It's time to talk college hockey again with the writers from Inside College Hockey. We'll be taking your questions for the next 30 minutes.
who do you guys think are the top players (forward, defensemen goalies) so far this season in hockey east, and does BU have a chance left to salvage this season?
For forwards, I'll go with James Marcou of UMass, Scott Campbell of Lowell and Chris Barton of Merrimack. For defensemen, I'll stick with Lowell's Nick Schaus and BU's Kevin Shattenkirk, and I'll take the Lowell goaltending tandem of Carter Hutton and Nevin Hamilton, along with honorable mention to Alex Beaudry of Providence and Paul Dainton from UMass.
What is your take on teh BSU Beavers? I feel they have justified their ranking, and although its early yet, have proven to be a tough team to play against.
This year's Bemidji State team reminds me a bit of last year's Air Force team in how they've started their seasons. Some fans around the nation will be skeptical of those good starts because of some of the teams Bemidji State has beaten, but wins are wins. And they showed last spring that they're good enough to compete at the highest levels nationally. I have no problem ranking Bemidji State among the nation's top 10 teams right now.
How important is it for DU to have goaltender Cheverie back this week from his leg injury versus ND? How does having him versus not having him affect the series?
Having Marc Cheverie in goal for the North Dakota series would obviously be a huge boost for the Pioneers. Freshman Adam Murray has been wildly inconsistent thus far. Cheverie may not be DU's best player, but he might be the team's most valuable player. He's certainly the one they can least afford to lose for an extended period.
How can Lowell be ranked 4th, I looked on their stats and they only have one NHL draft pick, Last year BU had like 16 and won the national championship, so how long before they fall?
They've played well enough to earn that ranking, that's how. UMass Lowell has to target a different type of recruit than some of the other national powers, but it's working for them. And some of their undrafted talent is certainly catching the eye of pro scouts. I expect UML to stay at or near the top of Hockey East all season long and to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Thoughts about BC? As expected, their are not consistent early on with their youth but their 7-1 win over UVM showed a glimpse of what they can do. Their questions coming into the season have been largely answered already. Muse is healthy. Cross is healthy. Sneep is playing well and the freshmen D are playing well. Smith is back, Whitney is playing better as well. Are the pieces in place for a run to Detroit as the freshmen get more consistent?
BC will rely on its freshmen more this season than recent memory. Because of that, it's far, far too early to forecast anything in Detroit outside of its (insert go-to cliche about the auto industry). Anyway, Muse is healthy but not 100 percent yet, as you can read soon on INCH, but after talking to him, it sounds like he's back and ready to accept a workload similar to that of years past. If he can showcase that same production, BC will be back in the tournament.
Whats with North Dakota? We've become accustomed to watching the Sioux play 500 hockey until after the holidays and then watch them hit their stride. With only three seniors what would you attribute the fast start to and do you think they can continue this level of play all year?
The schedule has certainly helped the Sioux--other than two games with Minnesota last month, they haven't played a ranked opponent--but their balance and depth are phenomenal. Two telling statistics: Through 10 games, seven players have three or more goals and nine have five or more points. Throw in a goalie in Brad Eidsness who is playing well, and it's a tough combination to beat.
Didn't get a chance to listen to the podcast yet, but saw that there was a mention of UMass-Lowell. It still blows my mind that a program that was on the verge of folding has had such an incredible turnaround, especially in such a competitive conference. Can a program like UAH learn from what Lowell did or is this a completely different situation?
It's a bit of a different situation for UAH in regard to Lowell because of uncertain league affiliation. Lowell had a steady spot in Hockey East. I think that a lot of programs can be motivated and inspired by what UMass Lowell has accomplished in the last couple of years. Once-proud programs that are currently struggling (Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Michigan Tech) can get back to the highest levels of college hockey under the right circumstances.
Red Berenson just announce the alternate captains for Michigan this week: Jr Carl Hagelin and So Luke Glendening. Why now and why a sophomore?
