Gustavus lost in the national championship game in OT last year. They returned pretty much the entire team and spent most of this season ranked #1 in the polls (no lower than #2). They have a cross conference rivalry with Wisconsin River Falls and played 3 tight games with them during the regular season (losing 2 of them). Meanwhile River Falls took a trip out east and beat at least two of the traditional eastern powers on their own ice. So, the only time GAC wasn’t ranked #1 this year, River Falls was moved up to #1 mid season.
But in D3, under the described reason “saving money” - they supposedly try to reduce travel. So when the 11 team national tourney seedings were announced, GAC got #4 and RF got #5! No other MIAC or WIAC teams were given at large bids. In fact, they were the only two schools located outside of the eastern time zone. Meanwhile, one of the eastern conferences was awarded FOUR bids (champ and three at-large). Unfortunate Augsburg (very good team this season) essentially missed out on an at large bid thanks to their zip code.
The top remaining seed gets to host the frozen four. So, it was no accident putting #1 ranked GAC in the 4 seed. There was no chance all three schools seeded above them would lose prior to the frozen four.
They took the only two non-eastern teams that they let in, and made them play each other to get to the frozen four - ensuring that they’d only have to put one team on an airplane, and stacked the deck with 3 eastern teams (including the host) as the other frozen four participants.