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NCAA East Regional Live Blog

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

5:27p – Another puck spits out from behind the Clarkson net, the initial save is made but put home by UMass for the game winner with 12:20 left in the 1st OT. UMass wins it 1-0 for their first NCAA win, and for Clarkson a very disappointing end to a very solid season. Congratulations to the Minutemen!

5:26p – A foot sends the puck flying in front of the UMass net and Clarkson is unable to put it home. UMass throws the puck out from behind the Clarkson net now but a defenseman gets his body in front of it and the net comes off. 12:51 left in the 1st OT.

5:21p – Word out of the Internets is that Notre Dame is up 1-0 on Alabama-Huntsville. First two and half minutes go buy with a few shots but nothing high quality. After creating a bunch of traffic in front Clarkson can’t put home a big chance. Five minutes already gone in the 1st OT.

5:15p – Heeeeeeeeeere we go! 1st OT here in Rochesrter. Clarkson v. UMass!

5:00p – Into overtime!

4:59p – UMass rips a shot and the puck comes off the board, back through the crease and in front of Leggio who isn’t able to corral it. Melee ensues but we’re still tied with 1:10 to go in the 3rd. Clarkson misses a big chance. UMass with a couple now! Puck is frozen in the Clarkson end with 5.3 left.. And now a UMass time out.. Highly doubt the extra attacker for UMass with this much time yet, but we’ll see.

4:51p – UMass now with a great chance turned away by Leggio. Another icing by Clarkson… great plays continue to be followed by bad giveaways. Three to go here in Rochester. Still 0-0.

4:45p – Clarkson with one of its best opportunities of the games just misses. Pucks are starting to find Clarkson sticks, and fortunately for UMass fans also Jon Quick. About 6:00 to go and the crowd is now very much into it.

4:41p – The crowd is slowly getting ready to go into pins & needles mode with 8:00 left to play and a scoreless tie continuing. Both teams are extremely nervous misfires, giveaways and now an icing by the Knights. 7:35 remains.

4:35p – UMass kills it, then comes tantalizingly close to another penalty.

4:32p – Breakway opportunity doesn’t get a shot off for UMass. 4th line for Clarkson is now out there creating some trouble again. Clarkson now gets to go onto the power play. 14:12 remaining in the 3rd after the charging penalty. Clarkson rips two solid shots immediately and then Fenton coast to coast for UMass but is stopped.

4:27p – Some more back and forth. Hard to find different ways to describe it. Both teams getting some close chances, both goalies turning back shots. UMass getting the better of the recent exchange. Leggio’s saves are coming off big from the stick, not sure if he is intentionally trying to steer the puck or not. Quick is needed to keep an eye on both Clarkson and UMass as a puck was almost deflected in off the defenseman.

4:25p – UMass on the PP right off the bat as Grant Clitsome takes a big penalty right off the bat. Big chance for UMass but to no avail. Clarkson with a SH opportunity and we’ve got more back and forth hockey here. A big kill for Clarkson and another big big save by Leggio. 17:23 left in the 3rd.

4:19p – A quick jersey roll call so far: Clarkson, UMass, St. Cloud and Maine obviously. Also Boston University, Boston College, Cornell, a solid RIT contingent, Wisconsin, St.Lawrence, and not one but a couple of UAA Seawolves in the crowd. Here they come onto the ice for the third period. My gut tells me the first goal wins here. Good news for both teams, they’ll not be getting any matching minors to start the third. It’s been a pretty clean game so far.

4:03p – Suddenly it’s 23-18 shots in favor of Clarkson as they’re starting to find the net at least. Still UMass’ six shots have all pretty much been high quality scoring chances. End of 2 here in Rochester. Still scoreless with Clarkson and UMass.

3:55p – Not too shockingly all the penalties wiped and nothing doing. 3:52 left in the second. Clarkson wins a face-off and fires the puck just wide. Big pressure suddenly as UMass returns the offense with some of its own. UMass just misses a home run pass, and now Leggio making a remarkable save to keep the game knotted at zero. 1:53 remaining in the 2nd. Now Quick saving UMass! Suddenly a very entertaining five minutes of hockey.

