Thanks for stopping by to talk college hockey with us again this week. We'll be taking your questions for at least 30 minutes, maybe more. Lots to talk about and our staff is ready to answer your inquiries.
Is there anyway Vermont grinds out a series win this weekend at UNH? Could Madore be good enough despite Vermont's lack of scoring/toughness/coaching/leadership to carry them to a couple of one goal wins?
This is a good question, and it's definitely a series that I'll be keeping an eye on. Some of it depends on how UNH responds to last week's results, when they lost twice to BC and UNH ended up coming-from-ahead to finish second in Hockey East. I think it'll be motivation and serve as a refocusing for the Wildcats and they'll be driven at home to get the series win and get down to Boston. Vermont does bring a big factor into the equation in Rob Madore. A hot goalie can change the tone of a playoff series really quickly, especially a short series like this.
What do you think the odds are Union will get to stay close to home for NCAAs? I'm sure Green Bay is a nice place but i know Bridgeport and Manchester much better
There's still way too much hockey to be played to start thinking about which regional teams will be placed in. You're not going to have a good answer to that until after the conference tournaments are finished. Every fan hopes their team will stay close to home, but it's way too variable to make any calls on that right now.
Did the NCAA change the selection criteria (TUC = any team over .5000 RPI) because of Vermont last year, or was it just a coincidence?
You continue to claim this Cornell team overachieved in the second half, yet id argue they underachieved overall. One they dropped a lot of games to the bottom of the bracket (3-4-1 in league play to the bottom four) and two they had an abysmal start. So was this really a team that overachieved whne it dropped the majority of potential points to the bottom 4
That's a fair judgement, and I stand by what I've said about Cornell. We may be agreeing here. I think they kind of are in that Wisconsin mold, or maybe Ferris State, where they are what they are. They're a good team. Some nice wins, will compete against the best, but they're probably in that 18-25 range nationally. They do have some good wins over the likes of Dartmouth and Rensselaer.
Could Miami be heating up for a deep CCHA tournament run followed by another deep NCAA tournament run, or do you think they'll likely cool off?
Miami's pointed in the right direction -- the RedHawks are James V. Dowd's pick for CCHA tournament favorite. They've been pretty much unstoppable since that bad loss at Michigan State in late January. This year's team isn't much different than the ones that have gone to the Frozen in each of the last two seasons -- fundamentally sound, excellent special teams, solid goaltending, good balance on offense.
Which team do you believe is playing the best hockey right now going into tournament time?
North Dakota, Union and Holy Cross carry impressive unbeaten streaks, but Maine is right there too. I like that they blasted Merrimack in a recent series, and got a respectable win and tie at UMass last weekend. I'd keep an eye on the Black Bears. An old INCH adage - Never give up on Maine. And when we were ready to do so in January, there they were to revive their season.
With that loss to Colgate, has RPI's season officially come to an end, or is there any shot they can grab an at-large bid?
Seems that they can get in with the right combination of results, but that series loss to Colgate didn't help the Engineers at all. In fact, the last four weeks of the year didn't help much. RPI did a lot of the work to position itself for a national-tournament bid, but now it has left its fate up to some other things.
Is Ferris States Goalie, Pat Nagle, the best in all of college hockey?
Not sure if Nagle's the best, but he's very good. Ferris State plays a very disciplined, physical brand of hockey, but they don't generate a lot of scoring chances. Nagle knows every night that he's got to keep the opponent at two goals or fewer to give his team a chance to win. That's a heavy burden.
If I told you at the beginning of the year that Maine would finish 5th in Hockey East and be on the outside looking in coming into the QFs, what would you have said?That Merrimack-Maine series should be interesting.
I would have said, "Thanks for spoiling the regular season, jerk." Maine's fifth-place standing was earned and also reflected that other Hockey East teams had great years inside of conference play. Agreed on the Maine-Merrimack series this weekend. Should be pretty good stuff and they've got a lot to play for, both in national-tournament perspective and in making it to the Hockey East weekend in Boston.
Even though you cover College Hockey,What is your favorite National Hockey League Team?
Grew up a North Stars fan until they bolted for Dallas. Not sure about the others, but I tend to root for ex-collegians I've worked with or covered in the past -- guys like Ryan Miller, John-Michael Liles, Joe Pavelski.
Same kind of thing here. Fortunate to have several ties to people who work or worked in the league. Been a little partial to the Canucks for a while, since covering their at-the-time AHL affiliate in Syracuse. But same as Bus, we're pulling for the people we know, from a variety of different connections.
There have been reports that Denver's Matt Donovan might forego his final two seasons in school and sign a pro contract for the Islanders. Please tell me if this is so, and how good of a pro could he be? Also, please tell me more about Blake Kessel's potential on the pro level.
I won't speculate on Donovan's plans, but I think he's got a great future in front of him. He doesn't do any one thing great, but he does just about everything well. Wouldn't surprise me if he developed into a second-pair defenseman in the NHL. Kessel might have more offensive upside because of his background as a forward, but his learning curve will be steeper because he's only been a defenseman for a couple years.
