Chat: Inside College Hockey
What teams will reach the Frozen Four in Columbus, Ohio? Will top seed Boston College make it? Defending champ Denver? Join the INCH chat Thursday at 11 a.m. ET to find out the answers to all your questions about the NCAA men's hockey regionals.
Joe Gladziszewski (11:00 AM)
Good morning, and welcome to a special edition of The Show with InsideCollegeHockey.com. We're on a little earlier than our regular time slot, but we're here for a full hour on the eve of the NCAA Tournament. Mike Eidelbes and I will be taking your questions for the next hour.
Ryan (Castle Rock, CO)
Do you think Denver's goaltending is strong enough to make a repeat? And who do you think will get the majority of playing time? Mannino or Fisher?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:04 AM)
Fittingly, we start with a question on the defending champs. So far, Fisher and Mannino have proven themselves to be capable of doing the job for the Pioneers. So much so that George Gwozdecky has publicly stated that he'll keep the goalie rotation in place this week. Fisher is due to start v. Bemidji State. If the Pies win, then Mannino would start v. UNH or Harvard. Then he'll have 10 days to figure out what to do about the Frozen Four.
Matt (South Portland, ME)
Maine and Minnesota have both been inconsistent at times this year. Is there any reason to believe that the winner of their game Saturday can make a run to a national championship?
Mike Eidelbes (11:08 AM)
Certainly. As far as the Black Bears are concerned, that reason is Jimmy Howard. He's capable of stealing a couple games and carrying a team into the Frozen Four. On the Minnesota side, it's not so much one guy as it is their explosiveness -- I know they've got some questions regarding Hirsch's status and Goligoski's health, but guys like Irmen and Potulny have can score goals in bunches. Just ask Al Montoya what happened when Minnesota played Michigan at Thanksgiving.
Geoff, Durham NH
How do you think the NE regional looks? Denver is a strong team, and Harvard always plays tough in big games, but do you see the big sheet of ice favoring UNH b/c of their olympic sized sheet at home? Can UNH's high flying offense get past Harvard's D, and can anyone stop Denver from getting back to the frozen four?
Mike Eidelbes (11:11 AM)
I'm fortunate to have grabbed the assignment to cover this regional and am looking forward to Amherst. Personally, I think there's too much being made of UNH's alleged large-ice advantage. DU has plenty of experience on the big ice. Harvard played on a big sheet at Mariucci around the holidays and got a 0-0 tie (shootout loss, I know) to a good Northern Michigan team that had a lot more big-ice experience than the Crimson. Harvard's D have good size, but they're also very mobile. It will be an excellent first round game.
Can you tell me about Ohio State? They seem to have a lot of freshman.
Mike Eidelbes (11:15 AM)
They're a young team all around, Jay. But I think they're underrated...or at least underappreciated. In some ways, they remind me of last year's Denver team -- they've got good depth, they're not a team of stars and guys know they've got to play their roles in order to win. I think they'll give Cornell all they can handle. Keep an eye on freshman forward Tom Fritsche -- he's an excellent player.
Eric (Burlington, MA)
How about the number one seed, BC. Who will get more playing time in goal, and can Boyle carry his team through the frozen four as he did in the Hockey East final?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:18 AM)
There's plenty of good news for BC on the injury front. Patrick Eaves and Stephen Gionta have been cleared to play and Jerry York indicates that they'll be in the lineup this weekend. (See INCH Newsstand for more). Defenseman Peter Harrold won't play. Cory Schneider has been selected as the Eagles' No. 1 goalie for the tournament and played well at the Hockey East tournament over the weekend. With those players back in the lineup, we think BC is the most likely of all of the No. 1 seeds to advance to Columbus.
Tim (Woodhaven, Michigan)
Do you think it is wrong that Minnesota ranked lower than Cornell and Michigan get a 1 seed at there home rink?
