College Hockey:
West Regional preview: A who’s who of coaches

The coaching list for the West Regional in the 2011 NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament rates as a who’s who of college hockey mentors.

Between Boston College’s Jerry York, Michigan’s Red Berenson, Nebraska-Omaha’s Dean Blais and Colorado College’s Scott Owens, there are 2,188 victories and eight national championships.

Here are the previews for the West Regional. Check to the right for game times and locations.

Boston College Eagles

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Jerry York, 17th season
Record: 30-7-1 (20-6-1 Hockey East, first)
How they got in: Hockey East postseason champion
Regional seed: First
Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2010
Best NCAA finish: Champions 1949, 2001, 2008, 2010
Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: Plenty of depth at the forward position, great special teams, an experienced goaltender in John Muse and easily the most tournament-tested team in the field.
Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: They probably have the toughest road to the Frozen Four with Colorado College and either Michigan or Nebraska-Omaha.

Maury Edwards (Lowell - 7) defends against Cam Atkinson (BC - 13) in front of Marc Boulanger (Lowell - 1). The Boston College Eagles defeated the visiting University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks 5-3 (EN) on Saturday, January 22, 2010, at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Melissa Wade)

Boston College's Cam Atkinson has 30 goals (photo: Melissa Wade).

Boston College coach Jerry York, an avid golfer, compares his hockey season to golf. He said that during the season, his team tries to play difficult courses.

“We got out to play two games at Denver and a game at Notre Dame,” said York, noting his team’s non-conference play against other NCAA qualifiers. “Now you get to nationals and they tell you, ‘Jerry to the back tees.’ You end up playing a more difficult schedule here.”

If York looks at this weekend’s schedule, he might notice that the games themselves, where maybe they should be played at TPC Boston instead are being played at Forest Park Golf Course in St. Louis.

The good ol’ scheduling quirks of the NCAA tournament have sent BC, a No. 1 seed, as far away from Boston as possible. The Eagles couldn’t play in either of the Eastern regionals with Yale the host and No. 1 seed in Bridgeport, Conn., and New Hampshire, the host in Manchester, N.H., the fourth seed (remember, the NCAA frowns upon inter-conference games in the opening round).

Thus, the Eagles will pack their bags and head to the other side of the Mississippi and a city in which the Eagles last played in during the 2007 Frozen Four, when they fell to Michigan State in the national title game.

“I don’t mind traveling. St. Louis is a great city,” said York. “That’s the uniqueness of the NCAA tournament.”

Upon arrival, the Eagles will have a player who has been missing for the last two weeks — star forward Chris Kreider — back in the lineup. Kreider made a very fast recovery from a broken jaw.

“[Kreider] practiced [Monday] and is full up,” said York. “He really adds a whole new dimension to our team. That’s a welcome addition and a very quick recovery from a broken jaw.”

As for BC’s first-round opponent, Colorado College, this is a team that impresses York, and for good reason. He feels that the Tigers posses the traits he sees in his own team.

“I had a chance to watch the North Dakota-Colorado College game in the WCHA semis and I’m very impressed with the speed and just the creativity the Tigers play with,” said York. “They’re very quick, very unselfish and very creative. Those are adjectives we like to use to describe how we play.”

Should York and his Eagles advance, they’ll face either Michigan or Nebraska-Omaha. York hasn’t faced Nebraska-Omaha though its coach, Dean Blais, was a perennial opponent of BC when at North Dakota. As for Michigan, it’s been a while, but York easily recalls a memory of the Wolverines from 1998.

“We went head on with [Michigan coach] Red [Berenson] in ’98 in our own backyard,” said York of his team’s loss to the Wolverines in the 1998 title game in Boston. “They took that title from us, so they’ve got the formula down. No problem there.”

– Jim Connelly

Michigan Wolverines

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Red Berenson, 27th season
Record: 26-10-4 (20-7-1-0 CCHA, first)
How they got in: At-large bid
Regional seed: Second
Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2010
Best NCAA finish: Champions, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, 1998
Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: They have a solid, blue-collar team with a wily coach and plenty of NCAA tournament experience.
Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: David Wohlberg and his 15 goals will be absent, and their goaltending is occasionally inconsistent.

Goal celebration for UofM (Michael Simari)

Michigan played in front of a world record crowd at Michigan Stadium this season, one of what it hopes will be many positive memories (photo: Michael Simari).

Last weekend, the Wolverines found themselves in unfamiliar territory in Detroit. Sure, Michigan is used to playing in Joe Louis Arena, having made the trip to the Joe for the CCHA championship for 22 years running. Heading into the weekend, the Wolverines were the defending league playoff champions and current regular-season title holders.

