Odds and ends after the first day in Detroit

It’s a sunny, warm day in downtown Detroit – gorgeous day, in fact. Fans seem to be very pleased with the Fan Fest that the CCHA has put together this year – complete with a ceremonial slap shot yesterday with Detroit mayor Dave Bing – and fans from two teams are very pleased, indeed, about the outcome of yesterday’s games.

That’s now five consecutive lopsided tournament games in Detroit dating back to April of this year. Different tournaments and venues, of course, but five in a row, just the same.

This will mark the first time since 1992-93 that neither Michigan nor Michigan State will be playing for a Mason Cup. At the end of that season, No. 3 Lake Superior State beat No. 1 Miami, 3-0, to take the league playoff crown. Jeff Jackson was the Lakers’ coach that year, and he took that team to the NCAA title game and lost. Of course, he won the national championship with the Lakers in 1992 and 1994, so don’t feel sorry for him.

Today his Fighting Irish play for third place. They will, however, have a chance to play for another national championship, as will all the teams in this CCHA tournament field, if my good friend Jayson Moy is right in his latest Braketology update.

Here are a few random thoughts on the weekend so far.

  • It’s enormous fun to cover a championship tournament that contains a Cinderella narrative. It’s fun to watch kids (okay, young men) who never thought they’d get this chance during their time at Western Michigan enjoy this tournament and the whole experience. It’s fun to watch any first-year head coach experience this, but especially fun to watch a guy whose last game as player I covered. It’s also a bit surreal.
  • The Western Michigan pep band positively rocks. I don’t know who the kid on the drum kit is, but he’s what makes it go.
  • The Broncos fans traveled well to Detroit, filling half of Joe Louis Arena – good thing, too, as attendance seems down. They are enthusiastic, loud, and mostly original, which is very refreshing for college hockey fans. They are, however, the most vulgar group of college hockey fans I’ve ever heard. There are other places where the fans are no choirboys – Yost and Steve Cady Arena come immediately to mind – but at times the Lawson Lunatics take their humor to a level so base that it’s embarrassing. At most other times, it’s fantastic – funny, very specific to what’s happening in the game, jubilant.
  • Both games were tremendously disappointing. I’m not talking about the outcomes, but the games themselves. For the week leading up to this tournament, all I could think about was the strength of these four teams and the potentially intense games they could produce. I craved it. I was disappointed. Blowouts are fun for the fans of the winning teams, but dull for fans of the sport itself.
  • Miami did nothing in its massacre of Notre Dame yesterday to convince me that they will not win the national championship. They are scary good.
  • Notre Dame and Michigan did nothing in their losses to convince me that they will win a game in the NCAA tournament. They’re both good teams, but equally good teams exposed the Irish’s and Wolverines’ defensive weaknesses. Both ND’s Mike Johnson and UM’s Shawn Hunwick were absolutely exploited in net.
  • The more Western plays, the more confident they get, win or lose. The Broncos’ little stretch after their 14-game unbeaten streak ended did nothing to shake them. I don’t think they’re shakable.

CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos hosted the media at a brunch today – although there were only a few media, and mostly league folks – and talked a lot about the impending Big Ten league. I’ll have that and other things he discussed written up for you after this weekend’s over.

Heading to the Joe now and hoping that these games will be good ones. Bob Miller, USCHO’s arena reporter in Ann Arbor, will write up the first game and I’ll get the second. There will be features, too, as well as live blogging during both games.

  • Tb111960

    Talk of a Big Ten League as two MAC teams play for the CCHA Championship. Hmmmmm.

    • Bronco12

      Miami is SCARY good, and I can see them winning it all. They absolutely deserved the Mason cup, and even from the WMU student section I had a blast watching them win it today.

      Two MAC teams playing for the title also speaks, like you said, about the strength of an upcoming Big Ten conference. Who knows where things will be in two years, but only Michigan is in the NCAA tourney this year, and I doubt they’ll make it very far.

      Paula, you should read this article if you haven’t already. It might change your perspective on our “cinderella” team here in Kalamazoo. Don’t be surprised if we surprise you again in the future.

      http://insidecollegehockey.com/inch/2011/03/19/ccha_semis_0924/

  • cyclops2013

    I was at all of the tournament games this weekend. Yes, the Western Fans came out in numbers and were very vocal, but they are only funny when their team has the upper hand. Also, they weren’t very vulgar. I’ve heard worse. And they shouldn’t have insulted the Miami Band with the “Your Band Sucks” chant. After that, Miami played Cee-Lo’s “Forget You”…nice try “Lawson Lunatics”. Better luck next time.

  • Anonymous

    Go UMD!!

