It's time to talk college hockey and we'll be taking your questions for at least the next 30 minutes. Lots to talk about as playoffs get underway in CCHA, Atlantic Hockey and ECAC Hockey. The regular season wraps up in Hockey East and the WCHA.
What has happened to UMass? Good facilities, great crowds, and with low academic standards, feel like they can accept the type of kids BC/BU/ECAC schools can't. Why aren't they a better program?
Massachusetts still struggles with consistency because it's not viewed as a "destination" school for most elite players. It'll take a great senior class that will grow and develop over four years (and stay in school), but then they've got to re-stock the talent and kind of start all over again. You see the same with other schools that have made periodic, but inconsistent NCAA Tournament appearances - St. Lawrence, Nebraska-Omaha, Northern Michigan. Consistency is the hardest part.
Two nice questions from Islanders fans checking in on their prospects ...
Of the New York Islander prospects current playing in Division 1 college hockey (ie Brock Nelson, Jason Gregoire, Anders Lee, Blake Kessel and Matt Donovan), who realistically has a chance to excel when they make the jump into the pros
Hi, big Islander fan. I know Brock Nelson was a 1st round pick this past year so one would think he has a true future in the NHL. What about Gregoire (ND), Ness (Minn), Donovan (Den), Lee (ND), Trevino (BU), Kessel (NH) and Sims (OSU)?
Of the guys on that list, I think the ones who are the most intriguing are Matt Donovan from Denver and Anders Lee from Notre Dame. Lee's a big kid at about 6-3 and 215 lbs. and has 21 goals as a freshman and Donovan projects to to be a serviceable two-way defenseman. I think Kessel's got a shot, too -- he's certainly got a knack for offense and, since he's only been a defenseman for a couple years, has barely scratched the surface in terms of his potential.
BC/UNH games should be intense. Does UNH have it in them to win 1 out of 2? I would rather see UNH successful in postseason anyways!!
New Hampshire has been at its best in conference play, and has two shots this weekend to get another regular-season title. I think they can get that done against a very good Boston College team. If there's a reason for hope in the postseason for UNH, it's scoring depth and the goaltending of Matt DiGirolamo. He's got an impressive .939 save percentage on the year. Also, keep an eye on the shakeup of UNH's forward lines. They moved Paul Thompson on a line with two sophomores and off of the top line with Sislo and DeSimone last weekend.
Hey guys always appreciate you taking time to answer our questions. I was just wondering do you guys think my Redhawks are going to have to make it to the Joe to secure an at-large bid, and if so do they need to win a game there. Or are they in even if they lose in the quarterfinals. They seem to be getting hot at the right time (6-0-3) in the last 9 games plus they will most likely face NMU in the second round who last time they came to oxford got swept by a combine score of 13-1. Thanks for your input.
Thanks for taking the time to send your questions. Miami's case is too hard to tell right now, but it looks pretty good for the RedHawks, especially if they make it to the Joe. Some of their fate will be affected by what happens around them. They're in the group of teams that's hoping for the automatic qualifiers to be claimed by teams already in the top-15 of the NCAA tournament criteria. Agreed that they're getting hot at the right time. I think they'll win their series next weekend.
Thoughts on if BC sweeps UNH to make UNH drop to a 4 it could send BC out west. It exposes the complete stupidity of the process.
The way the landscape looks now, there's a very real chance that BC could be a #1 in the Frozen Four and UNH a #4. If that happens, since UNH is a host school and since there can't be an intra-conference matchup in the first round, BC would have to play in Greenbay (since Yale is the host of the North Regional). Isn't it completely unfair to reward a #1 seed by making them travel so far and taking them away from their fanbase? Can you explain to me why preventing intra-conference matchups is so important?
Couple of similar questions here ... will try to get an answer that covers both. First off, some of the stupidity of the process is when people make too much of it when there's a lot of hockey left to be played. Regardless of this weekend's outcomes, BC and UNH will have a lot of games left that will alter their seeding and placement, as will the outcomes of games involving other teams near the top of the tournament criteria. I think the emphasis on avoiding in-conference matchups in the first round is a good one. In short, long way to go, relax about the current state of your team and its overall seed. The system generally works on Selection Sunday, and that's the only day that matters.
Do you see UMD being able to hang on for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament?
I don't think Minnesota Duluth will fall out of the NCAA Tournament picture. The teams they'll play from here on out won't hurt them in the computer rankings, and I fully expect the Bulldogs to win a couple of those games -- splitting with Nebraska-Omaha and winning their first-round playoff series.
Does Miele get the Hobey in your opinion?
He's currently on top of our Hobey Tracker, and has been the last three times we've published it. The numbers are there, the consistency is there, and Miami is peaking at the right time. His case is very strong, and that's how I would vote if ballots were due today.
I know this has been discussed before, but with so many good teams in college hockey (this year especially it seems) do you see the tournament expanding to 20 teams. The success of 4 seeds in the tournament recently, really illustrates the parity that exists.
