Last Wednesday, when the NCAA made its big future championship sites announcement for most of its sports, men’s Division I hockey selected the Frozen Four homes from 2015 through 2018, and regional sites in 2015 and 2016.
What wasn’t announced spoke volumes.
The NCAA hockey committee will wait to decide where the 2017 and 2018 regionals will be held. They could remain at neutral sites, which has been the case since the regional format was introduced in 1992, or they could return to campus sites, which had been the case prior to 1992.
Attendance has always been an issue. USCHO.com cited in a report last week that attendance for last season’s regionals was down 48 percent from 2012. The announced attendance for the three games in the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich., was 4,207.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute athletic director Jim Knowlton is chair of the NCAA hockey committee. Moving the regionals to campus sites is a topic that is on the table.
“We’ve talked a lot about it,” Knowlton said. “We did not want to box ourselves into a corner. We really looked at this [regional] thing and said we’ve got to do the next two years. Locations need to have time to prepare and do all the things they’ve got to do. But over the next year and a half, we’re going to look hard at the format. Obviously, we’re looking at whether we go back to college sites and what the challenges are when you do go back to college campuses. I feel that two years gives us some flexibility.”
The committee will be watching the attendance figures during the next three regionals. If attendance improves, then the committee could stick with the neutral sites. But if there are attendance issues again, that could end the current format.
“Regionals are all about the student-athlete experience,” Knowlton said. “It’s not as good of an experience when there’s a half-full arena. That’s one of the things that’s on our mind. We’re just looking at how do we continue to improve the regionals, and how do we improve the student-athlete experience.”
Asked if the regional format would change to have a best-of-three series, followed by a super regional best-of-three series followed by the Frozen Four, Knowlton said it’s too early to think about that.
“That’s not one of the topics that has come up on the committee,” Knowlton said.
FROZEN FOUR TICKETS
Frozen Four tickets are on sale through ComcastTIX, online at ComcastTIX.com, by phone at 1-800-298-4200, or in person at Wells Fargo Center box office. Each package includes one ticket to the two semifinal games on April 10, and one ticket to the national championship game on April 12.
Union landed Taft Prep forward and team captain Cole Maier.
The 18-year-old Maier, who is from Pequannock, N.J., was the team’s second-leading scorer last season with 11 goals and 11 assists in 23 games. This season, he has a goal and three assists in four games.
He is expected to spend next season in the U.S. Hockey League — he was selected in the 23rd round of last May’s draft by the Dubuque Fighting Saints — before coming to Union in 2015-16.
As ECAC Hockey takes some time off for Christmas, let’s take a look at where some of the players ranked nationally.
RPI junior right winger Ryan Haggerty is tops in goals with 18. He also has the most power-play goals with eight, and is tied with Alaska Anchorage’s Matt Bailey for the lead in game-winning goals with four.
St. Lawrence senior left winger Greg Carey leads the nation in points (36) and assists (23).
Union senior Mat Bodie is third in the country among defensemen in scoring, averaging 1.06 points per game. He has two goals and 17 assists.
Dutchmen junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is seventh with an average of 0.89 points per game. He leads all defensemen with 86 shots on goal. Overall, Gostisbehere trails Miami (Ohio) forward Riley Barber for the shots on goal lead by one.
Quinnipiac forward Sam Anas and St. Lawrence forward Matt Carey are 1-2 in the freshmen scoring race. Anas leads with 25 points, while Carey has 24 points.
Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig is in a five-way tie for the national shutout lead with three.
Four ECACH teams are in the top 15 in scoring average. Union is third at 3.89. St. Lawrence is fifth at 3.63. Quinnipiac is ninth at 3.53. RPI is 12th at 3.44.
The nation’s top three power plays are ECACH squads. St. Lawrence is No. 1 at 29 percent (27-for-93). Cornell is second at 26.9 percent (18-for-67). Union is third at 25.8 percent (24-for-93).
Quinnipiac has the nation’s best penalty kill at 90.9 percent (80-for-88).
Union has the nation’s second-longest unbeaten streak at 10 games (9-0-1). Ferris State is 12-0-3 in its last 15.
On Nov. 29, Holy Cross of Atlantic Hockey upset Hockey East powerhouse Boston College, 5-4.
Last Saturday, Bentley did Atlantic Hockey proud again by knocking off another Hockey East team.
Goalie Branden Komm stopped 42 shots, helping the Falcons to a 4-1 win over Boston University.
Brett Switzer had a goal and an assist for Bentley. Brett Gensler, Derek Bacon and Jared Rickord also scored for the Falcons.
Bentley (8-7-1) started the season 1-6. It is 6-0-1 in its last seven.
“I think this game opened a lot of people’s eyes as to how good we are, but I feel like we’ve felt like we were this good for a long time and things are coming together,” Komm told The Boston Globe. “I can’t tell you how close this team is. We all know we’re playing on a special team and we just want to keep going as far as we can.”
Here’s a look at how college hockey players from the Capital Region are doing heading into the Christmas break.
Union junior goalie Colin Stevens (Niskayuna) is 9-1-1 with a 2.31 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and two shutouts. On Tuesday, Stevens was named ECACH goalie of the week for the second consecutive week.
Union freshman defenseman Jeff Taylor (Clifton Park) has two goals and seven assists in 17 games.
Boston University sophomore forward Jordan Juron (Latham) has three goals and six assists in 19 games.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Courtney Burke (Albany) has three goals and 14 assists in 18 games.
Brown sophomore defenseman Hunter Davis (Clifton Park) has one assist in 13 games.
Sacred Heart freshman defenseman Teagan Ketchum (Averill Park) has played in four games and has yet to collect a point.