October 9, 2005
INCH Power Rankings: The Great 58+1

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Last year's final rankings
USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll

College hockey adds RIT to the Division I ranks as an independent in 2005-06, which turns our Great 58 into the Great 58+1. That addition may take away a bit of the suspense over who we've got slated at 59th, but there's plenty of intrigue from 1 through 58.

There are also plenty of challenges that lie ahead as we enter the 2005-06 season. As the Inside College Hockey editors and staff ranked the nation's top teams, we took a look at what might keep each team from reaching their potential.

No. Team

The Challenge

1. Minnesota Scoring has rarely been a problem in Gopherland, which makes some think that Jeff Frazee, and not Phil Kessel, will be the most valuable rookie on the Minnesota roster.
2. Denver The Pioneers already have the offspring of Peter Stastny and Joe Mullen on their roster. FYI to the Denver recruiters: Ty Gretzky is only 15, so be patient for a few years.
3. North Dakota Nine seasons ago, the resurgence of the Sioux dynasty began with an unexpected Frozen Four title in Milwaukee. NoDak fans are hoping, come April, to party like it's 1997.
4. Ohio State The Buckeyes lost just two seniors from the team that went 27-11-4 last season. Eight players who scored 20+ points a year ago, led by the excellent Tom Fritsche, return.
5. Cornell The biggest challenges figure to be complaceny if the Big Red run and hide from the ECACHL pack and raising their game once March comes along.
6. Wisconsin For the Badgers to make the short trip to the Frozen, they'll need Brian Elliot to follow the examples of Melanson, Carey, Brückler, Joseph, Daubenspeck, Behrend, Kleisinger, Richter, Derksen, etc. No pressure there.
7. New Hampshire The loss of scorers Sean Collins and Preston Callander looms large, but the play of the defensemen will key the Wildcats' hopes.
8. Michigan Penn Station doesn't see this many people coming and going. The Wolverines lost a dozen players from a year ago, but bring in 11 new faces this season.
9. Boston College Brian Boyle, Dan Bertram and Chris Collins have all shown flashes of brilliance in the past which the Eagles would like to see more consistently.
10. Colorado College Early departures hit the Tiger blueline almost as hard as they did Maine and Nebraska-Omaha's goal crease. Stability in back from the likes of Brian Salcido and Lee Sweatt will be crucial.
11. Northern Michigan The Wildcats' biggest win of the year may have occurred in August, when the NCAA reversed an earlier decision and granted forward Andrew Contois (19 goals in 2004-05) another season of eligibility.
12. Boston University Chris Bourque's contributions were much more significant than his offensive numbers suggest. The Terriers need to make up for the loss of his presence more than his points.
13. UMass Lowell With 12 seniors, the biggest challenge is to make the very most of this season. They won't be ranked this high entering 2006-07.
14. Vermont The Hockey East landscape is new territory to the Catamounts, who won't be getting the friendliest of greetings on the ice.
15. Dartmouth Hugh Jessiman had the first-round notoriety, but Lee Stempniak will be the one truly missed in Hanover this season.
16. Michigan State

This year marks the first Spartan team completely put together by Rick Comley. It could be the last if he can't put together a squad of NCAA Tournament caliber.