That’s why it was so surprising when Michigan fell to Western Michigan 5-2 in the late semifinal game Friday. The Broncos led that one 1-0 at the end of the first, then surged to a 5-1 lead by the end of the second. Goaltender Shawn Hunwick — replaced by Bryan Hogan at the start of the third — admitted Saturday that he’d lost his cool when Western brought the heat. When Matt Tennyson scored the game-winner at 13:53 in the second, Hunwick shoved the cage off its moorings. He looked rattled for the first two periods.

“I lost my composure a little bit,” said Hunwick. “I was frustrated by how things were going. I wasn’t really mad at anybody but myself, and I probably took it out in the worst possible way.”

Hunwick rebounded the next night with 42 saves in a 4-2 win over Notre Dame, one of the best offensive teams in the country. “As the game went on, I thought we were tired,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We were back on our heels and they had a lot of scoring chances. I thought Shawn Hunwick was the difference at that point.”

Hunwick (2.31 goals-against average, .921 save percentage), a senior with another year of eligibility because of his redshirt sophomore season, may be the key to Michigan’s chances in the NCAA tournament. As he did last season, Hunwick earned the starting role because of an injury to senior Bryan Hogan. In 2009-10, Hunwick came in when the Wolverines needed to win the CCHA championship to earn an autobid for the NCAA tournament. This season, he and Hogan rotated in the Michigan net until Hogan was injured again in December.

Hunwick is 16-5-0 with five shutouts since taking the reins, and the loss to WMU was the first for Michigan in nine games.

Berenson said that the Wolverines were hoping to be sent to either the Midwest or West Regional, so returning to the place where he ended his NHL playing career and began to coach is a good thing. “We’ll hope to make the most of it,” said Berenson, who says that the Wolverines “match up well with” former CCHA foes Nebraska-Omaha.

– Paula C. Weston

Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Dean Blais, second season
Record: 21-15-2 (17-9-2 WCHA, third)
How they got in: At-large bid
Regional seed: Third
Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2006
Best NCAA finish: Lost in first round in 2006
Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: UNO is rested and the Mavericks get plenty of scoring from a lot of different sources who always put a lot of shots on net.
Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: There have been many games UNO lost this season in which the Mavericks won the shots battle. John Faulkner (who allowed seven goals on 44 shots in two games in the WCHA playoffs) can’t have an off day in goal and the Mavericks must finish on chances.

UNO celebrates Rich Purslow's empty-net goal during the third period. Nebraska-Omaha beat Denver 5-2 Friday night at Qwest Center Omaha. (Photo by Michelle Bishop) (Michelle Bishop)

Nebraska-Omaha is in the tournament in Dean Blais' second season with the team (photo: Michelle Bishop).

For Nebraska-Omaha’s players, the national tournament is something new. Not for their coach.

Dean Blais led North Dakota to seven NCAA tournament appearances, including three spots in the national title games and two championships, not to mention numerous WCHA titles.

After five seasons away from the college bench, Blais has the Mavericks in the 16-team field in his second season at UNO. The Mavericks last reached the national tournament in 2006.

UNO drew a No. 3 seed and will take on an old CCHA opponent, Michigan, in St. Louis.

“Our guys know Michigan, and I think they all were excited to see that we’re going to be playing them,” UNO coach Dean Blais told the Omaha World-Herald. “We know they have a great team, but we feel like we can skate with anyone in the country. It’s probably going to come down to how well we execute on our scoring chances.”

UNO split with Michigan in Ann Arbor this season, beating the Wolverines 4-2 on Oct. 22 before losing 6-1 a day later. It was UNO’s first loss of the season after five straight wins.

The Mavericks raised a lot of eyebrows when UNO, in its first season as a WCHA member, shot up the polls into late November with a 9-2-1 start. A midseason slump put the Mavericks on the bubble, but they won seven of their final 10 home games to finish third in the WCHA standings.

That pitted UNO against 10th-seeded Bemidji State, a team that had beaten the Mavericks three times in four games with a tie in the other game, in the WCHA playoffs. The Beavers swept UNO with 4-2 and 3-2 in Omaha, keeping the Mavericks from their first berth in the WCHA Final Five.

UNO hasn’t played since the March 12 loss to BSU, and the last Mavericks win was March 5 to close the regular season at Minnesota-Duluth.

One of UNO’s biggest problems this season has been the inability to capitalize on the number of shots it puts on goal. The Mavericks outshot their opponents in 11 of 15 losses, and in five of those losses, they totaled more than 40 shots.

UNO had one of the nation’s highest scoring offenses for much of the season with a lot of different players contributing.

