It's time to talk college hockey. We'll be here for the next 30 minutes, and possibly longer. Lots of good questions already in the queue, and we'll be taking more of them as we go.
Seems like Brian Foster of UNH is playing better. is he the main reason they have had such a good stretch and could he or Butler/Kessel be HE player of the year?
I do believe Foster's steadiness is the primary reason why UNH has created space in the standings, and if UNH continues to run away with the regular-season title, Foster would get a good look at that hardware.
How can a team who is 6th in their own conference be ranked 4th in the entire country by INCH? Please explain that one to me.
Looks like we'll have a lot of talk about North Dakota and its series against Denver in this week's chat. Our INCH Power Rankings are based on what we see and how we think teams stack up. When we place North Dakota fourth, we think they'd win a seven-game series against the teams ranked below them as it stands right now. Both other national polls also place North Dakota fourth, so we're not alone in our opinion of the Sioux.
Any news on Bowling Green hockey? It looks like the Falcons will stay afloat after coming close to folding before the season. As of now they have an interim coach, former player Dennis Williams. Should they keep Williams or try to lure in a known coach? If a new coach is needed who should BG look to hire?
Since last spring's announcement that Bowling Green might drop hockey, the school's alums have rallied to the program's support. A $5 million fundraising effort kicked off this past fall -- the money would go toward not only the hockey program but also facility improvements. On the coaching front, I think Williams stays. It's been a tough year for BG, but the team is playing hard, losing close games, and showing signs of improvement.
What does Umass need to do to insure itself an at-large bid into the NCAAs
Not crumble in the second half like it usually does. History has shown us that Hockey East teams that secure home ice and win a first-round playoff series have a tremendous chance to earn a spot in the tournament.
What's the rule for a goal review? For example a shot is taken that may be a goal and will be reviewed at the next stoppage, but before the official can review the potential goal the othe team scores. Do both goals stand?
My understanding is that the first goal would be the only one that counts. I don't have a rulebook here, but you can find those at the NCAA website. Also, the time that the first goal was scored would be official. You would put time back on the clock to the time when the goal was awarded.
Lots of good matchups in the WCHA this weekend, what one do you think is the most critical for the teams involved?
I think that it's the St. Cloud State series at Colorado College. St. Cloud has lots of momentum after sweeping Minnesota last week. While the Gophers are down a bit this year, those are still very important games for the Huskies. CC got a split at Alaska Anchorage and haven't played a ton of home games since the start of December. They were dominant early on in Colorado Springs. I think they can use this series to get back in the WCHA title chase.
With these years Hobey Race you always seem to think that the big name schools players have a better shot at the award.This year it seems the Minn Duluth,UMASS, teams have good canidates for the award and these teams are pairwised high on these players merrits ,do you think that says something more for those players even though they are not at a more trad hockey school
One great thing about college hockey is that the Hobey isn't dominated by big schools -- no school has won more than Minnesota Duluth, and Colorado College has two winners since 2003. The voters have done a good job of giving credit where it's due and taking seriously the task of selecting the most outstanding player regardless of background.
Not so much a question as a comment, but did you happen to read the big spread in Sports Illustrated this week on the Lamoureux family from Grand Forks? If you havent read it go pick up a copy, it was a fantastic article and great exposure for college hockey!!
Thanks for the comment. Worth sharing.
Also, editor's request - could the author of the chat question from Haslett, MI contact us via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) want to feature that in next week's First Shift and give credit where it's due. Won't post it here, sorry.
What was your impression of the weekend series between Cornell and North Dakota? Given that the teams split two fairly evenly matched games, do you think an ECAC team can contend for the national championship?
I attended both games and they were great. Definitely had the feel of playoff-style hockey. North Dakota had an edge in the play both nights by a slight margin. Because the NCAA Tournament is a one-game knockout scenario. I think that almost every team in the tournament can make a run regardless of its conference affiliation. Cornell and Yale would be the most likely candidates from ECAC Hockey this season. Look at what Bemidji State and Vermont did last year. Lots of teams are national contenders, even though they're not considered favorites.
do you think the teams that participate in the beanpot take the area tournament as seriously as they used to? or do you think the boston area skaters keep their powder dry for th HE tournament and the ncaa's beyond that? am i too cynical?
Yeah, that's a cynical way to look at it. By a rough estimate, I've talked with players who have participated in the last 10 Beanpots, and none of them have ever remotely hinted at the tournament losing its luster. Plus, teams like Northeastern and Harvard have rarely had their sights set on the NCAA's at this point in the season, so that would be a moot point for them.
