Thoughts during the off weekend in the NCAA hockey tourney …

Hey NCAA, you listening?

There have been a lot of criticisms about the recently played NCAA regionals. The one thing fans can be assured of is that the coaches aren’t happy, either. Complaints range from empty buildings, bad locations for teams to travel to, game times, TV exposure and ticket prices, and they were all subjects that were talked about by coaches to those who work behind the scenes in the college hockey business.

For complete Frozen Four coverage, visit USCHO's Frozen Four Central.

I do know that the coaches are in constant communication to try and find a better way to do the regionals. There is talk of a two-site, eight-team regional. There have been discussions of going back to campus sites. It is a problem they are aware of and working on.

My suggestion is this: If you think you are getting jobbed by the NCAA and its lack of concern for you, the fans, write directly to the NCAA. If it acts it proves it is concerned about how you, the money-paying consumer, feels. If they don’t, it proves the point you have often made, which is the NCAA does not take care about college hockey fans. Don’t bombard the message boards, go to the source. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

While on the ticket price subject, there are a few NCAA teams with slightly outrageous ticket prices. If you play in a nice arena with modern amenities you have a right to charge a bit more. There are a couple of teams that charge north of $30 for a ticket. That seems a little steep.

Turning pro early

Fans of their programs hate it when their kids turn pro early. Most coaches aren’t thrilled, either, unless the kid is a legit NHL player who is turning pro early to play his one year in the AHL before jumping to the NHL.

There have been a rash of drafted and undrafted underclassmen signings so far this spring, notably Jason Zucker, Drew Shore, Anthony Bitetto, Matt Tennyson, JT Brown, Torey Krug, Reilly Smith, Chris Brown and Alex Chiasson. [View list of early departures]

As Michigan coach Red Berenson has often said, “If a kid is ready to leave early, I’ll drive him to the airport myself.” His comments on Brown seem to indicate he wasn’t happy with the decision.

There have been some who have left early and are having solid careers with very little to no AHL time — Jack Johnson and Jonathan Toews come to mind right away. There is also a highway strewn with careers that never got out of minor league hockey, kids who should have stayed through their senior season.

The one to watch here is Krug. An undersized defenseman with good speed and skill, Krug jumped after leading the CCHA in points with a grand total of 29 (CCHA only), tied with Notre Dame dynamo T.J. Tynan (a Columbus draft pick who seems to be coming back to ND). In all games, he rang up 34 points which placed him eighth in the conference.

You can make a case here that Krug should have stayed for his senior year. You could also argue that he didn’t have much to prove by staying. MSU is still a little ways away from being a consistent NCAA title contender and it wasn’t going to happen on Krug’s watch as captain. Defensemen develop at the pro level a little slower than forwards or goalies, and you need two to three years in the AHL at times to hone your craft. Maybe he gets a jump start on that process? Maybe he uses his North American training for a lengthy career in Europe?

Tennyson was more pro-ready in many respects. Big, strong, mobile and agile, Tennyson is not far off from being a top-four NHL defenseman. While another year at Western Michigan with the coaching staff it has would not have been a bad choice, you could argue that Tennyson was ready to accelerate the development process at the pro level and be challenged by better players and the grind of professional hockey.

Two key undrafted free-agent underclassmen who made great choices to stay in school are Danny DeKeyser at WMU and Andrej Sustr of Nebraska-Omaha. Standing 6-foot-2 and 6-8, respectively, these two talents and future NHL players just weren’t ready physically to play professionally. Putting skill aside (both are pretty talented), their physical makeups dictated that another year at the NCAA level would improve their strength and physical maturity. Both are adding size but are still pretty lanky.

One thing I will say, and I have heard many scouts say it: If you are leaving early and you are not a dominant player at your position, why are you leaving? If you didn’t dominate the level you were at, how are you going to be an impact player at a high level of pro hockey? Forget awards, all-conference teams and that stuff. We’re talking pure impact player on a shift-by-shift and game-by-game basis.

There are some great kids who left early the past couple of years. The key is to take emotion out of it and just look at the player for what he is and what he projects to be in the organization that signed him. He might be a great kid, but how is he as a player? More importantly, what is he as a player at the next level? That is usually something a little different from what he is at the NCAA level.

Do that on this year’s early departures and see who you think made a good move. I’m not saying they all should have stayed, but for those who think they have a good hockey mind, here is an exercise to stretch it a bit. Have some fun. Let me know what you came up with via Twitter @DaveStarmanCBS.

NCAA better?

While the debate over which is the better development route goes on, I’ll offer this opinion up. When it comes to watching games, the NCAA is a better entertainment product than the CHL.

The skill level is higher from top to bottom in the lineup, players are older, more developed physically and have more hockey sense and savvy in the NCAA than the CHL. You have a better chance of seeing more really good hockey plays in an NCAA game.

The Hobey

The top three are in for the Hobey Baker Award, and all are good choices. The funny thing is you could take out two of the Hobey Hat Trick, add two others and the list would look just as good. It is a great year to be a Hobey voter! Congrats to Jack Connolly, new Maple Leafs player Spencer Abbott and Austin Smith.

