NCAA West Regional: Gophers-Robert Morris, SCSU-Notre Dame

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The NCAA hockey tournament begins Saturday and Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul will be the host site for the Gophers (25-6-6) and St. Cloud State (21-10-5) in the West Regional.

At 4:30 p.m. the action begins with the top-ranked Gophers against Robert Morris University. When that game goes final the ice will be cleaned and at 8 p.m. the St. Cloud State Huskies will play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (23-14-2).

The winners will meet in the regional final on Sunday night, with the champion advancing to the NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

See the full NCAA tournament bracket right here.

What kind of challenge will Robert Morris be for the Gophers, the tournament's No. 1 overall seed?

With an overall record of 19-17-5, the Rebels don't seem like an impressive team. However, they got hot at the right time and earned an automatic bid to the tournament by winning the Atlantic Hockey Association tournament. The Daily Gopher says Robert Morris played one of the weakest schedules in the country, and they'll have an uphill battle to beat Minnesota.

This is Robert Morris' first trip to the NCAA tourney. The university's hockey program has only existed for ten years.

St. Cloud State returns 16 players from last year's team that reached the Frozen Four. The Huskies are 1-3 in their last four games at Xcel Energy Center, but as a team, they've been better on NHL-sized ice (12-4) versus the Olympic-sized National Hockey Center (9-6-5) they call home.

"Our team really loves playing on the NHL-sized rink and we've played really well on it this year," Huskies forward Jonny Brodzinski said, according to the St. Cloud Times. "To be in St. Paul, where all of our fans can get to and it's not too long for us to travel, it's the best scenario we could have had."

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