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Twenty Storied College Hockey Programs Ranked


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I'm guessing we'll have Harvard, CC, RPI, Cornell, and either Lake St./MSU/MTU in the next group. I'd have no problem moving Harvard into the top ten if the context was "all-time", but I think we must just be examining the NCAA era.

Good list and always a fun question.

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#21 Holy Cross (OK maybe not)

Dave, I'd like to see a discussion of the jersey-rankings of the 20 NCAA champions. Please get to work on that too. Personally, I think the Lake Superior State jerseys are awfully tough to beat, but

The "problem" with Minnesota's pre-NCAA history is that there isn't really much of a way to quantify it in relation to today, or even other teams of the same era (unless they played). There was no NC

I stated my criteria, which favors recent history. This puts Michigan back a little ways. If you don't weight time, then yes, Michigan has to be #1.

Those 1996 and 1998 titles are getting a little stale even though I still think of that as being 'recent.'

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I'd have no problem moving Harvard into the top ten if the context was greatest upset in hockey history this side of the 1980 Olympics, but I think we must just be examining the NCAA era.

Fixed your post, sagard.

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In my opinion, there's no reason for UMN to be a head of UND. 7 > 5... :)

All depends on your context. Pretty straight forward way of looking at 7>5 and it's completely fair. Cut and dry UND.

Others might like at overall records since '58-'59. Or head to head. Very slight edges to UMN.

The biggest thing that I wouldn't trade for a NCAA title or two is the Gopher History before the NCAA acknowledged the sport. Having a stable program around to play allowed UND, DU, UW, UMD to establish top elite programs of their own. Sure they had their disputes in the early days, but even those disputes helped the game grow in Minnesota. Having at least 100 more wins than the next guy is also pretty cool.

UW doesn't make my top five. Probably just because I despise everything about them. :)

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All depends on your context. Pretty straight forward way of looking at 7>5 and it's completely fair. Cut and dry UND.

Others might like at overall records since '58-'59. Or head to head. Very slight edges to UMN.

The biggest thing that I wouldn't trade for a NCAA title or two is the Gopher History before the NCAA acknowledged the sport. Having a stable program around to play allowed UND, DU, UW, UMD to establish top elite programs of their own. Sure they had their disputes in the early days, but even those disputes helped the game grow in Minnesota. Having at least 100 more wins than the next guy is also pretty cool.

I agree on that, sagard. You can't just say 7 > 5 (and Sioux fans LOVE to do that) and call it a day. Another post here somewhere mentioned Yale's "lack of tradition," yet it's the oldest hockey school in the country, with roots back to the late 1800's. That's incredible.

And, you're right, Minnesota can't help that there wasn't an NCAA around for a few years. I wish we could go back to those days, for obvious reasons.

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What I'm going for with these rankings is some balance between historical accomplishments and current state of the program. When it came down to Yale vs. Union, I just felt like Union's accomplishments in 23 seasons at the Division I level outweigh what the Yale Bulldogs have been able to do since 1895.

Yale was an independent until 1961, but they have been competing for NCAA championships since the trophy was first awarded in 1948.

As I said in today's article, Yale only had two seasons of note (1951-52 and 1997-98) before this recent stretch.

History and longevity mean something, but I give the slight edge to Union since they've been to two Frozen Fours in the past three seasons, while Yale's only other appearance came in 1952.

Dave

Again, I'm not sure how you can possibly say that Union's achievements "outweigh" Yale's. I get that you want to focus on the last couple years...but my goodness, don't forget about a program's past just because it happened awhile back.

Plus, it's not like Yale and Union are all that different of late...

Since 2008-2009 (last 6 seasons)

Overall Record:

Yale - 128-64-17 (.653)

Union - 144-66-29 (.663)

National Titles:

Yale - 1

Union - 1

NCAA Tournament Appearances:

Yale - 4

Union - 4

NCAA Frozen Fours:

Union - 2

Yale - 1

NCAA Regional Finals:

Yale - 3

Union - 3

So, winning 1 more game at the Regional Final level (both of Yale's Regional Final losses (in 2010 and 2011) were to the eventual National Champion BTW), and about 1% of their games overall over a six year period trumps 800 more victories, another Frozen Four, two extra trips to the NCAA Tournament, and a big advantage in individual accomplishments in the rest of the programs' history?

To me, that's absolutely absurd.

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All depends on your context. Pretty straight forward way of looking at 7>5 and it's completely fair. Cut and dry UND.

Others might like at overall records since '58-'59. Or head to head. Very slight edges to UMN.