I was on the voting committee once. You serve a three-year term. My first year we voted Ryan Duncan as our winner. It was mostly because in looking over his season, his road scoring and his ability to have big performances in big games was unmatched by anyone else on the list that year. The second was no contest — Kevin Porter was the winner by Halloween. He willed a young Michigan team to overachieve. My third year I actually had Matt Gilroy second on my ballot but he was a deserving winner, especially after seeing the play he made to create the third goal in the eventual 4-3 overtime win by Boston University over Miami in the national title game.

This year, using my time-tested formula that picked four of the last five winners correctly, I’m at a loss. You can go in any direction. I asked Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Brady Lamb about Jack Connolly while I was in Duluth. He said, “Well, this is the house that Jack built,” referring to the new Amsoil Arena. I asked about Spencer Abbott while talking with Joey Diamond. Well, the answer is unprintable but let’s just say that he thinks Abbott should win. Asking one NHL scout about Smith, the answer was simple: “He’s legit.”

These are tough choices this season for the voting 23 members. I still would like to know where Colorado College’s Jaden Schwartz was in all of this.

Diamond a local hero

Shireen Saski went to speak to the fifth-grade classes at our son’s career day event at school. In his grade are many youth hockey players. After her presentation about the world of sports reporting on television, the first question was by a kid who plays in the local youth hockey organization as a squirt. “Do you know Joey Diamond? He’s from right here, you know!”

The State of Hockey

I’m always getting accused of bias toward one area or another or one team or another. My two favorite teams are the ones playing in the game I am doing that night, case closed. Most of the bias comments are laughable. That being said, I am a huge fan of the Xcel Energy Center and the hockey passion in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Having been part of the working contingent at the 2011 Frozen Four, the 2012 WCHA Final Five and the recently held West Regional, all at Xcel, the one thing I can say is that this region is the hub of college hockey. (Small disclaimer: We’re talking big metropolitan cities, not smaller ones where the school is the city like Ann Arbor or Grand Forks. That is a different situation.)

While I love Boston and its strong interest in Boston University, Boston College, Harvard and Northeastern hockey, I’ve yet to be in a casual restaurant near any of the schools mentioned and hear a discussion about the PairWise Rankings at tables other than mine. The cab drivers in St. Paul talk college hockey. At the airport the Delta folks at the ticket desk, after figuring out why I was in town, were able to size up the weekend tourney and have an opinion. I had a 10-minute discussion with the manager of the concierge desk at the airport Marriott about who should win the Hobey Baker Award two weeks ago. (FYI, he said Jack Connolly.)

The fact that Boston, greater Detroit and the Twin Cities area have this love for college hockey (you could add Denver to this also) is awesome.


Thanks to Paul Rovnak, Jayson Hadju, Brian Kelley and Adam Bodnar for their help last week getting ready for the regionals. Thanks also to the coaches, assistants, players and staffs of Western Michigan, Boston University, Minnesota and North Dakota for their access and cooperation.

See you in Tampa.

  • Puckstopper

    Leaving early is always going to be an issue.   I would say this.  Take a look at the salaries the kids that leave early are getting.  If the player leaves for an ATO or a less than the maximum CBA salary, then they shouldn’t be going.  If the NHL team signing them puts their pocketbook behind the kid, then it’s a little clearer look at what the parent org thinks.  I believe a lot of agents help the player force the NHL teams hand by telling the team they want out.

  • streaker


    I don’t know all of Red Berenson’s reasons for not endorsing Chris Brown’s move to the pro ranks. It is pretty obvious that Berenson feels that a student athlete should be committed to his education and that there is a tremendous upside in returning: leadership, camraderie, and other intangibles that are lost once you decide to leave campus. Brown is physically ready, but was he pressured by the Coyotes? Was the allure of a chance to make the big club that enticing? Berenson’s experience has taught him that not all things that glitter are gold. Brown was clearly conflicted (at the team’s hockey awards banquet) yet is steadfast about his decision. Berenson wished him good luck again at the event. The coaching staff will do what they have to do to fill a valuable roster spot and make the best of it… but let’s not make this about the program as much as it is about Brown. Red cares about these kids and doesn’t want to impede their dreams- he simply doesn’t want them to become another victim of the NHL business.

  • Keebs11

    Gee, it seemed like such a good idea to have a regional in the hockey hotbed of Green Bay, WI.  NCAA got what they deserved.

    • Anti-NCAA

      Attendance in Green Bay totally SUCKED.  It had gate receipts for only 6,500 fans?  Ouch!   The East and NE regional sites didn’t fare that great, either with both only surpassing 10,000 at the gate.  Move the cycle to the Twin Cities and 20,300 attend.   

      Had the WCHA Final Five not been the week before, and had UND/UM playing each other already, there would’ve been another 3,000 fans in attendance.  

      Put a regional in Grand Forks and you would still have more tickets sold that the other three regions where there are a ton of people.  You’ve also got a top of the class facility at the Ralph.   They thought Green Bay would be a better choice??   Who’s money are they taking underneath the table?

