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College Hockey Slap Schotts: NCAA gets it right with Frozen Four sites

By Ken Schott
Monday, December 16, 2013

In my Nov. 4 edition of “College Hockey Slap Schotts,” I made my picks for Frozen Four sites from 2015 to 2018. My choices were Boston in 2015, Chicago in 2016, St. Paul., Minn., in 2017 and Tampa in 2018.

Last Wednesday, the NCAA announced its picks for the Frozen Four, the 2015 and 2016 regionals along with other tournament sites for college sports. And, I must say, I did pretty well with my Frozen Four predictions. I was just bit off on the years three of the cities would host.

The Frozen Four winners were Boston in 2015, Tampa in 2016, Chicago in 2017 and St. Paul in 2018.

I must say that the NCAA got it right with the selections.

Boston hasn’t hosted a Frozen Four since 2004. The NCAA wanted a city that has had hosting experience and wouldn’t have a difficult time preparing to host on short notice. Boston fits the bill.

Even though the closest Division I college hockey team to Tampa is Alabama-Huntsville, the city did a wonderful job in hosting its first Frozen Four in 2012. The hotel was right across the street from the Tampa Times Forum. The nightlife was fun. The weather was great. But I thought that the NCAA would make Tampa wait at least five years to get its second Frozen Four. But the NCAA committee must have been impressed with Tampa’s effort in 2012.

Chicago getting a Frozen Four is perfect, especially since the city is hockey-mad with the Blackhawks, who have won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and last season. And I hope that Jim Cornelison singing the National Anthem before each game was part of the package.

St. Paul is a no-brainer. Minnesota is a great hockey state. Enough said.

There are some disappointed cities. Washington had the 2009 Frozen Four, and from what people said, it was well-run. Hopefully, Washington will be in the mix in the next round of bidding.

Brooklyn’s Barclay Center lost out. I think that’s a result of not having a regular hockey tenant, yet. The Islanders will be there in a couple of seasons. But the capacity for hockey is 15,813, and that is too small for the Frozen Four.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia didn’t get any because it is way too soon for those Pennsylvania cities. Pittsburgh hosted last season, and my hometown of Philadelphia gets its chance this season.

Columbus, Ohio, was also in the mix. But I can’t think the NCAA was too keen on going there.

Buffalo, which hosted in 2003, was shut out this time. It would be nice to see the city get it again.

Regionals
I was happy to see Albany’s Times Union Center return to the regional rotation when it hosts the 2016 East Regional.

The downtown arena, which has also been known as Knickerbocker Arena and Pepsi Arena, has been, pretty much, a regular in the regionals, hosting in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000, and then 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

But in the recent regionals, it seemed like Albany wasn’t getting the right mix of teams to draw fans. Now, with Union becoming a regular in the NCAA tournament and RPI ready to make that move, maybe the TU Center will have a full lower bowl in 2016.

What was interesting is the NCAA didn’t award regionals in 2017 and 2018. That could mean the hockey committee may decide to go back to campus sites, something it hasn’t done since the regional format went into effect in 1992.

Attendance has been a major issue. USCHO.com cited a 48 percent decrease in attendance between last March and 2012 regionals.

“We did not want to tie our hands with four years of regionals,” RPI athletic director Jim Knowlton, who is chair of the NCAA hockey committee, told USCHO.com’s Todd Milewski. “So we went out two and we’ll continue to assess how the regionals do and whether or not the fan experience and the student-athlete experience will benefit from being on campuses.”

We will see what happens if the NCAA decides on that, which could lead to other possible changes in the format.

Frozen Four tickets
Speaking of the Frozen Four, tickets are on sale through ComcastTIX, online at ComcastTIX.com, by phone at 1-800-298-4200, or in person at Wells Fargo Center box office. Each package includes one ticket to the two semifinal games on April 10, and one ticket to the national championship game on April 12.

Rough weekend
Union, which went 1-0-1 at top-ranked St. Cloud State over the weekend, was the only ECACH team to experience success over the weekend.

— RPI went 0-1-1 at home against Denver, losing, 2-1, in overtime Friday, and playing to a 1-1 tie Saturday. The Engineers did pull out a 2-1 exhibition win over the U.S. Under-18 Team on Sunday.

— Colgate lost twice at home to UMass by scores of 2-0 on Saturday and 3-2 on Sunday.

— St. Lawrence was beaten by Vermont, 5-1, Saturday in Burlington, Vt.

Vote reminder
This is the last friendly reminder that you can vote for your top college hockey moments of 2013. Email me your choices to Email me at schott@dailygazette.com. You can send me one choice, two choices or up to 10. In order to be published, you will need to have your name and where you are from attached to it. As always, keep it clean.

In case you are stuck for some ideas, here are some suggestions:
— Yale beats Quinnipiac in all-ECAC Hockey NCAA Frozen Four final for Bulldogs’ first national title and the conference’s first since Harvard in 1989.

— Quinnipiac skates away with ECACH regular-season title.

— Union wins second straight ECACH tournament championship.

— A new era begins in college hockey with Big Ten, NCHC and new-look WCHA.

— Former Yale coach Tim Taylor dies.

— RPI goalie Jason Kasdorf named ECAC Hockey rookie of the year; dislocated shoulder ends sophomore season.

— Two Union players give up senior seasons to turn pro.

