Tag: Back to Class

Tommy Cross

Back to Class: Let’s talk about the Beanpot Tournament

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We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN this Friday night as Boston University takes on Maine at 7:30 p.m. ET.

This year’s Beanpot Tournament final features one usual fixture in Boston College and another not-so usual team in Northeastern. BC has won the last three tournaments and four of the last five while Northeastern has won it four times in the now 61-year history of the event.

Not seeing BC facing off against Boston University makes this year’s final a bit of an oddity as those two schools have traded off winning the tournament in each of the past 18 years. Not since Harvard won it in 1993 has a team other than BC or BU taken home the trophy.

That in itself takes a bit away from the whole event, but it changes the rooting interest for fans in a year like this where one of the usual also-rans get a shot to take it home.

A Northeastern win tonight would put a charge back into the annual tournament. BC haters would get a chance to pile on them for breaking the string and the school with the fewest Beanpot titles would get something to hang their hat on. After all, it’s been 25 years since Northeastern last won it.

The odds are stacked against them to do that as this is the time of year when BC kicks their game into gear and starts really warming up for the NCAA tournament.

Funny things can happen at the Beanpot though. It was just two years ago when these two teams faced off for the title and saw the Eagles take home a wild 7-6 overtime victory. Maybe Northeastern can capture some Cinderella spirit and pull off an upset.


The Final Five is done: The WCHA decided against continuing with their Final Five format next season with their newly array of schools. The event has always been a tremendous one to take in in St. Paul, Minnesota but this year’s iteration of it will be the last one thanks to conference rejiggering. Now they’ll be doing just a boring old regular tournament. Boo, hiss.

Outdoor game troubles: North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha’s second game of the weekend was played outdoors at the home of the College Baseball World Series. It was, uh, a bit of a disaster as the game was delayed for two-and-a-half hours and saw other issues crop up. Yikes. By the way, UND swept the weekend over UNO.

Please, keep ignoring Quinnipiac: Ho-hum, just another victorious weekend for the Pairwise Rankings No. 1 team. The Bobcats stomped Cornell 4-1 on Friday and edged out Colgate 3-2 on Saturday. They’re 21-3-4 on the season and are unbeaten in 20 straight games. After Minnesota’s loss to St. Cloud on Saturday night, perhaps this week is the one where the pollsters finally plug them in at No. 1 in their polls that don’t mean anything.

Back To Class: Forget the polls, Pairwise is your master now

Jeremy Langlois

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN this Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET as No. 7 North Dakota takes on No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha.

The college season is beginning to wind down and when match-ups come up, most college sports fans will judge the games based on where each team is ranked in the polls. I’m here to tell you that at this point of the year, you’re being lied to.

Watching the polls in February and March, whether it’s the USA Hockey/USA Today poll or the USCHO.com poll, is a pointless process and proof you’ve been conditioned by college football or basketball to buy into these arbitrary rankings. Since the season is winding down, it’s time for college hockey fans to put those voted-on rankings away and focus all attention on the Pairwise Rankings (PWR).

The Pairwise is what the NCAA uses to pick the at-large teams for the NCAA tournament. If your team is amongst the top 16 teams, you’ve got a chance. If they’re in the top 11, you’re virtually guaranteed a spot in the tourney. Unlike the BCS in college football, Pairwise uses all math and no polls to determine how teams shake out. Eliminating the human element, aside from the players on the ice actually winning and losing and tying games, helps makes the process virtually inarguable.

Take a look at how the Top 20 would be right now if you went by PWR according to CHN (USCHO.com also does their own):

1.    Quinnipiac
2.    Minnesota
3.    Miami
4.    Boston College
5.    New Hampshire
6.    Western Michigan
7.   Yale
8.    St. Cloud State
9.    Niagara
10.   North Dakota
11.   Boston University
12.   Denver
13.   Minnesota State
14.   Alaska-Fairbanks
15.   Dartmouth
16.   Notre Dame
17.   Colgate
18.   UMass-Lowell
19.   Union College
20.   Northern Michigan

When you compare that to how the polls look when they come out later today, you’ll likely see some big differences and that’s because people are who they are.

Polls are based on human opinions and often times those voting in the polls don’t see everyone they’re casting (or not casting) votes for. PWR, thankfully, eliminates that and focuses on whether or not teams are under consideration (TUC) and what a team’s record is against TUCs. Check out College Hockey News’ explanation of the whole thing if you’re feeling lost, it’s worth your time.