  • Dan

    I agree about contacting the NCAA- It finally appears they are listening to long time frozen four fans and have come up with a new way to allocate seats for this event starting next year.  Highest priority holders have not been getting best seats and now you can pick your seats.
    Also last week was first time in 20 years I did not attend regionals.  BU (my team) was on tV the same time as games in Worcester.  Didn’t go Sunday night as 8 PM start was too late and would not have been home till after midnight.  What effect is all the TV gams having on live audiences,  I love coming home from BU games and catching end of games on Fox coverage.

    • Dstar64

      I had BU in my regional for ESPNU as the analyst.  They competed hard.  Tv will have an impact as always, good point by you.  One thing to clarify, the coverage by “Fox” is Fox regional not Fox national (i.e.-FS Detroit, FS North, etc.)  The national networks doing regular season games in college hockey are CBSSN and NBCSN.  Guessing you are rooting for Minnesota Thursday?


      • Joe C

        Thanks for that. I thought they played as hard as they could but lost their heads in the second period.

    • EagleAlum

      I did not like the 8PM start in Worcester also. I felt the attendance was quite poor for a regional final. I can see the reason. Who was going to travel from Minnesota Duluth to see the Bulldogs loose to the mighty BC Eagles. I enjoyed the Worcester games immensely and also got home rather late for a Sunday Evening. Small sacrifice for great hockey. Ticket prices were very high. Food choices in the Worcester DCU Center were very poor.

      • Guest 64

        That second goal against Duluth bc was off side by at least 5 feet.  Watch the replay

  • Jyoung514

    better entertainment in the ncaa???? have you been watching the CHL playoffs?? obviously written by an american with very little knowledge of the CHL.

    NCAA is not better top to bottom, top CHL players have far more talent and individual skill than NCAA players.  As proven thru recent draft years, Crosby, Stamkos, Tavares, Seguin, Nugent-Hopkins…these high end players are stars in the NHL

    NCAA has and always will be a robotic type team game, with far less individual talent.  NCAA players may have more pro-ready players however many find themselves on 3rd and 4th lines, or in the minor leagues.  They work out harder, because they play less games, and they are 4 years older.

    However the CHL product has a lot more skill and potential superstars…give your head shake!

    • collegehockeyfan

      The trend I have witnessed, is that the VERY talented players that know they will play in the NHL at a young age play in the CHL Leagues because they can play 1-2 years, get paid, and be gone.  The players that play college hockey in the states, are usually not the 1-2 years and done players.  It’s the players that need a few extra years to develop their game, and as of the last few years, they have been putting out quit a few NHLers.  In my opinion, it’s like comparing apples and oranges.  It’s a completely separate talent pool that play in each league.

    • Jgreg

      toews, oshie, parise, vanek, gionta, ryan miller, st louis, tim thomas,  cammaleri,statsny, sharp, howard, kesler, johnathan quick, suter, heatley, zajac, moulson, stepan, mcdonagh, van riemsdyk, paul martin, orpik, dan boyle, joe pavelski,kessel, liles, schneider, booth, backes, elliot, shattenkirk. 
      Find me a CHL team that sends more players to the nhl than BU, BC, Denver, Wisconsin, North Dakota or Minnesota. 

      • collegehockeyfan

        you can even throw in two of the top rookies this year in Matt Read and Carl Hagelin… seems like they are doing okay.

      • dusty bronco

        any of the teams, you look at any given year, almost any team in the CHL is sending 3-4 guys to the draft. I love college hockey, but a Hockey player who has a choice goes to the CHL, look at the average age of these “freshman” they are in their 20s. they already played their junior hockey.

        • Fan Man

           How many of them get injured/outplayed and are done/lost at age 25?  No degree, no money, no anything but their tails wagging…   Nobody ever talks about that!  What college hockey lacks in talent according to you, makes up for in character and development of the individual who so chooses to be apart of a great system   Not everybody is Sid the Kid.  Those that are, should go right away to the BIG SHOW    and not the little show which is QMJHL etc……
          Ya I know where crosby and Gretz are from    I also know that Crosby played hockey for Shattuck!  I played against him

    • Dstar64

      Don’t misinterpret…this isn’t anti CHL, far from it.  I like CHL games, I see a good chunk of them.  I see more NCAA.  CHL might have more high end guys in the 18-19 age range but depth wise NCAA rosters do pretty well to create a good product.  This is not a who is better thing, more a comment on entertainment value.  NCAA has a few high end guys in the league as well.


  • maddog

    There is a regional next year in Toledo Ohio. There will be even less fans that Green Bay got this years for those games.

    THe NCAA should go back to the two out of three on campus locations with the high seed having home ice. That would solve all the attendance issues and there would be more games to watch. you have two rounds of best two out of three then the frozen four. It would be great. Hey, they used to do it in the the late ’08’s early ’90’s, why not go back. 

    There would still be upsets. i.e BU at Michigan State. 

  • Mr Hockey

    I could see where an 8 team regional would make sense. Living in Minnesota, college hockey is king. High school hockey is great here but the rabid fan base of the 5 D1 programs in Minnesota is easily seen across the state. Plus there is huge North Dakota and Wisconsin fan base living in Minnesota as well. I know Mass and Mich have more D1 programs but nothing tops Minnesota in fans, who love to talk hockey. The Wild are an after thought here. I would travel  across the the country to go to an 8 team regional. I’m traveling to Florida to watch the Gophers. The big mistake the NCAA did this year was not putting North Dakota or UMD in Green Bay. If the NCAA wants to really fill arenas they need to pay attention and listen to their coaches. Every year college bowl games are palyed in the same venues, why not have two locations picked out each year to host. Here are places I could see hosting a big regional, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston all big arenas and offer fans something else to do after the games are over.

