Saturday night (and preseason) rewind

The inaugural National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular season is over and the Penrose Cup went to St. Cloud State after the Huskies beat Colorado College on Saturday night and UND lost to Western Michigan in the regular-season finale.

Now that we know the final standings, I decided to go back and look the preseason poll that I e-mailed the league.

My preseason poll

1. Miami
2. Omaha
3. St. Cloud State
4. North Dakota
5. Duluth
6. Denver
7. Western Michigan
8. Colorado College

For starters, I completely botched the Miami pick (as did everyone else). Their goaltending was very good a year ago and shockingly struggled big-time this year. The defensive corps really struggled, too. Miami winning the league was the pick I was the most confident in at the start of the year. I never would have imagined the RedHawks would finish last.

While Omaha ended up getting voted last place by the media, this ended up being one of my better picks. I really liked a lot about this Omaha team. The only question was goaltending, which didn’t end up being very good. But the Mavs still finished third with lots of explosive offensive players and a solid D corps.

Prior to the season, I said that if Omaha finishes last as predicted, I won’t eat pizza for two weeks. Thankfully, it won’t come to that.

St. Cloud State did a great job overcoming the losses of Drew LeBlanc, Nick Jensen and Ben Hanowski to win the league. As I said in the preseason preview, the Huskies had a number of guys who were ready to for larger roles like Joey Benik and David Morley. I still didn’t think they would be able to win the league after losing such prominent players.

I underrated UND in the picks. UND’s young defensive corps ended up coming around faster than I thought it would. I also never imagined this team would go on a run like it did to close the season, especially in a deep league like this one. Like St. Cloud, UND was trying to overcome the loss of some very prominent players, like Hobey finalists Danny Kristo and Corban Knight, and it did that.

I was only one spot off with Duluth and Colorado College and right on with Denver, so those teams did exactly as I thought they would. There wasn’t much about those teams that surprised.

Western Michigan finished two spots higher than I thought. The emergence of Shane Berschbach, who tripled his goals from his junior season, was huge. Justin Kovacs and Nolan LaPorte also increased their production by quite a bit.

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So, now we’re headed toward the postseason.

As it stands, only St. Cloud State (No. 5) and North Dakota (No. 10) would make the NCAA tournament if it started today. I think St. Cloud State is in no matter what happens from here. I’m thinking that UND has to win the first-round series against Colorado College to get in, but I’ll wait for Jim Dahl’s weekly Pairwise predictor to make any definitive statements on that.

In past years in the old WCHA, the winner of the Final Five was always a team that was going to the NCAAs anyway (until last year). That’s where things could get interesting this year.

I would not be surprised in the least if a team other than UND or St. Cloud State won the Frozen Faceoff.

Right now, in the WCHA, the only team that would be in the NCAAs would be Ferris. Likewise, it would not surprise me in the least if Ferris did not win the Final Five.

That means you might have to finish higher in the Pairwise than years past in order to get an at-large bid.

Atlantic Hockey does not have a team in the top 30, therefore, it will take up one spot. So, at minimum, you need to be in the top 15 to get in. If we have “upset” winners in the NCHC and WCHA, which is very, very possible (not to mention the possibility in the ECAC), that would mean a top 13 spot is necessary.

So, as the conference tournaments start to play out over the next two weeks, keep an eye on that. If you finish No. 16, you are out. If you finish 14 or 15, I’d be nervous.

Nebraska Omaha and Colorado College’s combined nonconference record of 3-16-1 did not do the NCHC any favors in the Pairwise.

How much of an impact does that have?

If Omaha wouldn’t have lost to Bentley — and if it would have been able to gain splits against Cornell and New Hampshire instead of getting swept by both — then the NCHC would be in position to get four teams in: St. Cloud State would be 4, UND would be 7, Omaha would be 13, Duluth would be 15.

But as it stands, Omaha is 26 and Duluth is 19.

17 thoughts on “Saturday night (and preseason) rewind

  1. Forgive the off topic question but:

    You mentioned during the game about the student section losing seats. Is this going to happen? Which seats will they lose? Will the REA succeed in removing the students from the lower bowl (like they were rumored to have been pushing for when they first opened?).

    Is the Alumni Association and the Student Government/Body aware of this? I know, as an alumni, I’d never donate a dime to UND if they removed the students from the lower bowl.

      • In my opinion taking away student sections is the last thing we should be doing if anything we should be adding student sections in the lower bowl…it certainly would help the atmosphere at the ralph (been really pathetic i think at least, hope im not the only one who thinks this, the last few years) because the students actually care about the outcomes of games unlike a majority of people that go to games just to say they went to a game…NDSU gives there students FREE tickets to football games and if you havent heard theyve set some records for crowd noise…would be a nice act to follow so we make the ralph a difficult place for opponents to play actually!

        • In your day (and early in mine) students were allowed to be students. They could stand the whole game, harass the opposing teams penalty players, SWEAR, and were felt welcomed. I was a student at the Ralph from 2000-2005 and 2006-2010 and I can tell you, security really took the wind out of our sails. We were made to feel like second class citizens, now they’re paying the price. Student passion is evidently gone. I say, give them more seats and encourage them to be students again! Season ticket holders sit on their hands the entire game and need the prompter to tell them when to “get loud.” Sure, you can fill the Ralph better with season ticket holders at an increased price, but at what cost? Try filling the Ralph in 20-30 years when your students didn’t connect.

