Hello -- it's time to talk college hockey with the writers from Inside College Hockey. We apologize for the slight delay in getting started, but we'll be taking your questions right up until 4 p.m.
Are BU's last 2 games an example of 2 good teams playing up to BU's level, or BU playing down at inferior teams' levels?
BU was much better last night than they were in the regional final against UNH. The Terriers had an excellent first period and really played well late in the third. The middle stretch was when Vermont took advantage of a bit of an opening.
I think they'll be focused and ready to go on Saturday night and it'll take a more complete effort to beat a very good Miami team. I guess the answer to your question is a little bit of both -- UNH and Vermont played well, but BU played inconsistently through stretches but still showed they're a very good team.
Looking ahead to next year's Frozen Four, what do you think the event will be like held in 70,000+ Ford Field?
I think the Frozen Four will be a great event. It always is. Next year will present some unique opportunities in terms of attendance and exposure, but there are also some challenges to overcome from not being in a traditional hockey venue.
The planning committee from Detroit is here in Washington, D.C. and tickets will go on sale in the coming days. There are some very affordable ticket options that I know of already.
I don't think there's any question that BU is the best team in college hockey, but in one game anything can happen. What does Miami have to do to pull it out?
I think Miami has a shot, just by continuing to do what they've done throughout this tournament. They play great defense, possess the puck and really play at a consistent level throughout the game. A low-scoring game probably favors the RedHawks. They'll have to limit the scoring chances of BU's dynamic first line.
Did you attend practices today? Anything out of the ordinary?
We were here for practices and will have a notebook with some of the storylines that we were able to develop. Nothing out of the ordinary. Every year at the Frozen Four, the Friday practices are very light in both work and attitude. It's a day to relax. Not much more to change at this point in the season and if you're playing in that championship game it obviously means you're playing pretty well.
I guess Millan's human -- and you likely didn't hear the tv telecast as you are there -- but Melrose was killing the poor kid. Do you see him bouncing back strong tomorrow, or will his shaky play continue and further weaken the nerves?
I think he'll be fine tomorrow night. He certainly wasn't at his best on Thursday, but he's won a ton of big games such as the Hockey East title and the Beanpot. Millan's relative struggle was one of the things that surprised me most about Thursday's semifinals.
My question is why ESPN hasn't covered a single minute on tv of Miami beating Bemidji State last night? This is Miami's first national title game in the 200 years of its existence. Not to mention Miami is now playing rival Boston U who has eliminated Miami from the playoffs multiple years. Don't you think that's worthy of a 1 or 2 minute clip on SportsCenter?
Wait a minute ... the game was on ESPN2. That means they covered it. And tomorrow's game is on ESPN.
What a great game last night between BUand UVM. The Catamounts deserve a lot of credit for taking BU to the brink. What is Wilson's plan for after the tourney? Is he a lock to go straight to Nashville and help them secure a playoff spot?
Nashville's last game of the regular season is tonight, and Wilson's busy with BU here in DC, so he won't be there. I do think he'll sign a pro contract after this season. If Nashville is in the playoffs and wanted his services right away, I would be very surprised for a number of reasons (including salary cap and contract timelines). He was the best player on the ice last night, that's for sure.
Who is hotter right now? Cody Reichard or the coeds that he hangs out with on a daily basis on campus? Also, can you explain how the NAHL works. Was Reichard not paid when he played for the Icedogs?
Anyone whose been to Oxford in the spring knows the answer to that first question. Reichard's been great, but there are some things that are unbeatable in comparisons. The North American Hockey League is classified as Junior A hockey and players are not paid salaries and they retain their college eligibility in the NCAA's eyes in those leagues.
What does reaching the finals do for Miami's program going forward?
One of the most important things this run by the RedHawks has accomplished is that it has set higher standards for the program. Future teams can strive to make it to the second, third, fourth etc. Frozen Fours. The program has really emerged as a national contender in the last 10 years and this is the reward, but elite programs demand and expect this every year. That's the level that Miami would like to reach.
Hey what's the deal with no love for Miami University? We had no one show up for the press conference for our first game in the playoffs and aren't getting any coverage on ESPN for making our first national title game in 200 years. I think as a university we feel a bit slighted. Are you guys gonna overlook us when we cream Boston University like we did Bemidji State last night?
College hockey fans are passionate and most feel their teams are slighted. It's the best and worst characteristic of this game's great fan base. Miami's been getting a fair shake all week long here in D.C. in my opinion and they're a great club. Tomorrow night is a fantastic opportunity.
Any issues with the ice conditions? I know the NCAA had a couple conference calls in February as they were concerned about the Verizon Center. It looked good in the first game, but in the second game it looked a little choppy (Warsofsky and Stacey each took some unprovoked spills due to ruts). Was there any discussion about it?
