Maine Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 3-6-3 (2-3-3) Hockey East 8th

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#8 Maine Black Bears 7-4-4 (5-3-2) Hockey East 5th

UMass will close out the fall semester of hockey today with an afternoon game in Orono and a chance to pull themselves to .500 in the conference.  Playing at Maine is never easy though, especially given the talent on this current Black Bear team.  Yet, UMass has had success against them in recent years, winning 10 of the last 14 matchups.  A win would bring UMass into 7th place having games in hand over all other Hockey East teams.

Maine just picked up only their fourth loss of the year on Friday when they dropped an overtime decision to UNH in a game that they led by two in the third.  For the most part Maine does not have any bad losses, with their others coming at Michigan State and a sweep at the hands of Boston College.  They do have some surprising ties however, specifically ones to Vermont, Providence, and UConn.

Maine’s offense is one of the top in the country, putting up 3.53 goals on the scoreboard per game.  Surprisingly it’s not Gustav Nyquist who is leading the Black Bear offense but fellow junior Spencer Abbott who has 11 goals and 10 assists so far.  Nyquist is actually tied for 3rd on the team in goals with 6.  Sophomore Joey Diamond has put up 8 so far. 

Defensively Maine has gotten good play from Josh Van Dyk and sophomore Mike Cornell.  What’s been most interesting to watch for Maine so far this year though has been the revolving door in net.  All three Maine goaltenders have started at least 3 games so far this season.  Freshman Dan Sullivan has played the most, starting 8 games and putting up stats of 2.62 GAA and .885 save percentage.  Sophomore Shawn Sirman has put up nearly identical 2.61 GAA in four starts while freshman Martin Oullette has a 2.25 GAA in 3 starts.  Oullette started Friday’s game against UNH.

For UMass it’s keep doing what they’ve been doing.  And that has been to get contributions from a host of players.  Over this recent four game unbeaten streak eight different UMass players have scored, with six of them getting multiple goals in that stretch.  Five of those goal scorers have been freshmen and three have been defensemen.  UMass has averaged over four goals scored per game in that time.

Defensively there has been improvement as well, with UMass only giving up an average of two goals per game.  Much of that has been due to Paul Dainton playing some of the best hockey of his career.  But there has been improved play in front of him as well.  Probably most improved however has been the penalty kill which has been successful 83% of the time, with one of the three power play goals let in coming at the end of a lengthy extra man advantage by Lowell. 

This Maine game is an interesting one, as it will show just how far UMass has come.  Of their three wins none has come against a competitive team.  They also have yet to win away from the Mullins Center.  Dainton said they’re planning on treating this game like a playoff game so they can reach their goal of being .500 in the league before Christmas. 

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Dick Baker has a feature on Troy Power.

Maine Falls; Mauldin With Another Highlight Goal

One would think Maine might be a little more motivated and focused when they take on UMass tomorrow as they could not hold onto a two goal third period lead at home, ultimately falling to UNH 4-3 in overtime.  Certainly a frustrating loss for the Black Bears against their rivals.

In the only other Hockey East action Lowell lost to Princeton 5-2 down in New Jersey.

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Rachel Lenzi of the Press Herald previews the weekend for Maine with an understandable focus on the UNH game.

The Collegian previews the game and runs down all the games occurring over winter break.

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Greg Mauldin continues to make the most of his NHL chance this year.  He had a nice shorthanded goal last night.  You don’t get many poke checks better than that one.  Wow.

Let’s Play Hockey has a feature on Justin Braun and how the WCHA’s loss ended up being UMass’ gain.

Casey Wellman scored four goals for the AHL’s Houston Aeros last night.

A Few Thursday Links

Previews are starting to roll in for Sunday’s game where the hockey team will try to do something the basketball team couldn’t accomplish; beat Maine.

The Maine college paper covers the UMass matchup as well as the big rivalry game against UNH tomorrow.

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Mike Pereira’s play is one of the big surprises in Hockey East for USCHO.

USCHO also grades the Hockey East teams to this point and talks about Pereira as HEA Rookie of the Year.

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Kevin Jarman might be joining Obi Aduba on the Quad City Mallards of the CHL.  Glad to see those two still out there playing.

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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting look at the potential growth of college hockey on the eve of the Big Chill out in Ann Arbor.

Recruit Update

The Muskegon Lumberjacks had a good weekend with a couple wins to their name, topped off by a two goal effort from John Parker on Sunday.  It doesn’t look like he was around to see the end however as he is also credited with 24PIM in the game.

