Vermont Still Counts, And Other Musings

The NCAA Ice Hockey Championship Committee met Tuesday morning via conference call (seems like a lot of conference calls these days) to talk about additional issues affected by Vermont’s cancellation of the remainder of the 1999-2000 season.

The most significant decision reached was that Vermont will continue to count towards the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) of all the teams that they have played thus far. But with only 17 games played, the Catamounts themselves would not be eligible for the NCAA tournament, which requires a minimum of 20 games against Division I teams.

A similar situation affects Air Force, which has only 19 games scheduled against Division I opponents this year, thus not meeting the minimum. Still, games against Air Force will count in other teams’ calculations. Note: if Air Force were to make the CHA playoffs and play Army or Niagara — the CHA’s other two D-I teams — they would become eligible once again.

This would also affect USCHO’s Pairwise Rankings (PWR), since under the terms of the conference call, Vermont and Air Force would not be labeled as Teams Under Consideration (TUC) — tournament-eligible teams with a .500 or better record — because of the lack of a minimum number of games played. Vermont, of course, would not be eligible anyway, due to the fact that its record is under .500. But Air Force could still finish at .500, and thus be a TUC if it meets the 20-game minimum.

In other news, there has been one more change in Dartmouth’s schedule, which has been manipulated to avoid consecutive games against rested opponents. The only unchanged two-game weekend that Dartmouth had left was to be this weekend, when the Big Green traveled to Cornell and Colgate. That has now changed as the Friday Dartmouth-Cornell game has been moved to Monday, Jan. 24 at 7:00 p.m.

This now turns into the only two-game weekend that Dartmouth plays in which the pairings have reversed order. Instead of playing a presumably-tired Dartmouth after the Big Green’s Cornell game, Colgate now gets Dartmouth first. The same situation will occur in February when Colgate travels to Dartmouth first, and the Big Green then hosts Cornell two days later.

If you’re Colgate head coach Don Vaughan, how happy are you?

Item: all of those folks who bought tickets at Vermont for last Saturday’s (Jan. 15) canceled contest can get refunds starting on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the Patrick Gymnasium on the school’s campus.

In addition, all tickets purchased at Vermont for Vermont road games will also be refunded starting on Wednesday.

Vermont is also finalizing a letter to reserved-seat season-ticket holders and coupon-book holders that will outline refund options. The letter will be sent out later in the week.

Now, let’s take a look at the possibility of the other 11 ECAC schools scheduling games in place of the canceled Vermont matchups.

Under NCAA rules, one ECAC squad is now free to schedule three additional games: Union. The Dutchmen, whose games in the exempted Ice Breaker Cup do not count toward the 34 allowed by the NCAA, are now three games short of the maximum due to their one canceled game against Vermont.

But the administration at Union will not allow the team to play those extra two games freed up by the Ice Breaker, so Union in reality only has one game free — the canceled Vermont game. Union’s game with Vermont was a home game, so I do not see Union playing anybody unless that team decides to come to Achilles Rink.

There are four teams that can schedule two more games: Cornell, Colgate, St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Each of those teams had two games canceled with the Catamounts.

For background’s sake, let’s take a look at the other Eastern schools — specifically, what is available on their schedules.

In Hockey East, only Boston University has a game free. Playing two exempted games in Alaska for the Nissan Classic, plus two in the ECAC/Crowne Plaza Faceoff Classic, leaves the Terriers with one game left under the maximum 34. But other than the Terriers, no one else in Hockey East has any open dates left.

Going elsewhere, Army has one game available, as they play 32 games plus one exhibition, which counts in the eyes of the NCAA. Niagara, a strong team which might be an inviting opponent to schedule, is full on its schedule.

In the MAAC, American International has four games available and Quinnipiac three.

[Editor’s note: contrary to previous reports, Sacred Heart does not have a game available to schedule. This is because SHU’s exhibition game with McGill University, which was played in Canada, counts against the NCAA maximum. Had the game taken place in the United States, under NCAA rules it would not have counted for scheduling maximums; hence the confusion.]

Why wouldn’t anyone want to ask Quinnipiac to come play them? If you have a chance to play a team that is high in the PWR — which QC is — then why not? If anyone will schedule extra games, I can see Quinnipiac getting the attention.

But other than that, I do not see many other teams making any moves to reschedule. One simple concern is that dates have to be found: the most likely scenario would be on a Tuesday evening.

Another point of consideration is monetary. Every ECAC team will want another home game to make up for lost revenue. Not everyone can have their way, so you probably won’t see many people stray from the my-place-only deals.

The other concern is that a freshly-scheduled game would force the student-athlete to rearrange his schedule, and teams might be giving up the advantage of playing Dartmouth fresh. That school, Vermont’s travel partner, is now left with a series of two-game weekends against teams which themselves play only one game.

When it all comes down to it, I don’t believe you will see many games added — probably three with Quinnipiac — but other than that, don’t expect much.