Apr 7, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; The Boston College Eagles celebrate after defeating the Ferris State Bulldogs 4-1 in the finals of the 2012 Frozen Four at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

Frozen Four 2012: Boston College Nabs Title With 4-1 Win

Boston College is, once again, the champion of the Frozen Four after downing Ferris State on Saturday, 4-1: BC-Minn. | Ferris-Union

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Frozen Four 2012 Championship, Boston College Vs. Ferris State: Eagles Win National Title, 4-1

Boston College got two goals each in the first and third periods against Ferris State, and rode a typically brilliant outing from goalie Parker Milner, to a 4-1 win over the Bulldogs for a national title at the 2012 Frozen Four Championship.

Steven Whitney netted two of BC's goals, one on an empty net in the third period, and Milner made 25 saves to preserve a lead that the Eagles claimed early in the first period and reclaimed late in the same period. Johnny Gaudreau's sensational goal in the third period to make it 3-1 with just more than three minutes to go, put the game solidly in the Eagles' grasp.

The title is Boston College's fifth, fourth since 2001 and third in the last five years.

Ferris State got a goal from Garrett Thompson in the first period, and 33 saves from Taylor Nelson, but it was not nearly enough to stymie the Eagles.

Get more on the game from SB Nation Boston and Eagles blog BC Interruption. For complete coverage of the 2012 NCAA men's ice hockey tournament, stick with our 2012 Frozen Four StoryStream.


Frozen Four 2012 Championship, Boston College Vs. Ferris State: Game Time, TV Coverage And More

The Boston College Eagles will go for their fifth-ever NCAA national title on Saturday evening when they take on the Ferris State Bulldogs in the 2012 Frozen Four championship game.

The Bulldogs, picked to finish ninth in the CCHA during the preseason, have defied the odds to get this far. They'll have to defy them once more to beat the heavily-favored Eagles. Boston College defeated a very strong Minnesota Golden Gophers club, 6-1 on Thursday to advance to this point, and in their three tournament games overall they've only allowed that one goal against. They also topped defending champ Minnesota Duluth in the regional round.

Ferris State plays a strong defensive game, which they used to outlast Union College, 3-1, in their national semifinal on Thursday. They'll need to be at their best against BC, who have unparalleled offensive depth. The Bulldogs absolutely cannot keep up with the Eagles offensively, so they'll need to rely on their trusty defensive game to earn them their first-ever national title in their first-ever trip to the Frozen Four.

Ferris State Bulldogs vs. Boston College Eagles
Saturday, April 7, 7 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN 2, ESPN3.com
Tampa Bay Times Forum, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Get more on the game from SB Nation Boston and Eagles blog BC Interruption. For complete coverage of the 2012 NCAA men's ice hockey tournament, stick with our 2012 Frozen Four StoryStream.


Frozen Four 2012 Championship, Boston College Vs. Ferris State: Bulldogs Hope To Defy Odds One More Time

Ferris State has defied the odds in advancing to the national title game at the 2012 Frozen Four, but they face their biggest test of the season in the Boston College Eagles.


Frozen Four 2012 Results: Boston College Eagles Cruise To Title Game With 6-1 Win Over Minnesota

The Boston College Eagles are an absolute monster. We all saw first-hand why they're the favorite in this 2012 Frozen Four on Thursday night as they decimated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 6-1 to advance to the national final against Ferris State on Saturday. It's their 18th straight win.

Paul Carey scored two goals while Steven Whitney, Brian Dumoulin, Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider added tallies of their own as the Eagles quickly made this one a rout. It was just 1-0 after one period, and it actually appeared as though Minnesota had all the momentum entering the first intermission. That didn't change despite an Eagles power play goal 6:35 into the second, and it was up to goaltender Parker Milner to keep the Gophers off the board.

Milner was up to the task. He made several saves in quick succession to preserve the shutout in the first period and was huge in the second period as Minnesota hit the gas. After one particularly large save about 17 minutes into the period, the Eagles were able to capitalize in transition and open the score to 3-0 thanks to a turnover by the Gophers at the blue line.

That sequence was the turning point in the game, and once the Eagles entered the second intermission up 4-0, the third period was just a formality. Even when Minnesota did get on the board on a Jake Hansen goal 1:26 in, it seemed like the Eagles were just toying with them. A lengthy review confirmed the goal and ruined Milner's shutout bid, but it took just 22 seconds for Boston College to get the lead back on Dumoulin's tally.

