This year’s NCAA Frozen Four College Hockey National Championship will be held in St. Paul. The last time said event came to town in 2002, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers downed the hated Black Bears of Maine in overtime to win their first national championship since 1979 and the first of two back-to-back crowns. It was a glorious time to be a Gopher hockey fan and the memories of that title game remain fresh in my memory. However, the dominating era of Gopher hockey seems like a distant memory these days as this year—for the third straight season—the squad failed to even qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Just a few short weeks ago, things seemed to falling into place for them to at least have a chance to get in. And based on the way things played out for Colorado College, if the Gophers had somehow summoned up the will to beat powerhouse Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA playoffs and then won one game at the WCHA Final Five, they would have earned a place in the tournament. Sigh.
There are five WCHA teams in this year’s tournament. While some fans are complaining that North Dakota (#1 seed) and Denver (#2 seed) might face off again in the second round in the Midwest regional, the matchup is in line with the final Pairwise rankings (UND #2 and Denver #7). UMD will face a tough road in the East having to get through Union and then likely top-seeded Yale. Things are potentially easier for Colorado College and Nebraska-Omaha in the West where the number one seed BC will have to travel to St. Louis. But that potential handicap is nothing compared to what the other number seed Miami faces. They have to travel to Manchester, New Hampshire where their opening round opponent will be...
...the University of New Hampshire. So they essentially have to play a road game to open the tournament. Nice reward for earning that top seed.
This year, U.S. College Hockey Online and Northland Films is sponsoring a College Hockey Pickem :
Welcome to College Hockey Pickem 2011, sponsored by Northland Films and USCHO.com. Think you know who will win the 2011 Frozen Four? Sign up and make your picks. After all, why should the hoops fans get to have all the fun?
It's easy. Register a username and password to sign-up. Then create a bracket, make your picks and see how your bracket measures up with the rest of the nation. Create or join a group of friends to compete for bragging rights! And, if you're in first place after the final horn, you could win a $100 gift card from shop.uscho.com! Enjoy the game!
And don't forget...for complete coverage of all the action, visit USCHO.com your college hockey experts.
To makes things a bit more interesting, I’ve created a Fraters group. So know you have the ability to match your college puck knowledge against great hockey minds like Sisyphus, James from Folsom, and yours truly. All you have to do is go to the College Hockey Pickem page, register, and join the group. It’s so easy that even Sisyphus has done it (although his attempts to hack in and add the 2003 Gophers were rebuffed with extreme prejudice).
The brackets are easy to fill out and you can go back and make changes until Friday’s games start. I’m not sure if my current bracket will be the final one, but right now I’ve got two #1 seeds, one #2, and #3 going to St. Paul.
Sign up at College Hockey Pickem today and join the Fraters group if you want to join the battle for the ultimate college hockey cred bragging rights.