Three thoughts, March 1

1. Cup cometh later?

Minnesota State went into the weekend with hopes of clinching the MacNaughton Cup for the first time. That didn’t happen, thanks to Michigan Tech goalie Jamie Phillips’ 43-save performance in a 1-1 tie on Friday. But the Mavericks sure looked the inevitable league champion, winning 4-2 on Saturday to take a three-point lead into the final weekend. They need to gain just one point next weekend to earn at least a share of the title. The most impressive thing about the weekend, though, were the crowds. A team record 5,446 were on hand Saturday, and the two-game total of 10,618 was also an MSU record. “I can’t say enough about the support from the students and the community for the crowds we’ve had this year,” coach Mike Hastings told The Free Press of Mankato. “You hope that you can entertain people that come into your building.”

2. Stinging split

Bowling Green’s 4-3 win over Alaska Anchorage on Friday secured third place in the league, so the Falcons will be home for the playoffs in two weeks. While the next night’s 6-1 loss to the Seawolves didn’t affect Bowling Green’s spot in the conference standings, it did prove quite costly when it comes to its shot at the national tournament. The Falcons fell from No. 11 to No. 14 in the Pairwise Rankings. That’s bubble territory, folks. If the WCHA is to get three teams in the national tournament, as it hopes, the Falcons need to find a way to move up. Meanwhile, Anchorage snapped a nine-game losing streak to keep its slim playoff hopes alive for another week. “As bad as this may sound, we finally drew the line in the sand: It stops here.” Seawovles freshman Austin Azurdia said to the Alaska Distpatch News.

3. Eager Beavers

I put Bemidji State on my top 20 ballot this week because it’s simply one of the hottest teams in the country. Starting with their North Star College Cup wins Jan. 23-24 in St. Paul, the Beavers are 8-2-2 in their last 12 games, including a 2-1 win and a 1-1 tie at Ferris State over the weekend to get a one-point edge for the final home-ice spot. A huge reason for their success is the play of fantastic freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer. Over that stretch he has a .955 save percentage and a 1.24 goals-against average. Against the Bulldogs, he stopped 76 of 78 shots to get his team three points. In their last six games, the Beavers have allowed just six goals. Besides Ferris State, Bemidji State is being chased by Northern Michigan, which had a three-game winning streak snapped on Saturday at Lake Superior State.


  1. Of course officials make bad calls – happens in every sport because they are human. But with video replay, the officials are much more often right than people realize. Secondly, attacking the officials is a sure way to ruin the game entirely, since it cannot be played without officiating. If your team didn’t win, it might be because the puck went in your net more than in your opponent’s net, not because of the officials.

    • See that is just the problem. If he blew the call with his eyes and waved off the goal thats one thing. It would have been a terrible call but you know he gets the benefit of the doubt. The problem is that he actually looked at the replay and overturned the goal. On ice officials have no magic cameras that we can’t see. The UVM player never even touched Demko….you miss the point…its always the Italian Mafia doing the hatchet work for HE

  2. Seems like to me we have an elimination game in the 1st semi Friday night. With UML just out of the top 16 and UVM sitting 19th in the pairwise both are in must win games and for UVM probably have to win the tourney to have a shot at the NCAAS which is really too bad for a 22 win season. You win 22 games and still can’t make the tourney means you had a rough non-conference schedule I guess.

    • It likely is, although the PW Predictor says UVM can finish as high as 9th should they win the tournament, and as low as 15th should they make the NCAAs without winning the tournament. So they probably have to make the final, but may not have to win the final.

    • That’s the funny thing about the Pairwise. UNH had 22 wins last season, got to the HE Final and didn’t make it, UVM had 20 and did. By “rough non-conference schedule,” I assume you mean weak, relatively speaking.

