GREAT FALLS – The Providence men's hockey team is one of 16 to qualify for the American Collegiate Hockey Association D2 National Tournament, the school announced Tuesday.
The Argos are a No. 9 seed.
Providence (6-8) was on the bubble entering the last week of the season. Due to COVID-19, the ACHA changed the qualification format, taking the top 16 teams in the national rankings.
The Argos were No. 18 heading into the final week of the season, where they played five games in six days, culminating in a win over the top-seeded University of Mary.
"We're super excited," Argos coach Jeff Heimel said. "The suspense of if all down the stretch was a lot. We were barely in all season, then we weren't in last week, compared to last year where we were highly seeded all year. I thought we had done enough but making it official is a relief. We're pretty excited."
The national tournament will be pool play, with four pods of four teams. The Argos will kick off their postseason run April 15 against eighth-seeded North Carolina State.
They'll take on Mary the next day before facing No. 16 Davenport on April 17. The winner of each pool will advance to the semifinals.
All games will take place in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The Argos won the conference championship last season on the way to qualifying as a No. 2 seed. The tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Those guys were disappointed last year as was I," Heimel said. "So were a lot of athletes across the country. We didn't want that to be an excuse to not come out and treat it like a different season. We still wanted to work hard. We didn't want to think that our success last year guaranteed our success this year. It was in the back of our minds of how bad we wanted to get there. We feel like we have some unfinished business and now we get a chance to take care of that."
This is the third year Providence has fielded a men's hockey team.
"It's great for our program," Heimel said. "It's another accolade for us. It's exciting. We definitely didn't think that the program would start this fast. But now that we're here, we don't want to mesmerized by the surprise and have the attitude that we're happy to be there. We want to take care of business and win."
The Argos do feel prepared after defeating the top-seeded Marauders.
"We've never wanted to approach this with anything less than wanting to win the whole thing," Heimel said. "The big thing is we know we can win. We know we're ready. We know we're capable of it, but we also have to prepare well and perform too."