Archive for the 'News' Category

Why Polls Don’t Matter and Shouldn’t

Monday, December 8th, 2008

I’ve always been pleased as punch with the fact that the NCAA doesn’t incorporate polls into the selection process for the NCAA Hockey Tournament.

Of course, it means that the polls are nothing but discussion fodder. But that’s a good thing. Polls should never be more than that. The opinions of human beings should mean nothing when you’re determining who the best hockey teams are. Same goes for football, basketball, baseball, tennis, volleyball, bowling, and any other sport.

We have tournaments and postseasons so we can decide these types of important things on the field of play.

This week, college hockey pollsters are faced with an interesting, difficult, and nearly-impossible dynamic when it comes to WCHA teams (and others, mind you, but I’m going to focus for a moment on the WCHA).

Minnesota State is now 8-5-3. They have impressive wins over Colorado College and North Dakota, but lost twice over the weekend to St. Cloud State, and they also have a loss and a tie against Minnesota.

St. Cloud State sits at 10-6, just swept MSU, but has lost twice to Minnesota-Duluth by matching 5-1 scores.

UMD is unbeaten in their last five. The Bulldogs, now 7-4-5 on the season, chased Colorado College star goalie Richard Bachman with a five-goal second period explosion Saturday. The 7-4 win follows a three-point weekend against North Dakota and a second four-goal win over St. Cloud State.

Who gets ranked where?

Thankfully, it doesn’t really matter. These three teams settle their differences and decide their rankings with their play on the ice. In January, various sites will start to publish their guesses on what the PWR looks like. CHN has already started publishing the KRACH ratings (waiting until everyone has lost one game).

The only day the PWR matters is on Selection Sunday, but it’s always interesting to watch the ebb and flow over the course of the season’s second half. While there are always quirks with logic involved, they aren’t nearly as bad as the quirks with logic that are involved in the polls.

Of course, it’s always easier to except the quirks when you realize the polls don’t matter one lick. It’s nothing but blog and message board fodder to keep us interested until another full slate of games on Friday night.

York and SI

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I don’t think he ever had much chance to win — probably very little — but at least someone at Sports Illustrated sought to nominate someone from the College Hockey ranks as Sportsman of the Year. The someone who did the nominating is Kevin Armstrong, and the someone that was nominated is Boston College coach Jerry York.

York, of course, led the Eagles to their third national title last April, and it was York’s third title as a head coach, giving him more than any other active D-I coach. The nomination also cited how York overcame prostate cancer in 2005.

The winner of the honor was, of course, Michael Phelps, the swimmer who won more gold medals in one Olympics than anyone ever, this year in Beijing.

Age is but a number

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Apparently, last year, the CCHA athletic directors made a command decision to have schools remove Dates of Birth from their rosters. This decision slipped under the radar, mainly because the information could still be gleaned from other sources.

But this year, other leagues have unofficially followed suit. And consequently, the official sites that track statistics, have also followed suit — specifically, which is our official source for rosters and statistics. In fact, even team sites have purged this information from their pages, in many cases including the individual player profile pages.

As a result, many of our rosters do not have complete information this year. And it has effected our listing of “oldest teams” and “youngest teams,” and the average age comparison on our matchup page. We’re looking into solutions, but if nothing good comes along, we may have to succumb to the trend, and just live with ages only, not exact birth dates.

By the way, the explanation I’ve heard is that there’s privacy concerns. OK.

What’s Wrong With Ties?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Things could get really ugly in college hockey. The annual argument to reduce ties in the game has come up again, as noted by Larry Mahoney of the Bangor News in his recap of the AHCA meetings in Naples last week

According to the article, Hockey East coaches voted 8-1-1 to reduce ties. But they can’t agree on the how. Yet each league remains free to experiment with its own methods of tiebreaking. After the standard 5:00 overtime, possibilities include playing several additional minutes of 4-on-4 or even 3-on-3, as Larry suggests. Or a shootout.

So you could have one league breaking ties in one way (regular season league games), and another in a different way. A game could go into the record books as a league win but an overall tie (as viewed by the NCAA for official stats and tournament selection).

This has all the making of an enormous mess.

Why not apply the same principle here as we do with instant replay. Is there sufficient evidence to overturn the call? If not, don’t do anything. The call on the field stands.

Likewise, there’s no consensus on how to reduce or eliminate ties. Some coaches would like to do it, but there’s no agreement on how to do it. So there won’t be any changes to the official NCAA rules.