  3. I wasn’t there, and I haven’t seen the replay of the game YET; but this BC/BU official bias is wrong. Did you ever think that “maybe that officiating as a whole” is not that good? Having seen BC many times, every time I see a certain official, I know there’s going to be some bad calls. I’m ALL FOR letting the players decide the outcome of the game, I just think the officials call far too many ‘questionable’ penalties. And, no, the same official did not make that OT call against NU in the Beanpot Final (that’s the first thing I looked at!).
    For the series, BC had 12 powerplays, Vermont 10 … that’s not a decided edge to one team. I did see game 2 and BC was dominating (4 PP’s to 3 for Vermont) in that game, they just could not score (the story of their 2014-2015 season).
    Kudo’s to Vermont. They were down 4-0 in Game-1, changed goalies … and won the series!

  4. I know the PWR is a lot more objective method for choosing teams for the NCAA tournament, but I think more weight should be put on games in the second half of the season. The tournament games are such a heavy focus for most teams now and these games should be weighted accordingly.

    • I would agree with you, but the strength of schedule varies so much, it can’t be, As a UNH fan, they played a much tougher schedule the first half of the year. So, if you count the 2nd half with more weight and they split at UVM, split with BU, took 2 from UConn, took the next 2 from Merrimack (not to mention a split at Omaha)… started the playoffs with a sweep over UConn and win a series 2-1 from PC… does that mean they are a top 16PWR team now??? Not in my opinion… they won 5 games in the first half, so they have to win out.

    • There is another wrinkle to this issue. As a Sioux fan, we’re safe this year as a host team. If we weren’t, and UNH won out, we would have spent the year securing the #1 seed to earn the pleasure of a trip to NH to face the “lowly” Wildcats. Mankato would see Robert Morris or equiv. as the #2. Nothing against the Colonials, but drawing a tournament experienced team who got real hot late in the season just because they couldn’t get out of their own way in November doesn’t sound like a fair shake to me.

  5. The UVM/UML matchup is very intriguing. UML played a great series against ND & have the HEA tourney resume. The way Hoffman is playing right now combined with a UVM defense that has returned to its first half level and a return of timely scoring means that they have a shot, though. UML doesn’t have the advantage of facing a team that had just played the equivalent of 5-6 games the previous week with a week off themselves beforehand. Instead, they get a veteran goalie who basically took 5 weeks off and caught fire on his return.

    Regarding Hoffman’s sudden reemergence, I wouldn’t be surprised if two major contributing factors to his success were not only the natural competitive desire to retake the starting spot when the opportunity was handed to him but also the rest he received from the time off. So I would think he still has gas left in the tank. You just hope UVM didn’t empty the tank emotionally beating BC in historic fashion, because there is more work to be done.

    • If Vermont can get back a couple key injured guys it will be huge. They get Mario Puskarich, Kyle Reynolds, and Kevin Irwin back that would be big. Can you imagine a line with both Brady Shaw and Mario. Or even if you seperate them that’s 2 pretty dynamic lines. In regards to Hoffman I’ve been to every UVM home game this season and a lot last year and between Hoff and Santa I always thougt Hoffman was the better goalie even though Santa’s done a good job these past 6 weeks. Should be a fun one Friday as UML only faced Santa when they went 1-0-1 against UVM last weekend of the season so UVM’s giving them a different look this time around

      • I agree, Hoff is the better goalie in my opinion as well, even though they were both pretty good this year. Hoff just had the small mid season slump with the misfortune of another pretty good goalie they could turn to as the starter for a while, but his presence on the bench also meant that they could turn right back to him as soon as Santa slipped up a bit (which had clearly started in the previous series at least, and only grew in G1 at BC). The holes that BC could shoot at on Santa just weren’t there on Hoff, partially due to the size difference, and the juicy rebounds dried up too.

    • While both teams seem to be fairly even. Everyone on that Vermont team has no experience in the big dance. While the senior class for Lowell has won it the past two years.

      And what do you mean, Hoffman has caught fire? He’s only played two games since being back.