The biggest thing that I wouldn't trade for a NCAA title or two is the Gopher History before the NCAA acknowledged the sport. Having a stable program around to play allowed UND, DU, UW, UMD to establish top elite programs of their own. Sure they had their disputes in the early days, but even those disputes helped the game grow in Minnesota. Having at least 100 more wins than the next guy is also pretty cool.

UW doesn't make my top five. Probably just because I despise everything about them. :)

The "problem" with Minnesota's pre-NCAA history is that there isn't really much of a way to quantify it in relation to today, or even other teams of the same era (unless they played). There was no NCAA Tournament, no real conferences or conference tournaments. The game wasn't played on a national level. Does Minnesota have a better pre-NCAA history than Boston College? What about Yale? What about Boston University? What about...you get the point. Given how the game was essentially played on a regional level, it's near impossible to say that Minnesota had a better pre-NCAA history than say, Harvard. As a result, any ranking done today should really just focus on the NCAA era. That being said, I would argue that a national title earned in 1954 should be viewed the same as a title in 1984, and the same as 2014. The path to get there has changed, but the meaning is the same.

Should that mean Gopher fans shouldn't take pride in pre-NCAA era accomplishments? Hell no. However, they just aren't comparable to NCAA era accomplishments, and shouldn't be compared. At least, that's my opinion.

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Again, I'm not sure how you can possibly say that Union's achievements "outweigh" Yale's. I get that you want to focus on the last couple years...but my goodness, don't forget about a program's past just because it happened awhile back.

Plus, it's not like Yale and Union are all that different of late...

Since 2008-2009 (last 6 seasons)

Overall Record:

Yale - 128-64-17 (.653)

Union - 144-66-29 (.663)

National Titles:

Yale - 1

Union - 1

NCAA Tournament Appearances:

Yale - 4

Union - 4

NCAA Frozen Fours:

Union - 2

Yale - 1

NCAA Regional Finals:

Yale - 3

Union - 3

So, winning 1 more game at the Regional Final level (both of Yale's Regional Final losses (in 2010 and 2011) were to the eventual National Champion BTW), and about 1% of their games overall over a six year period trumps 800 more victories, another Frozen Four, two extra trips to the NCAA Tournament, and a big advantage in individual accomplishments in the rest of the programs' history?

To me, that's absolutely absurd.

I hear what you're saying, and it's very well stated.

What I said above is that Yale has had 67 seasons (1948-2014) in the NCAA Division I era to amass those victories and accomplishments, while Union has had 23 seasons (1991-2014). That factored into the equation for me. Should it have? I'm not sure. But I didn't mean to say that Union's accomplishments outweighed Yale's "in a vacuum". I ranked them ahead of Yale because they've done it in one third of the time. Others will point to Yale's history and tradition as more important, and that's the fun of it.

When I made my list, it was very close, and if I do this next year, they might flip back again.

With that being said, the whole point of these lists is for us to discuss (and disagree) and learn more about this great sport in the process.

Dave

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In no particular order, the top 7 are definitely: North Dakota, Minnesota, Denver, Wisconsin, BC, BU, Michigan

That would be about where do leave it. You can make an argument for each team to be over another. In the end though all are such storied programs that none really are better than the other. It is an honor that UND can be in such great company. Especially when Moo U can not even come close to making any similar claim to fame.
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I hear what you're saying, and it's very well stated.

What I said above is that Yale has had 67 seasons (1948-2014) in the NCAA Division I era to amass those victories and accomplishments, while Union has had 23 seasons (1991-2014). That factored into the equation for me. Should it have? I'm not sure. But I didn't mean to say that Union's accomplishments outweighed Yale's "in a vacuum". I ranked them ahead of Yale because they've done it in one third of the time. Others will point to Yale's history and tradition as more important, and that's the fun of it.

When I made my list, it was very close, and if I do this next year, they might flip back again.

With that being said, the whole point of these lists is for us to discuss (and disagree) and learn more about this great sport in the process.

Dave

I'm not saying you're wrong. I simply disagree with you. Personally, I see Yale and Union's recent success being essentially equal. Yale won it last year, Union won it this year. I don't think Union's program is in any better position for the future than Yale's. Given that the program's are essentially equal recently, Yale's enormous history tips the balance well in their favor.

Let me ask you this, would you rank RIT over Colgate?

