Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's tourny time!

Ok, I'll admit. Total homer status on picking Minnesota as this year's tourny champs, but come on, did you really expect anything less? The Gophers and Wisconsin are the only two Big Ten teams in the tourny, with the Gophers taking the No. 1 spot in the west (played in Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Wisconsin coming in with the 4-seed in the Northeast (in New Hampshire).

Both teams play Friday, Gophers at 2 p.m. on ESPNU and Badgers at 4:30 on ESPN3. Will they advance? Who do you have taking it all in Pittsburgh?

1° Below Freezing: Quick Hits In B1G Hockey

By Jessi Pierce

Minnesota Women's team wins NCAA championship and 41 straight wins -- Remember this year's hype over the Miami Heat's win streak and the Chicago Blackhawks point streak? Well the Gopher women's hockey team shattered that value of impressiveness by winning back-to-back national championships this past weekend, capping off a perfect 41-0 season. The women beat Boston University at home and extended their win streak to 49 games. In doing so, the Gophers became the first Division I hockey team — men’s or women’s — to complete an undefeated NCAA championship season since the Cornell men’s team went 29-0 in 1970. Leave it to women to get the job done right...Congrats ladies!

Woah, Wisconsin -- At the end of November, I had all but counted Wisconsin out from a winning record, let alone a WCHA Final Five appearance. It might have been the Gopher fan in me, championing for them to fail; shame on me. Not only did the Badgers prove me wrong, they captured the WCHA conference tournament with a 3-2 win over Colorado College. Wisconsin has done a complete 180 and again look to be a potential national contender.

Two Big Ten teams make NCAA tourny -- Minnesota and Wisconsin are expected to be two of the most dominate programs in the Big Ten conference next year (no surprise) and both teams got the nod for the NCAA tournament, kicking off this weekend. The Gophers earned the No. 1 seed in the western regional taking place in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Wisconsin the No. 4 in the Northeast regional in New Hampshire. Despite Michigan making the CCHA tournament championship (falling to Notre Dame), they missed the cut along with Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Minnesota plays at 2 p.m. on Friday against Yale (on ESPNU) and Wisconsin squares off against No. 1 UMass-Lowell at 4:30 p.m. on Friday (on ESPN3).

Don Lucia named 2014 U.S. World Junior coach -- Minnesota head coach Don Lucia adds a boost to his coaching resume, announced as the the 2014 head coach of the U.S. World Junior Championship team. Lucia will be joined behind the bench by Greg Brown, Boston College
associate head coach; Bob Motzko, head coach at St. Cloud State; David Lassonde, assistant coach at the University of Denver, and Dan Muse, assistant coach at Yale University, will serve as a video coach.

Follow Jessi Pierce on Twitter at @jessi_pierce

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Conference championships: B1G tourny & B1G trophy

By Jessi Pierce

Whew, where did the season go? Lots to be excited about with conference tournaments underway and even more to be excited about with the impending Frozen Four in Pittsburgh fast approaching.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan are still in action in semifinals this week in their respective conferences. Michigan State was bounced by Miami and Penn State played this year with no conference affiliation.

The Gophs got a share of the McNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season co-champs and I have to hand it to Wisco for coming back huge toward the end of the season. The Badgers went from the bottom of the barrel to contender for NCAA. Likewise Ohio State and Michigan have pulled off decent seasons too, but both enter the CCHA tournament underdogs against opponents Notre Dame and Miami.

Of course for fans this year's conference tournys will be extra bittersweet. The CCHA folds up shop and the WCHA Frozen Five will never look the same.

And of course it begs us to look forward to next year. In an effort to further hype up next year's "B1G" change in the college hockey landscape, ticket information for the Big Ten Conference championships was released today (decently priced, but c'mon really?).

Earlier this month the Big Ten also released what our favorite six teams will be playing for next year. As everything surrounding Big Ten hockey has been, there are mixed reactions on the futuristic looking trophy. Dubbed simply the Big Ten trophy until a name is decided on, it has fans chattering.

Ultimately conference tournaments mean the Big Ten is up next. We've had two years to become comfortable with it, so the B1G question is: are you?

Follow Jessi Pierce on Twitter at @jessi_pierce and this blog at @B1GIH