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In a rematch of the 2006 national championship game, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Boston College Eagles will face off once again for college hockey glory on Saturday night at Detroit's Ford Field. For more on the game, visit our blogs covering each team, linked above.
Here's the updated bracket as we enter tonight's finale:
Boston College dominated top-ranked Miami of Ohio on Thursday night to advance to the NCAA final. They'll face Wisconsin. Eagles fans at SBN's BC blog, BC Interruption, rejoiced in their fourth straight tournament win over the Redhawks.
Tonight Miami's coach Enrico Blasi will undoubtedly wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, having nightmares about Jerry York and the Boston College Eagles. The RedHawks once again found themselves matched against BC in the NCAA Tournament ... for the fourth time in five seasons, to be precise. And for the fourth straight time, the Eagles found a way to end the RedHawks' National Title hopes.
Much had been made of Miami's defense going into this game, but it was the Eagles defense that arguably had their best performance of the year. Muse didn't have to make a ton of stops but when he did, he came up huge.
The RedHawks fall to 0-5 all-time against BC under coach Enrico Blasi, while John Muse maintains his perfect 7-0 record in the NCAA Tournament.
In the first semifinal, Wisconsin steamrolled RIT 8-1 in a game that was never close. Wisconsin drew first blood less than 2 minutes into the first period and never looked back.
The Eagles face the Wisconsin Badgers in the National Championship game on Saturday night. The game will be aired on ESPN starting at 7 PM ET. The Badgers and Eagles last played on October 10, 2008 in the Eagles' home opener (and their banner raising night for their 2008 National Championship). BC won 5-4.
Keep checking in at BCI for more Frozen Four madness as the championship game nears.
The Miami Red Hawks tried to keep the game close, in fact bringing the score to 3-1 with thirteen minutes left in the third period. The Boston College Eagles then exploded for four goals, including three in a minute and a half, to defeat Miami 7-1 to advance to the national championship.
Ben Smith scored two goals for Boston College while Jimmy Hayes, Joe Whitney, Cam Atkinson, Patch Alber, and Paul Carey all scored one goal a piece. Joe Hartman scored the lone goal for Miami. Boston College outshot Miami 30-18 in the game and converted 2 of 5 on the power play while Miami (OH) went 0 for 2 on the powerplay.BC quarterback John Muse made 17 saves on the night while Miami goaltender Connor Knapp was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on nine shots. Cody Reichard came in and made 17 saves on 21 shots.
Boston College will now face off against Wisconsin who had their own thrashing when they defeated the RIT Tigers 8-1 in the first semifinal. The face off will be Saturday night at 7:00 pm EST.
The BC Eagles took a 3-0 lead into the third period of the second semifinal game in the Frozen Four, but the Miami Red Hawks have just recently scored to bring the deficit to two. Jimmy Hayes and Joe Whitney scored the two goals for BC in the second period while Joe Hartman scored the lone goal for the Miami Red Hawks.
BC is outshooting the Red Hawks 23-16 and have also converted on two power play chances of their four while Miami has gone 0 for 2 in the game. With roughly 13 minutes left in the game, Miami needs another quick score to continue building on the momentum they just created.
Ben Smith has scored the only goal for the Boston College Eagles as they take a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. This game has been a defensive battle from the start as both teams have combined for a total of 11 shots, 6-5 advantage Miami (OH). BC's goal came on the powerplay, which is 1 for 2 on the night.
Miami (OH)'s Connor Knapp has played well besides letting in the lone goal of the game thus far, making four saves. On the other end, John Muse has made all six saves he has faced in the first
The Wisconsin Badgers will be playing on Saturday as they took care of the RIT Tigers with an 8-1 victory in the first semifinal game of the Frozen Four. Derek Stepan had two goals while John Mitchell, Jordy Murray, Blake Geoffrion, Justin Schultz, Michael Davies, and Craig Smith all had one goal. RIT's lone goal was scored by Tyler Brenner. Brenden Smith had three assists.
RIT was outshot 37-14 in the game and just looked out of place as Wisconsin controlled the game for pretty much the full 60 minutes. The only goal they allowed was Brenner's powerplay goal at the end of the second period. The Badgers controlled the play and will now face the winner of the Boston College/Miami (OH) game that will face off at 8:30 pm EST.
It appears that the Cinderella run for RIT in this tournament is going to come to a screeching halt as the Wisconsin Badgers are dominating every facet of the game with a 6-1 lead after two periods in Detroit. Jordy Murray, Justin Schultz, Michael Davies, and Blake Geoffrion have all scored for the Badgers. Tyler Brenner has scored late in the second period for the Tigers.
The Badgers are outshooting Tigers 23-9 after two periods and have scored on the powerplay and even strength. RIT looks increasingly frustrated as they have taken some penalties driven just by frustration and the Badgers have made them pay with two power play goals in that period.
The 2010 NCAA Frozen Four is this weekend at Detroit's Ford Field. While the reasoning for holding the event in a football stadium is obvious -- more seats, more fans -- it doesn't mean that the home of the NFL's Detroit Lions will necessarily be all that full.