Mike Eidelbes (11:23 AM)
Well, the numbers say that's the way it should be. But I'm not a fan of the current system being the primary criteria for choosing the tournament field. No disrespect to Minnesota, but I think Michigan and Cornell could make strong arguments that they deserve a top seed. But it seems as if the selection committee is married to the current system, so stuff like this will continue to happen.
Mike Eidelbes (11:23 AM)
Cornell and Michigan won their conference's regular season and playoff titles. That's no small feat.
Tristan (Columbus, OH)
Who's the best 2 seed out there? How about the best 3 and 4?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:26 AM)
Here's an appropriate follow up, because definitely the strongest #2 and #4 seeds are in the West regional at Minneapolis. Cornell is an excellent team, and Maine is especially tough at this time of year. They seem to be hitting their stride. The best #3? That's a tough one. I don't know that there's much to choose between Wisconsin, BU, OSU, and Harvard. Wisconsin has the most upside, but has struggled down the stretch. The other teams have shown signs of brilliance, but have been plagued by inconsistency.
Which 4 seed has the best chance of beating a 1 seed in the first round?
Mike Eidelbes (11:30 AM)
Without question, Maine has a good shot at beating Minnesota. Again, it's the Jimmy Howard factor. He can win a game single-handedly. And you can't predict what the Gophers' mindset will be heading into the regional. The incident with Hirsch at the Final Five hasn't faded away. Good to see Tyler is back practicing with the team, however.
Mike Eidelbes (11:30 AM)
One final one before I run...
Stu (Houston, TX)
OK, prediction time -- who makes it to the Frozen 4?
Mike Eidelbes (11:32 AM)
I'm going with Denver, Boston College, Michigan and Minnesota. I give you a bunch of reasons why the Gophers won't win, but then I pick 'em anyway. I'm just throwing you all off the trail. Denver wins it all, by the way. Gotta run...have fun this weekend...
Joe Gladziszewski (11:33 AM)
Thanks Mike. I'll be taking questions for another 30 minutes. They're great so far, keep em' coming.
Joe Gladziszewski (11:34 AM)
... and here's a string of questions that we'll try to cover with one answer
Jim, Utica, NY
Why is it that Cornell, ranked as recently in most polls as #3 overall, winners of the ECACHL championship and owners of a much better winning percentage than the #1 seed Minnesota, be seeded #2 in the West?
jon (bedford, ny)
Does Cornell have a chance to make it out of the west regional given that Minnesota will essentially be playing home games? How did Cornell end up seeded lower than Minnesota even though they had the same pair wise but Minnesota lost twice last weekend while Cornell won twice?
I have a question related to the Cornell question above. With them getting a 2 seed, doesn't that pretty much send the message that it's impossible for an ECAC team to ever get a 1? What would they have to do? Playing the Midwestern power teams more isn't logistically possible, so should they look to face more of the New England teams pre-conference?
Adam (Loyanbach, MN)
Is Cornell the favorite in the West Regional, even though they are the two seed playing on the home ice of the one seed?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:38 AM)
The Lynah Faithful have been heard! As always. Some Cornell fans have written me with concerns about seeding. My reply is that seeding really isn't important. Look at what's happening on the ice! Cornell's the hottest team in the nation right now and are playing their best hockey of the season. They beat two very good teams in Albany and haven't lost in their last 18. The Cornell team is tremendously focused right now. I don't think they care much about the opponent. They're doing the things that Cornell always does well (details, goaltending, special teams) and will be a very tough out in this tournament.
What teams showed a lot down the stretch that should have earned them NCAA Bids?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:40 AM)
Three teams that just missed out on the tournament can look back to the early part of the season as reason why they didn't make the NCAAs. UMass-Lowell, Dartmouth, and Michigan State. Those teams got off to so-so starts, came on at the end of the year, but just missed the tourney.
bob (nyc )
What are your thoughts on the Wisco/Mich game? Michigan has more fire power, but wisconsin has good team defense. Does this one come down to Bruckler and Montoya?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:43 AM)
It's the playoffs, Bob, so it always comes down to goaltending! Montoya has been very good recently, which was the last piece in making Michigan a very complete team. I'm still concerned with Wisconsin's play down the stretch, and because it's still a very young team, they don't have a ton of experience to draw upon to get them out of slumps.