I'm not sure why now--maybe Red likes to award A's in this manner to see if someone emerges or make sure he doesn't give it to someone who bolts during the summer. As for why a sophomore, leadership qualities no know age. Miami's Andy Greene was a three-year captain, for example. And every program has a senior who couldn't lead Lindsay Lohan to happy hour.
What do you think Northeastern's chances are of getting home ice for the Hockey East tournament, and do they have any chance of making it to the NCAA tournament?
Don't underestimate what Brad Thiessen did for that program. Without him, Northeastern doesn't have enough to get to the national tournament this season. As for home ice, it's still hard to figure out which teams are legit and which ones are along for the ride. I didn't pick Northeastern to finish in the top four prior to the season, and I still don't think the Huskies will get home ice. However, the gap has closed in the middle of the pack this season, and the difference between third place and seventh or eighth might only be two wins.
I know its early but how good is Quinnipiac this year and are they a legitimate frozen four threat?
Quinnipiac is very good, but as you stated, it's early. There's great energy at that program right now. They're playing hard and playing for one another - doing the little things that it takes to win games. I'm almost out of cliches. This week will be a big test because they go on the road to play two very good teams in Cornell and Colgate. I think it's a great weekend for evaluating where the Bobcats stand in relation to the elite teams of ECAC Hockey.
Which two teams have surprised you the most? One for the better and one for the worst.
Assuming we're speaking nationally, Michigan State is the biggest pleasant surprise. The Spartans were terrible last season. Not sure if they've got the depth or experience to keep it going, but you can't argue with the results so far. On the flip side, I'll go with Boston University. They lost a lot of talent, but the cupboards are hardly bare.
Following that up, I'll throw a mention in the pleasant surprise category to Colorado College. On the bummer side of the scale, I'll go with Mercyhurst.
What about UMass Amherst? Are they for real, or just off to a hot start?
UMass has three very important pieces in forward James Marcou, defenseman Justin Braun and goalie Paul Dainton, as well as a number of nice complimentary parts and a solid coach. However, we've seen hot starts in Amherst before, which have tapered off with nightmarish second halves. There seems to be a unique type of unity in that locker room this season, so we'll see if that pays off throughout the long season.
Michigan got swept two weekends in a row -- that's not supposed to happen. Is RichRod coaching this team? What's wrong?
After Saturday, Rich Rod might not be coaching any team. (rimshot) Definitely not a great start for the Wolverines although those four straight losses have come against two of the nation's best teams so far this season. Getting Bowling Green for two this weekend might be a good time for UM to get on track before Wisconsin and Minnesota come to town.
What are the chances that the Ferris State Bulldogs beat Ohio state twice this weekend and earn a national ranking?
Decent, I suppose. Ferris looked pretty good against Miami last weekend, tying the RedHawks twice. Ohio State has played better as of late after getting out to a tough start against some pretty good teams. If I were going to pick a sweep, I'd lean toward Ferris, but a split seems likely.
to continue the lowell lovefest: how mindblowing is it on a scale of 1-10 that the most important matchup in HE this weekend is lowell/merrimack?
9.875 from the Polish judge on the mind-blowing scale.
North Dakota v Denver: How exciting to get to watch two of the top teams in the country battle this weekend. I cant wait. If these two teams play well and split they will probably stay about the same in rankings next week, however if one team sweeps and obviously outplays the other, will INCH rank that team number one next week? Go Sioux....
It's always great to get these types of top-five matchups, and don't forget that North Dakota also plays Miami and Cornell later this year. That's a heck of a round-robin. I think a sweep by either the Sioux or Pioneers would send them to the top of the INCH Power Rankings, regardless of what Miami does this weekend.
Thanks for all of the questions this week. We won't be here next week, something about a turkey dinner we've got to attend, but we'll be back the following Thursday to talk college hockey.