The NCAA is expecting a crowd of about 30,000 on hand for each of the three games this weekend in a building that seats 65,000 for football an 78,000 for basketball. Some of that has to do with the configuration of the arena (warning: PDF file), of course.
Either way, it should be a pretty electric atmosphere at Ford Field for these games. The RIT Tigers are the Cinderella, a team in a poor conference who wasn't given much thought. After upsetting Denver and, to an extent, New Hampshire, in the Regionals, RIT has proven that they can slay the dragon. There's no reason that they can't win two more games in this tournament, and fans in Rochester have taken notice. It's the Tigers' first Division 1 NCAA Tournament and their first Frozen Four.
The other teams, however, have certainly been here before. All number one seeds, Wisconsin, Miami and Boston College have all won national championships in the past and their fans all expect to win.
Both semifinal games are on Thursday.
As already mentioned, the RIT Tigers are the suddenly-feared Cinderella. They've proven to the college hockey world that a great team in a poor conference doesn't necessarily make that team a pushover simply because of that poor conference.
Wisconsin is going to give the Tigers their biggest challenge yet, though. The Badgers are a solid team from top to bottom, led by senior Hobey Baker candidate Blake Geoffrion. Their offense isn't just one player deep, though, and they can put up a potent attack that will fire toward the Tigers at will.
The Eagles first opponent will be top seed from the Midwest Regional, the Miami RedHawks. To get to the Frozen Four, the RedHawks scraped past Alabama-Huntsville (2-1) and Michigan (3-2 OT) to get back to the Frozen Four. This year marks the first time in program history the RedHawks have made back-to-back appearances in the Frozen Four. Jerry York's team will have to contend with the toughest defense in the country statistically. The RedHawks are giving up a minuscule 1.84 goals per game. Both Miami goaltenders rank 1-2 in the nation in GAA. After being bounced from the NCAAs the last four seasons by a Hockey East school from Boston, Miami certainly has something to prove when they face the Eagles again tomorrow.
Click over to BCI to get the entire read.
Here's our bracket, updated just prior to today's round.
Here's the updated bracket following this weekend's action. Boston College will take on Miami in a battle of number-one seeds in the first semifinal on April 8, while one-seed Wisconsin will take on Cinderella fourth-seed RIT in the other. Click the bracket to enlarge.
Top-seeded Miami University snuck by the Michigan Wolverines in double overtime on Sunday night to win the Midwest Regional and advance to the Frozen Four in Detroit. It was a back and forth game, with both teams outlasting brutal attacks from the other throughout. Tied at two through three periods, they would head to riveting sudden death.
The excitement of the game caused some controversy in the first overtime, when it appeared Michigan had scored the game winning goal. The puck was on the goal line inside the post behind Miami goalie Connor Knapp. It was poked free by an attacking player, but the play was quickly blown dead. It shouldn't have been, as Knapp never had control of the puck. Michigan put it in the net, but it was all for naught because the only play that can be reviewed in that situation is whether or not the puck crossed the line before the whistle.
The controversial call and the resulting loss left Michigan fans at SB Nation's Maize n Brew with this reaction.
It appears that we're no longer following the all-hallowed tradition of that when you're the first team to score in OT, you usually are rewarded with the W. So in that light, we present the Largest Middle Finger Of All Time to the referees of this regional final and to the Miami Clutch-and-Grabs. It's officially official, there is no God. That is all.
A minute and 54 seconds into the second overtime, Alden Hirschfeld scored on a shot from near the faceoff dot to give Miami the victory. They'll take on Boston College in the national semifinals on April 8.
SB Nation's Boston College blog, BC Interruption, has the recap as the Eagles dispatched the Yale Bulldogs by a ridiculous score of 9-7 to win the Northeast Regional and advance to the Frozen Four. It's BC's 23rd ever Frozen Four.
You couldn't have scripted a stranger game, that's for sure.
The Eagles built up a 9-4 lead midway through the third period and slowly watched as Yale scored 3 unanswered to cut the lead to 2. Fortunately, that was all the scoring in this one as the Eagles advance to 2010 Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit.
Cam Atkinson led the scoring with a hat trick and an assist, while linemate Joe Whitney notched 2 goals and 2 assists. BC's first line of Atkinson-Whitney-Gibbons registered over half of the Eagles points on the night (10 of 19).
While a few of the 7 Yale goals couldn't be helped, John Muse could be described as shaky at his best. His play was very inconsistent, allowing Yale to capitalize on a few long rebounds, much like he gave up in the Alaska game. The more disturbing trend has to be Muse's performance over his last three games. His 1 goal given up in the first round against Alaska is the only thing keeping his GAA below 6 in his last 3 starts (4.66). Muse did have some timely stops and finished the night stopping 32 of 39 Bulldog shots. He improves to 17-8-2 on the year and a perfect 6-0-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
Here's a run down of Saturday's action in the 2010 NCAA Division 1 Men's Hockey Tournament. Scroll down for a look at the updated bracket as today's action begins.
