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College Hockey:
Catamounts prove they are legit, but is finishing a problem?

The Vermont Catamounts, the majority pick to finish among the bottom of Hockey East, proved this weekend they can play with the best, earning a split at home with No. 2 Notre Dame. But the Catamounts also showed that finishing a game is still a challenge, coming minutes away from a sweep of the Irish. That is the first of three things I learned this weekend:

1) Seven minutes from heaven

Vermont, a club I said in the preseason would be better than most predicted due to its mostly upperclassmen squad, showed signs of brilliance this weekend. In the end, the Cats earned a weekend sweep with a very good Notre Dame squad. But given the fact that Vermont owned a two-goal lead on Saturday, only to squander it late in the game and lose in regulation shows this team may need to learn a thing or two about finishing a game. And while Kevin Sneddon was disappointed that his team squandered a lead on Saturday, letting Notre Dame take a 3-2 advantage with less than six minutes remaining, his biggest concern was his team’s lack of response in the waning minutes of the game.

“Notre Dame got a tough, off-angle goal to tie it up, and out next shift out we just coughed up a really bad turnover,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “From that point on we just didn’t have a response. We started to play as individuals. We played five periods and 13 minutes of pretty good hockey. It’s disappointing because we felt we could’ve come away with four points.”

2) Welcome back, River Hawks

A couple of weekends ago I was writing about Massachusetts-Lowell’s early season struggles after a two-game sweep at the hands of Quinnipiac led to a 1-3-0 start for the River Hawks. Since that time, Lowell has responded well. Four straight wins have this team playing with the confidence that a preseason No. 1 should. A major part of Lowell’s success in the last four games has been the power play. After beginning the season 1-for-25 with the man advantage, the River Hawks are 6-for-16 in their four wins and scored two power play goals, including the overtime game-winner, on Saturday to complete a weekend sweep of New Hampshire.

3) Providence response earns split with Terriers

When you spot the Providence Friars a 3-0 lead, the prospect of winning aren’t good. With sophomore Jon Gillies in net, the odds of scoring four goals simply isn’t strong. But Boston University proved that hypothesis wrong on Friday, scoring the final four goals of the games to earn a 4-3 win over the Friars.

Impressively, Providence responded the next night at home and earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory for a weekend split with the Terriers. In that game, Gillies made 28 saves and Ross Mauermann, currently second in the nation in scoring, scored twice in the third to break a 1-1 tie.

I’ll talk about this and more, including BC’s response after a tough weekend at Minnesota, in this week’s Hockey East notes column this Wednesday.

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  • Righty

    Would the NCAA ever consider going to all host conferences instead of individual teams? Isn’t that the case with one of the western regionals?

    • Hockeyeastfan

      College hockey should get rid of “host schools” and what could happen with BC, UNH and Merrimack this year is a prime example. I have nothing against UNH…am a Merrimack fan…but why should teams that finish higher in the PWR not get the advantage of playing close to home, as other team will. I know…wherever a team plays they still have to win to get in…

  • Anonymous

    Can UNH fall out of the thing altogether?

    • lah02155

      No, they are in.

  • Jimi the CPA

    Having just witnessed yet another one-n-done showing by UNH, I am one who feels strongly that UNH should be a good host and hold the doors open for 4 other quality teams who consistantly show up in the playoffs.

    BC & Merrimack, or any other team for that matter, should not suffer because of UNH’s annual migration down the tubes as soon as the snow melts only to be granted a home ice bid.

    Enough

    • hearthealer

      Being from NH but calling myself a college hockey fan in general, I agree here. Us NH fans are sick and tired of having to be annually disappointed by UNH’s lack of performance in the NCAAs. Perhaps they should just host the party and watch how it’s done.

      I know that BC is always at the party but at least they can win it. UNH never will.

      As for Merrimack..they have won the hearts of college hockey fans like me and fans like me would rather cheer whole-heartedly for a team who plays like they want rather than cheer half-heartedly for a team who never seems to play like they care at all just because they are a host.

      Send them out west…let other regions of the country feel our pain. Give me Merrimack and something to cheer for.

