For the first time in over 10 years, the University of Maine Men's Hockey team is heading to the NCAA Tournament. The Black Bears received its first bid since the 2011-2012 season after a very successful season. UMaine is now set for a matchup against a formidable Ivy League school in Cornell, with the game to be played in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This is exciting news for the Black Bears, who finished a very respectable 23-11-2 record, including a 3rd place finish in the Hockey East Conference. This is the best record for the Black Bears since that special 2011-2012 season. It's also the first time Head Coach Ben Barr has led his team to more than 20 wins. That is quite impressive, considering it's only his third year at the helm.

Maine Black Bears via YouTube
Maine Black Bears via YouTube

Maine was given a 2-seed in the Springfield Regional. The Black Bears face a Cornell side that always seems to be a solid contender. The winner of that game will face the winner of Denver and UMass. This regional is absolutely stacked with talent. It's truly four programs that could all make a case for being Frozen Four-bound.

This is a season that the Maine program truly needed, and one fans have been waiting for. Barr was a very popular hire when it was made a few years ago. It was expected he would turn the once proud program around. However, I'm not sure anyone knew it would be this quick.

It certainly helped that a pair of Canadian brothers decided Maine would be the right fit for them. Josh and Bradly Nedeau helped lead the team to the postseason, receiving some hardware in the process. Bradly was named to the Hockey East All-Star Second Team, with Josh ending up on the Third Team.

The Nadeau's, along with the rest of the Bears, kick things off this Thursday, March 28, with a 5:30p puck drop. If you can't make the trek to Springfield, don't worry. The game will air on ESPNews.

Good luck to the Black Bears. It's wonderful to see them back where they belong. It seems like this new era of Black Bear hockey is going to work out quite well.

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