Friday Morning Reading

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It was strange wandering around downtown Grand Rapids tonight.

I hardly saw any UND fans.

Every other road trip this year, you could go anywhere in a downtown area, to just about any restaurant or pub, and find the place crawling with UND fans.

All day today, I saw a total of four UND fans, no Minnesota fans, no Niagara fans and no Yale fans. And one of the UND fans was leaving Grand Rapids at the airport.

We will find out tomorrow for sure, but the NCAA has to be worried about this regional being a disaster attendance-wise. Surely, they thought Michigan or Western Michigan — two teams ranked in the top 10 nationally at the start of the season — to be in the tournament and placed in the West Regional.

Alas, there are no Michigan teams in the NCAAs and attendance has to be a major concern for this one. Tom Miller wrote asking questions about the issue. Read that here.

As for the game itself, I’m thinking it will be a close one. I’m going with 3-2 UND. Why will it be close? History tells us so. Read about that, and what Niagara plans to do to keep Danny Kristo and Corban Knight at bay, in this story.

This is my eighth year covering college hockey and probably the first year where I’ve looked at the NCAA bracket with no expectations for anyone. I would be a little surprised if Canisius beat Quinnipiac. Other than that, it’s really up for grabs. This story details the wild world of college hockey in 2012-13.

UND and Boston College have traditionally been the best second-half teams in the nation. UND enters the national tournament with a 9-7-4 mark in the last 20 games. Boston College is 10-9-3 in the last 22 games.

But for UND, alarm bells are not going off. The team went back to work after the Final Five loss to Colorado College and its leaders say that they’ve refocused and they are eager to get back to work against Niagara.

Perhaps that’s this season feels so weird.

Every other year under ninth-year coach Dave Hakstol, UND entered the NCAA tournament on some sort of a ridiculous run. We all knew what the line combinations would be. We all knew who the goaltender would be.

Heading into today? Not so much.

It’s not like UND has had a bad year. The team was a post away from winning the MacNaughton Cup. It was just done in unfamiliar fashion. How will that translate to the NCAAs? It’s anybody’s guess.

In Friday’s Herald, there’s a full page of capsules, featuring all four teams in the West Regional and a key player for each team. I don’t see it online right now, but you can see it in the paper.

USCHO did put some capsules online. You can check theirs out here. College Hockey News also has a preview here.

Jayson Hajdu and Matt Schill have been doing a travel blog here.

We will have a video blog coming this morning and more coverage of the West Regional as it unfolds in the afternoon.

Minnesota vs. Yale at 1 p.m. Central. UND vs. Niagara at 4:30 p.m. Central. Both games are on ESPNU. We’ll have a live chat going on the blog.

17 Responses

  1. John Ballard

    My biggest concern: Can the Sioux put 4 consistent games together? I’ll cheering loudly as I watch. GO SIOUX!!!!!

  2. John

    Some of us have real jobs, Brad :). I will trade you anytime and maybe run into you tonight after the win.

  3. joe

    The NCAA should be worried about attendance. They schedule a tournament 600-1000 miles away from the biggest draw schools, they give fans only 1 week to find crazy expensive plane tickets and get off works, and they do it over East weekend.

    Dear NCAA, the number 1 seed should mean something, please schedule the tournament at the number 1 seed home, the building must seat at least 8,000 fans, if not, it goes to the next seed’s home. DONE! Make it a 3 day tournament per team, so it lasts 4 weekends, this would also get you out of the Final Four, and get you more national attention. Dahhh…

    1. Joe

      The other issue is the cost, I live just 2hrs down the road and work today, so I’m going to try and get there tomorrow if UND wins. But they want $35.00/ticket for all four members of my family. I’m sorry, but if I pay that much and see and empty arena, I’m going to be dissapointed. The NCAA has problems.

    2. Trickey7

      Joe, all good points. The #1 seeds should have home ice advantage. NCAA could simply block rooms at potential #1 seeds home 1 month out and see of possible conflicts at the top 10 seeds. Grand Rapids is expensive to get to, i was there about 1 month ago. How much are these schools or arenas possibly bidding to get the game?

