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College Hockey:
Checking out the ‘Frat’ party

If you followed my work in the CSTV days, you know that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in fraternity houses. However, this post has nothing to do with any frat parties I may or may not have found myself at along the way (really, unless I was at my own house at my alma mater, I was generally inclined to just get my work done and go to sleep).

However, there is one element of my time as the traveling “Rink Rat” that has popped back into my head lately: the things I wrote about Nathan Gerbe with regards to his candidacy for the 2008 Hobey Baker Award, which someone reminded me about a little while back vis a vis Matt Frattin’s status as a candidate for the award this year.

Of course, you know what happened there: Michigan’s Kevin Porter got the award, as everyone expected, and Gerbe was the Most Outstanding Player at the Frozen Four after leading BC to the NCAA Championship. Along the way, though, there was no shortage of hand-wringing about Gerbe’s one-game suspension in November after a spearing incident against Merrimack, which was accompanied by a statement from Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna about a pattern of “inappropriate behavior” on the ice.

I actually didn’t remember what I’d written about Gerbe at the time, so I went back to read this CSTV blog post, this feature article, and the beginning of this blog, toward the end of the 2007-08 season. As far as I can tell, my thoughts on the matter were as follows:

- Yes, Gerbe’s “inappropriate behavior” could count as a point against him under the Hobey criteria, but it became a dead issue when Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna vouched for him to Inside College Hockey’s Jeff Howe.

- No, Gerbe wasn’t going to win the award anyway, because Porter was having the more Hobey-worthy season.

Of course, as you’ve no doubt figured out by now, I’ve been revisiting the Gerbe issue in preparation for my comments on Frattin, who’s having quite the season for the Fighting Sioux, and has made impressive changes in his life since being kicked off the team in 2009, as Patrick C. Miller notes in his profile of the Fighting Sioux senior.

It goes without saying that Frattin’s past infractions go far beyond a spear the refs didn’t catch or any other instance of “inappropriate behavior” on the ice. And, if you’re BC fan who’s upset about Gerbe, or a Michigan fan who’s still bitter about T.J. Hensick, there’s no way that someone who’s been arrested should ever be considered for the Hobey Baker Award, right?

Well, not exactly.

You will never see me condone the things that Matt Frattin did to get himself arrested and kicked off the team at North Dakota. Ever. It’s not a question of “boys will be boys,” or college kids doing stupid things.

However, the criteria for the award include “strength of character, on and off the ice,” and if you ask me, turning down a chance to take the easy way out is a demonstration of character. I felt that way about Mike Carman at Minnesota when he stayed in school despite being academically ineligible, and that’s how I feel about Matt Frattin now.

Again, I make no comparison between academic ineligibility and Frattin’s arrests and guilty plea. I simply think that the person without “strength of character” would have put his development as a hockey player ahead of his development as a student or as a human being, and would have bolted for the pros the second his opportunity to play hockey was taken away from him. Matt Frattin, to me, passed that test, so, when we evaluate him as a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, I think we can stick to evaluating him as a hockey player, without dwelling on the circumstances that affected his absence from the Fighting Sioux for the first semester of last season. So, moving on to the hockey…

With 33 goals on the season, Frattin is the leading goal-scorer in the country, and, as we know, “Hobey Likes Goals.” He’s also seventh in the country in points per game, playing for a North Dakota team that’s a likely top seed in the NCAA tournament. Based on that alone, I think he’s all but a lock as a top 10 finalist.

The question, then, is whether he goes further.

The folks over at Inside College Hockey have pointed out that Frattin has scored the majority of his points against the bottom five teams in the WCHA, scoring more than three times as many points per game against those teams than he did against the Sioux’s top six WCHA opponents. That compares most unfavorably to other top scorers in the WCHA, not to mention Miami’s Andy Miele in the CCHA, RPI’s Chase Polacek in ECAC Hockey, and Cam Atkinson in Hockey East.