    • Fan Man

       Now we are actually talking about something with meaning here Gopher Fan!  Well said, I like your ideas for location and yes the NCAA absolutely messed up by not putting a well traveling team like UND or Duluth in Green Bay!  Awesome city with a lot to do after the game + I am sure alot of Nodak people like myself, and Duluthians are big Packer Fans!  NCAA probably doesn’t think of stuff like that tho….

    • Guest

       The logistics of an 8 team regional would be a nightmare.  You have to have time for 8 teams to practice at the venue, first of all.  All that practicing, playing, and cutting the ice endless times would make for some bad hockey by the time the third day rolled around.  If it was like it has been this spring I would not want to pay to watch the “hockey” they would be playing by the end of the weekend.  They’d be skating in soup.

    • Guest

      I think Denver would be stretch.  I’m not sure where the NCAA is making $$ if the arenas are empty for these regionals.  I am a big fan of having permanent “neutral” sites.  Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh,Phily, Hartford come to mind for the regional as well as FF.  Minn/St. Paul I know works for a number of WCHA schools, but being from Michigan sucked with this years set up.  There are 7 hockey schools in this state but we were stuck right in the middle.  I know next year we get Grand Rapids and Toledo but I would rather have consistency year in year out.

  • John Chiasson

    Well stated. I too can’t believe what a joke the attendance at GreenBay. I feel for the Sr on those teams. It’s a sad case that for them and their teams have worked hard at & so few support their effort.

  • bulldog52

    The 4 teams regional are the right way to go, but they just need to look at the sites.

    1.  West needs to be in Minn (most school in that region) 
    2.  Midwest needs to be in Mich (most school in that region)
    3.  East needs to be in Mass (most schools in that region)
    4.  South needs to be in Penn (good hockey state) 

    TV contract is held by ESPN, they got the bid.  Like ESPN but they should show the games on there major channel not ESPNU.

    Why in the world is the Final 4 in Florida.  The Final 4 should only be held in a State that has NCAA Division 1 Hockey.  Why in the —- should the NCAA/Fans play good money to a State that doesn’t even have Division 1 Hockey Teams.

    • Dstar64

      This is a great post.  Thanks.  Western PA could be a good regional spot, Consol might be too big but you have the right idea. Maybe the new arena in Hershey? 


      • Guest

         Hershey PA is east of Harrisburg.  I don’t think it quite qualifies as western PA.  :)

        • Dstar64

          I’m aware of that, been there many times in my AHL days.  :)

    • Guest

      Why should a regional be held in Pennsylvania?  It’s a great hockey state?  Really?!  How many DI programs are there in PA right now?  Oh, right, none.  Case closed

      • LtPowers

         You mean two (soon to be three), don’t you?

      • JH44

        Robert Morris
        Penn St. (sort of)

        I guess the case is open!

      • oldbantam

        Agree. PA would never draw for a regional. T

      • Joe C

        Pittsburgh is closer to the schools in Western New York than Albany. Pittsburgh is closer to Ohio State and Miami than Detroit.

        Pennsylvania is the next play for D-I hockey to expand. University of Pittsburgh and University of Pennsylvania would be great adds, as would Syracuse in Central New York.

        • 40-Year Big Red Fan

          Penn had a Division I hockey program and a great rink, but chose to shut it down.  Doubt they are going to reverse that.

      • Dstar64

        Robert Morris and Penn State which starts next year are D1 programs in PA.  The greater Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas are producing a lot of good NCAA and NHL players.  PA is a hockey state now.


    • LtPowers

      Why Pennsylvania (three programs) instead of New York (ten programs)?

    •  I agree with you on all aspects. The planning seems to be done by people who don’t understand the audience or maybe back room deals are made that pay more to the NCAA and they don’t care about the venue? Every college hockey fan I know would prefer to go to a game that is at a college arena with low cost parking and reasonable ticket prices. The Boston Garden cost too much for parking, concessions and tickets. But BC, BU, UMASS lowell all have great facilities to hold games.

    • AnotherProudUMLAlum

       One rule that would benefit the regionals if it changed is not being able to play a team in your own conference. If Minnesota Duluth and Boston University had been swapped, that would have been a huge boost for both regionals. And if they had held the Midwest regional in Michigan, and swap Miami and Cornell, the attendance both there and in the East regional would have been boosted (though I imagine that outside of Minnesota the East may have had the best attendance for both days out of the remaining 3)

      • Joe C

        I do not mind two teams in a regional from the same league where they can play in the regional final. But in the first round, right after league championships is too early.

        I am not in favor of splitting four teams from the same league in four regionals just in the hopes of having one league. If that occurs organically, great.

