FARGO, North Dakota (WLNS) –The University of Michigan ice hockey team will not be allowed to participate in the 2021 NCAA Championship due to positive COVID-19 diagnoses among the players.
U-M’s ice hockey team was the No. 8-ranked and No. 2-seeded team, (15-10-1) and was scheduled to play No. 9-ranked and No. 3-seeded Minnesota Duluth, the two-time defending national champion.
Michigan and Minnesota Duluth were originally scheduled in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday, March 26 at Scheels Arena.
The game will be ruled a no-contest and Minnesota Duluth will advance to the next round of competition, according to associate athletic director, Kurt Svoboda in a U-M press release.
“I’m devastated for these players. These student-athletes have done a wonderful job all year of making sacrifices to get to this point of the year,” said Graham Family Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach Mel Pearson in a press release. “It’s unfortunate. I don’t completely understand the final decision but I have to respect it.
“They’ve given so much and to get this opportunity taken away from them, it’s hard to swallow. I know it’s just a game, but it’s extremely important to these young men. It’s two years in a row now we’ve been denied an opportunity to compete in the national championship. It has quite sunk in yet.
“I want to wish all the teams still playing good health, good luck and stay safe. Lastly, I want to make sure to thank the Michigan Hockey supporters. I’ve been blown away by the number of people who care deeply about and support this program. It truly means a lot to me and to our players. We’ll be back. Michigan Hockey will be back. Stronger and ready to go next year.”Graham Family Head Men’s Ice Hockey Coach Mel Pearson
U-M hockey student-athletes and staff had remained in daily testing protocol since the conclusion of the Big Ten Tournament and was preparing for Friday’s contest when notified by the NCAA.
This season’s NCAA Tournament bid was the 38th overall in U-M history, which is tied for the most with Minnesota. The Wolverines have a 53-30 all-time NCAA Tournament record, including a Division I-record nine national championships.