Good Afternoon Wilderness! It's the most wonderful time of the year. Once again, division I college hockey takes center stage. The NCAA regional playoffs start this weekend after the conference tournaments crowned their playoff champions last weekend. In the State of Hockey, the Twin Cities saw two conference tournaments crown their playoff champions.
Frozen Faceoff, Target Center: the team from Denver formerly known as the Pioneers (20-15-6) emerged as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff champion as they beat the upstart Miami University RedHawks (15-20-3) 4-2 in the inaugural NCHC championship game.
For the most part, the tournament went off without a hitch at the Target Center. There was a minor issue with the Target Center ice during the Frozen Faceoff.
“It improved from yesterday,” UND senior defenseman Dillon Simpson said. “It’s tough place for the game of hockey, where it isn’t usually played. I think they did a good job trying to make it as good (as they could), especially after practicing on it yesterday. All in all, it was okay. It was a little soft, but at the end of the day it was fine.”I would imagine that Target Center will look to improve the ice conditions next season.
Big Ten Hockey Conference, Xcel Energy Center: the Big Ten Hockey Conference saw the Wisconsin Badgers win the inaugural Big Ten Hockey Conference playoff Championship. The Badgers (24-10-2) needed overtime to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes (18-14-5) 5-4 in the championship game.
Badgers win the Big Ten title. pic.twitter.com/eI7aDVtg8T— Andy Johnson (@AndyJohnsonB5Q) March 23, 2014
The win by the Badgers, allowed UND to slip into the NCAA tournament as the last at-large NCAA bid. After the game, UND hockey players and their fans sent thanks via twitter, thanking the Badgers for extending their season.
Thank you Wisconsin!
The Badgers qualified as a number one seed and will faceoff in the Midwest Regional against the University of North Dakota. Game time is at 7:00 p.m. CDT. The game will be shown live on ESPNU.This is what Wisconsin Badgers head coach Mike Eaves had to say about playing North Dakota in the Midwest Regional.
“We know they’re going to play hard, they’re going to play physical and they’re going to play with pace,” Eaves said.
Both conference tournaments took their share of jabs over attendance. Thankfully for the NCHC, the University of North Dakota was able to fight off elimination and make to the NCHC tourney at the Target Center.
Without Saint Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth playing in the Frozen Faceoff this past weekend, the attendance figures were dramatically lower than they could have been. If either school had actually made the Frozen Faceoff, the Target Center would have seen more fans go through the turnstiles. The two day event ended up drawing 17,252 fans.
Thursday, the Big Ten had a lot of empty seats posing as fans. Fans took to twitter to post pictures showing off the empty seats in the Xcel Energy Center. In the end, the three day tournament at the Xcel Energy Center drew 42,510 fans. That’s not too bad in my opinion.
College hockey fans also found time to make fun of each other. This is my favorite tweet from last weekend, someone posted a picture of the Big Ten's sign that took a spill outside the Xcel Energy Center. Hey it’s all good right?
Hey B1G, you're number 1! pic.twitter.com/tZ0rRvxz91— Jeremy (@knowsknothing) March 21, 2014
NCAA playoffs take center stage
This weekend, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (26-6-6) faceoff against the Robert Morris Colonials (19-17-5) in first round of the NCAA West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center. If you're a college hockey fan go check out the action.
The Gophers are a very deep team and this isn’t a good match-up for the Colonials. This game has the potential to be a very one sided event. Don’t count on the Gophers getting Holy Crossed this time around. Game time for Saturday’s game is 4:30 p.m. CDT. The game will shown live on ESPN2. In case you forgotten, here's a blast from the past.
Not to get ahead or ourselves, but there’s the potential for a couple of interesting match-ups in the West Regional Finals.
There’s the possibility of in-state rivals Saint Cloud State playing Minnesota in the regional final. Last season, the Gophers and Huskies split their season series. A SCSU and UMN regional final has the potential to pack the "X" with fans.
Another story line worth examining, Notre Dame split with the Gophers earlier this season in South Bend, Indiana. Minnesota Gophers head coach Don Lucia’s son Wild draft choice Mario Lucia plays for the Irish. The Gophers own a 2-1-0 record over Mario’s team the past two seasons.
NCAA playoff Schedule
East Regional, March 28-29
Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn.
March 28, 2 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
No. 1 Union (N.Y.) (28-6-4) vs. No. 4 Vermont (20-14-3)
March 28, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
No. 2 Quinnipiac (24-9-6) vs. No. 3 Providence (21-10-6)
March 29, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN
Midwest Regional, March 28-29
U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio
March 28, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3/WatchESPN ESPN3
No. 2 Ferris State (28-10-3) vs. No. 3 Colgate (20-13-5)
March 28, 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
No. 1 Wisconsin (24-10-2) vs. No. 4 North Dakota (23-13-3)
March 29, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
Northeast Regional, March 29-30
DCU Center, Worcester, Mass.
March 29, 4 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
No. 1 Boston College (26-7-4) vs. No. 4 Denver (20-15-6)
March 29, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3/WatchESPN ESPN3
No. 2 Massachusetts-Lowell (25-10-4) vs. No. 3 Minnesota State-Mankato (26-13-1)
March 30, 5 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
West Regional, March 29-30
Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minn.
March 29, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN
No. 1 Minnesota (25-6-6) vs. No. 4 Robert Morris (19-17-5)
March 29, 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU/WatchESPN
No. 2 Notre Dame (23-14-2) vs. No. 3 St. Cloud State (21-10-5)