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Previewing the field for the ACHA nationals

By By Allan Brown Athens Messenger Editor,

2023-03-14

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On paper, the path to winning a Men’s D1 American Collegiate Hockey Association national championship appears fairly easy.

When compared to March Madness, where the field starts with 68 teams and encompasses three-plus week of tournament play, the ACHA hockey tournament doesn’t appear to be that daunting.

With only 20 teams and six days of tournament play in Marlborough, MA, the path to a natty might be quicker, but when looking at the depth of the team’s participating, it’s hardly a cake walk for the eventual champion.

For Ohio University (28-5-2) to win its first national championship in 19 years, it will have to beat the best of the best. Regular season champions of the Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL), the Bobcats netted their 30th consecutive bid and 31st overall.

In the Bobcats’ favor, they have already beaten half of the top 10 teams at least once this season.

At number two, only one team stands ahead of the Bobcats in the final ACHA computer rankings released two weeks ago.

Minot State University (24-2-0) finished the regular season in the top spot in the computer rankings, a position it held for 11 consecutive weeks. The Beavers earned their 14th consecutive bid and 19th overall and are attempting to win their third national title.

No. 3 Adrian College (31-2-2), winners of the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League (GLCHL) Playoff Championship, earned its 13th consecutive bid. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas (24-4-1) Rebels will be the No. 4 seed after sweeping Grand Canyon University at home in the final weekend of the regular season to notch second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey League (WCHL).

In doing so, UNLV earned its fifth bid to Nationals in the last six seasons. Rounding out the top 5 is Liberty University (15-11-1), which earned its seventh consecutive bid to Nationals and 15th overall.

Fourteen teams in the final rankings will return after participating in Nationals last season, including No. 6 seed University of Central Oklahoma (13th overall appearance); No. 7 seed University of Jamestown (sixth overall appearance); No. 8 seed Indiana Tech (fourth overall appearance); No. 9 seed Maryville University (third overall appearance); No. 10 seed Niagara University (fifth overall appearance); No. 11 seed University of Arizona (20th overall appearance); No. 12 seed University of Pittsburgh (fourth overall appearance); No. 17 seed University of Michigan-Dearborn (23rd overall appearance); and No. 19 seed United States Naval Academy (sixth overall appearance).

Joining those schools will be six teams that did not participate a year ago: No. 13 seed Grand Valley State University (first overall appearance); No. 14 seed Calvin University (third overall appearance); No. 15 seed Illinois State University (first overall appearance); No. 16 seed Lawrence Tech (first overall appearance); No. 18 Indiana University of Pennsylvania (second overall appearance); and No. 20 University at Buffalo (fifth overall appearance).

As for OU, it awaits the winner of Thursday’s Illinois State/Indiana of Pennsylvania game to see who its first opponent will be.

OU Head Coach Lionel Mauron is prepared for a battle from either team.

“We watched a lot of both teams, we know they will give us their best effort and in a single elimination game, anything can happen. We just want to be ready at 4:45 p.m. on Friday and play to our strengths,” Mauron said.

Mauron is excited for his team and pleased that many OU faithful — including a strong contingent of the Ohio Bobcats Blueline Boosters — will be in Massachusetts to root the local team on.

“I know we will have a large group of fans and parents joining us in Boston. We can feel the excitement from our followers, that will give us a lot of energy this weekend,” Mauron said.

For those who can’t attend the tournament, Hockey TV will be streaming live and on-demand with an all-access pass. To subscribe for $29.99 a month (subscription will auto renew in 30 days unless it is cancelled), go to either www.hockeytv.com/event2950 or go to www.achahockey.org. and follow the links to the Hockey TV site.

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