National Collegiate Hockey Conference
While so many are focused on their basketball brackets, it’s college hockey fans filling both downtown areas Saturday. St. Paul is hosting the Big Ten Conference tournament at the Xcel Energy Center, while Minneapolis has the National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament at Target Center. Forget March Madness, for these fans it’s all about the ice.
St. Cloud State didn’t need five goals in the second period to get even with North Dakota on Saturday. One goal was all it took. Cory Thorson’s goal late in the second period led St. Cloud State over North Dakota 3-1 and into a first-place tie in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. St. Cloud State and North Dakota share the lead in the NCHC with two games remaining in the regular season. The winner earns the first Penrose Cup and gets the top seed for the playoffs.
To say North Dakota is on a roll is an understatement. One week after scoring a National Collegiate Hockey Conference record nine goals, 11th-ranked UND coasted to a 6-2 win over No. 20 Minnesota-Duluth. Paul LaDue scored two of North Dakota’s three power-play goals in a four-goal second period. With the win, North Dakota (18-9-3, 13-7-0) remained tied for first in the conference with St. Cloud State. UND is 14-2-1 in its last 17 games.
The board of directors for the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference has unanimously approved the use of shootouts to break ties in conference games. The NHL-style shootouts involving three players from each team will be used if a game is still tied after the standard five-minute, sudden-death overtime period.
The Target Center in Minneapolis will host the National Collegiate Hockey Conference championship games, city and sporting officials announced Monday.
The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is expected to hold its postseason tournament at Target Center.