Three of the five NCAA hockey leagues -- Atlantic Hockey, CCHA and the ECACHL -- ended their regular seasons last weekend. The other two, Hockey East and the WCHA, end this weekend.
Of the 58 Division I teams, 55 will participate in postseason play in the five respective league tournaments. The winner of each gets an invite to the 16-team NCAA Tournament, to be held March 25-27. (The other 11 teams will be selected on an at-large basis.) The four regional pairings, seeded No. 1-4 each, will be announced March 20. The regional winners advance to the Frozen Four, to be held this year in St. Paul, April 7 and 9.
With Alabama-Huntsville playing an independent schedule, only Hockey East's 10-team league exempts members from postseason play.
Humanitarian Award finalists named
The eight finalists for the 2011 Hockey Humanitarian Award recently were named. The award, given annually to college hockey's finest male or female citizen, recognizes the player at the Division I or Division III level who most gives back to their community. This year's recipient will be honored Friday, April 8 as part of the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn.
The Hobey Baker Award, presented to college hockey's best player for 2010-11, will be presented later that evening.
The Humanitarian finalists follow in alphabetical order.
Brooks Dyroff, sophomore, Boston College -- Co-founded CEO 4 Teens to send Indonesian teens to school and helped Boston-area teenagers obtain their GEDs. Also founded "Mathletes," an after-school math enrichment program.
Alex Higgins, senior, St. Michaels College -- Organized a learn to skate program to connect students with low-income housing residents; volunteered at Wideko, a summer camp for the behaviorally challenged; and interned at a local youth detention center.
Aleca Hughes, junior, Yale University -- She and teammates organized two record-setting bone marrow transplant drives, adding 1,600 potential donors to the National Marrow Donor Program. Also organized other fund raisers for Mandi Schwartz (sister of St. Louis Blues 2010 first-round draft pick Jaden Schwartz), raising over $22,000 for Mandi and family.
Sam Kuzyk, senior, Adrian College -- Raised money and awareness for the local Hickman Cancer Center; engaged in Salvation Army Family Sponsorships; raised money for Prostate Cancer Canada; and visited local schools to read to students.
Tucker Mullin, sophomore, St. Anselm College -- Helped those suffering from paralysis by co-founding the Thomas E. Smith Fight to Cure Paralysis Foundation, raising over $30,000 last summer; has served as a trustee at St. Anselm's annual "Spin-to-Win the Fight against ALS" event since 2008, personally raising over $16,000.
Trevor Nill, junior, Michigan State University -- Deeply moved by his mother's battle with cancer, he and a friend organized "Bike Across Michigan," which raised over $2,500 for cancer research, when he was 16. At Michigan State, took the lead on charities like "Shoot for a Cure" (which raises money to fight children's cancer), and the "Spartan Buddies" program, which creates interaction between students and patients at Sparrow Hospital's pediatric ward.
Whitney Pappas, senior, Robert Morris University -- Volunteered for Holy Angels Orphanage, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Skate for the Cure, Project Bundle (collecting coats, scarves, hats and gloves for St. Vincent DePaul), as well as numerous food drives; and interned at a Colorado recreation center, helping to raise over $7,500 in cash sponsorships and $10,000 in cash contributions.
Brigid O'Gorman, senior, Connecticut College -- A repeat award finalist, she traveled to Uganda on a humanitarian mission, raising over $10,000 last summer to create a solar powered medical records system; delivered children's clothes, books and school supplies; participated in High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center and Special Olympics Speed Skating of Southeastern Connecticut.
-- Bob Snow
"I have never favored tournaments where everyone gets in," said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. "The battle for the eighth and final playoff spot is more intense each year than the fights for fourth (last home-ice spot) and first place with a regular-season title. I believe it is appropriate for the regular-season race to have real consequences.”
At the other end of that opinion spectrum, CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos said: "It's inclusive; allows for all teams to play at least two additional games and it maximizes the number of campuses that have the opportunity to see playoff/tournament hockey."
Given college hockey's five different tournament formats, is there any plan to achieve uniformity?
"I don't see any reason for us to try to adopt a common postseason format," Bertagna said. "We have different scheduling policies, different number of teams, different geographic factors, etc."