— Minnesota women go undefeated en route to NCAA title.

I hope you participate. I am looking to post the results on Dec. 23.

Another Atlantic Hockey upset of Hockey East
On Nov. 29, Holy Cross of Atlantic Hockey upset Hockey East powerhouse Boston College, 5-4.

On Saturday, Bentley did Atlantic Hockey proud again by knocking off another Hockey East team.

Goalie Branden Komm stopped 42 shots, helping the Falcons to a 4-1 win over Boston University.

Brett Switzer had a goal and an assist for Bentley. Brett Gensler, Derek Bacon and Jared Rickord also scored for the Falcons.

Bentley (8-7-1) started the season 1-6. It is 6-0-1 in its last seven.

“I think this game opened a lot of people’s eyes as to how good we are but I feel like we’ve felt like we were this good for a long time and things are coming together,” Komm told The Boston Globe. “I can’t tell you how close this team is. We all know we’re playing on a special team and we just want to keep going as far as we can.”

Union up, RPI out
After going 2-0-1 last week, including a 1-0-1 mark against top-ranked St. Cloud State, Union jumped four spots in the USCHO.com/NCAA top-20 poll.

The Dutchmen (12-3-3) moved from 10th to sixth in the poll, earning 717 points. They took a 3-2 ECAC Hockey win over Dartmouth last Wednesday that put them in sole possession of first place in the conference.

Union then took a 4-1 win Friday at St. Cloud, and then played to a 3-3 tie Saturday. The Dutchmen, the highest-ranked ECACH team in the poll, are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games.

Union moved up from ninth to seventh in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15 poll with 306 points. The Dutchmen missed out on tying Boston College for sixth by one point.

Meanwhile, RPI dropped out of the poll after not winning against Denver.

USCHO.com/NCAA poll
Team (First Place Votes) Record Points Last Poll

1 Minnesota (32) 12- 2-2 978 2
2 Ferris State (12) 14- 2-3 914 4
3 Michigan 10- 2-2 888 3
4 St. Cloud State (4) 11- 2-3 855 1
5 Providence (2) 11- 2-3 834 5
6 Union 12- 3-3 717 10
7 Boston College 10- 4-2 688 6
8 Quinnipiac 13- 3-3 685 7
9 Clarkson 12- 3-1 610 8
10 Massachusetts-Lowell 11- 5-0 564 9
11 Yale 6- 3-3 452 11
12 Miami 9- 7-2 374 12
13 Notre Dame 10- 7-1 364 13
14 Wisconsin 8- 5-1 329 15
15 Cornell 7- 4-2 315 14
16 Northeastern 9- 5-2 270 16
17 Denver 9- 6-3 161 20
18 Lake Superior 10- 7-1 152 17
19 Nebraska-Omaha 8- 7-1 100 19
20 Minnesota State 11- 7-0 67 NR
Others receiving votes: RPI 54, Vermont 47, North Dakota 29, Maine 22, New Hampshire 18, Ohio State 9, Mercyhurst 3, Bentley 1.

USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)
Rank School Last Week’s Ranking

1. Minnesota, 503 (28) 1
2. Ferris State, 442 (2) 4
3. Michigan, 436 3
4. St. Cloud State, 416 (2) 2
5. Providence, 396 5
6. Boston College, 307 6
7. Union, 306 9
8. Quinnipiac, 287 8
9. Clarkson, 246 7
10. UMass Lowell, 211 10
11. Yale, 152 11
12. Miami, 87 12
13. Cornell, 83 14
14. Notre Dame, 77 13
15. Wisconsin, 60 15
Others receiving votes: Northeastern, 35; Lake Superior State, 14; Nebraska-Omaha, 8; Denver, 5; New Hampshire, 4; RPI, 3; Maine, 1; Minnesota State, 1.

My vote
I have a vote in the USCHO.com poll. Here is how I voted.
1) Ferris State
2) Minnesota
3) Michigan
4) Providence
5) St. Cloud State
6) Union
7) Quinnipiac
8) Clarkson
9) Boston College
10) UMass-Lowell
11) Yale
12) Miami
13) Wisconsin
14) Notre Dame
15) Cornell
16) Northeastern
17) Denver
18) Lake Superior State
19) Neb.-Omaha
20) Vermont

Daily Gazette/ECACH Four Stars
Time for my four stars of the week.

Player of the Week — Daniel Carr, Union

The senior left winger had two goals and two assists in three games. Carr had a goal in last Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Dartmouth. He had an assist in Friday’s game against St. Cloud State, and then had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s rematch.

Goalie of the Week — Alex Sakellaropoulos, Union

The freshman made 34 saves in Friday’s game against St. Cloud State.

Rookie of the Week — Eli Lichtenwald, Union

The 6-foot-6 freshman center had an assist in the win over Dartmouth. Lichtenwald scored a goal in each of the games against St. Cloud State, including Friday’s game-winner.

Team of the Week — Union
The Dutchmen went 2-0-1, including their 1-0-1 mark against top-ranked St. Cloud State.

If you have any comments, post them below, or e-mail them to me at schott@dailygazette.com. You can follow me on Twitter @slapschotts. Also, please become a fan of two Facebook pages — The Daily Gazette On Ice, and my "Slap Schotts" college hockey segment page.

Good Tuesday! Good Hockey!

 
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