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College Hockey:
Coaches, conference titles and the national championship

Wisconsin’s win in the WCHA championship game Saturday not only put the Badgers into the NCAA tournament, it made one short list even shorter.

Badgers coach Mike Eaves won the national championship in 2006, but until last weekend he didn’t have a conference title on his coaching resume.

The only other name on the list of national championship-winning coaches without a league title was Amo Bessone, who led Michigan State to the 1966 NCAA crown but never took the Spartans or Michigan Tech to the top of their league.

(Well, unless you count Big Ten championships that Michigan State has from 1958-59, 1966-67, 1970-71, 1972-73 and 1975-76, but those were determined by the results of regular season games played between league schools while they were members of other conferences.)

Turning to this year’s NCAA tournament, there are 11 coaches looking for a first national championship, but only Minnesota State’s Mike Hastings (the only first-year college head coach in the field) doesn’t have a conference title on his resume.

COACHES LOOKING FOR FIRST NCAA TITLE IN 2013
Keith Allain, Yale
Norm Bazin, Massachusetts-Lowell
Rick Bennett, Union
Rico Blasi, Miami
Dave Burkholder, Niagara
Dave Hakstol, North Dakota
Mike Hastings, Minnesota State
Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State
Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac
Dave Smith, Canisius
Dick Umile, New Hampshire

The other five coaches in the tournament have combined for 12 of the 65 national championships that have been awarded.

Boston College’s Jerry York has five (1984 with Bowling Green; 2001, 2008, 2010 and 2012 with BC); Denver’s George Gwozdecky (2004, 2005), Notre Dame’s Jeff Jackson (1992 and 1994 with Lake Superior State) and Minnesota’s Don Lucia (2002, 2003) each have two; and Wisconsin’s Eaves has one (2006).

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  • Anonymous

    Abbott is on a very bad team, Connolly on the nation’s top team.  Do those factors come into play or is it just the player’s performance?

    • Beeeej

      “1. Candidates must exhibit strength of character both on and off the ice.   

      2. Candidates must contribute to the integrity of the team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game.  

      3. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportmanship. [sic]
      4. Candidates must comply with all NCAA rules: be full time students in
      an accredited NCAA college or university; and complete 50% or more of
      the season.”

      There’s nothing in there about the player’s prowess relative to his teammates, but presumably the writers and coaches who vote for Hobey will take such intangibles into account when making their selections.

    • Bulldog Fan

      Which means Connolly and his teammates have a big target on their back, they get every teams best and they haven’t blanked.  Remember this was a UMD team that was suppose to have lost too much to complete for a top four WCHA finish let alone another national championship. 

      • Tom

        No, means they never went thru a stretch of 3 wins in the first 11 games and still keep putting up the points.  A lot eassier to get points blowing teams out of the water.

    • Droy18

      BBEAR94   get a life! B.Bears rolled over BC for two wins.

    • nick

      Tough question. For now, obviously none of the top three are being overlooked. However, come April, don’t be surprised if the winning player out of the Hobey hat trick is the one with the team that is still in contention (if any). 

  • http://www.collegehockeypulse.com/ mrjakep

    I think the fan vote it is an interesting way to keep fans involved in and interested in the Hobey Baker Award.    

    Could it have an impact on who ends up in the top ten?  Yeah probably, but so what!  What players life is really gonna change if they don’t get that tenth spot on the Hobey Baker list!  

    I completely agree that some undeserving players will end up on the top ten but tell me what poll doesn’t have that issue!  

    Since I love college hockey and want to see it flourish, I am in favor of anything that will draw more spectators into the game.  If a popularity contest is what it takes to get them here then so be it!

  • Bythenumbers

     The
    obvious problem with fan voting is the discrepancy with the size of the
    schools. Karpowich and Flynn have about equal number of votes, yet Karpowich
    comes from a school of about a fourth the size. If fan voting did count, the biggest universities would have a stiff advantage.

    • Beeeej

      You’d think so, but at the moment, Austin Smith, Spencer Abbott, and Jack Connolly are tied for the lead in fan voting with 13%.  Colgate is not exactly an enrollment behemoth.

    • http://www.collegehockeypulse.com/ mrjakep

      Another argument to size of school is that Bjustad is not in the top five!  I think the people that take time to place a vote on the Hobey Fan voting are pretty levelheaded (obviously not all) and respect what the Hobey stands for!

  • Anonymous

    Pretty nice article. But I can’t believe there’s no love for Bjugstad?? 19 goals and 12 assists in 23 games and he doesn’t even crack the top 10?

    • mountainsun

      If we’re talking about goals only, then Austin Smith is running away with the title and any other vote is a waste… and he’s a senior. If Bjugstad stays a couple years and is still putting up big numbers and helping out his team, then he will get a look

      • Anonymous

        Austin Smith is a nice player and if he wins the Hobey I have no problem with that at all. But personally I’m a little more impressed with the Sophmore Bjugstad’s 20/12 in the WCHA then the senior Smith’s 24/14 in the ECAC. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/GTPFVL7OSX2NYMIUWZMJ7M3YBM steve

      it’s a fan vote. so “no love for Bjugstad??” is because the fans don’t feel the same as you do, apparently.

      • Anonymous

        Got it.

  • collegehockeyfan

    quit the mix of players, can’t wait to see who actually runs away with it!

  • Jason

    Can’t believe Bjugstad isn’t on the list. He leads the WCHA in goals and you rarely find someone that is his size, 6’5″ 211, that is as good as he is at stick handling and skating. 