5:30 PM ET: #1 Boston College Eagles vs #3 Yale Bulldogs
The Yale Bulldogs are coming off a monster win over North Dakota on Saturday. Can they ride on the coattails of such a big victory right on through Boston College and to the Frozen Four? Well, it won't be easy against an Eagles team that comes into the game Sunday with a 9-0-1 record in it's last 10.
The Elis started goalie Ryan Rondeau against the Fighting Sioux, a surprising move considering that he hadn't played since giving up five goals against ECAC-worst Brown in November. It worked against North Dakota, but will it against BC?
SBN blog: BC Interruption, covering Boston College
TV coverage: ESPNU HD
9:00 PM ET: #1 Miami Redhawks vs #3 Michigan Wolverines
Top-seeded Miami faced a minor challenge from bottom-ranked Alabama-Huntsville on Saturday, but ultimately they prevailed to face resurgent Michigan in Sunday's regional final. The Wolverines shocked their own fans by getting to this point, but can they beat the best team in the land? A trip home to Michigan for the Frozen Four is on the line.
SBN blog: Maize n Brew, covering Michigan
TV coverage: ESPNU HD
Here's the bracket after Saturday's action. Click to enlarge.
It happens furiously this time of year. As teams are eliminated from their respective conference tournament's and now the NCAA tournament, seniors sign with NHL clubs in hopes of turning their hockey dreams into a career.
Brayden Irwin, power forward from the Vermont Catamounts, has signed with his home town team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. SB Nation's Leafs blog, Pension Plan Puppets, has the details.
Contrary to reports from the CBC the Toronto Maple Leafs did not sign Brady Irwin. Rather, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Brayden Irwin from the University of Vermont Catamounts. The signing hasn't been made official by the Maple Leafs yet because Vermont was just eliminated from the NCAA tournament. The Globe and Mail reported just over a week ago that he was among Brian Burke's targets and it looks like he has once again gotten his man. He joins Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson as free agents that Burke has signed from the NCAA.
Brayden Irwin is a six foot, five inch 215 pound monster local boy from Toronto. He took a quantum leap in production during his last year which is not a surprise considering he was a senior and turned 23 on the 24th of March.
Chris Dilks at SB Nation's Western College Hockey Blog was on the ground in St. Paul on Friday and Saturday for the NCAA West Regional at Xcel Energy Center. He filed an 'odds and ends' report with miscellanous observations from the two day event. The Wisconsin Badgers prevailed in the bracket to advance to the Frozen Four in Detroit.
- Attendance was 7100. I thought they would pick up more St. Cloud fans with it being a Saturday night, and being such a big game, but no luck. I still believe they priced out all but the hardcore fans with those tickets. Roman Augustoviz at the Star-Trib should have a article with quotes from the University of Minnesota's director of athletic communications Garry Bowman that talks about the attendance.
- All-Tournament Team: Blake Geoffrion, Garrett Roe, Tony Mosey, Brendan Smith,, Scott Gudmanson. MVP: Blake Geoffrion. My ballot was pretty much the same, except swap Ryan Lasch for Tony Mosey, Erik Gustafsson for Ryan McDonagh, and Rob Madore for Scott Gudmanson.
I felt Lasch made a few more plays than Mosey. It was really hard leaving McDonagh off because he was a rock all weekend, but I felt Gustafsson deserved recognition for how well he played on Friday. It's only one game, but he probably logged as much ice time as most players do in three games, and it's all the more impressive since he did it on a pretty bad ankle. Gudmanson won two games, and was good when he needed to be, but he wasn't great. Really, the last two goals he gave up to St. Cloud were a little soft. Madore was brilliant against Wisconsin, but didn't get the offensive support he needed.
- I watched St. Cloud's final nine games of the season, and quite frankly, that's way too much. I did gain a greater appreciation for the way Ryan Lasch plays. It helps that he registered points in each of his team's last five games. But I think still his professional future is overseas.
Click over to WCH for the whole read.
After two days of hockey, the RIT Tigers have shocked the tournament by advancing to the Frozen Four. They'll face off against Wisconsin next weekend in Detroit. Two regional finals will be played on Sunday to determine which teams will join them in the Motor City. Let's quickly take a glance at all of Saturday's action.
1:30 PM ET: #1 Boston College Eagles 3, #4 Alaska Nanooks 1
Alaska hung tough, but in the end, the top-seeded Eagles were able to pull out a victory with the 'hometown' crowd behind them in Worcester. Deadlocked through two periods, BC took over in the third with a quick strike less than four minutes in. Alaska pressed hard but BC sealed the deal with an empty netter late.
BC Interruption has full coverage.
5 PM ET: #3 Yale Bulldogs 3, #2 North Dakota Fighting Sioux 2
Yale quietly went about their business in the ECAC this season without much of a look from the national press, despite being ranked in the top ten at times. Because of that, not many expected Yale to beat North Dakota on Saturday, but that's exactly what happened. The Bulldogs scored three unanswered out of the gate, which was just enough to stave off a Fighting Sioux... um, fight, in the third period.
