St. Cloud, MN – It’s been a challenging year for college hockey with the only constant being change. One significant change for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference is the temporary change of venue from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN to Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, ND for the league’s 2021 NCHC Tournament, the Frozen Faceoff.
Although seemingly an abrupt change, it’s actually something that came about after several months of discussions said NCHC commissioner, Josh Fenton in a Zoom session with media on February 8th. He indicated conversations about the venue had been continuing since early December including discussions with the Xcel Energy Center. They also ruled out any neutral site that was “foreign” to the NCHC. They ultimately decided a campus site was a safer venue for the league and teams.
“Due to continued challenges with COVID-19, we are forced to alter the structure and location of the 2021 NCHC Tournament. Circumstances surrounding travel, testing, and fan attendance made the traditional format difficult to complete,” NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said. “We are disappointed that we will not be able to culminate the season at Xcel Energy Center, but look forward to bringing one of college hockey’s best tournament experiences back to Saint Paul in 2022.”
Key factors included the “structure” of the league playoffs including shortening and completing it in an expeditious manner and “financial ” considerations regarding expenses, revenue and sponsorships and team travel. Both Omaha and Grand Forks expressed interest and Fenton stated they “had two great sites to choose from and could have given it to either.” However, they ultimately came to the decision to award it to Grand Forks and the REA who were also under consideration to host the NCHC Pod in December.
In its release concerning the event, it was noted “Fan attendance will be permitted on a limited basis, in accordance with university, local and state health guidelines. Ticket information, including pricing and availability, for the 2021 NCHC Tournament will be announced at a later date.”
On his weekly radio show, SCSU head coach Brett Larson said ” Like anything this year, we have to be thankful that we’re getting the opportunity to play. Is it perfect? No. We’d certainly love it to be best of three at home and then head down to the Xcel Energy Center. The league is making the best out of a tough situation and we are thankful to have an opportunity for a Frozen Faceoff.”
Quarterfinals will occur on Friday and Saturday, March 12-13, while the semifinals and championship will take place on Monday, March 15 and Tuesday, March 16, respectively. No third-place game will occur. Seeding for the NCHC Tournament will be based on the final NCHC regular-season standings. The NCHC regular season is currently scheduled to conclude on Friday, March 5. All eight NCHC teams have already met the threshold of 13 games to qualify for the NCHC Tournament.
A pre-sale for full event packages beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 16 will be made available to past Frozen Faceoff ticket buyers, North Dakota season-ticket holders, and North Dakota Champions Club members, while each member school will also have an opportunity to purchase full-event package inventory set aside for each NCHC member. All pre-sales run through Friday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. CT.
Full event packages will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. CT. Full event packages are available for $249 plus fees for the lower bowl, while upper bowl seats are available for $199 plus fees. Full event packages include seven tickets, one for each individual game, with full event lower bowl pricing averaging $35.57 per game, while upper bowl pricing breaks out to $28.43 per game.
To purchase full event packages once on sale, visit ticketmaster.com. To see a seating chart of Ralph Engelstad Arena, click here. A physically distanced seat map will be used for the 2021 Frozen Faceoff.
If tickets remain after the pre-sale and general public on-sale, single-session (single game) tickets for the quarterfinals will go on sale Monday, March 8 once all quarterfinal match-ups are finalized. More information on single-session ticket pricing and availability will be announced as the tournament nears.
Approximately 3,000 ticketed attendees will be allowed in Ralph Engelstad Arena for each of the seven NCHC Frozen Faceoff games. The 3,000 fans allowed per game are approximately 26 percent of the normal, full capacity of Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634).
The schedule is as follows:
|Friday, March 12||Quarterfinal 1 (Teams TBA)||2:37 p.m.||1|
|Friday, March 12||Quarterfinal 2 (Teams TBA)||7:37 p.m.||2|
|Saturday, March 13||Quarterfinal 3 (Teams TBA)||2:37 p.m.||3|
|Saturday, March 13||Quarterfinal 4 (Teams TBA)||7:37 p.m.||4|
|Monday, March 15||Semifinal 1||3:05 p.m.||5|
|Monday, March 15||Semifinal 2||8:05 p.m.||6|
|Tuesday, March 16||Championship||7:35 p.m.||7|
CBS Sports Network has the rights for the semi-finals and the championship game. The balance of the games, the quarterfinals, will be on NCHC.tv.