It's time to talk college hockey. Thanks for stopping by and joining us. We'll be taking questions for at least the next 30 minutes.
Yale is still ranked #1 in all latest NCAA hockey polls even though they only played 17 games so far this season. Weaker opponents ? Weaker Conference ? What's your take on it ?
My take is that they have the best record in the country. They're a team that people are familiar with from last season and have had a great start. The low number of games is due to restrictions on all of the Ivy League schools. Their schedule on a week-to-week basis is not as rigorous as some other teams' but they're taking care of business and getting the wins in games they play.
Whats your take on the UMass hockey teams chances of a successful rest of the season?
I'm not so sure that UMass has much reason for optimism down the stretch. The schedule eases up a bit over the next few weeks and they could get some points to posture themselves for a Hockey East playoff spot, but it's a really tough finish with series against Merrimack, BC and Maine to close. Momentum is on the side of the Minutemen after winning twice against UMass Lowell last week.
Who do you see coming out of the Atlantic Hockey Conference? Will it be the usual suspects (ie RIT or Air Force) or someone new (ie UCONN or Robert Morris)?
I'm intrigued by this year's Robert Morris team. They've got some high-end scoring ability and really got off to a great start. Also interesting to me is that late-December result against RIT. Seemed that RIT dropped a bit of a "not-so-fast-my-friend" on the AHA upstarts in Pittsburgh. At the end of the year, I think those teams will be favored to win the league tournament. I'll take Niagara as a bit of a darkhorse.
ECAC has more depth this year it seems. Do you suspect they take an NCAA slot away from someone else? I wonder if their teams will hold up come playoff time.
First, you don't "take away" spots from other teams. You earn them based on your season. Only five spots are pre-determined for league champions in the 16-team field. There is more depth in ECAC Hockey, and Union appears to be the biggest threat to Yale as things stand right now. RPI, Dartmouth and Princeton are all capable of doing some good things down the stretch and chasing an NCAA Tournament bid.
Is Wisconsin So D Justin Schultz a contender for the Hobey Baker award this year? He is leading the NCAA in scoring for Defensemen (14-18-32) and is a main reason why Wisconsin is #9 in the Pairwise Rankings.
Schultz would certainly be in the mix of the top 10-15 guys. My issue with his candidacy, however, mirrors the issues we've had with the Badgers as a whole -- that is, until beating Minnesota Duluth last week, they've thrived by beating sub-.500 opponents.
Is Clarkson a contender or pretender for a top 4 spot in the ECAC?
I can't see them making a run to that level of the league standings by the end of the year. Too many good teams ahead of the Golden Knights. However, a spot in that fifth to eighth-place range is well within reach, and that gets Clarkson a home-ice series in the first round of the playoffs. It's definitely been a year of significant improvement for Clarkson.
What should we except from tonight's BC-BU game?
I would expect a pretty inspired performance on home ice by the Terriers, but it's tough to determine how much inspiration it takes to overcome talent. BC won pretty significantly in the two games they played in early December. Both teams come in to tonight's game after having lost their previous games - BC at Maine and BU at Merrimack.
Settle a debate between a friend and me. Who is stronger, the WCHA or Hockey East?
If you're strictly dealing with this season, I'd give the edge to the WCHA. I think the middle of that league is stronger than Hockey East. But one can also argue that over the last 3-4 years, Hockey East has been better because they've won three straight titles -- remember BC destroying a really good Wisconsin team in Detroit last April, for example?
And I'll note that your debate is un-settle-able (to make up a word). Your opinions won't change no matter which facts are presented. And it doesn't make sense anyway ... Maine drilled North Dakota twice, but then lost to St. Cloud State? What does that mean in your debate? What does that tell us about, say, Michigan Tech and Providence?
yeah, but 5 of Wisco's losses came in ot against Nodak, Duluth, and Denver. Time to start paying attention to this team.
So noted, we'll be paying attention. Playing top teams is one thing, but you've got to show you can beat them too.
What do you think about BC's chances for another late season run?
Boston College seems to peak at the right time every year. A BC fan recently told me, "We don't start paying attention until March." They'll be in the mix for another Frozen Four appearance for sure. This is a really good team.
What team is poised to make a UND like 2nd half run this season? Ia??m thinking Bucky is ready to go.
The Badgers' schedule sets up nicely, as does North Dakota's. But I'm going with BC on this one. Not counting the Beanpot, between tonight's game against BU and the season-ending series against UNH, the Eagles play UMass three times, Lowell twice, Northeastern twice, and Providence once. Those four teams have combined for 21 wins to date.
Why are 2 Michigan hockey players suspended for the remainder of the 2010-11 season ? (I don't want to name names)
According to the language released by Michigan, those players failed to meet the program's expectations. That could apply to anything that student-athletes are accountable for -- academics, on-ice performance, off-ice social and legal responsibility to name a few.
Hey gentlemen, who do you think is the best, most western team in college hockey? Thanks!
It's Alaska Anchorage, narrowly edging out Alaska (Fairbanks) for the title as the best, most-western team in college hockey.
North Dakota is in the process of scheduling a game against Nebraska-Omaha in Winnipeg next season. One person on a local blog had the idea that a very interesting matchup would be the Sioux against the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. Would the NCAA allow such a game, if it were exhibition?
I'm no expert on NCAA rules -- maybe I should get a job at Ohio State -- but I'm not sure if it's legal. On the one hand, colleges play exhibitions against MLB teams in spring training all the time. On the other other hand, it was only a few years ago the NCAA banned college basketball teams from playing the Harlem Globetrotters and similar traveling teams. So the short answer is, I don't know. Good question, however.
Is UNH deep enough to get to Frozen Four? They seem deeper this year although they have had a few hiccups against ECAC. Last year's loss to RIT still haunts me.
What are the chances that UNH moves up in the rankings enough to get a number 1 seed? Do you UNH doing damage in the tournament this year?
We'll try to get one answer around UNH to those two questions. I like this UNH team, because of the depth that was mentioned. There are some real starts on this lineup, but the supporting players are good too and I think Matt DiGirolamo has played well enough in goal to give UNH hope. As RIT proved last year, and Bemidji State did in 2009, anything can happen at the NCAA regionals. I don't expect that UNH will get a No. 1 seed as it stands right now, but they will be playing in Manchester as the host school at that site.
Will the next 2 weekends put the final nail in the coffin of the 10-11 terriers?
Let's see ... Boston College, at New Hampshire, at Maine, at Maine. Seems as if BU is at a crossroads. Say this about the Terriers -- they're not the type of team that muddles through with a .500 mark. My gut is they end up winning 3 of 4 and getting back into the mix or lose 3 of 4 and fall by the wayside.
Thanks for stopping by and talking with us today. We'll be back next Friday to talk college hockey, same time. Enjoy the weekend at the rinks.