    • Joe C


      Your post is very good. I would expand your four sites to a slightly larger area
      1) West – Hosted by NCHC/WCHA (MN, ND, WI, CO, MO)
      2) Midwest – Hosted by BTHC (MI, OH, IL, IN)
      3) East – Hosted by ECAC/AHA (PA/NJ/NY/CT)
      4) Northeast – Hosted by HE/AHA (MA/RI/NH/ME)

      Have the highest ranked team for each of the six leagues play in their league’s regional. Write in specific changes to highest ranked going to host location, such that Minnesota could play at XCEL, Miami, Notre Dame et al could play at Midwest, Penn State, Mercyhurst et all could play at East and Harvard, Holy Cross, Darmouth, Brown et all could play at Northeast. Better yet, each September, all D-I hockey programs choose which regional they prefer if they are the highest ranked team from the league or if there is an attendance tie-breaker.

      Have the rest of the brackets be filled out by pairwise. Do not relocate except for obvious attendance/travel. In this way, Jayson Moy’s excellent analysis would build up anticipation. Want to stay close to home with adoring fans? WIN!

      Frozen Four can be outside states with D-I hockey, but only if those locations are close enough to drive in one day from either Massachusetts or Minnesota.


    Move the regionals back a week to give fans and teams  a chance to recover from the conference tournaments.  We just had a long weekend watching the Final Five and then have to make plans to travel to the regional?   If you have to fly the flights are going to be pricey at the last minute,  Even the ST. Paul regional had poor attendance because fans can’t afford two big trips in a row.  Sioux -Gophers should of sold out but alot of fans blew their entertainment budget the prior week.

    • Fan Man

       I agree, the only reason I got to go to my beloved Sioux game last weekend against the Gophers is cause I bought my gal a ticket!  She was not going to pay the 100 or so to go to all the games after a long week at the Final Five…  I of course who live in Minneapolis was not going to miss a Sioux~Gopher game at the X and more importantly…   The Regional Final!   Bad thing was I got Ripped by a scalper who gave me tickets that had already been scanned in at the gate- A-Hole!!!!  I figured my way in so it is all good btw.   Anyway, as much as I hate seeing the Goofs have an advantage fan wise every year at the Excel, I really cant see the tournament being held anywhere else with the kind of atmosphere and tickets sales the arena produces.  Every year I buy tickets for the Final Five right away and count the days until I get the new DVD and tickets in the Mail!!!!   Favorite time of year for sure.  It really doesn’t get any better (especially when your team wins it 3 in a row!) than that…  Just wish the team was playing in Tampa this coming weekend.  Good luck to the Rodents tho:)

      BTW, I hate this whole restructure bullcrap that has ruined the best conference in the WORLD !  THE WCHA

      • Guest

         well, if DU and ND hadn’t bailed on it as soon as the B1G teams took their pucks and went home, the WCHA (and the CCHA) could have survived quite nicely.

        • Dstar64

          This is a future column.  I will say that the last time this happened, when the Michigan teams went from the WCHA to the CCHA six teams left the ECAC to form Hockey East (or were asked to leave the ECAC depending on what version you hear) everyone thought college hockey was doomed.  The WCHA/Hockey East interlocking schedule proved a boon for both leagues. 

          I’m on record as saying that I think the Big Ten was a little selfish in this venture and might have done more harm than good but it is worth seeing how it all works out.  Change is unfortunately the only thing we can count on outside of death and taxes.  Not all the Big Ten coaches think this is a good idea.

          I don’t think I agree with your point.  The CCHA minus the teams that left lost some punch.  The WCHA probably survives nicely minus Minny and Wisco.  I wouldn’t be so quick to condem Denver/NoDak. 


          • Fan Man

             I get what your saying but Denver hardly even has a fan base and CC is about the same level as say RIT…  Nebraska has really surprised me with their attendance and next years Out Door game should show that I hope!  I’m just a little PO’d because Wisco and Minn wont be playing that team with no name and Minn wont be playing any of the other 4 teams in state that they really need to be playing.  Switching things up like you say is inevitable, therefor all a person can do is watch and see how things play out, which is what fans do anyway!!!!!

          • bulldog52

            The Big Ten made the move because of MONEY, they have been waiting for Penn State to enter so they would have enough teams to get a auto-bid into the 16 team tournament.  They are going to be showing most of there games on the Big Ten network.  Its all about money for the Big Ten teams.

            Now the CCHA will no longer be, most of the teams that are left are moving to the WCHA (Ferris, Lake State, Norther Mi, B Green)( ND is moving east) and (Miami and Western are moving to a new conference).  So next year will be the last year of the CCHA.

            Hate to see it go because lots of inter-state games are going to be lost, plus Michigan will only play you if your will to go to Yost to play.

            Would like to see more Mid American teams turn to Hockey.  The three MAC teams right now (Western Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and B Green) had larger attendance then there basketball teams.

      • Joe C

        League tournaments are better than the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. These things could be fixed if there was the desire of the NCAA. Better to have the regionals the same weekend as basketball’s Final Four.

    • Joe C

      These are all the reason that regionals suffer for attendance, along with extremely poor timing for the Northeast Regional. You cannot get back to Boston before midnight from DCU on a Sunday evening. It would have been better to play that game at noon on Sunday.

