Consider Sunday a test for the neutral-site regional format

Some thoughts as we head into the final two games of the 2014 NCAA regionals:

Watch the attendance

It’s no secret that the NCAA men’s ice hockey committee is considering taking tournament games back to campus sites with more regularity.

When the NCAA announced sites for tournaments in the next four seasons last December, it left open the 2017 and 2018 regionals to avoid being locked into a neutral-site regional format that may have run its course.

Look for more on this topic this week on USCHO, but it’s notable that the total attendance for this year’s regionals (40,049 through six sessions) has already surpassed that of last season (37,321) with the Sunday games left to be played.

But keep an eye on Sunday’s attendance in Worcester, Mass., and St. Paul, Minn., because if there was ever going to be a case for keeping the regionals at neutral sites, those places have to make it.

In both regional locations, two teams from that state will play for a trip to the Frozen Four. Boston College and Massachusetts-Lowell play in Worcester, while Minnesota and St. Cloud State skate in St. Paul.

If that doesn’t attract a good crowd, you could argue that nothing will and it’s time to try something else.

Nothing new here

After last year’s Frozen Four featured four teams that had never before been in the national semifinals, this year’s event will feature none.

North Dakota will make its 20th appearance, while Union will make its second.

Boston College, Lowell, Minnesota and St. Cloud State have all been there before.

Goals on the rebound

Through 10 games of the 2014 NCAA tournament, the scoring average is on the rebound, albeit ever so slightly.

After averaging 6.7 goals per game in a relatively high-flying 2010 tournament (a high for the 16-team-tournament era that dates to 2003), the average dropped over the next three years, to 5.3 in 2011, 5.2 in 2012 and 5.1 last year.

There have been 54 goals so far this season, for a 5.4 average.