Shane Walsh picked up his first point for Dubuque on Friday in the Saints only game of the weekend.

Kevin Boyle had another decent weekend for Westside in the BCHL, picking up a win, a tie, and an overtime loss.  All in all he gave up 9 goals on 107 shots.

I have to think we’ll be seeing a new commitment soon for the team.  It’s been almost six months since a player committed to a program, certainly the longest stretch I’ve seen since following the recruiting side of things.  UMass has 7 seniors on the way out, but some, like Shawn Saunders, may not necessarily be full scholarship.  Still, with only three recruits signed up for next year you have to think there will be at least a couple more signings for 2011-12 plus thre are usually recruits lined up for future years by now as well.

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Dick Baker has a look at UMass’ recent success against Maine that was surprising even to me.  I knew the team had done well against the Black Bears dating back to 2007 when wins over Maine essentially catapulted UMass into the NCAAs.  But I had no idea that translated to winning 10 of the last 14. 

The athletic site has a feature on local products now playing for the local college, T.J. Syner and Kevin “Holyoke” Czepiel.

There were some whispers that perhaps Mike Pereira’s fast start to his college career would lead to an invitation to the World Junior Championships to represent the USA.  That didn’t happen.  However one thing to note is that Wisconsin will likely be without defenseman John Ramage when the Minutemen visit Madison this month as he was picked for the team.  The final roster will be set later in the month.

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The athletic department has done a redesign of their Alumni In The Pros update and it’s a great addition to the main UMass athletic website. 

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Rest in peace Ice is Life.  The blog I loved to hate and hated to love.  Where else will I turn for a mix of college hockey talk, hilarious wit, and insults about my beloved alma mater?

Polls and Awards

A new USCHO poll is out with UMass’ next opponent, Maine, coming in at #8.  There is a new #1 in that poll and the USA Hockey/USA Today poll with Yale laying claim to the top spot.  Now at 10-1-0 it’s tough to to make a case against the Bulldogs being the top ranked team.  However I am a little bothered that according to the RPI Index they’ve played the 26th toughest schedule to date.  The other two teams receiving first place votes, Minnesota-Duluth and Boston College, have played the 5th and 6th toughest schedules respectively.  Yale’s non-conference schedule so far doesn’t exactly blow me away.  Brown, Dartmouth (yes, they’re playing their conference foes as non-conference opponents), Air Force (their one loss), and a down Colorado College team.  Their big wins are against #13 Union and #15 RPI.  A great start for their team, but I’m not sure they’ve adequately made the case to be the #1 team in the country.  Luckily the coaches and media polls don’t not have a role in the selection of tournament teams or seedings.  One of the great things about college hockey. 

Here are the INCH Power Rankings.

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UMass is well represented in this week’s Top Performers from Hockey East.  Paul Dainton, Eric Filiou, Danny Hobbs, Doug Kublin, and Mike Pereira all make the cut.

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The Collegian has a recap of the Lowell game and a look at the improved penalty kill.

Congrats to Paul Dainton who trails only the legendary, but underappreciated Brian Regan for career saves at UMass.

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Farewell to Billy Guerin, probably the great hockey player to come out of Western Mass.  I’d be interested in seeing something from Dick Baker about local hockey legends as part of Guerin’s retirement since he’s been covering the sport in this area for quite a while.  Is Guerin the best?  None others come to my mind.

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Go Patriots!

Lowell Recap

It wasn’t pretty at times but the UMass hockey team continued their unbeaten streak with a solid 5-2 over the Lowell River Hawks.  It was thought this game would be a close one between two similarly freshman-laden teams but in the end UMass looked like they are progressing far ahead of Lowell and dominated for good stretches of time.

It didn’t take long for the Minutemen to get on the board as T.J. Syner streaked down the right side and put a backhander behind former UMass recruiting target Doug Carr.  UMass would get another goal later on when Danny Hobbs tipped home a Conor Allen shot.  You could easily make the case that UMass should have come out of that period with even a greater lead than 2-0, considering they controlled the puck for a huge majority of the time.  Shots favored the Minutemen 11-4 at the end of 1 and two or three of those Lowell shots came in a few second span where Dainton turned them away. 

