The National Collegiate Hockey Conference was established on July 13, 2011, and began play during the 2013-14 season. Since it’s inception, the NCHC has dominated the college hockey world.
Since 2013-14 season, an NCHC team has made the Frozen Four every year:
North Dakota made the Frozen Four in 2014. North Dakota and Omaha made the Frozen Four in 2015. North Dakota and Denver made the Frozen Four in 2016. Denver and Minnesota Duluth made the Frozen Four in 2017. Minnesota Duluth made the Frozen in 2018. Finally, in 2019, Minnesota Duluth and Denver advanced to the Frozen Four.
A decade of Dominance?
Maybe? Think about this. A team from the NCHC has won the last four NCAA Division I Championships.
North Dakota won it in 2016. Denver won it in 2017. Minnesota Duluth won back-to-back titles in 2018, and 2019 to close out the decade. Four out of their six previous seasons, a team from the NCHC won the NCAA championship. At the same time, not a single B1G team won an NCAA title.
Breaking it down further, during the same decade, the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs won three NCAA titles. Two with the NCHC and one as a member of the WCHA.
Coming in second, Hockey East won three titles at the beginning of the decade: Boston College (2010, 2012), Providence (2015).
Any questions? Apparently, a writer from the Lowell-Sun didn’t buy into the NCHC’s dominance and was feeling sore when UMass-Lowell didn’t qualify for the 2015 NCAA tourney. Stick tap to Connor Willingham.
Here’s my nominee for bad hockey article of the decade: UMass Lowell hockey team victim of computer.
No, my beef is that six out of the eight teams in the self-righteously named National Collegiate Hockey Conference got in. Wow. That Midwest conference ate up five of the 10 at-large openings. UML isn’t the only team that should be fuming about that — Bowling Green and Colgate were other bubble teams that have reason to complain.
Yes, Omaha. The Mavericks finished eighth in the final Pairwise rankings. Tripe aside, they advanced to the Frozen Four as a two seed. They’d lose to the eventual NCAA champion Providence in the sem-finals.
Here’s the dope on the NCHC: Miami of Ohio beat St. Cloud State in the conference final, 3-2. So Miami is in. North Dakota won the regular-season title, so we’ll give them a spot, too.
But then there are four more:
St. Cloud was sixth in the regular-season standings (out of eight teams, not 12 teams like Hockey East) with an 11-13-1 record. Last I checked that’s under .500.
The final Pairwise Rankings had SCSU ahead of UMass-Lowell. Again, it’s based on a mathematical formula. If you dig deeper you will see that UMass-Lowell lost the comparison to Providence 3-1, the last at large team to make the 2015 NCAA tourney.
Nebraska-Omaha was a measly 18-12-6 overall during the season (Lowell was 21-11-6) and lost to mighty St. Cloud in the first round of the conference tourney.
Minnesota-Duluth was fifth in the standings, 20-15-3 overall and lost in the first round of the league tourney and Denver was fourth in the regular season and captured the consolation game for third place.
All of the above are alive with a shot at the Frozen Four.
The NCAA tourney is selected using the Pairwise Rankings. None of those NCHC teams were going to be bumped out fo the 2015 NCAA tourney unless there was a surprise during the 2015 Conference Tourneys. There wasn’t. RIT won the AHA tourney and knocked Bowling Green out of the tourney.
The Falcons and River Hawks not making the NCAA tourney was strictly on them. You have to beat the teams on your schedule, and they didn’t. Last season, UND was swept by Canisius College and it proved to be fatal. In the end, UMass-Lowell did it to themselves by losing too many hockey games.
2 North Dakota
12 St. Cloud State
(Link to the 2015 Final Pairwise Rankings)