Another season of breathtaking holiday tournaments is in the books. There were a few upsets (hello, Miami?), a couple of near upsets (Holy Cross over Denver sticks out!) and all around excellent hockey. Some observations…
– Having watched them play for the first time, I have to say Cornell is pretty legit. They did a nice job handling a good St. Cloud team in the semis and found a way to rally to beat Colgate in a shootout in the finals. All in all, the Florida College Classic was a very entertaining tournament to watch as all four teams (Maine being the fourth) proved they were excellent hockey clubs.
– I still hate the use of shootouts in tournaments, particularly in Championship games. If you’re playing for a title, play it out like a playoff. Don’t let a team’s ability to score on breakaways decide which team is the champion.
– Holy Cross played one of the more entertaining games I saw of the holiday season against Denver. After having to hold off the Pioneer attack in the first (the Crusaders allowed 20+ shots in the opening period), Holy Cross skated with one of the nation’s best teams.
– Boston University certainly proved they’re extremely legit. As did Notre Dame. Neither seemed to have too much trouble capturing their tournament titles!
And then there’s the World Junior Championship. I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the United States performance in the quarterfinal game against Slovakia. After the U.S. was stopped on a penalty shot in the opening minute, it was as if the club stopped trying. Their goaltender fought the puck and probably should’ve been pulled after the second goal. Their offense certainly ran into a red-hot goaltender but that still doesn’t seem like an excuse. I really thought that the U.S. just lacked the gusto to get the job done. They didn’t bury chances and in a single-elimination tournament, that’s the key.
One point that Dave Starman kept making, which I thought was a good one, was that James van Riemsdyk appeared to be playing hurt. He certainly didn’t look himself though still was a force offensively.
And on a final note, I join the rest of the college hockey world in wishing Minnesota bench boss Don Lucia a speedy recovery. Word this weekend was that doctors couldn’t diagnose the Gophers head coach’s illness, which certainly is scary. But it was great to hear he was healthy enough to watch his club’s 3-2 win over Northeastern in the title game of the Dodge Holiday Classic from the press box. Let’s hope that we’ll be seeing that perfectly coifed hair behind the Minnesota bench very soon!