I don't think tournament expansion would be a good idea. Currently more than 25 percent of teams get into the field as it is. Sure, there's parity, but that means that it's significant to edge out the other bubble teams and actually make the tournament field, to get that opportunity to compete for a championship. If you allow 20 in, then the 21st and 22nd teams make an argument, 32 teams, how far back are 33 and 34? It's a good tournament as it currently stands.
North Dakota is poised for a Championship run and I think is the best team. To quote Corsey "not so fast", as we all know the best team in college hockey usually does not win because of the format. Thats why we love college hockey. So who is more important to this Sioux team, Dell or Frattin? And who would have quessed that going into the season...!
We've had this debate amongst ourselves for a few weeks now and as good as Matt Frattin has been, where would North Dakota be without Aaron Dell? I know it sounds crazy because we've got Frattin as one of our top three candidates for the Hobey Baker Award and he's scored a ton of goals, but it's not a stretch to say the Sioux's season hung in the balance when Brad Eidsness struggled early in the year, and Dell has been terrific. He's my pick for NoDak MVP.
Who do you think will come out of the AHA with the autobid? RIT won the regular season, but Niagara and RMU look strong and even Holy Cross has been playing well lately.
As discussed in our latest INCH Podcast, we're really excited to see how this tournament turns out because of the reasons you mentioned. It's wide open, and I think the dangerous team is the one you didn't mention - Air Force. Their veteran players have known a lot of success and know what it takes to win in this tournament and the NCAA Tournament. I'll take the Falcons.
Do you think about strength of schedule when casting your Hobey votes? A player like Matt Frattin has all of his points against TUCs while the players from Miami have racked up points against an easier schedule.
To me, strength of schedule is more credible when comparing teams than individual players. Even if a team is near the bottom of its standings, they've probably got a checking line or a couple of guys that they'll try to match against the opponent's top lines. I've seen a lot of commentary from Sioux fans and media about the number of games against TUCs, and that's not as impressive to me. That's more than half of the teams in the country. What if Frattin is held scoreless or with one or two points against Michigan Tech this weekend? What happens to the argument then?
At the very end of last week's chat, one of the experts stated that Michigan hockey fans don't care about the lesser schools of the CCHA and would love a Big Ten Hockey Conference. As a Michigan fan I completely disagree with such a generalization. Many educated Michigan hockey fans realize that the formation of a BTHC could be detrimental and ultimately cause the dissolution of the CCHA which would be a terrible thing for the sport of college hockey. I just would like Michigan hockey fans to not be portrayed as heartless, arrogant people. On a sidenote, do you think Rick Comley will take another college hockey coaching gig or is he done for good?
As the expert who said that, I certainly hope that's the consensus among Michigan fans. They've developed some nice rivalries with Miami and Notre Dame recently and it would be a shame to lose those. That said, a Big Ten conference won't destroy college hockey because there are too many people associated with the sport who recognize the unique value of having schools like Michigan and Rensselaer competing on the same plane. As for Comley, I'm not writing him off just yet. I think he still has a desire to coach.
Talk to me about the progression of Cornell this season. I saw them in Florida in December and I worried about how they struggled closing out games. Then I saw the OT wins in February and thought maybe they had turned a corner. Now, I'm not so sure. What say you?
Good question, that's an interesting case to study. First off, there's no doubt that Cornell progressed throughout the year. They've made some big strides after a slow start, which was expected due to the roster that began year and the changing roles that players were asked to take on. For me, the umbrella statement of the second half was that Cornell's results were better than the talent that group of players has. Some of the recent losses to me are a bit of a market correction. They're good, not great.
A young WMU team has learned some tough lessons, giving up mutliple late leads, including to Michigan and Notre Dame. If the Broncos make the Joe, do you think they'll get an at-large NCAA bid? They are still learning to put teams away, but I think it's clear they can skate with anyone.
Love what Western Michigan has done this year, but I think they'll come up just short of the NCAAs unless they make it all the way to the CCHA title game. I believe at least two of the teams ahead of WMU in the pecking order for an at-large bid -- specifically Colorado College, Maine, and/or Boston University -- will strengthen their positions over the next two weeks.
What do you think of SCSU? It looks like they may have righted their ship, and could be a dangerous team in the WCHA playoffs.
Agreed on this one. St. Cloud State has been pretty darn good over the last month. Nobody's going to want to draw them in a three-game series to start the WCHA playoffs.
If RPI can get through Colgate and Cornell and advance to Atlantic City, do you think that's enough for an at-large bid, or do they need to win the ECAC to have a shot at the NCAA tourney?
They're in good shape for an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament, especially if they get those four wins you mention in series against Colgate and Cornell. I think that winning the ECAC Hockey playoff title is important for them, not because of the NCAA implications, but it validates this group of seniors and how far the program has come in the last four years. If it's another playoff flame-out, maybe RPI has a longer road to becoming a consistent national presence than we thought.
Do my beloved Gophers have to win the WCHA Championship to make it to the NCAA's? Or is their no chance besides that at-large bid? Thanks
Like Western Michigan, it's possible but not probable. But I don't think Minnesota would need to win the WCHA to get a bid. They would have to reel off about 5-6 wins in a row, however, starting with Bemidji State this weekend.
Thanks for stopping by with your questions this afternoon. We'll be back next week as conference playoffs get into full swing.