      Lowell has only lost 1 in their last 8 games so if we determine if someone is hot by two games, what should we consider Lowell? Liquid hot magma?

      • I didn’t say that UML hasn’t been playing well too – that’s why the game intrigues me.

        To say that no one on UVM has any experience is unfair – much of the team played in the NCAAs last year. They may not have made it to the Garden, but they did make it to the bigger dance and got the experience from that. And they pushed the eventual HEA tournament champs in UML to 3 games in the process.

        Technically, Hoff has played 3 games – he came in cold 4 minutes into the second period of G1. And he proceeded to stop 87 of 88 shots on goal by BC. I’d say that stopping 98.89% of shots on the road at Kelley Rink after coming in cold is pretty darn impressive, particularly when you haven’t started a game in 5 weeks. If you watched any of the three, it was obvious that the opportunities that BC had against Santa were not there against Hoff. One game, maybe two games, OK. I can chalk that up to potential flashes in the pan. You stop 87 of 88 in 8 periods, that’s more than a flash in the pan. Yes, UVM limits good opportunities based on their defensive system. But to discredit Hoffman’s performance this weekend is unfair.

        • Vermont’s only recent experience in the NCAA tournament was one game and they lost. And the last time someone had to make 87 saves in 8 periods was Cal Peterson. And he gave up 13 goals in 3 games last weekend.

          • Yes, UVM lost…to the eventual champions in the middle of what became a 12 game postseason winning streak. Doesn’t mean they got no experience out of it

            Peterson had to play 11 periods and make 149 saves against UMass. Not 8 and 87. He also gave up 7 goals in the series, compared to Hoffman’s 1. Nor did he have the advantage of such an extended time off beforehand – rather, in the prior 3 weeks he had faced PC, BU, and BC. That, plus the extended game to start the series against UMass, is grueling for anyone.

          • Was it just me or did Hoffman look a little rusty? It might have been all that time off he had. Na na na na, hey hey hey.

          • Someone’s celebrating a lot for a team that still isn’t necessarily in the tournament. Good to know UML fans are so classy.

            No, he didn’t look rusty to me. He had no chance on the first one, and the last two were deflections off UVM players. I’d love to see any goalie stop those, especially the third. The second was really the only one he had any kind of a chance at. And he made a lot of good saves in between that kept them in the game. Only someone who went in with the story already written in their opinion would claim otherwise.

            Credit to UML. They played a good game, capitalized on their biggest opportunity, and got the bounces tonight. C’est la vie. Good luck in the final.

          • I wasn’t thrilled with their game tonight, but I also would not pass a sweeping judgment based on one game where you’re playing for your season. UVM typically plays a physical but clean game. And if you’d seen the regular season games against UML at a minimum, you would know that. All I need to say is that UVM won the league’s sportsmanship award this year. And I know both UML & UVM were near the top of the conference in fewest PIMs/game. So passing judgment on either team based on this game alone is wrong.

          • That second goal Hoffman have up came because he just couldn’t catch it. There was no deflection to it at all. And the hit near the end to the head of a UML player was a dirty play that came out of frustration. Very dangerous hit.

            Also, we can brother easier with out win and the fact that Robert Morris lost.

          • Your last sentence wasn’t totally understandable, but I’ll try & infer your meaning.

            * So you agree that Hoffman can only truly be expected to stop one of the goals. Sounds like a contradiction to your original claim. You can’t claim someone was rusty when 2/3 goals allowed were not stoppable. It’s not like he was out of position all night.
            * I already said I wasn’t pleased with some aspects of this game. As someone who plays, I know full well how dangerous that hit was. But one play in one game does not a team’s reputation make, and the way you worded your comment suggested that they played like that routinely, which is false. If you meant certain times of this game alone, then, yes, I was disappointed with a couple plays.
            * the Atlantic Hockey champ is still taking the #16 spot. RMU was not in the top 16, and neither will the champ be. The win helps, yes, but the RMU loss doesn’t really. Beat BU and you can truly breathe easier.

