Season 2 Episode 22 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; “MINNESOTA.” This week Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, Rob Gilreath, and Matt Cavender discussed the NCAA Regional Results, Minnesota High School Hockey, the NCAA Transfer Portal, University of St Thomas and Rico Blasi, plus we make predictions on this week’s NCAA Frozen Four.
NCAA Tournament Predictions Review
Well, I was just astoundingly awful at picking my NCAA tournament bracket. For those of you that pay to watch the Zoom recording of the podcast, you can see me literally break out the mini basketball hoop for anybody that wants to go ahead and dunk on my predictions. Tim currently leads the bracket, Dustin has 9 points, and there’s only 8 people below me out of 57 entries. Remarkably, I think I can still jump Tim because my champion is still in and his champion lost to Duluth in 5 overtimes. Check your standings in the bracket challenge here (**LINK**).
Overall, we’re happy Minnesota State was finally able to get the monkey off their back and win a couple NCAA tournament games. I’ve been a well documented Mankato doubter, but if the price of sleeping on Mankato is watching a couple WCHA teams dunk on the Big Ten, I have to say I’m pretty cool with that.
We took a moment to review some of the highlights of the weekend, such as UMD’s 5 overtime win against North Dakota.
MOVIN ON BABY!! @UMDMensHockey tops North Dakota, 3-2, in five overtimes. Mylymok nets the game-winner. Bulldogs are Frozen Four bound.#BulldogCountry pic.twitter.com/TOGx54f7pm— UMD Athletics (@UMDBulldogs) March 28, 2021
We also took some time to dissect the whole Michigan situation. As many of our listeners know, Michigan was forced to forfeit their spot in the tournament due to a positive Covid-19 case within the program. Elaborating on this, it sounds like they had one guy test positive, who they then decided to leave at home, thinking that the rest of the team would be fine to play. Mel’s seemed to have taken every opportunity to complain about the decision, and to his credit it’s a terrible way to end your season. However, every team has had to follow the rules of their state all season in order to complete their games. There’s no way Michigan completed their season, along with their two week entire school shutdown, without Mel having complete understanding of the rules and how contact tracing works. It isn’t as though a new rule was made exclusively to keep his club out of the tournament and his remarks have came across as childish and ignorant. We’re struggling to figure out why Michigan would think they’re different and above the rules when they clearly must have known them at that point. Though there’s no love lost between Tech fans and their Michigan counterparts, we do sincerely feel bad for losing a tournament spot in that fashion. But, if you’re looking for somebody to blame, go look in the mirror.
NCAA’s decision a ‘frustrating’ end to Michigan hockey’s ‘special’ season, coach says https://t.co/UjETDq11WS— MLive (@MLive) March 27, 2021
Transfer Portal (25:45)
Into the Great Wild Portal … College Hockey Facing Unprecedented Player Movement – https://t.co/vtAdakaWJR pic.twitter.com/pcNUmwgDsX— College Hockey News (@chnews) April 2, 2021
As of April 2nd, there were 255 players in college hockey’s transfer portal and there’s only been more to come since then. For perspective, that’s approximately 15% of all players in NCAA hockey. One of the interesting tidbits from this article is that programs are able to go over their 18 scholarships for the season if they’re retaining a player on their own team that is eligible to come back. However, senior transfers will have to count against the program. While on the surface this seems to make sense, it’ll be interesting to see how the rule might be applied to Ashbrook, should he decide to stick around for a fifth season being a transfer from another program.
BGSUHockey.com beautifully described the mindset one should have when reading into this disaster that has become essentially a college hockey free agency.
The senior transfers are not that troubling. It’s a weird year with COVID and it’s a “bonus” season for players. They can kick the tires penalty free.— BGSUHockey.com (@BGSUHockeySite) March 29, 2021
When skilled underclassmen start leaving that raises eyebrows.
With that said, it can be pretty troubling to start scrolling through your twitter timeline and seeing this as a Tech fan.
