Updated 3/6 with First Round start times.
INDIANAPOLIS – Three Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) men's ice hockey teams will skate on into the postseason as No. 15 Nichols (17-8-3, 9-6-3 CCC), No. 6/7 Salve Regina (20-5-2, 14-2-2 CCC), and No. 5/4 University of New England (20-5-3, 11-4-3 CCC) were all selected into the 12-team field for the 2018 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championship. The bracket was announced Monday morning during the NCAA.com Selection Show.
Nichols, which earned the one of seven automatic qualifiers into the bracket by winning the CCC Tournament Championship on Saturday (March 3), will host Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) automatic qualifier Fitchburg State (18-6-3, 11-4-3 MASCAC) in the First Round. The Nor'easters, which earned one of four at-large bids into the field, will host New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) automatic qualifier Colby (15-10-2, 9-7-2 NESCAC) in the First Round. Salve Regina, another at-large selection, was given a bye into the NCAA Quarterfinals and will await the winner of the Nichols-Fitchburg State game. First Round games will be played Saturday, March 10 with both games set to start at 7 p.m.
The Bision made an impressive run through the conference tournament as the No. 5 seed, needing three straight road wins to claim the title. They did just that disposing of No. seed Curry, 4-3, in the quarterfinals before eliminating the Seahawks and Nor'easters in the semifinals and finals, respectively.
Salve Regina's early season success helped it gain an at-large bid despite losing to Nichols in the conference semifinals. Wins over perennial NCAA contenders such as Norwich, Adrian, and UMass Boston in non-conference play, coupled with regular-season success throughout the difficult conference schedule, helped the Seahawks work their way into the national conversation.
UNE also had big wins this year including wins over three of this year's NCAA Tournament entrants (Nichols, SUNY Geneseo, Colby). The wins over Geneseo and Colby came in the midst of a 15-game unbeaten streak for the Nor'easters. The strong season secured UNE as the No. 3 seed in the CCC Tournament where it knocked off No. 6 seed Wentworth and No. 2 seed Endicott before losing to Nichols in the Conference Championship.
With three selections, this marks just the second time that the CCC has had three teams selected to compete in a single NCAA Tournament in any sport. The only other time was 2013 when three men's soccer teams (Western New England, Roger Williams, and Gordon) were picked.
The winners of the NCAA First Round games will advance to one of four quarterfinals games played on the campuses on participating programs. The four victors of the quarterfinals head to Lake Placid, N.Y. for the semifinals and championship game. The national semifinals will be played at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 23 from Herb Brooks Arena at the Olympic Center. The championship will be played on Saturday, March 24 at 7 p.m. ET.
Portions of this release are courtesy of the NCAA.
2018 NCAA DIVISION III MEN'S ICE HOCKEY TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
NCAA First Round – Saturday, March 10
Fitchburg State at No. 15 Nichols, 7 p.m.
Colby at No. 5/4 University of New England, 7 p.m.
NCAA Quarterfinals – Saturday, March 17
Fitchburg State/No.15 Nichols at No. 6/7 Salve Regina, TBA
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and four associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.