Chat about College Hockey
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INCH Archive: Chats
Joe Gladziszewski (2:00 PM)
Welcome to another college hockey chat with Inside College Hockey here on Sportsnation. We'll be taking questions for the next 30 minutes about all kinds of topics and teams, so go ahead and fire away with your questions.
Mark, Albany NY
Is RPI's schedule going to hurt them or help them in the ECAC? They've played a ton of great teams, but they haven't won those games.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:04 PM)
Rensselaer is back in ECAC play with a couple of home games this weekend against Cornell and Colgate. They've been going up against the likes of Notre Dame, Miami, Boston College, and Colorado College all season long. I have always believed that taking care of business in your own league is the best way to ensure postseason success, because it enhances your seeding and confidence when the league tournament rolls around. RPI should be ready for this closing stretch of league games. It'll be important to get off to a good start at home against these two teams ... both of which are better than their records might indicate.
Can the Gophers make a run and sneak into the NCAA playoffs? How much of a factor will Mike Carman's return play?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:07 PM)
It's going to take a real run in the WCHA in the second half, and right now it doesn't look like the Gophers have the kind of firepower necessary to really surge up the standings. The good thing for Minnesota is that the bottom eight teams in the WCHA standings are tightly grouped together, and if the Gophers can go on a four or five game unbeaten streak, they'll jump over a bunch of teams and can make real progress toward a top-five spot and home ice in the first round. To me, if they can get into the top half of the WCHA, win their first playoff series and at least one game at the X, they'll be in the NCAAs.
Why does it seem that my Hockey East doesn't get the national respect it deserves? I feel like it's always overlooked by the midwestern schools/conferences.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:11 PM)
Hockey East did a good job of making a statement to the nation during holiday tournaments prior to the new year. With wins by BC, UMass-Lowell, Massachusetts, and Northeastern. I think they'll get more respect in the second half.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:12 PM)
Another reason is that two teams that people expect to be great in Hockey East (Maine and BU) aren't having very good seasons. When the average fan thinks of Hockey East and sees those two struggling, it makes it seem like the whole league is down. People are finding out very quickly that Northeastern and Massachusetts are for real.
I still have concerns regarding the Islanders and Gophers situation. Is there something in the works to stop NHL teams from coming in and swooping up there players in midseason or is this going to be the start of other teams doing it?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:15 PM)
One of the reasons for the mid-season and early departures that college hockey faces with regard to the NHL is that it's difficult to create legislation as the NCAA will always mandate amateurism among its athletes, yet the NHL draft is determined by age, rather than amateur status. The NHL has created a panel to discuss issues specifically pertaining to college hockey, so it is aware of the problem and we can hopefully clear up some of the issues that college hockey faces relative to the pros.
Mike (Ft. Myers)
How does Kyle Okposo going to the AHL help improve his skills rather then staying in school. Does Garth Snow just hate Don Lucia that much?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:17 PM)
I love college hockey, but I also will always defend the American Hockey League. It's a great place to play and for players to develop. Okposo going to Bridgeport or to Long Island will allow him to play at least 40 more games just during the regular season, instead of 16 at Minnesota. Plus it potentially has a much longer playoff season and the competition is much better than he would face in the WCHA. It's bad for the Gophers for sure, but is probably the best thing for Okposo's development.
Who are the lead Hobey candidates right now? What will it take to make someone a true favorite?
Frank (Boston, MA)
Nathan Gerbe = Hobey Baker Winner?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:19 PM)
Janet asks, Frank asks more specifically, and we agree. Nate Gerbe is currently atop our Hobey Tracker at INCH as he's been most dynamic and most dominant, especially recently. It's going to take consistency, team success, and big performances in big series/weekends to determine a true favorite. Right now it's very close between Gerbe and Kevin Porter of Michigan.
What about my Sioux? Can they get any consistency, or just keep splitting?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:20 PM)
INCH's WCHA writer Jess Myers will have more about the Sioux in this week's notebook, and even though it's been a season of split series for North Dakota, coach Hakstol says that his team has been getting better through the course of the year. I think they'll emerge from the pack and finish third in the WCHA behind Denver and CC.
Andrew (Ann Arbor)
Can Billy Sauer and the UM freshmen continue their strong play and help keep the Wolverines on top?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:22 PM)
I'm interested to see how the Michigan players respond, those who played at the World Junior Championships. For some players, it's a real boost to the second half of the year. Many others take a step back when they return to college hockey. Don't underestimate the importance of the GLI title for the Wolverines. It was great for Sauer to play well in important games, and the team got a taste of what it's like to play in tight games when a trophy is on the line. I think Michigan will have a great second half, and I'd project them to be in the Frozen Four.
David (Sydney, NSW)
What's up with Cornell this year? Any chance they step it up in the second half of the season?
Rob (Ithaca, NY)
Cornell has played pretty well in its last three games. Clarkson seems to be the #1 team in the ECAC, but do you think that Cornell can make a run at the title?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:25 PM)
Two questions on Cornell, a team that I got to see last weekend ... look for more info on the Big Red in this week's INCH ECAC Hockey Notebook. My impressions were very positive, especially with the balanced scoring lines that they seem to have going right now. Players are starting to pick up the pace. Ben Scrivens has been pretty solid in goal for most of the season, but Cornell's fortunes in the second half will depend on its defense. They've been great some nights and not so great on others. If they can get consistent play from the guys on the blue line, they'll be dangerous. Clarkson is still the team to beat in the league.
How do you feel about the bobcats and thier winning streak? Do you see them as a possibility coming out of the ECAC?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:27 PM)
Quinnipiac has the firepower to make a run in the ECAC Hockey tournament and earn the AQ to the NCAAs for sure. Right now this team has tons of momentum. We'll find out more about them in February when it's a full-time return to league play where points are hard to come by.
Michigan State had a very bad showing at the Joe over the Holidays. Do you think that is a sign of things to come or an abberation?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:30 PM)
The Spartans have been inconsistent, but are still very dangerous. We're a little concerned that they don't have any real "signature" wins this season but they've done enough to stay in the hunt near the top of the CCHA standings. I think it's important for the team's psyche to get a win over Notre Dame this weekend, and a win over Michigan later this month when they play a home-and-home, not just for the standings and NCAA Tournament stuff, but for the belief that they truly belong among the nation's elite teams.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:31 PM)
That's all the time we have for today. Thanks for the great insights and thoughtful questions. We'll have full conference notebooks on Friday morning. Enjoy the games this weekend.