Ranking The 2012 College Hockey Holiday Tournaments

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

York and the boys attempt to write history on Saturday in the opening round of the 2012 Mariucci Classic vs. Alabama-Huntsville, followed by a marquee #1 vs. #4 matchup on Sunday night. But is the Mariucci Classic the cream of the crop when it comes to this year's holiday tournaments?

College hockey is back this weekend with a whole slate of holiday tournament action. York and the boys attempt to write history on Saturday in the opening round of the 2012 Mariucci Classic vs. Alabama-Huntsville, followed by a marquee #1 vs. #4 matchup on Sunday night. But is the Mariucci Classic the cream of the crop when it comes to this year's holiday tournaments?

Let's rank this year's tournaments from 7-1:

7. UConn Hockey Classic
Who: American International (4-8-3), Brown (3-5-4), Connecticut (4-7-2), No. 18 Minnesota State (10-6-2)
When: December 29-30, 2012
Where: Freitas Ice Forum, Storrs, Conn.

Verdict: Why does UConn hockey have its own holiday tournament? Freitas isn't good enough for Hockey East play apparently but is good enough to host a holiday tournament. Makes sense. Minnesota State should roll in this one. Bonus! The AIC-Connecticut semifinal counts in the Atlantic Hockey standings. Joy!

6. Catamount Cup
Who: Merrimack (6-7-3), Princeton (3-6-3), No. 13 Union (8-3-4), Vermont (4-8-4)
When: December 29-30, 2012
Where: Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, Vt.

Verdict: Two of the worst Hockey East teams take on Princeton and 13th ranked Union in this year's installment of the Catamount Cup. Just to remind you had very sad Catamount hockey has become. How UVM can continue to struggle is beyond perplexing.

5. Three Rivers Classic
Who: No. 5 Miami (11-3-4), Ohio State (7-6-5), Penn State (7-8), Robert Morris (7-4-2)
When: December 28-29, 2012
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Verdict: Mildly interesting tournament, if only because this is Penn State's first year as a Division I-A program and this is the site of the 2013 Frozen Four. This tournament features the last two schools to add Division I-A hockey -- Robert Morris (2004) and Penn State (2012). Miami should sleepwalk through this tournament.

4. Great Lakes Invitational
Who: Michigan (6-9-2), Michigan State (5-10-2), Michigan Tech (4-10-3), No. 8 Western Michigan (11-4-1)
When: December 29-30, 2012
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Mich.

Verdict: It's an all Michigan GLI this year. And back indoors with the cancellation of this year's NHL Winter Classic. This year's GLI boasts the sixth lowest combined winning percentage of the holiday tournaments. How far has Michigan college hockey fallen when directional Michigan is the team to beat? Big Ten Hockey Conference -- because someone has to win it in 2014.

3. Florida College Classic
Who: No. 11 Cornell (6-3-2), No. 19 Ferris State (7-7-3), Maine (2-11-2), Minnesota-Duluth (7-8-3)
When: December 28-29, 2012
Where: Germain Arena, Estero, Fla.

Verdict: This is a strange tournament field this year. This is the only holiday tournament that boasts four NCAA Tournament teams from 2012. It's also the tournament with the lowest combined winning percentage of the seven (LOL Maine). One of the few tournaments that features more than one ranked team. The message board rumor is that BC will take over co-hosting duties for this tournament starting next season.

2. Ledyard Classic
Who: Bemidji State (5-8-3), No. 10 Dartmouth (7-2-2), Massachusetts (5-9-2), No. 2 New Hampshire (11-2-2)
When: December 30-31, 2012
Where: Thompson Arena, Hanover, N.H.

Verdict: This year's Auld Lang Syne Tournament features two top 10 teams in Dartmouth and New Hampshire. Host Dartmouth hasn't won since 2008 while UNH hasn't won since '86.

1. Mariucci Classic
Who:Teams: Air Force (5-7-4), Alabama-Huntsville (3-14-1), No. 1 Boston College (11-2-1), No. 4 Minnesota (11-3-3).
When: December 29-30, 2012
Where: Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, Mn.

Verdict: I'm willing to overlook the fact that UAH is one of the worst programs in Division I-A this season to give the nod to the Mariucci. Not often you get to see a coach break the sport's all-time wins record and this is the only holiday tournament guaranteed to feature a matchup between two top 5 heavyweights.

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