Canadiens draft pick Max Pacioretty's Michigan Wolverines bounced Alaska-Fairbanks from our logo tournament on the last day. (Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
As far as entertainment goes in the hockey world, it’s tough to find anything attention grabbing right now. I’m tired of hearing how Mats Sundin hasn’t signed yet, Marian Gaborik’s dinner date with the Minnesota Wild’s management and that Wayne Gretzky trade that happened when I was still in a high-chair.
Right now the source of excitement in the office comes from our logo rankings and tournament. As soon as a ranking is posted we check the polls to see who jumped out to the (very) early lead. Obviously the first 20 minutes don’t serve as accurate foreshadowing of the final poll results, but we’re right into this thing.
The most edge-of-your-seat moment came on the eve of August 23, when the first three NCAA conference polls were nearing a close. There was still something to be decided as the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks and Michigan Wolverines were deadlocked in an 18-percent tie. But the Michigan faithful must have gathered at once, because when I woke up August 23 the big yellow ‘M’ had overtaken their CCHA brethren by a single percentage point.
Talk about a buzzer beater.
There were a few logos I was hoping would move on that didn’t. For instance, while I’m not surprised only seven percent voted for them, I was really hoping the Amarillo Gorillas would find one of the two bids out of the Central League. I was also hoping the St. Louis Blues would get one of the eight NHL bids, but to my surprise they were an afterthought for the voters from the get-go.
The San Antonio Rampage and Peoria Rivermen also got stomped in the American League and while I was icy towards it at first, after learning the owner of the International League's Port Huron Icehawks had slipped his last name “Kinney” into the crest’s icicles, I thought they deserved a shot at Round 2. But alas, it was not to be.
The most lopsided victory thus far was the North Dakota Fighting Sioux’s drubbing of the WCHA. With 34 percent of the vote, the Sioux were 20 points clear of their nearest competitor. Does this mean they have the momentum of wide fan support, or is it really that much better than Minnesota and Alaska-Anchorage?
Things will get very interesting if that logo is matched up with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The opening round is on its last legs. The Quebec League poll closes Thursday, Western League Saturday and Ontario League Monday. There are some interesting battles happening as Rouyn-Noranda and Saint John are tied for the QMJHL’s final bid, Vancouver sits one point back of the favored Seattle Thunderbirds for the WHL’s last position and the OHL – possibly the most interesting of the remaining races – has Saginaw, Plymouth, Sarnia, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and Windsor all within one percentage point of each other, vying for bids two and three.
If you’re a fan of any of those teams, now is the time to vote and keep them alive in the elimination extravaganza.
On a personal note, are there any Barrie Colts fans out there? My hometown team isn’t doing so hot, so if you’re out there get on your, uh, horse and let’s get these stallions back in the race!
Next week, after all the polls have closed, we will break out into four pools of 10. From those 40 teams you will vote again to bring us down to 16 where the real madness begins with a collapsing bracket that will ultimately give us our champion.
Here are a few of the already-clinched teams I hope do well going forward:
Laredo Bucks, CHL.
Houston Aeros, AHL.
Fayetteville FireAntz, SPHL.
Robert Morris Colonials, CHA.
Gwinnett Gladiators, ECHL.
If you want to vote, click HERE.
Rory Boylen is THN.com's web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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