Matt Ambroz leads the team in goals with 17 and is tied for the team lead in points with 34. Joey Martin also has 34 points with 11 goals and 23 assists. Eric Olimb leads the Mavericks in assists with 24.

John Faulkner has been UNO’s mainstay in goal with a 2.56 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.

– Tyler Buckentine

Colorado College

Schedule :: Stats :: Roster

Coach: Scott Owens, 12th season
Record: 22-18-3 (13-13-2 WCHA, sixth)
How they got in: At-large bid
Regional seed: Fourth
Last NCAA tournament appearance: 2008
Best NCAA finish: Champions, 1950, 1957
Why they’ll get to the Frozen Four: CC is arguably playing its best hockey right now, and in a one-and-done situation, being hot is a good thing.
Why they won’t get to the Frozen Four: The Tigers may have expended all their energy in the conference playoffs and just trying to get into the NCAA tournament.

Colorado College's William Rapuzzi scores past Alaska-Anchorage's Chris Kamal in the first period of their WCHA Final Five quarterfinal game Thursday, March 17, 2011. (Tim Brule)

William Rapuzzi scores for Colorado College in the WCHA Final Five (photo: Tim Brule).

The Tigers are a deceptive team.

They’ve gone through stretches where they’ve played fantastically and stretches where they’ve struggled mightily. Part of the reason for that is that they’re a young team — 16 of their 26 players are underclassmen — and getting special teams to consistently click with a young team can be a struggle.

That being said, CC is a team that gets contributions from all four lines and has a tendency for different players to step up at different times. Take defensemen Joe Marciano, for example. He has three goals this season and two came in CC’s opening game of the Final Five, lifting the Tigers into the tournament semifinals.

Their top line of Stephen Schultz, Jaden Schwartz and Rylan Schwartz can compete with anybody in the country, particularly now that Jaden is back healthy. Goaltender Joe Howe, although he struggled some this year, can go toe to toe with the league’s (and probably the nation’s) top goaltenders when he’s on.

The concern for the Tigers, however, may be how much gas they’ve got left in the tank. To some, it appeared as if they left everything out on the ice in their WCHA semifinal game against North Dakota. If they did, their opening NCAA game against Boston College could be a long one.

That being said, coach Scott Owens knows that in a one-and-done situation, anything can happen.

“Anytime you are one of the fours and you’re playing a No. 1, you’ve got a tough opponent,” he told the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Joe Paisley. “BC has had success in the postseason and they have the speed and offense to match up with anybody. But it is one game and we’ve been playing pretty good hockey lately.”

As for the comparisons between this year’s team and his last to make the tournament?

“This year’s team is much younger,” he said. “It went through its trials and tribulations early and found itself. It played well down the stretch and earned the spot in the NCAAs. This year’s team has a good team concept.”

– Theresa Spisak

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  • GoWCHA

    WCHA will rule …. I hope!

  • DMC Boston

    Go Eagles!

  • hockeyfan RI

    GO EAGLES!!! Show UNH and Merrimack, winning must mean something in this tournament and to the committee, thanks a lot!! Earning this Number 1 seed earned BC nothing but a trip to St Louis, the late game, and a higher seed in the second round, so the committee could send Merrimack to Manchester. GO EAGLES!!!

    • Spidermomkey86

      Wow BC fans are like the Frank Burns of college hockey…..Everyone isn’t out to get you BC

      • SiouxBomb

        I hope we get NHL Refs or WCHA Refs and not Hockey East Refs, or you wont be able to touch the BC Players, Man what a contrasts in Refing between the WCHA and Hockey East……….I know thay will have a non canf refing but I was makeing a point………

        • Cthompson1983

          You are just upset and pissed off that Boston College has beat North Dakota the last 3 times they have played in the NCAA tournament and ended North Dakota season SiouxBomb. Sour Grapes stop your whining, complaining, and bitching SiouxBomb. Once again SiouxBomb Sour Grapes!

          • Psychic

            Cthompson, get the stick out of your butt. He said nothing about BC. The hockey east refs are ridiculous. They’d probably call a penalty on yourself if you fell over. WCHA refs let the better team win and don’t leave it up to power plays to decide a game.

          • After Further Review

            As all college hockey fans know, you can’t have an official from your conference officiating your games. So, hope all you want UND, but you won’t have WCHA refs, as BC won’t have HE.

          • Cyberump

            GOOD as a BC fan I know HE refs are the WORST!! they call WAY too many penalties, in HE you get sent off for SNEEZING too loud! it’s a JOKE!!

          • After Further Review

            I agree with you and knowing the HE refs, they would probably go out of their way to favor the other conferences.

