Archive for the 'Arenas/Travel' Category

Hockey East’s Top-10 Non-Conference Games for 2014-15

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Mark your calendars.

Hockey East fans will be blessed this coming winter. Along with a shortened 22-game league schedule, which as it did last year when the schedule was at 20 games, should make for closer playoff races come the end of February, there’s a slew of premiere non-conference games headed to Hockey East rinks this upcoming season.

Union, the defending national champions, will visit three Hockey East rinks. Michigan makes a pair of trips and even Minnesota will fly to Boston, marking the first time the Gophers will travel to the city that houses four Division I programs since it helped close Walter Brown Arena and open Agganis Arena in Jan. 2005, if you exclude a visit to Vermont in 2012-13 and a trip to Hockey East newcomer Notre Dame last season, which is really in the midwest and not the east.

Since that trip to Boston in 2005, Minnesota has hosted 13 games against Hockey East opponents, and traveled east for just those two in Vermont.

Here are the top-10 non-conference games Hockey East will HOST this season:

10. Yale at Northeastern, Jan. 6
Two classic programs, playing in a classic building. Yale’s program has roots back to 1893 while Northeastern’s has been around since 1929. Matthews Arena has been around since 1909, and you know the history there. Besides, Northeastern is on an upswing in Hockey East the past two seasons under Jim Madigan and Yale just won a national title two years ago.

9. Michigan at Boston University, Oct. 25
Boston University endured one of its tougher seasons in 2013-14, but Jack Eichel will pull a BU shirt over his head this fall, and that makes this early-season matchup with Michigan a must see. Eichel will go against his NJEC linemate, Tyler Motte, as well as a plethora of his other former U.S. National Team Development Program teammates.

8. Union at Boston University, Jan. 3
If the national champions are visiting your building, it’s a big game. BU’s struggles could linger into the early parts of the 2014 schedule, but by January, the Terriers could very well be firing on all cylinders. The only problem here is that Eichel, and any other players that make the World Junior Team, will likely still be playing in the tournament.

7. Union at Maine, Oct. 17 & 18
Maine was reinvigorated last season with new head coach Red Gendron behind the bench, and the Black Bears will bring in their best non-conference opponent to Orono in just the second week of the regular season. Gendron is giving his players a mighty test right away.

6. Michigan at UMass Lowell, Oct. 24
It should be an interesting year for Lowell, which has now lost the bulk of the nucleus that has won back-to-back Hockey East championships. But they’re still the defending two-time champs. Lowell, which in both championship years has gotten off to sluggish starts, will be tested early against an ultra-talented Michigan team.

5. Union at Notre Dame, Nov. 28 (Shillelagh Tournament First Round)
Notre Dame, by its standards, limped through its first year as a member of Hockey East. But parity in college hockey, which is a theory everyone likes to talk about, in most cases doesn’t actually exist. Notre Dame is a reload program. They don’t rebuild. Teams like Merrimack, Vermont and Massachusetts have all had cups of coffee among the nation’s elite, but have failed to sustain it. Notre Dame had a taste of what it’s like near the bottom of Hockey East in its first season – the Irish finished eighth – but don’t expect that to sustain either. Then there’s Union. Did I mention they’re the defending national champions?

4. Michigan at Boston College, Dec. 13
This might as well be called the “NTDP All Star Game.” By my count, there will be 11 former NTDP players on the ice in this one, including BC goaltender Thatcher Demko. For much of these rosters, it will be one of their last games on opposite benches before players like Tuch, Milano, Demko, Motte, Compher, Downing and Larkin likely join the World Junior Team.

3. Minnesota at Northeastern, Nov. 29
A night after it plays a huge game at BC – we’ll get to that in a minute – the Gophers will travel to Matthews Arena to play Northeastern. The Huskies can score and they’ll be trying to improve on a defense that allowed the eighth-most goals in Hockey East, despite starter Clay Witt posting the second-best save percentage. That tells you how many shots Northeastern was allowing. But the Huskies will still be a team in the top-half of the Hockey East standings and it doesn’t get any more marquee than a matchup with Minnesota.

2. Quinnipiac at UMass Lowell, Oct. 18
Lowell and Quinnipiac have been surging at a similar time, and will collide early in the season. Just as Lowell has risen to prominence, winning back-to-back tournament titles, Quinnipiac has made a similar move in the ECAC.