3:51p – UMass good set-up and pressure on their power play. They get a solid shot off, but Leggio makes the save and the Knights whip it down the ice. Big trouble here now for Clarkson though as the Knights are now down 5 on 3 for 0:29. A huge opportunity now for the Minutemen. Leggio standing tall in net as the Knights kill off the first penalty. 1:28 to go in the second one. UMass now takes a penalty. HUGE for Clarkson as the teams go 4 on 4 now.

3:46p – A missed empty net for the Knights and UMass promptly responds with a breakaway and a misfire. Now a penalty on Clarkson. 7:54 left in the 2nd. A little bit of energy in the crowd now. We are all getting a little drowsy up there.

3:42p – Crowd eerily quiet during this PP. UMass kills it.

3:37p – Bouncing puck dumped in handcuffs Jon Quick to some “ooohs” but still not much doing until Clarkson throws two consecutive shots on net. Clarkson is now going on the PP after a Knight is dumped in front of the net. 12:38 left in a fast-moving 2nd. Clarkson leading on shots 4-0 in this period.

3:32p – BIG opportunity out in front for Clarkson’s Mike Sullivan but he can’t pull the trigger as a UMass player smothers the puck. Outside of that, a very slow start to the second period. 15:45 already left in the 2nd. Not much cooking on either side.

A couple of random thoughts, I had hoped to get lots of jersey pictures here in Rochester especially of some local teams, but sadly not many youngsters have made it to the arena for this early game. It would be nice if the NCAA could change the start times to accomodate the youngsters that have to be in school until 2:30 so they could see the next level of hockey.

3:27p – Game back on. Some matching minors dished out before the period began after some extracirriculars in front of the UMass bench. 18:06 remaining in the second.

3:07p – END OF 1. Clarkson 0 – UMass 0.

3:07p – Whistles slowing the game down quite a bit now. 2:30 left in the first. Clarkson looking like they’re dumping the puck a bit and sending the fast forwards in after it. If one catches it it could be trouble, but in the mean time it means they’re spending a lot of time in their own defensive zone where a giveaway could be bad. 2 on 1 now for UMass and the defenseman gets back to help Leggio who makes a big save. D’Alvise then with a chance of his own but stoned by Quick. 20 seconds left and some shenanigans in from of Jon Quick after he makes a save. Shots now 9-4 in favor of UMass.

3:00p – A couple quick opportunities but nothing doing yet for the Knights. PP killed by UMass as we’re back to 5 on 5. 3:43 to go in the first.

2:57p – Brett Hull on the Jumbotron here getting no cheers from the Rochester crowd.. obviously. Tripping penalty on UMass gives one of the top power plays in the country the opportunity to hit the ice. 6:33 left in the 1st.

2:50p – 11:00 minutes in and Clarkson gets their first shot on goal.

2:46p – Zalewski almost puts home a short-handed wrap around! UMass now passing very cleanly in their zone as they establish the man-advantage. Still, the Clarkson forecheck is now coming up huge generating some offense short handed again and killing off the penalty. Clarkson now starting to put pressure on, UMass has had a hard time getting the puck out of their zone in the past two minutes. 11:47 to go in the 1st.

2:40p – A couple early opportunities for both teams as they begin to test each other out. UMass seeming to have some decent success moving the puck out of their defensive zone efficiently, they’re starting to find the open man at the blue line and have put a few shots on Leggio already. UMass with a huge opportunity but a misfire right next to the net. UMass coming dangerously close to scoring several times, UMass is finding the numbers in their favor, and now a power play for them. 15:36 left in the 1st.

2:33 – And we’re underway here in Rochester!

2:25p – Eight to go before gametime our Internet keeps cutting in and out so to the Blackberry we go. A very big Clarkson contingent here for the opener.