Michigan Tech freshman forward Carson Bantle, an Arizona Coyotes fifth-round draft pick, has entered the transfer portal. He had 2-1–3 for the Huskies this season.— Brad Elliott Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) April 4, 2021
There are a lot of factors to consider and we may not hear why Carson chose to enter the portal until years down the line. However, here are some factors to consider. This past year doesn’t count against anybody’s eligibility, and anybody can jump from one program to another without having to sit out a year or face any other repercussion. While internal problems may have certainly played a role in this decision, it’s equally as likely that Bantle is putting his foot in to test the waters if a bigger would take him on. We’d love nothing more for Tech to become that kind of a school that kids would willingly hop to, but we’ve also got to be a little honest about our situation as well. There is also the fact that the portal is just that- the portal. There remains the chance that Bantle comes back to the ice at the MacInnes next season also. The true test of this entire mess will be what kind of team emerges from the other side, and if Tech can pick up some decent pieces from the talent still floating around in the portal.
University of St. Thomas and Rico Blasi (48:53)
St. Thomas pretty much couldn’t have picked a better time to begin their move to DI hockey. With the way the transfer portal is working, it isn’t unreasonable for St. Thomas to go out there, get six kids from every class, and start a really solid basis for their presence in Division I hockey. The problem comes with the fact that, per Don Lucia, St. Thomas will not be NCAA tournament eligible for the first five years of their existence, which may prove to be a hard thing to sell to athletes. This rule may change due to the nature of hockey not having a DII, but that is the situation as it stands.
This week, St. Thomas also announced the first coach of their Division I era: Rico Blasi. To summarize Blasi’s resume, he spent 19 years as the bench boss of the Miami Red Hawks between 1999-2019 and served as the Associate Athletic Director at Providence College between then and now. This is the impressive resume and flashy name we more or less expected from the Tommies in starting their DI life.
A new era in St. Thomas Hockey is upon us! Welcome Rico Blasi! More details coming soon… #ccha #tommiehockey #forward1 #division1 pic.twitter.com/s4frTceRNW— USTMensHockey (@USTMensHockey) April 2, 2021
Given our understanding of Minnesota hockey politics, Blasi’s hiring was interesting given the fact that he has basically no connection to the state, unlike the other four Minnesota schools. To our untrained Michigan eyes, this may seem like no big deal, but there’s definitely an extent to which the “my good ‘ol Minnesota boy better be playing for a Minnesota school for a coach from Minnesota or so help me God” mindset exists. While his coaching chops are indeed impressive, it will be interesting to see which recruiting battles he can win given this apparently important political disadvantage.
Frozen Four predictions
For the final time this season, we offer some predictions as to who we think will win each game of the Frozen Four. Tune in to hear what we have to say, but if you’re a betting person, just be sure to not bet on any of my picks if history serves on my track record so far this year.
Cut for Time
This week’s cut content for Patreon subscribers is approximately 24 minutes long. It includes some lengthy discussion about Minnesota high school hockey, the ridiculous way amateur hockey leagues get tiered, Rob’s proposal for how the transfer portal should work similarly to transfer fees in soccer, and more. Subscribe today to hear more!
For additional information and more episode liner notes, check out our episode overview on Tech Hockey Guide. To make sure we can afford all our fancy equipment we purchased for the podcast and the THG website in general, please check out our patreon page and consider joining. Patrons at our Black Level or above receive an authentic MTU jersey patch and access to extra podcast content including extended versions of our other episodes. This week’s extended version is about 97 minutes including a 14 minute segment on Minnesota High School Hockey.
Follow us on twitter at ChasingMacPod and you can submit questions through our email address, ChasingMac@techhockeyguide.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and review which will help us reach more people, and tell your friends. Please check out Jonathan Zamaites series previews every Friday and Mike Anleitner’s Old Dog in Texas column every Wednesday (you should definitely read this week’s column). Also, keep an eye out for new recruiting articles on Tuesdays. As always, special thanks to our patron saint Doc McResin for his generous donation to get this thing running, we hope you enjoy. Also, thanks to The Thank You Notes for all the bumpers in today’s episode. If you like what you hear, check them out at thethankyounotes.bandcamp.com
Matt Cavender graduated from Tech in 2018 and is a former President of Mitch's Misfits, serving two terms. Matt serves on the Tech Hockey Guide staff as Editor in Chief. He currently works as a Digital Marketing Specialist in Grand Rapids, MI