Chat about College Hockey
Send your questions now and join INCH every Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.
INCH Archive: Chats
Joe Gladziszewski (1:58 PM)
We're back for another chat here on Sports Nation, with playoffs fully upon us. Inside College Hockey writers will be taking your questions for the next hour, so keep those great questions coming in.
Jeff (Rochester NY)
How good of a chance do you think RIT has to get into the NCAA tourney?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:01 PM)
We'll start with an Atlantic Hockey question, and RIT's chances this weekend. They'll have the best support of all the participating teams in the Atlantic Hockey Final Five, as the tournament is being held in downtown Rochester. People may be concerned that they were pushed to overtime twice and trailed in both games against Holy Cross last week, but I liked the moxie they showed in getting those OT wins. They've got a good chance, but there are several very good teams in Atlantic Hockey this year.
Jess, Could you talk a bit about the state of officiating in the WCHA. When will the coaches and the league discuss calling the interference, hooking, and holding similar to the NHL? It is happening so much now it blatantly looks like the league wants this to continue in order to create a parity solely to improve everyone's SOS and national standing. Thoughts?
Jess Myers (2:03 PM)
Those topics will certainly be discussed in late April when the coaches and league officials meet in Florida for their annual postseason gathering. A month ago, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod told me there's growing concern about the officials in terms of the way they're being treated by fans, players, and coaches in the league. Now, yelling at the refs and bad calls have been a part of the game for as long as it has been played on ice, so apparently league officials see something new and disturbing that's worth looking into. As for the way the game is being called, they're still searching for that happy medium between letting everything go and having someone in the penalty box at all times. Still, compare the college game to the ugliness on ice that the NHL (especially in the Western Conference) is so often and I like what I'm seeing in the WCHA.
Boston University... in or out? What's it going to take to keep BU on the right side of the bubble? Hopefully not winning hockey east, or going home...
Jeff Howe (2:04 PM)
If hockey's selection process included the human element such as basketball, BU would be a lock with no question about it. But since it involves a few math equations that only Will Hunting could understand, BU might want to advance to the Hockey East finals to be safe, something I predict them doing anyway.
Jeff (Cleveland, OH)
Love the website. I'm not understanding how you have Minnesota as a 3 seed in your NCAA projections, when they're not even in the top 20 of the power rankings. Are you assuming Minnesota beats Minnesota State in the WCHA tournament and moves up in the power rankings, or are the projections based upon records as of March 12?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:06 PM)
Don't get confused between our Power Rankings and the NCAA selection process. We rank teams based on what we see on the ice and how they've played in recent games as well as throughout the year. In our tournament projections, yes, we see Minnesota beating Minnesota State this weekend and moving into the tournament field.
Ulmer, Spooner WI
What are the odds tUMD Bulldogs pick up a road play-off victory at Denver this weekend (like in 2006)? Secondly, if they do win, given their high PairWise, what are their chances of making it to the NCAA's?
Jess Myers (2:07 PM)
Computer rankings notwithstanding, the Bulldogs have to win two games this weekend and at least one in St. Paul if they have any realistic hopes of making the NCAA field. As to the question of what might happen in Denver this weekend, I know that the Bulldogs like drawing a date with the Pioneers for two reasons: 1) The still-fresh memories of their upset there two years ago, and 2) the fact that the Pioneers have struggled in the past two months, losing two of their top sources on offense and entering the playoffs on a season-long three-game losing streak.
Gus, Old Tappan, NJ
Does Colgate goaltender Dekanich have what it takes to beat Clarkson twice this weekend or will Clarkson's recent offensive surge prevail?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:09 PM)
Absolutely he has what it takes, but I don't think it will happen this weekend. Dekanich has been one of the best goalies in ECAC Hockey for the last three years. I think Clarkson is playing better right now and has started to hit its stride. They'll go through to Albany.
Steve, Leominster, Massachusetts
With Vermont as one of the top seeds in the Hockey East Tournament and having beat New Hampshire in the last regular season game, do you think the Catamounts have a realistic chance to win two at the Garden? If not, is an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament possible in the event that UVM makes it to Boston? You have to like how the Cats finished the regular season.
Jeff Howe (2:11 PM)
Vermont is very much on the bubble right now and is staring in the face of a Hockey East semifinal date with Boston University, another bubble team. It's really hard to say UVM will get in without winning the conference tournament, mostly because it jumped to the top of Hockey East by being the only team that had consistent success against the league's worst teams. The Catamounts will need Joe Fallon to be legendary in goal for that to happen.
Go Sioux -- Fargo
How has UND's chances changed with the injury to TJ Oshie? What if anything have you heard of the injury?