You're all huge hockey guys and not from Boston to the best of my knowledge. On a scale of 1 to 10, how big of a deal is the Beanpot to you guys? And do you think that the more BU wins it, the less relevant the event comes?
We'll stick with some Beanpot talk. I've attended the tournament twice and am not a Boston or Massachusetts native. I think it's a nice event, but it's very parochial. That said, it's a big deal to college hockey fans and media (7 to 7.5 on the scale of 10). Anywhere important games are being played is a place worth paying attention to. It's similar to other big series this weekend, such as rivalry games like Michigan and Michigan State and Denver-North Dakota. For me it rates ahead of the holiday tournaments but definitely behind league playoff tournaments and obviously the national tournament.I'll leave no comment on the BU and tournament relevancy question.
I dont know what game Jason from New York was watching but being a Cornell fan I was at both games and North Dakota outplayed us all weekend and the shots showed it, we were lucky to split!
(Another testimonial from North Dakota and Cornell.)
What does Wisconsin need to improve on if they want to be title contenders this year?
Nothing, really. Barring injury, the Badgers have to be considered one of the favorites for the national championship. If you want to nitpick, Wisconsin is in the middle of the pack in the WCHA in both power play and penalty kill, so I suppose there's room for improvement there. I'm also interested to see if Mike Eaves will continue to rotate his goalies in the playoffs.
Assuming BC can defeat P.C. tomorrow night and also Harvard in the first round of the Beanpot on Monday. I would love a rematch against B.U. for the Battle of Boston, who we just lost recently to in overtime. What do you think ?
At this point in the season, I definitely believe Boston College is a better team than BU, but the Terriers have had BC's number this month. Then, there's that whole thing with BU being pretty good in the Beanpot. It looks like a wash to me, but if you're asking for a prediction 11 days in advance, I'd go with BC because I don't think BU can beat its rivals three times in a row.
North Dakota is ranked 4th in your rankings but has series with Denver (3), St Cloud State (7), Minnesota Duluth (10) and Colorado College (11) their next 8 games. Look into your crystal ball and predict how they will finish in those 8 games and afterwards if they will still be a NCAA contender.
The Sioux have been in two-step-forward, one-step-back mode since their 7-1-1 start -- they're 6-7-4 since. The keys for North Dakota are getting healthy and getting adequate goaltending from Brad Eidsness. I have a hunch they win no fewer than five of the next eight and sweep Michigan Tech in the regular-season finale. Throw in a first-round playoff series win and you're looking at NoDak heading into the WCHA Final Five with 22 wins ... more than enough to get them into the NCAAs.
With Denver and North Dakota playing a two game set this weekend in Grand Forks how important is it for the Sioux to pick up wins on both nights? They are ranked highly, but just make the pairwise cut at the moment, and need to gain ground in the WCHA standings as well.
This is a little follow-up on the previous question but it's a good point. Mentioned on the INCH Podcast last night, but the good thing for North Dakota is that many of its remaining games are against teams that are ahead of the Sioux in the standings. They can gain ground on those teams in head-to-head weekend matchups.
With all this talk about the beanpot, think we'll ever see the whole thing outdoors @ Fenway or something?
I've been on this story for a few years, and the reason it took so long to get a Fenway game is because of the offseason maintenance work the Red Sox perform on their park. The timing and logistics make it very difficult to pull off such an event, so I don't see it happening anytime in the near future. It's certainly a great idea, but the Beanpot would have to be played in early January to appease the Red Sox' schedule. At that point, you have to wonder how much the Beanpot committee would be willing to mess with its tradition.
Why is the ECAC so over rated?
Because Cornell crushed New Hampshire on the road, St. Lawrence beat Boston College at a neutral site and Yale tied Wisconsin on the road?
Chay Genoway is STILL out from that dirty hit from Aaron Marvin in November, what are the chances he sits out the whole season and applys for a medical redshirt and stays next year?
As weeks go by, it seems less likely that Genoway will return. There has been some discussion about his pursuing a medical hardship waiver and returning next year. Right now it seems more likely that he won't play again this season.
How do you see this weekend series with Wisconsin at Duluth shaping up? Is there any chance Derek Stepan or Ryan McDonaugh return to school next year?
Wisconsin looked pretty sharp against Denver last week and I think they match up well against UMD. A Badger sweep wouldn't surprise me. As far as Stepan and McDonagh, it wouldn't come as a shock to see McDonagh go, and the Canadiens usually do these things the right way. Stepan's a Ranger -- that organization is a lot less predictable. I think he stays another year.
