March 4, 2012

Norwich, Amherst, Plymouth State, Wentworth in Division 3 tourney

By Mike Zhe

New England is guaranteed to have at least one team in the Division 3 men’s final four, after the 11-team tournament bracket was released by the NCAA on Sunday night.

Norwich forward Kyle Thomas of Waltham, Mass. (photo: Norwich Athletics)

Norwich (23-2-2), which won the ECAC East automatic bid by defeating Castleton State, 11-1, in the league final on Saturday, is the only team that doesn't know its first opponent. It will host either Wentworth (20-6-1) or Plymouth State (17-6-3) in a quarterfinal game on Saturday, with the winner of that advancing to the national semifinals in Lake Placid, N.Y., March 16-17.

The other New England team in the field is NESCAC champion Amherst (23-3-1), which beat Middlebury, 4-3, on Sunday to win its conference championship. The Lord Jeffs will host Plattsburgh State in a quarterfinal on Saturday.

Wentworth got in by beating Curry, 1-0 in overtime, to win the ECAC Northeast title. It will play a first-round game Wednesday at Plymouth State, which knocked of Salem State, 5-4, in double-overtime Saturday to claim the MASCAC.

Two other first-round games will feature St. Thomas (Minn.) visiting St. Norbert, and Milwaukee School of Engineering playing at Gustavus Adolphus. The winners of those two games will meet in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.

The Amherst-Plattsburgh winner will advance to the final four and take on the winner of Elmira at Oswego State.

Eight conferences were awarded automatic qualification. The remaining three teams — Elmira, Oswego and St. Thomas — were selected at-large by the committee.

Castleton (19-7-2) and Bowdoin (17-6-3) were two of the region’s top teams that were omitted from the field.

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com.