The first of our four coaches was legendary bench boss from Michigan, Red Bereneson. The Wolverines haven't won since 1998 and will square off with North Dakota in one semi-final on Thursday. Bereneson's club is one of the stingiest in division one hockey and get their offence by committee. They are led by a Swedish senior and have proven to be deadly while shorthanded. Berenson is 6th all time in NCAA coaching victories and will likely move into 5th spot next year.
Dave Hakstol of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux was up next, and previewed the match up from the Sioux stand point. UND is one of the highest scoring teams in the country with 4.14 goals per game. Hakstol's bunch are 7th on the PP, 5th on the PK, 2nd in goals for, 3rd in goals against and 3rd in the nation with 11 shorthanded goals. Is it any wonder they are the favourite heading in? Hakstol has been at the helm for 7 years, and reached the Frozen Four 5 times, but have yet to win it all.
We took a break from the Frozen Four and dipped into the waters of the Canadian Hockey League with our CHL insider Sam Cosentino from Rogers Sportsnet. The 'Net has Plymouth and Owen Sound starting Thursday, because the Whalers knocked off Kitchener in round one of the OHL playoffs. What does that mean for the draft stock for Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Murphy? What was the story in the upset? Out west Brandon had Medicine Hat on the ropes but couldn't close the deal, still Sam was impressed with the job Kelly McCrimmon was able to do after hosting the Memorial Cup last year. The ongoing Chilliwack Bruins sale came up as the WHL released this statement today:
WHL Commissioner Ron Robison issued the following statement regarding the Chilliwack Bruins franchise:
The Western Hockey League (WHL) announced today that it has granted conditional approval to a request from the ownership of the Chilliwack Bruins for the sale of their WHL franchise.
Until such time all of the conditions related to the sale have been satisfied the WHL is not in a position to make any further statement on this transaction.
We also spoke about the next round of the QMJHL playoffs, a coaching vacancy in Halifax that will be very popular and where the 2012 Mastercard Memorial Cup might end up as it will be awarded on Thursday.
In the second hour we went back to our Frozen Four preview with Notre Dame bench boss Jeff Jackson. The Irish knocked off Merrimack in overtime to reach the national semi-final and are led by a Canadian who thrived for the Irish after Canada's World Junior camp. For Jackson's team to be in this position is pretty remarkable after the off season they had. Players were being arrested, Jackson's name was coming up in lawsuits about comments he made about Irish recruits leaving for the CHL and there were whispers that he might not be back behind the bench. Now they're 2 wins away from a national championship.
But for that to happen they'll have to tame the dogs from Duluth. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin joined us next and we dissected the match up which seems pretty even. This will almost be a home game for the Dogs, although Minnesota Gopher fans might find hit hard to cheer for a rival. The Bulldogs are loaded with AJHL talent and specifically former Camrose Kodiaks, but lost a key defenceman in Dylan Olsen after the World Junior Championship.
Our final segment saw Guy join us on the phone from Minnesota. It's the first time in 268 straight shows that Guy has missed and we paid tribute to him. The prospect Guru let us know what the buzz is like in Minnesota right now and previewed a couple of stories he'll be working on while at the Frozen Four. Can a NCAA coach ever end up on a Canadian World Junior bench? And can a Frozen Four ever be held in Canada? We discussed Canada's U18 roster and how it's being delayed because of some injuries, however we already knew from reporting it yesterday that Travis Ewanyk of the Oil Kings has made the squad. We ended the show by chatting about some Oiler rookies who were only getting respect from TPS until now. Some of the Edmonton media are jumping on the bandwagon now, and while the situation has to be taken into account (these guys are getting major ice time on a bad team with zero expectations) some of them could be carving out a spot next year...something we predicted during training camp. If some of the rookies continue to play well, we think it will validate guys like Kevin Prendergast and Chris McCarthy who were on the scouting staff until G.M. Steve Tambellini took over.
Both hours can be found here in podcast form from the TEAM 1260 website.