Jan. 31, 2007
By Dave Starman
Special to CSTV.com
Dave is a CSTV game and studio analyst, and contributes regular insight to CSTV.com. E-mail here!
Some thoughts on college hockey as January turns to February...
Going Gophers: The WCHA continues to be a fascinating story.
Lucia told us earlier last week that
"Not that team's were soft, but some of the teams we played, who are good teams, hadn't found their groove or were banged up," Lucia said. "CC is never an easy team to play, but we got them at home at the right time. There were other weekends like that. Now were at a point in the schedule where things are going to be a lot harder. Guys are back from the WJC, and they are still sluggish. The guys that were here playing are tired. We have a general team fatigue factor, and are really looking forward to that weekend off after
They are young, skilled and get along well. It is a team that if their goaltending holds up, will be a very tough team to play in a short series/single game elimination situation in the post season. They are definitely the most interesting story in the conference because they are undoubtedly the biggest wildcard out there.
Super Sioux: Wow would be the first word that comes to mind after watching
I know that Jonathan Towes and T.J. Oshie are high end kids, and first round picks. However, if anyone thinks that Ryan Duncan doesn't make that line significantly better isn't watching.
Towes and Oshie are clicking on all cylinders, which is great news for Dave Hakstol's crew.
The Logo/Name Issue: An informal poll of people I talked to in NCAA nockey circles feel the NoDak logo and nickname are no big deal.
Here's why I agree. Unlike some Native American nicknames or logos, the Fighting Sioux are represented in a very distinguished logo on a very classy uniform. There seems to be a very sincere connection between the University and the Fighting Sioux nation. The Fighting Sioux nation has supported NoDak athletics use of its heritage from what I hear and read.
I felt the
Same goes for the Fighting Sioux. Ralph Engelstad's politics and world view were a little skewed with his Hitler fascination, but he is dead. I like the name and logo in NoDak, so let's move onto more pressing issues.
Historic Feat: Until told otherwise, I'm putting it in the bank that Phil Kessel is the only NCAA DI player to score his first NCAA goal on a penalty shot.
Here is another first that will never be duplicated.
A proposal: This is a controversial topic, but one to explore. To my friends and colleagues in Atlantic Hockey and the CHA, I'm apologizing in advance!
The NCAA tourney is a 16 team tourney. Four regionals of four teams, the winner of each regional goes to the Frozen Four.
The CHA and Atlantic Hockey each receive an automatic bid by winning their conference. Those two conferences made some noise recently in the big show, as
Last season, Holy Cross ko'ed the powerful Gophers in the
While Cinderella stories excite the mind and stimulate the senses of sports fans, they are few and far between. In the NCAA hockey tourney, they are a huge rarity. Also at stake here are two bids that while deserving of a conference champion, also put teams in the Sweet 16 that have a very small chance of winning.
So here's a thought. Have Atlantic Hockey and the CHA champion's playoff at one regional in a play-in game. That allows one more team from the Big Four conferences to get in that probably deserved to. That winning team plays the No. 1 overall seed. That guarantees that both conference winners in the CHA and AHA make the tourney. They'll just have an extra game. The negative is that they'll play three in three or three in four days to get out of the regional.
I say this for two reasons. The first is this: Marketing. Let's say Michigan, or
With no disrespect intended, my feeling is that college hockey needs marquee names in its big tourneys, and that if you have a big name team on the bubble in the 15th or even 16th seed spot, get them in the regionals.
The second is this: bottom line is that a .500 team in the WCHA has a better chance to pull an upset in a regional than does the champion of the CHA or Atlantic Hockey Conference. Want the casual viewer watching the regionals? Make sure teams' they can identify with are in them. There are a lot of real good bubble teams this season in the Big Four.