          • HEhockey

            Benedetto is a joke. HE refs need to call more embellishment penalties. All the players in the conference exploit the refs by diving and of course the refs fall for it. They seriously just call anything that “looks” bad. It doesn’t matter if it’s a penalty clearly establish in the rules. OOOH that hit looked too hard… penalty. Sorry but that was a legal hit

        • Cyberump

          Well now siouxbomb I have to say this. I just hope the officials let the teams play hockey no ticky tack calls, BUT We (BC) have lost the national Title game 4 times along with winning it and I have to say only 3 of those teams actually BEAT us. Michigan State STOLE the 07 title game. That year they knew full well they could not skate with us ( NO WAY) they were a surprise finalist to begin with, and Rick comely knew they had only ONE shot. They had to play “clutch and grab” “interfere” and “hold you’re man” hockey AND they HAD to have an officiating crew who would allow them to get away with it! and they got just that!! The most frustrating part of that night was the amount of Holding, interference, and hooking penalties that were NOT called on a team that was clearly overmatched speed wise! Not to mention they also needed their goalie to stand on his head and they got that as well. Not to mention a RIDICULOUS break in the final minute that they absolutely didn’t deserve. And don;t say sour grapes. The Other teams that beat us in the final game. North Dakota, Michigan and Wisconsin all deserved it Micchigan State did NOT. Trust me! there is NOTHING more frustrating than watching a team that CAN’T skate with you, get away with all that ALl NIGHT!!!

      • Cyberump

        were not all like that. I for one dont care where we play. just drop the puck! No excuses

    • Yorkfanclub

      Stop complaining. If you are as good as you claim to be, it shouldn’t matter who you play. If you can’t beat every team in the tournament, then you don’t deserve to be national champs. As far as the location goes, it’s St. Louis. It’s like a 2.5 hour plane ride. I’m sure it takes longer to go to Maine for regular season games. Or what about the HE playoffs. You don’t see Maine or UNH complaining that they have to travel Boston whether they are the high seed or not. Remember, UNH is the highest 4th seed (13th PWR beating CC in RPI) and they are playing at home. The teams in the Northeast regional combine for 4 of BC’s 7 losses this year all of the teams in the tournament that have beaten BC are in that bracket. Do you reallly want to play in that bracket? The committee is doing you a favor by keeping you away from Notre Dame, UNH, and MC.

      • Cyberump

        As a BC fan I agree totally. A sheet of ice is a sheet of ice! no excuses!! BUT lol I have to say you’re argument about UNH and Maine not complaining about having to come to Boston is not a very good one. After all if the Hockey East final 4 were not held in the TD Garden, then where the heck would Maine suggest it be played? Lake Winnipesaukee???

    • Cyberump

      hey look. I am a BC fan 43 yes now. so let me say this, WOULD you STOP complaining already about being sent out west. UNH and Yale are hosting and that’s THAT! the pairwise ranking determined who played who not the committee!! they just determined WHERE and had no choice!! The way I see it, and I know coach York and the team will feel the same. at the end of the day, “a sheet of ice is a sheet of ice” just tell us where it is and well show up! Complaining about where you play is pointless!! when you start out a tournament like this by whining about where you have to play, weather you realize it or not all you are doing is giving yourself a ready made excuse to lose, before the first puck is even dropped!! Coach york and BC isn’t in the habit of making excuses, and as BC fan neither am I. LET’S GO EAGLES!!!

  • Poker Face

    The WCHA is good…

    …for BC to poop on

    • Cyberump

      that’s just dumb! Please stop making BC fans look like BU fans will you.

  • ever to excel

    The Catholic boys vs. Schultz, Schwartz and Schwartz. Everyone knows Jesus loves the Eagles! GO BC!

  • bluetell

    BC has to play more than 2 hrs away from home for the first time in about 6 years. maybe the magic will wear off when they dont get to play home games in the tourney

    • bluetell

      more than 2 hrs from home in the regional* for the first time in about 6 years

    • Hockey God

      I am very interested to see how BC plays in a regional that isn’t within two hours driving distance of Boston.

      • Cyberump

        “a sheet of ice is a sheet of ice” just tell us where it is and well show up!!

      • Where Eagles Dare

        probably the same way they play in the finals…skating around other teams like a they’re standing still !

    • Cyberump

      Maybe if our record was not so good every year we wouldn’t EARN the right to have games close to home so often. KNUCKLEHEAD!!

      • O.G.

        u are an embarrassment to BC fans

    • Joe C

      As a BU Alum, I think two things.

