Friday, March 29, 2013

Practice day (will be updated)

The four Midwest Regional teams got a taste of the Huntington Center in Toledo on Friday in preparation for Saturday's games.

Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said the event might be the toughest of the four regionals with his top-seeded Irish having to play the WCHA co-champion in St. Cloud State. Notre Dame won the CCHA tournament title, but Minnesota State's opponent, Miami, won the CCHA regular-season title.

"We know how tough Miami is," Jackson said. "And ... Minnesota State and St. Cloud had great years. Obviously with the number of WCHA teams (six) in the the tournament, it's indicative of the strength of that league."

Said MSU coach Mike Hastings: "It's not a cakewalk."


There continued to be lamenting of the changes coming to college hockey after this season.

St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko, whose team is going from the WCHA to the NCHC said, "Maybe I'll figure it out one day, that we are going in a different direction that's going to be better for college hockey. We're going to have to wait and see, but I don't think it's crystal clear right now. It's spooky which direction we're heading in the West." Motzko also spent time in the CCHA as an assistant at Miami for six years.

Said Jackson, whose team is going from the CCHA to Hockey East: "It's disappointing. Really, my whole career has been based on the CCHA. (Jackson was also at Lake Superior State). I'm going to miss the opportunity to play in some of those venues, and the relationships that you establish with people at some of those schools are going to be a little bit harder to continue."

Miami coach Enrico Blaisi said the CCHA gave Miami a chance to be a Division I program but also noted the changing landscape of college athletics. "We aren't going to forget. We aren't getting rid of any CCHA banners or anything like that. It's part of our history and part of our program. At the same time we are excited about moving forward as well." Miami will go to the NCHC with St. Cloud.

Hastings noted the turnaround that future WCHA foe Bowling Green (the host school for the Midwest Regional) made this season. "I think the WCHA has a pretty proud, rich history. And we're going to try and continue to build on that in the new WCHA, and that's no disrespect to the NCHC or Hockey East or the Big Ten. The game that we're playing is pretty special."


Asked to compare Miami to other teams they've played this season, and Eriah Hayes said Providence. "Providence was a really fast team; they could push the pace."


Mavericks senior forward Eli Zuck did not make the trip to Toledo due to the lower-body injury he suffered in the Final Five. Taylor Herndon appears to be back in the lineup on the fourth line, as he was in the seven games before the Final Five when Zuck was out with an unrelated injury.


There was plenty of praise all around for the 4-year-old, 8,000-seat Huntington Center here in Toledo. Players said the ice was good (although MSU players added that it was a little beat up; they were the third team to use it), and they raved about the spacious locker rooms. The arena is the home of the Toledo Walleye ECHL team. Former Maverick Ben Youds plays for that team. He visited some of MSU's party on Thursday night and plans on attending Saturday's game.

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