Unfortunately the second period was one of the worst UMass played in a while.  Their rhythm was disrupted by three successive penalties called on them in the beginning of the period that resulted in over four minutes of Lowell power play time, some of it at the two man advantage, and the first River Hawk goal with on 7 seconds left on the kill.  Overall the penalty kill did very well in this time, only allowing 4 shots total.  UMass did have their lone power play of the game soon after and unfortunately it was another resulting in zero shots on net.  While Lowell did do a very good job on the kill and getting in the shooting lanes, the Minutemen looked too patient.  Whether it was lack of concentration at that point or perhaps just fatigue from being a man down for so long consecutively the Minutemen were out of sorts for the rest of the period and found themselves tied after two.

A quick breather in the locker room in between period was all they needed however as Doug Kublin and Hobbs scored early in the period and the Minutemen would cruise from there.  Eric Filiou added his first career goal to top things off.  The players did a good job of weathering a challenging second to regroup and put away a lesser team in the third.  That’s part of learning how to win and it’s good to see the Minutemen doing it.  Aside from the goalscorers I thought Chase Langeraap had another good game, getting shots on net and also creating some turnovers in the neutral zone.  Hobbs’ second goal was setup with a great feed from Brian Keane.  And Mike Pereira continues to do well, adding three assists on the day.

UMass now has some momentum and is improving in the Hockey East standings.  If not for Northeastern’s upset of Merrimack last night the Minutemen would be tied for 7th.  Instead they find themselves in 8th place but it’s not their place in the standings that’s important at this point but the number of league games played.  UMass has played the least amount of league games with 8.  BC has already played 13.  Lowell, BU, and Merrimack have all played 12.  And directly above UMass in the standings Northeastern and Providence have played 11.  If UMass can get some key points in conference games they have the chance to move up while other teams are idle.  That starts next weekend when UMass and Maine on Sunday are the only league game of the weekend.

Fear The Triangle Player of the Game – Danny Hobbs 
Two goals, a +3 rating, and a team high six shots taken.  Danny Hobbs is playing the best hockey of his UMass career right now.

Beer The Triangle Recap
Well I did enjoy some Boston Beer Works following the basketball game, including a very interesting ginger IPA.  But since it’ll be another month until hockey returns to Amherst I thought I should share the fact that the Hangar currently has the highly rated Ballast Point Sculpin IPA on draft right now.  Quite frankly one of the best IPAs I’ve ever had.  I highly recommend trying it before it’s gone.

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Dick Baker says UMass outsmarted Lowell in the Republican recap.  Hobbs says they’re approaching the Maine game as if it’s a playoff.

Edmonton scout and former Lowell player Craig MacTavish was at yesterday’s game and like what he saw from T.J. Syner.  There was also an Eddie Olczyk Sr. sighting.

Baker also doesn’t like what the time change did to attendance.  I can see his point, I thought the attendance was pathetic as well, but the time change still doesn’t bother me.  The students weren’t absent because they were in Boston.  There was a good student presence in the Garden, but it still didn’t amount to more than a few hundred.  There were still thousands upon thousands of students back on campus in Amherst when the puck dropped at 1:30pm.  What were they doing?  Sleeping?  Eating lunch?  Watching football?  I don’t know but they easily could’ve rolled out of bed and made the faceoff.  They didn’t.  This to me just shows that the students are not coming to the Mullins regularly to watch hockey.  It’s a social thing for them or some extension of their weekend partying.  It’s too bad because except for the hardcore student fans they’ve missed three great games by the hockey team that represents them, the University of Massachusetts.

To correct a few things from Baker’s post, first the crowd at the Garden was not equally distributed.  My estimation is that the UMass fans equalled three or four times the number of BC and Northeastern fans there combined.  This was a UMass home game with an overwhelming amount of the crowd cheering for the Minutemen, no doubt about it.  Secondly, yes BC didn’t change the time and allowed the hockey and hoops games to go at the same time.  This resulted in an embarssing showing of BC fans at the Garden.  I counted perhaps a dozen BC students.  I’m not sure how their administration feels about their program from an elite basketball conference essentially playing a road game in the city that their school is named after against a mid-major program they try to portray as beneath them in all aspects.  Lastly, there were fans who made the trek from Amherst to Boston.  My friends and I were some of them.  We saw others along the Pike on the ride east.  There was the bus that left following the hockey game.  How many people made both games?  I don’t know.  But as someone who supports all UMass athletics and gets in to the rivalries the school has with its opponents I was very thankful to watch hockey take on a rival and basketball take on another in the same day.  I would’ve been disappointed not to have the chance to do so if they hockey game had remained the same starting time.  Frankly, if more people didn’t take advantage of the same opportunity, shame on them.  They missed a great day to be a UMass fan.

Danny Hobbs is mentioned on the Prospect Park blog.