Jess Myers (2:14 PM)
Oshie, from what I can gather, hurt his hip on a routine play early in North Dakota's last game, and played just two shifts afterwards. He was in street clothes by the end of the game, and his status for the playoff series versus Michigan Tech is in doubt. Any way you slice it, taking a player of that caliber out of the lineup (especially with Genoway and Trupp already missing) will hurt the Sioux this weekend. I frankly don't think that means Tech wins the series, but it could very well mean a Sunday night game. Of course, NoDak is all but locked into the NCAA tournament, so two losses this weekend and an extra week of rest next weekend wouldn't hurt anything except perhaps their egos.
brian custer mishawaka, indiana
notre dame has been a tale of two half seasons. serious goal scoring drought in the 2nd half. throwing tons of dead rubber at opp. goalies. will they get by ferris state?
Mike Eidelbes (2:16 PM)
I would like to say that the Irish will knock out Ferris State, just because it's good for college hockey in general when a high-profile school like Notre Dame does well. That said, I give the edge to Ferris State this weekend -- the Bulldogs are playing with a lot of confidence and they've done a nice job of putting the puck in the net over the last 5-6 weeks.
Sean (St. Cloud, MN)
Give the Huskies some Love. How far do you think they're going in the WCHA and NCAA tourneys?
Jess Myers (2:17 PM)
I'm picking them to get to the Final Five, get third place, and get to the NCAA tourney. I've been impressed enough by their power play that I'll pick SCSU's first-ever NCAA tourney win, but I don't see them as a Frozen Four team -- not this year anyway.
Chris (Detroit, MI)
The pairwise system confuses many of us. Dumb down the scenarios for us a bit...what are a couple of teams that must have excellent conference tournaments to sneak into the tournament?
Mike Eidelbes (2:21 PM)
The system is confusing to many of us. I think it's the whole strength-of-schedule thing, because it seems odd that a 22-win Notre Dame team is below a 13-win UMD club. The Irish, obviously, needs to play well and get some help -- and even getting to the CCHA championship game, plus flameouts by Wisconsin and Boston University, still might not be enough. I think Harvard is a team to keep an eye on, too, if they can sweep Quinnipiac this weekend and end up playing (and beating) Princeton in the ECAC Hockey semis.
Jon (Hamden, CT)
Does Quinnipiac beat Harvard this weekend and get to Albany?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:24 PM)
Wow, how different this answer is now than it would've been in January. I think Harvard is playing some of its best hockey of the season and Quinnipiac struggled down the stretch. Goals won't come as easily against the Crimson as they did against Brown. I think Harvard will win this series.
Who do you think matches up best with Michigan in the NCAA tourney? Obviously, Michigan State has given them problems, but other than that, Michigan has handled top teams from all conferences.
Mike Eidelbes (2:26 PM)
If by top teams from other conferences you mean, beating BC, BU (when they stunk), Wisconsin, and Minnesota, then yeah, I guess Michigan can handle them all. There are a few times out there that could give the Wolverines troubles -- North Dakota for sure, Colorado College, New Hampshire, Michigan State, and even Miami, even though the RedHawks didn't show it in February. They've all got solid goalies, good defensive corps, and pretty good depth at forward. I think to beat Michigan, you've got to take the play to them, be physical but disciplined, and your goalie has to make some big saves. Now that Scooter Vaughn is out with a broken jaw, I'm concerned a little bit about Michigan's defensive depth.
As Spring Break starts in Madison, should I plan to make a trip to the Regionals anywhere else to see the Badgers skate? Or am I better off looking to next year?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:28 PM)
If Wisconsin's in, they'll play in Madison. It's a rule, and they must play at home. Whether or not they'll get in ... tough to say at this point. The regionals always offer great hockey and intriguing matchups, so I'd recommend going to the regional whether or not Wisconsin is playing.
Dave B. (Lowell, MA)
Give me some good news. UMass Lowell in 2008 atleast a bubble team for the tourney? Come on, they are doing well this year and are chalk full of sophmores.
Jeff Howe (2:29 PM)
Lowell finished seventh in Hockey East and has gotten swept in two of the last three weekends. Those aren't solid tournament credentials. Lowell would need to win the Hockey East tourney for the first time ever to gain a tournament bid.
Brett (KC, MO)
How much of a factor does the blown call from the Denver vs. Wisconsin at the end of regulation play into the minds of the NCAA selection committee?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:31 PM)
Zero. It isn't considered by the committee, just the result of the game as it stands.
Who are some of the teams you feel are peaking at the right time and could make some noise if they get in the NCAA field?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:33 PM)
It's still two weeks out, so it's not fair to answer this question until after the conference playoffs are complete. A lot of teams can win series this weekend and make a run at their league championship weekends later on. As far as making runs to league titles ... Boston University seems to be peaking. St. Cloud State is always dangerous, and probably Harvard in ECAC Hockey.
