After their embarrassing performance in a 6-3 loss to North Dakota on Friday night, you wondered if Minnesota Gopher hockey should ever be allowed to play organized hockey of any kind again. But not only will they continue playing, but they're keeping their 2 seed in the West regional. Do the fine folks on the selection committee have televisions? The internet? Probably not smart phones. Because there's no way the Gophers should get rewarded for that effort, right?
Oh but they did. Minnesota only dropped one spot to eighth in the final Pairwise rankings after Duluth lost Friday night too, taking them out of the top four and down to seventh. Replacing the Bulldogs as a #1 seed are
the Sioux, who scored 10 goals in their past five periods as they rallied against Minnesota for a 6-3 win then crushed Denver 4-0 in the WCHA Final Five title game last night. I hate UND with every fiber of my being, but they're the hottest team in college hockey by a country mile with a 13-2-1 record in their past 16 games, and look primed for a Frozen Four spot in Tampa.
They play the CCHA champs Western Michigan in their first game, and assuming they win that one, it's the winner of Minnesota and Boston U. And by winner, I mean BU. Honestly, would you even make a gentleman's bet the Gophers can win a game right now? They've struggled to put together a solid 60 minutes in a weekend-opening game this season, capped by the worst third period performance in the history of humanity last Friday when North Dakota threw the kitchen sink at Minnesota, and their response was to lay down and let UND roll over them. Remember two weeks ago when the Gophers rallied against UAA? Remember when we hoped that would be a spring-board to success and a point that proved they could rally when need be? Guess not. Granted, UND is a much better team than the Seawolves, but there was zero fight or resolve in Minnesota once North Dakota fought back.
The biggest difference between the UND and Minnesota programs right now are UND gets better as the season goes on, and plays their best hockey in the playoffs. Minnesota? Not so much. They were the #1 team in the country in early November after sweeping
the Sioux at Mariucci boosting their record to 9-1 to start the season. The two losses for North Dakota dropped them to 3-6-1 to start the year, but since that point North Dakota is 22-6-2 while the Gophers are 17-12-1.
The Gophers still have the talent of a Frozen Four contender, but right now seem to lack the poise, effort and intensity for a full game needed to win four straight games against the best teams in college hockey. Still, stranger things have happened, and it'd be great if the Gophers use the UND loss as a rallying point and they actually play like they give a s**t against BU for three full periods, something we've been waiting for them to do consistently for the better part of four seasons now. Better late than never, right?
The Regionals are as follows (Final Pairwise Ranking):
1. Union (3) vs. 4. Michigan State (15)
2. Miami (5) vs. 3. Lowell (12)
MIDWEST- Green Bay
1. Michigan (2) vs. 4. Cornell (13)
2. Ferris State (6) vs. 3. Denver (11)
1. Boston College (1) vs. 4. Air Force (16)
2. Minnesota-Duluth (7) vs. 3. Maine (10)
WEST- St. Paul
1. North Dakota (4) vs. 4. Western Michigan (14)
2. Minnesota (8) vs. 3. Boston University (9)