Friday in the WCHA: a final edition; Gwozdecky successor to be named; Hobey Baker

When St. Cloud State was eliminated in the NCAA semifinals Thursday in Pittsburgh, the WCHA’s hopes for a Division I title were extinguished. And the life of the WCHA, as we know it in a 12-team alignment, has ended after 61 years.

The ECAC presently holds the title of college hockey’s best Division I conference. In the Frozen Four openers, Yale defeated Massachusetts-Lowell 3-2 in overtime, while Quinnipiac University eliminated St. Cloud State 4-1 at the Consol Energy Center.

No. 15-ranked Yale (21-12-3) is in New Haven, Conn., and No. 1 Quinnipiac (30-7-5) is in Hamden, Conn., neighbors who reside in the ECAC. They meet for the NCAA title at 6 p.m. Saturday. They’ve played three times this season and Quinnipiac has won all three, including in the ECAC third-place playoff game 3-0 on March 23 in Atlantic City, N.J.

As Friday’s New Haven Register headline reads: The National Champion Lives on Whitney Ave (which writer Chip Malafronte notes The two best college hockey teams in the country are practically in your backyard, residing along a short stretch of Whitney Avenue that runs from New Haven through Hamden.)

Commentary and game stories from the New Haven Register are here and here and here and here and here.

U.S. College Hockey has a recap of the St. Cloud State-Quinnipiac game here.

College Hockey News has a game story here.

One of the press conference quotes from St. Cloud State senior captain Drew LeBlanc: “You wouldn’t think that you’re coming out in the biggest game of your life and you’ll be flat-footed.”

It was that kind of game for the WCHA co-champion Huskies (25-16-1). Mick Hatten of the St. Cloud Times has stories here and here and here.

LeBlanc is among three Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists. The winner will be announced at 5 p.m. Friday live on the NHL Network and streaming on the Hobey Baker web site here.

Also Mike Chambers of the Denver Post is reporting that the successor to fired Denver coach George Gwozdecky will be selected this weekend and be introduced Monday. His story is here.

NCAA Semifinal Summaries Courtesy of College Hockey

Yale               3 vs Massachusetts-Lowell  2, OT  Box  
St. Cloud State    1 vs Quinnipiac            4      Box