By Avery Wenck, Sports Editor
It’s no secret that the NCHC is the best conference in the nation when it comes to college hockey. Why, then are national pundits scared to select NCHC teams throughout the tournament?
According to Mike Eidelbes ofinchwriters.com, prior to yesterday’s game, “[T]hree of the teams were playing well, then there’s Omaha.” I wonder what Mike’s reasoning was to play us for a laugh? I question what his thoughts are now that a “struggling Omaha team” beat Harvard, a team supposedly with a favorable matchup. A team whose goalie had a 1.63 GAA and .937 save percentage prior to the Saturday matchup.
If you’re wondering how that matchup went, Omaha blew out Harvard 4-1 to get their first NCAA victory in program history. Freshmen Tyler Vesel, Grant Gallo and Avery Peterson all scored for the Mavericks alongside sophomore Jake Guentzel.
The Mavericks had three freshman score goals on Saturday, while the other 11 teams that played that day had a combined two. That is a testament to what Head Coach Dean Blais has been able to do with this extremely young team in bringing them this far.
UNO wasn’t the only NCHC team to receive hate from the national media. Jack Hittinger, beat writer of Bemidji State, who did not even make the tournament, claims he “doesn’t buy into the NCHC hype” and “doesn’t know if St. Cloud are good or if they are just lucky.”
“I do think the top half of the league is fantastic,” wrote Hitting-er. “ St. Cloud, Denver and Omaha are just okay in my opinion. I guess I’ll be interested to see how Miami, Denver and Omaha do on Saturday.”
Update: All of them won besides Miami, who went down in the most brave way possible. NCHC teams made up six of the 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, as well as five of the elite eight.
Depending on how the Frozen Four shapes up, NCHC teams could make up the two teams in the championship.
I think it is time for people to start giving NCHC teams the respect they deserve. Enough of this “overrated” talk. We have proven our teams can compete at all levels and even our mid-table teams can compete with the nation’s best.
The conference could potentially have three teams in the Frozen Four in Boston, which will be the biggest statement in terms of their dominance this season.