The Associated Press headline reads, “Record 34,954 watch rout-fest.” And they couldn’t be more right. In what is supposed to be the best four teams in the country squaring off to determine the hockey national champion, fans weren’t treated to competitive matches. Either Wisconsin, 8-1 winner over RIT, and Boston College, 7-1 winner against Miami, are heads above the rest of the country, or the #1 in the nation most of the season and the Cinderella team just didn’t show up for the big games.
Wisconsin 8, RIT 1
In the first game, Wisconsin had not trouble with the upstart Tigers scoring 1:27 into the game and taking a 6-0 leas late into the second before RIT tallied their one goal.
RIT did their best, I guess, to weather the storm. That storm being undisciplined hockey as they took nine penalties in the game including a five minute checking from behind major while already a player short. At the time the Badgers were leading 4-0 and that ensuing 5 on 3 netted the badgers their fifth goal. But that wasn’t the end of the night for the RIT penalty kill squad. First they still had the major going, but on top of that, the Tigers picked up another minor penalty to give Wisconsin one more 5 on 3 goal.
This game was not the caliber of a Frozen Four game and it was disappointing that RIT was so manhandled that it looked like they didn’t belong. But that is the nature of one game elimination tournaments, especially in hockey. RIT was a hot team. They were on their game in their Regional where they beat Denver and New Hampshire to move to the Frozen Four.
A parallel can be drawn to Alabama – Huntsville winning the last CHA Tournament and getting an auto-bid to the NCAA. As it has been stated here before, in the format that the CHA used, a one weekend, single elimination tournament crowned UAH champion for winning two games in two nights and neither was against the far and away regular season winner of the CHA, Bemidji State. Bottom line, in single elimination tournaments, anything can happen, right place, right time.
One disappointing aspect of the game was the lack of competitiveness that RIT showed. They got blown up, that is how some hockey games go, but why does a team use all three of their goalies in the process. It couldn’t have been mercy, really, because starter DeMichiel was in from the beginning to the 54:55 mark while giving up six goals. He wasn’t pulled after the sixth goal either. He was just replaced at that point of the hockey game. The game is out of reach at that point why make the move. Further, the next RIT goalie, Madolora, was in for 2:33 while making zero saves and letting in one goal. Hewa then pulled for Ropponen who finished the last 2:32 making two saves and allowing one goal. The game was to determine who was going to play for the national championship. Wisconsin wasn’t going to give up, but RIT used the national stage and national TV audience to audition goalies for next year or at least have them able to say that they played in the Frozen Four.
The real disappointment here to me is RIT even making the NCAA tournament. I have no gripe about the Atlantic Hockey tournament format as it is like the other large conferences’ tournaments. At the base of it, I don’t have a gripe about Atlantic Hockey having an auto-bid, a ten team D-I conference deserves that much. What I do take issue with is that RIT played no teams in the top 25 of the PWR (TUC’s) prior to the NCAA tournament. When TUC is one criteria that the selection committee uses to rank teams and the whole process really suffers when a team that become prominent (makes the NCAA) doesn’t even have data for one of the criteria. Some will say that schedules are made before we know the TUC’s, but if you are a team trying to get better and nationally recognized, you have to try to play at least one perennially prominent team.
Where we are today is RIT made the NCAA tournament, right or wrong, and had a great Regional weekend. In facing Wisconsin, they faced reality and came back down to Earth.
Boston College 7, Miami 1
Miami has been a strong team this year staying in the top spot of the national polls for most of the season. At the same time, they had at least one major let down in losing two games to Robert Morris. Additionally, the most goals that Miami had allowed was five which happened on four occasions. All of that bad mojo came together last night when they were drubbed by BC 7-1.
The Redhawks didn’t let it get too out of hand until the third period. In fact, they scored early in the third to cut BC’s lead to 3-1. Then it all fell apart for Miami as they allowed three even strength goals in 1:35 midway through the third.
There ended the night of the Frozen Four Blowouts, games that will go down in the records as the most lopsided couplet of games that the Frozen Four has even had. Read more about it at USCHO and keep checking the HighHorse for the Second Annual HighHorse Awards, coming soon.