Backs against the wall, underdogs succeeded

Colorado College used a certain mentality that nearly helped the Tigers win the Final Five and earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

We don’t need to win three games in a row. We need to win one game three times.

“That was the mentality we used against North Dakota last night,” said CC goaltender Joe Howe. “All that mattered tonight was leaving it all on the ice against Minnesota.”

The Tigers’ Cinderella run ended Saturday when Wisconsin beat them in the title game. The Badgers were in the same situation, needing to win the Final Five to earn the WCHA’s automatic bid to get in the tourney.

Any matchup involving Wisconsin or Colorado College against a team that was in position for an at-large bid, the Badgers or Tigers won (also of note: the teams that won the shots on goal battle lost each of the first four games).

Wisconsin and CC showed this weekend how dangerous teams playing for their seasons can be.

First-place SCSU sweats out Friday, Saturday

One of the last St. Cloud State players to leave the locker room after the Huskies fell 4-1 to Wisconsin Friday, Nic Dowd was as dejected his teammates that exited before him.

He was unsure whether or not SCSU’s season would continue. Until Saturday night when Massachusetts-Lowell eliminated Boston University, the Huskies season was in Limbo.

“Hopefully we can sneak in there,” Dowd said Friday. “I think we’ve earned a spot in the tournament. We won our conference and that’s hard to do.

“We didn’t compete against some teams we should’ve beaten earlier in the year and hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite us. A lot of teams don’t get a second chance and hopefully we will.”

Friday afternoon was a nightmare for SCSU, considering what was happening out east with underdogs knocking off high seeds and threatening to steal at-large bids. Brown beat Quinnipiac in the ECAC, Canisius beat Niagara in Atlantic Hockey and BU beat Boston College in Hockey East.

That might be the only time a MacNaughton Cup winner left its tournament hopes in the hands of results in other tournaments.

The PairWise Rankings determine the NCAA tournament field and takes into account every game a team plays at any time during a season. Those home losses to Northern Michigan in January almost killed SCSU’s chances to qualify.

Head east: it’s regional week

Six teams from the WCHA qualified for the NCAA tournament and they’ve been placed into three of the four brackets, leaving the East Region without a WCHA team.

When you draw up the brackets by ranking the teams 1 through 16, WCHA teams are spread out over all four brackets, which seems ideal with the high amount of teams from the league that made the tourney.

But the NCAA put travel distance and attendance numbers ahead of bracket integrity and moved North Dakota from the East Regional to the West where it could face Minnesota in the second round.

It’s a good move because it regionalizes the bracket a little more and it provides the potential for a rivalry game with a Frozen Four berth on the line.

In the Northeast, Denver and Wisconsin are the two least fortunate WCHA teams in their regional draws, given their opponent locations.

The Pioneers play the host New Hampshire, which is located 39 miles from the arena in Manchester. Wisconsin faces No. 1 seed Massachusetts-Lowell, which is around 35 from Manchester.

Both low seeds, SCSU and MSU play Notre Dame and Miami, respectively, in Toledo. South Bend, Ind. (Notre Dame) is a 2 1/2-hour drive to the Huntington Center in Toledo and Oxford, Ohio (Miami) is three hours away.

The Xcel Energy Center is really the only arena in the within a short driving distance for fans in the heart of WCHA territory under current rules that require regional sites to be neutral.

The Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis. is stretching it in terms of travel distance and Denver’s Pepsi Center is great for fans in Colorado, but when Minnesota doesn’t host in St. Paul, count on flying.


  1. USCHO cant cover the WCHA without making at least one error in an article, why not leave it up to the websites that make sure to get their facts straight before posting an article.I can understand an error here and there but EVERY TIME I read an article written by the USCHO thats about a WCHA team theres an error or two.

  2. Yes, there is the potential for a rivalry game between Minnesota and UND with a Frozen Four birth on the line, but wouldn’t it be even better if they met IN the Frozen Four?

  3. What the heck are you going on about in the last two paragraphs?
    Potential sites that aren’t being used this year?
    That doesn’t seem very relevant.

  4. Bracket integrity is not considered much at all.
    “Attendance” is not a good reason to pair conference foes and make it harder for good teams to reach the FF.

    It is not a “good move” to leave BC all alone, licking their chops to play Union and Quinny/Canisius.

    No disrespect to any of those teams (as we all know, anything can happen), but based on a reasonable evaluation of the strength of the entire field, BC got a very favorable draw.

  5. No shot at an all WCHA Frozen Four, mission accomplished NCAA. Managed to squeeze all 6 teams into just 3 regionals.

  6. I dunno. The western-most regional (Grand Rapids) is still in the Eastern time zone…its a 13hr drive from Grand Forks, a 9hr drive from Minneapolis. I guess the $64k-question is, Will more people honestly be traveling to Grand Rapids now that wouldn’t have went to Providence? Maybe someone will comment on if that changed their mind on attending. For this guy it’d be a flight either way. I’m intrigued by some posts on having 2 super-regionals. One clearly in Boston, maybe the other Chicago or St. Paul? (There are a lot of Michigan/Ohio teams that could make that drive, yes?) That would be a lot of hockey in 3 days, but would concentrate attendance perhaps? Sorry Denver, CC, Air Force… none of this really helps you out. Final thought. Let’s rank 1-16 and play hockey. Good luck to all the teams, its wide open!

  7. I’m sorry, I don’t buy this “attendance” argument, because BC doesn’t travel well regardless and I even heard from one of their fans that it’s going to be Easter break for them meaning even less attendance.

    I even heard a statistic that Denver has to travel 400 more miles this tournament than BC has had to travel in the past 13 years combined.I think if the committee was TRULY worried about attendance they’d put a WCHA team in every bracket because we travel better than any conference.

  8. If regional sites are required to be neutral, why are there host universities that are placed in that regional regardless of seed?

  9. please also keep “woofing,” taunting, and otherwise unsportsmanlike behavior to a minimum…. Is it just me, or does the Hockey east blog writer seem to ignore this in his recent article, i expect it from fans, not writers

    • It is just that that EVERY conference loathes the WCHA fans who constantly drone on about their superiority.
      Its schadenfreude and your salty tears only make everyone else

      • facts are you chumps need to have 2 brackets within 50 miles of Boston every year, to ensure east teams get in frozen. lets put some brackets out west, where fans SHOW UP for good hockey. and seed as the rankings dictate

  10. Excel is the best regional site of all, it is centrally located, does not provide a huge home ice advantage for Gophers and always dominates in attendance

  11. The Broadmor trophy used to be a goal for every WCHA team. Lately it seems anticlimactic and only of big interest to teams on the bubble for NCAA entry. Great tourney, but with Mn and NoDak out early, the crowds were respectful but no buzz in the building.


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