Derek (Arlington, Mass.)
Last weekend produced some big-time surprise performances, like Brian Boyle in Hockey East. Can you go out on a limb and pick a surprise guy to watch this weekend?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:46 AM)
Great question, Derek. Here's a guy that nobody's talking much about, and I would strongly recommend checking him out in the Colgate-CC game -- Colgate goalie Steve Silverthorn. Technically, he might be better than both Dave McKee and Dov Grumet-Morris, Hobey Baker finalists from the ECACHL. Silverthorn doesn't get a ton of recognition because of those guys, but he's terrific. He could really shine against CC.
Craig (Boston, MA)
Whats the deal with putting BC and BU in the same bracket? Do you think that BU can get past North Dakota? Assuming that BC beats Mercyhurst and if BU beats ND, what are your thoughts on another hoey eats matchup between the two rivals? And do you think the brackets should have been done differently to prevent this possible matchup so early on?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:49 AM)
The "deal" with putting BC and BU in the same bracket is b/c it was basically the only option. As top overall seed, Boston College earned the right to play close to its campus (Worcester) and as the host school, Boston University had to play in Worcester. It's not as if someone is trying to eliminate a dominant conference at Columbus. You could also get CC-Wisconsin in the midwest regional final. As far as a potential BC-BU matchup, I think BC is a much better team and is a heavy favorite.
Dave (Fisher, Mn)
Last week North Dakota beat Wisconsin and Minnesota and lost to Denver 1-0 in OT what do you think of the Sioux in the tourny
Joe Gladziszewski (11:52 AM)
We haven't talked about the Sioux yet. The thing I like best about their club is that they played their way into the tournament. They needed to win in the WCHA playoffs, did so, and earned a bid. BU is a good first-round matchup for them. Obviously, injuries hurt the Sioux (Murray and Bina) but there's enough depth in that lineup to do well. I expect them to beat BU.
Joe Gladziszewski (11:53 AM)
... and because I'm hammering BU
Jake, Durham NH
Which Umile team will show up for UNH? It seems like they play great one game, and the next they are lackluster. Their opponent always shows up with more motivation in the big games (look at Minnesota and Maine in the Frozen Fours over the last 3-4 years). What needs to be done to combat this?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:55 AM)
Insert your favorite UNH national championship joke here. To say that UNH doesn't show up with enough "motivation" is probably off target. Ask the coaches that have won the tournament, it's a tremendous accomplishment and an extremely difficult task. Things have to go your way, and you have to play excellent. I'd say that UNH's losses were more a matter of circumstance than a lack of motivation.
Joe Gladziszewski (11:56 AM)
OK, wrapping things up here. We'll take these prediction questions ...
Eric (Ann Arbor)
Hey Joe. Who is favorite to win each regional, and who wins it all?
Tim (Woodhaven, Michigan)
Joe who is your pick for the frozen four?
Joe Gladziszewski (11:59 AM)
In the Worcester Region, I think Boston College advances with little difficulty, beating North Dakota on Saturday night. In Amherst, I'll say Harvard's seniority, and Dov-Grumet Morris, gets them past UNH, but not by Denver. Out of Grand Rapids, let's go with CC over Michigan, but Colgate will give CC all it can handle in a surprisingly good first-round game. As I mentioned earlier, I think Cornell is playing terrific hockey right now. They'll advance. (Not touching the Maine-Minny game!) In the final, Cornell beats DU.
Joe Gladziszewski (11:59 AM)
Thanks for the great questions, I can tell that fans are as excited about the weekend as we are. We'll be taking some of the questions we didn't get to in INCH OT, posted at insidecollegehockey.com later this afternoon.