          Example of second class citizen: Students line up hours before the game to get a front row on the upper deck, I was one of those students. After waiting outside in -20 weather, I was the first in the door. Guess what, the entire front row+ was filled with older fans! General admission at that time could come early to get their seats, taking away the seats I froze my ear off for. I stopped coming early and the seats weren’t that much different.

      • Is this a direct result of attendance issues ~this~ year or are there other factors in play here? As an Alumni who used to attend every game I could at the Ralph I am curios as to why our student fan base has shrunken to the point where they are limiting the amount of student tickets now.. Baffling really!!! What is wrong with these kids these days. More season ticket opportunities for the “diehard” Sioux fans that actually watch the game I guess.

  2. Even though my Sioux sweep predictions the last two weeks didnt pan out, I’m thinking you will get a reprieve on the preseason Miami pick when they face St Cloud in the first round. Can they really be THAT bad with all their talent and a great coach (seeing as EVERYONE thought they’d be #1 or 2 pre-season)? St Cloud is a shoe-in for the NCAA’s, and Miami is in desperation mode. If I had to pick a recipe for an upset, this might be it…..

  3. Question is, who do we Alumni have to call in order to speak our opinion. We can change things if we voice ourselves. Brad, who can we call?

  4. My two cents…the mistake was made when the building opened. The student section should have been on the end where the opposing goalie is twice. If they would have put the students on the end, they can stand and be as rowdy as they want. I say this as a season ticket holder who remembers being upset at not being able to see play in the far end because of the student section being directly to my right. I would have been more than happy to stand the entire game with them…but thats not realistic. But thats all mute point now. Go Sioux!

  5. What amazes me is what some people think is being treated like second class citizenship. I’m wondering how standing outside for hours to get any seat like back in the day is different than standing in line now? How is giving free tickets going to get more students in the seats when despite the tickets being sold to them, they still are not attending the game? How is it that to be loud that you must be able to SWEAR or harass the opponents penalty box or stand the whole game? I attended hundreds of games over the years with most being in the old Ralph and yes we stood at times and many other things but most of the time it was loud just because we were cheering on our team. Everyone could do the same today if they really wanted too but I guess it’s easier to just blame someone else as to why the student attendance is down and why it isnt loud anymore.

    • Sioux1 –

      I think it’s not as cut and dry as that. I attended my first live UND game at the Old Ralph vs. Wisconsin (memory is pretty dim… I do remember we lost and that we lost to a team that wore red and white) in the 1995-6 season. The students were students. Did they swear? Yes. Was it all the time? No. Was it anywhere to put midget teams or families? Not on your life.

      Nowadays, the atmosphere the Ralph (and to be fair every other hockey arena) is going for is the “family atmosphere.” The students’ behavior did not contribute to that atmosphere and, in many cases, detracted from it. THIS is the primary downfall.

      I still remember the days of the chants. The spelling of certain words that I can’t even type here because they wouldn’t be seen as proper. The chants are not obscene or frought with swearing. However, the thought of me chanting it brings me pause because I’m pretty sure someone would report me to security. The rowdiness we had were more secure because we knew that no one could say or do anything to stop it.

      We werent running around screaming obscenities or performing lewd acts. But right now, even at other venues (Ralston Arena has banned “Rowdy behavior” but fails to define what that actually means) the same thing is occurring.

      It’s one thing to say that students shouldn’t swear. It’s another to impose the fear of real punishment based upon language that some people find offensive. It’s a problem with no real solution. The REA can’t turn a blind eye but they can’t become a totalitarian regime either. Either way they act, they can’t win in this case.

  6. One thing that nobody has mentioned is the fact that we don’t have Minnesota or Wisconsin on the schedule this year. Let’s face it, many of our students come from Minnesota and there is a certain prestige and history playing those big schools. Die hard hockey fans will be there no matter what, but not everyone is a die-hard……they may come only for the party/fun/excitement of playing these big schools. Hopefully it will get better as we add these schools back. Playing Miami and Western Michigan is just not the same.
    On another note, having gone to school there during the late 70′s, early 80′s and now being a season ticket holder I’m tired of the whining by current students. Students basically were seated in the same areas at the old Ralph and though it was rowdy, you got kicked out if you got out of control. You didn’t need to stand all game to show your support and we had to stand in line for hours just to get a seat! If you don’t want to lose seats………show up!
    And Ray, take your Bison comments to a Fargo blog……I don’t care about Bison football and it’s not the same thing!

    • Amen!

      I hated missing a game as a student. Was always fun being in the Ralph. I did see quite a lot of students who would go to the game and just sit on there phone and not even pay attention to the game. Was pretty pathetic.

  7. I’ve been a season ticket holder since the new arena opened. Having initially had our seats north of and immediately to the left of the students. We never saw the game as they stood the whole time. I’m happy we’ve moved to another area of the arena and if they don’t show up sell them to people who will. I’m now bringing my grandkids to games and I’m less interested in them chanting f this and so on. I too stood outside for hours from 1976-1980. It’s how it should be. I date bet they’re busier doing other things that today matter more. I love the students but if less come. Sell those tickets to people who want to pay to get in off the waiting list

  8. The atmosphere in the Ralph is better with the students, but if they aren’t going to show up, something needs to be done. That being said, I think next year is too soon. A lot of things have changed this past year and I believe those changes have played a role in why the students aren’t coming. I think we should give them another year or two before we take back their tickets. Allow these changes to “sink in” before we act hastily. I for one don’t want every game to sound like the games during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

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