NCAA Division 1 Hockey

Background
Timeline

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Background

The national hockey championship for Division 1 hockey began in 1948, when Division 1 was known as the University division. With the smaller number of schools playing hockey compared to football or basketball, there was no effective distinction between teams, any varsity program could appear in the tournament. None of the "lower" classification schools managed to make an appearance, it was the same suspects then as now.

The tournament consisted of four teams, two from both the east and west, until 1977, long past the point it should have expanded, as quality teams were left out most every year. After four years of allowing one additional team per region, 1981 saw an expansion to eight teams and the introduction of on-campus series. Another expansion in 1988 put the tournament at twelve teams.

1992 brought a major change, as hockey switched to the regional format that the basketball tournament had been using for decades. This eliminated on-campus games but also brought controversy, as the regionals proved to be less popular in hockey than in basketball. The tournament expanded 2003, going from two six-team regionals to four four-team regionals, a total of sixteen teams and that is the current format. The 2020 tournament was canceled because of COVID-19 and the 2021 tournament only had fourteen teams participating for the same reason.

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Timeline

YEAR EVENT(S)
1948 Tournament began with four teams, two from both the east and west regions, and held in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
1949 Third place game introduced.
1958 After ten years in Colorado Springs, tournament played in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1959 First tournament held in the east, in Troy, New York.
1977 Tournament expanded due to the rise of the CCHA. Additional teams could be added (one for each region), with a play-in game on-campus to advance to the semifinals. This season was the first five-team tournament.
1978 The only tournament with six teams, as an additional team was selected for each region. The following two seasons would only see an additional western team.
1981 Tournament expanded to eight teams. The first round is played as a two-game total-goals series on-campus.
1988 Tournament expanded to twelve teams. The top four teams receive byes into the quarterfinals. First round and quarterfinals are played as two-games total-goals.
1989 First round and quarterfinals changed to best-of-three series.

Final tournament with a third place game.

1992 Introduction of the current tournament format, with pre-determined regional sites (two with six teams each) instead of on-campus series. All rounds became single elimination.
2003 Tournament expanded to sixteen teams, now with four regionals of four teams each.
2020 Tournament canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 Only fourteen teams participate in the tournament, as Michigan and Notre Dame both withdrew after selection due to positive COVID-19 tests.