      These are the same reasons that league finals and the Frozen Fours do well, with the exception of ECAC. It is a known destination, you have time to make arrangements, you can always sell your tickets if your team loses, etc.

  • PioneersFan

    I’m much in favor of seeing preliminary rounds of the NCAA tournament returned to college campuses as I think attendance would be more robust at such sites rather than in venues which are not home to, or near, division 1 teams.

    I think having five thousnad people in attendance in an arena which seats six thousnad people creates a more exciting atmosphere for the players and fans than having five thousand fans in a building which seats ten thousand people. Far too frequently in recent years television broadcasts of early round games in the NCAA tournament have shown large sections of empty seats throughout arenas.

    Fans will travel to the Frozen Four if their favorite team is still playing at that point of the season. However, prior to that, I think returning the preliminary rounds of the tournament to college campuses would serve to boost attendance figures in a major way. In addition, if the NCAA and/or ESPN can be persuaded to alter the starting times of preliminary round games I feel attendance would benefit as a result.

    • Joe C

      I liked your comments about the Frozen Four and completely agree. I do not want campus sites for any of the NCAA tournament. We need the tournament to be neutral

      Also, there is a reason that TD Garden, Joe Louis Arena and some other NHL arenas are not used for the regionals. The NCAA makes the arena remove all advertisements from the boards, under the ice, change the goal line if I remember correctly, put away all the banners. The changes to the under ice markings means a new sheet of ice. The Bruins, Red Wings, etc do not want to lose days without ads and have to lose the sheet a second time to repaint what was covered.

  • jcampo6

    Here’s a thought – why can’t the NCAA have the Frozen Four at a same site annually like they do with the College World Series? Fans always show up to Omaha year in and year out as the site never changes. Maybe having the Frozen Four at the Xcel Energy Center every year would boost attendance up and fans would know they just need to buy a ticket to Saint Paul if they school makes the Frozen Four not to lame sites like Tampa this year.

    • Blinky The Wonder Chimp

      This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Swhockey6

      I think that would be perfect!

    • IHF

       The Frozen Four is an annual sellout.  Even the highly misguided FF at Ford Field in 2010 drew nearly 35,000 fans for the final game.  Fans have proven to be willing to travel quite well and there are usually 1000s of fans at the event who don’t even have their team to pull for.  Whether or not the regionals have been a success has nothing to do with how truly successful an event the FF has become in the last decade or so.

      As for venting to the NCAA, who do we specifically address the concerns to Dave?  Many would be happy to share ideas or reasons for not attending a regional with the NCAA if we knew who best to direct the comments to.

      • EagleinExile

        How were the ticket sales at Anaheim? The problem is that they are thinking like it is basketball. Until thousands of schools have hockey (like they do for b-ball) they should keep the FF sites in the Snow-Belt, proven places where demand will be high until the popularity tips and then they can take it south.

        • IHF

           1000s in basketball?  Try 340.  (no one cares a whit about anything other than NCAA D1, and even then, half of those schools have no real following).  Anaheim is routinely considered the least successful FF in at least the last couple of decades (Cincy probably a close second for other reasons), but that was what, 13 years ago?  Since the change to a 16 team tourney and 4 neutral regional sites, the FF has been an annual sellout.  Maybe this year will change that, who knows.  I agree that the FF is best kept within the college hockey footprint.    My point is the FF is an extremely successful event now, and has been for quite some time.  Successful enough that the NCAA has been able to experiment some with sites and venues.  But there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to consider keeping it in one location.   

          • EagleinExile

            Okay, well if all that matters is D-I, then you’re talking 58 Hockey teams versus 340 B-Ball and 120 Football? In Hockey, unlike B-ball, I’d say 3/4 of the schools have a real following because it is the only sport they compete at a national level in, so maybe that’s about 45 schools. You’re point is well received, and yeah, Anaheim was 13 years ago (man,time flies) but I guess those bad ideas tend to linger. Since that year, they kept the site “In the Footprint” and now the good idea fairy is back again with “Tampa”. In a down economy with through the roof gas, I predict an epic fail on attendance. Throw in a couple schools with really small fan bases, and it’s a perfect storm on the gulf coast. As you stated, the FF has been successful, and they do not need to put it in some “destination city” like a Bowl game to make it so. They know what they’re doing, they just need to keep it simple. The kids and the coaches are the product, all the NCAA has to do, is not screw it up.

    •  The regional s need to pair teams that are from those regions or ones that have rivalries and play teams from the same regions. The Frozen Four should be played in one of four regions  (regions where hockey is popular). It makes more sense to hold games at the Verizon Center in Manchester NH than the TD BankNorth Center. The ticket cost needs to be affordable to students, recent grads and young families. That’s the fan base I think.

    • Lennyak1

      Let’s just have it at the Garden in Boston every year.

  • Guest

    Ncaa teams would crush CHL teams…

  • UMaineFan!

    JOEY DIAMOND!!!!! 

  • I was a huge college hockey fan, but in the last 8 or so years its been tough to even recognize the teams anymore.   You used to see players leave for their senior year.. maybe.  Now they leave whenever.   Its taken the fun out of the game.   I still keep in touch but I no longer attend games.    I also find no reason for pride when you get a team made up of Canadians.. 