Do you guys see the NCAA staying with the four region format in the future? It seems to me that the four site format hasn't really caught on, especially out west. As a fan I'd rather see a pair of eight team regionals.
That would be tough to make happen with scheduling and accomodations. It's not just the ice time you need for the games - it's morning skates, practice, and then there are locker room and training room issues that have to be met. I think the four-regional format has been great for the game, and gives it more geographic reach with games going on in four different cities on a given weekend.
Odds Andy Miele goes to the NHL? Or does he not have enough size (in which case... Nathan Gerby?)?
He'll be given every opportunity to succeed, there's no doubt about that. As soon as his season ends, he'll have a wide array of choices to pursue as a free agent. Scoring is hard to come by, and this guy has proven that he can score. Many NHL execs are less concerned about size. If you're small and you can play, they'll find a way to get you on their team.
Is there any team that could give BC fits? if they played like they did last weekend every team in the nation has to be on notice.
Certainly, there are teams out there that can challenge Boston College in a one-and-done setting. But if every player on the BC roster plays his A game for 60 minutes, I don't think they can be stopped.
Do you think Union will come out flat tonight since they have been off for two weeks? Also I am a little worried that Colgate could be this year's brown and beat us. Should I be concerned?
Your concern level is rated green right now - not too much to worry about, but you should still take necessary measures. Colgate has been playing its best hockey down the stretch, but so has Union. Even if there is a slow start tonight, I think Union has what it takes to get it together and I expect that they'll advance. One of the things I was most impressed by in watching them this year, is that they're built for this kind of hockey because of good work ethic in front of both nets, solid goaltending, and a great power play. They're really dangerous.
What are your picks for the WCHA first round this year? I could see SCSU @ UMD and BSU @ UNO as upsets.
Some good matchups in the WCHA this weekend. North Dakota moves on, naturally, and I think Denver will, too. Even though Bemidji is 3-0-1 against Nebraska-Omaha this season, I'm taking UNO, but give me St. Cloud State over Duluth. Minnesota will advance, and I think Wisconsin gets past Colorado College.
If you could choose a number 1 team today, which team would be it?
We've got North Dakota as our top team in the INCH Power Rankings, and our minds haven't changed since Sunday.
I am curious why you picked Mike Connolly over Matt Frattin for WCHA Player of the Year? In your comments you mention Connolly was more consistent in his career, along with wasn't surrounded witht he scoring depth that Frattin was. First, this is a player of the YEAR, so it shouldn't matter what Connolly did in prior years. Second, Mike Connolly was on the top scoring line in the WCHA. He wasn't even the top scorer on his own line. Last, Frattin was far more clutch. He had 4 game winning goals to M. Connolly's 1 and Frattin assisted on 5 game winning goals to M. Connolly's 4. This stinks of homerism on Myers part. Where did he go to school again? That's right, Minnesota Duluth. Try to be more impartial next year.
As you saw and noted, that was Jess Myers' selection and he wrote his reasoning in the article. It's the same ballot he submitted in his official capacity as a selector for the all-league awards. Frattin received 58 of the POTY votes in a pool of 96 voters, a little more than half. So that ballot from Jess wasn't too far out of line with many of the other people on the selection panel. Stop yelling impartiality. People have different opinions and measure criteria differently.
Do you think the Gophers will take care of business this weekend and what do they have to do to make the NCAA?
I like the Gophers this weekend; they're playing their best hockey right now. As far as getting into the NCAA Tournament, they need 3-4 teams ahead of them in the Pairwise to drop -- someone like BU, Maine, Colorado College, Dartmouth or Western Michigan. And they've got to win this weekend and win a game at the Final Five.
I would say Maine has the most to gain this week in regards to the other bubble teams (BU, CC, WMU). If they win this series with Merrimack with the RPI and TUC boost and barring upsets elsewhere, will they make the tournament even with a semi loss to BC or UNH?
But what if, say, Colgate, AIC, Lake Superior State and Bemidji State win the AQs in those leagues? Still way too much hockey left, as I've said. Win your games, take care of your business, and possibly get a trophy. That's what Maine can do.
I'm hearing the name "Danton Cole" swirl around quite a bit in regard to the open Michigan State job, some saying that Cole to MSU is essentially a done deal. I'm still very concerned about Cole, as I believe he underachieved a bit while at UAH and doesn't possess the experience needed to take the MSU job. Are these concerns proper?
Hiring Cole would do two things: it's a welcome sign for the hockey alums who felt they were estranged from the program during the Rick Comley years, and re-energizes the fan base by hiring a familiar name. Beyond that, there are legitimate questions, however, including the ones you raised. He's very clearly in the mix, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.
What are the chances you give RIT of making a repeat trip to the Frozen Four?
Chances are not good. Last year's RIT team was a special one, and they had the right mix of players and the right performances at the right time. I'm a little concerned about them because of how they ended the season after clinching first place in Atlantic Hockey. They'll be a tough out if they make the NCAAs (and watch out for Air Force and Holy Cross).
Thanks for all of the questions, and thanks for stopping by to chat. Our end-of-season recaps/awards and playoff previews are available at INCH and on the ESPNU page here at this site. Enjoy the hockey this weekend. We'll be back next week.