the pieces for a national championship run are in place, but
the Wolverines have to play to their potential and not beat
player can replace Hobey Baker winner Junior Lessard, but can
Evan Schwabe, Tim Stapleton and others make up for the offensive
output he provided?
Eaves, Ryan Shannon and friends can make up for the loss of
Ben Eaves' offense. But will the Eagles be the same without
roster includes 18 freshmen and sophomores. Last year's rookies
matured quickly, and this year's must do the same. Senior goalie
Bernd Brückler will help buy some time.
best pure goal scorers lost to graduation, the Black Bears need
to manage the goal or two a game that Jimmy Howard will need
the trainer's workload into that of a Maytag repairman would
be a good place to start. The Tigers were constantly dinged
about the guys who left during the off-season, Sioux fans. The
ones you still have are a pretty formidable group.
the Spartans' NCAA Tournament loss to UMD last season? Rick
Comley may use that game as an example as his team strives for
consistency this year.
is one reason the BCs, Maines and UNHs are always atop Hockey
East. Knowing how to win is another, and that's something the
skilled River Hawks will need to pick up.
of replacing the top four scorers from last year, filling the
leadership void left by the graduation of Grant Potulny and
getting consistency from goalie Kellen Briggs, the Gophers don't
have much work to do.
Green can't rely completely on Lee Stempniak's top line, and
some skilled freshmen will be counted on for offense.
a national championship makes recruiting a lot easier, but replacing
locker room leaders like Adam Berkhoel, Ryan Caldwell and Connor
James is anything but.
Greg Hogeboom and Mike Kompon combined to score 135 points last
season. They're gone now, and sophomores Matt Christie (35 points)
and Marty Guerin (33 points) can't fill the void by themselves.
gets the attention, but a young defensive corps could make or
break the Wildcats season.
behaved nicely for the substitute teacher. Can they keep it
up with Don Vaughan back to lead the class?
in this space, we said the Wildcats needed to be less streaky.
That didn't really change much in 2003-04, so we'll stand by
our statement until it does.
had more seniors last season than the Del Boca Vista and they
won the CCHA playoff championship. With just seven upperclassmen
on the roster, the kids (19 freshmen and sophs) better be alright.
Nickerson wasn't in the penalty box, he was on the ice an awful
lot. He's gone and the defense, again, is very young.
can make great coaches: just look at the man who was behind
the bench when Ted Donato played in Cambridge. But they can
also end up hosting "The Magic Hour."
is an obvious need, but developing another Stephen Bâby-type
would be huge (literally). Rookie Ray Sawada could fit that
are skilled, and the new rink is beautiful. But the Terriers
will only see significant improvement if last year's holdovers
step up their game.
||It may not have been his best year, but Joe Tallari still scored 16 goals. With Tallari and two others who had at least 11 goals gone, the pressure will be on to support superstar Barret Ehgoetz.
Cey and David Brown might be the best goaltending tandem in
the country. That's good, because the Irish are breaking in
a bevy of rookie defensemen.
off to a good start will be a tough task for the Lakers. Their
only home game before Dec. 10 is against Robert Morris, and
trips to Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Colgate
|| With the
bulk of the offense returning from last year, the Beavers can
likely survive the suspension of Riley Riddell. Whether they
can overcome the graduation of goaltender Grady Hunt is a question
Layne Sedevie must answer.
have been building to something the past few years, but enter
this season with fewer pieces in place.
success within the league was a challenge a year ago, and now
the Bobcats have to do it as lame ducks.
can skate and score with anybody, but a little more work on
the defensive side would help in the close-checking ECACHL.
Sigalet in goal, the Falcons have a chance to win every night.
Unless they can't score, which happened all too often last season.