  • guest

    Three revolving sites in the East and West for the Tournament Qualifiers. You could use Worcester, Manchester, and Pittsburgh.  St. Louis, Minneapolis, Green Bay.  Revolving sites for the Frozen Four: Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston.  Keep a good east/west dichotomy and allow people to plan for each cycle accordingly.  That may address the attendance issue.

    • xTEDxTHExREDx

      st louis was an epic failure last year. how many college teams in the great state of Misery…oh right….

    • GoingBackToPhilly

      I would wait to see the how the FF in Philly plays out before committing.

      • Joe C

        It will do great, just like Washington DC in 2009. Big City, excellent building, easy transportation.

        The locals may not be as nice as DC, however.

  • Decatur Spartan.

    Dave, to whom at the NCAA should we contact? Is there a link to the Hockey Committee?

    • Dstar64

      I will ask and post.


  • Boucheville

    Gnome- The Gophers have ZERO Canadians. In fact 23 of their 27 players are from Minnesota.  Minnesota’s Pride on Ice competes against teams stacked with Canadians and does rather well.

  • Hobey hat trick?

    Is it the hobey hat trick or the hobey duo?

  • Bob

    Dave, could not agree more about NCAA vs CHL. Tried watching an OHL game the other day and thought it was just really bad hockey.

  • MichiganHockey27

    Personally, I like the idea of the 8 team regional.  I think they just need to find locations that draw the largest attendances.  I think St. Paul should always host a regional, no matter what.  They draw so many fans at each NCAA tournament.  If you’re looking for the largest attendances, Minnesota and Mass. are the obvious choices.  Perhaps it would be a disadvantage to other Midwest teams (Michigan teams specifically), but if the NCAA only cares about attendance, this is the most obvious choice.  

  • Guest

    What seems to be missing from this article is an analysis of ticket prices and their impact on the poor regional attendance this year.  In years past, Worcester has drawn very well.  This year, not, even with Maine and BC playing there.  By comparison, Maine/BU Hockey East Quarterfinal game at the Garden drew 13,000+, more than 10,000 of which were Maine fans.  Tickets there were $45, while the regional tix were $96!  That is way way too much, especially in this economy.

    • Wearendhockey

       I’ve been harping on this fact for a few seasons now.  I paid 20 bucks for each day to the first NCAA regional Notre Dame went to in 2004.  The last one I went to (2009 and in the same place as the first) the tickets were $32.50 each day.  That’s an increase of 62.5%.  Had the price increase been at the same rate as the increase in the CPI over that 5 year period of time the ticket would have cost just around $22 or $23.  Even now it should be around $24-$25.  No one paid that this season anywhere.  More like double that.  More than double in St. Paul.  My guess is if the ticket to the final in St Paul would have gone for $25 bucks, the place may have been packed. 

      The NCAA cannot seriously believe the ticket prices have nothing to do with the meager crowds.  Yet they allow the bidders to charge almost as much as they want.  (I believe a fairly wide ranging floor and ceiling are placed on the bidders) 

      What we all need to know is what the NCAA considers successful.  Do they care only that the entities that bid make money?  It must be happening, because you wouldn’t see the same places bid year after year.  Or do they care about appearances?  Because the appearance at all 4 regionals was less than it could have been.  And since the NCAA is peddling all sorts of tickets to Tampa, I wonder if we don’t have a budding disaster on our hands down there.  If so, we (most of us anyway) may get our wish and see the end of regionals outside of college hockey’s nominal footprint. 

  • Irish Spectre

    I like the idea expressed by others of having regular hockey hotspot sites for both the regionals and the Frozen Four.  …been saying this for years.

    Another thing that I’ve always said is that the two-week delay between the regionals and the Frozen Four is just stupid, and causes some degree of fan fatigue, I believe.  The NCAA should ride the basketball wave and have its semis on the Friday night of the same weekend, and the finals on that Sunday night, sandwiched with the basketball tournament.  I actually think that hockey would then draw some of the same massive basketball attention.

  • Anaheim Ducks fan

    Add Chris Wagner to the list of early departures. 

  • Mfurta15

    The regionals should be on college campuses …. this year BC , Michigan, North Dakota and Miami should have hosted the games,  thye  have been sold out and exciting , Union’s rink is to small …. for 2 years in a row Green Bay has really looked awful and I doubt  there  were over 3k fans , maybe total for all 3 nights….The time is Now For Change , Like Starman said , write a letter to NCAA and make your voice be heard for whatever you stand for ….. PLEASE !!!!!!      

    • Badger Bill

      As I posted earlier, I was in Green Bay and I would say that the main sides were 3/4 full for each game. The corners and behind the nets were empty except for the college bands.

      There were many Michigan fans for their semi-final game but they didn’t stay for the championship game though.

      Finally, Green Bay had the worst games from what I recorded from the other regionals.I would have loved to see the UML/Miami or UML/Union game.

  • Hockeyfan

    I’d like to see a week added and playoffs at the site of the higher ranking team instead of the current regional tourneys.  The higher seeded teams should be allowed a home advantage and not ever have to play at the home of a lower seeded team.

