Chat: Inside College Hockey
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INCH Archive: Chats
Joe Gladziszewski (1:59 PM)
Welcome once again to another college hockey chat on SportsNation with the writers and editors from Inside College Hockey. We'll be fielding questions for the next 30 minutes.
Andy (Collegeville, MN)
Based off the play of freshmen Alex Kangas, Cade Fairchild, Stu Bickel, and Kevin Wehrs, is it safe to say that concerns about the Gophers' goaltending and defense aren't as bad as originally thought?
Jess Myers (2:02 PM)
Absolutely correct. I had the Gophers picked for fourth in the WCHA based on the idea that their defense and goaltending would be trouble -- not for lack of talent but mostly for lack of experience. Kangas looked outstanding in his college debut, and Fairchild, with some seasoning, I believe will be an elite defenseman in the league.
With this being the first real full slate of conference play in most conferences; which conference schedule should prove to be the most fun to watch?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:04 PM)
All of the conferences have intriguing story lines, but the one that I'm most interested in is the CCHA. You've got Notre Dame coming off of a great season and seeking consistency, Michigan has a young team and has played very well so far, Ohio State is trying to get back to a nationally-prominent status and Miami and Michigan State are the favorites.
Mandy (Sterling, VA)
Which is the real Michigan State: the one that gets blown out by NoDak, the one that blows out Colgate, or the one that struggled to hold onto early leads against Northern?
Mike Eidelbes (2:06 PM)
All of the above? Consistency has not been the hallmark of the Spartans during the Rick Comley era. Everyone knows they won that national championship last season, but prior to the start of the league playoffs MSU went 1-4-1. You are what you are, and I think the inconsistency is just part of the Spartans' makeup.
Matt (Boston, MA)
I was wondering what you guys think about Brad Thiessen's production this year in net so far or what seems of a lacking effort, especially in how he played in last Saturday's game. This is with being that he is seen as many as a cornerstone of Northeastern's team this year.
Jeff Howe (2:07 PM)
Thiessen is a vital cog in Northeastern's success this year. He needs to be at the top of his game for the Huskies to have success, but he also can't do it alone. It's unlikely to see a goalie have a huge dropoff from one year to the next, so look for Thiessen to be fine.
LaLa (Oshkosh, WI)
I'm going to see Bucky for the first time this year, are the freshman just that good and how far can they take them?
Jess Myers (2:08 PM)
Kyle Turris is clearly the real deal, and since most of the rookies have played those massive junior hockey schedules, I don't see fatigue becoming a factor later in the season like it is for kids that come to college directly from the high school ranks. I wouldn't put the Badgers at the head of the WCHA class just yet (it's only Nov. 1) but I see them solidly in the mix for an NCAA invite.
What is the biggest problem with Boston University and what can be done to get their season back on track?
Jeff Howe (2:10 PM)
BU is still in an adjustment mode without Curry and the addition of several talented freshmen. While that's been going on, the Terriers have been blessed with a schedule you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy -- a loss to UNH before two defeats at Michigan. They've dropped those three games by a combined score of 14-5.
Patrick (Notre Dame, IN)
Just wondering what you guys feel is the potential for the Irish to have a season close to the one they had last season.
Mike Eidelbes (2:11 PM)
They're probably not a 32-7-3 team this season, but I certainly believe they have a good chance of returning to the NCAA tournament. I think they're better offensively than they were last year, and I like their mix on defense. Jordan Pearce in goal is the key -- thus far, he's given the team a chance to win every time out. Notre Dame also has a fairly favorable schedule, too. I think they'll be playing in late March.
What are the chances that Teslak will start the majority of the games from here on out? Its killing us here in Houghton that Nolan still gets ANY starts!
Jess Myers (2:12 PM)
Keep in mind that Rob Nolan was undefeated heading into last weekend's game with NoDak, and that he beat the Sioux twice last season, so Jamie Russell had bona fide reasons for playing both guys. I think that Teslak has clearly become the alpha dog in the tandem, but I don't see Jamie going to a Wolverine style "same guy every night" goaltening plan.
Who do you like in Atlantic Hockey?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:15 PM)
At this point in the season, I can't pick against the team that won the regular season last year, RIT. I had some doubts after early losses to Colgate and Bowling Green, but the Tigers played much better in defeating Cornell last weekend at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester. (A good place to have success if you're in Atlantic Hockey.) The home-and-home with Canisius this weekend is important to RIT for getting off to a good start in Atlantic Hockey play.