1. Minnesota at Boston College, Nov. 28
This, you can’t beat. Two of the most storied programs in college hockey will meet up on Thanksgiving weekend. Take the league out of it, this will be the most anticipated non-conference game of the season across the entire nation. Union won the national title last April, and that’s all that counts, but BC and Minnesota actually finished No. 1 and 2 in the final Pairwise. Union had to knock off both these programs en route to its championship. Like it has in many years, the road to a national title likely goes through Minnesota or BC, if not both.

Honorable Mention: U.S. Under-20 Team vs. Boston University, Dec. 19
It’s only an exhibition, but Jack Eichel and the WJC team against BU should be a fun take.

Three Things I Think: Saturday Night Edition

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Another college hockey weekend in the books, here are three things I think about the WCHA with just two weeks to go.

- What a colossal meltdown by Minnesota Duluth tonight down in Mankato. Here’s the setup: The Bulldogs led 4-2 late in the third period. Trailing first-place Minnesota by a single point in the standings, and the Gophers cruising to a win over Bemidji State, it appeared the Bulldogs were going to keep pace. Then two goals in 10 seconds happened. Two minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime went past and UMD gained just a single point against 11th-place Minnesota State. The deficit for the Bulldogs is now just two points, but if the Gophers and ‘Dogs finish tied in the league standings, remember tonight in Mankato. Minnesota owns the tiebreaker with UMD, so a tie would make Minnesota the No. 1 seed for the playoffs. And the difference between first and second right now could be a date with the hapless Seawolves or a rematch with the Mavericks, who have a winning record over the last six weeks.

(more…)

Let the Bidding Begin

Monday, May 11th, 2009

It’s a little early, but we’re approaching the next round of Frozen Four bids in the near future. Bids will officially be taken this fall for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Frozen Fours, and will be announced in spring or summer 2010.

To date, the only four cities which have officially announced as preparing to bid are Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha, Neb.

The traditional selection criteria are as follows:

  • Facility Requirements and Needs (Seating Capacities, etc.)
  • Locker Room Space
  • Media Facilities
  • Hotel Facilities
  • Headquarters Hotel
  • Media Hotel
  • Officials Accommodations
  • Team Accommodations
  • Fan Accommodations
  • Financial Projections
  • Ticket Prices
  • Projected Ticket Sales

So here’s a somewhat exhaustive primer for the 2010 round.  I’ve included most of the cities that bid in 2000 (which awarded Frozen Fours to Boston, Columbus, and Milwaukee), 2003 (St. Louis and Denver), and 2005 (Washington, Detroit, St. Paul, and Tampa), along with some words on recent host cities.

The “Big Hockey City” Picks

New York – Madison Square Garden is an oft-rumored venue for the Frozen Four, but despite the fact that six different locations in Upstate New York have hosted the event, it still has never come to the Crossroads of the World. Quinnipiac and Atlantic Hockey were rumored to be putting together a bid in 2003, but nothing ever materialized. If MSG puts forward a bid, it’ll almost certainly get very close consideration – there are few cities in the world, let alone in the hockey-playing United States, that can compare with NYC, and few hockey meccas left out there that compare with MSG. On top of that, a recent BU-Cornell game there sold out, leading to a rematch there next season. Even if MSG doesn’t put a bid forward, there are still viable options across the Hudson in the Izod Center at the Meadowlands (which bid in 2000 and made the short list) or the Devils’ new digs at Prudential Center in Newark.

Pittsburgh – Robert Morris is backing a bid for the Frozen Four from the replacement for “The Igloo,” Consol Energy Arena, which will be the Penguins’ new building starting in the 2010-11 season. With the trend toward NHL arenas (by 2012, 7 of 10 Frozen Fours will have been in pro buildings), a local college hockey team with neighbors, plus a number of regular-season college hockey games taking place already at Mellon Arena in the recent past and near future, a strong support for the sport in the area, and a state-of-the-art brand new building to boot, and the Pittsburgh bid will look very, very strong indeed. The one drawback could be the fact that the building won’t be finished by the time the bids are decided upon, a fact which has caused problems for other bids in the past.

Philadelphia – The soon-to-be-yet-again-renamed Wachovia Center failed to earn a bid in both 2003 and 2005 despite making the short-list both times. Hotel accommodations near the stadium were a tripping point, but this should be resolved by the middle of the next decade thanks to a new hotel being planned at the current location of the old Spectrum across the street. This time, the building would have to face competition from Pittsburgh, which would be a tough sell. There’s practically no chance that the NCAA would hold two Frozen Fours in three years in the same state when there’s never been even one there.

