Vying for conference championships
Notebook: Michigan needs to win CCHA; first-time hopefuls
With selection Sunday right around the corner, teams are making a last-ditch effort to get off the bubble and into the field.
One of the teams with the most on the line this weekend is Michigan. The Wolverines were floundering with a 10-18-2 record a little more than a month ago and its record run of 22 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances looked like it was all but over. A month later, Michigan finds itself as the hottest team in the nation, unbeaten in its past eight games (7-0-1), including a first-round CCHA upset against Western Michigan. However, Michigan still needs to win the CCHA tournament to get into the NCAA tournament field, which will be unveiled at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPNU. Michigan takes on top-seeded Miami in one semifinal, while Notre Dame takes on Ohio State in the other semifinal.
|CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL|
Conference champions will be crowned this weekend. Keep tabs on all the games as teams vie to enter the NCAA tournament with one championship in tow.
In Hockey East, Boston University head coach Jack Parker announced his retirement after 40 years at the helm, to be effective at the end of this season. The Terriers will take on its biggest rival, Boston College, in the conference semifinals with BU needing to win to extend its season. Providence, which is looking for its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2001, takes on Massachusetts-Lowell in the other Hockey East semifinal.
Canisius is looking to make its first NCAA tournament appearance in school history and will need to win the Atlantic Hockey tournament to accomplish the feat. First up, the Griffins need to beat top-seeded and crosstown rival Niagara in the semifinals. Connecticut also is looking for its first appearance in the NCAA tournament and will face off against Mercyhurst in the second semifinal.
Quinnipiac has basically locked up a No. 1 seed and will be into the tournament for only the second time in school history. The Bobcats lost in the first round in 2002 in their only other appearance. Quinnipiac faces Brown in the first ECAC semifinal. The Bears are looking to make it back to the NCAAs for the first time since 1993. The other semifinal will feature Union and Yale.
If Michigan is unable to win the CCHA tournament and get back to NCAAs, the longest tournament streak would move to North Dakota, which has virtually locked its 11th consecutive appearance. North Dakota plays Colorado College on Thursday night to open the WCHA Final Five. Minnesota will play the winner of that contest on Friday night with the Gophers already assured of an NCAA berth for the 34th time in school history. Minnesota State and Wisconsin play in the tournament opener on Thursday with the Badgers likely in need of a win to make the NCAAs. The winner will play St. Cloud State on Friday afternoon. The Huskies have only one win in eight previous NCAA tournament appearances, but are looking to make an impact after winning the WCHA regular season for the first time in school history.
• History is stacked against Miami in the CCHA semifinals against Michigan. The RedHawks are 0-5 all time against the Wolverines in the CCHA tournament, including 0-2 in the semifinals, as Michigan is the lone team Miami has never beaten in the playoffs. The teams last met in the CCHA tournament in the 2010 semifinals, which the Wolverines won 5-2. Miami is 35-37 all time in the CCHA tournament, including its quarterfinal series with Michigan State, and 10-5 all time as a No. 1 seed. The RedHawks have made it to Detroit all four years Miami has been a No. 1 seed.
• For the first time in the 69-year history of Minnesota-Duluth hockey, more than one individual finished atop the team’s scoring charts as senior left-winger Mike Seidel, freshman center Tony Cameranesi and freshman left-winger Austin Farley shared the No. 1 spot with 34 points each. Cameranesi, a member of the all-WCHA rookie team, and Farley join centers Tim Stapleton (2002-03) and Keith “Huffer” Christiansen (1963-64) as the only first-year freshmen to ever lead the Bulldogs in scoring since UMD joined the Division I ranks in 1961-62.
• St. Cloud State senior Drew LeBlanc now has 50 points this season, which makes him the ninth player in team history to hit the 50-point plateau in a season. LeBlanc leads the nation with 37 assists this winter and he currently ranks third in the country with 50 points. In his storied career, LeBlanc has 105 assists and 42 goals. In addition, he has played in a school-record 167 games as a Husky and ranks second in the team records with 105 assists and sixth with 147 points.
Colorado College senior Rylan Schwartz needs two more assists to reach the century mark for his career. … Quinnipiac has allowed more than two goals only one time in its past 19 games. … Holy Cross’ 20-14-3 record was its best since the 2005-2006 season when it went 27-10-2. The Crusaders, who went 20-15-4 last year, earned the program’s first back-to-back 20-win seasons. … Minnesota State is looking for its first win in school history in the WCHA Final Five. … North Dakota has won eight consecutive WCHA Final Five games and is the three-time defending champion. … Brown is 5-1 in its past six games. … Wisconsin junior forward Tyler Barnes has a sister, Lauren, who plays for the Minnesota State women’s hockey team. … In its past six games, Michigan has given up just 10 goals (1.7 per game). In their first 32 games this season, the Wolverines gave up an average of 3.6 goals per game. … The Irish have won four consecutive games and are 5-0-2 in their past seven games since Feb. 17. … Niagara juniors Ryan Rashid and Giancarlo Iuorio are the first student-athletes to net three consecutive 20-point seasons since Egor Mironov and Chris Moran achieved it from 2007-10. Iuorio has earned a pair of 30-point seasons during his four-year tenure at Niagara, which was most recently accomplished by Moran, who secured 30-plus points his freshman (2006-07), junior ('08-09) and senior ('09-10) seasons. … Boston College’s senior class is 14-0 in Hockey East tournament play. … Boston University has at least one win in each of the past 21 Hockey East tournaments, a streak nearly twice as long any other school in league history. Since suffering a 5-1 loss at Denver in his first collegiate game, UMass-Lowell's Connor Hellebuyck is 16-1-0 with a 1.27 goals-against-average and a .952 save rate (432 saves on 454 shots).