    • nick

      Few factors:

      -He’s only a sophomore. Keep in mind that academics play a role in the
      criteria. Why would the HB award be nothing but a resume/contract
      booster to somebody who is going to turn pro halfway through college who
      already collected free scholarships with no intention of ever even
      getting a degree. Morally, a waste of  a scholarship (despite the team temporarily
      getting more wins over a couple seasons).

      -As others have said, his size allows him to sit in front of the net and
      score goals. That doesn’t make him a dynamic team player who makes those around
      him play better (which says more about a players role on the team than
      their goal totals).
      -He’s playing in the shadow of conference foe J. Connolly, who is A: a senior, B: a dynamic team player, and C: was a Hobey Finalist last year as well. Everybody thought after last year, that losing Faulk, Fontaine, M. Connolly was too much and UMD would struggle to defend their title as national champions, but they haven’t. That makes WCHA voters see Connolly as a much more legitimate candidate, and proves that he may be the actual glue that has held the team together for such success. Can you make a better argument to WCHA voters on why they should vote for Bjugstad? Good luck… I’d be amazed if Connolly wasn’t the HB winner this year.

      • S_cannon48

        have you ever watched the gophers or Bjugstad play? he does not sit in front of the net and put in goals. he makes things happen whenever he is on the ice. Kyle Rau is reaping the benefits of bjug by getting a lot of chances because of him. the only reason he is not in the hobby finalist is because he is a sophmore and he most likely wont be back next year because he is too good. He left high school early because he was to good and all signs are pointing that way for college. I suggest you watch a couple of gopher hockey games or even some of the wjc from a couple of weeks ago before you bash on arguably the best player in the country.

      • Anonymous

        Connolly is a great player and will likely win the Hobey and I don’t have a problem with that but to say Bjugstad sits in front of the net is incredibly insulting. I’ve never read a USCHO columnist write that about him and I’ve never seen that in any game. He’s 6’5 so people assume that. Budish sits in front of the net and screens the Goalie and Rau sits on the side of the net and cleans up rebounds. Bjugstad has great hands and speed and is absolutely 1 of the top 10 hockey players in Division 1 as a sophmore so thats where the Gopher fans are coming from.

    • nogofer

      I can…

  • Lennyak1

    You missed Chris Kreider with BC!

  • Fatmikek

    Go figure it has to be a Gopher fan complaining about their guy no getting votes. By the end of the year the coaches will pick the finalist via the stats and leadership on their respected teams. Bjustad is good for a guy who sits in front of the net waiting for a rebound but that’s it ( proved at the world juniors). Smith, Abbott, and Connelly each make things happen all around the zones. It’s going to be a good group of finalists.

    • Anonymous

      I agree Smith, Abbott and Connelly will be a great group of finalists… But I think you’re thinking of Budish who sits in front of the net. Bjugstad has great hands and scores highlight reel goals. 

    • Jason

      Do you even watch Gopher games? The game against North Dakota when he had two goals the last goal was off a second rebound in which he crashed the net from the right point, like any good player is supposed to do. If there is anybody on this team that stands in front of the net it’s Rau, I’ll give you that.

  • Hockey Fan

    Not only does Jack Connolly lead the nation in scoring, but he is captaining a team that has only lost one game since mid-October.  The Bulldogs have been rated number one since November.  Oh yeah, UMD are defending Nat’l Champs, too.  Yet he only gets 13 percent?    I know there are a lot of great players out there, some I have not even seen yet.  But if we are looking at resumes, there is Jack, and then, well, there is everyone else.   

    • Jason

      Get your facts straight…doesn’t lead in scoring but in points, big difference. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/GTPFVL7OSX2NYMIUWZMJ7M3YBM steve

        i think that’s what he meant. most points, most ppg. and leading the best team in the country (until proven otherwise). agreed, Hockey Fan, he should be a leg up.

  • http://twitter.com/tanman9 Tanner Wilson

    Here’s a look at how or if the Fan Vote should play a part in the Hobey Baker Process. @AustinforHobey

  • Boston Adam

    I’m extremely confused by this article. Why isn’t Justin Schultz from Wisconsin not mentioned here at all? Is this some sort of joke? He’s fifth in the nation in scoring…. as a defenseman….. on a team that is barely over .500. Where would Wisconsin be without him? He’s not even in the top ten players in the country? Really?….

  • PhatKroger10

    I can’t believe Brock Nelson or Danny Kristo didn’t get 35% of the vote!!!….

    Hahaha just kidding, because those are the comments I’d expect from my fellow Sioux fans.As a Sioux fan though, I would have to agree Bjugstad belongs on this list. He is very dynamic and gets the puck in the net by shooting, playing rebounds, getting in front of the net and seemingly blazes by the competition. As for the question of “character” that someone stated earlier, he is an extremely nice person who graduated from high school early by taking extra courses.

    A couple more honorable mentions should be:
    Justin Schultz, Wisconsin is doing not so great but at D he has 37 points, very impressive.
    Troy Grosenick, I can’t imagine Union being in the top 20 without this guy, he’s currently atop of all the goaltending stats.
    Drew Shore, gotta give the guy at least a look. Denver has been kind of down this year, but D. Shore and J. Zucker are keeping this team in it. If Brittain comes back and Zucker or Shore get hot, we could see a repeat of exactly what happened to Miele last year.

  • Tom

    Abbott is doing it all on a team that isn’t great. Jack is on the top team in the nation, that speaks volumes for Abbotts contribution. Austin is also in a pretty weak division.