  • HuskyHockey1986

    Apparently a “hockey east team in waiting” loosing gets more coverage by Dave Hendrickson than the actual Hockey East team that beat them… twice… on the road…. by a combined score of 11 – 4. Well thats unfair to Dave…. but this blog article does highlight a worrying trend. USCHO will cover less important or interesting game recaps and team trends to give print space to BC, BU, NoDak, Denver and the like. 

    If USCHO, a media source, sponsors a poll, then the articles they disseminate should have equal coverage of every story as posible (AS POSSIBLE… I know its impossible for totally equal coverage). But this week… Providence beats the #1 team in the country… TWICE, and there is barely any coverage of both games. Northeastern beats #2/3 team in the country… TWICE, and only the first game is covered (in a staff report put up a day late with barely any information that can’t be found in the box score). UML also had a nice week against UNH but again… barely any coverage. 

    I know it’s unfair to be putting this in the Hockey East blog comments… but it’s also unfair to these teams who had great wins and get group together in blogs and articles as the “hockey east teams with rookie coaches”. If there are any individuals at USCHO who should be fighting for equal coverage of at least teams within one conference… it should be the conference blog writers. I know it was BC/BU sports weekend  but after reading the feast of BC/BU hockey coverage on USCHO the last 2 days I expected to see something about NU/ND or PC/MC this morning. I did… in the bottom of Dave Hendrickson’s blog article. 

    Also as a side note; the title of this article really made me think that it would be all about NU, PC, and UML (I thought “road warriors” was a reference to 3 wins in a row against ranked CCHA opponents on the road and “reshuffling” was a reference to PC beats the #1 team, NU beats #2/3 team.

    Please don’t take offense to this comment Dave (if you read this comment), but somebody needs to fight for the “smaller” programs when they do big things.

    • bronxbomberz41

      nothing notable about beating UNH twice this weekend.  they haven’t won on the road yet and pretty much stink on all sides of the puck, but especially between the pipes.

      • After Further Review

        The offense is fine and has been since after the first 3 games of the season.  Defensively, very weak.  Goaltending, just a disaster!  I know Umile likes to stick with his Senior goalie, but with 4 goalies on the roster, I have no idea why Wyer or deSmith haven’t gotten more of a chance.  At the very least, it would shake things up a bit for a game or two and maybe one of them would step up and take the job.  I never thought I’d be saying this after the way Digi played last year, but maybe goaltending coaches are that important.  Coach Lassonde, we need you back!

      • HuskyHockey1986

        Ur right… UML beating UNH is not very noteworthy like the toppling of the #1 and #2 teams. But still… a sweep within the most powerful and now seemingly most balanced conference is still noteworthy.

        UNH is not that bad either. It just seams like ur always getting out-worked. In 3 of the 4 UNH games I saw this year, the wildcats were simply outworked. You got the talent… there’s either something wrong with the system or ur players discipline.

        • Guest

          So Hockey East is now the most powerful conference in college hockey? When did that happen? If you look at the poll the top TWO teams are in the WCHA. How many teams did HE send to the tourney last year? Wasn’t as many as the WCHA and your all powerful conference didn’t get one single team to the Frozen Four. St. Paul was all about the WCHA and CCHA last year.

          Not sure how you guys get the stones to say that you have the best conference when you have NOTHING to back it up with.

          • HuskyHockey1986

            I refer you to the championship run of 2008, 2009, 2010. The current rankings or the general opinion of most people who follow college hockey. My stones are shown “Guest”, where are yours… oh wait; they’re now personal property of the Big 10.

          • guest

            You may have a had a team win it all but the truth of the matter is the WCHA is by far the better conference from top to bottom. Are you forgetting the early 2000’s? how about 2004 when all four teams in the Frozen Four were from the WCHA? After that year the NCAA made it a point to have WCHA teams play each other in the playoffs just for that wouldn’t happen again. Sounds like enough proof to me.

          • Really? You are debating conferences?  It’s december!  Who cares who has a better conference.  Go back to the WCHA blog!  

        • Anonymous

          UML beating UNH is newsworthy because UML only won I think 2 league games last year.  So their resurgence is probably the story, not UNH

    • guest

      too long, didn’t read.

  • None

    Didnt Dave say that ND sweeping was a sure thing? Why would he write anything the week after that highlights how wrong he was? The picks are a a joke, both guys pick the same teams every week. Why have 2 people picking? And what was their record last week? I get that there were many upsets, but if he is supposed to be covering Hockey East as a whole he’d know that NU played the #1 team in the country 5 times coming into this weekend and their record did not indicate their talent.

