No, my headline isn’t referring to the revolving door that was the number one spot in the national poll, as Miami seems to have done a very nice job solidfying itself at the top.
Rather, I’m befuddled by the fact that there have been so many ties in college hockey this season. To date, 41 games have ended in ties. Last weekend alone, 13 games went to overtime with 10 ending in a deadlock. In fact, in Atlantic Hockey, all three league games on Saturday ended in a tie and Connecticut, playing a non-league game against Colgate, won in overtime.
The good news is that it certainly makes for exciting hockey, with both teams having a chance to win deep into regulation and in overtime. But everyone knows that there’s very little satisfaction to heading into overtime and having the outcome a draw. Remember, a tie is like kissing your sister!
Which brings me back to a case I’ve made before and will make again: It’s time that college hockey move to a shootout to decide games where five minutes worth of overtime is not enough.
I remember well the days of the Hockey East shootout, though also remember a strange and somewhat confusing point system that accompanied (five points for a win, three for a shootout win, two for a shootout loss and zero for a regulation or overtime loss). Point system aside, there was certainly plenty of electricity that surrounded each shooutout.
The NHL overtime and shootout system seems to have worked well for the league. There’s a ton of excitement everytime that teams line up their three best shooters for penalty shots.
College hockey proved last weekend that the shootout can work. Rensselaer used a shootout to decide their 1-1 tie with AIC to determine which team advanced to the championship game of the tournament hosted by RPI (RPI won, by the way, 2-1).
Bringing a shootout into the college game on a permanent basis not only adds atmosphere for the fans, but also allows players – both offensive players and goaltenders – to hone their breakaway skills, making them more appealing at the NHL level where teams average almost a dozen shootouts per season.
I know that college hockey has done its best to stay true to the traditional game, but the shootout is one aspect that could certainly upgrade the game in the eyes of many fans.
The More Things Change…
Yep. There’s the cliche, and the ending (The More Things Stay the Same) is what was most indicative of this week’s USCHO.com poll. For the first time all season, all five teams at the top of the poll remained exactly the same. In addition, in the top ten, there was a bit of shuffling between 6 and 10, but all the teams repeat in the top 10.
The consisteny top five was helped by the fact that two of the teams swept (Miami and Michigan) two teams played one another and split (Denver and Colorado College) and Michigan State, despite two ties in the College Hockey Showcase, didn’t face much challenge from below allowing it to hang onto the number 5 spot.
On paper, not much should change in the top five between this week and next, as only Denver (facing North Dakota) faces a top-ten opponent. But that’s why they play the game. Michigan will face football arch-rival Ohio State in a series that could get the Buckeyes woeful season back on track.
Many people are sick of the number of times BC and BU have faced one another in recent years. Between Beanpots, Hockey East and NCAA games, it seems there’s always something riding on this.
This weekend’s series, though, sees both BC and BU facing off as each team hits a crossroads. Both clubs are below .500, and BC is in the midst of a rough, six-game winless skid. BU is coming of an emotional win over rival Cornell in front of a jam-packed Madison Square Garden.
But as anyone who has played in college hockey’s biggest rivalry will tell you, when BC and BU get together you can throw out everything. This is a game that is typically won and lost on adrenaline and emotion, so expect this weekend to be nothing different.
The only disappointing thing about the two-game set is that neither is being carried on television, meaning that if you don’t hold at ticket to either Friday at Conte Forum or Saturday at Agganis, you’ll be missing out.
Wayne State AD speaks
If you haven’t seen it, take a look at CHA Correspondent Matt Mackinder’s excellent news story containing thoughts from the Wayne State athletic director about the school folding its program. This is a great piece of journalism that gives a lot of perspective to why the school chose to drop the program as well as the future of the CHA and college hockey.