Chat about College Hockey
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INCH Archive: Chats
Joe Gladziszewski (2:00 PM)
Hello and welcome back to another college hockey chat with the writers and editors at Inside College Hockey. We're about a third of the way through the season and are starting to find out a lot about how teams are shaping up this season.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:00 PM)
We'll be taking questions for the next 30 minutes.
Chuck (Durham, NH)
Is this the beginning of the end for Maine? Somehow Whitehead has held off the seemingly inevitable for a few years now. He's done a good job, as good as you can expect, but it was all about Walsh there. Can someone else get it done in Orono?
Jeff Howe (2:02 PM)
Look, with all respects to Coach Walsh, Tim Whitehead is the guy who brought Maine to three of the last four Frozens. Maine fans have to give it up with the Whitehead bashing. This is going to be a down year, but Whitehead has shown an ability to progress talent throughout a four-year career unlike any coach in the league. That said, it's not Whitehead's fault Teddy Purcell left early. It's cyclical. Sometimes, teams lose a giant chunk of their talent in one fell swoop like Maine did after last season.
Ben (Colorado Springs)
Hey INCH - Colorado College and Denver University are both doing really well... Will Air Force get up there in the polls if they keep on playing at the level they are? What are the chances Eric Ehn wins the Hobey Baker this year? Thanks!
Jess Myers (2:04 PM)
Frank Serratore's team is doing everything it needs to do if the Falcons want to rise in the polls and get back into the NCAA tournament -- namely winning the games they're supposed to win. They have a real opportunity in about a month when they travel to Minneapolis for their holiday tournament. Boston College and Minnesota are both a little down, but wins over traditionally-strong programs like that would make a few more people take notice of Air Force. Don't tell me the Falcons don't want another shot at the Gophers after the near-upset last year in the NCAAs. As for Ehn, he's a great player, but I'd still consider him a long shot for the Hobey.
Joe (Ithaca, NY)
True or false? There won't be a single team in Denver in April from the east. With BC down this year and everyone else looking awful, I think it is true.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:06 PM)
Early results show that many of the nation's strongest teams are western-based this season, but I don't expect it to be an all-west Frozen Four in Denver. As many teams have shown over the last several years, third-seeded teams have advanced out of regionals and made runs at the Frozen. Look out for a dangerous three in the East to get hot in late March.
Miami and Michigan State are both veteran teams. Can a very young Michigan team hold up through an entire season and be with MU and MSU at the end of the season?
Mike Eidelbes (2:08 PM)
I think there's a risk that Michigan could wear out. We saw something similar happen with Minnesota a couple years ago, and it's a good bet that a number of Wolverine freshmen will be invited to take part in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic during the holiday break. But as long as vets like Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik keep leading the way and, most important, Billy Sauer continues to shine in goal (he's alllowed two or fewer goals in seven straight starts) I think they'll be fine.
Michael (Boston, MA)
After seeing my beloved Eagles start off slow the previous two seasons, and end the season in the national championship game, do you foresee a return to dominance for this Boston College hockey team?
Gerry (Woburn, MA)
Can BC get going down the stretch like they always do when Bradford comes back? Still tons of talent but they look questionable right now.
Jeff Howe (2:09 PM)
Boston College should be fine. In terms of overall talent, this team should probably finish second to UNH when all is said and done. Of course, talent doesn't always win in Hockey East. Anyway, the Eagles have had a crazy start to the season off the ice (Bradford injury, Motherwell suspension/departure, Gerbe suspension, etc.), so that's a lot to overcome. Still, they're not out of the picture in what has become a very tight race.
John - Houghton
What arena in the WCHA is the hardest to play in for opposing teams?
Jess Myers (2:11 PM)
There are some great rinks in the league, and they all have their advantages. As for being a tough place to play, I'd have to pick St. Cloud State's National Hockey Center for a few reasons. It's deafeningly loud and the students are some of the most boisterous in the college game. It's got a huge ice sheet with a few quirks, and that can take some adjusting to, especially for goalies who aren't used to the angles. And for some reason, many opposing teams seem to take the Huskies, and a trip to St. Cloud, lightly, or at least less seriously than a trip to Minnesota, Denver, or Wisconsin. That can be a bad, bad mistake.
Matt (Boston, MA)
How impressed are you with Northeastern's play in the past 6 games and do you think they can keep up this level of play for the entire season?
Jeff Howe (2:13 PM)
I'm extremely impressed that Northeastern has ripped off its six-game unbeaten streak, especially on the heels of a tough four-game slide that included what could have been a devastating sweep by Maine. I liked the Huskies a lot heading into this season, and it should continue to be a great year for them.
