After some time away during the semester and holiday break, we're back to talk college hockey. Inside College Hockey's writers and editors will be taking your questions for the next half hour.
I clicked on your link to the Jonathan Toews story in the INCH power rankings, and was impressed with the game's attendance of 21,000+. Then I was taking a look at past Blackhawk attendance, which went from 29th (of 30) in 2007 to 1st in 2009. My question: With hockey a recognizable force in the Chicago sports scene again, is now the time for them to bid for events like the Frozen Four and World Junior Championship? Or is their market too big for these events (typically they are held in smaller, more hockey specific markets) Your thoughts?
I think Chicago would be a great venue and city for the Frozen Four. One of the first steps is to find a host institution or organizing committee and that would likely be a nearby but out-of-state school such as Wisconsin or Notre Dame. World Jrs would be an interesting bid also, but that would require two weeks of time and I don't think the Bulls and Blackhawks would avail all of those dates. For one weekend, a Frozen works out.
Chris Kreider had 2 goals in the first half for BC. Do you think his great showing at the WJC gets him going in the second half?
It seems that college players who participate in the World Jrs tend to either take off from the experience in the second half or to fizzle out due to fatigue. Keep in mind that most of the college players at the WJC are freshmen. They're still adjusting to the rigors of the college game. I think Kreider was one of USA's best forwards, and I think the tournament will give him confidence in re-joining an already solid BC team.
Umass Lowel was as high as 3rd eraly, they are currently 13 on some polls do you think the have the talent and determination to get back to being a top ten team, and if not why
Yeah, Lowell suffered a recent hiccup and fell back in the standings as a result. It's an experienced team that has a talented roster and will rise up as long as it brings the energy it needs every night. The reason why Lowell has been successful is it's willingness to work harder than other teams, and it can't get away from that.
Handicap the CCHA title race at the half way point. Do you see anyone challenging Miami?
Highly unlikely. The RedHawks are five points in front of second place Michigan State, and their schedule is incredibly favorable--league trips to Alaska, Ferris, BG; at home against Western, Lake State, and Omaha; and a home-and-home with Ohio State. Not enough banana peels on that slate for Miami to slip.
What conference do you think has seen the most dramatic turn from what was predicted in the preseason?
To me, it's Hockey East in the sense that teams that were expected to do well have struggled a bit (BU) and some teams have taken huge leaps to the top of the standings (Maine). Some other pleasant early surprises from the likes of Vermont and Merrimack have made it interesting to watch. Now, I think things are starting to settle down. I think BC is the alpha dog in that pack.
What do you think about UMaine's ability to Stay with the top teams in the country and in most cases win. Why aren't they higher ranked in the National Polls?
I wouldn't worry too much about Maine's position in the polls at this point. Because Maine has struggled for a couple of seasons, voters are likely looking for Maine to sustain this success for a more extended period of time. If Maine continues to play as well as it has, the higher rankings will no doubt follow.
Can Bemidji State make a run at the Frozen Four again? They play in a weak conference, but they did beat Miami on a neutral site and have most of the team back from last year.
No reason that can't happen. The Beavers might be better than they were last season. Dan Bakala has proven to be a capable goaltender, their offense can go toe to toe with any in the country, and their defense is better. BSU's goal differential from last season was +9. This year, it's 34.
Any frozen four predictions, I just wanted to know who you guys thought I might be watching up here in April? thanks and I love your podcasts.
Thanks for listening to the podcasts. In our most recent edition, Bus and I speculated on a group of Denver, Miami, North Dakota, Cornell and Boston College. I'd throw Wisconsin and Yale as other likely contenders at this point in the season, along with Michigan State.
With a solid showing in their Holiday tournament and a modest win streak, will the VT Catamounts catch fire and make a late season run? Will they be one of the 4 teams participating in the Hockey East postseason? Any chance of repeating last year's Frozen Four?
Vermont's struggles were one of the more surprising stories in the first half, at least in Hockey East. There is too much talent on the Catamounts' blue line to be struggling this bad defensively. I see no reason why Vermont won't earn one of Hockey East's eight postseason berths, and if it plays well enough down the stretch to earn a playoff series on home ice, another shot at the Hockey East semifinals will likely follow. As for the Frozen Four, well, they've got to prove a lot more at this point.
do you expect BU to make a run for the NCAAs?
No, not at this point. I was among the believers that BU would turn things around. They traditionally do play better in the second half and they've got a heck of a start tomorrow night at Fenway, but I think there are too many teams to climb past. Seems to me, the Terriers' only ticket to the NCAAs is to win the Hockey East AQ.
NMU just beat Minnesota in the Dodge Holiday Classic, they're currently a TUC, and have made some spectacular late season runs lately. What would you say their chances of making the big dance are?