BC faces Yale on Sunday at 5:30 PM ET for the right to go to the Frozen Four.
4 PM ET: #1 Miami University Redhawks 2, #4 Alabama-Huntsville Chargers 1
Despite many people thinking it was a joke that UAH made the NCAA tournament, they proved their mettle in Saturday's match up with first-overall seed Miami. They gave Miami nine power play opportunities in the game, which killed any chances of gaining momentum in this game. It was 2-0 throughout until UAH scored with about 40 seconds left in the third. Too little, too late.
7:30 PM ET: #3 Michigan Wolverines 5, #2 Bemidji State Beavers1
Bemidji State made a magical run to the Frozen Four a year ago, but there will be no repeating that in 2010. Michigan rolled over the Beavers 5-1 in impressive fashion to advance to Sunday's regional final versus Miami.
Maize n Brew has full coverage.
6:30 PM ET: #4 RIT Tigers 6, #3 New Hampshire 2
Atlantic Hockey champion RIT used a flurry of 3 goals in a span of a few minutes in the second period to upset #3 New Hampshire 6-2. Another year, another New Hampshire post-season meltdown? A day after blasting Cornell 6-2, the Wildcats had no answer for Tiger goaltender Jared DeMichiel. UNH went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage. With the win, the Tigers punched their first-ever ticket to the Frozen Four.
9 PM ET: #1 Wisconsin Badgers 5, #2 St. Cloud State Huskies 3
St. Cloud beat Northern Michigan on Friday night in double-overtime, but there would be no more excitement for the Huskies on Saturday. In front of a virtual home crowd just an hour away from campus, SCSU fell to the Badgers 5-3. Wisconsin will play the Cinderella RIT Tigers in the national semifinal next weekend.
Here's a look at the bracket after today's action. Click to enlarge.
If the Alaska Nanooks have nothing else to show for their 4,089 mile trip to Worcester, they can take comfort in the fact that their Death Bear pregame videos made Jerry York's grandkids cry.
SBN's Boston College blog, BC Interruption, has the story.
Cinderellas are thriving not only in college basketball, but in college hockey too. Third-seeded Yale topped North Dakota 3-2 to advance to the Northeast Regional final. RIT bounced UNH 6-2 to complete their improbable run to the Frozen Four in winning the East Regional.
SBN's BC Interrpution, covering the Boston College Eagles, has a full rundown. BC will play Yale on Sunday.
In the first game of Saturday's NCAA hockey tournament action, the top-seeded Boston College Eagles outlasted Alaska 3-1 at the DCU Center in Worcester. BC advances to the Northeast Regional Final to play the winner of Yale and North Dakota. SB Nation's Boston College blog, BC Interruption, recapped their team's victory.
One down, three to go. The Eagles are now a win away from punching their ticket to the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit.
It certainly wasn't pretty, but BC did just enough this afternoon, outlasting the pesky Alaska Nanooks 3-1 at the DCU Center. Paul Carey tipped in the game winner just 3:46 into the third period. Carey's goal was assisted by Patch Alber and Steven Whitney as Alber led the Eagles on a quick counter-attack.
Boston College opened up the scoring just 8:54 into the opening period, when Matt Lombardi capitalized on a Nanook turnover and scored a short-handed goal. It was his 8th goal of the season (unassisted).
The Eagles added an empty-net goal when with just 11.3 seconds to play, Matt Price was hooked down on the breakaway with an empty Nanook net. Because UAF had emptied their net, the Alaska pulldown gave the Eagles the automatic goal.
John Muse played well in net, stopping 28 of 29 shots faced. On Alaska's one goal, an uncontested tap in from freshman Andy Taranto, Muse really had no shot. The junior goalie did give up some long rebounds that could have cost the Eagles.
The story of this game was special teams. Other than Matt Lombardi's short-handed goal, the Eagles gave up a power play goal and went 0-5 on the man-advantage. When the Eagles were on the power play, they really didn't sustain much of an attack. BC will need to play much better tomorrow if they hope to return to the Frozen Four.
Here's a run down of Saturday's action in the 2010 NCAA Division 1 Men's Hockey Tournament.
1:30 PM ET: #1 Boston College Eagles vs #4 Alaska Nanooks
SBN blog: BC Interruption, covering Boston College
TV coverage: ESPN360.com, CSN New England, MASN, KFXF Fairbanks, GCI Cable Alaska
5 PM ET: #2 North Dakota Fighting Sioux vs #3 Yale Bulldogs
TV coverage: ESPN360.com, Fox Sports North, WCTX New Haven, MASN
4 PM ET: #1 Miami University Redhawks vs #4 Alabama-Huntsville Chargers
TV coverage: ESPNU
7:30 PM ET: #2 Bemidji State Beavers vs #3 Michigan Wolverines
SBN blog: Maize n Brew, covering Michigan
TV coverage: ESPN360.com, Fox Sports North, MASN
6:30 PM ET: #3 New Hampshire Wildcats vs #4 RIT Tigers
TV coverage: ESPNU HD
9 PM ET: #1 Wisconsin Badgers vs #2 St. Cloud State Huskies
SBN blog: Bucky's 5th Quarter, covering Wisconsin
TV coverage: ESPNU HD
Here's the bracket after Friday's action. Click to enlarge.
