...and other random thoughts from the first weekend of the tournament.
-This tournament is another piece of evidence--a pretty big one--against those people that try to ascribe Greater Meaning to their team's season based on their NCAA tournament result. The team that wins it all didn't necessarily have "a ton of heart and character" and a team that loses early wasn't necessarily lacking something. Jordan Pearce misplaying a puck and then falling down was in no way indicative of Notre Dame's season as a whole. Miami didn't lose to Northern Michigan as part of some master plan to "peak at the right time". Over a shorter amount of time, results are going to be more random, and 60 minutes in hockey isn't a lot.
-To that effect, is there a better format for the tournament? I've heard a lot of people say they wouldn't trade the excitement of this past weekend for anything. But deciding something so important in such random fashion almost seems like it cheapens the whole thing. I know I've seen some pretty exciting best-of-three playoff series.
-I'd also love to see higher seeds host at their home venues. The best thing college hockey has going for it is their raucous fans. Playing big games in austere, half-full arenas doesn't do a lot to sell the game, and it removes the ability for athletic directors with conflicted interests to rig the process of selecting regionals.
-At the very least, I'm in favor of giving some sort of honor to the team that finishes the regular season as the number one team. A team that plays well over 35 games is more impressive than a team that puts together 4 good games.
- If someone had told me before the tournament that Michigan would have the second best performance of the four number one seeds, I would have thought they'd at least be in DC, if not the final. Instead, they were halfway back to Ann Arbor by the time the puck dropped in the East regional final.
-I'm sure UMD's fans are disappointed that their team lost, but at least for one glorious weekend they got to live out their lifelong dream of being the real University of Minnesota. That's probably as good as a title for them.
-What are the odds that the most crucial goal review of the season would have to be made by Todd Anderson.The good news is that they got the call right, and in about half the time he normally takes.
-I was kind of wondering how Anderson and Hunt were the ones chosen to represent the WCHA, but after Derek Shepherd, who was in Grand Rapids, who else could the WCHA's second choice have been? It's a grim list.
-I truly had no rooting interest in the Air Force/Vermont game, and I would have been trhilled with either going to the Frozen Four. But I almost wanted to see Air Force win just so Brett Nylander got proper credit for making one of the greatest defensive plays I've ever seen--maybe the best hockey play I've ever seen.
-This year's Frozen Four pretty much guarantees that the people running next year's Frozen Four won't get a good night's sleep until next year's Frozen Four field is set. They announced last week that they would be using all of the seats in Ford Field as opposed to sectioning off part of the stadium, but seeing Bemidji, Miami, Vermont, and BU in the Frozen Four might be enough to get them to rethink that plan.
-Will this year's Frozen Four be a ratings killer? Probably. I would hope not because some very good teams earned their way there, and there are some great stories to be told.
-I absolutely hate people who complain about the quality of TV broadcasts/quality of announcers, but I am going to say a couple things.
1. Maybe I missed it--I didn't have the sound on for most of Sunday's game--but I don't remember hearing the announcers talk much about the CHA disbanding and Bemidji trying to get into the WCHA. This is a program of the precipice of having to drop the sport making it to the very highest level. That's an incredible story. If nothing else, it would highlight to the rest of the country how absolutely petty it would be if a couple certain schools chose to keep them out of the WCHA.
2. If I were a casually-interested observer watching the UNH/UND game, I would have thought James van Riemsdyk was the only player with any future in pro hockey. There was well over a dozen pro draft picks playing in that game. If you're going to talk about how well Jason Gregoire or Brad Malone are playing, how about mentioning they were drafted by the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche respectively? Part of college hockey's image problem is that fans of the NHL don't see it as a feeder to pro hockey. That's becoming less and less true, and it would help if ESPN highlighted that fact.
3. I almost feel sorry for ESPN about the whole Lacrosse-gate. I thought they handled it as well as they could have. First, you never switch away from an overtime game to the beginning of another game. Second, it's probably a calculated risk choosing to offend people in tiny New Hampshire and North Dakota as opposed to people in Maryland and Virginia. But I doubt ESPN realized what a nation of whiners Sioux fans are. My heart goes out to the poor intern forced to deal with the thousands of grammatically poor emails they must have recieved.