(Minnesota Cup) officially releases dates and pairings

A yet-to-be named two-day mid-season tournament involving the state’s five Division I men’s teams has officially set a schedule for the first four years, starting in 2014 at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

Minnesota will serve as a permanent host and the other four teams will compete on a rotating schedule in the four-team event.

The inaugural tournament, Jan. 24-25, 2014, has Minnesota Duluth facing Minnesota State-Mankato and St. Cloud State meeting Minnesota in the opening round. A championship and third-place game are played the next day. Bemidji State will sit out in the first year. Game times and ticket information are still to be determined, and a contest is planned to name the tournament. The working name of the event has been the Minnesota Cup.

First-round pairings and tournament dates beyond 2014: Jan. 23-24, 2015, UMD vs. Bemidji State and Minnesota State-Mankato vs. Minnesota; Jan. 29-30, 2016, Minnesota State-Mankato vs. St. Cloud State and Bemidji State vs. Minnesota; and Jan. 27-28, 2017, St. Cloud State vs. Bemidji State and UMD vs. Minnesota.

Also, the reconfigured 10-team Western Collegiate Hockey Association has announced its league playoff format starting in 2014. The top eight teams during the regular season will be paired in best-of-three first-round series at home sites. The four winners will meet in semifinal games followed by a Broadmoor Trophy title game. The Final Five championship weekend will rotate between Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 2014 (March 21-22) and at the Xcel Energy Center (March 20-21) in 2015. The tournament will be at Van Andel Arena in 2016 and at Xcel Energy Center in 2017.