Will This Be The Worst Frozen Ever?
First of all, take a peek at the header switch at the top of the page, updated with the logos of the four participating teams at next weekend’s Frozen Four.
Now, to the task at hand. This year, 4 seed Miami (22-12-5), 3 seed Vermont (22-11-5) and 4 seed Bemidji State (20-15-1) will join top seeded BU at the Frozen Four in Washington DC. At first glance, this is reminiscent of the 2001 Final Four, in which 1 seed Michigan State joined 5 seed Florida and 8 seeds North Carolina and Wisconsin. As expected, Michigan State rolled through the two games to win the national championship.
One way to spin this is that hockey is a sport in which anything can happen and that is good for the game. Part of this is true, anything can happen. A hot goalie has more impact over a game than any player in any sport. But is this good for the game?
Not that ESPN gets fantastic ratings for the Frozen Four anyways, but a Frozen like last season’s with powerhouses like Michigan, BC and North Dakota, not to mention an ESPN magnet like Notre Dame. This year, ESPN can (I guess) play up the Ben Roethlisberger element with Miami, talk about BU having a rich hockey history, talk about Matt Gilroy’s potential contract, and maybe they’ll get lucky and Wilson or Gilroy will win the Hobey. Vermont? They’ll probably talk about Martin St. Louis, etc. but Bemidji State? They could talk about the dissolving of the CHA and Bemidji State’s bid to join the WCHA.
In any event, while two #4 seeds and a 3 in the Frozen Four is a good story, I’d rather have the best 4 teams, which definitely do not include any of those three teams. I was skeptical of Miami’s inclusion in the NCAA tournament, and it is ironic that this is the worst team they’ve had in the past 5 years or so, and this is the team that finally broke through to the Frozen. Bemidji State, however you slice it, didn’t belong in the NCAA Tournament. They were 19th in winning percentage, behind RIT and Mercyhurst, 26th in offense, behind, among others, Quinnipiac, and 19th in defense, behind teams like Niagara. All of this coming in the worst conference, and one of the worst schedules, in hockey.
Granted, some people will make the argument that Bemidji belonged because they won two games. That argument is pretty much garbage. They played well for two games. If the Pittsburgh Pirates go out and beat the Chicago Cubs twice, that doesn’t mean they deserve to win the NL Central.
For the finishing argument, when you add the 4 seeds together this year, you get 12. Let’s look at them for the other years in the 16 team tournament era: (participating teams in parentheses)
2003: 6 (Cornell, UNH, Michigan, Minnesota)
2004: 6 (Maine, Boston College, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver)
2005: 5 (North Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado College, Denver)
2006: 9 (Maine, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Boston College)
2007: 10 (Michigan State, North Dakota, Boston College, Maine)
2008: 8 (North Dakota, Boston College, Michigan, Notre Dame)
This is the highest number since we went to the 16 team tournament. In previous high years, there were traditional powers to save the viewer (North Dakota, Maine) but this year there won’t be. As much as I want to see college hockey be expanded to places like Penn State, Illinois, etc., and the loss of the CHA pretty much kills those chances, I will be glad that now only one league will steal a bid from a team that deserves it. Although Atlantic Hockey didn’t do that this year.