Can BU turn it around or will it be a down year for them (as well as Maine)? Their freshman class doesn't seem that good and Curry graduating seemed to hurt them bigtime.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:15 PM)
BU is a funny team, because they've had some big breakout offensive performances and nice wins against Vermont and Cornell in recent weeks. Other times, they've looked quite mediocre. I think the Terriers will continue to pick up some good wins throughout the season, but I don't see them playing in the national tournament this spring.
Casey (Madison, WI)
Are the Badgers playing to their potential? What will it take for them to get some solid help between the pipes?
Mike Eidelbes (2:16 PM)
Great question, because I think you can argue both sides in this case. Look at the number of NHL draft picks on the Badger roster and you think, they should be much better than 5-6-1. But they're so young, and unlike Michigan, they don't have the benefit of a Porter leading the way. I saw Wisconsin at Michigan State last weekend, and I was really impressed with the young talent on the ice, especially the defensemen -- Brendan Smith, Ryan McDonagh, and Jamie McBain are big, mobile, smart players. And freshman Scott Gudmandson played extremely well against the Spartans. I think they'll only get better as the season progresses.
Drew (Lakewood, CO)
What is the major reason why the Gophers are struggling this season? And do you think they will pull a Fighting Sioux and turn the season around when they get Mike Carmen back for the second half?
Jess Myers (2:18 PM)
That would be a dream scenario for the Gophers -- a strong second half that gets them into the NCAA tournament. I think they'll get better as some young players get more experience, but I don't see them being a factor in the WCHA title race. They're too inexperienced in many key positions, and their goaltending hasn't been good enough to help them overcome the lack of offense.
Julie (Houston, TX)
Michigan state has struggled over the last two weeks against powerhouse programs. Do you think they still have the ability to achieve their goal of winning the CCHA regular season?
Mike Eidelbes (2:20 PM)
You hate to write off a team in late November, but I think the Spartans need a lot of help to win the CCHA regular-season title given the incredible play of Miami and Michigan. What hurts MSU is the two losses to Miami earlier this month, because the Spartans and RedHawks don't meet again during the regular season. And there's no way MSU wins all four of its games against Michigan.
How would you grade Clarkson's season to this point?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:22 PM)
I would grade it as a B+, with the potential to move up to the A- level or down to a B- grade over the rest of the season. Clarkson has pretty much taken care of business in ECAC Hockey, with their only league loss at Quinnipiac (no shame in that). A split with St. Cloud State is certainly respectable too. We'll learn more about Clarkson with non-league games against Maine, Boston College, and Colorado College coming up.
With the performance of Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarick this past weekend in the college hockey showcase, do you think that Kevin and Chad are tha best tandem in the nation?
Mike Eidelbes (2:24 PM)
They're the best duo in the nation ... right now. But there are other tandems out there that one could argue are as good -- Ryan Lasch and Garrett Roe at St. Cloud State, Ryan Jones and Nathan Davis (once he's 100% healthy) at Miami, Ryan Duncan and T.J. Oshie at North Dakota, Matt Fornataro and James vanRiemsdyk at New Hampshire ... the list continues.
Nick (Kalamazoo, Mi)
While I definitely agree that Miami is the #1 team in the country, I'm a little surprised I don't hear much clamoring for Michigan. Yeah, their schedule hasn't been the greatest, but they are without question the hottest team in the country, have the best player in Kevin Porter, and avenged their only loss by decisively beating Minnesota. What's your guys take?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:25 PM)
Michigan is getting a lot of respect, it's just that Miami has also played fantastic hockey so far, and against a slightly more difficult schedule. The Wolverines are young and are tremendously successful so far. I think they'd be on the majority of people's lists to make the Frozen Four if you asked today.
Luke, Hamden Ct
Hey guys, what has been the biggest surprise in the ECAC this season? Yale is playing well, CU is dominating, Bobcats are struggling and RPI is surprising any imput?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:28 PM)
The biggest surprise to me is the struggles that St. Lawrence and Colgate have had thus far. The Saints have just one win in the league and Colgate has only a win at Harvard of any significance this season.
Kevin (Oxford, OH)
Do you see Miami as unproven due to their relatively weak non-conference schedule? For example, Michigan and Michigan State played Wisconsin and Minnesota this past weekend while Miami played Canisius. Will this hurt them down the road especially in the NCAA Tournament?
Mike Eidelbes (2:29 PM)
The non-conference schedule may be perceived as weak, but the RedHawks completely manhandled Michigan State in East Lansing two weeks ago. Regardless of its opponents, Miami will be in good shape as long as they keep winning. And the non-league schedule picks up with two games at Rensselaer next month and a date with St. Cloud State and possibly Harvard at the Ohio Hockey Classic in Columbus during the holiday break.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:30 PM)
That's all of the time we have for questions today. We appreciate them and hope we got to cover most of the issues around the nation. Complete national notebooks will be posted tonight at Inside College Hockey. See you again next week.