Photo Credit :Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
This year, the bracket for the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regionals will be more debated than normal. The Pairwise formula that is used to approximate which team is best is not valid on its own in terms of picking a 16 team bracket. It can be used to rate teams in intra conference consideration for those who have played uneven schedules. For inter conference selection it loses most of its value. With that being said, we will focus on the bubble teams for an at large bid today ,and look at the play of three teams. The bracket should not have historical biases in nit, and should simply focus on finding the best teams.
Eric Lang’s team went on a Covid-19 pause when they were playing their best hockey a few weeks ago. The Yellow Jackets have very few weaknesses in their team, and are able to boast one of the deepest rosters in this game. Lang’s group has been playing well, and by the way have already clinched the regular season conference championship for their third straight season. The only meanignful non coference series for this team came in December, when they got swept by Quinnipiac. In both of those games, at even strength, the Yellow Jackets played an offensive firepower very tough. Since then, they have lost a mere one time in regulation to an Army West Point team deserving of consideration as well. In short, this team is more than the 2019 version that shocked the world against St. Cloud State. They are a team that pushes the fight toward their opponent, and one that would make life tough for a team like North Dakota in the first round, as long as they live up to their discipline, and error free hockey. How this team is considered “on the bubble” and not a solid at large is one of the bigger mysteries of this season.
Army West Point
Brian Riley’s team is playing their best hockey at the right time. Should they defeat Holy Cross this Tuesday, they will set themselves up well for the Atlantic Hockey postseason. In addition they have a legitimate Hobey Baker Award Candidate on their team in Colin Bilek, who is second in the country in goals per game, a stifling defense that buys into playing the team-first game that they do, and Trevin Kozlowski in net. More importantly, Riley has his team repeating their success at scale suitable to earn an at large bid. His team is the only one in conference play to beat Lang’s during regulation. In terms of teams under consideration, having that fact to support you should help. While Riley himself is quite demure on the subject we will say it, his conference lead by AIC and Riley’s group deserve inclusion at least for both of them at the time.
Lake Superior State
The Lakers played a complete series against Alabama Huntsville that showcased their scoring depth and finnese. Mareks Mitens was superb in net on Friday, and is expereced to be their main starter going through the motion. While we think that the Lakers deserve inclusion in the big gourn
Like the other teams we have listed, this team is starting to gel as the season winds down. What they do to keep their good work going is up to them.
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