Last year, the No. 4 team in the CCHA went to the NCAA title match.
In 2007, the No. 4 team in the CCHA won the NCAA title match.
Today, two No. 4 teams upset the No. 1 seeds in their brackets. And leave it to Michigan – with its rich NCAA tourney history – to make the record books once again, albeit in a way the Wolverines would have preferred to avoid.
Congratulations to the Air Force Falcons for their first NCAA tournament win. This reinforces what many of us have known all along, that Frank Serratore is doing something very right in Colorado Springs.
It was clear to anyone watching that game – and I found a video feed, no thanks to my local cable service provider – that the game was the Falcons’ from the get-go, and more specifically Andrew Volkening’s. Forty-three saves in a shutout victory? Yes, I’d say that’s a statement.
In Minneapolis, the No. 4 Miami RedHawks looked the very rested team that they are. Miami didn’t play in last week’s CCHA tournament, so they’ve had two weeks to prep for this game.
Miami also looked like the first-half RedHawks – as in the first half of the 2008-09 season. When I saw them in the first half, I thought they’d be D.C.-bound. When I saw them in the second, I feared they’d lose their second-round CCHA playoff series after earning a first-round bye.
Maybe I’ll be correct on both.
What’s striking in both of these contests, of course, is the lack of effective offense from the No. 1 seeds, a drought that extends back to last weekend.
Michigan led Notre Dame 2-0 midway through the CCHA playoff championship game, and the Wolverines looked the sharpest I’d seen them this year. They were fast, closed every gap, won nearly every face off, beat the Irish to ever loose puck, and effectively shut down Notre Dame’s offense.
From the midway mark of that game on, there was nothing Michigan could do to score. So the Wolverines end their season having been shut out 77 minutes and 50 seconds of play, scoring their last goal of the season at 2:10 in the second period of the Mason Cup game.
For the Denver, the shutout drought lasted 111:28. The difference between Denver and Michigan is that the Pioneers can at least end the season having scored in their last game – but the scoreless span lasted from the 6:01 mark in the third period of their 3-0 WCHA semifinal win over Wisconsin March 20 through the 17:29 in the second period of today’s loss. That includes 60 minutes of scoreless hockey in last week’s 4-0 loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the Broadmoor Trophy game.
The No. 1 seed in the Northeast Regional, Boston University, scored the game-winning goal in the Hockey East championship game 18:38 in the first period in a 1-0 win over Mass.-Lowell March 21.
I am relieved to say that the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, scored five unanswered goals after being down 2-0 to Michigan.
After today’s results, how well do you think Jack Parker and Jeff Jackson will sleep tonight? And will the remaining No. 4 seeds – Ohio State in the Northeast, Bemidji State in the Midwest – gain a little optimism from two of Friday’s games?
And I wonder how the number “4” will factor into the rest of the weekend.
I know I was happy to see a No. 24 show up on today’s score sheet in Miami’s 4-1 win over Denver. That number belongs to RedHawk Kevin Roeder, a senior who has been one of my favorite stay-at-home defensemen in the league for the last four years. He is a true blueliner, with five goals and 31 assists to his credit in his collegiate career.
But today Roeder was in the hunt, looking like a seasoned set-up man when he fed Alden Hirschfeld from behind the net on the second goal of the game at 18:04 in the first.
And the RedHawks really looked like winners.