"Not necessarily," said Anastos. "There are a number of variables that are considered when determining your league's tournament format."
The formats have changed this season in Atlantic Hockey, the CCHA and the WCHA following the dissolution of the College Hockey America league and team transfers. The ECACHL and Hockey East formats remain unchanged.
Here's a scorecard for each conference's post-season tournament format leading to all the semifinal games in each league, to be played Friday, March 18, and the league championship games, Saturday, March 19.
Atlantic Hockey Tournament -- All 12 teams participate, with the tournament beginning this weekend. RIT won the regular-season title, followed in the standings by Air Force, Holy Cross, Niagara, Robert Morris, Connecticut, Mercyhurst, Canisius, Army, Bentley, Sacred Heart and American International
Teams are broken into scheduling regions East and West. In the East it's American International, Army, Bentley, Connecticut, Holy Cross and Sacred Heart. The West features Air Force, Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara, RIT and Robert Morris.
The top two finishers in each region according to the overall standings receive byes in the first round. The remaining eight teams are broken into scheduling regions and seeded Nos. 3-6 in each, with No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
The quarterfinals will be best-of-three series with the remaining eight teams reseeded 1-8 according to the final regular season standings, with the top four seeds hosting the bottom four seeds.
The semifinals will be reseeded with the highest remaining seed playing the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining seeds facing each other. All three games will be played at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament -- All 11 teams participate, with the tournament beginning this weekend. Michigan won regular-season title, followed in the standings by Notre Dame, Miami, Western Michigan, Ferris State, Northern Michigan, Alaska-Fairbanks, Lake Superior State, Ohio State, Michigan State and Bowling Green.
The top five seeds receive first-round byes, while the remaining six play best-of-three series at campus sites -- the No. 6 seed hosts the No. 11, No. 7 hosts the No. 10 seed and No. 8 hosts the No. 9 seed.
The quarterfinals follow the next weekend with another round of best-of-three series at campus sites after a reseeding of No. 1 through No. 8 based on regular-season rank.
The winners advance to the CCHA Championship at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, with the highest-remaining seed playing the lowest. Winners play in the title game.
Joe Bertagna (Courtesy: Hockey East)
Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League Tournament -- All 12 teams participate, with the tournament beginning this weekend. Union won the regular-season title, followed in the standings by Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, Princeton, Rensellaer, Clarkson, Quinnipiac, Brown, Harvard, St. Lawrence and Colgate.
The top four teams receive first-round byes. The remaining eight teams are seeded No. 5 through No. 12 and play best-of-three series at campus sites of the top four seeds.
The following weekend, the four winners advance to the quarterfinals at campus sites of teams receiving byes. The eight are reseeded 1-8, with No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
The four winners advance to the ECACHL championship semifinal and final games, to be played in Atlantic City, N.J.
Hockey East Tournament -- The top eight teams in the 10-team conference participate, with the tournament beginning next weekend. New Hampshire currently leads the standings, followed by Boston College, Boston University, Merrimack, Maine, Northeastern, Vermont, Massachusetts, Providence and UMass-Lowell.
NHL.com's Top 10
The eight teams that make the tournament are seeded No. 1 through No. 8 on regular-season standings. The quarterfinals are best-of-three series at the campus sites of the top four seeds.
The four winners advance to semifinal and final of the Hockey East Championship, to be played at TD Garden in Boston.
Western Collegiate Hockey Association -- All 12 teams participate, with the tournament beginning next weekend. North Dakota currently leads the standings, followed by Denver, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota, Colorado College, Wisconsin, St. Cloud, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Minnesota State and Michigan Tech.
The WCHA's historic "Final Five" will live on in name, but with the admission of Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha this season, the tournament now will become a six-team event.
All 12 teams will take part in the postseason, with six first-round series played on campus sites according to seeds No. 1 through No. 12. The top six seeds will host the series.
The six winners advance to the Final Five in St. Paul at the Xcel Energy Center. The top two remaining seeds get byes into Friday's semifinals; the No. 3 through No. 6 seeds will play Thursday, March 17 to pare the field to four for the next day's semifinal and then down to two for Saturday's championship.