Games to look out for this weekend: Aside from our Friday night game which shapes up to be a great WCHA battle, that conference has another killer tilt with Minnesota facing conference-leading St. Cloud State. Their weekend battle is one not to be missed. In the CCHA, Miami and Western Michigan face off for a pair in Kalamazoo to see who can take charge there.

Quinnipiac owns the ECAC: The Bobcats ran their unbeaten streak to 19 games after tying Brown and handing rival Yale their lunch on their ice to the tune of 6-2. Quinnipiac was down 2-0 right off the bat but came romping back through to turn it into a laugher. QU is now seven points up on second-place Yale and 10 up on Dartmouth and Union.

The Niagara situation: The Purple Eagles are the best team in Atlantic Hockey. At 17-4-5 they’re taking care of their business and they’ve got a heck of a goalie leading the way for them. They’re now also up to ninth in the PWR which puts the whole Pairwise situation in a different place.

In the past, teams had to try and aim for at least 15th in the PWR because a less-than great Atlantic team would get one of the spots in the tourney. If Niagara stays strong and rolls through the conference tourney on their way to an auto-bid, it’s possible that winding up 16th in PWR might just land you a spot in the NCAA tournament.

(Photo: ECAC Hockey)

Back to Class: St. Cloud’s freshman class is making waves

Kalle Kossila

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN Friday night January 4 as Colorado College takes on Nebraska-Omaha. 

If you had to guess who was leading the WCHA right now without looking, who would you say off the top of your head? Minnesota, Denver and North Dakota always come to mind first, but it’s  the St. Cloud State Huskies in front and they’re doing it thanks to a host of outstanding freshmen talent.

It starts with superb Finnish import Kalle Kossila (pictured) who leads the team with 10 goals. Kossila has been working with fellow freshman star Jonny Brodzinski on the team’s top line centered by the team’s top scorer, senior Drew LeBlanc. Brodzinski and Kossila combined for 17 goals which helps make a lot of sense out of LeBlanc’s 19 assists this season.

Those two aren’t alone in doing their freshman damage as David Morley has provided balance with six goals and six assists. His linemates are a pair of draftees in Nic Dowd (Kings), the team’s second-leading point man, and Ben Hanowski (Penguins).

Western College Hockey’s Chris Dilks pointed out the most fun fact about SCSU’s freshman class right now. Their 24 goals has them outscoring both Alaska-Anchorage (23) and Wisconsin (21) as a team. What’s crazier still about the freshman production is that perhaps the Huskies’ most highly-touted new guy, Joey Benik, has yet to play this year.

Eyes might always stray to following the likes of Minnesota and North Dakota but if the rest of the WCHA isn’t careful, St. Cloud will continue their rise up the rankings.


Buckeye Hjelle: Give it up to Ohio State’s Brady Hjelle who is continuing to shine in goal. The former UMD Bulldog has found a home in Columbus and he’s taken advantage of the new opportunity putting up monster numbers. He hung in well with No. 5 Miami this weekend earning a 1-1 draw on Friday before losing a tough 3-1 game Saturday. You might say he’s on a… Hjelle roll.

From roller hockey to college success: Here’s a story worth reading. USCHO’s Brian Farrell shares the story about Quinnipiac’s Jeremy Langlois who went from playing roller hockey in Tempe, Arizona to being the Bobcats’ leading scorer. Hockey is everywhere in every form. Good on him for not wanting to go party at Arizona State instead.

Michigan State’s Carney retires: Sad story from East Lansing where Spartans defenseman Branden Carney retired from hockey due to fracturing two vertebrae during a team practice in early November.

Colleges repping America: Team USA’s World Junior Championships selection camp will feature 15 NCAA players. Chief amongst them will be Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (Flyers), Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau (Flames), North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi (Panthers), BU defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (Bruins), and Michigan blue liner Jacob Trouba (Jets).

With how hot Gaudreau’s been this year, teaming him up with red hot Habs top prospect Alex Galchenyuk sounds like a good way to create instant offense for America.

(Photo: Bruce Hemmelgarn via CHN)

Back to Class: Where a Ducks prospect is likely staying at Wisconsin

Nick Kerdiles

We’re taking you “Back To Class” for our roundup of the weekend’s action in college hockey. Look for more college hockey on NBCSN Friday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. as Cornell takes on Harvard. 

