Thursday, March 22, 2007

NCAA Hockey Previews: Midwest Regional

Seriously, we're really excited about the NCAA hockey tournament. Deadspin did a preview of all 64 teams in the basketball edition, so in that tradition I offer you these incredibly uninformative previews of the teams in the hockey tournament. We'll be posting them by regional today and tomorrow.

Midwest Regional – Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ND logo

You've Come A Long Way, Baby. This year, Notre Dame won its first CCHA championship. The Irish first joined the league in 1981, when they jumped ship from the WCHA with Michigan, Michigan State, and Michigan Tech (Tech would later jump back to the WCHA). After the 1982-83 season, ND left the league, dropping hockey altogether. It was re-established as a non-scholarship varsity sport the next season and the team operated as an independent, for a while forming an ad-hoc league with Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska-Fairbanks, and American International. Notre Dame returned to the CCHA fold in 1992, agreeing to make hockey a scholarship sport once more and secretly paying the conference entrance fee (Thanks to Mike B. for the correction).

Say Ya To Da UP, Eh. Notre Dame's coach is Jeff Jackson, who won a pair of NCAA titles at Lake Superior State University up in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. Rejected school mottos there include "Your Gateway to Northern Ontario" and "The High School After High School".

Michigan State Spartans
MSU logo

This Is How You Know You've Been Around Awhile. The CCHA's championship tournament trophy was renamed in 2001 after current MSU athletic director Ron Mason while he was still the hockey team's head coach. Mason hoisted his namesake cup in its first year of existence, but couldn't repeat in his final year behind the bench, losing in the 2002 finals to Michigan. Mason's 924 victories are still the all-time mark among all collegiate coaches.

Say Ya To Da UP, Pt. II. MSU's current head coach, Rick Comley, also made his bones in the UP. In 1991, his Northern Michigan University Wildcats won an NCAA hockey championship of their own by outlasting Boston University in a wild 8-7 triple-overtime game.

Boston University Terriers
BU logo

Al Michaels's Finest Hour. The only East Coast players on the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team (of "Miracle on Ice" fame) came from BU, including goalie Jim Craig and left wing Mike Eruzione, whose 20-foot slapshot with ten seconds minutes left in regulation gave the US their 3-2 win over the Soviets in the semifinal.

Old Man Parker. Head coach Jack Parker is in his 34th season behind the bench for BU. He started the year with 724 victories to his name, all with the Terriers, the most victories a coach in D-I has recorded at a single school.

University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers
UAH logo

Hoc-key? UAH is the southernmost hockey program in NCAA Division I and the only one in the former Confederacy. It will formally host the 2012 Frozen Four, though the tournament will take place in Tampa, FL.

The Peenemünde of the South. Legend has it that UAH's program only exists because of Wernher Von Braun. The ex-Nazi rocket scientist was sent to Huntsville to work on American missiles, and its rink is named in his honor. In 1975, UAH fielded its first club hockey team, known as "Von Braun's Bullies". The program eventually graduated to varsity status, playing in Division II (where they won two national titles) and now Division I.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thanks for the mention of the '91 title game. They showed the winning goal on the medium-sized screen at Van Andel about a dozen times as part of the NCAA's annual "random assortment of hockey stuff to show during breaks" package. It was a nice way to add insult to injury.

I did have a quick question for CDB - how did guys from Livonia wind up at State and ND? To my way of thinking it'd be like a kid from Charlestown being named the Opening Day starter for the Yankees.