      • Joe C

        ECAC gets Eastern Regional
        Hockey East gets Northeastern Regional
        WCHA gets Western Regional
        Big 10 gets Legends and Leaders Regional.
        Sorry Atlantic Hockey and especially sorry to CCHA, which will see decades of tradition washed away for a pile of cash.

      • MtMan

        Good points about UNH. We have been season ticket holders for 20 years and it has been painful to experience the Wildcat Spring Meltdown. It’s all about coaching folks. We’ve had dozens of talented players in the program, but never delivered. This year will be no different; one game in Manchester and off to play golf…..

  • Guest

    If UND as the #1 ranked team in the nation and #2 in the pairwise are sent to the East, the NCAA hockey tournament becomes like the BCS and is flawed.

    • Joe C

      As a BU fan, it is clear to me that there is indeed a bias against North Dakota/WCHA. Possibly seeing Boston College and Merrimack travel 1500 miles from Boston because of New Hampshire hosting is no bias at all. ;) In men’s BB, host schools and teams within a certain mileage of the arena cannot play the first two rounds there. Of course, sending Duke/NC to Charlotte or Notre Dame to Chicago is a big joke about neutral sites.

      Also, why is UNH the only host in Manchester? What about Dartmouth 70 miles away in Hanover, NH? The Frozen Four in 2009 was hosted by…..The US Naval Academy, 60 miles away in Annapolis.

      However, unlike the BCS, 16 teams play a single-elimination tournament. I am sure the good fans at TCU would have relished a chance to play a tournament even if the first round game was played far away in Ford Field, Lucas Oil Field, etc.

      • guest

        Why is Dartmouth not a host in Manchester? Because UNH did all the work to organize the bid. Duh.

        • Joe C

          I do not mean just this year….I mean what seems like every year UNH and Yale are hosting. (And “Duh” is exceptionally thought-provoking insight)
          Lots of schools could do the work, but it seems the NCAA likes having the same venue and is tapping the same “hosts” year after year, causing the same problems.
          Boston University used to be the “host” in Worcester at the DCU/Centrum whatever they call it now and this was yearly, too.

          Why not make it Northeast Regional hosted by Hockey East and East Regional hosted by East Coast Athletic Conference? Western Regional hosted by WCHA and Midwest Regional hosted by CCHA/Big 10? Altantic Hockey could be rotated with Northeast/East/West/Midwest if they so choose.

          • guest

            “Duh” is the response when you ask a question like that. But anyway, what you suggested afterward is a complete reworking of how regionals are organized and by whom. In the past schools (and occasionally leagues) bid for the regionals by putting together a proposal and presenting it to the NCAA. The same schools kept bidding with the same host city in part because they wanted the “home” game if they made the tournament (and it was usually schools that alwas make the tournament). But eventually those schools became skilled in putting together a bid. And the schools that never bid weren’t about to upset the cart. You seem to be suggesting (and correct me if I’m wrong) that the NCAA is selecting the city first and then getting someone to organize it.

          • BC OWNS NORTH DAKOTA

            BEST IDEA EVER

        • Yale beat UND HA HA LOL

          UNH never travels even during the regular season send them West .

    • SIOUX IS A GIRLS NAME

      Shut up you crybaby SIOUX fan .

  • BCfan

    The question I have is why should Yale get the number 1 overall seed? Both und and bc are better than Yale. Just because Yale plays a cupcake schedule should not give them this type of a advantage. Look at the teams they’ve lost to. They lost to st. Lawrence a week ago. This is where I hope the committee steps in and determines what everyone else in the country already knows. Und and bc are the two best teams in the country. They better not have them slated to meet in the semi finals of the frozen four.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PFFXTL46C5SGXHJCBWIWK7XBUA Drew

      Yale has played just as many, if not MORE, ranked teams.

      ECAC will put 4 in the tourney.

      Yale is #1 scoring team in the country.

      Rondeau has 5 shutouts – 2 in the playoffs.

      Yale has set a SCHOOL RECORD for wins.

