Thursday Morning Reading

What’s the No. 1 thing everyone will miss about the WCHA?

The Final Five.

I don’t think there’s much debating that.

Sadly, in three days, it will be gone forever. In 10 years from now, we will be those people telling the young’ns about the “good ol’ days” of college hockey when North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado College, Denver and all of the other Minnesota schools were all in the same league and they played an epic tournament every year in front of 19,000 people.

We’ll tell them about the time hockey fans drank an Irish bar out of beer, and about how fans of all sorts of teams got together — whether their team made it to the event or not — for great hockey games and great times afterward.

By then, the new leagues will be well on their way.

The Big Ten, the NCHC and the WCHA will continue to have strong postseason tournaments, I believe, and the leagues will ultimately be successful. But there’s no chance that this event will ever be replicated. It’s simply impossible. This is a perfect storm of location, fan bases, rivalries, facility, downtown area.

So, for all of you who are going: Enjoy it. For those who are watching it on TV: Do the same. After all, we’ll never have this event again.

I detail some of that in my Thursday morning story here. Minnesota coach Don Lucia had an interesting quote talking about how the NCAA regionals can be a letdown atmosphere-wise after playing in the Final Five a week earlier.

Today’s games are Minnesota State vs. Wisconsin at 2 p.m. and North Dakota vs. Colorado College at 7 p.m. Check out a breakdown of those games here.

Another thing to watch for today is the Hobey announcement. UND’s Danny Kristo and Corban Knight are both Hobey hopefuls. Read about that in this week’s On the Ice column.

Both College Hockey News and USCHO are predicting both Kristo and Knight to be finalists.

In case you missed it earlier, I wrote a story on Kristo for Wednesday’s paper. It talks about his intense competitive drive and his lifelong dream of playing for UND. Read that here. His family also sent me some young Danny pictures that certainly display how big of a UND fan he was growing up. Check them out here.

I wrote up a blog post on the attendance figures in the WCHA and CCHA this year. The ominous sign for the new WCHA is that its teams finished at the bottom in both leagues in attendance. Check out the results — and which teams increased and decreases in attendance from last year — in this post here.

On Wednesday afternoon, I joined College Hockey Inc.’s Nate Ewell for a podcast. We talked about Kristo, Knight, the Final Five and college hockey in general. Listen to that here.

College Hockey News has a Final Five preview here.

The St. Cloud Times blog also has a nice breakdown of the Final Five teams here, while the Mankato Free Press picked out an unsung hero on each team to feature. Read that here.

That’s it for now. We’ll have a pregame video up this morning discussing memories of the Final Five, the Hobey 10 will be listed later and a live game blog will be going tonight. So check back often.

11 Responses

  1. Hockey fan

    The final five will live on and it will continue to make memories. We have chosen to take our puck to the basketball arena across the river! If you like the atmosphere of 19000 rabid hockey fans it happens every year at the Minnesota high school hockey tournament! If you have never attended, it truly is a hockey experience. I am sure our players that have played in the tournament will testify to the same.

  2. Ron

    What I won’t miss about the Final Five is having to play 3 games to win it, or in some cases 6 games in 9 days. It’s a hard fought contest the week before regionals. What a way to get your team worn out and battered before the national tournament. There should be an additional week between the final five and the regionals.

  3. Soo fan

    Just saw some interesting stats about the final five. That being that it reached its attendance high mark in 2007 averaging 17780 fans per game with the largest crowd ever to see an indoor college hockey game when19463 watched the goofs beat the Sioux inthe championship game. When it was held at the basketball arena in Minneapolis (were we hope to play next year) it averaged 8710 fans.

  4. ElkRiverSioux

    Potentially 6 games in 9 days- that’s what playoff hockey is all about. Best way to gear up for the NCAA run. Hopefully UND can take care of business tonight- Friday night vs the Gophers? Yes, please.

  5. PJD

    When Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame left in the 1980s that was the end of the real WCHA; UND, Denver and CC were lucky to be in the same conference with the big schools (I’m a UND alum, so I’m not dissing the Sioux). Replacing them with Mankato, St Cloud and Anchorage wasn’t the same.

  6. Lucia's Fault

    It’s funny that Lucia is quoted in that article being that his team was one of two that made the choice to leave the league. Obviously the Final 5 didn’t mean that much to him, cuz he rather play lesser opponents in the post season. hedge hog

  7. Courtney

    Where can I find a PDF of the final five bracket?? Since I can’t be there this weekend, I will have to settle for following online and filling in my bracket!

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