  • None

    “Adding to that statistical oddity is that on Friday, BC outshot BU by a 23-1 margin, but was outscored, 1-0.  ”

    So now uscho’s writers don’t just regurgitate box scores, they can’t even manage to interpret the box scores correctly? 

    • Guest

      Learn how to read. BC shot 23 times in the PERIOD but didn’t get a goal but BU shot 1 time in the PERIOD and got 1 goal. therefore 23-1 shots but 0-1 goals.

  • bamditman

    Oh darn,Merrimack is falling in the polls. Did they really belong at #1 ?

    • Spidermonkey86

      NO. NO. NO., and NO!!!! Merrimack has had an amazingly soft schedule. quality opponents are few and far between. At this point Merrimack doesn’t belong in the top 5. 

      Every year we get this darling team we feel obligated to make number one. Yale last year and Miami the year before. Both these teams had good years don’t get me wrong, but did not deserve the top spot.

      Just like Yale it’s time to Merrimack to fade away…..

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, there is better commentary in these posts than from JIm or Dave.  Who are these guys anyways.  And Jessica Scardina is even worse.  She was picked to cover Maine, probably because she’s nearby.  But, her “recaps” are terrible.

    • HuskySteve

      I remember reading some of Scardina’s recaps last season.  She’s not very polished. The awkward word choices and descriptions she used on some of her recaps were almost like she’d never seen a hockey game before, or even read a recap by an experienced sportswriter. Maybe experience will make her better.

  • HuskySteve

    Have to agree with HuskyHockey1986.  Just seems like you’d have to go out of your way to NOT give some coverage to NU-ND this weekend.  It makes no sense!  I grew  up in the Boston area, and I get the BU-BC thing, but those games were not nearly as significant as NU’s sweep of the Irish.  They deserved at least real coverage and a detailed write-up.  And it would have been nice if Dave had made up for it with some pithy commentary or trenchant anlaysis.  He gave us some of that for BU-BC, and if those are the only games he saw, I guess that would make sense.  But it sure would have made some sense to get the scoop on the NU-ND game as well.

  • Terrier5

    Hockey East had got to do something about the officiating.  It’s time to enter into a contract with the AHL or equivilant.  New faces are needed and the good old boys network needs to go.  The boys from BU are no angels but the crap BC pulls on a game to game basis is awful and it has to be coached.  They constantly run the goalie and are better divers then Greg Luganis.  I don’t blame Coach Parker for being upset.  On the other hand it’s time for him to sit a few of his guys down until they start playing hockey and start staying out of the box.  Gravallesse and Bennedetto especially need to retire.  They are ruining the game and they take the excitement out of the game by constantly calling penalties that are marginal at best and not even there most of the time.  I’m done ranting. 

  • AJ

    Lowell tied for second in the PWR, the best winning percentage in the NCAA, and the best record again TUCs and you have them 8th? Why are you allowed to vote again?

  • AFHockeyFan

    Did you leave Saturday half-way through the 3rd? The final was 4-2.

    And for the column this week, how about a look at the remaining schedules, with maybe some commentary on how a weak eastern team like UConn is going to benefit from the unbalanced schedule, while some deserving western team is again going to have to play in the first round? Here’s a hint: RIT and Niagara play 4 of their last six at home while Air Force and Mercyhurst play four of their last six on the road.

    • ritalum

      Maybe AF should have won more of their games earlier in the season? They knew what their schedule was going to be a long time ago. I guess they should have planned more appropriately.

      • AFHockeyFan

        AF won plenty early in the season–that’s why they’re in first place and RIT is not. My suggestion was a look at who should do well (the teams with more home games) and who has more challenging games left. Which will make it that much more impressive when Air Force wins the conference championship again. Then on to our home-away-from-home: the BCA! We LOVE Rochester!

        • ritalum

          Considering the standings are so close this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see the regular teams showing up to the BCA.

          Back on topic, I don’t realy buy into the fact that because you have more away games now your schedule is harder. The away/home game ratio should be equal throughout the season (though I remember last season there was a difference between east and west pods). So being crunched for points now doesn’t mean your schedule is harder overall.

          • AFHockeyFan

            Seven conference teams have winning records at home. Two teams have winning records on the road. Statistically speaking, it is easier to win at home. But the 27-game unbalanced schedule, in addition to meaning that the eastern teams get five extra games against the league creampuffs while the western teams get five extra games against the top of the league, also means that some teams play 14 games at home and 13 on the road, while others play only 13 at home and 14 on the road. The league needs to go to either a straight schedule (22 games) or divide into 3 pods of 4 teams (28 games–12 in pod home & home and 16 home or away against the other 8 teams) that would give each team an equal number of home and away games and eliminate the ridiculous trips for only one game.
            But this is the AHA we’re talking about so it will never happen.