Chat about College Hockey
ESPN2 will televise the Frozen Four on Thursday, starting with Maine-Michigan State at 4 p.m. ET, followed by Boston College-North Dakota at 8 p.m. ET.
Send your questions now and join INCH every Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
INCH Archive: Chats
Joe Gladziszewski (2:49 PM)
After some slight technical difficulties, we're ready to go with some college hockey chat here on The Show. Today's Frozen Four begins in just over an hour.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:42 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions, we'll be here right up until face off. Please feel free to write in and we'll talk about today's semifinals and other things going on in the college hockey world.
Sean (Iowa City, IA)
Will the Sioux's lack of fire power beyond their first line (Duncan,Oshie, Toews)be a problem? Or will their other lines step up?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:45 PM)
One of the best parts of NoDak's regional win in Denver was the contributions from all of their lines. Guys like Erik Fabian, Darcy Zajak, and Rylan Kaip have supplemented the efforts from the Sioux's top guys. If they keep up their consistency, North Dakota will be in great shape.
Austin (East Lansing, MI)
Being in the band at Michigan State I've seen my fair share of their games this year and it's hard to ignore the fact that they've been wildly inconsistent, however in the two regional games they looked good against a solid BU team and an excellent Notre Dame club. Given the fact that in the regional games Jeff Lerg seems to have regained the poise he possessed throughout last season and the sophomore line of Kennedy, Abdelkader, and Crowder continued to find ways to light the lamp, do you think the Spartans can continue their run and leave St. Louis with a national championship?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:48 PM)
As you noted, Michigan State's consistency (or inconsistency) is the determining factor. The sophomore line that you mentioned is excellent, in fact I'd rate it as the second best scoring line at this tournament, behind North Dakota's top crew of Duncan-Oshie-Toews. Michigan State can definitely win this tournament ... all four teams have a shot. There is no true "underdog" this year.
Dustin (Grand Rapids)
With Jack Johnson among many others leaving for the nhl do you expect a drop off from michigan next year?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:58 PM)
The Wolverines always face a tough task of replacing players, whether they're seniors or underclassmen. As one of college hockey's elite programs, they get top-notch recruits and usually reload their roster. I'd expect the same finish next year as they had this year for the Wolverines ... top three or so in the CCHA and definitely a national tournament berth.
scott (germantown, md)
Is UND wearing the logo?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:51 PM)
Yes, North Dakota's regular sweaters are being worn this weekend, and all Frozen Four merchandise includes the Sioux's logo, bearing the Native American head profile.
While Boyle has played well in his new role as a defenseman, does he still project as a forward in the NHL? Considering that it usually takes defensemen who've played the position their entire lives longer to adjust to the NHL than forwards, won't Boyle's lack of experience become a problem at the next level?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:54 PM)
Great question, and it's interesting to discuss. Brian Boyle's pro future has been one of the most popular topics around Boston College in recent weeks, and I'm sure they'd rather just talk about him being an Eagle. I think he projects to being a better forward in the NHL, for the reasons you said. Learning about puckhandling and gap control and responsibility in the d-zone is one thing in college, but an entirely different thing in the show. We'll see tonight how he matches up against North Dakota's top line. Those guys will be a good measuring stick for what he might see in his professional career.
Do you expect teams come out a bit rusty in the first period, having had so much time off?
Joe Gladziszewski (3:04 PM)
Yes, that's definitely a factor in the Frozen Four. Not only adjusting to time off, but also a non-traditional start time in the afternoon. Whichever team gets off to a hot start has an advantage.
Last year the Sioux appeared to have a better team (at least on paper) than BC, but BC jumped all over ND early in the first period and the Sioux never recovered. How do you see today's game playing out?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:59 PM)
As mentioned in the previous discussion, getting a first-period lead is essential in these games. All four teams were very focused yesterday and I didn't sense a feeling of awe or intimidation by the venue or event. We'll see what happens tonight, but the Sioux will definitely need a better start than they had last year.
Brad Hoffarth, Minot, ND
Why do you think the national champions the last 6 out of 7 years has come from the WCHA.
Joe Gladziszewski (3:10 PM)
Certainly the WCHA has had excellent teams during the run they're on, and credit goes to the coaching staffs at Denver, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin for bringing in top-level players. But that's not an insult toward other teams. Those champions have happened to play in the same conference, but they're not winning a championship because they're WCHA teams.
Mike P (Boston)
Does the fact that BC has won most of its games during their recent streak by 3 goals or more make them vulnerable in a close game?
