Between them, the four programs have totaled 17 national championships, including seven by North Dakota and five each by Minnesota and Boston University.
The action gets underway at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (CT), with WCHA tournament champion and the region's top seed North Dakota taking on CCHA tournament champion and fourth-seeded Western Michigan. Regular season WCHA winner and regional No. 2 seed Minnesota will meet third-seeded Boston University in the nightcap at 4 p.m.
Saturday's semifinal will be televised live via ESPN Syndication and webcast on ESPN3.com (more detailed television information will be made available when finalized). The West Regional final on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., will air live on ESPNU.
Each of four participating teams will host a free-to-the public one-hour open practice at Xcel Energy Center on Friday, March 23, before their opening round games. The open practice times are: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Western Michigan; 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. - North Dakota; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Boston University; 3:15 - 4:15 p.m. - Minnesota.
All-session ticket packages for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey West Regional, co-hosted by the University of Minnesota and Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25, in St. Paul, are priced at $90 (plus fees and taxes).
Each 2012 Division I Men's Ice Hockey West Regional package includes one ticket to Session I (Saturday, March 24 - two regional semifinal games) and one ticket to Session II (Sunday, March 25 - West Regional championship game).
Tickets may be purchased online at www.ncaa.com/tickets or www.ticketmaster.com, in person at the Xcel Energy Center box office, or by calling Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000. To charge by phone using Ticketmaster TDD/TTY, call 800-359-2525.
2012 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey West Regional
Saturday, March 24, 2012 - Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, Minn.
12:30 p.m. - West Regional Semifinal #1
1. North Dakota (25-12-3) vs. 4. Western Michigan (21-13-6)
4:00 p.m. - West Regional Semifinal #2
2. Minnesota (26-13-1) vs. 3. Boston University (23-14-1)
Sunday, March 25, 2012 - Xcel Energy Center - St. Paul, Minn.
4:30 p.m. - West Regional Final
2012 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey West Regional - Team Capsules
No. 1 Seed - North Dakota (25-12-3)
After a 3-7-1 overall start, North Dakota began to heat up in late November and finished 25-12-3. The seven-time NCAA champions capped their late-season run by claiming their third-straight WCHA Final Five championship with a 4-0 victory over Denver, becoming the first team to ever accomplish the feat. Making its tenth-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, North Dakota is headlined by its top line of Brock Nelson, Danny Kristo, and Corban Knight, which combined for 126 points. The team also has a stellar core of defensemen, led by senior Ben Blood. Junior netminder Aaron Dell was named Final Five's Most Valuable Player last weekend.
No. 2 Seed - Minnesota (26-13-1)
West regional host and five-time champion Minnesota will return to the NCAA Tournament after a three-year drought. After finishing in fifth place in the WCHA last season, the Gophers came in first with a 20-8-0 league record to capture their 12th MacNaughton Cup title. Minnesota dropped a 6-3 decision to North Dakota in the conference semifinal last weekend. The Gophers are led by sophomore centers Erik Haula and Nick Bjugstad, who have 46 and 40 points, respectively, and by the WCHA goaltending champion, senior Kent Patterson.
No. 3 Seed - Boston University (23-14-1)
Boston University will return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since winning its fifth national title in 2009. This year's Terrier team, which was 23-14-1 overall, finished tied for second place in Hockey East and was the only team to score more than 100 goals in regular-season conference play. After winning a best-of-three series in the first round of postseason play against New Hampshire with a 5-4 win in double overtime, BU was knocked out in the semifinal round with a 5-3 loss to Maine. The Terriers boast three 40-plus point scorers in Alex Chiasson (44), Matt Nieto (42), and Chris Connolly and are led by Hockey East First Team All-Star Adam Clendening on defense.
No. 4 Seed - Western Michigan (21-13-6)
Entering championship weekend, Western Michigan was on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos then ended any doubt of their tournament status by securing the CCHA's automatic bid by taking down Miami and Michigan to claim their first conference playoff title. Western Michigan, which is 21-13-6 under first-year coach Andy Murray, finished the regular season by ending Ferris State's 14-game unbeaten streak and snapped a string of eight straight Miami wins last week in the CCHA semifinals. The Broncos are led offensively by sophomore Chase Balisy and his 37 points and on defense by fellow second-year skater Dan DeKeyser, who was named the CCHA's Best Defensive Defenseman.