The first semifinal is under way in one of this weekend’s four NCAA regional tournaments, and Cornell men’s ice hockey’s semifinal against UMass Lowell is Saturday afternoon.
For the Big Red, the trip to the national tournament comes despite a loss last weekend in the ECAC tournament’s title game in Lake Placid. Harvard topped Cornell 4-1 to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.
Friday night’s semifinal win over Union gave Cornell its first shot at the ECAC title game since 2010, when they won the league championship in Albany and advanced to the NCAA regional round. The win also “essentially clinched an NCAA at-large bid” for the Red, according to Cornell Athletics. The NCAA uses a mathematical process that looks at each team’s record and how challenging their season was in deciding who should go to the tournament in addition to the conference winners.
Before heading to Manchester, New Hampshire for the Northeast Regional tournament, Cornell players put in some practice time at The Rink in Lansing. A summer-long roof replacement project started earlier this month at Lynah Rink, Big Red Hockey’s usual home.
Friday afternoon’s action sees North Dakota leading Boston University after the first period of their West Regional semifinal, and top-seed Harvard faces Providence at 4pm Friday in an East Regional semifinal.
It’s the 20th appearance in the NCAA tournament for the Big Red, and this is the 50th anniversary of Cornell’s first national championship in 1967. They repeated the accomplishment in 1970, winning a second national championship at the end of the only perfect season in NCAA hockey history.
Cornell and tomorrow’s opponent, the UMass Lowell River Hawks, have met just once before, in holiday tournament play in Estero, Florida nearly ten years ago. UMass Lowell won that game 3-2 on December 28th, 2007.
The Cornell vs. UMass Lowell Northeast Regional semifinal at noon Saturday is being televised on ESPN3, the sports monolith’s online-only channel. Watch it via the WatchESPN app on many smart TVs and set-top devices like Apple TV or Roku, or at espn3.com. Sunday’s 3:30pm final will be on ESPNU, on many cable and satellite systems, as well as on the WatchESPN app.