Joe Gladziszewski (3:06 PM)
Great question. I think that it actually gives them an advantage if they're in a tight game, because they have the feeling of winning. The confidence and swagger that comes during a winning streak carries over in a close game. You expect your teammates to make that great play or great save.
Joe Gladziszewski (3:08 PM)
We'll hand the chat over to our senior writer in charge of covering Hockey East, Jeff Howe, for a bit. Thanks for the questions. Enjoy the game.
Can Tim Army return PC to Lamorello-like prominence?
Jeff Howe (3:11 PM)
It won't be easy because he's recruiting against four great programs and a couple really solid up-and-comers in Vermont and UMass. I liked what Army did with the team last year and really expected the Friars to finish in the top 5 or 6 in Hockey East this year. He's got potential. The good thing is the fact that he's a Providence guy through and through, and this is the job he plans on keeping as long as they plan on sticking with him
Give me the prediction I want to see. Who wins it all?
Jeff Howe (3:13 PM)
I'll give you half the prediction you want to see. BC beats North Dakota 4-2, and Maine tops MSU 3-1. BC then beats Maine 4-1.
Gerry (Hingham, MA)
Will BU still think they are better than BC if BC wins the national title? Doesn't BU realise that there are other things besides the beanpot?
Jeff Howe (3:15 PM)
OK, the BC-BU rivalry is a great one, but why are you still thinking about the Terriers? You've got a big one with the Sioux tonight.
Jayson (UMD, MN)
How well can BC's defense match up with the Duncan,Oshie,Toews line? Also, Can "Team Canada" (No. Dak) keep the streak alive for the WCHA, and win it all?
Jeff Howe (3:27 PM)
BC is going to stack Boyle and Brennan against that top line all night. It should be an interesting matchup, and this will be Boyle's biggest test since switching to the blue line. Brennan is one great player, and he should be all right out there. That's a relentless line, though. These guys can't sleep on them for a single shift. At least they've got Schneider back there to help them out, too. As for the WCHA streak, NoDak has a good shot to win this thing, but I really like how BC is playing right now. I'm picking the Eagles.
Gerry (Hingham, MA)
because i have a BU fan chirping "where's your beanpot?" in my ear :)
Jeff Howe (3:20 PM)
Never a dull moment with you guys, is there?
Taking into account graduation, likely early departures and incoming recruits, which of this year's frozen four teams has the best chance of returning next year?
Jeff Howe (3:28 PM)
That's a tough question. Maine loses a lot of great players to graduation, and a lot of those guys are role guys you need to build a championship base. BC could be strong if its three sophomores all return, which I expect they will, but they probably won't have Schneider. I'm not sold that NoDak will return their entire top line. Michigan State will take a hit on defense but the skill guys will be back. I like the Spartans with that question. They are a year early in that regard.
Joe - Cubicle Hell
How do you see the games playing out today? As well as Saturday?
Jeff Howe (3:39 PM)
The two games pair up very well. The first game will be a slower defensive battle, but I think Maine has a little more offensive firepower and is riding a wave of confidence. The second game could be a classic. BC and NoDak will be flying around the ice all night, and it should be very exciting. I take BC winning by two with an empty netter.
David: (Fargo, North Dakota)
If North Dakota can score first and get some momentum in the first period, what do you think their chances are ?
Jeff Howe (3:35 PM)
This team has a great chance. It's just running into a hotter squad. BC hasn't trailed in like six years so it could be vulnerable if it faces a deficit with such high stakes. North Dakota needs to put pressure on early because BC has the confidence and fully expects to win these games as the streak goes on. NoDak doesn't want to let BC get in a comfort zone.
In the ever-evolving argument about which is better, the WCHA or Hockey East, where do you think we stand right now in terms of comparing the overall strength of each league?
Jeff Howe (3:38 PM)
The WCHA still has the national title mojo going, which is pretty important in the grand scheme of things. This year, Hockey East has the upper hand with five NCAA tournament teams to the WCHA's three, and two Frozen Four squads to the WCHA's one. From top to bottom, Hockey East is the best conference in the country. The WCHA's top teams probably have the nod over Hockey East's top teams, though.
Tim H (nyc)
Which of the little guys is the big hero this weekend - Ryan Duncan, Nathan Gerbe or Jeff Lerg?
Jeff Howe (3:49 PM)
I think Lerg has the best chance to be the hero among those three, but Duncan probably takes the Hobey.
Jeff Howe (3:51 PM)
OK, everyone. We're heading out to the ice to kick this thing off. Thanks for stopping by for our weekly Thursday Inside College Hockey chat, but make sure you come back for a bonus edition tomorrow at 2:30 Eastern, 1:30 Central. Enjoy the games.