With how the NCAA tried to ruin Nick Kerdiles’ first year of big time hockey, he could’ve said “Forget you guys, I’m gone!” and headed off to the WHL and played for Kelowna. Instead, reports out of Wisconsin, courtesy of Andy Johnson at Bucky’s Fifth Quarter, say Kerdiles is going to take his medicine and stay at Wisconsin.

As if student-athletes didn’t have a hard enough time making sure to keep up appearances on social media, they’ve now got to look out for who they’re photographed with while at dinner.

Good thing the kid apparently loves Wisconsin or else this would, again, look very poorly upon the NCAA in their battle with the CHL over players.


Upsets of the weekend: Michigan Tech knocking off No. 1 Minnesota 5-3 on Friday is the big one and it featured a stellar highlight reel goal from Alex Petan (see below). Alaska beating No. 2 North Dakota 2-1 at the Alaska Goal Rush made for a stunner on Saturday. No one messes with the universe-destroying polar bears.

Choke of the week: UMass thought they were going to pull one over on defending national champion Boston College. The Minutemen headed to the third period of Friday’s game up 3-0 on the Eagles and with the Amherst fans chanting “overrated” they gave Jerry York’s team all the motivation they needed to storm back and take home a 5-4 overtime win. Patrick Mullane scored twice and the OT winner came courtesy of Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau.

The lesson, as always, never wake a sleeping giant. Or poke a champion eagle… Or something.

Milestone victory: Minnesota coach Don Lucia earned his 600th career win as the Gophers took out Michigan Tech 3-2 on Saturday night. That’s a fine accomplishment for the coach with the best hair in college hockey.

Disappointing team of the weekend: Maine was swept by St. Lawrence this weekend getting outscored 10-1 on the weekend including a 5-0 loss on Friday. Maine was ranked to start the year. Oh yeah, and they got beat up like this at home.

Farewell: On a sad note, one of the big online outposts for college hockey news, Inside College Hockey, is shutting down. The guys there did some great work and helped provide some of the best insight on the Internet. It will be missed.

Highlight of the weekend: Check out Alex Petan scoring on the Gophers. Holy cow.

Back to Class: Frozen Four field is set with two newcomers and two old standards

2012 Frozen Four Tampa

The NCAA tournament weekend is a frenetic one when it comes to college hockey. With just 16 teams in the field, things get whittled down quickly and after just a few days of games, here we are down to four teams setting up for a Frozen Four weekend in Tampa, Florida that’s teeming over with story lines.

In one semifinal you’ve got a pair of legendary hockey schools. Top seeded Boston College will square off against the University of Minnesota after each team took down game opponents last night. BC gets there by knocking off the defending champs from Minnesota Duluth while the Gophers earned their spot avenging their loss in the WCHA semifinals to North Dakota by taking out the Fighting Sioux handily.

Between the two sides, there’s a ton of future NHL talent. Boston College comes in with nine pro prospects while Minnesota has a whopping 18 NHL draftees on their roster. Chief among them for BC is Rangers prospect Chris Kreider but it’s been Calgary prospect Johnny Gaudreau that’s made a name of himself of late in both the Hockey East tournament and in the NCAAs. For Minnesota, their top three scorers are destined for the NHL with Wild prospect Erik Haula and Panthers studs Kyle Rau and Nick Bjugstad.

source: APMeanwhile, the other semifinal features two schools that have never been in the Frozen Four. Union College and Ferris State come in with similar looks to their roster in that neither team has any NHL draftees; a stark contrast from what we’ll see in the other game. That doesn’t mean they’re lacking in stars of their own.

Union goalie and Hobey Baker Award finalist Troy Grosenick (pictured) and forward Jeremy Welsh have earned plenty of attention thanks to their big play this weekend and Ferris forward Jordie Johnston along with goalie Taylor Nelson have been standouts for the Bulldogs. The teams play similar brands of hockey in that you can’t give them power plays and if you get behind you’ll have a hell of a time coming back.

With the way the Frozen Four is set up, it’s the first time since 2003 that a representative from each major conference (Hockey East, CCHA, ECAC, and WCHA) was represented. This Frozen Four also features four teams that were the regular season champions of their conference as well as two schools that doubled up and won the conference tournament as well (Union and BC).