      • Lowell’s recent success can pretty Mich be attributed to a goalie who is no longer there. I was at both UML UVM games this year, and he was shakey at best. UML won because the D did a good job clearing the juicy rebounds out. Now Lowell has a lot of fire power I won’t take that away; however if Hoff stands strong I think the weakness in net will be UMLs downfall. I’ll take the VCats 2-1

        • You think Lowell will only score one goal against a goalie who is coming off a long break? The same Lowell team that scored 13 goals in 3 days? Or the same Lowell team that has a senior class who has scored 11 goals in the last two seasons at the Garden? That might be wishful thinking.

          • Hoffman’s the more experienced goalie between him and Santa as he played in ALL of the playoff games last year including the NCAA tourney. Don’t under-estimate a hot goalie who can steal a game or 2 for his team. Especially now in a one and done game where loser is out of the NCAA tourney. Look at Merrimack beating Northeastern and of course Vermont beating BC. Vermont and Lowell match up is intriguing because they both play the same style of D so yes I could see a 2-1 scoreline.

          • Would you have expected BC to only score 1 at home in that situation? Often extended breaks can lead to rust, but not always. Sometimes the rest factor wins out, as has apparently been the case here, because if he had been rusty, I highly doubt UVM would still be playing right now.

            I should also note that UML scored more goals against ND & UNH in the tournament last year combined than they did against UVM in 3 games combined, or any one game. And all three games – at UML – were one goal games, with UML not scoring more than 3 in any one game, and only 2 in two of the games. So to expect UML to win in blowout fashion might also be wishful thinking.

  6. The BC / BU bias is real. The fans who say that BU and BC get a lot of penalties against them don’t really look at all the stats. A lot of BU and BC games have these two getting the better of the calls for the first 2 periods and then a few PP’s go the other way when the game is already at hand. Lowell got absolutely screwed against BU in 2009 in the HE final and Vermont got hosed last night against BC. BC dives as good as the Canadians. It boggles the mind considering that BU and BC have great talent. They don’t need the calls as well. BU will get a couple of key calls on Friday night. Remember the Beanpot final?

    • What about the Beanpot final? What about all of the penalties committed by NU that when uncalled in the third period of the Beanpot final?

  7. Ted Ryan from the Burlington Free Press got an explanation from the HE commissioner about the no goal on Sunday and here’s what he said.

    HEA commissioner Joe Bretagna on Monday replied via email to a request for clarification this way:

    NCAA Rules Committee spent a good deal of time on the area of
    goaltender interference. At one level a player standing in any part of
    the crease, cannot physically or visually impair the goalie. In other
    words, you can’t screen the goalie if you are in the crease.

    committee also ruled that if a goalie’s feet are in the crease the rest
    of his body and equipment, even if hanging out beyond the crease, are
    considered ‘in the crease’. So if I stand at the top of the crease and
    extend my arms, as goalies will, an attacking player can’t interfere
    with my ability to move my hands to the puck even if the player doing so
    is completely outside the crease.”

    Hence Benedetto determined
    that while UVM’s Mike Paliotta was not in the crease, he had still
    interfered with BC goalie Thatcher Demko’s ability to play the puck.

    • Yes, I got a similar explanation from my former roommate, who said he was told it was a new rule this year.

      Honestly, while I have accepted the call and moved on, as it thankfully did not have an impact on the outcome and therefore is much ado about nothing, I do think that they need to reexamine the rule. In some ways it seems overly broad and easily taken advantage of in situations it was not intended to affect. My former roommate noted that it was strange that Demko extended the opposite arm from the side the shot came in from.

    • No. If they’re going to rely on a conference championship autobid to make the tourney, they’ll be a 4 seed as shown above in the article.

      • If they win out, which probably won’t happen then they may get a 3 seed, but I don’t see them getting a 2 seed. If they sweep Mich and beat Michigan again in the conference tourney they could get the lowest 2 seed, but that is very doubtful with how average this team is. Most likely they will have to win the conference tourney like you said.

