Well, here we are, the second installment of “What?,” where I, Sam Bohney, answer your questions as they pertain to college hockey history.
I sure do hope that you are enjoying this column, as the game of college hockey is one to be treasured — and with so many new fans joining the existing ones, it’s a great opportunity for all to learn more about the game.
Q: I thought Minnesota-Duluth won the first women’s national championship last year? If that’s the case, then why did I hear that New Hampshire won one, and so did Ohio State and Rensselaer?
Ah, a question that deals with recent, yet confusing, history.
While it is true that Minnesota-Duluth won the first NCAA championship last year, the Bulldogs were not the first generally-acknowledged national champion in women’s hockey.
For the previous three seasons, the American Women’s College Hockey Alliance (AWCHA) awarded a Division I championship, which is recognized by all as a national championship.
In 1997 USA Hockey organized the AWCHA, and in doing so, set up a championship tournament that consisted of the best four teams in the nation regardless of geography. At the end of the 1997-98 season, selected to participate in the tournament were Brown, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Northeastern.
Those four played for the first-ever AWCHA championship at the FleetCenter in Boston, and New Hampshire won the first title with a 4-1 victory over Brown. UNH had defeated Minnesota, 4-1, and Brown had beaten Northeastern, 3-2, to get to the championship game.
The next year, the championship was held at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, where Harvard was crowned after a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory over New Hampshire. The Wildcats had defeated the host Gophers, 3-2 in overtime, and Harvard topped Brown, 5-3, to get to the final.
In 2000, Northeastern’s Matthews Arena was the host site, where Minnesota captured the crown with a 5-4 win over Brown. Brown defeated Dartmouth, 4-2, and the Gophers beat Minnesota-Duluth, 3-2, in the semifinals.
That same year, the AWCHA organized the first-ever Division III championship, in which Middlebury and Augsburg played a best-of-three series to determine the champion. Middlebury won two straight, 5-1 and 8-1, to capture that title.
In 2001, the Bulldogs’ won the inaugural NCAA championship in Division I, but the Division III title was still governed by the AWCHA. That title went to a four-team format for its last year, with Middlebury again winning the title, 6-0, over Gustavus Adolphus. Middlebury had defeated St. Mary’s, 3-1, and Gustavus had defeated Williams, 2-1.
This season will feature the first-ever NCAA Division III championship, but as in Division I, AWCHA titlist Middlebury will be recognized as the national champion for the previous two seasons.
Now, on to the second part of your question. Ohio State winning a national championship? Yes, the Buckeyes did, claiming the American Women’s Club Hockey Association (also the AWCHA — confusing, I know) title, awarded to the top non-varsity team in the nation. Ohio State won the championship in 1995 after a six-team tournament.
In 1996, teams started to turn their programs from club to varsity. The ECAC and Midwestern Collegiate Women’s Alliances were formed, and the ECAC accepted more varsity members. The strongest club teams were now varsity programs, leaving newer club programs to rise.
Eventually most of those club programs went varsity, as evidenced by the growth of teams in Divisions I and III women’s hockey.
By the way, North Country Community College won the women’s club title in 1996 and 1997. And the men’s club league, the American Club Hockey Association, formed a women’s division in 2000. Its 2001 champion was St. Cloud State.
Q:We all know that Cornell had an undefeated season and won the NCAA championship in 1970, but has anyone else achieved that distinction?
In Division I, the answer would be no — in fact, no other team has ever entered the tournament unbeaten.
A total of seven teams did enter the tournament with only one loss, however. Four of those — Boston College (1949), Denver (1961), Cornell (1967) and Maine (1993) — won the title. Of the other three, once-losers Michigan (1949) and Cornell (1968) both finished third, while the once-beaten 1969 Cornell team finished second.
In Division II, it has happened once. In 1983-84 when Bemidji State went 31-0-0, and captured the NCAA Division II title with a series championship win over Merrimack, 6-3 and 8-1. The Beaver squad featured Joel Otto as one of the tri-captains was totally dominant, outscoring opponents 210-71 on the season.
Now in Division III, teams have entered the NCAA tournament undefeated on two occasions. The most recent was just last season, when RIT came in with a 24-0-1 record. The Tigers swept Lebanon Valley in the first round, then defeated Wisconsin-River Falls in the semifinals before falling to Plattsburgh, 6-2, to end the season at 27-1-1 as NCAA runners-up.
The other time was in 1994. The Fredonia Blue Devils were 28-0-4 heading into the NCAA semifinals against Wisconsin-River Falls, but a Jeremy Jeanette goal in the third period gave the Falcons a 4-3 win over the Blue Devils and ruined Fredonia’s undefeated season.
Now, looking only at record in your Division or lower, we have the 1982-83 UMass-Lowell Chiefs — the last year the Chiefs were a Division II team before moving up to Division I.
Bill Riley’s squad that year played six Division I opponents and defeated five of them: Maine, Yale, Army, Bowling Green and Providence. The lone loss against a Division I opponent was against Rensselaer in the 1982 RPI Invitational championship game. The Chiefs, who had beaten Bowling Green the night before, lost a shootout, 8-6, to the hosts.
But despite the lone loss to Division I Rensselaer, the Chiefs went into the NCAA Division II tournament with a 21-0-0 record against Division II and III opponents — and promptly suffered their first loss against a Division II team, eventual champion RIT, by a score of 5-1.
The Chiefs would take third place against Babson, 5-3, to end the season with a 29-2-0 record, 24-1-0 against Division II and Division III opponents.
Short Answers To Short Questions
Q: What’s the difference between a game misconduct and a game disqualification? A game misconduct warrants a player’s removal for the rest of the game with no loss of manpower for his team. A game disqualification means removal for the rest of the game plus ineligibility for the following game. This rule is in effect for all contests, even exhibitions — meaning that a player’s infraction during exhibition play can get him disqualified for a regulation game.
Q: Which team had the most losses going into the NCAA tournament? That would be Jeff Sauer’s Colorado College Tigers of 1978, which jobbed 21 times.
Q: Then which team had the most losses and won the NCAAs? Bob Johnson’s 1981 Wisconsin Badgers, who had 14 losses.
Like I told you in the first column, sometimes I’ll get a question and be stumped. Here’s a question that I got, and I have to tell you, I have no clue.
Where and how did the “Sieve” chant start?
You have got me. You hear it in almost every single college arena, but I can’t dig up anything on it. Where did it start? Who claims responsibility?
Here’s your opportunity to help me out. Drop me an email if you know the answer.
See all of you real soon.