Hockey playoff format likely to change
Atlantic Hockey’s Final Five appears
to be one-and-done.
The league’s coaches voted in April
to scrap the playoff format that called for five opening-round
matchups and the five survivors advancing to the Blue Cross
Arena in Rochester, N.Y.
The new format would be more in line with
the other large leagues. The top six seeds would receive
opening-round byes, with the seventh seed hosting the 10th
seed and the eighth seed hosting the ninth seed in best-of-three
series March 6-8.
The quarterfinals would take place March 13-15
would be a true eight-team format with four best-of-three
series hosted by the higher seeds. Blue Cross Arena will
host the tournament’s final rounds for the third year
in a row. The semifinals will be Friday, March 20, and the
final on Saturday, March 21.
Atlantic Hockey publicity director David Rourke
said the athletic directors from the 10 league members must
ratify the change at a June 18 meeting at Holy Cross, but
some schools have already gone ahead with announcing the
The WCHA continues to utilize the Final Five
format. In 2008, ECAC Hockey and CCHA granted four byes
and had seeds five-through-12 compete in the first round.
Hockey East allows only its top eight seeds to qualify for
the postseason. College Hockey America had only five teams,
so there was a play-in game held prior to the semifinals.
Atlantic Hockey has used five different playoff
formats in five seasons.
The entire 2004 tourney was hosted by Army,
with a first-round game (8-9), quarterfinals and semifinals
played on the first weekend and the top two teams returning
a week later for the final. Holy Cross beat Sacred Heart
in the final.
The 2005 tourney featured a play-in game at
Army (8-9) and four quarterfinal games at higher seeds three
days later. The final four teams moved on to Quinnipiac’s
old home rink in Northford, Conn., for the semifinals and
finals. Mercyhurst prevailed in overtime over Quinnipiac
in the final.
There were only eight league members in 2006
so there was no play-in game. The quarterfinals were hosted
by higher seeds, and the remaining four teams headed to
top-seed Holy Cross for the semifinals and finals. Holy
Cross toppled Bentley in the final.
Air Force brought its playoff eligibility
to Atlantic Hockey in 2006-07 but new Division I entry Rochester
Institute of Technology had to sit out its first tourney.
Again, a play-in game was utilized at Canisius, followed
a week later by four quarterfinal games at higher seeds.
The four survivors headed for the first neutral-site games
at Blue Cross Arena. Air Force earned its first of two consecutive
NCAA tourney berths with a win over Army.
Atlantic Hockey’s precursor —
the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Hockey League —
allowed only its top eight teams to advance to the quarterfinals,
hosted by the higher seeds. The MAAC Final Four sites were
predetermined, awarded to Connecticut in 2000 (UConn beat
Iona in final) and 2001 (Mercyhurst beat Quinnipiac), to
Holy Cross in 2002 (Quinnipiac beat Mercyhurst) and to Army
in 2003 (Mercyhurst beat Quinnipiac).
— Ken McMillan
Laplante returns to Northeastern as assistant
Former Northeastern standout Sebastien Laplante
has been added to the Huskies' coaching staff as an assistant,
head coach Greg Cronin announced.
Laplante, who starred for Northeastern from
1989-93, returns to his alma mater after spending the previous
two seasons as an assistant coach with the Moncton Wildcats
of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
sign Michigan State's Kennedy
Forward Tim Kennedy, Michigan State's leading
scorer in each of the past two seasons, signed a two-year
entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres, thereby forgoing
his final year of college eligibility.
Kennedy, a Buffalo native, scored 105 points
(42 goals, 63 assists) in 113 career games for the Spartans.
In the 2006-07 season, he helped MSU to its third NCAA championship,
most notably scoring the game-tying goal in his team's 3-1
win over Boston College in the title game in St. Louis.
Kennedy was named to the all-tournament teams at both the
NCAA Midwest Regional and the Frozen Four.
This past season, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound
forward paced the Spartans in points (42) and shorthanded
goals (three) and shared the team lead in goals (20), assists
(23) and game-winning goals (five). For his efforts, Kennedy
was named to the 2008 All-CCHA second team.
Kennedy was originally drafted in the sixth
round (181st overall) of the 2005 Entry Draft by Washington,
but his rights were acquired by Buffalo in a draft day trade
with the Capitals.
named USA Hockey college player of the year
Boston College forward Nathan Gerbe, the nation's
leading scorer who this past season led the Eagles to the
school's third NCAA championship, is USA Hockey's choice
as college hockey player of the year for 2008.
The Oxford, Mich., native, scored 35 goals
and added 33 assists for 68 points in 43 games during his
junior season. The first-team All-American selection and
2008 Hobey Baker Award finalist earned Frozen Four Most
Outstanding Player honors after scoring five goals and adding
three assists in the Eagles' wins against North Dakota and
Notre Dame. Last month, Gerbe opted to skip his final year
at Boston College, opting to sign a contract with the Buffalo
Gerbe will be feted at an awards dinner in
Colorado Springs Wednesday (June 4) held in conjunction
with the USA Hockey Annual Congress.
leaves USHL for Minnesota assistant post
Longtime junior coach Mike Hastings has been
tabbed as assistant coach at Minnesota. Hastings takes the
spot vacated by Mike Guentzel, who resigned in April.
The winningest coach in the history of the
United States Hockey League, Hastings compiled 529-210-56
record in 14 seasons behind the Omaha Lancers' bench. He
guided the team to three regular-season championships and
three postseason titles and led the Lancers to both honors
in 2007-08. Hastings was twice named USHL coach of the year
and was the league's general manager of the year five times.
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