TMQ: Looking at Hockey East vs. NCHC, talking college hockey conference realignment for the not-so-distant future – College Hockey

UMass and Denver battled Friday evening, however it used to be the Minutemen that got here away with the 4-2 victory in Amherst, Mass. (photograph: Chris Tucci/UMass Athletics).

Each week all through the season, we glance at the large occasions and massive video games round Division I males’s college hockey in Tuesday Morning Quarterback.

Paula: Dan, my good friend! How great to be again on the TMQ beat with you. I need to echo Jimmy Connelly’s season-opening remarks from every week in the past and say hi to all TMQ’s readers.

It’s two weeks into TMQ, however it appears like the college hockey season is far additional alongside and there’s already such a lot drama – of the on-ice type, which is a welcome alternate.

To me, the largest tale is Massachusetts’ house sweep of Denver, no longer most effective knocking off the protecting champ and a staff that entered the weekend No. 1 in the DCU/USCHO ballot, however the Minutemen keeping the Pioneers to 2 targets in two video games. The Minutemen had been up 2-0 ahead of Friday’s recreation used to be 5 mins previous, whilst the Pioneers post 47 photographs on Luke Pavicich in a 4-2 loss. Pavicich stopped 30 photographs in Saturday’s 3-0 shutout.

It used to be a captivating weekend for NCHC hockey throughout. Western Michigan and St. Cloud every swept nonconference combatants, however the league went 5-7-2 towards nonleague foes and I don’t assume that that is one thing that almost all lovers of college hockey anticipated.

What are your ideas on that Denver-Massachusetts collection? And is it honest to seem at those early weekends and make some assumptions about relative conference energy?

Dan: Paula, it’s definitely pleasant to go back to TMQ this yr, and I’m excited to swing again into this factor with the most up to date takes identified to guy.

Speaking of scorching, let’s discuss Tampa, the website online of this yr’s Frozen Four, and this previous weekend’s matchup between UMass and Denver. It used to be billed as a possible matchup in the Frozen Four – and rightfully so, given the groups’ contemporary histories – and gazing them skate onto the ice made us dream of sunny skies and Florida golfing classes the place my golf equipment will inevitably ruin the fescue.

The video games themselves acted as the conduit between the ones ideas and our future predictions. UMass’ sweep integrated two very other, distinct types of victories and left the Minutemen thumping their chest with two huge wins. They jumped from No. 13 to No. 6 in the DCU/USCHO Division I ballot, although it’s vital to notice how Denver most effective went from No. 1 to No. 4.

Back in your query about the leagues. I’ve been notoriously vocal over the previous couple of years about how the Pairwise Rankings are problematic in figuring out the nationwide match, however I feel those video games upload a bit of little bit of taste to what we’ll see when March rolls round. I all the time felt like Hockey East used to be higher than remaining yr indicated, however the league received’t get the choice of bids it merits until groups like UMass beat groups like Denver. Make no mistake. These video games mattered in a large technique to that dialog.

But that’s more or less my downside. I don’t know if Hockey East is healthier than the NCHC, and groups in October aren’t precisely their absolute best selves, individually. In my thoughts, we didn’t see the “defending national champion,” and we received’t know if we noticed a real nationwide championship contender till we see extra manufacturing from both staff. It’s amusing to invest, however that’s a part of my same old factor.

Can we make assumptions about the parity or competitiveness about the meetings? Absolutely, however we will have to additionally know that the ones are going to modify as briefly as they shaped.

One factor I do know – it at least gave us a 2nd jap staff to speak about with the polls. I’ve heard so much about jap bias, but if I glance at the polls, I see Minnesota, Minnesota State, Denver, Michigan, North Dakota, St. Cloud, Minnesota Duluth…the most effective jap groups are Quinnipiac, UMass, and Boston University. Providence, Northeastern and UConn are No. 11, No. 12 and No. 14.

Paula – the place’s the love for my jap groups?? UConn’s Ice Bus merits higher!

Paula: You stated one thing, Dan, that actually sums up such a lot of what I’m excited about after this weekend’s video games – and one thing that harkens again to discussions from seasons previous about interconference play and parity.

You’re proper: Hockey East received’t get the choice of bids it merits until groups like UMass beat groups like Denver.

It’s extra than simply the PWR and no matter shortcomings it’ll have as a predictive device. When groups like UMass beat groups like Denver, such victories negate the perceived shortcomings and biases, and override what we all know to be tricky-to-outline inequities in D-I males’s hockey. Of route, when groups like UMass beat groups like Denver, frequently – thereby raising the meetings of the victorious groups – there’s a controversy to be made that the PWR is a device that works.

I agree, although, that those video games do subject in that dialog.

As for the loss of love for jap groups, for the reason that the NCHC has been so dominant for goodbye and the best groups in the Big Ten had been actual contenders for a number of years – plus Minnesota State’s persevered excellence – I’m no longer stunned that it’s taking electorate some time to heat as much as jap groups. Connecticut went from No. 17 to No. 14 on this week’s ballot, which isn’t insignificant, whilst Ohio State, a staff that’s 4-1-1, sank from No. 11 to No. 16. (For the file, in my poll this week, UConn is 14 and OSU 15). That signifies to me that electorate assume that the Buckeyes will have to have had higher good fortune towards the Huskies.

