St.Cloud State got shafted by the NCAA selection committee

Sometimes friends just aren’t there when you need them.
Take, for example, when St. Cloud State hockey coach Craig Dahl was coming off the ice after his team’s 6-0 loss to Colorado College in the third place game of the WCHA Final Five.
The Huskies lost 4-3 in overtime to Minnesota in the league semifinals Friday night and then were throttled by the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. The losses meant St. Cloud State, which came into the tournament hoping to gain a NCAA birth with a win, would likely stay home during the national tournament this weekend.
Dahl, obviously dejected, turned to CC coach Don Lucia looking for at least a nod of encouragement. Instead, Lucia stared straight ahead at the crowd of journalists and TV cameras who were awaiting his arrival in front of the CC locker room.
Everybody loves a winner, I guess.
Dahl said his team was still reeling from the emotional letdown they had the night before when Gophers defenseman Mike Crowley poked in his own rebound in OT for the game-winner.
“Who’s got the bag of ice? We just got our butts kicked out there,” Dahl said. “Ten years. I’ve never gone into a locker room and seen all 20 guys bawling their eyes out. That’s what we had last night.
“There’s nothing like winning, we all know that.”
However, the NCAA selection committee proved Sunday that sometimes winning in the league tourney doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Vermont was named the No. 3 seed in the east despite losing twice at home to Princeton in the first round of the ECAC tournment.
St. Cloud State finished the season 23-13-4 in one of the toughest conferences in the country, right behind No. 3 North Dakota and No. 4 Minnesota. The Huskies took care of business against Northern Michigan in the first round of the conference tourney but were stunned in overtime against Minnesota.
Still, the Pairwise Rankings, used by the NCAA to detemine tournament teams, suggested the Huskies needed to beat CC on Saturday to get into the national tournament.
“I think they should quit the power rankings at the end of the season,” Dahl said. “If you lose in the first round of a best-of-three series at home, you shouldn’t be in the tournament. If you can’t win that, you don’t belong there.”
To make things worse, Denver snuck into the NCAAs despite losing to Colorado College last Thursday to take fifth place in the WCHA tournament. The Pioneers also placed fifth in the regular season.
“I feel bad for St. Cloud,” Lucia said. “They had a great season, and I still think they deserve consideration in the NCAA tournament.”
Even CC goalie Judd Lambert said his team, Denver and St. Cloud State are so close in comparison that none of them should be left out of the NCAAs. CC and St. Cloud split the regular season series and the Huskies lost and tied games against Denver.
“I don’t like the fact that the selection process is up to a committee and a computer,” Lambert said. “But that’s the way it is, I guess. Those three teams are pretty evenly matched. It would be a shame if one of those teams didn’t get in.”
In the two previous years of the NCAAs, a team’s ratings percentage index was the only criteria used in the selection, which WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said favored the weaker conferences. Only Minnesota and CC made the NCAA tourney last year.
This year the RPI is only part of the criteria, and as a result, the WCHA has four team’s in the NCAAs. Still, one team that deserved to be there will stay home.
So what about a 16-team field in the future? Dahl said he doesn’t think that would work.
“Then there will always be that 17th team,” he said. “And with our luck, we’ll be the victims.”