It’s 1:58p here at the Blue Cross Arena as the #1 Clarkson Golden Knights and the #4 UMass Minutemen have hit the ice for pre-game warms ups. Keep an eye on CHN Blog all day for the latest NCAA Updates as we get them!

ECACH – Just when I got my new stack of business cards….

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

Albany NY – ECAC Hockey commissioner Steve Hagwell released today the new logo and new league name of the conference formerly known as the ECACHL, and formerly formerly known as the ECAC. To avoid confusion the league also named a new spokes model:

dangerfield

Hagwell commented on the new logo:

“The new logo uses the same blue and red look combined with a profile shot of Rodney Dangerfield in his prime. The font, Comic Sans, is a strong traditional typeface that is laid back and not serious, while the bold style of the letters and the introduction of the tagline give the mark a feel good feel.”

When asked if the league was persuing a new catchphrase, Hagwell said an team of comedians, bloggers, and one student representive from each school was asked to send in a list of what they thought would be the best new catch phrase.  The league whittled the list to the top ten and will have player of the year, Drew Bagnall shoot pucks with each slogan written on them at goaltender of the year David Leggio.  Which ever ones beat Leggio will be kept and set up for another round, when the last puck is left, the slogan will be decreed.  Here is the list of 10:

ECAC Hockey: You must have been something, before electricity.

ECAC Hockey: When we came out the doctor slapped our Dad.

ECAC Hockey: Now with less Vermont.

ECAC Hockey: If Albany doesn’t work, we’ll just go to Lynah.

ECAC Hockey: We refuse to recognize the rebel conference of Hockey East.

ECAC Hockey: Did you catch our game last night?  It was on TV!  It wasn’t?  What did they show?  Pre-Season baseball?  The Diamondbacks? Did Johnson pitch alright?

ECAC Hockey: Pay attention, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is lacing ‘em up tonight.

ECAC Hockey: Want to make 14 dollars, the hard way?

ECAC Hockey: Score a goal, win a CAR!!!!

ECAC Hockey: Dropping the L will make our players 14% more aerodynamic.

NCAA Tournament Selection Redux

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

The field of 16 was announced this afternoon, and there weren’t any surprises as far as we were concerned. But let’s take a quick look at a couple of the issues that did come up and how they were resolved. (Adam will likely have his own analysis soon as well.)

The big issue was how the committee was going to break the tie for 11th place in the pairwise. Adam and I agreed that the recent precedent was to break those ties with RPI, not the comparisons among the individual teams, and so we ended up ordering those three teams as follows: #11 St. Lawrence, #12 Maine, #13 UMass. Note that this drops UMass into the band of No. 4 seeds in the tournament — the #13-16 teams.

Indeed, that’s what the committee did. If they had used the comparisons, UMass would have been #11, St. Lawrence #12, and Maine #13. The impact is on which team is a No. 3 seed and which is a No. 4 seed. SLU is a No. 3 seed either way.

As a result, UMass, as a No. 4 seed, ends up facing No. 1 seed Clarkson in the East Regional. And Maine faces St. Cloud. (There’s more detail — UMass should have faced UNH, but was switched with Miami to avoid the intra-conference matchup, and the same for Maine, which was switched with SLU to avoid BC. But you can read about that in the bracket prediction article mentioned above.)

Note that the tie for 8th between Michigan and Michigan State — also big, because one would be a No. 2 seed and one a No. 3 seed — would go to Michigan whichever method was used, RPI or the head-to-head comparison.

Another issue was where the four No. 1 seeds would go. Northeast host UNH was going to Manchester, which left the other three. Normally, the No. 1 seeds are to be placed in the closest regional to them in order of seeding. That would have meant Minnesota to Grand Rapids, then Notre Dame to Rochester, and Clarkson to Denver.

However, that just doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons which should be clear. Fortunately, the committee was able to take a small degree of latitude and shift the teams to what we got — Minnesota in Denver, Notre Dame in Grand Rapids, and Clarkson in Rochester. That was made possible by a few factors, including Minnesota needing to fly either way, and West host Denver not making the tournament.

