More than a decade before the NCHC and Big Ten Hockey were introduced, St. Cloud State and Michigan were a part of the WCHA and (original) CCHA, respectively. Prior to the 2001 NCAA tournament, the two teams had never faced one another on the ice. That changed during the national tournament that season where the teams met on the big stage.
Going into the tournament, the Huskies landed an automatic bid as the WCHA Tournament champions. This earned St. Cloud State the second seed in the West Regional and a first round bye. The Wolverines were an at-large bid after finishing third in the CCHA regular season and runner-up in the conference tournament to the rival Spartans. As a third seed in the West Regional, the Wolverines defeated Mercyhurst 4-3 in the opening round to advance to a date with the Huskies.
While Michigan was a lower seed, the team held the home ice advantage in the regional played in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Wolverines jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period before St. Cloud State got on the board in the second. Mike Cammalleri scored toward the end of the second period to extend the Wolverine lead to 3-1. A power play goal by St. Cloud State less than two minutes into the third period brought the Huskies to within one but the ultimate game winner was scored by Geoff Koch several minutes later. The Huskies added another power play goal late in the third period, but it wasn’t enough. Michigan won the game 4-3 and advanced to play Boston College in the Frozen Four. The Eagles defeated the Wolverines in the semifinal en route to its second national title.
Overall, this was Michigan’s 24th appearance in the NCAA tournament and third for St. Cloud State. Both teams will play a series this weekend at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. It will be the third and fourth games played between the programs and first time the teams will play one another in the regular season and outside the state of Michigan.
Photo Credit: St. Cloud State University, “The Chronicle [March 26, 2001]” (2001). Chronicle. 3477.