No NHL but tonight is the Frozen Four NCAA Tourney

I usually don’t post other articles can’t seem to find any other articles in regard to the NCAA Frozen Four about todays contests:

Game 1:

Colorado College vs Denver—2pm espn2

Game 2:

North Dakota vs Minnesota—7pm espn2

With the N.H.L. Frozen Out, Focus Shifts to the Frozen Four

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/07/sports/h…y/07hockey.html?

By JOE LAPOINTE

Published: April 7, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 6 – Down the street from the Jack Nicklaus Museum and the Woody Hayes Athletic Center is the Jerome Schottenstein Center, the focus of hockey in North America, at least for this week.

It is the icy stage for the Frozen Four, the N.C.A.A. Division I championship, the most important current hockey competition in a season lost to the National Hockey League lockout.

On the rosters of the four participating teams – the defending champion Denver, Colorado College, Minnesota and North Dakota – are more than two dozen players who have been drafted by N.H.L. teams and others who had hoped to be in June until the N.H.L. postponed its draft.

While the absence of the N.H.L. could raise the profile of Thursday’s semifinals and Saturday’s championship game, the lockout has been a mixed blessing for the players.

“I think it’s really helped college hockey,” said Brett Sterling, a junior left wing for Colorado College, who was drafted in the fifth round by Atlanta in 2003. “You’re getting a lot of people out here watching the game that would be normally watching N.H.L. hockey. People realize how fast and how dedicated the players are and how much emotion they play with.”

On the negative side, Sterling added, “It definitely hurts the players because guys who are drafted and guys who want to go as free agents don’t have anywhere to go now besides Europe.” (They have the option of playing in American minor leagues as well.)

Denver’s Matt Carle, a second-round draft pick of San Jose in 2003, said that “we definitely have more of a fan interest this year” without the Colorado Avalanche playing. But, Carle, a sophomore defenseman, said the lockout worried seniors looking for work next season because players of N.H.L. caliber might take jobs in the American Hockey League.

Kellen Briggs of Minnesota said the lockout had been inconsequential for fan support in the Twin Cities because “we sell out every game,” even with N.H.L. competition from the Wild. Drew Stafford of North Dakota, a first-round choice of the Buffalo Sabres in 2004, said, “I’d love to be watching the Stanley Cup playoffs as a fan.”

For his teammate Travis Zajac, a freshman and a first-round choice of the Devils in 2004, the lockout could be a blessing in disguise because it lessens the temptation to turn pro too soon. “I’ve got lots of time to develop at North Dakota, and I’ve committed to four years,” Zajac said.

All the teams in the Frozen Four are from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. That will place an emphasis on already intense rivalries, but interest in this tournament tends to peak nationwide when there is representation from several regions.

Mark Bedics, the N.C.A.A. coordinator here, said requests for news media credentials were down to 275 from 400 last spring, when Boston College, Maine and Minnesota-Duluth, along with the eventual champion, Denver, played in the Frozen Four in Boston.

Colorado College and Denver tied for the regular-season title in the W.C.H.A., and Denver beat Colorado College, 1-0, in the championship game of the league tournament.

Minnesota finished tied for third and North Dakota was fifth in the league, and there has been some grousing that the two Colorado teams must play in the less-prominent 2 p.m. slot on Thursday, while the Golden Gophers and the Fighting Sioux play at 7 p.m.

The reason is television. Minnesota and North Dakota are more prestigious programs and are expected to draw a larger audience. Tom Jacobs, the N.C.A.A. director at the site, said that “ESPN had a preference.”

The N.H.L. general managers meet on Thursday in Detroit to discuss rules changes in a session that will include several players, N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow, the executive director of the N.H.L. players union.

One item could involve elimination of the center red line for offside passes to liberalize puck movement between zones and bring the N.H.L. into step with collegiate and international hockey.

Denver Coach George Gwozdecky said he would support the change to create excitement. “I’ve always been amazed that they have been so slow to incorporate this,” Gwozdecky said.

The effect would be most noticeable in transitions after turnovers, he said. “All of a sudden – zing! – there goes a 150-foot pass up the ice,” Gwozdecky said. “Once they played with that rule, they would love it.”

NCAA/HTR Challenge Standings:

Hockeyhead: 13

Yzerman19: 11

Big Booty: 10

Mantaray: 10

Phenom3150: 6

Good Luck tonight people.