With the NCAA men’s hockey tournament starting Friday, we look at the tournament and its field of 16 by the numbers.
That’s the number of NCAA tournament games as a head coach for North Dakota’s Brad Berry. The Fighting Hawks’ Friday game against Hockey East champion Northeastern will be Berry’s first in the NCAA tournament, but Berry is no stranger. As an assistant for North Dakota he made the NCAA tournament eight times. Berry has some big shoes to fill: Before departing the program for the land of hoagies and cheesesteaks, predecessor Dave Hakstol was 17-11 in the tournament.
Despite Notre Dame’s high standing in the Hockey East ranks this year, the placement is deceptive. The Irish were 3-8-6 (a .353 winning percentage) against teams that made the tournament this year, including 3-7-2 against Hockey East teams who made the tournament. The Irish might have their hands full against Michigan in Cincinnati on Friday night.
The Denver Pioneers fell to the Boston University in a 5-4 overtime game on Halloween at Agganis Arena. The Pioneers had trouble containing Ahti Oksanen, who tallied two goals in the BU effort. It might be worthwhile, however, to take that game with a grain of salt entering the teams’ first-round NCAA rematch because …
… the Terriers have, this season, been a strong team at home (14-2-2), but a not-so-strong team on the road (6-9-2), or at a neutral site (1-1-1) for combined .425 winning percentage away from home. The Terriers will also travel the farthest distance of the season to play in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday.
Yale’s Alex Lyon leads the country in GAA with 1.59. During the season, Lyon also tallied five shutouts in 30 games played, good for sixth in the country.
Kyle Connor, JT Compher and Tyler Motte of Michigan make up the top three in the country in points per game. They are also three names on the top 10 finalist list for the Hobey Baker Award. The three are a big part of the Wolverines’ No. 1 offense in the country.
The UMass-Lowell River Hawks are a team that struggles when coming from behind — they have not won a game all year when entering the locker room with a deficit after one period of play (0-5). For that matter, they’re 0-6 when trailing after 40 minutes. There is a degree of solace for the Lowell faithful: When leading after one period of play, the River Hawks are 14-0-4.
The Northeastern Huskies are going to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years. As a point of reference, 2009 was the year the song “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé came into the public eye. The Huskies’ quest to “put a [championship] ring on it,” however, will be an arduous one. The first game is against a very formidable North Dakota team in Cincinnati.
Among players on tournament teams, Harvard’s Kyle Criscuolo leads the country in game-winning goals with eight. Teammate and Hobey Baker Award top 10 finalist Jimmy Vesey is sixth in game-winning goals on tournament teams with five.
No. 4 Providence looks to be the first team in 11 years to win a tournament in back-to-back years. The last team to do it was the Denver Pioneers, who won back-to-back championships in 2004 and 2005 in George Gwozdecky’s 10th and 11th seasons as head coach.
The No. 1 Quinnipiac Bobcats’ run has been impressive, but it comes from a decade and a half of success. The Bobcats have had 13 seasons of 20 wins or more in the last 16 campaigns. This year, however, the Bobcats enter the tournament with the highest number of wins in program history, 29. (The 2013 Frozen Four team finished 30-8-5 but had 27 at the start of the tournament.)
Don’t trail Minnesota-Duluth after two periods — the statistics are not on your side. The Bulldogs are a perfect 14-0 this year with a lead after two periods of play.
The Boston College Eagles lead tournament teams in penalty minutes with 14.84 per game — and it’s not particularly close. The Eagles are No. 3 overall in the country in penalty minutes per game; the next closest tournament team is Rochester Institute of Technology, at No. 15 with 12.0 minutes per game.
The RIT Tigers have allowed the first goal 23 times in 38 games this season, and it doesn’t suit them. The Tigers are 8-11-4 when conceding the first goal. They have a little more luck in the 15 games where they score the first goal, with a record of 10-3-2. If the Tigers want statistics on their side in their first-round game, it may be problematic. Quinnipiac has scored the first goal 29 times this year.
St. Cloud State and Ferris State are the two shortest teams, in terms of height, in the tournament. Therefore, with an average height of 71.05 inches, the first-round matchup will be the shortest of the tournament.
The DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., hosting the Northeast Regional, has hosted the most NCAA tournament games out of any venue, 45. Boston College has a stranglehold on the arena, winning the last five regionals held there.
No. 4 on the list of most-frequented venues, the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., has hosted 34 games.
And one bonus…
Three of the No. 4 seeds (RIT, Northeastern, Ferris State) won their conference tournaments to clinch a berth in the tournament. The fourth, Minnesota-Duluth, made it to the NCHC title game.
Make sure you don’t sleep on the No. 4 seeds. At least one No. 4 seed has made the Frozen Four three years in a row. In two of the three years the No. 4 won the national championship.