Of course, one of the reasons the final vote takes place after regionals is because we want to see how the top players perform in the biggest games, namely, the conference championships and the NCAA tournament. I think that if Frattin comes up in the clutch for the Sioux this weekend or next, he could certainly make his way from the Top 10 into the Hobey Hat Trick.

For now, though, Matt Frattin will be a finalist, and it won’t simply be in spite the things he did wrong. It’ll be because of what he’s done right.

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  • Sdrkdr

    Let’s look at the numbers between Frattin and Miele since Miele is leading the NCAA in scoring.
    Against teams with a RPI of .5000 or greater Frattin has 23 goals, 14 assists for 37 points in 31 games (avg of 1.19/game vs overall avg of 1.38).
    Miele has 12 goals, 19 assists for 31 points in 22 games (avg of 1.41/game vs overall avg of 1.81).
    Miele has a higher average, Frattin has a significant edge in goals and is closer to his season average against better teams.
    The argument that Frattin pads his stats against weaker teams vs. Miele does not hold water.

    If we look at common teams, Frattin and Miele both played Alaska, Maine, Notre Dame, and St. Cloud.
    Frattin 8g, 6a, 14pts in 9 games (1.56/game). Miele 6g, 13a, 19pts in 12 games (1.58/game). Looks pretty equal.

    Overall, Miele has a big edge in assists and Frattin has a big edge in goals. Since goals after all are the measure of success in hockey I
    would say this offsets the fact that Miele leads in pts/game.

    This is not an argument against Miele as I think he is a terrific player and deserving of the the Hobey hat trick.
    I also believe Frattin is equally worthy and has put together a fantastic season and does not deserve the backhanded shot that INCH took at his stats. I expect that from INCH but not from USCHO.

    • Guest

      “The argument that Frattin pads his stats against weaker teams vs. Miele does not hold water.”

      In four games against Michigan Tech, Frattin had 6 goals (18% of his total) and 6 assists (28% of his total).

      Frattin and Miele are both great players, but they both have feasted on the weaker teams in their respective league. Miele has performed better against the tough teams in Miami’s schedule (statistically speaking), but the winner will most likely be decided by each player’s performance in the tournament.

    • Guest

      Just another stat to add to this(according to my calculations):

      Miele: 52.31% of his points were scored against teams NOT under consideration

      Frattin: 31.48% of his points were scored against teams NOT under consideration

      • Guest

        So that just reinforces the point that the award will go to the player who performs better in the playoffs. Frattin may have had more points against TUC’s, but 22% of those points came against one of the worst teams in D1 (according to RPI).

    • Miele>DUIs

      So like this says, Miele does better against top competition than Frattin can even do against the bottom feeders.

  • Anonymous

    Great to see writers looking up past statements in reference to recent events. Thorough, fair, and well put.

  • Mike

    It all boils down to the post season. If Frattin or Miele come up big and lead their team to the Frozen Four, they will have the upper hand. But make no mistake, it is a two horse race.

  • Mr.(Always)Right

    Frattin has done his work playing on a team with a SOS (6) greater than Miami (13). Frattin accomplished his feats on a stronger team. Frattin’s goals total is much more impressive. On the stats sheet, this is pretty much a draw. Ask yourself 1 question. If you were captain of a team with the first pick in a pick-up game and you had to choose a forward (not goaltender or defense) with your first pick, who would you choose – Frattin or Miele?

    • Hockeyfan

      Miele. He does it all

    • Anonymous

      Going to be an honest Sioux fan… haven’t seen Miele play much this year and couldn’t make the call. Also who is on the team we are playing? Frattin has the advantage against a more physical team hands down… as for a small and quick team im not so sure.

    • Confusedfan

      Mike Connolly.

