Right, the Frozen Four starts tomorrow. I should probably say something about that.
Most of the talk this week has centered around Bemidji State's unlikely run--if you can call two games a "run"--to the Frozen Four. It is a great story that any team, no matter how small, has a shot at making it to the Frozen Four--so long as they get a special NCAA exemption, if you want to be cynical about it.
I've heard a number of times this week about how Bemidji playing in the Frozen Four this week will be "good for college hockey". I guess it's good from the standpoint that it shows players you don't have to go to a major school to have success in the NCAA tournament. It gives some nice attention to a small town, and maybe puts more pressure on the WCHA to admit them into the conference. But other than that, I don't see what it does for college hockey. It doesn't help the already dead CHA. So long as Air Force stays a power, which I think they will for a while, even Atlantic Hockey's tournament representative won't be that weak, so small conferences getting automatic bids won't be an issue in college for a long time.
But the one team that isn't getting a lot of attention that I think is much better for college hockey is Miami. Miami's first ever Frozen Four berth may not be the same heart-warming story as Bemidji State. Miami is a story all about a college hockey program deciding that they want to be a national power, and more importantly, putting the resources into their program in order to make sure that they're successful.
For many years, Miami was your average middle-of-the-pack MAC school playing in the CCHA, the same situation a lot of schools like Miami find themselves in today. But the Redhawks made the decision that they were going to upgrade their program. They built a beautiful new facility to attract better players. They promoted the hell out of their team and their players. I think I knew what Ryan Jones was eating for breakfast during his Hobey campaign.
The results they yielded were impressive, but they were missing that one marquee showing to really legitimize them as a hockey power. This year's Frozen Four is like a vindication of all the money and effort they put into the program. They'll get the opportunity to play on national television for a major Division I sports title.
So if I had to pick one team in the Frozen Four that was "good for college hockey" it would have to be the Redhawks. They're the ones that have really laid out the blueprint for how to be successful against the major powers in college hockey as a lesser-known school.