Monday, April 4, 2011

Coaches in the Frozen Four

CCHA Brings Experience Against WCHA

Coaching is a fickle profession. Common sentiment of fans can be “What have you done for me lately?” And when the going gets tough, let’s fire the coach.

This year’s Frozen Four brings together four coaches that have seen their share of games and have NCAA experience. The Frozen Four is not new territory to Red Berenson (Michigan), Jeff Jackson (Notre Dame), Dave Hakstol (North Dakota) or Scott Sandelin (Minnesota – Duluth). Each has been there before, but not all have won a National Championship.

Hakstol and Berenson are in the middle of two impressive streaks regarding NCAA Tournament appearances.

Hakstol’s Sioux teams have made the tourney each of his seven years behind the bench. The closest a Hakstol led Sioux team came to winning it all was his first year when UND lost in the championship game (2005). UND under Hakstol also reached the Frozen Four from 2006 through 2008.

The other current NCAA streak has Berenson and the Bi6 Ten bound Wolverines to 21 straight tourneys with two national championships. In total, Berenson has coached Michigan in 10 previous Frozen Four Tournaments.

Notre Dame has limited experience in the Frozen Four, but Coach Jackson has been successful in the NCAA Tournament. Jackson is the only coach in this year’s Frozen Four who coached at another institution previous his current assignment. It was when Jackson was head coach at Lake Superior State that he led the Lakers to six straight NCAA Tournaments with Frozen Four appearances from 1992 to 1994. The Lakers won the 1992 and 1994 national Championships. Since moving on to Notre Dame, Jackson has coached the Irish to three NCAA appearances including one Frozen Four appearance resulting in becoming the runner-up. In the four previous Frozen Fours Jackson has coached in, his team has made the National Championship every time.

Finally we get to Coach Sandelin who has the least NCAA Tournament and Frozen Four experience of the four coaches. This year is UMD’s third trip to the NCAA Tournament under Sandelin. This Frozen Four marks the second trip to the Frozen Four by a Sandelin led Bulldog team.

The Frozen Four brings two CCHA coaches with a total of four national championships and two WCHA coaches with no national championships together with one of each facing off in Thursday’s games.

Some may say that experience has its advantages, but this Frozen Four is more of an old guard meeting the “fresh” faces in Frozen Four coaching. Predictions are still to come, but we strongly believe that this Frozen Four will be a coach’s first National Championship when all is done in Saint Paul.

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