Cinderella stories aren't exclusive to basketball.
The RIT -- that's Rochester Institute of Technology, by the way -- Tigers have slayed Goliath, beating the top-seeded Denver Pioneers 2-1 in the first round of the East Regional. RIT plays in Atlantic Hockey, widely regarded as one of the weakest conferences in college hockey. They don't award scholarships, and they were the 15th overall seed of 16 teams in the entire NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, Denver has crafted NHL players and won national championships. They're the best team in the nation. This game was a 15 versus 2 matchup, and the Cinderella prevailed. Since winning back-to-back National Championships in 2004 and 2005, the Pioneers have either missed the tournament or have been bounced in the first round.
RIT will take on the winner of the Cornell and New Hampshire in the East Regional Final on Saturday in Albany.
Here's the updated bracket. Click to enlarge:
We mentioned back on March 14 how the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers had broken in to the NCAA tournament field in controversial fashion by winning the College Hockey America tournament. SB Nation's Derek Zona argues at From The Rink why you should root for the Chargers once the tournament kicks off this weekend.
College Hockey America will cease to exist after this season, as membership has been dwindling since the conference was founded. Robert Morris and Niagara will join Atlantic Hockey and Bemidji State will join the WCHA. The NCAA granted the CHA a special automatic bid during this transition year and the Chargers made the most of it. Prior to the season, Huntsville made a formal request and application to join the CCHA, a move that was denied by the CCHA Council on August 11, 2009.
The CCHA's decision has left the Alabama-Huntsville program high and dry, the only independent hockey team in the NCAA. Operating independently over the long haul isn't a possibility and that has put the future of the Alabama-Huntsville Men's ice hockey program in jeopardy. Their fans have rallied in the hopes that the Chargers will find a new conference and those efforts have spawned a Facebook page "Save UAH Hockey" with 4,389 fans as of this writing.
That Alabama-Hunstville got into the tournament while keep two CCHA teams out should bring a smile to the face of Charger fans and hockey fans in general. Though it's a longshot, I'll be rooting for a couple of upsets next weekend, especially in the first round - as the Chargers drew the Redhawks of Miami, the best team in the CCHA and the number one team in the country. Knocking off Miami would be an amazing feat for the last champion of the CHA, but even better than that - should the impossible actually happen, their second round opponent is either Bemidji State or CCHA member Michigan.
There are always questions when it comes to NCAA seeds, and there are a few questions this season mainly about the three seeds. From College Hockey News:
NCAA men's ice hockey committee chair Bill Bellerose, the assistant athletic director at Holy Cross, said today that "creating a good experience" for student athletes was the No. 1 factor in rotating the No. 3 seeds around in the NCAA Tournament brackets.
According to the Pairwise Rankings, Michigan should be playing North Dakota while Bemijdi State would be playing Yale. Instead, they flipped Michigan and Yale to create more interest in the regionals.
SB Nation's Chris Dilks has this to say about the situation:
But if you're not cynical, and believe the NCAA truly values these things, is there any possibility of someday letting the number one seeds host regionals at their own arena? That would guarantee a better atmosphere than just about any regional site, and make sure a team that deserved it got that advantage. I know a lot of rinks are not up to NCAA standards for hosting this type of thing, but I can't believe that some of the current regionals are doing that well either, as evidenced by a lot of the same uninspiring locales popping up as hosts year after year when no else wants to host. It's something to think abou if the NCAA is really serious about student-athlete experience and playoff atmosphere.
As always, this whole process leaves it open to debate and something that almost everyone can complain about until the tournament starts.
SBN's Calgary Flames blog, Matchsticks and Gasoline, took a look this past weekend at some successful college free agent signings by NHL teams and why they could be a good idea for teams looking to add depth for little salary.
The risk of signing an undrafted college free agent is virtually the same as that of signing any other established NHL free agent, with the exception of, depending on the age of the player in question, potential for future development. At any rate, the risks are certainly equal to those of drafting a player based on his numbers in high school or junior hockey--it's no guarantee that that player is going to replicate that success at the NHL level. Unless you're dealing with a special player like Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, you're probably looking at about the same time frame for player development, if not less because of the age of most college players signed by NHL teams tends to range from 20-24 as opposed to 18 or 19 for drafted players.
