WMU News

WMU to host NCAA hockey regional at Van Andel

July 15, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University will complete a hat trick of sorts when it serves as host institution for the 2004 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Midwest Regional at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.

WMU and Van Andel partnered on regionals held in 1997 and 2001, producing three of the four largest crowds in West Regional history. NCAA hockey returns to Van Andel March 27-28, 2004.

The NCAA is expected to approve bracket expansion for the first time since 1988 when the executive committee meets in August. Such a move would increase the tournament field from 12 to 16 teams for the 2002-03 season. Under the new format, four teams would be sent to each region--Northeast, East, Midwest and West. The current NCAA format, in place for the past decade, splits the tourney field into East and West regionals.

"We are very pleased the NCAA has given us the opportunity to host another regional," said Kathy Beauregard, director of athletics. "We are looking forward to working with Van Andel Arena again in presenting a first-class event."

"As an institution it is exciting to host a regional for the third time," said Jim Culhane, head hockey coach. "The NCAAs are a tremendous showcase for college hockey, made possible through our relationship with Van Andel Arena and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association."

Tournament expansion has offered cities a chance to host NCAA games that were previously locked up until 2007. In addition to Grand Rapids, Manchester, N.H., was added to the 2004 lineup that originally included Albany, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo. For the upcoming season, Worcester, Mass., and Minneapolis will join previously selected sites in Providence, R.I., and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, 269 387-4138, daniel.jankowski@wmich.edu

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