Boston has its Beanpot. Michigan has its Great Lakes Invitational. Minnesota has its....well you can come up with the name.
The five Minnesota schools that sponsor Division 1 men's hockey - University of Minnesota, Bemidji State University, Minnesota State University, St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota Duluth - announced Friday that fans will have unique opportunity to name the inaugural four-team tournament which begins in January 2014.
The idea for fans naming the tournament has been floating around for some time.
"This spring we will announce plans for a contest to name the tournament that we hope will be traditionally used for years to come," University of Minnesota associate athletic director Tom McGinnis said back in March.
Name Submission Process:
- Tweet using the hashtag: #MNCollegeHockey
- Submissions via GopherSports.com, Facebook, & Twitter
- Gophers' New Media Department will collect all entries
- Representatives from Gopher Sports will then decide on the top five
- Final vote will be decided by a voting panel with the fan vote consisting for 25%
- June 21: Submission Contest Begins
- June 28: Submission Period Ends
- June 29: Fan Voting Begins
- July 8: Fan Voting Ends
- July 9: Winning Name Revealed
The inaugural Minnesota Division 1 NCAA Hockey Tournament will take place January 24-25, 2014 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. Minnesota, Minnesota State, St. Cloud and Minnesota-Duluth will all be taking part in two semifinal games Friday (Minnesota-St. Cloud State & Minnesota State-Minnesota Duluth). On Saturday, the respective winners and losers then face each other.
Bemidji State sits out this year's tournament. The Gophers will be permanent hosts, visiting the school not playing that year (Minnesota visits the Beavers October 18-19 at the Sanford Center), while the other teams rotate over an initial four-year schedule.
St. Cloud will sit out in 2015, Minnesota-Duluth in 2016 and Minnesota-State in 2017.
The idea for a Beanpot-like tournament at the Xcel Energy Center comes from both realignment taking place in college hockey this year and the desire for each of the teams to continue to play one another. While the five Minnesota D1 teams were all in the WCHA from 2010-2013, they will now be split across three conferences.
Minnesota joins the Big Ten, Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State are now members of the National College Hockey Conference (NCHC) and Minnesota State and Bemidji State remain in the WCHA.
"Obviously we feel we've had great support from our fans and supporters over the years from each of our institutions supporting our hockey programs," McGinnis said. "This is an opportunity even though we won't be playing as often in the past to give an event back to them that they can come and enjoy. I think that was really the driving force behind trying to have this tournament moving forward.
"Really something we can give back to the State of Hockey that they can enjoy on an annual basis."
You can follow Nate on Twitter @gopherstate.