You never know what’s going to happen in the NCAA hockey tournament, of course.

But maybe the Mavs will enjoy some version of a home-ice advantage on Friday, when UNO opens the postseason playing Michigan at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Of the four NCAA regional hockey sites, the one in St. Louis definitely will be played in the arena most similar to Qwest Center Omaha, the cavernous 16,680-seat barn the Mavs call home.

For hockey, the Scottrade Center (home of the NHL’s St. Louis blues) lists a capacity of 19,150.

Compare that to the three other 2011 NCAA sites:

The Resch Center in Green Bay lists its hockey capacity at 8,709; The Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H., seats 10,092 for hockey; and Webster Bank’s Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport, Conn., lists hockey capacity at 8,500.

Those three arenas all will have a much more intimate setting than the one BC, CC, UNO and Michigan play in front of in St. Louis this weekend.

But Mavs fans aren’t about to complain, considering that UNO was placed in the closest regional to home. St. Louis is about 440 miles from Omaha, compared to the 570-mile distance between Omaha and Green Bay.

It will be interesting now to see how many Mavs backers actually are in the stands on Friday in St. Louis. Perhaps, for the first time in the 14-year history of UNO pucks, we’ll truly see how well area hockey fans travel when they can hop in a car and make a reasonable drive to see the Mavs play a huge game. Of course, the Scottrade Center is so big, it’s tough to imagine much electricity in the building for a 4:30 p.m. game — even if a good number of local puckheads make the trip.

Still, when the Mavs last played in the NCAAs in 2006, there probably were only about 100 UNO fans who were able to make the long journey to Worcester, Mass.

Win or lose this weekend, St. Louis was the dream NCAA destination for most people who follow UNO hockey. And there’s no denying this fact: A certain coach who has two NCAA titles on his resume loves bus trips (like the one UNO will make to St. Louis) and despises flying (which UNO would’ve done had it been shipped out East).

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