Following weeks of speculation, the final matchups for the NCAA Hockey Championships were announced yesterday. No. 4 Michigan drew the second seed in the Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids and a first round game with No. 11 Wisconsin. The puck will drop at 8:35 p.m., on Friday at Van Andel Arena with ticket information available today at 9 a.m.

The Wolverines didn’t have much to worry about during the selection show, having received an automatic bid thanks to a win in Saturday’s CCHA Tournament final.

No. 1 Colorado College and No. 14 Colgate will face off in the other Midwest Regional game. The winners of both games will meet on Saturday at 5 p.m., with the victor moving on to the Frozen Four in Columbus.

“We’re pretty comfortable with the draw,” senior alternate captain Brandon Rogers said. “We have some good teams in our region, but you have to beat the best teams to get to the end anyways.”

Prior to the 2004 NCAA tournament, first round games were played at campus sites. After a boisterous crowd at Yost played a large role in the Wolverines’ victory over North Dakota to advance to the 2003 Frozen Four, the regional system was implemented. While still providing access to local fans by keeping higher ranked teams closer to home, the system takes out some of the advantages a team like Michigan would have playing in its home rink.

“I think, if they went by the book, we would have gone to Worcester and played (Boston University),” Berenson said. “I think (the selection committee) had to look at the draw and make some decisions.”

To determine which team goes where, a system dubbed “pairwise rankings” is used. The ranking takes a team’s overall record into account but also adds a bonus for wins over other teams with good records. This was added to reward teams that play in competitive conferences or play a strong nonconference schedule. Even with the best record in the country, the Wolverines were the No. 6 team in the pairwise rankings thanks to weak seasons from many CCHA opponents.

“This year, the CCHA might be on a little bit of a downer, and that hurts us when we win a lot of games,” senior captain Eric Nystrom said. “But this is the way it works, and, if this is the only way they can figure it out, so be it.”

For Nystrom, ending up in Grand Rapids seemed inevitable, even if it meant straying from the pairwise rating.

“Ticket sales are huge,” Nystrom said. “It’s a business, and they are trying to make money. To put a team that’s not really local in Grand Rapids or put a bunch of teams that no one really cares about in Grand Rapids is pointless.”

With 10 seniors on the roster, many of the Wolverines will take their final shot at the only goal they haven’t achieved. Last year, Michigan limped into the CCHA Tournament, posting an 5-4-1 record in the final ten games of the regular season and then dropped the tournament championship game to Ohio State before losing to Boston College, 3-2, in the quarterfinals. Last season also marked the only time Michigan didn’t make the Frozen Four with its current crop of seniors on the roster.

“There was always next year and another chance at it,” senior Milan Gajic said. “Now it’s do or die. Whether we win 10-0 or 1-0, I don’t care, as long as we win and get to where we need to be.”

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