The success of undrafted college players signed to NHL contracts as UFAs has been well documented. Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle both won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning and Brian Rafalski has three Cups to his name with the Devils and Red Wings. Chris Kunitz, Dustin Penner, and Andy McDonald were all important contributors to Anaheim's 2007 Cup victory, and Kunitz also won a championship with the Penguins last season. Although Bryan Murray was largely responsible for building that winning Ducks team, Brian Burke seems to have carried an affinity for college free agents into his tenure with the Leafs, having already signed Tyler Bozak, Viktor Stalberg, and Christian Hanson to entry-level deals. Rene Bourque was also an undrafted college player before eventually signing with the Blackhawks.
View the 2010 NCAA Division 1 Hockey Tournament bracket below. Click to enlarge.
This year, the bracket looked like it could be pretty straightforward. It was possible to create a perfect 1 vs. 16, 8 vs. 9, etc. bracket without any sort of intraconference match-ups in the first round. But the committee did throw a curveball into things by rearranging the number 3 seeds to get Michigan into the Fort Wayne regional to help increase attendance--and for the more cynical, to increase their odds of getting a local team to the Frozen Four.
As with all brackets, basketball and hockey, no bracket is going to be perfect, but this one seems like it fell in line nicely. Not that it matters once they start playing the games, but it helps.
Unlike in college basketball, the method for selecting the NCAA hockey tournament field is strictly mathematical. They use a system called the pairwise rankings, which takes into account various things and ultimately ranks division 1 college teams.
The system has it's problems, however. Chris Dilks at SBN's Western College Hockey Blog says that flaws in the system helped out Alaska, the final at-large team in the tournament, while hurting Minnesota-Duluth.
First up is Alaska, since that's a fairly simple one. Alaska would have lost a comparison against Massachusetts, for some dubious reasons, if UMass had been a team under consideration, . One fewer comparison win would have dropped Alaska to 10 total comparison wins and into a tie with Ferris State and Michigan State for the last at-large bid. Ferris State had the highest RPI of the three and likely would have gotten the bid. As luck would have it for the Nanooks, UMass finished 26th in the RPI instead of 25th. Not that any of this was Alaska's fault. It would have been a joke if they missed out on the tournament because of that ridiculous comparison.
That brings us to Minnesota-Duluth. I think they're the real victim here. Adam Wodon probably does a better job of explaining this, in that old article about the travesty that kept Minnesota State out of the 2008 tournament, but the same situation applies here. Basically, the history is that about 8-10 years ago, the committee didn't necessarily look at the standings of who won the most comparisons like they currently do, so much as they just looked at the group of teams that was actually under consideration for the tournament and how they did against each other. If that were still the case, I think Minnesota-Duluth makes the tournament.
While in the midst of that massive college basketball tournament that occupies the nation for three weekends a year, the college hockey community is gearing up for their own 16 team tournament to determine a national champion. The NCAA hockey brackets are officially released and here are the teams that are going to play their way to Detroit for the Frozen Four:
Midwest Regional - Fort Wayne, IN (March 27th - 28th)
1 Miami (OH) vs. 4 Alabama Huntsville (March 27th at 4:00 pm EST)
Miami of Ohio is coming into the NCAA Tournament as the overall number one seed and get the luxury of facing the CHA automatic bid Alabama Huntsville. Miami comes into the tournament with a 27-7-7 record while Alabama Huntsville went 12-17-3. The Redhawks have dealt with adversity all season and have been led through their goaltender play in Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp.
2 Bemidji St. vs. 3 Michigan (March 27th at 7:30 pm EST)
Bemidji St. came into this season trying to build off the momentum they had during last season's Frozen Four. Their season ended abruptly when they lost to the Niagara Purple Eagles in the CHA semifinals but still earn an at-large bid due to their 23-9-4 record. Michigan makes it to the tournament through their win in the CCHA finals Saturday night over Northern Michigan.
Northeast Regional - Worcester, MA (March 27th - 28th)
1 Boston College vs. 4 Alaska Fairbanks (March 27th at 1:30 pm EST)
Boston College, winners of the Hockey East, gains the number one seed in the Northeast regional after their 25-10-3 record. Alaska Fairbanks was one of those bubble teams that squeaked in based on their Pairwise Ranking.
2 North Dakota vs. 3 Yale (March 27th at 5:00 pm EST)
North Dakota heads into the tournament with a 25-12-5 record and earned the two seed with .654 winning percentage against the other teams in consideration for the tournament. They defeated St. Cloud State in the WCHA final on Saturday night. Yale comes into the tournament as the regular season winner in the Hockey East and has 20-9-3 overall record this season.
East Regional - Albany, NY (March 26th - 27th)
1 Denver vs. 4 Rochester Institute of Technology (March 26th at 3:00 pm EST)
The Denver Pioneers come into the NCAA tournament led by Hobey Baker finalist Marc Cheverie. Cheverie went 24-5-3 for the Pioneers with a .932 save percentage and 2.08 goals against average. RIT earned their way into the tournament after they defeated Sacred Heart in the Atlantic Hockey tournament. This will is their first ever berth in the NCAA tournament
2 Cornell vs. 3 New Hampshire (March 26th at 6:30 pm EST)
The Big Red are coming into the tournament on a roll after winning the ECAC tournament against Union College on Saturday night. They are led by Hobey Baker finalist Ben Scrivens who leads the nation in save percentage and goals against average. New Hampshire comes into the tournament with a 17-13-7 record.