We did think the committee would make that move too, and they did.

The third major issue we discussed was whether or not Air Force would be kept in Denver. On this one Adam and I differed. One of us felt the committee would go right by the numbers — since they were going to do so in breaking the #11 tie — and match up #1 overall Minnesota with #16 overall Alabama-Huntsville, along with sending #15 Air Force to Grand Rapids to face #2 Notre Dame. The other one felt the committee would keep Air Force close to home since they were SO close and would not need to fly, there wasn’t much difference “by the numbers” (both teams were not teams under consideration and were well down the list in RPI), and because like the No. 1 seeds situation, it just “made sense”. This was a toss-up and while we ultimately went by the numbers, I will say I personally like the way it worked out better with Air Force making its first ever tourney appearance in its backyard.

Overall, we were as close as you could get without being 100% on the money. But as we’ve been saying, that’s really a reflection of how refined and predictable the process has become, even down to recognizing the cases where the committee could and would make slight deviations for the better of the tournament as a whole. To be honest, I don’t look at the whole thing until the night before the selection, because things can change so much even in a day. But the process is so refined that in about 15 minutes we have the brackets drawn up, the issues identified and the predictions made.

Best of luck to all the teams and here’s to an exciting tournament!

I can’t explain it.

Saturday, January 27th, 2007

Ask anyone to explain to you what’s going on in the NCAA this weekend, and they’ll probably say “they can’t explain it.” Are these wins upsets? Is this parity? Bad games? A bad season? Who the heck knows.

Tonight we saw Minnesota fall to a North Dakota team that is desperately hanging on to their NCAA tournament hopes. How bizarre is it that I reference a Sioux team and post-season desperation in the same sentence? A quick glance at the PWR by the way, and it looks like North Dakota was suddenly shot.. up to #7 in the rankings. Insane!

On top of that you’ve got Minnesota who was on a ridiculous unbeaten streak, suddenly 3-3-0 in their last six, and each of those victories have been one goal squeakers against Minnesota State, Wisconsin and Denver… by the way Denver is the only one who would make the NCAA field right now.

We also saw Hockey East get flipped around again this evening. The historical, momentous Vermont Catamounts skated to a 1-1 tie with Merrimack. That was the least surprising twist of the evening. A streaking BU team was halted in its tracks by BC giving up five goals to the Eagles at Agganis. But if we really want to talk about upsets, Northeastern came out of the booth and just wailed on Maine dropping a six spot on them to win 6-1 AT Alfond.

In actuality, things in the rest of college hockey went down pretty much as expected, but weekend after weekend we continue to see insane twists. Something in my gut tells me that this year’s NCAA Tournament is going to be one of the greatest of all time…. In the meantime, lets keep an eye on the Denver / St. Cloud foray going on right now. It wouldn’t surprise me if both teams busted out double-digit scoring this evening.. that’s the way things work this year.

I will NOT drink the Kool-Aid.

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

I’m sorry to rain on everyone’s parade, but I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid that the rest of the college hockey media is serving up after Vermont’s sweep of Boston College this weekend.

College Hockey News called it “signature.” which is the description I disagree with the least. USCHO called defined it using the words “upset,” “momentous,” and “historical.” Inside College Hockey wrote something on a cocktail napkin. Regardless, the hooplah in my mind is fairly ridiculous.

Vermont took down a traditional Hockey East power yes. But the 12-9-1 Boston College Eagles, are not the same Eagles from last year. Their play has been erratic. Big wins and big losses.

Upset?! This upset is like an #9 seed beating a #8 seed this year.
Momentous?! You mean like winning 27 games in a season?

This is a team that lost to Michigan Tech, at home, twice, and has been swept by UNH with a ten goal differential in three games.  Vermont is a team trying to establish itself among the Big Four of Hockey East, but the reality is until the Cats win the league title, they will still be playing second fiddle.