      Both UND & BC have lost to sub-.500 teams – UND having been swept by Maine (a non tourney team) & struggled with CC last night. BC having lost to hockey powerhouses like Providence.

      Yale beat UND in the tourney last year.

      Yale scored 7 vs. BC last year.

      Let’s LOOK at these team’s losses:

      BC – Vermont (8-20-8) – not to mention an UGLY 7-7 tie vs. Northeastern (their D is FAR more suspect than Yale’s is). Oh, and BTW – Colgate, the team Yale shut out last night, got FIVE against BC.

      UND – this one’s even easier. The ONLY East team they beat this year is Robert Morris. Maine swept them and scored ELEVEN goals in the 2 games. Neb-Omaha (15 losses), CC (18 losses). But hey, they fashioned a 4 game winning streak vs. MICHIGAN TECH (4-30) over the last month.

      Which is how they moved to #1.

      Yeah, UND certainly looked dominant against MICHIGAN TECH. The game vs. CC last night, they must’ve been tired, had to travel, been affected by Japanese nuclear fallout, etc.

      Yale is every BIT as good as these 2 teams – as they continue to gain experience in the tourney, turn in top recruiting classes – they’ll keep getting better.

      Class dismissed.

      • UND_Guy_in_NJ

        Drew, settle. We get it. A good Yale team doesn’t come along all that often. Before you spew out another 30 lines of meaningless numbers, go look at the TUC records for the three teams would you.

        UND has played 40 games and has a TUC record of 21-8-3. They have played 32 of 40 games against teams under consideration.

        Yale has played 33 games with a TUC record of 12-3. They have played 15 of 33 games against teams under consideration.

        There is absolutely no room for debate on how has played the tougher schedule this year (by a country mile I might add).

      • Timmay

        Reading this post is like watching a dog chase it’s tail.

        You cite all these program records and while you’ve had a great season compared to your past, dont break your arm patting y* on the back, in that meatgrinder of a conference you play in.

        Yale has played just as many, if not MORE, ranked teams. REALLY, en route to your below median SoS?

        Yale scored 7 vs. BC last year. AND lost?

        Class dismissed. STAY classy.

      • Guest

        How many times are Yale fans going to cite the previous year’s accomplishments as evidence for a #1 seed this year?

        • go away

          About 1 percent of the number of times the North Dakota fans kept touting their SEVEN NCAA TITLES as evidence that they were number one this year and Yale wasn’t. Happy?

      • Hockey God

        Yale has played just as many if not more ranked teams???????

        Yale’s SOS is 44.
        North Dakota’s SOS is 6.

        Yale has played 15 TUC.
        North Dakota has played 32 TUC.

        North Dakota hasn’t lost a game since January, they haven’t been beaten in 12 games.

        They’ve been number one for a few weeks now, not just since beating Tech.

        • hypocrites

          BC’s Strength of Schedule is currently 29th. You guys were mocking Yale’s SOS back when it was 26th.

          • Hockey God

            I’m not comparing BC’s SOS to Yale’s. I”m comparing UND’s to Yale’s. BC isn’t saying they have played “as many, if not MORE, ranked teams” than UND. Yale’s SOS is 44th, out of 58 teams, it’s not hard to be the number one scoring team in the nation when you play an SOS in the bottom 25%
            .
            “Rondeau has 5 shutouts”. Again, not so hard to do with an SOS of 44, three of those shutouts came against powerhouses Vermont, Harvard and St. Lawrence.

            Yale has also lost to sub .500 teams, Brown once and St, Lawrence twice.

            And to say that Yale is every BIT as good as BC and UND is simply crazy.

          • hypocrites

            And I’m asking you a direct question about BC. I get that you desperately want to avoid the topic which makes me wonder why you hang out in the comment sections at all.

          • Hockey God

            I’m not avoiding anything, 26th or 29th, they’re both poor SOS.

      • SiouxAlumDenver

        I hope UND gets to play Yale at some point in the tourney. It will be like watching Tyson fight an infant. Sioux will destroy them.

      • WY

        Yale won’t last long in the NCAAs.

