With four days until the puck drops in Philadelphia, I thought I would weigh in on a few topics of interest regarding the last four teams standing in the 2013-14 college hockey season:
It is interesting that in the first year of conference re-alignment, four different conferences are represented in the Frozen Four, including the two brand new leagues. The Big Ten and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference are made up of teams in the same geographical footprint – Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – and each conference is looking to claim superiority since all of the teams represented compete for many of the same recruits. In just the same way as we used to compare the WCHA to the CCHA and Hockey East, we’ll be comparing national titles between the Big Ten and the NCHC, and that starts with Thursday’s tilt between Minnesota and North Dakota.
It comes as no surprise that all four teams in the Frozen Four were represented on College Hockey News’ All-Star teams for 2013-14. The Frozen Four participants named to the All-CHN teams are:
Boston College: Junior F Johnny Gaudreau (1st team), Senior F Kevin Hayes (1st team)
Minnesota: Sophomore G Adam Wilcox (1st team), Sophomore D Mike Reilly (2nd team)
North Dakota: Senior D Dillon Simpson (1st team)
Union: Junior D Shayne Gostisbehere (1st team), Senior F Daniel Carr (2nd team)
Three players named to the Hobey Baker top ten were left off of the CHN list. Two junior goaltenders, Ferris State’s C.J. Motte and Wisconsin’s Joel Rumpel, were passed over in favor of UMass-Lowell’s sophomore netminder Connor Hellebuyck (one of my Hobey top ten choices). Ohio State junior forward Ryan Dzingel was not named to either all-star team, as the aforementioned Daniel Carr was tabbed instead.
It is also interesting to note that the big four conferences (Big Ten, ECAC, Hockey East, and the NCHC) each had three players named. Atlantic Hockey and the new-look WCHA were blanked on this year’s teams.
There has been so much attention paid to the Minnesota/North Dakota tilt on Thursday that I think many people are overlooking how great the Boston College/Union matchup is. Union is the only school in the nation with thirty wins (30-6-4), and the Dutchmen, who won both the ECAC regular season and playoff titles, are ranked #1 in the country for a reason. Boston College has Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes, but Union is scoring 3.70 goals per game (compared to 4.10 for BC), and junior netminder Colin Stevens has six shutouts on the season and a goals-against average of 1.93. Check back on Wednesday for a complete preview of Thursday’s first semifinal.
And speaking of North Dakota and Minnesota, the New York Times has a great article called “In Frozen Four, a Rivalry Interrupted Is Rekindled“. Some great quotes from former and current players, coaches, and some guy named Dave Berger. I encourage you to follow the link and check it out.