Miami’s Bryon Paulazzo shoots the puck against the boards during practice at the Huntington Center on Friday. The Midwest regional begins today at 1:30 p.m. with St. Cloud State against top seed Notre Dame.
The early returns on the NCAA Division I hockey tournament’s first foray into Toledo were nothing but positive on Friday.
All four teams had glowing reports on the Huntington Center and the Bowling Green State University staff that is hosting the Midwest Regional.
Coaches from St. Cloud State, Notre Dame, Minnesota State, and Miami all had good things to say about the rink and the treatment their teams received.
“Beautiful building,” St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said. “And the ice was good; I was kind of thinking it might not be good. You could tell that by tomorrow things would be ready to go; they’ve done an excellent job with the facility.
“It’s a good setup downtown, we can walk … we feel at home right now, and we know you’ve put a lot of work into this so we’re sure appreciative of it, and we’re excited to be here.”
Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings agreed, adding, “From the time that we got here it has been nothing but first class — the people of Toledo have taken care of us very well, and we appreciate Bowling Green State University, the host. They have done a great job as far as taking care of us.”
Mavericks defenseman Tyler Elbrecht said he and his teammates enjoyed the treatment they received upon their arrival in Toledo.
“We’ve been treated like royalty so far. It’s been great,” he said. “We are excited to be here and just to keep going.
“It’s a really nice facility. The locker room is unreal. We have some ice tubs and there and stuff — they’re treating us really well, so it’s been really good.”
Notre Dame’s Sam Calabrese said he and his teammates came away with a favorable impression of the Huntington Center, which opened in 2009.
“Just pulling in last night, everyone was really impressed at how great everything is here,” he said. “The locker rooms are very nice and we’re being treated first class. So just to come here and be in a new facility, it’s going to be nice.”
WALLEYE WATCHING: Two current Toledo Walleye players, Ben Youds and Nino Musitelli, will have a vested interest in this weekend’s games.
Youds played at Minnesota State, while Musitelli played at Miami.
Youds, a defenseman who played for the Mavericks from 2007-11, is in his second pro season. He has played in 42 games for Toledo and ranks sixth on the team in scoring with 30 points.
Musitelli, a forward who played for the RedHawks from 2004-08, has tallied 20 points in 31 games for the Walleye. Musitelli is in his fourth pro season and signed with Toledo on Jan. 15.
TRADE BAIT: St. Cloud State senior forward Ben Hanowski might have thought he was still dreaming when he woke up Thursday to a number of text messages and phone calls.
“I was little nervous that something had happened maybe to a family member, teammate, or something like that,” Hanowski said. “And then realized what it was.”
“It” was the news that the Pittsburgh Penguins had traded his rights, along with those of Yale forward Ken Agostino, in the Jerome Iginla trade with Calgary.
“I think it’s different for us college guys,” Hanowski said. “You’re never really wearing the jersey of the team or the team that’s affiliated with them. So I don’t think you ever come to really realize you’re part of their organization fully. So it’s kind of a unique situation and an awkward situation for me. And it’s something I’m not really worried about right now. I’ve just been really focused on tomorrow afternoon at 1:30.”
POWER OF GOLD: Notre Dame introduced new helmets at the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic played at Chicago’s Soldier Field on Feb. 17.
The helmets mimic the bright golden finish of the football team’s helmets and the Golden Dome located on the school’s campus.
Each helmet contains 23.9 karat gold flake in the final clear coat and paint.
WHATEVER YOU SAY: Miami coach Enrico Blasi was asked if he agreed with Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson, who felt the Midwest regional was the toughest of the four regionals.
“I’m sure the other teams are saying the same thing,” Blasi said. “You have St. Cloud — they won the WCHA regular season. You have CCHA champion Notre Dame. You have Minnesota State who was right there until the end.
“But I’d never want to contradict coach Jackson, so I’ll agree with him.”
GET YOUR TICKETS: Single-game tickets for each regional game are $45. Tickets for all three games are available for $75, with students paying $65.
Tickets are available at the Huntington Center box office, at ticketmaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.