  • bob

    all five sticking points (prices, location, attendance, TV, game times ) are big issues – there’s no way i could have brought my family, boston is too central to ignore, station rights to games seems a joke when there are so many TV channels up and down the dial, game times had people yawning…and…attendance was horrible – where were all the fans – i watched UNION dominate in CT then drove up to Worcester (dead city) for another game – finally, the point made on the popularity of college hockey is true – i would do anything to have a discussion with anyone the sport

  • John

    I like the 2/ 8 team regional site idea.  Mpls/ St. Paul and Boston.  Not sure I agree w/ Starman’s comments about Detroit being a good college hockey city.  Look as the CCHA championship(s) attendence.  Not just this year but most years, sparce crowds, lots of empty seats, even if, like this year, Michigan is in the CCHA final four.  Detroit will come out for Mich/ MSU games, but only if they’re playing each other.  By contrast, the Excel is full even if UM, UND, UMD, or other close proximatey (sp)  teams aren’t in the final 5.  College hockey fans in Detroit only  fill the Joe if Mich is playing MSU.  Wherever you put Regionals or FF’s, it has to be a place with a cultrure of college hockey.  A place that will fill arenas even if local teams aren’t involved……Mps/ St. Paul or Boston.  Make these two cities permenant 8 team regional sites, and then I would go further and make these two cities alternating FF sites, i.e. one year the FF is in Mpls/ St. Paul, the next it’s in Boston.  no other ciites have consistently demonstrated that they will support Regionals and FF’s.

    • Suture

      John, I totally agree.  There are a couple other locals that have a huge hockey culture but do not have the resources to put on a regional tournament.  So, I think this is a great idea.  I went to the FF in St. Louis and MSP.  When I was in St. Louis you would have never known the FF was being played.  MSP was a totally different story.  The number of CH fans are numbered….let’s face it.  So, why not cater to the people who are paying/supporting the sport?  From a financial aspect (fan’s financial interest) and from a hockey culture perspective….I like John’s idea.

  • Badger Bill

    I was in Green Bay this year for their regional and have been there a couple of other regionals. Ferris State and Michigan had a fair amount of fans. Denver had a handful but their fans don’t seem to like to travel. I didn’t expect to see many fans from Cornell. Note: There were only a dozen or so Badger jerseys in the crowd that I saw.

    On the other hand, NoDak had a ton of fans for the 2011 regional in Green Bay and Western Michigan had a fair share as well. Denver ? See my comment above.

    The biggest problem is that fans are forced to buy tickets for all 3 games until the Monday before the regional starts. Then you can buy the semi-final package or the championship game. The NCAA should sell the two game package earlier. Also, some hockey fans can’t take off to see the first game. I paid $33 for the two Friday games. Why not charge $18 or $20 for the second game if it’s not sold out ? It might improve attendance, especially when Green Bay only knows USHL and D3 hockey.

    We’re never going to get 4 permanent regional sites. The NCAA wants a guarantee cut of each regional. Mich Tech, not Wisconsin, has hosted the Green Bay site. The 2012 east regional had to be hosted by TWO institutions. The NCAA needs to stop thinking about buildings based on seating capacity. I’d prefer a 5,000 to 6,000 seat arena with some real fan noise to a half empty 10,000 seat Resch Center.

    To get more fans interest they’ll have to be more TV coverage and that might not help either. I live in Madison and most hockey fans here only care about the Badgers.

  • oldbantam

    The problem with regional attendance is that the NCAA is too rigidly married to the Pairwise for 1st round matchups. Bridgeport sold out in 2009 and 2011 because you had Yale there. Without a good local draw the regional barely drew 5000.

    If the NCAA would loosen the 1st round match ups to be about seed level (1 plays 4, 2 plays 3 vs 1 plays 16, 2 plays 15 etc.) then they could have made some adjustments for where a couple of teams played.

    BUT I dont think the NCAA cares anymore about the fans when it comes to the regionals.


    It really comes down to ticket prices.  It was $60+ to get into the regionals.  Even if you want to go, good luck getting a friend who is slightly into hockey to want to pay that and go with you.  College hockey is the best of all sports and levels in my books but why deter people from wanting to come and see for themselves?   Are the tiny crowds who are willing to pay $60 really making you more money than the larger crowds if it was $20 to get in. People who can’t afford to bring their families to NHL game and get tired of AHL level would love to go see exciting college hockey with the school bands, fans and traditions.  But $240 to do so is a big deterrent.

  • Stephen Wigmore (BC grad)

    With all due respect, there is no place like Boston for college hockey? Sounds like you have spent very little time here, so it’s understandable. Xcel Center vs. Boston Garden? No contest? BC vs. BU – nothing like it? Beanpot tournament? Best tournament in college hockey. And i’ll bet there are many more people that can talk college hockey in Boston than just about anywhere.

    Side bet on the semi-final 8 pm game? Winner has bragging rights for at least one more year!

    • Dstar64

      I spend a good chunk of time in Boston, have done 10 BU-BC games, coached in the EJ…I’d say I have the Boston angle covered.  I’m a Northeast guy who played/coached and now broadcast/scout a lot of games in Boston.  I’m not from Minnesota so I have no vested interest in them winning.