Icemen Given Second Seed in the East
NCAA Tournament Committee Decision Gives Crimson Extra Week Off
One game does not a season make.
The Harvard hockey team, which was upset by Vermont in the ECAC semifinals last Friday at Boston Garden, earned the second seed in the East for this year's 12-team NCAA Tournament, the NCAA announced yesterday in St. Paul, Minn.
The Crimson (27-3)--making its fifth straight appearance in the national tournament--has been awarded a bye for this weekend's tournament action, along with Maine (29-11), the top seed in the East and the Hockey East champion, Michigan State (35-7-1), the West's numberone seed, and second-seeded Minnesota (31-10-3).
"We certainly should have been in the top two," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said. "We have the best record in the country. I think, however, we should have gotten the top seed, instead of Maine, because of our record. But the best of luck to them."
The tournament committee, headed by Bruce McLeod, chair of the NCAA Division I Ice Hockey Committee, gave the top seed to Maine because of its stronger schedule against the top 15 teams in the country, a committee member said.
"The desire is definitely not to give a bye to a Hockey East team. The team has to earn the bye," said Laing Kennedy, committee member and director of athletics at Cornell. "We took into account that Maine played a greater number of teams in the top 15. Harvard and [third-seeded] St. Lawrence played a lesser number of top 15 teams."
Although the Saints won the ECAC title Saturday at Boston Garden, Harvard received the higher seed because it had a better winning percentage (.900) than St. Lawrence (.856) and swept the Saints in league action this season.
Playoff games, which will use a best-of-three format, begin Thursday, March 16, as follows:
West-#6 Wisconsin (23-14-5) at East-#3 St. Lawrence (29-5).
West-#5 Bowling Green (26-16-3) at East-#4 Boston College (22-9-4).
East-#6 St. Cloud St. (17-14-2) at West-#3 Lake Superior St. (27-10-6).
East-#5 Providence (19-15-2) at West-#4 Northern Michigan (25-15-2).
On March 23, the winners of this weekend's action will face the top four seeds in the tournament for another best-of-three series.
The Crimson will see the winner of the Lake Superior St.-St. Cloud St. series at Bright Center, while the Black Bears will host the N. Michigan-Providence winner in Orono, Me.
In the West region, Michigan State--which defeated Lake Superior St., 4-1, last night in the CCHA title game--will meet the winner of the Bowling Green-Boston College series. The Golden Gophers will play the Wisconsin-St. Lawrence winner.
"It's going to be tough for a team that loses the first game," Harvard Captain Lane MacDonald said, "and realizes it has to come back and win two in a row. The first game is going to be the key."
The national semifinals and championship game will be held March 30-April 1 in St. Paul.
Admitting that this year's selection was full of "tough calls," committee members did manage to exclude three potential tournament teams--Vermont, Illinois-Chicago and Merrimack.
The committee chose Providence over Vermont because the Catamounts won only two of 10 games against tournament teams, while the Friars posted a 5-10-1 record.
In the case of Merrimack (27-7), last year's tournament representative from the independent ranks, the from the independent ranks, committee members said that St. Cloud St. played a consistently stronger schedule against Division I schools.
Chicago-Illinois' chances for a seed ended yesterday when it lost to Bowling Green in the CCHA consolation game.