The Eagles were favorites entering this season, entering this tournament and entering this Frozen Four. They'll no doubt be heavy favorites over the Bulldogs on Saturday night as well.

For more from the Boston College perspective, check in with Eagles blog BC Interruption and SB Nation Boston. For more from the Minnesota perspective, check in with Gophers blog The Daily Gopher and SB Nation Minnesota. Stick with our 2012 Frozen Four StoryStream for complete coverage of the entire tournament.


Frozen Four 2012 Results: Ferris State Bulldogs Advance To Title Game With 3-1 Win Over Union College

As we expected in the two-week-long run-up to this Frozen Four, Thursday's national semifinal between the Union College Dutchmen and the Ferris State Bulldogs was a mostly defensive affair. Both teams battled for chances all game long, and ultimately, it was an uncharacteristic rebound off the leg of Union goaltender Troy Grosenick that gave Ferris State a 2-1 lead en route to a 3-1 victory.

Kyle Bonis backhanded the juicy bounce into the back of the net before Grosenick could get across the crease to make the stop. Bonis' second goal of the game and 20th of the season turned out to be the game-winner, and with 54.8 seconds remaining, Aaron Schmit put home an empty-netter to seal the deal.

Grosenick, solid all game, was perhaps the best player for the Dutchmen. He saved Union's bacon at least once in the third on a Schmit breakaway, but midway through that period, the Bulldogs used a few strong shifts in a row to pin the Dutchmen in their own zone while generating momentum that led to the winning goal.

Union College opened the scoring in the second period when a Greg Coburn point shot was deflected by forward Daniel Carr and past Bulldogs goalie Taylor Nelson. About nine minutes later, Ferris State picked up a power play after Cole Ikkala was called for charging. On the ensusing power play, the Bulldogs evened the score on Bonis' first goal of the game.

Through two periods, Union had controlled the play for much of the game. They seemed the stronger team, creating more chances and winning in the neutral zone more often than not. Things evened out a bit in the third period and ultimately turned Ferris State's way late in the period as Union couldn't get the puck up the ice, floundering under pressure from the Bulldogs. Following the tie-breaking goal, the Dutchmen seemed poised to tie the game yet again, hitting the post at least once in a several-minute-long flurry fueled by several key face off wins.

But in holding off the final Union charge, the Ferris State Bulldogs punched their ticket to the national title game on Saturday night. They'll face either Minnesota or Boston College.

For complete coverage of the entire NCAA men's ice hockey tournament, check out our 2012 Frozen Four StoryStream.


Frozen Four 2012, Boston College Vs. Minnesota: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The Boston College Eagles hockey team may be the favorites at the 2012 Frozen Four, but that doesn't mean they're guaranteed victory. The Minnesota Golden Gophers, a worthy foe, will try to keep down the potent BC attack in their attempt to seal the upset and advance to Saturday's national championship game.

No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 1 Boston College Eagles
Thursday, April 5, 8 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN 2
Tampa Bay Times Forum, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Full Gophers coverage: SB Nation Minnesota, The Daily Gopher
Full Eagles coverage: SB Nation Boston, BC Interruption

Both teams have strong offenses led by incredible depth. The Eagles feature eight forwards who finished the season with 25 points, and the Gophers finished just one behind with seven 25-point scorers.

Boston College hasn't lost in their last 17 attempts, winning both the Hockey East regular season and tournament titles. Minnesota finished atop the WCHA in the regular season, finishing with a 28-13-1 overall record. They beat Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA tournament before falling to North Dakota in the WCHA Final Five. The winner of Thursday's national semifinal will advance to the national championship against either Ferris State or Union.

For more on the 2012 Frozen Four and full coverage of the entire NCAA hockey tournament, stick with our StoryStream.


Boston College Hockey A Worthy Favorite At 2012 Frozen Four

Boston College has been the 2012 Frozen Four favorite since the puck dropped on the season in October, but that certainly doesn't mean they're guaranteed the title in Tampa.


Frozen Four 2012 Preview: Union Vs. Ferris State Showdown Will Hinge On Defense

It's easy to look at the two Frozen Four 2012 semifinal matchups and think one is better than the other.

One semifinal features two of the biggest names in college hockey, Boston College and Minnesota, with nine national titles between them. The other features two teams with zero national titles and zero NHL draft picks, and it's been pushed off to one of the many teritary arms of the ESPN broadcast empire as a result.