Until that happens, let’s not change anything. Just keep playing the games by the official rules. Experimentation to this degree only causes confusion, as we saw in the mid-1990s when Hockey East tested the shootout for two years — quickly ditching it. People still look back at the standings from those years and say, “Wh-What?” 88 points for the first place team? That’s because during those years rather than the standard two points for a win, one for a tie and none for a loss, you got *five* for an outright win, three for a shootout win, two for a shootout loss (and none for an outright loss).

Hockey East Standings: 1994-95 | 1995-96 (PDFs)

This came about because as the first shootout season got underway, people started to realize that some games were worth more than others. A game without a shootout was worth a total of two points. Either one team gets two and the other none, or it’s a tie and both get one. But with the original plan of awarding an extra point to the shootout winner, some games would be worth three points. One team wins the shootout and gets two, and the SO loser gets one. Plus, a shootout win becomes worth exactly as much as a regular win. That didn’t make sense either.

The alternative, as it turned out, really wasn’t much better either. I’ll admit that — and I suggested that five point system that was adopted back then.

In short, until all of the issues can be ironed out and a consensus reached on how to do it, leave the ties alone. As it is I don’t see the problem. Some games should be ties. That’s one of the great things about hockey. On some nights both teams deserve something.

In other news, Hockey East coaches voted 10-0 to implement replay in all league games — this will cost $16,000 per school. Nice to see the unanimous agreement there. Coaches voted 7-0-3 in favor of the stricter standards on holding, hooking, interference, etc. similar to the NHL. They also suggested faceoffs following a penalty be held in the offending team’s defensive zone, calling icing when a shorthanded team ices the puck, and continuing to move to the two referee system. 

Jones Leaves Merrimack

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Matt Jones has left Merrimack and signed an NHL deal apparently. News is breaking on the Warrior Rink Rat Blog. He was the first Warrior to score 15 goals since Rosa in 03-04 also had 15. Gave up his last two years. … Personally, I feel bad for Merrimack and coach Mark Dennehy because it looked the team could be in for a good season next year.

Well that settles that..

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

It was the biggest game of the year, and with Niagara getting bounced by Alabama-Hunstville (and what a story that would be with the CHA’s future hanging in the balance) so much for Niagara and the TUC cliff.

Michigan State and St. Lawrence are happy recipients, but still need to keep winning. Niagara’s loss also shifted the PWR at the top too, sorting out the tie at the top, bumping North Dakota up and doing a few other wild things.

Game on!

Watching quietly.

Friday, March 9th, 2007

So, despite the fact that the playoffs are gearing up, it’s been a quiet week for us here as we’re rabidly anticipating the games ahead, and I believe every outlet has already shown you ever possible projection possible. Because the PWR is an objective system, I find quiet joy in scoreboard watching, listening to webcasts, and reading forum score updates especially in the first two rounds. While most teams can get it done on the ice themselves, some are at the hands of games that in any other sport would be declared meaningless. Can you imagine how many people would actually watch a Cubs / Pirates game in September or a Flyers / Kings game in late April if it meant their team would make the playoffs? This is one of the oddities and the best things about College Hockey. As much as some people hate it, that Wayne State game is going to mean something, there’s a reason to watch and care.

After last night’s action in Hockey East, UNH righted the ship and blanked Providence, giving a sigh of relief to the fans at the Whitt. BC blanked Northeastern, and the big one, Vermont takes Game #1 from Boston University 3-2. Big time ramifications, as tonight’s game goes into must win for BU. A Terrier loss tonight, puts BU on the bubble, with a bunch of teams around them that have the potential to make noise in the playoffs and are just fractions off in the RPI. A couple of comparison flips, maybe an upset champion in one of the leagues, and some people are staying home.

Don’t forget the D-III tournament is underway with Middlebury and Bethel advancing to 2nd round games that will be played on Saturday. Middlebury, Manhattanville, St. Norbert and Oswego are all hosting quarterfinal matchups this weekend, and the NCAA Women’s Tournament gets under way as well!

The other white meat.

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Don’t forget, just because we’re working our way up to the D-I Men’s Tournament that there’s not a lot of great hockey going on elsewhere.