 

The Recent Hosts

Buffalo – HSBC Arena has the benefit of being a modern NHL arena and being close to the Canadian hotbed of Southern Ontario. I don’t know how well received the city was in 2003, but Buffalo and HSBC Arena are probably interested in hosting again if their bid in 2005 is any indication. They weren’t shortlisted, probably because it was considered to be too soon. Anything prior to 2015 is probably still too soon.

Boston – The biggest shock of the last round of Frozen Four bids was that despite the unexpected decision to award the 2012 Frozen Four in addition to the planned awards for 2009-11, Boston was not among the cities chosen to host. At the time, the popular sentiment was that Boston might as well already be penciled in for 2013, and there hasn’t been anything in the last four years that would lead a person to presume that this has changed at all. Boston could submit a bid written in crayon comprised of nothing but “we want to host the Frozen Four” and they’d probably still be the favorites for 2013. The bottom line here is that if TD Garden submits a bid, they are practically assured to host by 2014 at the very latest.

Columbus – Maybe this is just me, but perhaps Nationwide Arena would be a better choice for Columbus down the road if they seek to host the Frozen Four again, which they probably will given that they submitted a bid for 2005, but like Buffalo, they were too soon then and probably would still be too soon this time. The relatively nearby bid of Pittsburgh could be tough to overcome, too.

Milwaukee – The Bradley Center has hosted the Frozen Four three times successfully and probably will get another crack at it in the near future, but they’d have better luck waiting until next time. The building did host its first two Frozen Fours just four years apart, but that was in the mid-90s – a lot has changed since then.

St. Louis – The Scottrade Center hosted the 2007 edition of the Frozen Four, and by most accounts did a pretty good job with it. According to reports, the city’s planning to give it another shot already, but this is definitely too early for the Gateway city to be hosting again.

Denver – I’m tempted to say that Denver might be able to get a little quicker of a turn-around time that Boston and the Twin Cities are entitled to as the two epicenters of college hockey, but given recent history, where St. Paul will have spent 9 years waiting for the Frozen Four’s return and with Boston having to wait at least that long, I don’t think Denver will have a shot until the next round of bidding.

The Odder Picks, With History

Omaha – Nebraska-Omaha’s home building, Qwest Center, bid just before opening in 2003 and are planning for a bid in this cycle already. Although it probably wouldn’t seem like it to an outsider, Omaha is actually a pretty decent hockey city, with strong junior hockey roots as well as strong support for the Mavericks. Omaha is still probably a darkhorse for the Frozen Four, though, as the area and the facility may both be a touch small for the tournament.

Kansas City – KC has been patiently waiting for their chance to host a Frozen Four, missing out in 2000 and 2005 for different reasons. The city was short-listed in 2000, but lost on a bid centered around Kemper Arena, an older facility. 2005 was instead centered around the Sprint Center, a newer, state-of-the-art facility which hopes to attract an NBA or NHL team, but in 2005 the building existed only on paper, breaking ground just days after failing to make the short-list cut. Now the building is a reality and has drawn rave reviews. With another bid in the works, and with the Hockey Commissioners Association placing the 2012 IceBreaker there, KC may just make the short-list again and could be a favorite for a bid if everything shakes out well.

San Antonio – The Alamodome has been a part of the last two bid processes, in 2003 and 2005. Both times the bid was supported by the University of Texas-San Antonio. In the past, there had been some hesitance to place the Frozen Four in a location without a hockey-connected host, but the 2009 Frozen Four was hosted by Navy with no problems. San Antonio would combine the NCAA’s penchant for including non-traditional locations with size – according to Wikipedia, the building seats 36,000 for hockey, which would make it as accessible as Ford Field will be next year, only with fewer empty seats and likely, better sight lines, since the facility has two permanent Olympic-sized rinks. Could they get that many to make the trip to San Antonio, though? Questions still abound, and San Antonio definitely isn’t a “hockey city” even by looser southern standards.

Miami – BankAtlantic Center in nearby Sunrise failed to make the short list in 2005, probably thanks to Tampa making the cut. I wouldn’t expect the NCAA to be so quick to return to Florida after 2012, especially since this bid will be awarded prior to that event.