But those who scoff at the lack of name recognition between the Union College Dutchmen and Ferris State Bulldogs are missing out on a defensive battle between two teams that won regular season titles in their respective conferences. This is not a flukey by-product of the single-elimination format: Both teams have lost a combined total of five games in 2012, and both squads are serious contenders to take home their first national championship.

No. 3 Ferris State Bulldogs vs. No. 1 Union College Dutchmen
Thursday, April 5, 4:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPNU
Tampa Bay Times Forum, St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Road to Tampa for both Union and Ferris State mirror one another quite a bit, and it's all thanks to solid goaltending. Dutchmen goalie Troy Grosenick was a Hobey Baker Award finalist with a 1.64 goals against average, and Bulldogs netminder Taylor Nelson was a first-team All-CCHA selection. Perched behind two top-five defenses, it's no surprise that only Massachusetts-Lowell were able to put more than a goal by these two teams in the regional round of the tournament.

Offensively, however, the two teams take different routes to get goals. The Bulldogs don't score as often as Union, averaging .62 fewer goals per game, but they're able to utilize their depth well. Senior Jordie Johnston leads the CCHA regular season champs with 20 goals, and Ferris State has the ability to get goals from throughout the lineup.

Jeremy Welsh, who scored 27 goals for Union this year, leads the ECAC champs along with Kelly Zajac, the brother of New Jersey Devils' forward Travis. Welsh has a five-game goal scoring streak going and leads a dangerous top line that the Bulldogs will need to stop. They were able to stop Denver's potent top line, so it will be interesting to see if Ferris State can repeat the performance.

In the end, this game will come down to defense. Whether it's the team with a hotter goaltender or Ferris State's elite PK going against the Dutchmen's top-5 power play (at 24.8%), whoever advances to the national championship will have relied on their bread and butter. The Bulldogs need to get a team effort to win another low-scoring game and stop Union's offense but they'll have to contend with a tough defense and top goalie.

For more on the 2012 Frozen Four and full coverage of the entire NCAA hockey tournament, stick with our StoryStream.


Frozen Four 2012 Preview: Boston College Hockey Hopes To Dictate Offensive Pace Vs. Minnesota

Between a dozen goals and two shutouts, something has to give.

After two shutout wins against Air Force and Minnesota Duluth in the Regional Round of the 2012 NCAA men's ice hockey championship, the Boston College Eagles put their 17-game unbeaten streak on the line against the University of Minnesota in the second of two Frozen Four semifinal matchups Thursday.

The Gophers are a worthy challenger, having scored 12 goals in their two wins over Boston University and North Dakota during the earlier portion of the tournament, but they're going to need to continue their momentum against a team that has the power to exploit their weaknesses.

No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 1 Boston College Eagles
Thursday, April 5, 8 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN 2
Tampa Bay Times Forum, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Up front, both teams have remarkable depth in their front-nine. Boston College features 8 forwards with more than 25 points -- one more than Minnesota -- and their third line could be the top line at many schools. While the Eagles have the slight edge here, it's worth noting that Minnesota's top line of Kyle Rau (Florida Panthers), Nick Bjugstad (Panthers) and Zach Budish (Nashville Predators) scored just two goals in the first two games, one an empty-netter. If that unit can get back on track, Boston College will have a lot to deal with.

The Gophers' defense has been one of the big surprises this season in college hockey. Defensemen Nate Schmidt has gone from a healthy scratch as a freshman to 40 point scorer, and overall, a blue line featuring one upperclassman has held its own. Minnesota's ninth in the nation with 2.21 goals against per game. That's changed in recent games, as the team has allowed 14 goals in their last four outings. That's been masked by offensive output, but it'll be tough to win that way against the potent Eagles.

The Boston College offense, led by Chris Kreider (New York Rangers) and Barry Almeid, scores an average of 3.5 goals per game, and they put up four goals on reigning champion Minnesota Duluth last Sunday.

Minnesota has a first team All-WCHA goaltender in Kent Patterson (Colorado Avalanche) that has the ability to shut teams out (the senior is tied for the national lead with seven) thanks to strong positional play. The Eagles, meanwhile, trot out Parker Milner, who has been just as outstanding over the last two months with a .935 save percentage. Although neither goalie needs to stand on their head to give their team a chance, they are both capable of doing so.

In the end, something has to give. Whether the two high-scoring offenses cancel each other out or this Frozen Four semifinal becomes a shootout, both Boston College and Minnesota are very similar -- talented all over the ice with balanced offensive depth.