In Division III, the brackets are set, and the puck drops tomorrow for the Men as surprse SUNYAC champion Fredonia takes on defending national champion Middlebury, and Bethel faces Wisconsin-River Falls. Quarterfinal matchups open up on Saturday. Here the bracket plus you may want to check out Chris Lerch’s blog. He does an admirable job at keeping up with the D3 game, trying to take you through their Pool A, B’s and c’s, NCAA rankings and all of that good stuff. The finals are at Wessman Arena in Wisconsin.

The women are set to go as well in both Division I and Division III. The Division I bracket contains one of the most powerhouse lineups I’ve ever seen, including the 33-1-4 defending champions Wisconsin and 32-1-3 Mercyhurst. The record of the teams in the tournament: 216-42-25. The Frozen Four takes place in Lake Placid, one of the best hockey tournament towns in the country if not the world. Division III has seven teams, including an undefeated Plattsburgh State team who will host the championships, and will wait for the first-round to clear up before knowing their opponents. RIT is in as well leading to a hugely successful season for both the Men’s and Women’s teams.

Lots of good hockey to go around, with broadband viewing available at many of the venues. Get out the door and do it up!

Quick Roundup

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

I jumped into the comments of a recent post on Western College Hockey taking some to task for not wanting to help teams like Bemidji State for the wrong reasons. Good to see Chris and The Rink Rat on the same side as well.

Bottom line for me is, worrying about conference strength especially in terms of PWR and KRACH when making scheduling decisions or who should be in is a recipe for disaster in college hockey. This is currently forced upon teams and creates a huge gap of the haves and have-nots. Sooner or later, someone will have to step up and begin to bring all of NCAA Hockey into balance, or will risk having the same sort of situation as college football, where to give any “second tier” team a chance, they’ll need a special provision. I think there’s an opportunity to fix this somewhere and raise the level of hockey across the board.

It’s time to band behind the schools that want to stay in college hockey, and those who want to join the ranks and bring up the game as a whole. I only wish there were more schools that wanted to pour time, money and effort into being successful college squads.

Speaking of the PWR. Lots of interesting things to look at. Who would’ve thought RIT was going to play such a role this season. The Tigers are tip-toeing the 25 spot on the RPI despite, and despite being ineligible for the post-season, these last few games could flip some comparisons for teams above them. RIT is also hunting for its first banner at the Division I level as they try to capture the Atlantic Hockey regular season title. All eyes are also on the Western Michigan / LSSU series. Western sits in 24th in the RPI and LSSU is in 27th. The cliff could make a big difference this year.

Teams 12 through 20 on the PWR. It’s do or die time. It’s already the playoffs for these teams, a loss this weekend makes every game in the playoffs a must win. The Vermont / BU and Wisconsin / Michigan Tech series are looking pretty threatening for all involved. BU can take a couple of bullets, but the other three it’s go time. This group includes St. Lawrence who with a win will seal the ECACHL conference championship. Regardless of that accomplishment, they still need help in the playoffs to get that bid.

While everyone is looking at the bubble, there’s a phenomenal matchup at the top of the heap with Minnesota and St. Cloud going at it. SCSU is coming off a rough 1-2-2 stretch, but is still in the hunt for that #1 seed. If they can take three points from the Gophers, they’ll be well on their way. A huge test for both teams just a couple of weeks before the playoffs.

Both North Dakota and Denver want to come away with no less than a split this weekend. Both are middle of the PWR pack, and a sweep would definitely put extra pressure on the loser heading into the end of the season.

Wheels in Motion

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

As mentioned in this INCH article, the Wayne State Warriors have made a formal request for admittance into the CCHA.  The proposal is for Wayne State to join the league for the 2008-2009 season.  Obviously this would put a further strain on the already strained CHA, and could signal the end for the league.  The CHA is made up of five programs and has petitioned the NCAA to allow the league to maintain their auto-birth in the NCAA tourney.

This is a good move for Wayne State.  The CHA has already started to crumble at the foundation and will probably not last past 2010.  With the departure of Air Force, Niagara’s application to the ECAC, and the failure to attract new teams to the league, the CHA is struggling to keep it’s head above water.  Last year the rumor mill was churning out teams such as Kennesaw State and Penn State to join the league.  This never came to fruition.  The one new team that did go division one, RIT, went to Atlantic Hockey.  The CHA is in for a long summer in which the product could be the end of the CHA.

This is not to say the CHA is a lesser league, with Niagara and Bemidji State cracking the PWR this year the CHA is turning out some quality teams.   However an NCAA upset might not be enough to keep the league afloat much further into the future.