West Regional - Saint Paul, MN (March 26th - 27th)
1 Wisconsin vs. 4 Vermont (March 26th at 9:00 pm EST)
Wisconsin finished third in the WCHA but comes into the tournament with a 25-10-4 record and led by two Hobey Baker finalists in Blake Geofferion and Brendan Smith. Vermont has a 17-14-7 record heading into the tournament and earns the at large bid with their 11 comparison wins.
2. St. Cloud State vs. 3 Northern Michigan (March 26th at 5:30 pm EST)
St. Cloud State heads into the tournament sixth in the pairwise ranking and coming off a 5-3 loss to North Dakota in the WCHA Final Five. Northern Michigan earns their bid with a ranking of 10 in the Pairwise Ranking and they are coming off a loss to Michigan in the CCHA tournament.
The winner of the Midwest will face the winner of the Northeast while the winner of the East will face the winner of the West in Detroit for the Frozen Four.
North Dakota all but ended Minnesota-Duluth's season on Thursday night, winning the play-in game to the WCHA Final Four. While UMD still has a chance at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament field, which will be announced on Sunday, their season very well could be over.
Meanwhile, twenty teams are still vying for just five conference championships in the WCHA, CCHA, ECAC, Hockey East and Atlantic Hockey. All five conferences will name champions this weekend, kicking off their final four festivities on Friday evening.
We've already previewed the ECAC Hockey Final Four, which begins at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY on Friday night with two semifinal games. The 11th-seeded Brown University Bears shocked the college hockey world by advancing with a three-game series win over top-seeded Yale. The Bulldogs will likely make the NCAA's on an at-large bid, but Brown's only chance is to win this tournament. They'll start that process against second-ranked Cornell in the do-or-die semifinal at 4 PM ET Friday.
At 7 PM Eastern in the other semifinal, the kind-of-hometown-team from Schenectady, Union College, takes on the St. Lawrence Saints. The two winners of these games will face off in the championship game on Saturday at 7, while the losers will face off in the consolation game on Saturday at 4. The entire tournament will be broadcast live on NHL Network.
Switching to the WCHA, their unconventional 'Final Five' tournament kicked off with the UND-UMD play-in match Thursday night. As mentioned, North Dakota won that game 2-0 to move on to the Final Four, which begins with two Friday games at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN.
At 2:07 PM Central, St. Cloud State will take on the Wisconsin Badgers for the right to advance to the championship game. Wisconsin has a ridiculous defensive corps and they're the only team in the country with two Hobey Baker Award finalists. St. Cloud has hit a rough patch at exactly the wrong time of year, winning just three of their last eight games before the tournament. They've made it this far, though, and as the number three seed, there's no reason to think they can't win two straight games.
In the other semifinal at 7:07 PM CT, North Dakota will face top-seeded Denver. DU has basically already secured a top-seed in the NCAA's, so the big question coming into the weekend is simply if they want to win as badly. The winners advance to the championship game on Saturday at 7:07 CT, while the losers will play in the third-place game at 2:02 PM CT Saturday. The tournament will be broadcast on Fox Sports North.
The CCHA Championship also kicks off Friday with two games at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. At 4:35 Eastern, Northern Michigan will take on Ferris State, and both of these teams are strictly on the NCAA bubble. The only way they're guaranteed to play beyond this weekend is to win two games and a CCHA title. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit.
In the second semifinal, top-ranked Miami University will face seventh-ranked Michigan at 8:05 ET. Miami rolled through the regular season with just six losses, but they survived a scare last weekend against Ohio State in this tournament. Michigan is out of NCAA contention without winning the tournament this weekend. This semifinal will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.
Switching back east to the often forgotten Atlantic Hockey Association, they'll hold their Final Four at Rochester, New York's Blue Cross Arena on Friday and Saturday. Playing in their own city, Rochester Institute of Technology has absolutely run away with things in AHA this season, taking 55 points, a league record. Their opponent at 4:05 PM ET is Canisius, another semi-local team from Buffalo who swept Mercyhurst College to get this far. Canisius is certainly the underdog, but in a one game semifinal anything can happen.
At 7:35 ET, Air Force will take on Sacred Heart in the other semifinal. They've played each other four times this season in two weekend series. Each team swept on home ice, but in one game at a neutral site, who knows what will happen. Here's a stat for you, however: Air Force has won the AHA three years running now, compiling a 13-1 record in tournament play all-time.
The Atlantic Hockey tournament is not televised, but the winners will face off in the final at 7:05 ET on Saturday. For all four teams, it's do-or-die in terms of making the NCAA tournament, a fact that could make the AHA tournament the most entertaining of the lot.
