The second annual North Star College Cup begins Friday afternoon at the XCel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul, featuring four teams from the state of Minnesota battling it out for bragging rights in the state.
The first semifinal, scheduled for 4pm, features #7 Minnesota Duluth taking on Bemidji State, making their first North Star Cup appearance after being odd team out of last year's tonight. The night cap, scheduled for 7pm, features #1 Minnesota State taking on #17 Minnesota.
The losers of the two semifinals will meet in the consolation game at 4pm Saturday, and the semifinal winners will meet in the title game at 7pm.
Both of Friday's games will be televised on Fox Sports North+, both of Saturday's game will be televised on Fox Sports North.
The tournament itself is still in its' infancy and still finding its' feet a bit. But all the ingredients are there for this to be a special event. They've fixed our biggest complaint from last year's tournament, in that this year, should the championship game go to overtime, they will play until a winner is decided. Yes, there's a possibility of two teams playing an extended overtime game on Saturday night with conference games the following weekend. The pride of winning this tournament should be enough to justify it though.
The most intriguing match-up will almost certainly be the second game on Friday. Minnesota comes into the game ranked 19th in the Pairwise Rankings, and this is one of their final chances to pull off a big win against a highly-ranked opponent to help put them in position to make the NCAA tournament. Minnesota State comes into tournament ranked first overall in the country, but the Mavericks have never won at the X in seven tries, and have given up five or more goals in each of their last six games in the building.
But any of the four teams in this year's tournament are capable of winning two games and taking home the title if things fell in their direction. It should make for a great weekend of hockey.