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Xcel Energy Center played host to the NCAA men's Frozen Four for the fourth time this weekend, and if Tom McGinnis has his way, the event will return in the not-too-distant future.

McGinnis, the Gophers senior associate athletic director who oversees the hockey programs, said the Gophers and Visit St. Paul plan to put in bids for future Frozen Fours. Minnesota did not bid on the next two that will be awarded — 2027 and '28 — but plan to seek a Frozen Four in the following cycle. The 2025 Frozen Four will be played in St. Louis and the 2026 event in Las Vegas.

"[The NCAA] just did a bid cycle for 2027 and 2028. We didn't do that one because we figured they probably wouldn't come back [to St. Paul] that quick," McGinnis said Saturday. "We feel this is the premier event in college hockey, and it belongs in St. Paul. We certainly will be an active participant in the bid process the next time around."

McGinnis added that he expects the next bid cycle to cover 2029 to possibly 2031 and will open in the next couple of years.

There has been talk of changing the NCAA regional format, which does not allow for regionals to be played on campus sites. If that changes, McGinnis said the university would be interested.

"Part of the challenge of the current structure is outside of Xcel, there's no venue in the state that can host," he said. "We've got six [Division I] college hockey programs in the state, and we don't have a venue that can host. There's no USHL venue in Minnesota. We've got a ton of popularity in college hockey but can't host a regional here, which I think is a little silly."

Debate over major junior players

The NCAA considers players in the Canadian Hockey League — the umbrella organization for the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — to be professionals because some have signed pro contracts and therefore are not eligible to play American college hockey.

However, with the adoption of name, image and likeness payments to NCAA players, there is discussion among coaches and administrators that it could be time to allow CHL players in college hockey.

Count Air Force coach Frank Serratore as a proponent.

Serratore believes there are blue blood programs — such as the traditional powers in the Big Ten, NCHC and Hockey East — and the have-nots, such as his Falcons, who play in the Atlantic Hockey Association. He sees the blue bloods poaching the have-nots through the transfer portal, which allows players to transfer without sitting out a season.

For example, Bemidji State standout freshman defenseman Eric Pohlkamp recently transferred to Denver. Ditto for Connecticut sophomore forward Matthew Wood, a 2023 first-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators who is transferring to the Gophers.

Serratore believes allowing CHL players could fill a talent gap.

"That's the only bullet that the have-nots have," Serratore said of adding CHL players during an appearance on KFXN-FM's "Beyond the Pond." "… The only thing we can do is to deepen the pool is that. I don't think those kids should be ineligible."

Serratore also pointed to this year's Frozen Four, which includes three No. 1 seeds in Boston College, Denver and Boston University, as evidence of the growing gap between program levels.

"We've got a blue-blood Frozen Four," he said. "Get used to looking at it."