It’s early. Teams enjoying in a conference this is perceived as having much less good fortune in recent times must turn out themselves for electorate to turn some love. It’s no longer misplaced on me that Hockey East has the present absolute best interconference win proportion (.692). If that persists, no longer most effective will electorate acknowledge that, however that shall be mirrored in the PWR as neatly.

Perception is a humorous factor. Western Michigan is 4-1-1 to start out the season and they’re No. 17 in the ballot as a result of all in their combatants had been CCHA or unbiased groups. Notre Dame is two-1-1 and No. 13 after a loss to Denver, a tie with Air Force and a sweep of Northern Michigan. Unranked Michigan State is two-2-0 and gained no votes after splitting at house this previous weekend to UMass Lowell, who dropped from No. 16 to No. 19 with that loss.

Dan: I assume it’s the duality of that dialog that’s most enticing in the early days of the season. There aren’t a large number of numbers, so we base the whole lot on the historical past of what we all know, which is why groups outrank others.

Minnesota is No. 1 after splitting with Minnesota State and sweeping Lindenwood. Minnesota State is No. 2 after sweeping Duluth. Our good judgment tells us {that a} Big Ten staff must be higher than a CCHA staff, and the belief very much elements into how other people rank groups. When we shake down the finish of the season, we received’t have that luxurious as a result of we can have the treasure trove of empirical proof.

Yet it’s additionally too early to make that decision. We wish to base the finish of the season on each and every outcome, however right here I’m arguing that it’s unlucky that the knowledge is based virtually as significantly on the video games when a staff isn’t enjoying its absolute best hockey in the first few weeks. We base all of it on historical past, which is why Harvard is ranked upper than Western Michigan regardless of no longer enjoying a recreation but (we’re getting there, Ivies!).

Either means, it positive is amusing to let the wheels churn just a little.

I discussed Lindenwood, which misplaced to Minnesota however surely held its personal towards each the Gophers and Michigan ahead of splitting with Air Force. The new guys on the block in college hockey are striking on a display early on. LIU hung with Northeastern and tied Quinnipiac, and the Sharks are headed to Michigan State subsequent.

Stonehill goes to play extra of a hybrid time table this yr towards groups from each and every stage, however how thrilling is it to peer the ones two more recent groups experience some modest good fortune?

Paula: It may be very thrilling to peer new methods beef up and change into aggressive. Arizona State has been amusing since the starting and gazing the ahead movement of every new program because it emerges makes from some fascinating D-I situations.

Looking at the present unbiased D-I groups and seeing the two Alaska methods that when had conference properties is each hectic and comprehensible. I need each Alaska groups to thrive. I will be able to perceive the cash problems surrounding each groups. Both will have to belong to a conference – however how?

There are 5 present unbiased groups and Stonehill when totally participatory will make six. How will this power the D-I panorama to modify in the coming years?

Without a conference house, unbiased groups have vital disadvantages in recruiting and scheduling, and that is affecting their skill to compete nationally. How lengthy can unbiased groups serve as if there is not any payoff for them as opposed to a self-contained common season?

In a really perfect global, Dan, what do you want to peer occur?

Dan: We discuss conference alignments, however we’re actually bearing down on a time when the alternate goes to occur, individually. And, to me, the reason why isn’t Arizona State or Lindenwood and even LIU. It’s that remaining staff in the combine: Stonehill.

Stonehill is most likely unknown out of doors of Massachusetts, however the small college situated an hour out of doors of Boston joined Merrimack, Bryant, and UMass Lowell as former Northeast-10 groups that reclassified to Division I. As a results of the transfer, the hockey program officially moved as much as Division I, however since the Northeast Conference doesn’t sponsor the game, it recently doesn’t have a house. The Skyhawks are going to play a time table most commonly towards decrease department groups, however their transfer will have to affect what occurs to the Division II hockey methods that don’t recently compete for a countrywide championship.

That myriad team of colleges – Southern New Hampshire, Assumption, Saint Michael’s Franklin Pierce, Post, and Saint Anselm – aren’t eligible to compete for the Division III nationwide championship, however as a result of hockey doesn’t sponsor a D-II championship, they may all reclassify to Division I with out penalty.

Atlantic Hockey is now not regarded as a “cost containment” league – the choice of new arenas, the building up in scholarships, and the total spending of the member establishments will have to be glaring signs – so all of the ones faculties and not using a logical house may probably band in combination and reclassify in combination to shape a league very similar to the girls’s hockey NEWHA.

The NEWHA doesn’t have an NCAA autobid, however there’s mounting proof that the league is ripe for Division I males’s hockey if it’s there. I individually would find it irresistible since the higher choice of faculties are more and more price prohibitive to startup methods. LIU and Stonehill might be trailblazers in that regard, however I’m having a look extra at Stonehill, which is lower than 10 years got rid of from a commute to the NCAA Division II baseball match and is a famous basketball energy that went to the D-II Final Four in 2012 and the D-II Elite Eight in 2016, as the torchbearer.

We all knew what Arizona State dropped at the desk, and Augustana is headed for the CCHA. LIU used to be a curious addition, and Lindenwood already had a girls’s staff in the CHA. Stonehill is coming extra from D-II, and if it succeeds, it might be offering a roadmap for others to practice on the ice.

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