Joe, Cubicle Hell
Guys, should I buy my tickets to go see Northern Michigan at the Joe? What are the odds they can beat MSU in East Lansing?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:37 PM)
This series registers a small blip on the upset meter, but I don't think it's very likely to happen. Northern Michigan will at least go into Munn with tons of confidence, after getting a sweep of the Spartans up in the U.P. last month. However, Michigan State swept NMU in a series in East Lansing back in October.
Chris (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
What's it going to take for Western Michigan to get over the hump? They always seem competitive and Lawson is as tough a place to play in the country as any arena. What gives?
Mike Eidelbes (2:40 PM)
If I knew, I'd be coaching there, which is a scary thought. It is somewhat baffling, because they get decent players, the facilities aren't bad, and it's a pretty good location between Detroit and Chicago. Given that, do the signs point to coaching? Let's just say I was extremely surprised when Jim Culhane got a contract extension a year or so ago.
Jon (Grand Forks, ND)
Do you think that the tournament will be set up to get the least amount of teams from the WCHA in the frozen four just because all the analysts are in love with the east?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:41 PM)
Yes. That's exactly it. The mystery of tournament selection solved by Jon from Grand Forks.
What does Providence have to do get into the tourney? Win the hockey east?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:45 PM)
Looks that way right now, but if they make it to the finals with three wins, they've got a chance as long as the other bubble teams are all bounced early in their league playoffs.
Who makes it to St. Paul next weekend and who comes out of St. Paul with the WCHA tourney title?
Jess Myers (2:47 PM)
Ah, the annual "make the so-called experts look like fools" exercise. OK, here goes: I'll pick four of the five home teams to win this weekend -- CC, NoDak, Minnesota State, and SCSU. I see the NoDak and Minnesota State series wins taking three games. I'll pick a UMD upset of Denver in three games for the reasons I detailed earlier -- namely the Bulldogs' solid defense and goaltending versus the Pioneers undermanned offense. Don't forget UMD taking SCSU to three games (and multiple overtimes in game three) last year. The Bulldogs are a tough out come playoff time, but with two great goalies facing each other (Stalock versus Mannino) don't expect to see many goals. As for the Final Five, if North Dakota is healthy I see the Fighting Sioux erasing the demons of last season, and beating CC for the playoff title. And to secure a NCAA tourney invite, SCSU will beat Minnesota State in the third place game, before an audience of hundreds.
Mike (Billings MT)
Being out west, Colorado College and Denver don't seem to get the attention that other schools do. How good do you think these two teams are? What kind of damage do you think they can do in the NCAA with at least one of them possibly having home ice for the entire tournament?
Jess Myers (2:48 PM)
CC is very good in all areas and is playing some of its best hockey right now. I see them as a solid pick for the Frozen, with the regional being played in their building. Denver has struggled off and on since mid-January, so I'm not sold on the Pioneers as a viable "deep into the playoffs" team.
Can you talk about the job Tim Army has done for the Friars this year? What's it going to take to get them into the tournament?
Jeff Howe (2:49 PM)
Army has done an amazing job with this team and is a great candidate for Hockey East Coach of the Year. His players speak so highly of him and have realized their potential with Army at the helm. As far as the tournament goes, PC was a little too up and down late in the season and probably needs to win Hockey East to get in.
Steve (Bismarck, ND)
In your opinion, how lame are the computer rankings, really lame or super lame? Why can't people pick the best teams by, I don't know, watching hockey?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:51 PM)
SUPER LAME! This sounds like one of my quotes from many INCH podcasts over the last three or four years. I think that computer rankings and matching teams are a great guideline, but shouldn't be the only determining factor. People who go bananas about PairWise from day to day and week to week seem to me to be the same type of people who can't wait until Christmas morning to open their presents, and need to know what they're getting when people are shopping.
Justin (Sioux Falls SD)
What do you think about the policy of trying to keep the Frozen Four from being all from one conference?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:51 PM)
There is no such policy.
Rich (providence, ri)
Which league's playoff series (as a whole) is the most interesting this weekend?
Joe Gladziszewski (2:53 PM)
As a whole, I'll be tracking the Atlantic Hockey Final Five in Rochester. Army has been stellar defensively in the second half. Air Force has continued to play well despite losing Eric Ehn to injury and RIT has the hometown thing going for it and is seeking its first trip to the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level. There's balance, quality hockey to be played, and lots of storylines. Should make for great stuff.
Joe Gladziszewski (2:55 PM)
That's all of the time we have for questions. Thanks for all of the participation and enjoy all of the great games taking place across the nation this weekend. We'll be back next Thursday at 2 p.m. ET for another chat, and this week's INCH notebooks are our end-of-year editions with our season recaps, awards, and playoff capsules.