Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bulldogs Need Sunday; Bemidji Doesn't Pull Through

Here we are again. Another great chance for the Bulldogs to solidify their NCAA aspirations in route to the Final Five squandered. Instead, the team is headed to another home playoff series Sunday night game three. This will be the fifth straight home playoff series that will need a game three in 17 years. UMD is 4-1 in those games winning their last four.

It isn’t from lack of trying that UMD finds themselves playing on Sunday. Numerous great chances were had at CC goaltender Joe Howe, but Howe played an excellent game and staved off the Bulldogs. Total shot on goal did end up in UMD’s favor 40-31.

The part that really hurts is that a win would have propelled UMD higher than the #12 PWR ranking they were at prior to the WCHA games ending last night. Instead, they go back to limbo again, tied at #16 and out of the NCAA playoffs for now.

Not being able to be in Duluth for the games, the HighHorse staff is following the games in the internet broadcasts. Except for the part that after working very well all year, now we cannot get Bruce Ciskie’s call, so we are reduced to listening to the CC feed. What is interesting about the Tiger announcer is that he keeps referring to, “If the Tigers season is to continue…” And now it is if either team’s season is to continue, they must win tonight.

So much for my hope that the Tiger spirit would be crushed in OT fashion Friday and mail it in Saturday, but I guess that is how close these teams are. And it gives testament to the competition of the WCHA as all the series have been good match-ups, excluding the Anchorage losses at Wisconsin.

So off to Colorado Springs we go via the internet again tonight to listen to the last game for one of the teams in playing in Duluth tonight.

Dying Vengeance. The illustrious CHA took its final curtain call last night with their championship game in Niagara Falls, NY. I know that this is the way that college sports are supposed to work with the tournament winner getting an auto-bid to the NCAA (the Gopher Men’s Basketball team plays for the Big Ten title today in CHA style). But this is ridiculous.

There likely would be more of an outcry for the CHA to not have their auto-bid in a four team league if it wasn’t for Bemidji State’s run to the Frozen Four last year and the way they have competed this year nationally. But one of the CHA teams being over .500 (BSU) shows the competitiveness of this league.

I believe that everyone was OK with this year’s last hurrah also because Bemidji (#7 in the PWR) would waltz in and take the championship and that would be the ride off into the sunset that the CHA could take. In the style of March madness, that is not the script that was chosen.

Instead we get the old Hollywood script of the dying man taking vengeance against the living taking their secrets or treasures to the grave with them. BSU went to Niagara Falls and absolutely laid a pair of rotten eggs. First BSU lost to Niagara Friday night and then tied Robert Morris Saturday afternoon for the 3rd Place game. Alabama – Huntsville was the eventual CHA champion by beating Niagara last night. See their team photo showing all their index fingers in the air here.

The fallout from the events in Niagara Falls is that two teams from the now defunct CHA will be taking spots in the 16 team NCAA tourney. BSU will get a spot based on their PWR along with the CHA Champions Chargers. Couple that with the Atlantic Hockey auto-bid winner also going to the championship and we have the top 14 in the PWR now going. And that is assuming that another team in another conference doesn’t make an unlikely run to their league’s championship.

That truly would be an accomplishment worthy of an NCAA berth. Why? Because it would take more than two straight wins to do it like in the CHA.

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