Grand Forks to host NCHC postseason tournament

The event will be held March 12-16.

Ralph Engelstad Arena.

GRAND FORKS -- The second version of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod is coming to Grand Forks.

The entire NCHC postseason tournament will be played in Ralph Engelstad Arena between March 12-16.

The event will be a single-elimination tournament with two quarterfinal matchups on Friday, March 12, two more on Saturday, March 13, the semifinals on Monday, March 16 and the championship game on Tuesday, March 17. There will be no third-place game.

“Due to continued challenges with COVID-19, we are forced to alter the structure and location of the 2021 NCHC Tournament," NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton said. "Circumstances surrounding travel, testing, and fan attendance made the traditional format difficult to complete. We are disappointed that we will not be able to culminate the season at Xcel Energy Center, but look forward to bringing one of college hockey’s best tournament experiences back to Saint Paul in 2022.

“We are very grateful to the University of North Dakota and Ralph Engelstad Arena for their willingness to host this unique tournament structure. We look forward to bringing exciting NCHC action to Grand Forks this March.”


Fans will be allowed to attend the event on a limited basis. Capacity will be determined by local health and state guidelines. Ralph Engelstad Arena is currently capping attendance at 3,000 fans due to the coronavirus pandemic. That equates to roughly 25% of capacity.

The four quarterfinal games will be on CBS Sports Network will broadcast the semifinals and championship game.

“We are humbled and appreciative for the opportunity to host the nation’s premier college hockey post-season tournament," UND athletic director Bill Chaves said. "I have no doubt that the University of North Dakota, Ralph Engelstad Arena and all our Grand Forks community partners will rally together to make this event a first-class experience for all NCHC student-athletes, coaches and fans.

"The collaboration and coordination among all eight schools during this incredibly unique year has been extraordinary. The leadership shown by both the NCHC Board of Directors and our Commissioner has been tremendous. Our goal now is to do our part in concluding the NCHC season in a safe and memorable fashion for all involved.”

The format gives participating teams more than a week off to rest and recover for the NCAA tournament, which is scheduled to begin March 26.

UND is looking to win the NCHC tournament for the first time since the league formed in 2013-14. It was the favorite last season, but the playoffs were wiped out due to the pandemic.

The NCHC will conclude its season the same way it opened with all eight teams in one location.

From Dec. 1-21, the league brought all eight teams to Omaha's Baxter Arena, where they played a total of 38 games. The league made a minor adjustment to accommodate for a late arrival for Colorado College due to a positive COVID-19 test, but once the teams arrived in Omaha, all games were played without a problem. Fenton said he believed the league had no active positive cases on site.


The second half of the season returned to normal travel and has been plagued by constant schedule adjustments and postponements due to COVID-19 positive tests.

122020.S.DNT.UMDmpux c17.JPG
An ice-resurfacing machine makes a pass after warmups before the start of a game Saturday, Dec. 19, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank /

122020.S.DNT.UMDmpux c17.JPG
An ice-resurfacing machine makes a pass after warmups before the start of a game Saturday, Dec. 19, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. (Tyler Schank /

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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