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I think you can say it's a toss up between Michigan, Minnesota, UND, BC and BU for the top 5. BC obviously wouldn't have come close to being mentioned in this if not for the last 15 years or so, but what they've done in that time is astounding. I think I'd actually put Michigan, Minnesota and UND (In no particular order, because you can truly make arguments for all 3) as the top 3 historical programs with the two Boston schools right behind them. Wisconsin and Denver have some championships, but I just don't think they're as historical as the other 5. Just a personal opinion.

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In no particular order, the top 7 are definitely: North Dakota, Minnesota, Denver, Wisconsin, BC, BU, Michigan

That's the strange thing about this list.. There are definitely tiers:

Tier 1: the one-title teams: Bowling Green, Harvard, Minnesota-Duluth. Northern Michigan, Union, Yale

Tier 2: the middle grounders: Colorado College, Cornell, Lake Superior State, Maine, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Rensselaer

Tier 3: the elite: Boston College, Boston University, Denver, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin

And to think, we used to have four of those elite teams in one conference.... *sigh*

Dave

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I'm not saying you're wrong. I simply disagree with you. Personally, I see Yale and Union's recent success being essentially equal. Yale won it last year, Union won it this year. I don't think Union's program is in any better position for the future than Yale's. Given that the program's are essentially equal recently, Yale's enormous history tips the balance well in their favor.

Let me ask you this, would you rank RIT over Colgate?

I'd have Colgate higher. The Raiders have been relevant at various times over the past four decades, with a national runner-up finish to Wisconsin in 1990. I understand why you're having me compare these two (lots of history vs. a team with only 9 Division I seasons but some recent success), but Colgate has what Yale didn't have for me: an appearance in the NCAA's at least every decade or so for the past 35 years.

Dave

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I'd have Colgate higher. The Raiders have been relevant at various times over the past four decades, with a national runner-up finish to Wisconsin in 1990. I understand why you're having me compare these two (lots of history vs. a team with only 9 Division I seasons but some recent success), but Colgate has what Yale didn't have for me: an appearance in the NCAA's at least every decade or so for the past 35 years.

Dave

So you discount Yale's previous success, but count Colgate's? Your logic doesn't really make sense to me. It would seem if you're going to discount Yale's success from when Union wasn't even a program (along with their NCAA appearance in 1998), that you would discount Colgate's success prior to RIT becoming a D-1 program.

Yale has done more than Union, but has had more years to do it (about 3x as long). You pick Union.

Colgate has done more than RIT, but has had more years to do it (about 7x as long). You pick Colgate.

That makes no sense to me.

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That's the strange thing about this list.. There are definitely tiers:

Tier 1: the one-title teams: Bowling Green, Harvard, Minnesota-Duluth. Northern Michigan, Union, Yale

Tier 2: the middle grounders: Colorado College, Cornell, Lake Superior State, Maine, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Rensselaer

Tier 3: the elite: Boston College, Boston University, Denver, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin

And to think, we used to have four of those elite teams in one conference.... *sigh*

Dave

And at one time or another ten of them played in the same conference
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So you discount Yale's previous success, but count Colgate's? Your logic doesn't really make sense to me. It would seem if you're going to discount Yale's success from when Union wasn't even a program (along with their NCAA appearance in 1998), that you would discount Colgate's success prior to RIT becoming a D-1 program.

Yale has done more than Union, but has had more years to do it (about 3x as long). You pick Union.

Colgate has done more than RIT, but has had more years to do it (about 7x as long). You pick Colgate.

That makes no sense to me.

The thing that tipped the scale against Yale (for me) is that they went from 1952 to 1998 without an appearance in the national tournament. That's a big deal for me.

It's a little more difficult to compare Colgate to RIT, since they don't play in the same league (and I feel like that needs to be somewhat of a factor, considering we're comparing league titles), but I'll give it a shot:

Colgate Raiders:

National Championships: 0

Frozen Four Appearances: 1 (1990, 2nd place)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (most recent, 2005)

Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (1990)

Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2006)

With NCAA tournament appearances in 1981, 1990, 2000, and 2005, the Raiders have managed to avoid falling off the college hockey landscape for long stretches.

RIT Tigers

National Championships: 0

Frozen Four Appearances: 1 (2010, 3rd place)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1 (2010)

Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (2010)

Regular Season Conference Titles: 4 (most recent, 2011)

Yes, the Tigers have four regular season titles in Atlantic Hockey, but they've only managed to parlay that into one NCAA bid. They caught lightning in a bottle and advanced to the 2010 Frozen Four, but with only one tournament appearance all-time, I don't see how I could put them ahead of Colgate.

