How do the Division III rankings work?

We are often asked how Division III rankings work and how our participation in the SECHC figures into those rankings.  We hope you find the below explanation helpful in following our progress throughout the season.

How do the ACHA national rankings work?

ACHA Men’s Division III college hockey is divided into four geographic regions:  Atlantic, North, Pacific, and South.  All teams nationwide are eligible for a ranking within their specific region assuming that they play a minimum of sixteen total games prior to the final ranking period.  Teams are ranked on a regional basis by four regional ranking committees comprised of nine coaches from each region.  Each ranking committee member submits a ballot with teams ranked 1-15.  Once the nine members’ ballots are collected, the senior member of the committee (known as the “regional coordinator”) drops each voting member’s highest and lowest ranking to produce the ranking for that particular period.  In total, the top fifteen teams from each region are ranked in this manner four total times.

Regional rankings take place every season at the following times:

1. Ranking Period 1 ends on the 1st full weekend in November.

2. Ranking Period 2 ends on the 1st full weekend in December.

3. Ranking Period 3 ends on the 3rd full weekend in January.

4. Final Ranking Period ends on the 2nd full weekend in February.

The final ranking period is most critical.  Of the fifteen ranked teams in each region, only the top ten are eligible for national post-season play.  Four teams from each region will ultimately compete in the National Tournament for an opportunity to win the National Championship.  The top two teams from the final ranking period receive an automatic bye to the National Tournament.  That leaves open spots at the National Tournament for two teams from each region.  To fill those spots, teams ranked third through tenth in the final ranking period will compete in a Regional Tournament held somewhere in their specific region.  Four total regional tournaments therefore take place in a single elimination two-day event.

At the conclusion of the four regional tournaments, sixteen teams are left standing.  The sixteen team field is then ranked for purposes of the National Tournament and each of the sixteen teams is placed in one of four pools.  Each team is then guaranteed three total games–one against each member of that team’s pool–to determine a pool winner.  The four pool winners will then compete in two semi-final games to determine the participants in the National Championship.

Could you tell me even more detail about the National Tournament?

The National Tournament games consist of three periods, each of which shall be twenty minutes long, with resurfacing between each period, and applicable overtimes.  The National Tournament spans four days beginning on a Tuesday.  The game schedule is as follows:

Tuesday – Seeds (#1 vs. #4) & (#2 vs. #3) in each pool

Wednesday – Seeds (#1 vs. #3) & (#2 vs. #4) in each pool

Thursday – Seeds (#1 vs. #2) & (#3 vs. #4) in each pool

Friday – Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner and Pool C vs. Pool D winner in the morning (time to be determined by host)

Saturday – National Championship

In case of a tie game at the end of regulation time, a ten-minute overtime is played in all preliminary games (Tuesday-Thursday) and is 5 on 5. Semi-final and Championship games are 20-minute overtime periods until a winner is determined.

In the event of ties in records in tournament competition, the higher standings will be determined by:  (A) head to head competition; (B) number of wins; (C) fewest goals against in all tournament games; (D) goal differential in all tournament games; (E) fewest penalty minutes; (F) most periods won in pool play, determined by plus minus in goals; (G) quickest goal recorded on score sheet in pool play; and (H) coin flip by the Commissioner.

Where does the SECHC fit into all of this?

The short answer is that our conference play has nothing to do with the National Tournament.  The Razorback Hockey team is a member of the Western Division of the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference (SECHC).  Within that division, we compete against Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, and Mississippi State.  The SECHC-East is comprised of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.  All teams participating in the SECHC are ACHA Division III teams.  Although Texas A&M and Missouri have ACHA teams, they participate at the Division II level and are thus not part of the SECHC.

SECHC regular season games determine post-season conference tournament eligibility and, assuming we make the SECHC playoffs, our seed within the tournament.  The top four teams from each division earn a spot in the playoffs.  The three-day tournament is structured as follows:

Day 1
Quarterfinal #1 – 2 West vs 3 East
Quarterfinal #2 – 1 East vs 4 West
Quarterfinal #3 – 2 East vs 3 West
Quarterfinal #4 – 1 West vs 4 East

Day 2
7th Place Game – Lowest Losing Seed vs 2nd Lowest Losing Seed
5th Place Game – Highest Losing Seed vs 2nd Highest Losing Seed
Semi-final # 1 – Winner Quarterfinal #1 vs Winner Quarterfinal #2
Semi-final # 2 – Winner Quarterfinal #3 vs Winner Quarterfinal #4

Day 3
3rd Place Game – Loser Semi-final #1 vs Loser Semi-final #2
Championship Game – Winner Semi-final #1 vs Winner Semi-final #2