Penn State hockey has recorded so many program firsts this season. The quest for a first NCAA Tournament victory and first trip to the Frozen Four will begin in Cincinnati.
The 2017 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament field was announced Sunday, and Penn State is a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region. The Nittany Lions will face No. 2 seed Union.
Penn State (24-11-2) spent the last few weeks on the bubble for the tournament, but it erased any subjectivity by winning the Big Ten Tournament to earn an automatic bid into the 16-team tourney.
It was a wild weekend at Joe Louis Arena. Penn State went to Detroit after losing two games at Michigan to close the regular season. The Nittany Lions were seeded No. 4 and faced No. 5 Michigan in the first round.
After dispatching the Wolverines, Penn State needed double overtime Friday to upset No. 1 seed Minnesota and double overtime again Saturday to knock off Wisconsin in the championship game. By winning the three games last weekend, Penn State climbed to No. 9 in the PairWise rankings.
This is only the fifth season in Division I for the Penn State program. Plenty of firsts and records were broken in 2016-17. The Nittany Lions started 17-2-1 and reached the No. 1 spot in the major polls for the first time in the program’s brief history.
Freshman Denis Smirnov leads the team with 45 points in 37 games. He set a program record for points in a season and leads all freshmen in the nation. Sophomore Vince Pedrie became the first Penn State defenseman to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. Freshman goaltender Peyton Jones earned MVP honors in the conference tournament after stopping 118 of 123 shots in the three games.
2017 Men’s Hockey Tournament full bracket, regions, matchups
Providence, R.I., March 24-25
No. 1 Harvard vs. No. 4 Providence
No. 2 Western Michigan vs. No. 3 Air Force
Manchester, N.H., March 25-26
No. 1 MINNESOTA vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
No. 2 UMass-Lowell vs. No. 3 Cornell
Cincinnati, March 25-26
No. 1 Denver vs. No. 4 Michigan Tech
No. 2 Union vs. No. 3 PENN STATE
Fargo, N.D., March 24-25
No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 4 OHIO STATE
No. Boston University vs. No. 3 North Dakota
2017 Frozen Four
United Center, Chicago
Midwest winner vs. Northeast winner
East winner vs. West winner