More: 2012 Women’s Frozen Four

The first full hockey season at Amsoil Arena will bring the first national exposure to the rink in 2011-12.

The 2012 NCAA Division I Frozen Four women’s tournament was awarded Monday to the DECC and Minnesota Duluth. The dates are expected to be March 16-18. Duluth previously was home to the 2008 and 2003 women’s Frozen Four. The NCAA also announced the 2013 Frozen Four women’s tournament will be at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

The $80-million, 6,600-seat Amsoil Arena at the DECC opens Dec. 30, halfway through the 2010-11 season, as the UMD men face North Dakota in a game to benefit the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The first games in the new rink for the UMD women are Jan. 21-22 against Wisconsin.

“There have been 10 Frozen Four tournaments for women, and the best two have been in Duluth because of a number of reasons,” UMD coach Shannon Miller said Tuesday. “The atmosphere at the rink has been incredible, the hospitality from the city has been tremendous and the organization of the event has been first class. That’s the feedback the NCAA has received and that’s why the tournament is coming back.”

Miller, the only coach in UMD program history, is a member of the five-person NCAA Championships Committee, chaired by Vermont senior associate athletic director Jeff Schulman. In discussing the future tournament sites, Miller said she was the last one to talk and wasn’t involved in making a final decision.

In the two Frozen Four women’s tournaments at the DECC, UMD defeated Harvard 4-3 in double overtime in the 2003 final before a crowd of 5,167, and the Bulldogs beat Wisconsin 4-0 for the 2008 title in front of 4,031 fans. UMD has won five of the 10 Frozen Four titles, including 2010, beating Cornell 3-2 in triple overtime at Ridder Arena.

It’s believed about six schools put in bids to host the 2012 and 2013 tournaments.

“We work with the DECC to build a budget, partly on projected ticket revenue, with the NCAA receiving a guaranteed percentage,” said UMD athletic director Bob Nielson. “You don’t make money, you just hope to cover your expenses, and at the same time get some good exposure for your school and city.”

DECC officials had put in bids for three hockey events in 2012, with the expectation of landing one for its new building. They had bid on an NCAA Division I men’s regional and the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Championship, but since have found there is a conflict in April, with the women’s tournament, because of the Arrowhead Home and Builders Show, said DECC executive director Dan Russell. The 2012 and 2017 World Women’s Championships have been awarded to the United States, although sites haven’t been chosen.

The 2012 Division I men’s regional sites were awarded Monday to Bridgeport, Conn.; Worcester, Mass.; Green Bay, Wis.; and St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center. The 2011 Frozen Four women’s tournament is in Erie, Pa.