The Eagles have consistent play on their side, while the key for the Gophers will be getting on the board first, as they're 22-7-0 when doing so. They can't let Boston College control the game offensively like they did against Minnesota Duluth in the Regional Final. If they can handle the BC attack, this will be a game worthy of a Frozen Four semifinal.

At the very least, my money's on the Maroon and Gold team.

For more on Boston College hockey, check in with Eagles blog BC Interruption. For more on Minnesota hockey, check in with Gophers blog The Daily Gopher. SB Nation Boston and SB Nation Minnesota provide accompanying coverage, and you can stay on top of the entire tournament with our Frozen Four 2012 StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, Boston College Vs. Minnesota-Duluth: Eagles Headed To Frozen Four

Boston College's hockey team hadn't lost in its last 16 outings heading into their game against Minnesota-Duluth. The team added one to the winning streak on Sunday night, too, and they'll now enter the Frozen Four on a 17-game winning streak.

The Eagles posted a shutout over the defending champions in Worcester, Mass., as goalie Parker Milner stopped all 33 shots he faced in the victory to help advance Boston College to the Frozen Four. Milner's job won't get any easier next time out, though, as Boston College will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in hopes of advancing to the championship game of the 2012 NCAA hockey tournament.

The game was scoreless following the first period, but Boston College led 2-0 heading into the third behind goals from Pat Mullane and Bill Arnold. Patrick Wey and Gaudreau stuck the daggers in UM-D with a pair of goals in the third period.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, Minnesota Vs. North Dakota: Golden Gophers Upset Sioux, 5-2, For Frozen Four Spot

No. 3 North Dakota had a chance to move on to the Frozen Four for the second straight year. Minnesota ruined it, with a 5-2 win that sent the Fighting Sioux packing and will enable the Golden Gophers to head for warmer climes at the Frozen Four in Tampa.

Travis Boyd, Nate Condon and Taylor Matson all had a goal and an assist for the Gophers, who never trailed and used a three-goal third period to put the Fighting Sioux in their rear view. Kent Patterson made 24 saves on 26 shots to stop the North Dakota offense.

The Sioux got goals from Danny Kristo and Mario Lamoureux, and outshot Minnesota 15-4 in the third period, but could not capitalize on any of their three power plays on the night.

Minnesota moves on to the Frozen Four, where the Golden Gophers will meet either Boston College or Minnesota-Duluth in a national semifinal.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, UMass-Lowell Vs. Union: Dutchmen Fly To Frozen Four With 4-2 Win

One night after knocking off collegiate hockey power Michigan State, the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks looked to finish an unlikely run to the Frozen Four. The No. 3 Union (N.Y.) Dutchmen had another idea, and never trailed in their 4-2 Second Round victory that punched their ticket to Tampa.

Josh Jooris and Kyle Bodie each had a goal and an assist — Bodie put his in on an empty net — as the Dutchmen dominated throughout. They took 39 shots to UMass-Lowell's 21, and held the lead from Daniel Ciampini's goal just 3:03 into the first period until the final horn.

Terrence Wallin and Matt Ferriera each scored for the Riverhawks, but Union's Troy Grosenick had to make just three saves after Ferreira's third period goal narrowed the Dutchmen's advantage to 3-2.

Union moves on to the Frozen Four, where it will take on either Cornell or Ferris State on Thursday, April 5 in Tampa.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Tournament 2012: Cornell Stuns Michigan, UMass-Lowell Upsets Miami On Day 1

The 2012 NCAA hockey tournament started up Friday with four games in two of the regionals. It didn't take terribly long before we saw the first upset of the tournament. And the second.

After high seeds won opening games in Bridgeport, Conn., and Green Bay, Wisc., the second game of the East Regional produced a scintillating comeback and an upset. Then the Midwest Regional's second game produced an even bigger one, as Cornell took down mighty Michigan 3-2 in overtime.

Regional top seed Michigan scored early in the first period, as captain Luke Glendening gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead. A second goal by Kevin Lynch was waived off before 90 seconds had elapsed in the first, as the officials ruled Cornell goalie Andy Iles had been interfered with.

The Big Red were buoyed by that call, outplaying Michigan for a good chunk of the game. The Wolverines were frustrated by Cornell, which was content to keep the game slow. Cornell carried a 2-1 lead into the final five minutes, but Lynch tied it on a rebound, and the game went into overtime.

In overtime, a great rush by Cornell led to a huge save by Michigan goalie and Hobey Baker finalist Shawn Hunwick. Unfortunately for Hunwick, he couldn't control the puck as he sprawled from right to left to make the initial save. Rodger Craig of Cornell came across the slot and banged the rebound into a largely empty net, giving Cornell the great upset win.