PUCK Rankings

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

CHN Blog “PUCK” Rankings
January 22nd, 2007

Rank Team Record Last Week
1 Minnesota 21-3-3 1
2 New Hampshire 18-4-1 2
3 St. Cloud State 16-4-4 4
4 Notre Dame 20-5-1 3
5 Denver 18-8-2 6
6 Maine 15-6-2 5
7 Michigan State 16-8-1 9
8 Boston University 12-4-6 10
9 Miami 18-8-2 11
10 Clarkson 14-6-3 7
11 Vermont 14-8-2 14
12 Michigan 17-9-0 13
13 Colorado College 14-9-1 12
14 Boston College 12-8-1 8
15 North Dakota 13-11-2 16
16 Niagara 15-8-3 NR

Bumped: Cornell

My bad.

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Sorry Bemidji and Niagara. My bad. After all the hype and suggesting at-large berth for all, Bemidji was swept by Michigan Tech, and Niagara was swept by Denver. Both teams are on thin ice now with only a few non-conference games left. They’ll both need to consider running the tables to have any hope of getting in outside of the being the CHA champ, as they’ll both play fairly weak schedules after this weekend. Expect both the Quinnipiac/Niagara series and the Bemidji/North Dakota to take on a playoff like feel as all of these teams are currently on the PWR bubble.

Same goes for Minnesota and St. Cloud. who both had unbeaten streaks snapped. Wisconsin continued to claw their way back by defeating the Gophers 2-1, but fell the following night 1-0. St. Cloud fell to Minnesota State 6-4, and then in a bizarre twist, skating to a 0-0 tie.

More RIT please! After Sacred Heart took out Cornell, we all thought they were the team to run away with Atlantic Hockey. Wrong. The sophomore Tigers come out and sweep Sacred Heart 4-0, 6-3 to take sole possession of the conference WITH game in hand. Of their remaining twelve games only two are against teams above .500. The Atlantic is theirs to take, and if it happens, expect the whole “ineligible for the NCAA tournament” threads to appear on hockey forums across the country.

Quinnipiac is sitting pretty on stop of the Ecac but Clarkson and St. Lawrence are both lurking with FIVE games in hand. Clarkson missed a prime opportunity to pick up some ground as Cornell and Colgate both took a point off of them, while St. Lawrence pulled a sweep. The Saints are winning when it counts.

The Battle for Ohio continues with Miami and Ohio State meeting in a big series as Ohio State continues to win and make up ground in the CCHA. Miami looks to get back to the consistent winning play they had before the holiday break and not let Notre Dame put any more space between them.

Congrats to Boston University for being the CHN Team of the Week. They had a huge weekend in a sweep over Maine. John Curry stopped 70 shots on the weekend, coming up big for BU.

We don’t mention Women’s Hockey much around here even though we should. Mercyhurst and Wisconsin have been simply dominant. And if you’re into the some traditional rivalries, the Clarkson and RPI programs will face each other, with RPI making significant strides in their second season. In addition, very competitive programs at Boston college and Boston University will be facing each other in yet another Commonwealth Ave. battle. If you haven’t had a chance to catch the Women’s game, this weekend might be a good time to take a look.

I’m just saying…

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

How about Northeastern and Harvard? A win over BC and a tie with BU for Northeastern, the CHN Team of the Week. Meanwhile the Crimson quietly put together a 4-1-0 record in their last five heading into finals. Is the Boston University Invitational Tournament suddenly wide open in February?

Bemidji and Niagara continue to win. Bemidji now in 8th, Niagara in 16th. Don’t look now, but Sacred Heart with a gaudy 13-4-4 record is a TUC and slowly climbing as well.

Bad luck for my Golden Knights last weekend. In an exhibition an errant high-stick lead to a DQ for Nick Dodge who was named the CSTV/Hockey Commissioners Association “Player of the Month” for December. Clarkson was playing McGill in an exhibition when Dodge’s stick caught the face of a player. McGill players are not required to wear cages. Dodge is out against Colgate.