Orlando – TD Waterhouse Center, now Amway  Arena, bid in 2000, supported by Disney, Quinnipiac, and what was then the MAAC. While I’m sure a Disney Frozen Four would be magical indeed, the same reasoning applies to Orlando as it does to Miami.

Atlanta – Philips Arena bid in 2000 with Georgia State as the sponsor, and didn’t make the cut. If a bid gets put forward there could be interest, but since they didn’t put forward bids in 2003 or 2005, perhaps the interest isn’t there.

Phoenix – The Coyotes’ Jobing.com Arena in Glendale failed to make the short-list in 2005. Speaking from personal experience, Arizona’s a great place to watch a hockey game (especially in February), but with all of the turmoil going on with the Coyotes right now, there are probably better choices for a non-traditional location.

Los Angeles – The 1999 Frozen Four in nearby Anaheim was a success financially for the NCAA, but the cost of transporting the teams there – three of them were Hockey East teams – put a damper on the net return. Fan reaction tended to be negative to the area at the time as well, leading me to believe that LA probably isn’t a strong contender.

San Jose – A bid backed by RPI was put forward in 2000 and made the NCAA’s short-list, but the financial issues surrounding the then-recent 1999 Frozen Four in Anaheim may have helped put the kibosh on the HP Pavilion’s chances. With the time that’s passed in the interim, if the interest is there and there’s a sponsor, the Shark Tank might have a decent shot if California as a whole isn’t “poisoned” by the ’99 event. Just as with Atlanta, no bids in the last two cycles may indicate that the interest isn’t there anymore.

My Own Odder Picks

Dallas – If the NCAA is insistent on following the NHL’s lead by showcasing itself in warm-weather, non-traditional sites, it stands to reason that a Frozen Four in Dallas, which has been one of the most successful warm-weather success stories, would be an intriguing idea, and, to be honest, American Airlines Center is a very nice facility for hockey. If the interest is there for a bid, I have to think it would get some very serious consideration.

Chicago – So while we’re listing off practically every NHL arena out there, especially in traditional climates, why not the United Center? Right now, the sole sports focus of the city of Chicago – other than the Blackhawks’ current playoff run and the Cubs – is on the 2016 Olympics. That bid won’t be over until October, and it wouldn’t give much time to throw something together in the interim.

Toronto – OK, I admit it, now I’m just getting weird, but given some of the picks we’ve seen, why not Toronto? Actually, here’s a couple of good reasons why not Toronto – the NCAA hasn’t, to my knowledge, ever crowned a champion outside of the lower 48, and it would be a logistical nightmare for fans with passport requirements now in place for returning to the United States. But if you could throw those two considerations out, you know there’d be a lot to love about a Frozen Four at the Air Canada Centre.

Sorry

Detroit, St. Paul, Tampa, and Washington – It’ll be much too early for these four cities, even though Washington Capitals manager George McPhee has already indicated after the very successful event there this year that he’d like to host the Frozen Four again, and soon. Detroit and St. Paul will probably have another shot to host sometime in the late 2010s, though, for Detroit hopefully before Joe Louis Arena closes, since the building will be going on 40 years old by that point. We won’t know about Tampa’s chances for the future until 2012.

Albany and Providence – The party’s over for both of these cities. The Times Union Center in Albany seems to submit a bid practically every time they are requested, and Providence is one of those true college hockey destinations, but neither the Dunkin’ Donuts Center nor the TUC are big enough for what the Frozen Four has become since they last hosted the event in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

That’s It

So how about it? What do YOU think? Any place I left out? Any city not getting its due props? Feel free to drop a comment or two before I make my “Way Too Early Picks for the 2013-15 Frozen Fours, Like My Opinion Mattered” predictions.

NCAA Regionals – Rochester Primer

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

With games approaching quickly here is a brief overview of the Rochester Area and a list of things to see and do while you’re in town.

We’ll start with the Blue Cross Arena.