Were it not for a win in the ECAC Tournament third-place game last week, Cornell would have likely missed the tournament completely. Now, the Big Red are a win away from the Frozen Four in Tampa.

In the East Regional, No. 3-seeded UMass-Lowell took a 3-0 lead over No. 2-seeded Miami in the second period, but the River Hawks couldn't add to or hold the lead. Instead, Miami rallied with three goals in the third period -- two of them just 14 seconds apart -- and forced overtime. The RedHawks also carried a five-minute major power play into overtime.

After UML shut down the power play, the River Hawks got the winning goal from Riley Wetmore, his second of the game, for the 4-3 upset win. UML outshot Miami 3-0 in the overtime after Miami outshot the River Hawks 18-8 in the third period.

UMass-Lowell (24-12-1) moves into the regional final Saturday against Union (N.Y.), which beat Michigan State 3-1 in the first game Friday. The top-seeded Dutchmen won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in school history.

In the Midwest Regional's first game, Ferris State (Mich.) beat Denver 2-1. The Bulldogs got goals from Jordie Johnston and Simon Denis, and after missing last week's CCHA semifinals in Detroit, Ferris looked like the fresher team for a chunk of the third period. Ferris had the week off while the Pioneers played three games in three days -- one of which went two overtimes -- at the WCHA Final Five.

No. 2-seeded Ferris State advanced to the regional final Saturday against Cornell.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, East Regional: Union, Massachusetts-Lowell Could See Strong Fan Support In Bridgeport

The 2012 NCAA hockey tournament kicks off Friday, March 23, and the first game will feature the top seed in the East Regional. Union College is the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament, and they'll be the on-paper favorites to come out of the East, where games are being played at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn.

  • No. 1 Union
  • No. 2 Miami
  • No. 3 Massachusetts-Lowell
  • No. 4 Michigan State

Union and Michigan State do battle at 3 p.m. ET March 23. The ECAC champion Dutchmen could have strong fan support, considering it's a less-than-three-hour drive from campus in Schenectady, N.Y., to Bridgeport. UMass-Lowell is in the same boat -- just two hours, 45 minutes away -- and could see substantial support in the crowd during their game against the Miami Redhawks. That game will be played at 6:30 p.m. March 23. Both can be seen on ESPNU.

The winners will do battle Saturday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, West Regional: Minnesota Gets Home Crowd, But Tough Draw Vs. Boston University

The 2012 NCAA hockey tournament will commence on Friday, March 23, but games in the West Regional won't begin until the following day. They'll be played at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and as host, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have the right to play in front of their home crowd.

  • No. 1 North Dakota
  • No. 2 Minnesota
  • No. 3 Boston University
  • No. 4 Western Michigan

It could be called the region of death. North Dakota finished fourth in the Pairwise while Minnesota finished eighth, but it's a pretty unfortunate draw for the Gophers in pulling Boston University, who finished fourth in the PWR. It balances the luxury of playing in front of what will surely be a large, supportive crowd in an NHL building.

CCHA tournament champion Western Michigan could carry over that success into the NCAA's despite their position as a four-seed, but they'll have to beat North Dakota on Saturday, March 24, at 1:30 p.m. ET if they want the chance to move on to the West Regional final. Later that day at 5 p.m., Minnesota will take on the Terriers of BU.

The two winners will meet in the regional final the following day, Sunday, March 25, at 5:30 p.m. ET.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, Midwest Regional: Green Bay To Host Michigan, Ferris State, Denver, Cornell

The Midwest Regional of the 2012 NCAA hockey tournament will be at Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., and the Michigan Wolverines, the No. 2 overall seed in the entire tournament, will lead that corner of the bracket. The four teams in the region are:

  • No. 1 Michigan
  • No. 2 Ferris State
  • No. 3 Denver
  • No. 4 Cornell

Both first-round games in the Midwest region will be played Friday, March 23. Ferris State will battle Denver at 5:30 p.m. ET, followed by Michigan vs. Cornell at 9 p.m. Both games can be seen on ESPN3.com. Michigan might be the higher-ranked team at present, but Ferris State reached the No. 1 spot in the country at points this season. The Bulldogs finished the year No. 6 in the Pairwise.