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So much for all the pundits that said Jon Quick was going to lose his starting job to Jonathan Bernier.  The Kings new plan in net, play Quick.

The Globe takes a look at Greg Mauldin’s recent NHL success.

Lowell Preview

Lowell River Hawks 2-11-2 (2-9-0) 10th Hockey East

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Massachusetts Minutemen 2-6-3 (1-3-3) T-8th Hockey East

Two very similar teams will face off tomorrow afternoon as a young Lowell team comes into the Mullins to kick off the 2010-11 edition of the rivalry between these two schools.  Lowell will be looking to gain points from a team just above them in the Hockey East standings while UMass looks to continue its recent success and take advantage of the games in hand it has over Lowell thus far.

Like UMass, Lowell is young and it has shown in their results.  Lowell has won just two games so far this year, one in overtime to Providence and the other over 1-win Vermont.  They also can lay claim to a couple of ties over Atlantic Hockey’s Niagara and RIT.  The River Hawks are currently mired in a six game losing streak.

Lowell has looked bad on both sides of the ice.  Statistically they have the 5th worst offense in the country which isn’t good, but when you combine it with the 6th worst goals given up it’s just plain disastrous.  Lowell has already given up 8 goals in a game twice this season, one each to Maine and Minnesota State.  The Hawks are giving up a half goal more than the Minutemen at this point in the season.  If there is a lone bright spot to their season it’s the fact that they have not taken a lot of penalties.  In fact they’ve taken the lowest amount in the country after only Air Force.  Even when they have gone a man down their penalty kill has been a respectable 85.2%.  Their power play has been middle of the pack at 16.9%.

The first period tomorrow should be interesting to watch as both teams have gotten off to slow starts to start the game.  In fact Lowell has been outscored 6 to 20 in the opening period so far this season.  In terms of scoring the Hawks are led by Riley Wetmore who is following up a strong freshman season with 6 goals and 6 assists so far as a sophomore.  They’ve also gotten good production in the form of five goals from Joe Pendenza, who I was impressed with last year when I saw him play in juniors as a teammate to Colin Shea.  The Lowell coaching staff is likely happy with what the 2 goals and 6 assists they’ve gotten out of freshman defenseman Chad Ruhwedel.

Defenseman Maury Edwards, who if you remember was an All-American as a sophomore, is following up a disappointing junior season with a horrible senior season.  Through 15 games he has just 3 points and has a +/- of -13.  Probably not the leadership the team expected out of him.  Gone is the two headed goaltending monster of Carter Hutton and Nevin Hamilton and in is the freshman tandem of Doug Carr and Marc Boulanger.  Carr was recruited by UMass but chose Lowell for the promise of playing time and he’s certainly seen his share of action between the pipes.  Looking at his 2-9-0 record may disguise the fact that he has had some very solid games and has been able to survive the season so far with a goals against of 3.33 and save % of .902.  Boulanger hasn’t been as lucky and comes into tomorrow’s game with a 4.25 GAA and save percentage of .868.

For UMass the challenge will be to keep doing what they’ve been doing despite the week layoff.  Those things that have carried them through the this three game streak has been penalty killing and goaltending.  On the penalty kill side of things UMass has killed 13 of their opponents last 15 attempts during the three games in question.  At the same time Paul Dainton has stopped 112 of the last 118 shots.  That’s a save percentage of .949.  While their shot total has actually decreased recently the shots they are getting are better looks and they’ve done an adequate job of keeping the puck in the zone for quality possessions.  Helping them gain the puck has been increased pressure on the forecheck which has been pretty successful.

Offensively UMass has gotten contribution from two key groups; freshmen and defensemen.  And of course freshman defensemen.  Some of this has been by design, which Coach Cahoon alluded to in this week’s radio show, to try to generate more offense from the point and get guys in front of the net for whatever results.  But I think some of the increase for the freshmen has just been confidence.  The team has appeared looser before and during the games and minor mistakes are no longer being accompanied by lowered heads.  This team has now had enough practices and games where they’re getting comfortable with each other and believing in their teammates.  But at the same time they’re starting to believe in themselves as well.  There is less hesitancy to shoot and pinch in for an offensive chance.

Hopefully that self-confidence will not turn into overconfidence.  This team still only has two wins to their name, the same as the team coming into Amherst tomorrow.  And I think if we’ve learned anything about Blaise MacDonald led Lowell teams over the years is that they tend to get up to play the flagship.  Whatever the motivation is, Lowell comes to play almost everytime against the Minutemen.  Despite their number of wins, their number of freshman, or the odd start time, I expect them to do the same tomorrow.

