Arguably the best program in women's college hockey history has been left out of this year's NCAA tournament.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers, ranked fourth in the country in the March 1 USCHO poll, is not among the eight teams that were invited to the championship tournament during the selection show Sunday night.
"I feel for our group. They dealt with so much this season, and handled it all with grace and toughness. I have no words. I love our team," said Minnesota coach Brad Frost.
Three other WCHA teams – Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth and Ohio State – are in the tournament. Minnesota finished fourth in the WCHA, trailing conference champion Wisconsin, UMD and the Buckeyes.
The tournament consists of eight teams: four automatic bids and four at-large bids. The automatic qualifiers include the champions of the College Hockey America (Robert Morris), ECAC (Colgate), Hockey East Association (Northeastern) and the WCHA (Wisconsin).
That means the selection committee picked UMD, Ohio State, Boston College and Providence as the four at-large bids over the Gophers.
Ohio State beat the Gophers in two consecutive one-goal games in Minneapolis in February to take the season series four games to two, while Minnesota defeated UMD twice in Duluth in November.
Minnesota and UMD were scheduled to meet at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis in January but the series was postponed due to health and safety protocols.
What's more is that the Gophers finished No. 8 in the Pairwise rankings compared to UMD ranking 12th. The Pairwise is considered the best indicator for ranking NCAA tournament-worthy teams.
According to The Daily Gopher, the selection committee consisted of five members, including the Hockey East commissioner, the head coach of Boston College and the UMD athletics director. The Hockey East got two teams in while UMD is also in the tourney.
"Why would they construct the committee with these individuals? So dumb! There are plenty of capable (neutral and knowledgeable) people to put into those roles," tweeted former Gopher hockey star Tom Chorske.