Thanks for stopping by to talk college hockey with us this afternoon. We'll be taking questions over the next 30 minutes.
Of the teams on the outside looking in on the NCAAs (Dartmouth, Boston University, Minnesota, Colorado College), which team has the best shot to push into the tournament?
Lots of tournament scenario questions in the inbox already, and it's tough to say right now how that's all going to shake out. Even though the regular season is winding down, there's a lot of time for teams to improve their standing during the conference tournament. Of the teams you listed, I think Minnesota is playing the best right now. The Gophers have a favorable end of the season schedule and could have a first-round home-ice series in the WCHA playoffs. I'll be watching them.
Any way BU makes the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid? Or do they have to win the HE Championship?
BU is close. They can make it as an at-large, but can't stumble these next two weeks against Vermont and Northeastern. If they get five or six points from those four games, and win their first-round Hockey East series they should be in good shape.
How many ECAC teams do you think make the tourney?
I'm going to say three. I think Union and Yale are virtual locks. Of the next group, RPI and Dartmouth have the best chance for an at-large bid, and I wouldn't count out Cornell or Princeton for making a deep run in the conference tournament. Of those four possibilities, I'll guess that one will actually come true.
When will we see the NCAA Hockey Tournament Bracketts?
The selection show is Sunday, March 20 at 11:30 a.m. That's when the field will be announced.
What would you guys say are the chances of there being an upset in the Atlantic Hockey tournament?
I'd say it would be a reasonable chance. RIT is certainly favored, but there are a lot of good teams in that league that can make a run at the Tigers. Niagara, Air Force, Robert Morris and even Holy Cross are right there in the mix. I can't imagine that RIT would stumble in the quarterfinal series, which they'll play at home, but that one-game knockout tournament will be a tough go and the champion will definitely be deserving.
Realistically, how far do you see Union going? Can they compete with the teams from the West and Hockey East?
Union can compete with any team in the country. I don't think they'd be favored against BC or North Dakota, but they would be in the game with a chance to win it for sure. Things are very close in the top-10 this year. Whether its Union or a more traditional power like Denver, all of those teams have a chance to make a Frozen Four, or to be bounced in the first round.
It's been a rough season for Vermont, so say the least. What do you think the chances are they can pull out 3 or 4 point the next 2 weekends (w/ 2 @ BU & 2 vs UML) and secure a spot in the hockey east tourney? And assuming they make it the bigger question is, what does Vermont take away from this season: A) it was a lost season no matter what or b) they finished strong, made the tourney and made progress towards next year?
Interesting thoughts, and I suppose those last two questions depend on a person's perspective. I think the Cats can get some points this weekend against BU and I'd expect them to get two points (at least) against UMass-Lowell. If they get in the playoffs, it'll be good for the program. It can build momentum for the following season and energize off-season work.
BC has had success in the Frozen Four over the past decade, but less so with landing individual player awards (Hobey, etc). Why do you think this is so? Any chance a dark horse candidate like Cam Atkinson makes a late run at the award?
Boston College's biggest enemy when it comes to individual awards like the Hobey is balance -- they have so many guys playing at high levels that it makes it really tough to single out just one. I think Atkinson is a lock for the final 10 this year, but some people who watch BC more closely might say that Brian Gibbons or John Muse are more integral to the Eagles' success.
Is Pat Mcnally comitting to harvard showing they're on the way back up??
Recruiting hasn't been a problem at Harvard, if you believe that NHL draft picks and the like comprise a good recruiting class. As far as this year's Harvard team is concerned, the Crimson are playing their best hockey of the season right now and will be dangerous in the playoffs. Check out my ECAC Hockey story this week at INCH for more on the Crimson.
If the Black Bears sweep Merrimack, are they in?
In the national tournament? Not yet. They've got more work to do and it'll take a decent run in the Hockey East playoffs if they want an at-large bid.
Who's is the best tendy in the WCHA?
Roman? This answer isn't gonna end up in the Star Trib, is it? I guess it depends on one's definition of "best" -- for example, I believe North Dakota's Aaron Dell is the league's most valuable goalie, and Minnesota has played better since Kent Patterson assumed the no. 1 job. Wisconsin's Scott Gudmandson has great numbers, and I'm not so sure that if I was naming an All-WCHA team, Bemidji State's Dan Bakala wouldn't be my goalie. I certainly think Dell has meant the most to his team, however.
Boss is buying me lunch if my question gets picked....Do you see Miami making it to a third straight Frozen Four?
Enjoy lunch more than my answer. I say, no, Miami won't make the Frozen Four.
On a scale of 9-10, with 9 being REALLY REALLY funny and 10 being hilarious, how funny was it to see BU finish 4th in the Beanpot?
BC fans usually make fun of BU for only caring about the Beanpot. And now we get this two weeks after the tournament? Can't have it both ways man!
Any prediction in which regional Michigan is going to fall into this year? I can only hope that we are not paired in with North Dakota, they seem to be the team we can never beat!
There's way too much hockey left to even start to think about what regions or seeds teams will end up with. The rules for slotting the NCAA Tournament are pretty clearly illustrated, but the order of the teams won't be finalized until after the conference championship games.
Dinner on you if they do?
John is hungry. And if Miami makes the Frozen Four, I will definitely have dinner, but not try to get any of it on me.
I don't know if overlook is the right word, but would you say you are overlooking Matt Frattin because of something on the ice or because of his past off ice transgressions?
Can't speak for the current crop of Hobey voters, but when I was part of the voting group, I really didn't take into account any of the off-the-ice stuff unless it was a recurring theme -- kid is a bad guy in the room, doesn't respect the game or officials, stuff like that. Hey, college kids are going to make bad choices. As long as they learn from them and don't repeat them, that works for me.
Any new knowledge about the Greg Cronin debacle at Northeastern? They're playing well with their 3rd string coach back there!
Nothing to report from here, but it clearly appears that Northeastern wants to take care of things in-house and make sure that everything is sorted out. On the ice, Northeastern is playing much better. Two good tests to close the regular season with UNH and BU, and they'll be dangerous in the playoffs.
With the Big 10 Conference seeming more and more likely, what do you think the future holds for the WCHA and CCHA as far as staying with the same teams or possibly adding or combining? Any speculation on what would happen to the WCHA Final Five location being kept in St. Paul or moved. I am awesome.
You are awesome, Alex, but sometimes you play the puck too much. Minnesota is the key in all of this, because they seem to be the only school that, from top to bottom, values its rivalries with teams like North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth. I mean, Barry Alvarez is ready to launch a Big 10 hockey league today and you know fans at Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State don't care about the smaller schools like Ferris and Lake State. Ultimately, I think we'll have Big 10 hockey while maintaining some semblance of the current CCHA and WCHA alignments with the Big 10 schools.
What is going on with those RPI Engineers? They were looking at a 2 seed as little as two weeks ago, now they'll be lucky to get an at-large
Some injuries have hampered the Engineers lately, but that's something most teams have had to deal with. RPI is at its best when it plays a tough, hard game and is pressuring the other team. I don't know that has been the case lately. I definitely wouldn't want to face them in the playoffs if I was another opponent. It could also speak to the strength of ECAC Hockey. The Engineers are tremendous outside of the conference, and have been fifth or sixth most of the year in the league.
Thanks for stopping by to talk with us this afternoon. Enjoy the college hockey weekend and travel safe if you're on your way out to the rinks. We'll be back next week to chat with you again.