Beer The Triangle
Since I plan on doing the cross-state thing tomorrow heading first out to Amherst for hockey and then back out to Boston for basketball, I probably won’t relax with a beer until following the hoops game against Boston College.  That will likely be at the Boston Beer Works Canal Street location.  Beer Works, all locations, are a little strange because it’s possible to have amazing or awful beer all in one sitting.  It’s like craft beer lottery.  Luckily the food is always goods.  If I remember last December they had a White Christmas wee heavy which I’m hoping to enjoy one of tomorrow.

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Congratulations to Mike Pereira who was one of the runners-up to the national Rookie of the Month for November.

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The USHL site shows Justin Braun with the puck from his first NHL goal.

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There’s word tonight that a bus full of UMass Ski and Board Club members flipped over on I-91 in Vermont with dozens of injuries reported.  Hopes and thoughts are certainly with them.

Schedule News and Other Randomness

Sorry for the lateness of tonight’s post but I was busy watching Justin Braun score his first ever NHL goal for the Sharks in a game dominated by the storyline of Dany Heatley returning to Ottawa.  I believe Braun finished +2 for the game.  I’m not surprised at all by how solid Braun looks so far with the big club.  I can’t think of any other player I saw come through the Mullins Center that looked more NHL ready than Justin Braun.  No one.

Finally had a chance to listen to Tuesday’s radio show while driving into work today.  Prompted by a listener’s question Coach Cahoon had some information on next year’s schedule.  Yale will be returning the game from last year.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving series with Quinnipiac will be extended a bit longer with the Minutemen heading to Hamden next year.  UMass will be returning to the Everblades College Classic in Estero, FL next year with traditional hosts Maine, Cornell, plus a western team to be named later.  Last time UMass played in the tournament in 2002 they lost the championship to Maine 8-3.  Cahoon said he is still working on the other two games, saying he’d like to get a Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Ohio State into the Mullins.  Obviously this means that the Gophers and Badgers did not make a definitive agreement to make a return trip for the two games each that UMass is playing out there this season, which is disappointing.  Cahoon mentioned UConn as a possible opponent depending how successful he is at getting top tier western teams scheduled.

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Mike Donnellan makes the case for his own Food Network show in the most recent edition of One Moore Minute.  I’m impressed by the cooking, I’m really impressed by how nice the kitchen looks.  When I was a college student my kitchen usually only looked like that on move in day.  I think Kevin Moore must have travelled back in time to the 1970’s and jumped a game show host for their sport jacket.  Did Strength Coach Chris Boyko leave UMass?  He’ll be missed  if that’s the case.

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The Daily Collegian correctly pegs penalty killing and goaltending as the main factors for the Minutemen’s recent success.

They also preview the game against Lowell.  Lowell lost 3-0 at home to the UNH Wildcats tonight.

USCHO also keys in on the improved special teams as helping the Minutemen gain their first wins of the season.

View From Section U: Does Big-Time Football Equal Big-Time Hockey?

So of course all the talk around the UMass community right now centers on the potential upgrade of the football program to the MAC and the Bowl Subdivision.  Most people agree, myself included, that such a move is not only to the benefit of the football team but for the school’s athletic programs as a whole, as football can be the flagship program in terms of revenue and recognition.  That got me wondering about how schools with different levels of football fare in terms of their hockey programs.  There’s already much evidence suggesting that only schools from the big football conferences tend to end up in the Final Four in basketball.  The few exceptions include teams like Butler, George Mason, and of course UMass.  But do we see that same trend in hockey?  Let’s take a look.

First off, some ground rules.  I looked at the NCAA hockey tournament participants of the last 20 years.  Why 20?  Well as someone who crunches numbers all day for a living, that’s usually the minimum number of data sets I like to include for a good analysis.  This also will cover all the years of the modern era of UMass hockey plus some.  Secondly, remember that in 2003 the number of teams invited to the tourney increased from 12 to 16.  That means that in those 20 years a total of 272 spots were available to teams to make the tournament field.  Third, the level of football for schools has not remained static in that time.  Schools like BU have dropped football while others like North Dakota have switched levels.  Not to mention some schools have unfortunately dropped hockey.  But keep that in mind since numbers are compared to the current status.  Lastly, it’s interesting to note that most of the hockey conferences run the full gamut of football programs.  Hockey East has BC in a BCS conference and Northeastern which no longer has football.  The WCHA has Big Ten teams and some without football at all.  Even Atlantic Hockey goes from UConn (which amazingly may go to a BCS bowl this season) to AIC whose campus covers about two city blocks.  The ECAC is the only conference that isn’t as diverse, with most of its schools playing football at the FCS/I-AA level.