NMU has traditionally been a second-half team under Walt Kyle, so it's possible, espcially in a mediocre CCHA. One thing hurting the Wildcats is that the don't have any great wins--their best have come against UMD and Michigan State--and their schedule hasn't been terribly difficult. That puts the onus on them to win a bunch of games in the second half, maybe 10 of their last 15, and go deep in the league playoffs.
Will the NCAA ever go with two eight-team regionals (East/West), instead of the current four regional format? I love the idea of a Saturday with 4 games and a Sunday with two games in bigger arenas.
Without sitting down and thinking about this, I can't see it being economically (traveling 7 or 8 teams) or logistically possible. Four straight games is fine for a kids tournament but the ice would be brutal after four straight college games. The timing/spacing of start times at the regionals is usually well-orchestrated so that a fan could catch almost all 12 games of the regional weekend on TV with little overlap.
How high do you think Wisconsin's ceiling is and do you think they have a legitimate chance at the frozen four?
I think the way they're playing now, the Frozen Four is a legitimate aspiration for Wisconsin. Blake Geoffrion has caught the eyes of the INCH staff over the last few months and they've been impressive as a team.
1. You mentioned Dillon Simpson in your blog the other day. How likely is he to land at MSU where his dad played? Do you think he's thinking that his decision could be based on what Jeff Petry does, i.e., if Jeff decides to leave, Dillon is more likely to lean to MSU?2. How much credit do you think Rick Comley deserves for completely changing MSU's playing style from past years with over 12 new players on the team? Seems that if the Spartans continue to impress, as they have so far, he might be a candiate for College Hockey Coach of the Year. Your thoughts.3. Any rumblings about the CCHA adding Alabama Huntsville or any other team for next season. The silence on this point is defening.4. On a related point to question 2, above, nobody put much stock in Comley's 2008 or, more so, 2009 recruiting class. Yet, both now appear to have been very, very good. When is this guy going to start getting some credit for being one of the best recruiters in college hockey that nobody ever heard of. Tropp was trashed as too small, Grant was said to never be a scorer at the college level, Krug is now being seen as a very valuable point man on the power play, in particular, but nobody except his coach at Indiana and, of course, the coaches at MSU. Krug in particular has made Jeff Petry's fabulous season, so far, possible, by freeing him up to play offense. And a host of other guys that are all carrying this team so far this year.There's more, but I don't want to hog the session. Happy New Year to all.
There's more? Wow. Lots of Michigan State questions coming in this week. Good to see the hockey buzz back in East Lansing.
1) Under Dave Hakstol, the sioux have really had strong second halfs of the season, but with upcoming trips to Minn, Cornell, St Cloud and CC (with DU coming to the Ralph) do you forsee that again this year and/or does it hinge of the return of Chay?2) Was really impressed with Kreider and D Amigo at the WJs. Does there success continue with BU/RPI and help those respective schools to make a push for the tourny this year?Thanks guys
Getting Chay Genoway back would definitely help, especially against the tough schedule that you mentioned. I like North Dakota's overall depth and talent. I think their season depends on goaltending. When Eidsness has been even just average, they've been in good shape to win. Sometimes he's been really shaky, and that's not good enough for a team with WCHA and NCAA title hopes.On Kreider (he's BC, not BU) they'll be in the tourney. D'Amigo made a name for himself for sure. Don't miss RPI and Princeton on ESPN U this Sunday for another look at Jerry D'Amigo and a talented, but underachieving Princeton club.
Right now the Spartans only have 3 Sr.'s on the team and only one getting meaningful time. Do you see any of the underclasses not being on the team next year(specifically Tropp and Petry)?
Whoa, Marcus. Let's finish out this season before we look ahead. Petry's rights are owned by Edmonton and the Oilers are mess, so anything could happen there. Tropp is property of Buffalo; the Sabres have been in process of restocking their farm system, so it's a possibility. So, in short. Maybe, maybe not.
After winning the Dartmouth Tournament, including beating UMass-Lowell, do you think Northeastern could make a run at home ice for the Hockey East Tournament?
The Huskies are only three points out of the fourth spot, so there isn't a ton of work to do in that regard. However, they'll have to play with some more consistency in the second half to overcome some other very talented teams, such as UMass, Lowell and Vermont. The Huskies have a core of talented forwards, and Chris Rawlings has done a nice job in net, so the pieces are there.
How much time does Don Lucia have left in Minnesota? Almost 3 years of .500 record has some antsy in Dinkytown.
Always respect and appreciate fans wanting the most from their teams and the standards are a little higher, certainly at Minnesota. Before you run Don Lucia out of town think about the other factors. Starting over, loss of continuity. Who would you get to replace him? Change for the sake of change is not always the best answer.
Thanks for all of your questions this week. Sorry we couldn't get to all of them. We'll be back next week, same time, and for the rest of the season. Also, don't forget the college hockey doubleheader on ESPN U this Sunday. RPI-Princeton at 3 p.m. ET and Northeastern hosts UMass at 8 p.m. ET.