Does the ECAC get more than one team into the NCAA tourney regardless of who wins the league?
Yes, there will be more than one representative. I think by the time the league playoffs roll around, Yale and Cornell will have definitely placed themselves in the range of teams that can get at-large bids. Those two clubs, and Union, are probably the three best in the league right now. RPI and St. Lawrence can be considered sleepers. Harvard is showing signs of improvement.
We're past our usual 3 p.m. chat cutoff, but still lots of good questions coming in, so we'll keep answering them. Thanks for all of the great stuff.
As a Ranger fan who has had a hard time watching their recent games i was wondering if can get your thoughts on a couple of their college prospects Kreider and Stepanek? I was really excited to see their performances in the world juniors but what kind of pros do they project to be?
That was certainly heartening for Rangers fans to see the offensive production from Chris Kreider (BC) and Derek Stepan (Wisconsin) during the World Jr tournament. I think Stepan's playmaking upside is high and translates to the next level. Kreider's got better size but he's got to adjust to his growth and develop a little more. He didn't have an impactful start to his freshman year at BC, but when playing against his peer age group he really excelled.
The Minnesota Gophers have been up and down this season, what do you think their chances are of making it into the NCAA tournament?
Not good. Haven't seen enough consistency from them to think they'll get in.
Do you think that Lowell has maybe turned it around, or was this past weekend just a fluke?
I don't think Lowell has really lost it, but a couple of poor stretches -- which have been short, mind you -- have hurt the River Hawks in the tight standings. There's plenty of talent on that roster, but what makes them so hard to beat is their level of intensity. As long as they come out with a purpose, they'll be fine.
Which College Hockey players that are currently playing in College do you think would make great shots of being the top 10 picks in the 2010 NHL Draft?
Because of the recruiting cycles and age of draft-eligible players, not many current collegians are even draft eligible. Players are more frequently drafted prior to their freshman years on campus. Of this year's current college players, Riley Sheahan from Notre Dame and Tyler Pitlick of Minnesota State are the highest projected draft picks, but it's very unlikely that they'll be in the top-10.
What schools do you see as having the best recruiting classes so far for next season?
North Dakota is definitely one. They've got a likely first-round pick in Derek Forbort coming in, a defenseman and another possible first-rounder in forward Brock Nelson. This week got a commitment from Dillon Simpson who might be a Fall 2011 addition, but might be on campus as early as next season.
notre dame had a couple of inspiring comebacks vs the tough spartans. the goal scoring drought was finally broken. can the irish keept going & MAKE SOME NOISE IN THE POST-SEASON? THANKS!
Notre Dame is certainly a team to be reckoned with in the postseason. They've been plagued by inconsistency, some guys taking on new roles, and injuries on the blue line but seem to be rounding into form. They've got a favorable schedule, too, with UNO, BGSU, and Western Michigan on deck and a home-and-home with Michigan to close the regular season. Can they make the NCAAs? Possibly, but they'd probably have to win 7 of their next 8, and take two league playoff series to do so.
Thanks for the clarification Sara. Forgot about that deal for a sec ...
just a comment, but McDonaugh's rights were traded to the Rangers... does this change things?
I was at the North Dakota-Denver series ealier in the year. Ranked 1 v 2 and it looked like it. Are you expecting more the same or has ND lost some luster. The Friday game of the 1st series was too much fun even though my Sioux lost.
Last weekend's series between Wisconsin and Denver lived up to what we expected, and I think the same will be true of this weekend's games in Grand Forks between North Dakota and Denver. Both teams played high-level series against elite opponents last weekend. Should be a couple of fantastic games.
It's no secret that Miami wins with defense. Come tournament time, will a lack of a bonafide offensive star hurt their chances or will their balance overcome that?
If anything, I think it helps Miami because they've got a lot of talented forwards spread across their lines. When you can put Camper and Wingels on one line, Palmer and Miele on a second, and Cannone and MacKenzie on the third, that's tough to defend.
Do you think UNH will get enough wins for an at-large birth or do they have to win HE playoffs? Non-conf. record is pretty bad.
I think UNH will be fine for an at-large spot as long as they stay near the top of Hockey East the rest of the way. The reason UNH's non-league record is poor is because they've played excellent teams -- two at Wisconsin, two vs. Miami, a home game against Cornell, at Rensselaer. That strength of schedule will give the Wildcats a boost.
Thanks for all of the great questions, but we've got to wrap things up right now. Be sure to check out INCH's Friday Four-cast tomorrow with a weekend preview, conference coverage from our league writers and the latest INCH Podcast. We'll be back next week, same time.