Getting there:

FROM THE EAST
NYS Thruway to exit 45 (Victor)
Take 490 WEST and exit at Clinton Avenue
Turn Left at Broad Street (third light)
The Arena is on the corner of Broad and Exchange Streets.
FROM THE WEST
NYS Thruway to exit 47 (LeRoy)
Take 490 East to the Inner Loop exit #13
Take Plymouth Ave. exit #13 and turn right onto Plymouth
Turn Left at Broad Street (third light)
The Arena is on the corner of Broad and Exchange Streets.
FROM THE SOUTH
390 North
Take 490 East to the Inner Loop exit
Take Plymouth Ave. exit and turn right onto Plymouth
Turn Left at Broad Street (third light)
The Arena is on the corner of Broad and Exchange Streets.
Parking:
There is a parking garage across Exchange Street, event parking usually runs in the 10-20$ range. If you get there early there is street parking and $10 lots on Court Street. You can also take you chances with street parking on Exchange, but this has a tendency to fill up quick and it can be a bit of a walk.
Tickets:
Weekend packages are going for $71 for all three games. Unfortunately you have use Ticketmaster right now. The box office will have individual game tickets on sale starting Wednesday for $38 a game. Again, you have to go through Ticketmaster.
Game Times:
Clarkson plays Massachusetts at 2:30 PM EDT on Friday. St. Cloud takes on Maine at 6:00 PM EDT. The winners face off Saturday at 6:00 PM EDT. According to the tickets there is NO RE-ENTRY. In our opinion, this sucks big time, but it’s how arenas make their money.
After the Game:

1 – Blue Cross Arena
2 – Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
3 – Manhattan Square Park
4 – The Old Toad
5 – East and Alexander

As you leave the Blue Cross Arena (1) cross the Court Street bridge and you can’t miss the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (2). Much bigger than the original in Syracuse, be sure to expect a big crowd in here before, during and after the games.  A large bar with a good beer selection and ribs that might be the best this side of St. Louis.

Continuing on Court St. on the right hand side will be Manhattan Square Park (3), featuring an outdoor skating rink.  Temps are slated to be in the mid 50′s this weekend so bring your skates and take a couple laps.

Moving further east down Court as it turns into Broad Street, cross over the inter-loop and head one block further east and find yourself at The Old Toad (4).  An authentic British Pub that hires British exchange students as servers and features some of the best beers on tap in the city.  Odds are high you’ll find the author of this post in there after the games.

A left hand turn at the Old Toad brings you to the corner of East and Alexander and what many consider to be the highlight of Rochester night life.  Clubs and bars line the street and a left hand turn down East for two blocks will bring you to the Little Theater.  Rochester’s main independent movie house.   A right hand turn down East will take you to the George Eastman house and the Rochester Museum and Science Center and Strasenburgh Planetarium.

Hopefully this will start your trip to the Flower City off on the right foot, enjoy your stay and see you at the rink.

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Monday, October 16th, 2006

There aren’t any NCAA Division I hockey teams in California, but through a new partnership with RinkAtlas.com, College Hockey News now provides easy access to directions and maps for all games.

We’ve been looking to do something like this for some time, and when we learned about RinkAtlas, it seemed like a no brainer. RinkAtlas has the most accurate door-to-door directions for indoor ice rinks in the United States and plans to add rinks in Canada soon as well.

If you’ve seen Google Maps (and by now, who hasn’t), RinkAtlas will be very familiar to you. In addition, what we like most about the site is that its accuracy comes through verification of satellite coordinates, so you don’t have to worry about having the correct street address for an arena.

Besides a new RinkAtlas link on each team home page to its home arena — for example, Ohio State — you will find a new “Map” link for all games on both the weekly schedule page and all team schedule pages. Whether the game is at a regular Division I home arena or not.

So for instance, if you’re planning a trip to Florida for the Lightning College Hockey Classic on Oct. 27-28, the games involving Air Force, Alabama-Huntsville, Army, and Notre Dame have Map links to the St. Pete Times Forum in St. Petersburg.

And don’t forget to click the “Satellite” button on any of the maps for a satellite view of the arena. Keep an eye out for the boss — you can waste a lot of time with this feature.

Even though we’re using RinkAtlas only for maps of arenas hosting Division I games, you’ll find it a great resource for any rink in the United States. There’s no excuse now for missing that late night pickup game — or at least, you can’t say you didn’t know how to get there.

By the way, another new feature we’ve added this season is downloadable team schedule calendars. Visit any team schedule page — Providence, for instance — and click the “Download as Calendar” link to grab an .ics file that you can import into calendar programs like Outlook, Mozilla Calendar, and Apple iCal.

There’s more to come soon, so stay tuned. And please feel free to leave us feedback on these or any other new features you’d like to see.