The winners of each game will battle in the Midwest Regional Final the following day, Saturday, March 24, at 9 p.m. ET.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Bracket 2012, Northeast Regional: BC, UMD, Maine, Air Force To Battle In Worcester

The 2012 NCAA hockey bracket was unveiled on Sunday, and the both the No. 1 overall seed and the defending national champion will battle in the Northeast Regional. DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. hosts the first and second rounds on March 23 and 24 for these four teams:

  • No. 1 Boston College
  • No. 2 Minnesota Duluth
  • No. 3 Maine
  • No. 4 Air Force

The top-ranked program in the nation, the Boston College Eagles, will take on the Atlantic Hockey champion Air Force Falcons in the first game of the Northeast Regional, to be played at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 24. The game can be seen live on ESPNU.

In the Northeast's other game, the reigning national champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs will take on the Maine Black Bears at 7:30 p.m. the same day. The game can be viewed live on ESPN3.com.

The losers will go home, while the winners will play each other the following night at 8 p.m. It seems as though most would expect Boston College to do battle with UMD for the right to go to the Frozen Four, but in a one-game playoff situation, anything can happen.

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


NCAA Hockey Selection Show: Time, TV Schedule And More

The college hockey selection show begins at 12 p.m ET on Sunday. 16 teams will be selected to participate in NCAA's national tournament.


NCAA Hockey Tournament 2012: Dissecting Conference Tourney Weekend

There are 20 NCAA hockey teams still playing in the final weekend of the conference season. Eight of them cannot get an at-large bid to the National Tournament, and thus must win their conference tournaments if they want their seasons to continue.

Each of the four remaining Atlantic Hockey schools -- Air Force, Mercyhurst, Niagara and RIT -- are in that boat, as are Bowling Green in the CCHA, Providence in Hockey East, and both Harvard and Colgate in the ECAC. For them, it's literally win or go home.

Western Collegiate Hockey Association

There are nine teams across the nation who have essentially clinched tourney bids, but their final seeding is still to be determined. North Dakota, currently penciled in at No. 9, cannot finish worse than 12th -- the lowest number of at-large bids -- if they lose Friday against Minnesota and everything goes against them throughout the weekend. Conversely, the Fighting Sioux could finish in the top four and be one of the No. 1 seeds if they win the WCHA Final Five.

Regardless of who wins the WCHA Tournament, the winner will most likely be the top seed at one of the four regionals; likely in St. Paul, Minn. The Golden Gophers, as the host of the West Regional, will play there no matter what seed they wind up.

Hockey East

Out in Hockey East, the team with the most to worry about is the loser of Maine vs. Boston University. The Black Bears, who sit in tenth entering the weekend, would drop to No. 12 or No. 13 should they lose that game, and they'd have to wait through the remaning games before learning their NCAA Tournament fate on Sunday. Boston University is in regardless of their Hockey East tournament performance, but the Terriers can finish anywhere from a No. 1 seed if they win to likely being a No. 3 seed if they lose to Maine.

ECAC Hockey

Presently No. 13 in Pairwise, ECAC Hockey contender Cornell still controls their destiny if they defeat Harvard on Friday night in that conference's semifinals. If they lose, the Big Red can still get in if they defeat the loser of Union vs. Colgate in the third-place game, but two losses or a loss and tie will leave them on the outside looking in. Union is in regardless of this weekend and is playing for a No. 1 seed, and should they win the ECAC tournament in Atlantic City, they'll have about a 75-percent chance of picking up that spot.

Central Collegiate Hockey Association

Like the ECAC, all four CCHA teams are guaranteed two games -- all other conferences have eliminated their third-place games. Western Michigan, Michigan State and Northern Michigan are all on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but WMU is the only one who find themselves playing in Detroit during the conference tournament.

Michigan State and NMU fans are pulling for a pair of Broncos losses as a result, and if Bowling Green were to win the tournament and grab an auto-bid, it would be devastating to each. Western Michigan gets closer to a tournament berth if they defeat Miami on Friday afternoon, but sitting at No. 15 in the Pairwise, their only guarantee is to win both games.

Michigan State also comes close to clinching a spot if there are no upsets throughout any of the games Friday night. Despite not playing in Detroit over the weekend (the Spartans were swept by Miami in the CCHA quarterfinals), they hold the tiebreaker over Western Michigan and have a better chance of staying in the at-large mix.

Northern Michigan's hopes, meanwhile, were essentially dashed when they lost to Bowling Green in the CCHA first round. The Wildcats need a number of games to go their way and will be eliminated from postseason contention if either Western Michigan or Cornell wins Friday.

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