Holy crap, the Final Five is here! This is seriously one of the most fun weekends of the entire season. Fans from pretty much every team make the trip to St. Paul to cheer on their team (or cheer on whoever is playing their rival if their team didn't make it) and to boo at opposing fans when their faces get plastered on the jumbotron. Speaking of plastered...watch out for those crazy tailgaters!
Team, Fan, & Tourney Preview
CC Tigers: The Tigers get to faceoff against either SCSU or UMN on Friday night. I would think that they would have a better chance at advancing to the championship if they face UMN, as I don't think the Gophers have the speed or the offensive firepower to hang with them. SCSU, on the other hand, has a trio of good scorers. Either way, I see CC advancing to Sat night regardless, as they are just too strong this year even if they don't normally have good luck in the F5. I don't think that I've ever seen a CC fan younger than 50 years old. Maybe they are slowly dying off, with no young fans left to take the helm. On the bright side, they might have actually been alive to see the last Tiger national title.
DU Pioneers: The Pioneers won their first round series and have advanced to the F5 for the first time in a couple years. They play UND in the Friday afternoon game in what should be a good battle as they try to get revenge for the series in Grand Forks a month ago. DU just has to find some scoring, and then let Mannino handle the rest. You usually see a fair number of DU fans at the F5, and we might even see more this year due to their recent hiatus from the WCHA tourney. They could pull off an upset or two if they score some goals, but that could prove difficult, especially if some more DU players "pull a Trotter" and leave the team before Friday.
UMN Gophers: If there is a team that might be better off losing this weekend, it is the Gophers. They already played three games less than a week ago, with all three going to OT (two of them to double OT). If they beat SCSU on Thurs night, they would have to play on Fri and Sat as well, which would make it at least 23 periods of hockey in only 9 days! And that's assuming that none of their games this week go to OT, which is something all too common with this Gopher team. On the flipside of that, if they lose against SCSU they could very well miss the tourney. UMN fans were very happy this week...they got into the F5 despite being a horrible team all year. So hopefully they really enjoy their one game. Unless...can the Gophers become the first team to win the F5 after being in the play-in game? Answer: No...no they cannot.
UND Sioux: The Sioux battle the Pioneers on Friday afternoon, in what will probably be one of the better games all weekend, as the two teams always seem to match up well. UND has had the upper hand so far this year, but DU seems to have a recent history of beating UND when it counts...in the playoffs. The Sioux will almost certainly need at least one win this weekend to have any chance of moving up to a #1 seed. UND fans will travel well as always, so expect lots of them there. My only question is whether the fat mullet-man Sioux fan will be there. Everyone reading should know who I'm talking about...he's at every F5 and F4. So the answer is yes. If UND loses to DU, who will be blamed? Smart money is either on the officials or Paukovitch.
SCSU Huskies: The big question when the Huskies take the ice against the Gophers on Thurs night will probably be if UMN will have any legs at all after last weekend. SCSU should be fresh, as they finished off UW in two games, but the Gophers will also have the crowd behind them. The Huskies are a more talented team than UMN this year, but the Gophers showed some grit against MSUM, and also showed that Kangas is on form. For SCSU fans, this is like the SuperBowl...facing off against the Gophers in the F5. They just aren't smart enough to realize that it's just the play-in game. :)
Other: The Mavericks and the Badgers will be sitting at home watching these games while wondering what their fate will be for the NCAA's. UMD, MTU, and UAA are already out on the putt-putt course practicing their short game.