After four pretty darn good hockey games, Saturday's finale of the WCHA Final Five was a little anticlimactic. North Dakota won its third straight Broadmoor Trophy, beating Denver 4-0.
The Sioux not only got the conference's auto bid to the NCAA tournament but worked their way into a No. 1 seed. The bracket was released on Sunday morning. And here's the field:
WEST REGIONAL (St. Paul, March 24-25)
1-North Dakota vs. 4-Western Michigan
2-Minnesota vs. 3-Boston University
MIDWEST REGIONAL (Green Bay, Wis., March 23-24)
1-Michigan vs. 4-Cornell
2-Ferris State vs. 3-Denver
EAST REGIONAL (Bridgeport, Conn., March 23-24)
1-Union vs. 4-Michigan State
2-Miami vs. 3-UMass-Lowell
NORTHEAST REGIONAL (Worcester, Mass., March 24-25)
1-Boston College vs. 4-Air Force
2-Minnesota Duluth vs. 3-Maine
The Frozen Four will take place April 5-7 in Tampa, Fla. In the semifinals, the West and the Northeast regional winners will play each other, and the Midwest and the East winners will square off.
Back to the Final Five, the all-tournament team was Denver's Jason Zucker and all North Dakota players after that. UND goalie Aaron Dell, who had the shutout win on Saturday was the MVP, but that award should have gone to Sioux forward Brock Nelson, who had four goals in the tournament and was dangerous every time the puck was on his stick. As St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said after his team lost to North Dakota on Thursday: "That's the player in our league (Nelson) that we're going to watch in the NHL for a long time."
Throughout the Final Five, it was hard not to think about the future of the event. Next year will be the final one with the current conference lineup. The big breakup takes place shortly after that. Outstanding hockey scribe Jess Myers, writing for 1500ESPN Twin Cities, reported that the WCHA and the Big Ten may be close to an agreement in which the two conferences will alternate back and forth between the Xcel Energy Center and Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. (Meanwhile, Myers reported, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference could be mulling a deal with the Target Center in Minneapolis.)
WCHA Commissioner Bruce McLeod said Saturday, "We're talking about a lot of options." He said the reported deal with the Big Ten was an option, but so are going to home sites or centralized neutral sites like Green Bay or even Duluth.
The top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award were announced on Thursday. From the WCHA, UMD's Jack Connolly and Wisconsin's Justin Schultz made the list.