It’s hard to believe that the college hockey season will be over in a matter of hours. The Frozen Four this year has been a fantastic event. Tampa has been an excellent host city — they really know what they’re doing here — and even though the Alabama-Huntsville presence hasn’t been very noticeable this week, I’m grateful to their hosting the event.
One of the best things about this week for me, of course, is the first-time appearance of Ferris State. I’ve met many great Bulldogs fans and people associated with Ferris State University. It’s been nice to see neutral fans pulling for this underdog, too, and to see CCHA fans coming together behind another league team.
With the end of the college hockey season so close, suddenly CCHA folks realize how little time the league has left. There has been some sweet nostalgia, some discussion of reasons/blame, some sadness. It’s fitting that the original Defenders of the Realm — the FSU Bulldogs, the team for whom I coined that phrase years ago for their consistently good nonconference play — are here to represent.
And represent they do. When Bob Daniels addressed the press after the team’s light practice yesterday, he fielded questions about the speed of Boston College and compared them to the Wolverines of days gone by. “Seeing them live, seeing their speed and tenacity reminded me a bit of some of the Michigan teams we’ve faced in the 1990s when they were really rolling.”
Then he said something that I think took people back a little. Talking about watching BC live, Daniels said, “But I’m thinking to myself that we may not be as decided an underdog as some people may think.” I loved the comment.
Daniels talked about how playing in this league has prepared the Bulldogs well for this tournament. “The CCHA has speed and tenacity. By playing Michigan throughout the year, playing Miami, we feel prepared.
“The CCHA has also prepared us for playing teams like Union and Cornell, who have similar styles and approached to say a Lake Superior State or maybe a Western Michigan. So those teams give us a different dose of different styles of game.
“There are so many good coaches in the CCHA and they all play to their strengths. And so each weekend we’re faced with a different team identity style. We had a number of teams ranked in the top 20 all year long so we’re playing quality opponents with different styles, which allows us some confidence coming in. Hopefully that will help prepare us.”
Talk about a company man — in the best sense of the word.
Tonight’s championship game will go one of two ways. If Ferris State can keep the game close, a one-goal, low-scoring game going late into the third, the Bulldogs have a good chance to win. If they can frustrate BC’s offense, it may be a longer night for the Eagles than the Dogs.
The other possibility, though — the scenario that I think is most likely — is that Ferris State will make the same kinds of mistakes as they did against Union in the first period of that game. The Dutchmen couldn’t capitalize on those turnovers; the Eagles will, repeatedly. The score will be lopsided after one and then deadlocked for the rest of the game after the Bulldogs settle into their rhythm.
My pick: BC 4-0.
Check out all of our coverage from the weekend on the Frozen Four blog.
Thanks, everyone, for riding along with me this season. I’ll probably post this week to wrap up the season. Keep in touch by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@paulacweston) or do your usual thing of kvetching in the forum below.