    • Jdorf40

      I live in Detroit and watch a lot of CCHA hockey. Miele is the real deal. That last sentence in your post is a heck of a question. I think it all depends on what it is you specifically want in a player. I personally think that the 2 best players who have played at UND in the past 15 years were Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews. I think they were both better than Miele or Frattin and neither one of them won a Hobey. It’d be awesome to see Frattin win a Hobey (because I’m a die hard Sioux fan), and I really admire him for getting his “poo in a pile” as they say…but I’m a lot more concerned about the Sioux living up to the expectations in the tourney. Even this weekend at the Final Five doesn’t really matter to me at this point. Unless of course Yale loses. I think Frattin is an absolute beast. I don’t know anyone in college hockey with a better shot than he has. He busts his butt up and down both ends of the ice and will put the hurts on people that want to play a physical game. But I’m sure if you asked him or Miele, they’d both gladly sacrifice a Hobey for a ring.

      • FRATTIN 4 HOBEY

        the guy who said that the best sioux players in the past 15 years are Parise and Toews is not a die hard sioux fan the best players are Ryan Duncan Jeff Panzer Jason Blake Zach Parise maybe but no not Toews. Parise only played for 2 years and Toews a year and a half. Your living off what they have done in the NHL not as sioux players. YOU SIR ARE AN IDOIT

    • MJ

      Thats not the question. Being a good college player doesn’t always translate to being a good pro. Just look at the Heisman winners. The award is about being the best college player. Miele is 5’8″ (in the guide). He was not drafted. He is very small for the pros. Frattin on the other hand is the protypical build.

  • warrior

    AMEN!

    Good Article Elliot!

  • Bruins265nhl

    polacek had the least help and every one targeting him when rpi played teams.

  • Confusedfan

    Frattin isn’t even the best player in his league…

    • Blackheart

      Well he was voted player of the year for the WCHA…I’m sure that doesn’t stand up to your opinion though.

      • Confusedfan

        Nope…it doesn’t.

        • GoBeavs

          At least you live up to your moniker.

  • Sara

    ConfusedFan – Mike Connolly isn’t even the best player on his team. Well, at least it’s debateable whether he is the best player on his team or not.

    • Confusedfan

      Watch him play every game, then come back on here and have an intelligent conversation about it.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve seen him play since he was a freshman… great talent, but if you took him off of what I believe is the best line in college hockey he would not fair nearly as well. Their chemistry is absolutely beautiful. Frattin is a workhorse and out skates and overpowers his opponents and has a snipe…. he wins hands down.

  • Brett

    Agree – thanks for the article, Elliot.

    The INCH article seems to be almost a retaliation to any UND fans who pointed out that Frattin’s scoring came against overall tougher competition. Not surprising, but disappointing still. Interesting to compare the top 5 in each conference, but let’s face it – conferences are not equal. I can’t speak for Andy Miele but there’s a reason Frattin was chosen convincingly as WCHA Player of the Year. Simply put, he was the player (not line) that nearly every team in the conference feared and focused on shutting down each weekend. I can’t recall how many times opposing coaches commented on him being a ‘man among boys’ out there, and for good reason. Given that, and his speed and physical dominance (and the fact that he wasn’t sitting around collecting garbage goals all year) will hopefully be taken into consideration…

    • Jdorf40

      Maybe we should ask Kevin Wehrs who he fears most…

  • FightinSue

    Perhaps the Hobey voters will not be fooled this year and will give it to Cam Atkinson after looking like dopes in 2008 (Gerbe), 2010 (Atkinson), and even a little in 2006 (Collins).

    • B.D.

      Who are they again?

  • Scout7561

    Frattin hands down. Played a tougher schedule than Miele. He could have left to make a lot of money but showed the character to come back without a scholorship, work hard and become the #1 player in the toughest conference.

  • http://twitter.com/pucknut9 Brad Schaack

    Frattin is one hell of a 2 way player and very physical. Not sure about Miele but Frattin does it all.

  • Billymbrew

    Frattin doesn’t have the Character… period.

  • FRATTIN 4 HOBEY

    the guy who said that the best sioux players in the past 15 years are Parise and Toews is not a die hard sioux fan the best players are Ryan Duncan Jeff Panzer Jason Blake Zach Parise yes but no not Toews. Parise only played for 2 years and Toews a year and a half. YOU SIR ARE AN IDOIT

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