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Schlossman: There are plenty of storylines heading into NCAA hockey tournament

GRAND FORKS -- For the first time since the NCAA men's hockey tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2002-03, three regular-season conference champions are not in the national event.Minnesota of the Big Ten, Robert Morris of Atlantic Hockey and MSU-M...

2255492+Brad Schlossman.jpg

GRAND FORKS --  For the first time since the NCAA men’s hockey tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2002-03, three regular-season conference champions are not in the national event.
Minnesota of the Big Ten, Robert Morris of Atlantic Hockey and MSU-Mankato and Michigan Tech of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association all were left out of the field. All six college hockey leagues give their automatic NCAA tournament bids to the postseason champion.
For Atlantic Hockey, that’s usually the only route to the NCAAs. It’s not uncommon for their regular-season champ to miss the national tournament.
But for the teams in the West, this is fairly new territory.
The last time a WCHA regular-season champion missed the NCAA tournament was Colorado College in 1994. The last time a Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champion missed the NCAA tournament was Bowling Green in 1983.
But subpar nonconference records - Minnesota was 5-10 and MSU-Mankato was 2-6 - and down years in the Big Ten and WCHA made both of them one-bid leagues.
Michigan and Ferris State will represent those conferences in the NCAAs. RIT will represent Atlantic Hockey. Hockey East put six teams in the tournament, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference four and the ECAC three. Exactly half of Hockey East and the NCHC made it.
Here are eight other storylines to watch:
1. Teams of destiny
Minnesota-Duluth was the last at-large team to make the NCAA tournament field. This has been a lucky spot. The final team has reached the Frozen Four in each of the last three seasons and has won the national championship in two of them.
2. Anas out?
No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac may be without star forward Sam Anas, who was injured in the ECAC tournament for the second straight season. Anas wound up playing against North Dakota last season, though he was limited.
3. Attendance issues?
The St. Paul regional, which could have been a big hit if more area teams reached the NCAAs, could end up being a flop. Denver, Boston University and Ferris State are all flying distance - or a lengthy drive - and don’t figure to bring many fans. That will be all up to St. Cloud State to boost attendance. In Cincinnati, it might not be much better.
4. RIT magic
RIT is 2-0 against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Last season, RIT became the first No. 16 overall seed to upset the No. 1 overall seed when it downed MSU-Mankato 2-1. The Tigers reached the Frozen Four in 2010, winning a regional in Albany (RIT is in Albany again).
5. Home-ice Worcester
Boston College was once again placed in the Worcester, Mass., regional, which has been a home away from home for the Eagles. The last five Worcester regionals were 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2006. The Eagles were in all five of them, went 10-0 and reached five Frozen Fours. Their last loss in Worcester was in 2005 to North Dakota.
6. Beanpot II?
For the first time ever, all four Beanpot schools are in the NCAA tournament--Northeastern is in Cincinnati, Boston University is in St. Paul and Boston College and Harvard are in Worcester.
7. Back again
The regional sites are a near repeat of 2014, when Cincinnati, St. Paul and Worcester all had regionals. North Dakota, which won Cincinnati, is there again. Boston College, which won Worcester, is there again. Minnesota won St. Paul over St. Cloud State, but missed the tournament this season.
8. First timers
Nobody on the Michigan roster has ever played in an NCAA tournament game. After having its NCAA-record run of 22 straight regional appearances end in 2013, the Wolverines missed the tournament in three straight years.

GRAND FORKS For the first time since the NCAA men’s hockey tournament expanded to 16 teams in 2002-03, three regular-season conference champions are not in the national event.Minnesota of the Big Ten, Robert Morris of Atlantic Hockey and MSU-Mankato and Michigan Tech of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association all were left out of the field. All six college hockey leagues give their automatic NCAA tournament bids to the postseason champion.For Atlantic Hockey, that’s usually the only route to the NCAAs. It’s not uncommon for their regular-season champ to miss the national tournament.But for the teams in the West, this is fairly new territory.The last time a WCHA regular-season champion missed the NCAA tournament was Colorado College in 1994. The last time a Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season champion missed the NCAA tournament was Bowling Green in 1983.But subpar nonconference records - Minnesota was 5-10 and MSU-Mankato was 2-6 - and down years in the Big Ten and WCHA made both of them one-bid leagues.Michigan and Ferris State will represent those conferences in the NCAAs. RIT will represent Atlantic Hockey. Hockey East put six teams in the tournament, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference four and the ECAC three. Exactly half of Hockey East and the NCHC made it.Here are eight other storylines to watch:1. Teams of destinyMinnesota-Duluth was the last at-large team to make the NCAA tournament field. This has been a lucky spot. The final team has reached the Frozen Four in each of the last three seasons and has won the national championship in two of them.2. Anas out?No. 1 overall seed Quinnipiac may be without star forward Sam Anas, who was injured in the ECAC tournament for the second straight season. Anas wound up playing against North Dakota last season, though he was limited.3. Attendance issues?The St. Paul regional, which could have been a big hit if more area teams reached the NCAAs, could end up being a flop. Denver, Boston University and Ferris State are all flying distance - or a lengthy drive - and don’t figure to bring many fans. That will be all up to St. Cloud State to boost attendance. In Cincinnati, it might not be much better.4. RIT magicRIT is 2-0 against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. Last season, RIT became the first No. 16 overall seed to upset the No. 1 overall seed when it downed MSU-Mankato 2-1. The Tigers reached the Frozen Four in 2010, winning a regional in Albany (RIT is in Albany again).5. Home-ice WorcesterBoston College was once again placed in the Worcester, Mass., regional, which has been a home away from home for the Eagles. The last five Worcester regionals were 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2006. The Eagles were in all five of them, went 10-0 and reached five Frozen Fours. Their last loss in Worcester was in 2005 to North Dakota.6. Beanpot II?For the first time ever, all four Beanpot schools are in the NCAA tournament--Northeastern is in Cincinnati, Boston University is in St. Paul and Boston College and Harvard are in Worcester.7. Back againThe regional sites are a near repeat of 2014, when Cincinnati, St. Paul and Worcester all had regionals. North Dakota, which won Cincinnati, is there again. Boston College, which won Worcester, is there again. Minnesota won St. Paul over St. Cloud State, but missed the tournament this season.8. First timersNobody on the Michigan roster has ever played in an NCAA tournament game. After having its NCAA-record run of 22 straight regional appearances end in 2013, the Wolverines missed the tournament in three straight years.

 

Related Topics: COLLEGE HOCKEY
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