I'm assuming you would also have Colgate ahead of RIT but we disagree on Yale/Union? That's ok, that's what keeps things interesting until October.

Dave

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The thing that tipped the scale against Yale (for me) is that they went from 1952 to 1998 without an appearance in the national tournament. That's a big deal for me.

It's a little more difficult to compare Colgate to RIT, since they don't play in the same league (and I feel like that needs to be somewhat of a factor, considering we're comparing league titles), but I'll give it a shot:

Colgate Raiders:

National Championships: 0

Frozen Four Appearances: 1 (1990, 2nd place)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (most recent, 2005)

Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (1990)

Regular Season Conference Titles: 3 (most recent, 2006)

With NCAA tournament appearances in 1981, 1990, 2000, and 2005, the Raiders have managed to avoid falling off the college hockey landscape for long stretches.

RIT Tigers

National Championships: 0

Frozen Four Appearances: 1 (2010, 3rd place)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1 (2010)

Conference Playoff Titles: 1 (2010)

Regular Season Conference Titles: 4 (most recent, 2011)

Yes, the Tigers have four regular season titles in Atlantic Hockey, but they've only managed to parlay that into one NCAA bid. They caught lightning in a bottle and advanced to the 2010 Frozen Four, but with only one tournament appearance all-time, I don't see how I could put them ahead of Colgate.

I'm assuming you would also have Colgate ahead of RIT but we disagree on Yale/Union? That's ok, that's what keeps things interesting until October.

Dave

I completely agree with you about Colgate over RIT.

The one thing I would add about Yale's "stretch" of missing the NCAA Tournament is how difficult it was to even make the tournament back then. The Bulldogs went 15-2-1 in 1951, and nothing. They were above .600 eight times during that stretch, and were .500 or better 19 times. If the tournament field had 16 teams this whole time, the Bulldogs would have certainly made the NCAA Tournament significantly more often.

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I completely agree with you about Colgate over RIT.

The one thing I would add about Yale's "stretch" of missing the NCAA Tournament is how difficult it was to even make the tournament back then. The Bulldogs went 15-2-1 in 1951, and nothing. They were above .600 eight times during that stretch, and were .500 or better 19 times. If the tournament field had 16 teams this whole time, the Bulldogs would have certainly made the NCAA Tournament significantly more often.

That is a really great point. I hadn't considered how that impacted tournament appearances. Certainly makes sense when you see the consecutive appearances streaks that programs go on these days.

I'm also remembering the fact that the selection process was far less transparent back then.

Dave

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2012 WCHA had 6 of the top 12 programs of all time. That's the first thing that comes to my mind.

Let me ask this of everyone, do people think that CC and Michigan Tech would have more success the past few decades if they weren't in such stacked conference? Maybe if we imagined them in the CCHA would they have more postseason conference success and thus make it easier for them to recruit?

I like the list so far....

How the top 7 get ranked will probably get most people upset as that is where siouxsport's passion is . . . comparing UND to the other 6 elite programs

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I don't really have too many problems with this particular subset of rankings. From a historical perspective, Tech, CC, and Cornell are extremely close. Tech has the extra title, but CC and Cornell have been more consistent of late. I would point out as well how dominant Tech was back in the '60's and '70s. They not only played for the title 6 times in those twenty years (they also played for it another time in 1956), but they also missed the tournament with over a .700 winning percentage three times. In 1970-1971 they were 25-6-2 (.788). In 1965-1966 they were 23-6-1 (.783). Both of those seasons they won the MacNaughton Cup...yet MISSED the NCAA Tournament with a near 80% winning record. That's insane. To put that into perspective, when CC missed the NCAA Tournament in 1994 after winning the MacNaughton they had a winning percentage of about 65% (23-11-5). Moreover, between 1957 and 1994, the Tigers had 0 seasons where they were above .600. Their only NCAA Tournament Appearance in that stretch came with a losing record when DU was essentially barred from NCAA play. Keep in mind too, that the Tigers once went 0-23-0. Yes, Tech has had some bad seasons of late, but nothing quite that bad!

Again, I think the three programs are tremendously close for that #10 spot, and I'm fine if you want to have CC above Tech. Personally, I have Tech edging CC (and Cornell for that matter)...but it's close.

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1975...Michigan Tech

1988...LSSU

1991...Northern Michigan

1992...LSSU

1994...LSSU

I know the gap from 1976-1988 is kind of long, but that's 5 NCAA championships for 'da UP in a span of 20 seasons. It sure would be nice to see those three schools catch lightning in a bottle again.

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