NCHC To Discuss Playoff Formats

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Joe Paisley reported this week that the NCHC will talk about possible adjustments to the league’s postseason format at the annual meetings, which begin next week in Florida.

There seems to be two alternatives to the current setup (four best-of-three, first-round series with the winners going to the Frozen Faceoff at the Target Center):

1. All eight teams make it to the Target Center.

The good: Fans could buy tickets to it each year knowing that their team will make it there. The league could book travel for all teams before the season started and not have problems getting last-minute tickets. The bad: You go from 12-16 games in the tournament with first-round series, to eight-10 games. Fewer games probably means less revenue. It also would take away two home games for successful teams. The schools don’t make tons of money on first-round series, but they do benefit a little bit financially. Fans also enjoy seeing two more home games at the end of the season and that would take away from that opportunity.

2. The bottom four teams are forced to play best-of-three series to get to Target Center. The top four make it automatically. This means only two teams miss the Frozen Faceoff.

The good: More teams make it, more fan bases make it to fill up the seats. The controversy: Do top teams want to take a week off at that time of year? I’m not sure. Maybe some do, so they can rest up. Maybe some don’t. The bad: Once again, it takes away two home games from successful teams.

Why the possible change?

Let’s read between the lines here, though. Nobody is going to come out and say it, but the league has got to be terrified of the possibility of North Dakota not making it to the Target Center.

This year, North Dakota fans saved the event. It ended up being a solid crowd in Minneapolis. But if Colorado College won that first-round series Game 3 against UND, it would have been a disaster. There would have been 400 people there.

It didn’t help that Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State missed out on the tournament, either. But I think the league knows that if UND gets beat first round — and it’s going to happen some time — it’s probably going to end up in the red.

I think the league also realized that if UND’s fan base would have been supplemented by Bulldog and Husky fans, there could have been a really, really good crowd at the Target Center. That’s likely the driving factor in these talks. The league rightfully won’t come out and say they need those teams in Minneapolis, but that’s the truth.

Because of the NCHC’s depth, it’s going to be even more difficult for teams to make the Frozen Faceoff. UND is in the midst of a staggering 12-year run of first-round playoff victories. Outside of Michigan, no other program has a streak longer than five years.

Assuming UND will make it every year is not realistic. The league is trying to put itself in position to have a successful and profitable postseason, even if UND (and SCSU/Duluth) does not make it to Minneapolis.

That’s also another reason why I think we will see another round of realignment in the last five to 10 years with Minnesota State-Mankato ending up in the NCHC. But that’s another story.

I know that UND coach Dave Hakstol said he would like to see the NCHC postseason remain the same about a month ago. What do you all think?

14 Responses

  1. Sioux Fan in LA

    How about keeping the first round series for seeding purposes, but limit it to 2 games (so that there aren’t back-to-back 3 game weekends). Winners could be determined by total goals or if it is a 1-1 series, a shootout. Winners get seeded 1-4 and losers 5-8 (all in order of regular season points), with all of them moving on to Frozen Faceoff. That keeps the revenue and gets all teams to Minneapolis. Does this make that first round count toward the regular season game limit or would it be a playoff?

    Assuming the same first round winners from 2014, that would have had following first round matchups in Frozen Facoff: UND v. CC (1 v. 8), Western Mich v. SCSU (2 v. 7), Denver v. Omaha (3 v. 6) and Miami v. Duluth (4 v. 5). SCSU would have been “penalized” by not winning its first round series and having to play a better opponent in the first round. Omaha would end up the same as had it won, but would be the visitor in the game and not have the last change. Duluth gets a better result by losing than it did by winning (playing last place team rather than #5 team). If all the favorites win the first round series, there will be a repeat in the first round at the FF, which would be weird, but at least winning that first weekend keeps you in the seeding for the top 4.

    1. joe

      Why not just make it one game with 6 periods than? As South Park said about the Mormon religion, “dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.”

      1. Sioux Fan in LA

        Its insightful, well-reasoned and meaningful commentary like yours that makes the Internet such a valuable forum. Thank you.

  2. Skippy

    Dump the whole thing and play Scrabble. Tournament rules, Schlossman’s tattered undergraduate dictionary governs challenges. Team aggregate, throw out the bottom two scores for each team. 100-pt bonus if anybody can make Hrynkiw or Chyzyk. Tie Break: Head Coaches play Boggle.

  3. Tiger Fan

    This year, North Dakota fans saved the event. It ended up being a solid crowd in Minneapolis. But if Colorado College won that first-round series Game 3 against UND, it would have been a disaster. There would have been 400 people there.

    Yeah possibly 400 people. Maybe I missed it but why is the Frozen Faceoff held in Minneapolis? It should rotate perhaps at schools arenas that are in the league. This article is about financials – rotate the site – have host schools each year. If CC made the tourney, and it was held at the World Arena, yeah there would be more than “400” people attending. Same with Denver at Magnuss Arena or UND at the Ralph. The league should make money this way. If the venue seats 18,000 and you sell 7,000 (in a city that has no team in the league) what difference would it make anyway? 7,000 tickets fills most arenas in this league…

  4. SJHovey

    I think all 8 teams in Minneapolis is a spectacular idea. What a great day of hockey that Thursday would be with 4 games, one and done.

  5. Sioux Fan3.0

    Me thinks the best way to keep it profitable and traditional is to keep it how it is. Yes UND will eventually lose out in the first round (not in the foreseeable future) but the NCHC is just going to have to deal with it. With the new renovations coming soon to Target Center me thinks this venue may not end up being so bad. I hated the idea right away but after attending the tournament there, it really wasn’t to shabby. Keep it the same and as close to the old Final Five as possible. Bottom line is you should have to win to be in the tourney

      1. Sioux Fan3.0

        “Me” is Sioux Fan 3.0 duh?
        Me thinks I must be way to bored to be responding to this today Laugh Out Loud

  6. Robert Bredesen

    I like the idea of having every team at the tournament. I do not get to many games during the season and have to travel to attend. With every team there I would be able to see all of them at least once, each year. We’d meet fans from each school. And, I think the number of fans from each fanbase will likely grow as fans for other schools, like many UND fans now do, gradually make a weekend at the tournament an annual tradition.

    Also, for the players, every player (who doesn’t turn pro) will have a memory of several playoff trips. With a spot in the NCAAs as a prize, each team will show up hungry. Over time this approach, IMHO, will grow the tourney into something rivaling with the old WCHA tourney was.

    1. Sioux Fan3.0

      So make it like the state tournament with 4 games on Thursday, Semi’s on Friday, and Championship on Saturday (assuming no loser games). Say the number 1 team loses its first game on Thursday. Do you even realize the implications that could have on the Pairwise, let alone attendance if said favorite team loses???

      I like the idea of every team- sort of- but in a league with such a brutal schedule already and in a league when and 8th seed could easily win 1 game against the 1st seed, I don’t like the one and done.

      Realize this is coming from a Sioux Fan’s perspective and that I would like to keep any advantage I can. More teams= more problems.

      I just don’t see how it could make any more sense to have it at any other venue, or any other format than the one it is in. It’s fair

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