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GREAT FALLS – The Providence men's hockey team has officially clinched a trip to the ACHA national tournament.

The Argos (22-6-2) ended the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the West Region behind the University of Mary and won the regional tournament last weekend. The top two seeds get an automatic bid to the national tournament and get to forgo the regional tournament later this month.

"It's incredible," UP coach Jeff Heimel said. "I can't even describe it. It is so cool. The guys just deserve it. It couldn't be a better group of guys that are going to this tournament. It's really been a fun season."

The Argos spent a majority of the regular season at the No. 2 spot in the regional rankings.

Before the Mountain West Conference tournament last weekend, five of the seven teams in the conference were ranked in the top seven. The Argos had a slight lead over Metro State for the No. 2 seed.

They cruised past Utah Valley, defeated Montana State and then beat Mary in overtime in the conference tournament.

"For the last six weeks we've been right at that two spot," Heimel said. "We've been hoping and praying that we'd continue playing good hockey and be right at that spot. We try not to get too far ahead ourselves there, but at times it was hard not to think that we had a good chance of doing it. It started to become a reality as it got closer. After the tournament I was pretty sure we did it. Now it's official."

The Argos get to forgo the regional tournament, which begins Feb. 27. After regionals they'll know their opponent in the national tournament, which takes place March 20-24 in Plano, Texas.

In the meantime, the Argos take on Montana State on Friday night in Bozeman.

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