hockey East division, received an at-large bid. The Bulldogs are the statistical favorite against the Catamounts, who were ranked 10th in the most recent national poll, compared to seventh for Yale.
Michigan — which was ranked third and is making its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the longest active streak in the nation — is a heavy favorite over unranked Air Force. The other No. 1 seeds in the tournament field, which was announced Sunday morning on ESPN2, are Denver in the Midwest Regional; Boston University in the Northeast Regional; and Notre Dame in the West Regional.
All-session tickets to the East Regional games are $75. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Arena at Harbor Yard box office.