I haven't heard it mentioned at all, but I agree with what you observed about last night. It is quite warm outside in the District today for this time of year (near 70 degrees) and that might detract from ice conditions today. But, with only one game tomorrow and plenty of time to attend to it, I expect the surface to be fine for the national championship game.
Big focus today has to be the Hobey. Who wins it, and who would you give it to (you can award it to any not in top 3 if you desired)? Personally, I think Wilson is the best player in college hockey, but I'd award it to Gilroy who's return for senior year and thwarting the $$ (temporalily) gives him the intangibles to represent the college game (notwithstanding he's 25 [and should be collecting a pension!]).
I am a voter on the Hobey Baker selection committee and I voted for Wilson with my first place vote. I agree that he's the best player, but the other two have had great seasons and certainly have strong cases for consideration.
Northeastern's Brad Thiessen probably made the biggest impact on his team's success, and BU's Matt Gilroy is a senior who had a great year for a great team and also took part in some notable off-ice projects. My vote was Wilson, but I could certainly see why other voters would choose differently.
Miami 2004 alum here. Just wanted to let you know that the announcer yesterday said, "Miami hockey is going to make it to their first ever championship game in the sport they are known for." The Cradle of Coaches might have a thing or two to say about that. Either way, go RedHawks!!!
Hey ... the INCH staff is a group of hockey people! To us, Miami is a hockey school. Credit to the ESPN announce team for thinking the same thing. Regardless of the great coaching history and Big Ben, winning the school's first ever national title in a team sport would be great for the school's hockey profile.
Miami looks huge. They've got more than a half dozen 6-2 and better. Are they the biggest team in college hockey? On average how much do they outsize BU? Will it be a factor?
BU's got good size of their own and I really liked how physically active the Terriers were last night. Sometimes it leads to penalties, but forwards know they're going to pay a price when they try to get to the BU net. Miami's a bit bigger, but BU isn't small. I don't think it gives the RedHawks a distinct advantage.
Joe, the frozen four has been great, esp for us locals that don't get to see much college hockey. What can we expect from the finals... more open offense or tightning of the D? Also, you should make Nate do these chats with you.
Glad that college hockey is being well-received in this market and you're enjoying the product. (Are you paying attention Navy?) Tomorrow's game will be a slight contrast of styles. I think BU will try to push the pace and Miami would like to keep things a little less hectic. Whichever team dictates that tempo will have an advantage.
Nate's busy running the show here so that the rest of us media members can do our jobs. He's making it all happen.
I will admit that I am new to hockey and watched the game yesterday because Miami is my alma mater. So my question is about Bemidji State and their conference limbo next year. Does hockey not have "Independents" like they do in football? What if the Beavers cannot find a conference?
There were some independent teams in the past, but they haven't existed in a long time. The difficulty with that is scheduling. All of the other teams in the country play the majority of their games against conference opposition, which doesn't leave a lot of open dates to fit an independent in. When you also consider that those non-league games are often used to slate traditional non-league rivalries or holiday tournaments -- it would just be too difficult for an independent to get games.
We Miami fans have to be sick of teams from Boston. Please tell me why this year's BU team won't be anything like last year's BC team. Most of us are in shock that it is 2009 when we make the run to this point, not 2008, when Miami's team was the most talented and experienced it had ever been.
So much success depends on timing and the "market conditions" for lack of a better term. BC fans might argue that last year's team was less talented than the 2007 team that lost in the national championship game.
As far as the BU '09 vs. BC '08 comparison -- there are actually several similarities. Star power at forward, a freshman goaltender, and deep defense. But this BU team doesn't have Nathan Gerbe.
Regardless of the outcome of the championship game, do you think that Miami will be the team to beat in college hockey next season?
They'll be one of them. I like the kinds of players they've brought in via recruiting the last few years. They're adaptable and just an all-around solid team.
How long does Blasi stay at Miami? I know it is his alma mater, but the whale will eventually come to the small pond that is Oxford to swoop him up, right?
That's a great question, but the fact is that there isn't a lot of turnover among head coaches in college hockey -- especially at any places that you would consider an upgrade from his situation at Miami.
How do you think Miami matches up with BU? Everyone was talking about Bemidji's speed and I think Miami showed they had some speed of their own. They also showed that they are a physical team. Do you think that speed and physical game will help Miami in the title game?
It's a good matchup for Miami. They have some similarities to other teams that have played well against BU in recent weeks.
Miami's size is good and they'll be able to at least contend with BU in terms of skating.
Who do you think is going to win?
I think BU is going to win because they're the best team. But as we've seen throughout this tournament, the best team doesn't always win. Miami can do it, but until BU loses one of these big games (and they haven't all year), I'll pick the Terriers.
That's all of the time we have for questions today. A reminder to check out InsideCollegeHockey.com for complete coverage from the Frozen Four including video interviews and analysis. Tomorrow night's game is at 7 p.m. ET.
The game can be seen on ESPN in HD.