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Sport Big Ten has big presence this year, with 3 teams at Frozen 4

23:38  05 april  2018
23:38  05 april  2018 Source:   ap.org

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Five years after its launch, the Big Ten 's presence has finally been felt. Three teams have reached the Frozen Four after four members comprised the top 12 seeds for the NCAA Tournament. Illinois is in the Big Ten queue for a potential expansion to eight teams, with fundraising in the works for a

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Big Ten conference has taken tons of heat from college hockey fans in its five years of existence. There are still many fans who blame the Big Ten and say the sport is worse off. But Traviolia believes it’s getting closer to the day where fans will credit the conference, and

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Considering the force of the impact it made on the sport, the Big Ten hockey conference sure started with a soft launch.

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The Big Ten ’s rise has coincided with Notre Dame, a Frozen Four team last year as a Hockey East member, coming on board. The Fighting Irish had a 16-game winning streak this season, won their first 13 Big Ten games and enter the Frozen Four as the highest remaining seed, No. 2 overall after

Five years in to its existence, the Big Ten ’s presence has finally been felt in college hockey. They have some high-end talent, but not as much as you might expect from a Frozen Four team , and it will be interesting to see what they do tonight against Minnesota-Duluth, as that is the sole non- Big Ten

Five years in, its presence has finally been felt. Three teams have reached the Frozen Four after four members comprised the top 12 seeds for the NCAA Tournament.

"I think this is what everyone envisioned when the new leagues all started to form, that the Big Ten would be like this," Michigan coach Mel Pearson said.

Minnesota Duluth, the outlier in these national semifinals, plays Ohio State in the first game on Thursday. The Michigan-Notre Dame matchup follows.

"We were very fortunate to get the lead that we had in the regular season with that winning streak that we had, because we found out in the second half how challenging the conference is and how much better it got," said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, whose team won 16 consecutive games from Oct. 27 through Jan. 19.

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The Big Ten Conference has doubled its presence in the NCAA Tournament a year after its fewest picks in a decade. A record eight Big Ten schools were There were only four teams from the Big Ten last year , when Michigan did make it to the NCAA championship game before losing to Villanova.

The Big Ten accounts for three -fourths of this year 's NCAA Frozen Four at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The league had combined for just five NCAA tournament wins in its first four seasons, with three No Big Ten team in the last three years has reached the Frozen Four . Now the Big Ten is

UMD has a proud flag from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to wave, too.

The Bulldogs have the most recent national championship of this football-defined quartet, in this building in fact. They beat Michigan and Notre Dame in 2011 at Xcel Energy Center, about a 2½-hour drive from campus, to win the program's first NCAA title. More relevant to the current roster is the trip to the national championship game last spring in Chicago, a 3-2 loss to Denver.

"Props to the Big Ten. Pretty awesome, having three teams in here. But at the same time, we know the NCHC is one of the top, if not the top conference in college hockey," UMD captain Karson Kuhlman said on Wednesday after practice.

UMD, with only nine players remaining from the national runner-up team last season, snagged the final at-large bid for the tournament after a wild weekend of conference tournament games that allowed the Bulldogs to nudge out Minnesota by a few percentage points. If just one of six of those contests would've gone the other way, the Gophers would've given the Big Ten a fifth entrant. Notre Dame's win over Ohio State was one of the determinants.

Minnesota Duluth beats Ohio State 2-1 in NCAA semifinals

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The Big Ten Conference (stylized B1G, formerly the Western Conference and the Big Nine Conference) is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States.

The Big Ten Conference has doubled its presence in the NCAA Tournament a year after its fewest picks in a decade. A record eight Big Ten schools The Spartans beat the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday. Indiana, another Big Ten team , was one of the first four teams left out of

"I owe Jeff Jackson a lot," UMD coach Scott Sandelin said. "A couple beers in Florida will probably work. There's about five other teams I could say the same thing for."

Illinois is in the Big Ten queue for a potential expansion to eight teams, with fundraising in the works for a proposed new arena that would allow the university, which has a popular club team, to establish an NCAA Division I program. That's what Penn State did earlier this decade, triggering the Big Ten's creation as the minimum sixth team.

That pulled Minnesota and Wisconsin from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, prompting North Dakota to lead an exodus from the nation's oldest league to form the NCHC with Denver, St. Cloud State, UMD and four other schools. Fans in the northern states were disappointed by the breakup of several storied rivalries, and while the existence of the new league gave the Big Ten Network an upgrade in Friday night programming, the early returns on the product were modest at best.

Minnesota reached the national championship game in 2014, but the Gophers went one and done in the tournament the following year as the conference's only entrant. Excluding Notre Dame's appearances prior to joining the league, the Big Ten's composite record in NCAA play was just 5-7 entering this season.

Jake Evans' late goal sends Notre Dame to Frozen Four final

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Big Ten trio Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame headed to Frozen Four . Minnesota Duluth will be the lone holdout at the X. The Big Ten , in its fifth season as a hockey conference, has been less than popular in Minnesota because the league was formed by taking the Gophers and Wisconsin out the

The Big Ten will be well-represented at this year 's Frozen Four . Ohio State and Notre Dame will be joined by rival Michigan, marking the fifth time that three or more teams from the same league have made it to the final weekend. There are three Big Ten teams in the Frozen Four ? That's not a typo.

Last year, the announced attendance total for all five games of the conference tournament in Detroit was a mere 11,785. In St. Paul in 2016, the combined crowds were just 15,886. The timing of the Big Ten's infancy was coincidentally bad, too, with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin all in down cycles.

Notre Dame's arrival from Hockey East this season as an affiliate member was a big boost, though. Ohio State took a big step forward in coach Steve Rohlik's fifth year. Penn State's fledgling program made a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

"You just keep looking for a chance to take a breath in our league, and there isn't one," said Pearson, who took over the Wolverines this year after the retirement of his former boss Red Berenson. "I think that's what's made all of us better."

The last time a current member won the national title was Michigan State in 2007. Neither Notre Dame nor Ohio State has won one. Michigan has a record nine, though none since 1998.

After a 13-19-3 record in Berenson's final year, the Wolverines were predicted to finish second-to-last in the Big Ten's preseason poll. Pearson, who went to the national semifinals 11 times on Berenson's staff, arrived from Michigan Tech and promptly took the program back to a familiar place. The Wolverines swept the Fighting Irish and star goalie Cale Morris in February.

Pearson is a native of the Twin Cities area, just like Rohlik, who spent 10 seasons as an assistant on Sandelin's staff.

"The hockey world's a small world," Rohlik said, "no matter where you turn."

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