The headline on USCHO.com’s front page on Friday night was simple: “No. 1 No More.”
That, of course, was referring to the fact that Miami, the nation’s number one team entering the week, had dropped a 2-1 decision to No. 12 Notre Dame, the first loss of the year for the RedHawks. Miami rebounded a night later for a 3-1 victory, which left the question at weekend’s end: Does Miami’s loss combined with a sweep of Alaska by No. 2 Michigan justify a swap in the top poll positions?
As I sat down to fill out my ballot for the USCHO.com poll, I needed to weigh each team’s merits.
Both team’s have identical 9-1-0 records, so that’s a wash. Both team’s losses came against nationally-ranked teams: Michigan’s against Minnesota; Miami’s against Notre Dame.
What I hoped would be the differentiator to me, though, was the overall strenght of each team’s schedule to this point. Each team scored series sweeps over Northern Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha to account for four wins each. Michigan then beat Boston College, Boston University twice and Alaska. Miami on the other hand defeated Vermont, which was winless until this weekend, twice, as well as a struggling Ohio State team and Saturday’s second game with Notre Dame.
A part of me believes the schedules, then, are a wash as well, though BC and BU do seem tougher teams than Ohio State and Vermont. So what it came down to is the ol’ “What have you done for me lately.”
Thus, as I expect to happen on most ballots this week, Michigan grabs my top spot… for this week, at least.
This Saturday night, two of college hockey’s conferences were put in rare circumstances. Both Hockey East and the WCHA handed down suspensions due to actions that took place in Friday night’s games that origianlly were not whistled as penalties requiring suspension.
In Hockey East, it was BC forward Nathan Gerbe. He butt-ended a Merrimack player on Friday night without the referee seeing it. Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy sent the tape into the league, and commissioner Joe Bertagna suspended Gerbe for one game – not based solely on his actions Friday, but because similar actions had been brought to his attention before and he had been warned by the league office.
Over in the WCHA, the situation was a little bit different. On Saturday, the league suspended Colorado College forward Derek Patrosso for a check from behind in Friday’s game against Minnesota-Duluth. In this case, Patrosso was whistled for a major penalty and game misconduct for hitting from behind, which doesn’t carry with it any suspension. In suspending Patrosso, the league simply did the equivalent of escalating the penalty to a game disqualification, which carries with it a one-game suspension.
Each case raises a question that I’ve heard asked a couple of times since Saturday night: Should the leagues get into the practice of using video review to hand out discipline? Does this open a can of worms where coaches will be submitting video tapes of their games every weekend for review?
My thought is that this is not only a good practice on behalf of the league, but it’s a necessary one.
Referees are human and can only see so much of a game, which by the way is moving at an extremely fast pace in front of their eyes. They can’t see everything and, as was the case with Patrosso’s hit, even if they see the penalty they might not realize how severe the infraction was when viewing at full speed.
The league’s ability to hand down supplemental discipline is nothing new. Coaches have been able to and have submitted video tapes to leagues to review for years. It just seems that this season league are actually taking additional actions.
It’s unlikely, though, that there’s any can of worms to open here. An official at Hockey East said that requests for the league to review tapes are somewhat rare, though Friday night’s request from Dennehy wasn’t the first the office has received this season.
A perfect example of where video review is most definitely necessary occured on Saturday night in a game between North Dakota and Wisconsin. With just under four minutes remaining, a full-out line brawl started between the two clubs. After reviewing the tape myself, it’s apparent that just about every single player on the two teams that participated in the altercation should have received major penalties and game disqualifications – whether it be for punching, fighting, third-man-in – whatever. Instead, though, the referees in the game (I’d include names but the box scores online are somewhat cryptic on who the exact referees were) chose to assess no major penalties or disqualications, instead opting for minors and double minors along with 10-minute misconducts.
At the time, that might have seemed like the best option as all ten players were sent to the locker room and in case the referees, who were engrossed in the melee, couldn’t identify exactly which player did what, they wouldn’t hand out penalties that resulted in suspensions.
Truly, this sends a bad message – that fighting is a part of the college game and, if you fight, you’ll only get a minor/misconduct and not have to worry about missing additional games.
So as we seem to have reached the age of league offices handing out supplemental discipline, let’s hope that the WCHA cracks the whip at this altercation.
– There’s currently a five-way tie atop Hockey East, which says a lot of the league’s parity. When parity was mentioned to BC coach Jerry York after his team’s 3-3 tie with Merrimack on Friday, he responded with a smile: “We don’t really like parity.”
– Though games in hand could play a factor, it’s still a breath of fresh air to see Bentley at the top of the Atlantic Hockey standings.
– Biggest shocker for me this weekend: Providence’s two-game sweep against Maine at Orono.
– After I praised Princeton a week ago, it appears the Tigers came back to Earth last weekend, dropping two games at home to Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
– Now that another season has passed that no one can challenge Cornell’s perfect 29-0-0 season of 1969-70, we can take a look at which clubs have a chance to be the first team since Maine in 1992-93 to finish the year with just one loss. Those candidates include: Michigan, Miami, Michigan State, Harvard, and New Hampshire.
– Thoguh a stat that I always question the validity of in college hockey, Army’s Luke Flicek is currently a +9 over eight games. Conversely, Mercyhurst forward Ben Cottreau hasn’t shown the same defensive prowess to compliment his offensive abilities. Despite scoring 10 points in 10 games, Cottreau is also a -10.