So here are the results.  I basically categorized schools into four groups: BCS conferences, Non-BCS FBS/I-A schools, FCS/I-AA schools, and schools that don’t play DI football.   I also did subtotals of schools that play on the bowl level and those who do not.  And for the record I counted Notre Dame as a BCS school even though they haven’t looked like one in quite some time.

      Last 20 Years   Last 10 Years
  Current Makeup   NCAA App. Frozen Fours Champs   NCAA App. Frozen Fours Champs
BCS 14%   32% 41% 45%   31% 45% 70%
FBS (I-A) 9%   5% 3% 0%   6% 5% 0%
FCS (I-AA) 22%   25% 28% 20%   29% 30% 0%
None/DII/DIII 55%   38% 29% 35%   34% 20% 30%
                   
Bowl Football 22%   36% 44% 45%   37% 50% 70%
Non-Bowl Football 78%   64% 56% 55%   63% 50% 30%

 

The first column is the current makeup of the 58 schools currently playing DI hockey, with 14% in BCS conferences, 9% in non-BCS FBS/I-A conferences, 22% in FCS/I-AA, and 55% playing below DI or not at all.  There appears to be a definitive advantage to being a school in a BCS conference playing hockey.  Despite only representing 14% of the number of schools playing hockey, these programs account for 32% of the NCAA appearances, 41% of the Frozen Four slots, and close to half of the national champions in the past 20 years.  Look at the last 10 years and BCS schools account for a greater percentage of the Frozen Four participants and 7 of the hockey champions.

If you look at schools that play bowl football as a whole they still make up a greater portion of NCAA appearances than their overall representation, 22% to 36%.  This number is about the same if you look at just the last 10 years, 22% to 37%.  It certainly appears that if your school has big time football your hockey team has a better chance of getting into the NCAA tournament.

I’m willing to overlook the BCS data, especially in terms of championships, because that’s heavily influenced by a number of programs which are traditional hockey powers that have had multiple championships over this time, specifically Boston College, Minnesota, and Michigan.  But I think the appearance data does show that if your school plays bowl football you have a much better chance at making the hockey tournament.  Now there could be a lot of reasons for this.  First off is resources.  If your football team is making money, or at the very least giving you a higher profile to raise money, then it will help all your athletic programs.  Miami is a school playing bowl football without a big hockey tradition that has seen an uptick in appearances, overall and Frozen Four, and just built a state of the art hockey facility.  Notre Dame’s resources gained through its football program (and its overwhelming TV contract) has allowed it to do the same.  You also have the fact that schools playing bowl football tend to be higher profile and resonate more in young recruits’ minds.  These schools also tend to be larger, offering a more traditional big college environment and a diverse academic opportunity which helps in landing players.

Now being an elite football school doesn’t guarantee success.  Just look at Ohio State which seems to have a ton of resources, a huge facility for games, but has struggled to establish itself as a force within the CCHA.  UConn is another school that comes to mind that has been able to move up and have success on the football field but continues to wallow at the bottom of one of the lower hockey conferences.  But for the most part hockey, despite having so many non-DI schools playing DI, seems to follow the mantra that football helps drive the success of a university’s program as a whole, just as we see in sports like baseball and basketball.  That’s something to keep in mind in the coming weeks and months as UMass’ football fate is decided and what that may mean for the boys on the ice.  I can’t see how a bigger, better UMass football program can possibly hurt the hockey program and maybe it’ll help give it a little push into that next level of sustained success we’ve been hoping for.

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Congratulations to Mike Pereira, Hockey East’s Rookie of the Month.  Considering all the high profile freshmen in the conference this year, all the guys who had their names called in June at the draft, that’s quite an accomplishment.

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If you’re on Facebook make sure to become a fan of Fear The Triangle.  Starting tomorrow I’ll be doing semi-regular trivia contests with prizes and everything.

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So let me get this straight, a college athlete whose dad shops him around to the highest bidder is allowed to keep playing but a smart kid, from Air Force no less,  who is able to take junior college classes at 17 goes against the spirit of what a student athlete should be and is declared ineligible by the NCAA?  Are you f-ing kidding me?!?  Sometimes I feel dirty just sitting and watching the product put out by the NCAA NC$$.