  4. Optimistic

    I won’t be surprised if attendance is below expectations, but it shouldn’t be for lack of hockey fans. USA hockey reports that as a state Michigan has 52944 youth hockey players, second only to Minnesota. In terms of division 1 programs it has: Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Western Michigan, Ferris State, and Lake Superior State. Division 3 schools include the Adrain Bulldogs and the Finlandia Lions. The OHL has the Plymouth Whalers and the Saginaw Spirit. Junior A teams include: Alpena, Travers City, the Soo Eagles, USA National Development Team, Flint, Grand Rapids, the Metro Jets and the Motor City Chiefs. Also, the AHL is represented by the Grand Rapids Griffins. So, there are plentyof teams and fans in Michigan, oh and I forget to mention there is also a NHL team in Detroit as well. So, if the NCAA isn’t a draw it’s not for lack of hockey fans!

  5. Green bay

    Green bay last year had 3000 announced for und games, that’s embarrassing and I expect the same in Michigan. We dont travel well except for Minneapolis. Sorry.

    1. Siouxguy

      Don’t travel well? Would say that UND fans travel the best in the NCAA. Look at attendance in Omaha and Denver and really to most places in the league. I think most Sioux fans love going to the Final Five and are not going to spend money two weeks in a row, especially when they are hoping to travel to the Big Deal, the Frozen Four. Let’s face it, regionals don’t have near the atmosphere as those tournaments.

  6. arrow

    The NCAA hate’s college hockey. It’s popular enough that they have to pay attention, but not a big enough draw to really give a crap about it!

  7. ralph

    couple of problems. having the regionals clustered around detroit and boston. of course who could’ve forsee not one school from michigan not making it this year. i see cincinnati is hosting a regional next year (zzzzzzz)
    seriously who wants to take a road trip to grand rapids or toledo?? c’mon kids instead of st.paul we are going to toledo!
    also lets take a look at the tv guide this afternoon. espn and espn 2 are showing tennis, around the horn, pti, sports nation, etc. so basically its daily garbage barrage. hockey gets a seat so far back it isnt even on the bus. on many cable systems espn u is on a digital package or in my case not even available. (same with espn3) only bonus is fsn north is picking up the scsu first round game so there is that.

  8. UND_Guy_in_NJ

    It’s not that NCAA hates college hockey, rather I think it’s that they fundamentally don’t understand it – at least the people charged with running the hockey tournament do not. There seems to be an insistence on running the hockey bracket the same way they run basketball. It’s a massive mistake that i believe will continue to cause the same issues to persist until that single concept is fixed.

    If you get away from that concept it frees you to look at fixed, rotating sites for regionals and finals – e.g. Denver, Minneapolis, Detroit, Boston – that stay in “hockey country.” It allows you to consider first round home ice series that would generate much more excitement and attendance at grass root levels. These things get talked about all the time but until NCAA stops treating the hockey tourney like March Madness 2.0 you can simply forget about any hope of change.

  9. ND1


    That’s twice in two days you used “Alas.” I think I’ll help you help it make a comeback.
    Let’s go UND!

  10. Siouxguy

    Personally, I hope that every regional bombs in attendance so the NCAA can take a fresh look at things. The first round of the NCAA tournament truly should be at the higher seeds home, provided they have a decent sized arena. That would reward teams for striving to be a number one seed, and would also make the conference tournaments all the more important. In the past UND had to do well at the Final Five just to make sure they got in the tournament. This year that wasn’t the case because they were assured of getting in the tournament. While the Sioux played hard and well in the game against CC, could they have found another level had a number one seed been on the line and a chance to host an NCAA tournament game/games? My guess is that Sioux fans and players alike would have taken things to another level with that on the line! So do the right thing NCAA, and promote excellence from start to finish of the regular and playoff seasons.

  11. RollTribe

    There will definitely be more fans watching at The Ralph than there will be in total Grand Rapids…I wouldn’t be surprised if the attendance at The Ralph this afternoon/evening will be greater than any of the 4 region sites.

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