What I Think: Week 23

I’ll write more as we go through this week, but I wanted to use this space to go through some of what we saw on what had to be one of the most insane weekends of the college hockey season. We’re (finally) done with the 23rd week of the season — of course, it fittingly took overtime in the last game going, where St. Cloud State knocked out Minnesota State — and think of what we witnessed, either in person or through our computers:

* Two No. 1 seeds going down in a third game Sunday, and what a set of circumstances in each.

Hockey East champion New Hampshire had Vermont down one game, but the Catamounts, who barely got in the league playoffs, came back with a pair of 1-0 shutout victories to win the series. Rob Madore stopped 17 shots on Saturday and 34 more on Sunday after being pulled in a six-goal outing on Friday.

Brown, the 11th seed in ECAC Hockey, took out another high seed when it shocked Yale in three games. A team that won eight games in the regular season now has two straight three-game victories under its belt.

* Bemidji State defying all expectations and leaving the final CHA tournament without a victory.

Host Niagara stunned the Beavers on Friday, and Bemidji had to scrap for a 3-3 tie with Robert Morris in the third-place game. The Beavers are going to make the NCAA tournament, but that’s no way to enter the dance.

* Alabama-Huntsville getting the first official NCAA bid with the CHA title, won in overtime at Niagara.

More took place behind the scenes than most will ever discover to leave the Chargers without a conference home for next season, but you could argue that this is some karma coming back to the program.

* Michigan suck the life out of Munn Ice Arena, and end its biggest rival’s season, with a pair of emphatic victories over Michigan State.

The Wolverines may still need to win the Mason Cup to get into the NCAA tournament, but is there any reason to believe they can’t do it?

* Plenty of free hockey.

We saw 12 single-overtime games, one double-OT contest and the item we’ll get to in a moment. There’s not much better than playoff overtime hockey.

* The WCHA get its top five seeds through to the Final Five, but some of them with some duress.

St. Cloud State needed overtime in Game 3 to oust Minnesota State. North Dakota blasted Minnesota 6-0 in Game 1, only to have to play Sunday to eliminate the Gophers. Minnesota-Duluth also needed a third game to take care of Colorado College.

It all set up what should be a terrific Final Five next weekend.

* All of those were good, but I think there’s one item that will be remembered longer than the rest, most likely because it took way longer than the rest.

Quinnipiac and Union played the longest game in Division I college hockey history Friday, with the Bobcats winning 3-2 after 150 minutes, 22 seconds. That bested the 141:35 set in the same Messa Rink just over four years before when Union lost to Yale.

Here’s the most interesting part to me: After that Game 1 setback Friday, Union rallied to win Games 2 and 3 to win the series. A lot of credit is due to the Dutchmen players and coaches for being able to let go of the epic loss and focus on winning the next one.

* After the dust settled, here’s how I voted in this week’s poll:

1. Denver

2. Miami

3. Wisconsin

4. Boston College

5. North Dakota

6. St. Cloud State

7. Ferris State

8. Cornell

9. Minnesota-Duluth

10. Bemidji State

11. Yale

12. Northern Michigan

13. Vermont

14. New Hampshire

15. Alaska

16. Michigan

17. Maine

18. Michigan State

19. Boston University

20. Union

* One last note: If you haven’t already checked, our PairWise Predictor is now live. Enter what you think will happen (or what you’d like to see happen) and find out what the PairWise would look like.

Also, USCHO bracketologist Jayson Moy is working the scenarios and updating things on the Bracketology Blog.