I’ll be covering the Northeast Regional in Manchester and love the games I’ll be watching. If I had my druthers, I’d have preferred Merrimack in Bridgeport so there’d be the potential of three Hockey East teams in the Frozen Four (hello, 1999!). The Warriors’ path to the Frozen Four would also probably have been easiest there.
But Miami vs. UNH and Merrimack vs. Notre Dame sounds like some great hockey to me. I’m already pumped and jacked.
I think Merrimack will beat Notre Dame and not just because the Irish are stumbling into the tournament. I think the Warriors are that good.
I also think UNH has a great shot against Miami. The RedHawks are playing terrific hockey right now and are a clear favorite, but there’s a big reason you go through all the aggravation of hosting a regional — so you get, in effect, home ice advantage even when you’re a number four seed against a number one.
Boston College fans can’t be happy about the Eagles getting sent out West to avoid a first-round match-up with number four seed UNH. This also looks like a pretty tough bracket.
I liked Jerry York’s suggestion after the Hockey East championship game that leagues host regionals instead of individual teams. The CCHA is doing this in St. Louis. It would avoid the inequity of a number one seed being moved at the expense of a number four.
That said, my guess is that most leagues will think they’ve got more than enough headaches as it is. And they’ll point to the schools that took it on the chin and say that there’s nothing stopping those schools from hosting themselves.
Some WCHA fans are the best. I really mean that. But good grief, others make me think that the “W” in WCHA stands for whiners. The wailing over North Dakota and Denver getting placed in the same bracket begins to sound, after a while, like fingernails on a chalkboard.
North Dakota was the number two overall seed. Denver was the number seven overall seed. Number two seeds are supposed to be in the same bracket with number seven seeds.
And if you think Denver should have been rated higher in the Pairwise, well, perhaps the Pioneers shouldn’t have lost four of their last seven games heading into the WCHA playoffs. Here are those losses: 7-3 to Minnesota; 3-2 to a Michigan Tech team that finished 2-24-2 in the league and 4-30-4 overall; 5-2 to Nebraska-Omaha; and 3-2 to St. Cloud State. Only one of those losses was to an NCAA tournament-bound team.
If you stink down the stretch, you get what you deserve.
Can we agree that the East Regional in Bridgeport is the “put up or shut up” bracket? The over-the-top WCHA partisans I just referred to had better hope that Minnesota-Duluth gets out of this “easy” bracket.
But the real onus in on the ECAC. If the ECAC can’t get a team into the Frozen Four out of this bracket, it will have lived down to the assessment of the most denigrating of fans elsewhere. If you get your top two teams in a bracket along with an auto-qualifier from Atlantic Hockey, then it’s time to deliver.
(Yes, I’m aware of Atlantic Hockey’s propensity for tournament upsets, but which four seed would you want to face: UNH, Colorado College, Rensselaer, or Air Force? Okay, maybe the answer is even Rensselaer coming off their extended layoff, but I think you get my point.)
Put up or shut up.
* * *
To follow Dave Hendrickson’s other writing year-round, bookmark his website.