MARQUETTE - The Northern Michigan University hockey team finished the 2011-12 season as the last team left out of the 2012 NCAA Division I men's ice hockey tournament field, which was announced Sunday.
The Wildcats finished the season in a three-way tie for 15th in the PairWise rankings - the mathematical formula used to select and rank the tournament - with CCHA rival Michigan State and Hockey East's Merrimack.
The Spartans held the superior ratings percentage index score of .5354 among the three teams to receive the final at-large berth. No. 15 MSU plays No. 3 Union at 3 p.m. on Friday in the East Regional in Bridgeport, Conn.
Northern, with an RPI of .5307, edged out Merrimack by seven ten thousandths of a percentage point to finish 16th overall in the PairWise, but that seed in the tournament went to Atlantic Hockey champion Air Force. The Falcons face No. 1 Boston College at 4 p.m. on Saturday in the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass.
Michigan received the No. 2 overall seed and will play No. 13 Cornell in the Midwest Regional at 9 p.m. on Friday at the Resch Center in Green Bay. CCHA regular season champion Ferris State, the sixth overall seed, plays No. 11 Denver prior to Michigan's contest in the Midwest Regional, which is hosted by Michigan Tech.
No. 5 Miami joins Michigan State in Bridgeport and will face UMass-Lowell at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
No. 14 Western Michigan, which defeated Michigan for the Mason Cup on Saturday, opens against No. 4 North Dakota, the WCHA playoff champion, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the West Regional in St. Paul.
After falling to Bowling Green State in the first round of the CCHA playoffs, the Wildcats sat and waited for two weeks before learning their ultimate fate. Victories by Cornell and Air Force on Saturday officially doused the last of the Wildcats' hopes to receive an at-large berth.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.