I asked Brett is Minnesota could be the OSU of college hockey today. He asked me: “Isn’t OSU the OSU of college hockey?” Touche. Speaking of OSU, they’re 4-0-1 in their last five with two more against Miami coming up. Left for dead after a brutal stretch where they went 1-6-2 against the likes of LSSU and Minnesota, they’ve picked up the pace.

Are the Gophers beatable? 22 in a row unbeaten is what we fans in the East like to call “impressive.”

Speaking of hockey in the East. How can you not be interested in Syracuse joining college hockey. Then we can have more forum threads across the country about a potential Big Ten / Big East rivalry. Louisville Hockey Rules!

Congrats to Robert Morris for beating a strong Notre Dame team. A huge win for a young program. A quick glance as the schedule shows victories over Niagara, Bemidji and Notre Dame, all potential NCAA tournament teams. Dare I say it, with a little more consistency you could be looking at a tournament team sooner rather than later.

How about Denver and Colorado College? After what appear to be a slow start, they’re fighting at the top of the WCHA with Minnesota and St. Cloud. The Gophers better not get too comfortable, SCSU is only six points behind with plenty of season left. If you told me Wisconsin and North Dakota would be tied for 5th with losing records at this point in the season I would’ve certainly waved you away.

Ties Suck.

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

shootout.jpg Earlier today Adam unleashed his fury upon the shootout after Team USA’s loss to Canada in the World Junior Championships, which ended earlier today by North Dakota’s Jonathan Toews. (Singlehandedly might I add thanks to the IIHF’s ridiculous “you can shoot all you want” rule, but that’s a different rant.)

I’m in the camp that shootouts should never EVER be used to determine the champion of any tournament, that even means you World Cup. There is nothing more exciting than sudden death overtime and that’s the way it is. Unfortunately you’re not going get that green lighted by any sport that plays a grueling sport such as hockey in the regular season.

While I tend to agree with Adam usually, I’m on the opposite side of the red line on this one. I think shootouts are great for regular season hockey. Nothing burns me more through the 82 games of the NHL season and the 35+ games of college hockey than sitting through 65 minutes in a tie. It is simply unsatisfying. The question is there a middle ground? Do we start with 4 on 4? Then go 3 on 3? Do we go NHL style and give a point for the tie, but an extra point for the shootout win? After each shot does the goalie have to remove an article of padding? I don’t care how you do it, there’s gotta be a winner.

And one more thing, if you think ties are great, tell me after you see little Timmy after a 1-1 tie. He’s not exactly jumping up and down telling Grandpa about how the Gophers pulled out a 1-1 tie, don’t let anyone fool you. Timmy would rather see Phil Kessel roof one on the seventh shot and go home a winner. Purists will pick on me but hey I got two points not one. Bottom line. Ties suck. People like winners.

Purple Eagles! Beavers! Oh My!

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

It’s the beginning of the year, we’re half way through the season and we all started staring intently at the PWR (and KRACH) last weekend. Last weekend marked the last real “full-fledged” non-conference weekend with a lot of significant interconference matchups in holiday tournaments.

Two teams that everyone will need to keep an eye on for the rest of the season are Bemidji State and Niagara. The Beavers currently rank 14th in the PWR, and currently have series against North Dakota and Michigan Tech upcoming. Games that could not only break the hearts of Sioux and Huskies’ fans, but also teams below the Beavers in the PWR.

How so? Bemidji sits in second in the CHA behind Niagara. If the Purple Eagles can take the conference tournament, and Bemidji plays well the rest of the season someone else from the Big Four may be sitting out. Niagara doesn’t have to face Bemidji again this season after winning one and tying the Beavers in the other three. The Purple Eagles do have a couple of big series coming up themselves facing Denver and Quinnipiac, it’s too tough to tell now if they could move up in the comparisons for an at-large if they won the vast majority of their games, but lets not rule it out.