This title may not make sense at first glance, but the “bubble teams” love
it. The NCAA Ice Hockey committee has voted to
award an automatic bid to the MAAC conference. The committee also stripped
one automatic bid from each of the “big four”
conferences…WCHA, Hockey East, CCHA, ECAC. The committee has been trying
to push a plan through that would have
expanded the number of teams in the national tournament to 16 team (12
currently) but that proposal has failed each of the last
two years. While the regular season champion and the post season champion
were awarded bids in the past, only one team in
each conference will receive the automatic bid now. Each conference can
decide if they want that bid to go to the regular
season champ or the tournament champ.
While it may not seem like this will make that big of an effect, the
tournament selection committee may shy away from giving a
bid to a team that wins the regular season title, then, say, losses in the
first round of their tournament. Or, they may not give a
bid to a team that finishes in the middle of the pack in the regular season,
then wins a couple of upsets and wins the
tournament. The decision of the individual conference as to which team will
get the automatic bid will be a tough one…and one
that has huge implications.
In 1999 Denver beat North Dakota in the WCHA “Final Five” and received an
automatic bid. Even though they won their last Read more»
The Kootenay Ice were known as a threat around the
WHL two seasons ago but were ousted by the Hitmen in first round
7 game thriller. A year later they returned the favor to the Hitmen
in the WHL semi-finals by brushing them aside in 5 games.
What was the difference?
Was it the “Money Line” who made the biggest impact. Sure
Mike Green, Jaroslav Svoboda and Zdenek Blatny made a difference
but they were not the answer.
Possibly the emergence of a group of d-men that complemented
each others game better then no other team in the Dub. Once again
the defense were a piece to the puzzle but not the most important.
The answer is a kid from Canmore, Alberta who was turning heads when
he hit the ice in rookie camp.
Dan Blackburn was the Ice’s first round pick in the 1998 Bantam Draft.
He was the highest goaltender ever selected in the WHL Draft when Kootenay
snagged him with the 3rd overall choice. Little did Ice management know but just
2 short years later that baby faced 15 year old would carry them to the WHL title
and a birth in the Mem Cup.
Blackburn made many jaws drop and heads turn as he started to perform brilliantly
in the early games at the Memorial Arena (a.k.a Silver Dome) in Cranbrook
He plays a a cross between a Patrick Roy butterfly and Martin Brodeur paddle
on the ice style that seems to be very effective. Blackburn is always in position Read more»
The Mighty Ducks re-signed Marc Chouinard to their roster on Tuesday night and barely anybody talked about it. The message boards and mailing lists were silent. Nobody seemed to care in California as the papers barely mentioned the signing – instead focusing on Marty McInnis. But perhaps they should start paying more attention.
Chouinard is not a top prospect nor is he the answer to Anaheim’s problems at scoring depth but he is very intriguing. A center with a great frame (6’5 – 200) he’s still young and at the ripe age of 23, and he brings about curiosities. Over the last several seasons Chouinard has battled injuries. In juniors, he struggled with shoulder problems. In his rookie pro year, he suffered a lacerated achilles tendon which set him back the entire year but it has been all uphill since then.
Marc is coming off a career season with Cincinnati where he played an aggressive checking game while showing capable offensive skills. He scored 17 goals and added 16 assists in 70 games. While that might not sound like much, for Chouinard it’s extremely impressive.
MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
As the summer heats up the Rangers are looking for the right pieces to fix the problem now and for the future. The signing of Mark Messier was one move that was welcomed by all in Rangerland but the signing of enigmatic Vlad.Malakhov is one that caused the good shipmate Schneider too look elsewhere for employment and so continues the questions of which direction the Rangers are headed.
RANGERS INK 3: