ORONO – The University of Maine may get another shot at late-season nemesis Massachusetts.

Despite ending the season with four consecutive defeats to UMass, including two in the first round of the Hockey East tournament, the Black Bears received an at-large bid to the NCAA men’s hockey tournament Sunday.

Maine (21-14-2) was named the No. 3 seed in the East Regional and will face No. 2 St. Cloud State on Friday in Rochester, N.Y. The other two teams in the region are No. 1 seed Clarkson and No. 4 Massachusetts.

If they both win their first-round game, Maine and UMass would meet in the East Regional championship, with the winner advancing to the Frozen Four in St. Louis.

Maine is making its ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, the second longest current streak in the nation. Michigan is first at 16. Maine has won the national championship in 1993 and 1999.

A weekend sweep at North Dakota early in the year plus victories on neutral sites against Minnesota and New Hampshire are believed to have provided Maine with the points necessary to receive the bid. But in their final 18 games, Maine went 7-11.

The Black Bears should receive a lift entering the tournament with the return of starting goalie Ben Bishop, who missed much of the final month with a groin injury.

St. Cloud State (22-10-7) finished fourth in the WCHA tournament. The two teams last met in 2004, when they played to a 1-1 tie. Maine is 5-1-1 overall against St. Cloud.


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