March madness is upon us, and I’m not talking about college basketball… I’m talking about the NCAA Frozen Four tournament! The final four has been determined, and Chasing Checkers favorite NCAA team, the UND Fighting Sioux, has once again made it to the finals. So that I can throw in some Checkers content, here is where all of the Checkers alma mater’s ended the season…
The University of North Dakota was ranked number one by the NCAA this year. The beat Rensselear in the first round of the tournament, and Denver University in the second round to reach the Frozen Four. The semi-finals (against rival Michigan, yuck!) next Thursday, April 7 on ESPN2 here in Charlotte. You can bet I’ll be watching closely!
The Checkers own Jacob Micflikier attended the University of New Hampshire. The Wildcats were ranked 11th this season, and is the only Checkers alma mater that was represented in the Frozen Four tournament. They upset top-seed Miami (Ohio) in the first round, but lost to Notre Dame in the second. It would have been great to see the Wildcats make it all the way to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, MN next weekend, but they still performed well!
The Charlotte Checkers have two alumni from St. Cloud State, netminder Bobby Goepfert and defenseman Casey Borer. St. Cloud was ranked 23rd in the final NCAA standings, and did not make a post-season appearance.
Centerman and first-round draft pick Riley Nash attended Cornell for three seasons before joining the Checkers this year. His Big Red school (I wish I knew what a Big Red was…). Cornell didn’t have a particularly strong season (maybe because they lost a star in Nash when he decided to go pro), finishing 27th in the final rankings.
Other Notable NCAA teams and their alumni playing for the Charlotte Checkers
Ethan Graham attended Michigan State University for four seasons. Other notable Spartan Alumni include Ryan Miller, a Team USA superstar and Buffalo Sabres netminder, and Team USA and Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles (who is not French Canadian, despite his hyphenated name). While I strongly dislike the Sabres, I have always loved Ryan Miller, and Liles has a pretty smile so the Spartans will always hold a soft spot for this blogger!
Nick Dodge played at Clarkson University for four seasons, where he was a member of and captained the Golden Knights. I’m not sure why they have to be golden, and not regular knights, but that must make them more special. Another notable Clarkson alumni is Carolina Hurricane and Stanley Cup winner Erik Cole.
Mike McKenzie attended St. Lawrence University on the New York/Canadian border, and closer to Montreal and Ottawa than any major American cities. The St. Lawrence Saints are a member of the ECAC NCAA hockey division, with rivals that include Clarkson University and Cornell.
Jonathan Matsumoto attended Bowling Green University (why are their sweaters orange??? They are Bowling GREEN, afterall!) for three seasons. As proven by the picture on the left, he had quite an amazing hockey mullet. I wonder if we passed around a petition, he’d bring it back?
Last, but certainly not least, Zac Dalpe was an Ohio State Buckeye for two seasons. They didn’t have a particularly strong season. They are in a very diverse conference, the CCHA, that sees teams like Alaska-Fairbanks, and a number of different Michigan schools as division rivals.