      First, the host rule should be changed so that 4 seeds like UNH would go out west and not the best team this year in Hockey East. Manchester should be BC as the 1 seed, Merrimack as the 2 seed. Manchester would sell out with the highest Hockey East seed everytime, no matter the school.

      Second, while I would never, ever, ever root for Boston College (like asking an Auburn alum to root for Alabama), it is a very impressive team with an outstanding coach. A vocal minority might whine in the blogosphere, most BC fans, all the players and Jerry York would play in Mystery, Alaska as long as four wins would lead to an NCAA trophy.

      I would root for BC if they were playing the old Soviet team, but I would spend a long time thinking about it and would have to shower afterwards.

      • HEhockey

        I root for BC if it helps BU. At the end of the regular season we (BU) could have finished 2nd and played a relatively weaker vermont team. I was all about BC sweeping once they beat UNH in the 1st of a 2 game series.

        info: Either a BC or UNH sweep that weekend along with BU sweeping Northeastern would have had us as the 2 seed.

        Not very relevant to this whole article but just my 2 cents

    • Where Eagles Dare

      sure, BC hasn’t traveled lately for the regionals, but it really doesn’t matter where they play…7 finals in 13 years, and 6 out of the last 10, says it all !

  • A Duluth Sioux Fan

    BC has had the top program for 5 years and have the type of fans that make them a hated rival. I know the WCHA has had it’s doors blown off by teams with good speed. Hopefully they know how to deal with it and stay out of the box. CC can win if they stay out of the box but if they try playing WCHA style hockey. they’ll have no chance. WCHA style just doesn’t work in NCAA tournement like it used to. The WCHA teams need to figure that out so they quit looking like Wisconsin did in last years title game.

    • Cyberump

      As a BC fan I don’t think Wisconsin looked too bad last year, It was only 1-0 heading into the final period!! After the second goal the Badgers had to take chances which led to more! Had they scored the first goal in the 3rd it could have been MUCH different

  • BumpandaBeer

    It probably wont make a difference whether BC plays close to home or not. Home ice is overrated in sports, all sports and the stats prove it (great SI article on the myth of home field/Ice/court advantage a few weeks ago). But in college hockey, if you are in the top 4 and #1 much of the time, the NCAA will put you in your home regions most of the time. Its a joke when they put a regional at the home ice on campus like they have several time at Yost in MIchigan. Thats not right but its a guaranteed sell out every game and in NCAA hockey thats all that matters.

  • newyawk eagle

    Gotta laugh at the number of WCHA posts here, knocking BC. Same with the comments in the East regional about Yale. Despite the negative comments, I think the Bulldogs are for real. They beat (shocked) UND last year and gave BC a scare after being down by 5. Plus this year they have solid goal-tending.

    To Sioux fans: As a BC grad, there is one game I want to see: BC vs UND in the semis. Hope they both win their regionals so it happens. Of course it will practically be a home game for the Sioux! No complaints here. I agree-to win you should be able to beat the best, no matter where.

    Good luck to both teams.

    BTW, always liked the Sioux uniforms. The NCAA must (or should) have something better to do.

    GO BC!

  • Ridingtimes

    I have alot of respect for BC..They have alot of talent and alot of tourney time. So i am not knocking them at all. BUT dont look past CC and getting to the semis of the region befor you get by CC. I am a CC ticket holder…and this team has really grown all season..but i really think what got this team on one page was the weekend series of the first round of the WCHA…and the series in Wisc. The kids grew up in the series..They gave ND hell…If you think i am in correct as the UND fans. Not saying CC will win because BC is tough..but dont be shocked if CC pulls this off. IF and that is a big word…CC gets a early lead..even 1 to 0 it will help these young kids get in there mind they can play with BC. Good Luck to BC but Go Tigers

  • Poker Face

    I’m also very interested to see how BC plays away from a 2 hour drive. After all, they were 1-2 in the two Boston FFs lately under York. In Providence, they were 1-1. A little further out, they were 2-0 in Albany. All the way out in California they lost the semi and were 0-1 in Anaheim. In Milwaukee they were 1-1. In Denver they were 2-0. In St. Louis they were 1-1. In Detroit they were 2-0.

    Nevermind the two regionals way out west when they went 2-0 each year in the bracket of death that included #1 UND in 1999 and #1 Wisconsin in 2000.

    I wonder how they will do, after all, clearly they can’t win games in the NCAAs unless they are within a 2 hour drive! Forget about Jerry York and his motivational skills, BC wins in the postseason because of the home cooking! There I said it! The proof is in the pudding folks! BC record in the NCAAs under Jerry York is 12-3 outside of a 2 hour drive from BC. Go figure!

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