17. Minnesota Duluth None of the youngsters' scoring ability is going to matter if the goaltending situation, which has been inconsistent since the third period of their 2004 Frozen Four trip, doesn't solidify.
18. Brown The Bears have had back-to-back solid recruiting classes, but much of the talent has been on defense. That means some young blueliners, and needs up front for a team that finished 38th nationally in scoring last year.
19. Maine The goalies, in Black Bear fashion, should be fine. What this team will seek, for a second straight year, is a true finisher among its forwards.
20. St. Lawrence Talented on T.J. Trevelyan's first line, the Saints could use more depth from the likes of Kyle Rank and Kevin DeVergilio.
21. Colgate The Raiders must overcome being every ECACHL team's best chance to get a point in weekend series against Cornell and Colgate.
22. Nebraska-Omaha Last year, Chris Holt was developing into a solid goaltender and the young Mavericks were growing into a contender for CCHA hardware. Now that Holt's bolted for the pros, expectations for this team aren't quite as high.
23. Miami As good as Andy Greene, Matt Christie and Marty Guerin are, the RedHawks' success likely hinges on the play of young goaltenders Charlie Effinger and Jeff Zatkoff.
24. Massachusetts Youth is the obvious challenge for the 18 freshmen and sophomores in Amherst, but keeping Matt Anderson healthy could ultimately be the key.
25. Harvard We give Ted Donato mad props for the job he did as a first-year coach. Any chance his message becomes stale in year two?
26. Alaska-Fairbanks Legion of Doom: the Nanooks are paced by hulking forwards Kyle Greentree (6-3, 200), Curtis Fraser (6-2, 200) and Kelly Czuy (6-2, 200). Waifish goalie Wylie Rogers (5-10, 165) plays just as big.
27. Minnesota State, Mankato The Mavericks are looking for a solution in goal with a New Yorker, a Minnesotan and a Californian all vying for playing time. They've covered the country from coast to coast, but can they cover the net from post to post?
28. Clarkson It's believed that George Roll's got a club with more chemistry and leadership than in years past. Time will tell if that translates to wins.
29. Bowling Green The Falcons used to get great goaltending from Jordan Sigalet but couldn't score. Now coach Scott Paluch has assembled a talented offensive group, but he'll need a netminder (perhaps freshman Jimmy Spratt) to step to the fore.
30. Union Count special teams as a challenge for the Skating Dutchmen, who finished 49th in power play and 37th in penalty killing last year.
31. Bemidji State We're not ones to gloat, but INCH rode shotgun on the Matt Climie bandwagon last season. If the Beavers are to return to the NCAA Tournament this year, the sophomore goalkeeper will have to be in the driver's seat.
32. Alaska Anchorage As a freshman, Seawolves goalie Nathan Lawson earned team MVP honors by stopping 40 or more shots seven times. His choice of sweater no. 52 seemed strange until we saw his save totals.
33. Notre Dame The Fighting Irish had the nation's worst scoring attack and second worst power play last season. Can new coach Jeff Jackson work Charlie Weis-like miracles with the offense?
34. Michigan Tech For the Huskies to escape the WCHA doldrums, Chris Conner will need to emerge from the shadow of departed Hobey finalist Colin Murphy and recapture the magic he made as a sophomore.
35. Providence Tim Army's a long-term answer behind the bench. We'll see whether Tyler Sims is in goal, and more importantly, whether there's enough offense in front of him.
36. Holy Cross Senior Pierre Napert-Frenette is a preseason favorite for Atlantic Hockey player of the year honors. Here's hoping the league's trophy engraver gets paid by the letter.
37. Princeton The Tigers will play an up-tempo game and enjoy a better-than-average freshman class, but they'll need to improve dramatically on their 3.87 goals against per game..
38. Mercyhurst Mike check: unheralded goalie Mike Ella came out of nowhere to backstop the Lakers to an NCAA Tournament berth last season. Now that everyone knows who he is, can he duplicate the feat?
39. St. Cloud State A brutal early-season schedule and many unanswered questions may have Huskies fans taking a page from Green Day by singing "Wake Me Up When November Ends."
40. Niagara Goaltender Jeff Van Nynatten, who missed about half of last season with an injury, is back and healthy. Contrary to popular belief, the 2004 CHA Tournament MVP didn't hurt himself pronouncing his last name.
41. Ferris State The departed Jeff Legue and Derek Nesbitt combined for 254 career points. Coach Bob Daniels hopes newcomer Dan Riedel, the USHL's leading scorer last year, can make up for some of the loss.
42. Alabama-Huntsville With Jared Ross (159 career points) out of the mix, the Chargers' strength lies in veteran defensemen Jeremy Schreiber and Jeff Winchester and resurgent goalie Scott Munroe.
43. Lake Superior State Spirits in the Soo are high now that Jim Roque (pronounced "rock") has replaced Frank Anzalone. Getting the Lakers to score goals, however, has been like trying to get water from a Roque, err, rock.
44. Northeastern Mike Morris is the last man standing among the Huskies' four best players last year (losing Jason Guerriero, Keni Gibson and Tim Judy). That leaves a lot of pressure on the talented wing.
45. Sacred Heart With a 13-5-1 league mark midway through February, they were masters of their domain. Then the Pioneers lose to woeful American International, yada yada yada, and get bounced in the first round of the conference playoffs.
46. Western Michigan College hockey's New Orleans Saints: they'll win games they shouldn't, lose ones they should, finish just below .500 and get bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
47. Yale The Bulldogs were the nation's worst defensive team by more than a third of a goal per game. And the ECACHL isn't exactly the wide-open QMJHL.
48. Wayne State When Stavros Paskaris, the team's leading scorer as a rookie last season, picks up a game-winning goal, does that make him the Warriors' gyro?
49. Rensselaer Once Kirk MacDonald returns to the lineup, the Engineers don't lose too much up front. The pressure falls on freshman Mathias Lange and sophomore Jordan Alford to provide stability in net.
50. Quinnipiac As if a new league and a much tougher schedule weren't challenge enough, the Bobcats will have to play all those ECACHL games away from home while their new rink is built.
51. Merrimack The Warriors will need to feed off the energy of new coach Mark Dennehy to compete in Hockey East with an undermanned lineup.
52. Canisius The biggest issue for new coach Dave Smith on the ice is replacing goalie Brian Worosz. With any luck, he won't have to deal with the myriad of off-ice problems that plagued the program a year ago.
53. Air Force Even though the school is closer to Atlantic, Iowa, than the Atlantic Ocean, the Falcons join Atlantic Hockey next season. Goalie Peter Foster holds the key to a last hurrah in the CHA.
54. Connecticut Jimmy Olson hung around Superman. The graduated Tim Olsen was Superman for the Huskies. Replacing his 100 career points will be difficult, but less of a problem if goalie Scott Tomes is kryponite to opposing shooters.
55. Robert Morris A diapered double dozen: the RMU roster includes 24 freshmen and sophomores. Still, the team's projected lineup is older than that of the Penguins.
56. Bentley Freshman goaltender Jason Kearney, the NAHL MVP last season, and Maine transfer Ray Jean are in the mix to replace the dependable Simon St. Pierre.
57. Army The offensively challenged Black Knights averaged under two goals per game last season, and the only double-digit goal scorer (David Andros, 12) has graduated.
58. American International Few teams leaned on goalies as much as the Yellowjackets did Frank Novello. Two freshmen and Matt Tourville, veteran of 21 seconds of playing time last season, better be ready to face some rubber.
59. RIT It's all a challenge off the bat for RIT, which will find out quickly that a trip to Fredonia is a far cry from Lynah Rink