With the postseason underway -- including 17 best-of-three playoff series as well as the Atlantic Hockey and CHA championship games -- this weekend is arguably the most exciting of the season. The CCHA and ECAC have already been through a first-round best-of-three, and the higher seeds came through each time -- though in two cases, three overtimes were needed (Yale and Nebraska-Omaha).
Because of the
By virtue of its strong non-league record, it's hard to argue based on numbers alone. There is merit, for sure, in the NCAA setting a five-team limit per conference, but that hasn't been done and the current chair is Minnesota's athletic director, a WCHA team.
It's difficult to fully explain the system briefly, so feel free to check out the
Each time you win a "comparison" against another team, you get an overall point. Total up the points and you get the list.
Though it has its flaws, the system does a pretty good job picking the field. The committee has not strayed from this, even going so far as taking the straight Pairwise list to place the teams in exact serpentine order, i.e. 1-16, 2-15, 3-14, etc. The machinations of the system is what keeps the math geeks like me up for hours on end as we approach selection Sunday on March 30. We do a Liveblog of the Pairwise fluctuations throughout that weekend, over at CHN.
Meanwhile, let's take a look at what else is going on around college hockey:
Good coaches came and went. But here is
And in that context, Union -- which has never made the ECAC tournament's final weekend since joining the league in 1991 -- was able to take advantage of a relatively mediocre ECAC season, and place fourth. Yeah, so what the Dutchmen actually lost its last game, when a win or tie would've clinched a spot. Cornell's loss last Saturday -- a team Union has beaten twice -- put the Dutchmen into the final spot.
"It's a season-long accomplishment, so we're OK with that," Leaman said.
"You've got to understand, this program -- this is not a Boston College, it's not even a UMass. We have to take steps, baby steps.
We're working up the ladder here ... with that said, this is a step we need to take and we have to do something in the playoffs now."
This is a tie between RIT's
Sawada, meanwhile, was a third-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2004 before coming to Cornell, but has never quite lived up to that promise. This season, as a senior captain, he had just four goals coming into the best-of-three first-round series against Dartmouth last weekend. But Sawada scored in each of the three games -- five all together -- as Cornell advanced to play Union this weekend.
Wayne State's program will be in the penalty box forever after this weekend. The team was informed before the season started that it was being disbanded. Last weekend it played its final home game in front of about 300 friends and family at the Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum. Wayne State won Friday against first-place Niagara, but got blown out, 7-3, on Saturday.
"It was senior night and we knew it would be the end of the program, so I think emotionally we were a little spent. And it showed," said coach
It was a far cry from 1999, when the program's first home game was played in front of thousands at the Fairgrounds and the future looked bright. A new building was on the horizon and the school had a chance to compete in the state of Michigan against long-time hockey powers with a coach that had taken teams to the NCAA tournament before.
That arena never came.
WSU gets one more crack, starting with a play-in game at the CHA tournament this weekend in Buffalo against Alabama-Huntsville.
"A lot of times, I think we feel we're the lone wolf in the pack, we're alone by ourselves and playing for each other basically,"
Wilkinson said. "But Wayne State does not support the program, so in the end, we have to rally around ourselves and do the best we can."
There are 17 best-of-three series to choose from, and two conference title games. Take your pick. The ones with the most implications for the NCAAs are Harvard-Quinnipiac; Wisconsin-St. Cloud State; Minnesota-Minnesota State; Boston University-Mass.-Lowell; and Providence-Boston College. Grab the popcorn.