Thanks for stopping by and talking college hockey with us again this afternoon. We'll be taking your questions for at least the next 30 minutes, so send 'em along and our staff will answer as many as we can.
Overall thoughts from you guys on the WJC from the US perspective? Any individuals that stood out to you?
Which college player impressed you most at World Juniors?
Thanks for the questions about the tournament. For me, Charlie Coyle (BU) was clearly noticeable throughout the tournament. I liked how he could create his own scoring chances and also made plays for his linemates. Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad was also a strong presence up front for the Americans, but picking out two of the biggest forwards in the tournament might not be that noteworthy. I also liked what Brian Dumoulin (BC) gave the U.S. on the blue line. He played reliably in all situations.
Any chance Robt Morris can pull an upset this weekend?
Definitely a chance, not just based on history, but more importantly based on this year's Robert Morris team. They were a bit of an early-season surprise and elevated themselves to the top of Atlantic Hockey and earned a spot in our INCH Power Rankings that they've held for several weeks. Nathan Longpre is a big-time player for them.
Historically, the team has also showed an ability to get big non-league upsets. They've knocked off teams such as Miami, BU and Notre Dame in recent years.
with the two cases of college hockey players getting there necks cut by skates should the NCAA make neck protation manditory?
It is probably something that might be considered, but it goes against one of the other equipment changes that is currently under review - moving away from the current full-shield facemask and allowing half-shields similar to what you see in junior and professional hockey. I think it's a worthy consideration, and am 95 percent sure that neck protection is mandated at the World Juniors, while they also wore a half-shield visor. That's a pretty good combination in my view.
What does your informal, early Hobey Tracker look like right now. Want to throw out 10 names you think will be the finalists?
The WCHA fans aren't going to like this, but my top three as of right now would be Miami's Carter Camper, Yale's Broc Little, and either John Muse or Cam Atkinson from Boston College.
Which conference is the toughest to play in this year?
I'll say that it's the WCHA because of the depth of talent in that league. There are about 10 teams every night that expect to win and have the talent to do so. Especially noteworthy considering the recent surges by Minnesota State and St. Cloud State by winning the holiday tournaments they played in. Those were big-time tournaments, too, with teams like Notre Dame, Miami, Boston University and Maine up against the Mavs and Huskies.
Interesting note in your ECACH article today Joe about Yale's scoring average. Can they keep it up?
Thanks for the note Kenny, and thanks for reading. Yale leads the nation in scoring by almost a goal and a half per game over Boston College, and is scoring about 5.3 goals-per-game right now. Very impressive indeed. I'd expect that number to go down over the next 16 games as many teams in ECAC Hockey are tight-checking clubs and have some familiarity with the Bulldogs. Not likely that they'll drop a 10-spot as they recently did against Holy Cross. That said, it wouldn't surprise me to see Yale finish around 4.5 goals-per-game by the end of the year, which is a huge number.
How does the future of my alma mater Western Michigan look? Can coach Blashill recapture some of the Wilkinson era success?
The future's pretty bright for WMU and it's only going to get better as Blashill, a master recruiter, upgrades the talent. Two signs of improvement that have caught my eye (besides the obvious more wins than last year) are better team defense and less undisciplined, penalty-filled play. They're not beating themselves.
Convince me to not jump off the ledge. Michigan State is nearly last in the CCHA. Michigan is about to pound us again. An alum is coaching Notre Dame who is in first place and the jerseys no longer have the classic script!
Now that's some optimism right there. While Spartan fans have a right to be nervous about this weekend's home-and-home against Michigan based on the outdoor game and the GLI, the glass-half-full crowd could expect an inspired effort this weekend and a chance to turn things back in the right direction for the Spartans. They need to score goals, that's for sure, but showed some signs of breaking that slump at the GLI. Sweaters were due for an upgrade, and it matches the rest of the athletics dept. signage, but I miss the hockey font too.
There were a couple big upsets over break and just coming back from break--do you guys feel like there should be cause for concern from teams like UNH or Nebraska-Omaha?
Reason for concern? I'd say not yet. There are bound to be a couple of hiccups across a long season and games during the middle of the season are sometimes tricky when you're out of the school/practice/games routine and may have been away from campus for a while. I still think UNH is a top-five team overall based on what I've seen. For UNO, maybe a bit of a market correction from a red-hot early start. They'll be challenged in the second half of the WCHA schedule, but I think they'll finish in the upper half of that league.
If Michigan State is swept by Michigan this weekend (and I'm fearing that), how does the MSU admin justify keeping Comley?
Good question on Comley, because if you look at that program it's more than just MSU having a down year. The talent level has really dropped off there -- under Ron Mason, MSU was typically good for at least one All-American a year. This season, they probably won't have an all-CCHA player. They'll probably miss the NCAAs for the third straight year. And Munn Arena, which used to be a guaranteed sellout, is a ghost town. If I'm AD Mark Hollis, the time to make a move is now.
Tell me that the Fighting Sioux are not the best team in the nation right now? Yale??? C'mon man I know they have only one loss but look at who they have played!
The Fighting Sioux are not the best team in the nation right now. There. OK, as the Yale doubters have become more vocal in recent weeks (especially in regard to the schedule) let's put forth a little bit of a defense for the Bulldogs. Sure, their schedule hasn't been as difficult as some other teams. They also have four fewer losses than North Dakota. There are schedule limitations that every Ivy League team faces. If Yale could play 6-10 more games, they'd take on some bigger series for sure. But in that limit, they did travel to Colorado College and Air Force. They're not dodging people, they're handcuffed by some rules. And the results are convincing. Not a lot of one-goal squeakers in there.
What will be Yale's biggest test between now and the tournament?
I'd say the ECAC Hockey playoffs. That's where Yale stumbled last year but still got a first-round win in the NCAA Tournament.
what do u guys see as the biggest rivalry in college hockey? my vote is Clarkson RPI but thats because im a RPI fan
The rivalry that is best depends upon perspective, Tom. As an RPI fan, it's Clarkson-RPI in your mind. But a Boston College fan would say it's BU-BC and a Colorado College fan would say it's CC-DU. That's what makes college hockey great -- that every school has at least one rivalry that it considers second to none.
Prediction. Yale will not win a single postseason tournament this year.
Daring prediction, considering that the maximum number of teams that can do that is six out of 58.
Guys, I love what Jeff Jackson is doing down in South Bend and miss him tons up here in the U.P. Why do you think he never got a good look at an NHL job?
Jackson's a good enough coach where he could probably be successful at any level, but I think he's a teacher first and foremost, and the college game plays to his strength in that area.
Thanks for stopping by to talk college hockey with us this afternoon. We'll be back next week, same time to do it again. Check out INCH for latest national coverage, our Friday Four-cast weekend preview and don't forget to play INCH Pick 'Em.