  • Where Eagles Dare

    as I’ve said before, WHO GIVES A SH*T about having “HOSTS” schools. Eliminate the hosts thing altogether; or, wait until the season is over, and make the #1 seeds the hosts, each going to the locations closest to their school.

    UNH is only 20 miles closer to Manchester than all the Boston school, and I believe Lowell might be closer. So, why is UNH always the host there. Even Vermont and Maine should be allowed to host there, just like UNH should be allowed to host in Worster, etc. Does it really matter who is closest to the actual site…it should just be the deserving team in that general area, or do away with the hosting bs altogether!!

    • Joe C

      Hockey East should be the host for Northeast Regional held in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine or Vermont. It could be ECAC if we wanted to make Dartmouth happy. ECAC should be the host for East Regional held in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey or Eastern PA.

      I leave the Midwest and West regional placements to those that know those breakdowns better. (Big 10 announcement Mondayshould make some of those plans fun)

  • skate for eight

    Drew, you put a lot of emphesis on a tough weekend for North Dakota very early in the season. If North Dakota played Yale in a seven game series last year or this, North Dakota would win 4-2.
    That by the way is what makes college hockey fun. No second chances in the tourney. Yale will get beat, I just hope North Dakota gets the chance to do it.

  • Where Eagles Dare

    oh, in ref. to BC’s ugly tie, I think I remember BC’s ugly qtr. final win over Yale last year….wasn’t 9-7 ? How did that work out BC’s opponents in Detroit ???

    Stop being idiots…BC steps up in big games. That’s the bottom line !

    • B.D.

      But they still play eastern style hockey – no physical contact allowed….

      • guest

        B.D. is back and making stuff up again. How embarrassing was it for you when the moderator publicly admonished you for trolling?

  • GUY

    After the crowd that showed up at the X this weekend to support UND, and the fact that the NCAA is so worried about attendance numbers. There is no way I see them sending North Dakota out East, or atleast they would be dumb too.

  • Cdhtrout

    As near as I can tell, Merrimack has no shot at a #1 regional seed if Miami wins. If there is what would have to happen? Also…There is no team in college hockey hotter or in better form than Miami right now. Everybody beware.

  • collegehockeyfan

    after seeing the crowds for both BC and UND, WHY in the world would you send BC to the midwest and UND east??????? If the NCAA is what they have always been, about money, That would be the WORST scenario for them. UND and BC have outright EARNED the number 1 seeds, WHY PUNISH THEM and send them as far away as possible just because UNH is the host at one regional.

  • sioux in texas

    This contemplates the committee would break the rule that number 1 seeds get to play closest to home. The university UNH is the host, not the hockey team. UNH can still host while the team plays in another regional. Why would you break one of the selection rules for a 4th seed? If UND wins the WCHA and the Broadmore and has to go to 3000 miles for a regional, the committee is a joke of NE idiots.

  • VermontfaninNY

    Bottom line? ECAC beat Hockey East this year.

    Its not many years that the ECAC has the better season, but this year shows that they did. In the Playoffs anything can happen, but based on the conference records against other conferences Yale/Union were better than Merrimack/BC this year.

  • 166GF-UND-2011

    i can’t anyone would argue there team is number one in the nation when they didn’t even take first in the overall conference standings… (union number one in ecac with 36 pts, yale number two with 35 pts)

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PFFXTL46C5SGXHJCBWIWK7XBUA Drew

    Let’s see…Yale goes to CC in Nov. – CC coach says they’ll be “out of their comfort zone…” puts 45 shots on them, wins like 5-1 & CC’s coach says they “proved why they’re #3 (at the time)…we couldn’t skate with them…”

    UND plays WWE smackdown with CC last night (both teams looking like they skate in cement)…

    Again, West teams like to quote SOS, TUC, etc. – BUT THEY PLAY EACH OTHER!

    Every time – since 2006 – they play the best teams from the EAST – they play chippy – and get smoked.

    We’ll see at tourney time.

    Jim – YOU are an idiot.

    I WENT to an Ivy…

    Yale has NOTHING to prove & neither do I.

  • guest

    Another brilliant analysis from what I assume is a WCHA fan. Stay classy.