How good is Michigan this year? Do they have what it takes to win it all?
Mike Eidelbes (2:16 PM)
So far, so good for the Wolverines. They're getting balanced scoring and incredible contributions from a talent freshman group. That said, they consistently have 10 freshmen in the lineup on a given night -- that's a heavy burden on the young guys. And Billy Sauer has been OK thus far, but his .889 save percentage scares me. I don't see them as a title contender this year.
Rick Veazie, Maine
What do you come of Maine's recent surge in scoring. Seeing a majority of the points leaders from last year graduated, do you think this will prove not to be a big deal for the Black Bears.
Jeff Howe (2:17 PM)
I've got to give all the credit in the world to Maine for sweeping Northeastern in Boston last weekend. I'm not going to pull a 180, though, based on what happened over four games. Maine's success this season won't be hinged on the team's ability to score. It will be on Ben Bishop, who has played great so far.
Rick (Durham, NH)
UNH is coming from an impressive sweep of CC, the freshman line played a huge part to the success of the weekend, do you think it success or lack of will be in large part from the incoming class?
Jeff Howe (2:19 PM)
I think guys like vanRiemsdyk will be able to step in and contribute all season, but UNH's success doesn't ride on the freshmen. There are a number of talented players returning this year -- Fornataro, Pollastrone, Radja and Butler, to name a few -- plus Regan in net. This should be a great year for UNH.
Brian: (Cincinnati, OH)
Does it speak more for Miami's depth or more for their opponents weakness that they are doing all of this without Nathan "Hobey" Davis?
Doug (Cedar Rapids, IA)
What's the scoop on Miami's Nathan Davis (in terms of his injury) and do think the RedHawks have Frozen Four potential?
Mike Eidelbes (2:21 PM)
Davis hurt his shoulder in the RedHawks' first game of the season against Vermont. The initial expectation was that he'd miss 4-5 weeks with the injury. That'd put him back in the lineup either Nov. 9-10 against Notre Dame or Nov. 15-16 at Michigan State. The good news is Miami is playing so well right now, there's no need for him to rush back. With a deep group of steady defensemen, two good goalies led by Jeff Zatkoff, and a balanced scoring attack, the RedHawks are looking like a prime candidate for the Frozen Four.
Tim E. (St. Paul, MN)
What teams in the WCHA do expect to make a run at Frozen Four?
Jess Myers (2:23 PM)
All of them. But the ones with a realistic shot at playing in Denver in April I would narrow down to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Denver and one of the Huskies (either St. Cloud State or Michigan Tech). Colorado College is a notable exclusion from that list, and maybe that's unfair, but the two losses (especially coming from ahead) in New Hampshire last weekend have shaken a lot of folks confidence about the Tigers.
Gerard (Houston, TX)
Joe Gladziszewski (2:25 PM)
Thanks for listening. We'll crank up our podcast schedule as the season goes on ... and there's been a lot of feedback similar to yours. Thanks again. Stay tuned, and be sure to subscribe to the feed, if you're not subscribed already.
I agree with your sentiments on Minnesota's defense/goaltending but I'm concerned about their offense. They don't seem to have the same threat that the team has had in the past. Is this a cohesiveness issue that will be worked out as the season wears on or is there a legitimate drop-off in offensive talent?
Jess Myers (2:27 PM)
I don't see a drop-off in talent, but there's definitely been a drop off in production from a few key players. For whatever reason, Kyle Okposo is still in the scoring funk that's affected him since last January, and is not scoring at the ridiculous pace with which his WCHA career started. Since the troubles began about the time we tacked up the 2007 calendar on the wall, maybe pucks will start going in for Kyle again as soon as the 2008 calendar goes up.
Eric Lengas (Marquette, MI)
Northern Michigan appears to be very talented but wildly inconsistant, can this extremely young team pull it together and compete in the CCHA?
Mike Eidelbes (2:28 PM)
NMU has had some really good talent since Walt Kyle became coach, but for some reason it hasn't translated into wins or NCAA tournament appearances. And no team has had a tougher schedule to start the season -- Michigan Tech, UMD, Michigan, Michigan State, and Miami this weekend. They're certainly capable of competing in the CCHA, but I still think a top-six finish in the league would be a surprise.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:29 PM)
Thanks for all of the great questions again this week. Tonight we'll roll out our conference notebooks covering every league in the country. Have a great college hockey weekend and enjoy the games in your area.