If they can get three a game, they'll win more than they lose.
have a chance to not only escape the cellar in Hockey East,
but maybe even sneak in a Beanpot title or a playoff series
win. First challenge: let's not get ahead of ourselves.
of the team shifts from seniors up front to Tony Quesada in
net. Can the new-look Crusaders live up to last year's standards?
|| The post
CCHA-title, NCAA Tournament-appearance hangover has worn off,
and some of the guys from that team are still in place. Outside
of Matt York, however, none of them are defensemen.
and an offseason injury cost the Dutchmen two defensemen (Skyler
Berman and Adam Wood, respectively), making depth on the blue
line a big concern.
of goaltender Nathan Marsters, who played nearly 90 percent
of the team's minutes last year, places early question marks
squarely in the crease.
as Chris Conner is (especially when he's skating with Colin
Murphy and Taggart Desmet), he can't stop the puck. With a combined
save percentage of .880 last season, neither could the Huskies'
second year in a row, the Friars lost three of their top four
scorers to graduation. Toughest part is, they need that scoring
more than ever without Bobby Goepfert in net.
need is just a little patience, sang Axl Rose. With 75 percent
of the team's 28-player roster comprised of freshmen and sophomores,
Maverick fans will need at least one more year of patience.
are always tough in Fairbanks, but if they were a college football
team, they'd be everyone's homecoming opponent. Maybe the 11
freshmen on the roster don't know they're not supposed to win
on the road.
are the equivalent of a knuckleball pitcher. When they're on,
you'll lose 8-0. When they're not, you'll win 8-0. One of the
team's three goalies needs to prove they're Phil Niekro.
a Hobey finalist goaltender like Yann Danis can be done, but
you'd like to do it when you have fewer than three freshmen
defensemen in the lineup.
|| The Chargers
have one of the nation's most dynamic players in Jared Ross.
Until they can find a complement to their hidden gem, they'll
remain behind Niagara and Bemidji State in the CHA standings
top returning netminder, Jon Volp, had a 4.35 GAA and a .878
save pct. See a theme developing in the nether regions of this
were 18-9-4 on Feb. 20 before losing seven in a row and missing
the NCAA Tournament. With one of the nation's toughest schedules,
more L's could be on the horizon.
Warriors can play as well at even strength as they did on special
teams last year, they'll be fine.
Sneddon era began 0-11-2. The Catamounts don't need to be great
right away, but a few wins before fall exams would help.
non-NCAA Tournament team St. Lawrence sees in October is its
first opponent, St. Cloud State. Not that there's any extra
pressure to get a win in the opener.
need to see some growth from the 15 sophomores on their roster.
Not Tim Olsen-like growth, mind you, although that would be
finish to last year could signal better times ahead for the
Pioneers, as long as they can avoid another 4-14-3 start.
news is the Warriors return eight of their top 10 scorers from
last season. The bad news is that may not be good enough. WSU
averaged 2.3 goals per game in '03-04
|| The challenge?
Please. This outfit needs challenges like Ben Affleck needs
a dating service. Any return to normalcy following a bizarre
off-season would suffice.
goaltenders combine for a 2.77 GAA and a .913 save percentage,
it's pretty apparent where you need help. The Lakers scored
72 goals last year, or 40 more than Junior Lessard.
improvement on a league-worst 75.3 percent penalty kill would
help Canisius break .500 in the conference.
needs improvement on its 11.3 percent power play, and more offensive
support all around for Simon St. Pierre.
lots of new faces, and a new head coach. Hopefully there are
some offensive answers, because none of the returning players
scored more than six goals last year.
coach Guy Gadowsky is starting from scratch, and there are no
shortages of challenges at Baker Rink.
Peter Foster played admirably (6-7-0, .897 sv%) in a limited
role last season and the Falcons bring back their top four defensemen.
Replacing leading scorers Spanky Leonard and Shane Saum is the
leader Guillaume Caron has graduated, but could it be that an
offense-by-committee approach might work better for the Yellowjackets?
enter their first year of Division I competition. Doesn't that
pretty much make everything a challenge?