Finally, we come to Hockey East, another tournament in which most of the teams have a lot to play for. Boston University, Boston College, Vermont and Maine comprise the Final Four, with only BC having an NCAA bid locked up. Vermont has a shot at making the NCAA's if they lose this weekend, but nothing is guaranteed. BU and Maine absoultely, positively need to win the Hockey East title to advance to the national tournament.
In the 5 PM ET game at Boston's TD Garden, BC will take on eighth-ranked Vermont. While UVM has never beaten BC in the Hockey East tournament -- 0-3 all time -- they're 2-1 against the top-seeded Eagles this season. In the Friday nightcap, third-ranked BU will take on fourth-ranked Maine at 8 PM ET. The final will take place at 7 PM on Saturday night. Each game will be broadcast on NESN.
If you're slightly confused because UVM has a shot at the NCAA's despite a lower seed in Hockey East than BU and Maine, well, you're not the only one. It has to do with the PairWise rankings, the system the NCAA selection committee uses to determine who makes the national tournament. As you can see on the linked chart, Vermont is ranked 13th there entering this weekend while BU and Maine are tied in 18th.
Twenty teams left, battling for just five conference titles. It's hard to believe that it gets any better than this.
#11 Brown Bears vs #2 Cornell Big Red: Friday at 4 PM ET, NHL Network
The Brown Bears shocked New Haven and the college hockey world on Sunday night, defeating ECAC regular season champion Yale in a decisive game three to eliminate the Bulldogs from the conference tournament. Brown moves on to the league semifinals in Albany, where they will take on second-seeded Cornell in a one game elimination format.
Brown is truly the definition of a Cinderella team. Nobody expected them to beat fifth-seeded Rensselaer on the road in the first weekend of the tournament, but the Bears were able to do so in three games, fending off an RPI comeback in the final game in the process. Even with that victory though, the Bears, with their 12-19-4 overall record on the season, were given no shot at beating Yale, a nationally ranked club.
But here they are, moving on to Albany and another one game, do-or-die situation versus the Big Red of Cornell. It's easy to say they have no chance, but guess what? Brown has a chance. Yale, meanwhile, will likely earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of the loss.
#5 St. Lawrence Saints vs #3 Union Dutchmen: Friday at 7 PM ET, NHL Network
One might consider the Union College Dutchmen as another team lucky to be advancing to Albany. After they fell to the Quinnipiac Bobcats in a five overtime marathon on Friday night (the longest game in NCAA history), nobody would've been surprised to see Union fold up shop and throw in the towel early. But the Dutchmen had other thoughts in mind, beating the Bobcats on Saturday night 3-1 to send the series to a decisive third game.
In that third game, it was all Union. They easily put up a 2-0 lead, and a late QU push in the final few minutes made the score 2-1. Goaltender Corey Milan was simply too much to handle, however, and Union punched their first ever ticket to the semifinals with the victory.
St. Lawrence got past Colgate in relatively easy fashion this past weekend, completing a two-game sweep of the Raiders on the road. It took a three-goal third period, but the Saints advanced to this round for the second year in a row with the victory.
It's the last year that the tournament's final four will be held in Albany at the Times Union Center. It'll move to Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall beginning in 2011. Each of the semifinal games are single-elimination. The winners will face off in the ECAC final on Saturday at 7 PM.
College Hockey America is a fledgling conference in the NCAA Division 1 ranks. Only four teams call it home -- Alabama-Huntsville, Niagara, Robert Morris and Bemidji State -- and following the 2009/10 season, they'll fold up shop. For this reason, many believe that the conference doesn't deserve to have an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament handed out to it's tournament champion.
The Bemidji State Beavers are a top 10 team in the country and would have received an at-large bid to the national tournament regardless of their performance in the CHA tournament. When they were upset by Niagara on Friday night, it ensured that two of the CHA's four teams would make the NCAA's -- the conference champion and Bemidji.
As SBN's Western College Hockey Blog put it, it means 'an extra team from a real conference hoping for an at-large bid will be left on the outside looking in.' For people that share this ideology, Alabama-Huntsville beating Niagara in the championship on Saturday night and punching their ticket to the NCAA's is truly a nightmare scenario.
But is there any weight to this argument? Jayson Moy, bracketologist at US College Hockey Online, doesn't think so.
Yes, there can be an argument made that the CHA should not have had their autobid extended to this season, but, the Championship Committee thought it was best for the game. So that’s where the argument should lie. Not whether or not Niagara, UAH or Bemidji deserve to be in the tournament, but whether or not, in the best interests of college hockey, that the Championship Committee should have recommended that the CHA keep the autobid with only four teams in the league.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum with regards to this issue, however, the win is quite the accomplishment for the Chargers of Alabama-Huntsville. They get no respect among college hockey people because of their locale and their conference. When it became public knowledge that CHA would be folding following this season, the other three teams successfully found new homes in other established conferences.
UAH was left out to fend for themselves. They'll operate as an independent team next season, but making the national tournament for the second time in their storied yet tumultuous could give them the boost they need to get into one of the 'real' conferences sooner rather than later.
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