  8. If Miami is the host school for Cincy then I’m crossing my fingers they slide into the tournament so UND would get kicked out of there (can’t have a 1 vs 4 same conference matchup as we all know) and put into St. Paul haha

    • That would still be NCHC vs NCHC with SCSU against Miami. If Miami gets in and UND and SCSU remain as 1 seeds then UND will be shipped east (or further east).

      • Idk if the NCAA has to choose between a UND fan base at St Paul or a St Cloud fan base they might chose UNDs as a safe bet to make money…I watched St Cloud play in the North Star cup on TV and it didn’t seem like SCSU had much of a following then, but then again they may show up more when it comes to tourney time

        • I don’t think they would get to choose. If St. Cloud remains above UND they would get to play closest to home, which would be St. Paul. Plus, as has been stated many times, UND fans will follow the team anywhere, right?

  9. There’s a lot of “what if’s” being mentioned…..and that’s fine. Bracketology is supposed to provide this kind of debate. There will be substantial movement in the NCHC, WCHA, and the determination of the B10 champion (presumably that conference’s only NT participant) over the next several weeks. I’m reluctant to make any predictions since I failed so miserably at calling the DU-UND series last weekend. As much as I hate to see my Sioux (Ok, F’n Hawks) lose, I think this past weekend may bode well for both teams in some weird twist of fate. DU got a boost in the standings, as well as a boost in confidence. UND thought (or played like) they would walk away with a sweep simply because all of their players were healthy. The fact DU took it to UND (yea, the games were tight, but DU won most of the puck battles) could very well benefit UND in the long haul. In CH, in particular in the NCHC, you can never rely on talent alone to win games. UND clearly has talented players, but unless you put it on the line every single shift, you will not be successful in the NCHC….or in CH in general. Let’s see which teams dig deep and come out fighting over these next 6 games. Should be an exciting finish all CH fans.

  10. So lets take a look at the pairings if the NCAA only had two regional sites, and we are going rank the teams matching the PWR (1-16, 2-15 etc)

    East Regional (you can pick a site)

    Thursday games: Quinnipiac playing Robert Morris (1-16)
    Denver Playing Omaha (8-9)
    Winners play Saturday move on to Final 4

    Fridays games: Boston College playing Massachusetts-Lowl (4-13)
    Michigan playing Boston University (6-11)
    Winners play Saturday and move on to Final 4

    Western Regional (again pick a site)

    Thursday games: St. Cloud State playing Minnesota State (2-15)
    Notre Dame playing Yale (7-10)
    Winners play Saturday move on to Final 4

    Fridays games: North Dakota playing Minnesota (3-14)
    Providence playing Harvard (5-12)
    Winners play Saturday move on to Final 4
    2 sites more fans, No host team, You play who your ranked against no moving teams because of location or conference. 100% PWR ranking

    • wouldn’t you put the top 4 teams in general playing the earliest to have the most rest for the Saturday game? Seems like a little disadvantage to basically be a “top seed” and get only one day of rest as opposed to two.

      • You can change it to finals on Saturday and sunday then. But teams today play back to back games, Just was thinking it would be great for the fans to see two finals in one day

    • You would have to have a 4 day tourney in the proposal above. It is entirely unfair to make one team play less rested than the other. Moreover, I think there is a NCAA rule on this….maybe the USCHO ppl can comment on this..??

      • not really there is nothing in the NCAA, take a look at the basketball first round bracket. If you want to change having the final games on Saturday and sunday that’s ok

    • If you stick to your bracket integrity, you would have to switch BU/Michigan with Providence/Harvard, so #4 would play #5 if they both won.

    • Agreed. Again. No good reason teams from same conference shouldn’t play each other first round. You’d like to not have them match up (maybe), but i hate moving teams around and f’ing with bracket integrity. Same argument for host schools…..


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