From the Crease: Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament, Day 1

Thoughts and observations from a day of watching three of the four games in their entirety on Friday (I unfortunately missed the Niagara/North Dakota matchup) and observing much of the conversation of the day on Twitter.

yale• While many who follow college hockey might have been shocked at the first result of the day (Yale’s 3-2 overtime victory over Minnesota), it shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise to listeners of the INCH Podcast. Mike Eidelbes has long mentioned that the Gophers were a supremely talented team, but one that didn’t appear to give the requisite effort needed on every shift, every night. The game-winning goal was a prime illustration of just how out-worked Minnesota was by a Yale team that has enjoyed a fair amount of success at this stage in the recent past under Keith Allain. That game served as an immediate wake-up call of just how wide-open this year’s tournament is. Continue reading

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NCAA Midwest Regional Preview

TOLEDO, OHIO | HUNTINGTON CENTER
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 30-31

Saturday: Notre Dame vs. St. Cloud State, 1:30 p.m. ET (TV: FSN North, ESPN3)
Saturday: Miami vs. Minnesota State, 5 p.m. ET (TV: FSN North, ESPN3)
Sunday: Regional Final, 4 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

ndameNO. 1 SEED NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Location: Notre Dame, Ind.
Record: 25-12-3 overall (17-8-3 CCHA, second)
Qualified: CCHA tournament champions
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Sixth (most recent, 2011)
Head Coach: Jeff Jackson
Key Players: Anders Lee, F, Jr. (40 GP, 20-18—38); Bryan Rust, Jr., F (40 GP, 15-18—33); Robbie Russo, D, So. (40 GP, 5-18—23); Steven Summerhays, G, Jr. (21-11-2, 1.94 GAA, .922 save pct.)
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NCAA East Regional Preview

PROVIDENCE, R.I. | DUNKIN’ DONUTS CENTER
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MARCH 30-31

Saturday: Quinnipiac vs. Canisius, 5:30 p.m. ET (TV: NESN, ESPN3)
Saturday: Boston College vs. Union, 9 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Sunday: Regional Final, 6:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

quinnipiacNO. 1 SEED QUINNIPIAC BOBCATS
Location: Hamden, Conn.
Record: 27-7-5 overall (17-2-3 ECAC Hockey, first)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Second (most recent, 2002)
Head Coach: Rand Pecknold
Key Players: Jeremy Langlois, F, Sr. (38 GP, 12-18—30); Jordan Samuels-Thomas, F, Sr. (39 GP, 14-11—25); Loren Barron, D, Sr. (39 GP, 3-13—16); Eric Hartzell, G, Sr. (27-6-5, 1.52 GAA, .934 save pct.)
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NCAA West Regional Preview

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. | VAN ANDEL ARENA
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, MARCH 29-30

Friday: Minnesota vs. Yale, 2 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Friday: North Dakota vs. Niagara, 5:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Saturday: Regional Final, 4 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

minnesotaNO. 1 SEED MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Record: 26-8-5 overall (16-7-5 WCHA, tied for first)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: Five (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003)
NCAA Appearance: 34th (most recent, 2012)
Head Coach: Don Lucia
Key Players: Erik Haula, F, Jr. (36 GP, 16-33—49); Kyle Rau, F, So. (39 GP, 15-24—39); Nate Schmidt, D, Jr. (39 GP, 8-23—31); Adam Wilcox, G, Fr. (25-7-5, 1.85 GAA, .922 save pct.)

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NCAA Northeast Regional Preview

MANCHESTER, N.H. | VERIZON WIRELESS CENTER
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, MARCH 29-30

Friday: UMass Lowell vs. Wisconsin, 4:30 p.m. ET (TV: NESN, ESPN3)
Friday: New Hampshire vs. Denver, 8 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Saturday: Regional Final, 6:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

umlNO. 1 SEED UMASS LOWELL RIVER HAWKS
Location: Lowell, Mass.
Record: 26-10-2 overall (16-9-2 Hockey East, first)
Qualified: Hockey East tournament champions
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Fifth (most recent, 2012)
Head Coach: Norm Bazin
Key Players: Joe Pendenza, F, Jr. (38 GP, 13-23—36); Scott Wilson, F, So. (38 GP, 15-19—34); Chad Ruhwedel, D, Jr. (38 GP, 7-15—22); Connor Hellebuyck, G, Fr. (18-2-0, 1.39 GAA, .949 save pct.)
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INCH Podcast: March 19, 2013

INCH PodcastBack by popular demand, the INCH Podcast is here to help you kill some time prior to this weekend’s conference tournaments. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so we dive right in and take a look around leagues with an eye on the upcoming NCAA Tournament. With the announcement of the Hobey Baker Award top 10 looming, we discuss potential candidates for that honor. And we’ll give you our early Frozen Four picks as well.

INCH Podcast: March 19, 2013

INCH Writers 4×4: Version 3.0

Listen, I get that speculation is fun. It’s why people liked INCH Pick ‘Em, why we like mock drafts and handicapping the Oscars. But there comes a time when it gets to be too damn much.

Take Monday morning, for instance. Based on a few tweets I saw, there were people actively searching for a way Robert Morris could earn at at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Now it’d be a great story if RMU got into the NCAA Tournament; the Colonials had a darn good season. But according to Jim Dahl of Siouxsports.com—he ran each of the more than 393,000 scenarios that could play out in next weekend’s conference tournaments—Robert Morris has a less than one percent chance of earning an at-large bid. You’ve got a better chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime. Continue reading

INCH Writers Conference Playoff Preview

In lieu of those big, blown-out conference tournament previews we used to do at the old site—you know, back when we had actual writers and whatnot—here’s a pared-down version from your resident hack (WCHA rant not included.) Apologies to Yahoo college football/basketball hoops scribe Pat Forde for my blatant repackaging of his NCAA hoops league tourney previews. Besides, imitation is the most sincere form of something, someone said sometime. I think it was Carlos Mencia.

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Of Huskies, Gophers, and Trophies

One team had a chance to win the WCHA regular-season title outright on Saturday night, the opportunity to hoist the MacNaughton Cup in celebration.

That team was St. Cloud State. The Huskies were denied sole possession of the league crown, losing to Wisconsin in Madison and sharing the honor with Minnesota. Of course, had the Huskies tied or won they wouldn’t have been able to claim the prize, because the MacNaughton Cup was 500 miles away in Bemidji, inexplicably, with the Gophers.

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