GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- For the first time in five years, the University of North Dakota is taking a different path to the NCAA hockey tournament.
On Sunday, UND was given the No. 2 seed in the East Regional in Worcester, Mass. The Fighting Sioux have played at West Regional sites the past four seasons.
The defending national champions will begin their quest to repeat on Saturday, when they take on one of two teams they know well.
The Sioux will face the winner of Friday's game between Colorado College of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference playoff champion St. Lawrence.
The Sioux beat Colorado College 2-1 last week in the WCHA playoff semifinals in St. Paul, Minn. They split two games with the Tigers earlier in the season in Colorado Springs, losing by two goals and then winning in overtime.
UND swept St. Lawrence 6-1 and 4-2 in November in Grand Forks. The teams also have met before in the NCAA tournament. UND swept the Saints in a two-game quarterfinal series in Grand Forks in 1987 and beat them in the 1959 semifinals in Troy, N.Y.
The Sioux went on to win the national championship in both of those years.
The winner of the Saturday matchup advances to the NCAA Frozen Four April 5-7 in Albany, N.Y.
The bracketing met with the approval of Sioux captain Jeff Panzer, the NCAA scoring leader and a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey.
"We've played both teams, and we know what they have," he said. "So it makes preparation a bit easier, rather than dealing with the unknown."
Not being sent to the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich., has not upset the Sioux.
WCHA playoff winner St. Cloud State is going into that regional as the No. 2 seed, and the Huskies may have to beat the University of Michigan to make it to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history.
The Sioux know what a tough task it can be to beat the Wolverines in Michigan. In 1998, No. 2 seed and defending champion UND lost to third-seeded Michigan in Ann Arbor, when the Wolverines played host to the regional.
"You look at the bracket St. Cloud State got, and that's tough," Panzer said. "We know what that's like -- we've been there before."
Panzer said it will be exciting to play in a different regional.
"It's something different, something new," he said. "And when we play either Colorado College or St. Lawrence, there won't be a real home team, like it would be playing Michigan in Grand Rapids."
In the other half of the East Regional, the University of Minnesota will play Maine from Hockey East in a first-round game, with the winner advancing to face top-seeded Boston College on Saturday.
Wisconsin, the fifth WCHA team to make the 12-team national tournament, meets Providence from Hockey East in a first-round West Regional game on Saturday. The winner will take on Michigan State.
On Sunday, St. Cloud State will face the winner of Saturday's game between Michigan and Mercyhurst.
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