• Check out the Free Press founder's new Rhode Island/New England sports blog
  • http://providencesportsscribe.blogspot.com/

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Imagine a “Cup Championship Series”

The man who, come about midday January 20, will be the new “decider” has spoken up about it. So maybe now, more than ever, Division I football’s Bowl Championship system will undergo sincere consideration for refinement effective about a year from now. Major League Baseball cooperatively perked up its ears when Senator Mitchell of Maine took a stand against steroids, did it not?

Or the system may just retain its rigidity and resist change of any sort.

Come what may, perhaps it’s high time hockey devotees offered up their holiday gratitude that the authorities in their collegiate game do not brandish the same financial means, ironically unquenched avarice, and disregard for public opinion of their pigskin cousins.

Otherwise, if, hypothetically, the latest national polls (disseminated on December 15) froze in place through championship weekend, we could have been facing this itinerary come April.

Disclaimer: Yes, the BCS is so disorderly that they don’t even assign teams in even general accordance with their final rank. In unreal reality, the committee would know where to put these teams based on the upshots of conference championships, etc.

Additionally, any and every one of these events’ names is subject to smothering sponsorship (e.g. the Bickford’s Grill Cup presented by CCM/RBK).

National championship – Rotating sites (This year at Verizon Center – Washington, D.C.)
2009 Matchup: #1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Miami (Ohio)
Two years ago, the gridiron selection committee wouldn’t have it when the peerless Michigan-Ohio State rivalry had a statistically apt chance to spontaneously rekindle six weeks after their prescheduled get-together. For them, it’s strictly nonconference only, whether followers like it or not.

But here, heck, Maine arm wrestled New Hampshire through overtime en route to the national crown a decade ago. And six years later, four WCHA tenants converged in April wondering where the fifth participant was and whether they needed treatment for uncontrollable déjà vu. All that considered, these two out-of-the-blue powerhouses who have made the better rungs of the CCHA look like the CCCP have each earned their right to square off for the title, whether followers like it or not.

Hockeytown University Classic – Joe Louis Arena – Detroit
2009 Matchup: #3 Boston University vs. #4 Minnesota
Take it from someone who spent a four-year block of his boyhood on the outskirts of Detroit: College Hockey at “The Joe” is fairly addictive to local puckheads. And the “season” only stretches from the Great Lakes Invitational to the CCHA Championship. One more twirl between two randomly selected programs would surely be an embraced excuse to break out the Joe College mascot –a skating graduate complete with a cap, gown, and 1970s goalie mask- one more time.

Speaking of the 70s, here’s how one justifies the intraleague matchup for the title game, beyond sticking to proper poll positions. Who doesn’t want a chance to revisit the rivalry that stirred the famous Frozen Four Bloodbath of 1976? We’ll still have one holdover in Professor Parker, who claimed a MacInnes Cup of cheer in the 2002 GLI in his last voyage to Detroit. And Michigan’s hockey mansion will make for perfect neutral grounds between visitors from its two sandwiching puck-centric regions.

Bay State Cup – DCU Center – Worcester, Mass.
2009 Matchup: #5 Denver vs. #6 Northeastern
Hey, we’re realistic. The Garden, what with its NHL and NBA tenants, the Beanpot, the HEA championship, high school events, etc., would likely be a tad too strained to host a championship event year in and year out. Plus, disgruntled Denver fans may perceive a bit of an unfair advantage in favor of this Beanpot staple. So this event is happily settled on a genuinely neutral pond.

Cabin Cup – Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul
2009 Matchup: #7 Boston College vs. #8 Princeton

The self-proclaimed State of Hockey can do better than this newfangled “Minnesota College Hockey Showcase,” which merely convenes the state’s four WCHA inhabitants and, despite the rigid dreaminess of Commissioner Bruce McLeod, can’t duplicate the Beanpot. Here’s their chance. Not to mention, here’s a chance for BC junior defenseman Carl Sneep –a proud gem plucked out of Brainerd High- and Princeton sophomore Matt Godlewski –hailing from Elk River- to clash on the site of thei distinguished state high school championship contests.

Olympic Village Classic – Herb Brooks Arena – Lake Placid, N.Y.
2009 Matchup: #9/10 Colorado College vs. #10/9 Cornell
First issue to resolve: who wears white? Do you base it on a coin toss between the participating clubs or the dictating poll panels? (USCHO favors the Tigers by an ice chip; USA Today is siding with the Big Red). Cornell’s Ithaca campus sits but a roughly three-hour drive southwest of the historic Olympic barn, but there are inherent Miracle memories in CC’s participation. After all, that seem of Soviet slayers was initially assembled at the late Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, ex-home of Tiger hockey. Everyone’s a sentimental winner in this arrangement.

Mile High Melee – Pepsi Center – Denver
2009 Matchup: #11/12 Air Force vs. #12/11 Michigan
Same pregame bump as the Lake Placid tangle. And once you’ve hurdled over that, there’s no escaping at least a few grunts of home ice advantage in favor of the Falcons. Then again, the Wolverines have utitlized Yost in past regional tournaments to stamp facile tickets to the Frozen Four. Regardless, to paraphrase Rihanna, shut up and drive to Denver, fans.

Coffee Pot – Dunkin Donuts Center
2009 Matchup: #13 Vermont vs. #14 Wisconsin

Hey, Friar Puck’s not utilizing this facility or tournament name anymore, so why not have at it, NCAA? As for the game itself, you’re looking at one team that merely missed out on Sweet 16 membership in 2008 on account of Boston College zapping them in the Hockey East final, in effect swiping the requisite automatic bid. On the visiting end, you have a program that mysteriously followed five of its conference cohabitants to the dance and hosted its own regional –even though it brandished a losing record and missed out on the WCHA Final Five. One will skate off with a fun-size piece of hardware. Catamount fans, in particular, ought to be salivating right here.

Buckeye State Cup – Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio
2009 Matchup: #15/14 New Hampshire vs. #16/15 Nebraska-Omaha

It is still fairly perplexing that the 2005 Frozen Four was held at the former Value City Arena as opposed to the slightly larger, more posh shrine to the NHL Blue Jackets. But this way, Columbus hockey fans will finally get a firsthand feel for post-season action, let alone with firsthand championship implications.

Quick Feeds: PC women’s assistant coach Amy Quinlan will serve as Team USA’s video coordinator at the seond annual U18 World Championships, answering to head coach Mark Johnson, Jan. 5-11 in Fussen, Germany…New Englanders privileged enough to own or track down a TV set carrying Versus for last week’s Bruins-Devils tussle must have taken note of the jutting presence of former Friar and P-Bruins captain Jay Leach in the New Jersey lineup. After he had whittled off slivers of credit for two games in Boston three seasons ago and two in Tampa last season, the bruiser has seen action in 15 of the Devils’ last 19 ventures, garnering roughly 15 minutes of ice time per night, a cumulative +4 rating, and 21 PIM…Happy birthday to a former BU parent and soon-to-be UNH parent, Ray Bourque…This author’s picks for the out-of-market game of the week: two honorable mentions in recent polls in UMass-Lowell and Minnesota-Duluth seek to upgrade their respective national postures in Day 1 of the newfangled Shillelagh Tournament –infamously transplated from Tampa to suburban Chicago late last summer. In the women’s spectrum, BU vies to retain its first-half luster with a two-night visit to the similarly hungry Ohio State program.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

No comments: