||The Fighting Sioux were the last team to leave the ice
after winning the West Regional in Denver last March.
They’re our pick to take the victory lap around
the Pepsi Center in April.
||Had Cory Schneider stayed for his senior season, the
Eagles would likely hold the top spot in our preseason
rankings. So, hey, no pressure on you freshmen bidding
to replace him.
||The Redhawks are loaded with veterans up and down the
lineup, and are led by Nathan Davis, one of the nation’s
most exciting players and an early Hobey favorite.
||The Spartans lost just six contributors from last year's
national championship team. Replacing the talent that
departed shouldn't be an issue; filling the leadership
void left by Chris Lawrence and Co. could be.
||Clarkson has the talent, but needs to bring a strong
work ethic every game, something they learned again in
a season-opening loss to St. Lawrence.
||Jeff Jackson once again showed his coaching genius by
leading the Fighting Irish to CCHA regular-season and
playoff titles. Expect him to demand — and receive
— a similar level of excellence this season.
||Factoid that may interest only us: The Wildcats’
nine rookies represent eight different states (California,
Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.)
||The Gophers don't rebuild, you say, but
reload. That may be true, but the losses of Mike Vannelli,
Alex Goligoski, and Erik Johnson leave howitzer-sized
holes on the blue line.
||Goalie John Curry was a polarizing figure among non-BU
fans, some of whom questioned his value to the Terriers.
Guess we’ll find out the answer to that question
once and for all this season, eh?
||With just four seniors and four juniors on the roster,
the Pioneers might be a year away. Then again, with Rakhshani,
Ruegsegger, Trotter, Ostrow, and Bozak in the lineup,
||With Matt Zaba gone, the burden of stopping pucks falls
on junior Drew O'Connell and/or freshman Richard Bachman.
More goals from a lineup that returns virtually intact
from a year ago is a must.
||The Wolverines lost tons of talent, sending two players
straight to the NHL and a few more right on the cusp.
As the defense matures and new recruits add a spark to
the offense, goalie Billy Sauer will determine how high
U-M can climb — or how low they can fall.
||The Bobcats can't replace Reid Cashman, but they'll
need to find the right players to fit into specific roles
on defense to help alleviate his absence.
||One of the INCH Commandments is, never write off the
Black Bears. With seven of the team’s top 10 scorers
gone from a year ago, we’re tempted to scribble
“not this year” next to Maine. Of course,
we typically work in pencil.
||The Badgers allowed only 2.02 goals per game with Brian
Elliott in goal. That number will probably rise, but so
should the team's offensive output – Bucky scored
a meager 2.27 goals per game last season.
||If Cornell's relatively inexperienced defense and goaltender
Troy Davenport can hold up through the first two months
of the season, the return of Brendon Nash will make them
a contender in the league.
||Four experienced seniors and standout goalie Jon Quick
are gone following last year’s breakout season.
A return trip to the NCAA Tournament isn’t out of
the question, but either Dan Meyers or Paul Dainton will
have to fill the void in goal … and fast.
||The Huskies have a little retooling to do,
especially now that goalie Bobby Goepfert has departed.
A favorable early-season schedule (Canisius, at Minnesota
Duluth, Bemidji State, Alaska Anchorage) should help.
||Look for the Buckeyes to turn a few heads in the CCHA
with a high-octane offense powered primarily by senior
forwards Tom Fritsche and Tom Goebel.
||The Saints can skate and they won't be out-worked, but
can they turn that speed and effort into goals?
||The honeymoon is over for Ted Donato. As an alum, he
knows that a second-straight losing season is unacceptable.
Better goaltending will help the Crimson's win total.
||Rob Nolan and Michael-Lee Teslak may be the nation's
best goaltending tandem. They should get more goal support
from a lineup that returns all but three players from
last season's 18-17-5 squad.
||Four of last year's key contributors started this season
on AHL rosters and a fifth is in the Western Hockey League.
The veterans that remain on the roster will need to pick
up the slack.
||Coach Mike Kemp has pulled a few surprises out of the
hat in his day, but it will be tough for the Mavericks
to make a jump in the CCHA after losing the talented Scott
||Entering their third year in the conference, the Catamounts
are looking for their first top-four finish in Hockey
East and a home playoff series. "The Gut" is
a tough place to play in the regular season. Just imagine
how it would be in March.
||We'll get an early look at how good Northeastern is
when they play five consecutive games against North Dakota,
Maine (2), and New Hampshire (2).
||RIT won't sneak up on anyone this year after last year's
banner season in Atlantic Hockey. We'll see how they respond
to being the hunted instead of the hunter.
||The Raiders have four legitimate candidates
for First Team All-League recognition, but they'll need
to play like that consistently throughout the season.
||The Broncos return a solid netminder and strong blueliners
led by Chris Frank, but will likely struggle offensively
against defensive-minded opponents without the opportunistic
||Two questions surround Niagara: who fills the void left
by 2007 CHA Player of the Year Sean Bentivoglio, and can
the Purps three-peat as league regular season champs?
||The loss of Jeff Jakaitis, one of the nation’s
great goaltenders last year, is one that will be hard
to overcome. But with a few extra home games against top-tier
CCHA opponents, look for the Lakers to pull off a few
||The Tigers have changed their mindset from a defensive-oriented
team to an offensive-oriented team under coach Guy Gadowsky.
Now they need to see results.
||RPI's strong start to last season was a distant memory
after mid-season doldrums set in. Maintaining a high level
throughout the year is a high priority in Troy.
||The Friars face a tough start to the season with road
games at Clarkson and St. Lawrence — two NCAA Tournament
teams last spring.
||The Bulldogs finished eight games below .500 last season,
and that was with two players (Matt Niskanen and Mason
Raymond) who stepped into NHL lineups on opening night
||Only five teams in the country allowed more goals than
the Mavericks last season. Goalie Dan Tormey needs to
play like he did as a freshman (14-13-4 record, .902 save
percentage) and leave a dismal sophomore season (3-8-0,
||Goalie Andrew Volkening won the starting job late last
year in his rookie campaign. We'll see if he's the real
deal and avoids a step back as as sophomore.
||The Colonials, now in Year Four, boast 14
seniors; the apprenticeship is over, and it's time to
||The good news is that the Bulldogs have a reliable defense
and strong goaltending. The bad news is you can’t
win games without scoring goals.
||Early success could help keep talk of a new arena on
the front burner, but only two of the Beavers' first eight
CHA games are at home.
||Expect a lot of names you don’t recognize suiting
up in Wildcat green this year. The squad boasts 12 freshmen
and a number of upperclassmen who haven’t logged
a great deal of ice time.
||Keep an eye on sophomore Paul Crowder, a 6-3, 203-pound
power forward who scored 11 goals and 24 points for the
Seawolves last season, the best scoring total by a UAA
rookie since 1992-93.
||With just one senior and two juniors on the roster,
younger players will need to make an impact at Tsongas
||New coach Doc DelCastillo hopes to build a juggernaut
in Fairbanks, and Tavis MacMillan left him a good foundation.
The future is bright in the far north, but this will be
a building year.
||The Bears have been on the losing side of several close
games over the last two years. Finding a way to win the
tight ones will vault Brown up the standings.
||A pair of freshmen led Yale in scoring last year during
so-so seasons from established veterans who were playing
for a new head coach. Greater contributions from a strong
group of seniors are needed.
||Last year's improved record for Army included five wins
by one goal and a .500 record in road games.
||Former Maine goalie Matt Lundin will vie
for the starting job at Mercyhurst after spending last
season in the USHL.
||T.J. Fox's departure hurts the offense, and Justin Mrazek
needs to show some consistency in goal.
||Sacred Heart is the only team in Atlantic Hockey to
finish in the top four in the league standings for each
of the last two seasons.
||Two of the Crusaders' top-three scorers were lost to
graduation, including James Sixsmith who had 47 points
in 35 games last year.
||The Falcons weren’t able to develop great team
chemistry last year. With many of the same players returning,
they will likely remain in the CCHA basement in 2007-08.
||UConn lost 10 seniors from last year's team who accounted
for 275 games, 57 goals, and 91 assists in the 2006-07
||The Falcons had the second-worst team goals-against
average in the country last year. Only AIC was worse.
||Will "Win One for Wilkie" be the Warriors'
rally cry? Players buying into the team concept during
this swan-song season will be a key coaching issue.
||Sophomores Josh Heidinger (from 19 to 12) and Jason
Weeks (from 18 to 16) will wear new uniform numbers this
year, but the Griffs hope they post the same (or better)
stats numbers after finishing atop the scoring charts
as freshmen last year.
||The Chargers have been here (last in the CHA standings
last year), overcome that (emerged as league playoff champs.).
New coach Danton Cole, however, has only two seniors this
||It's a matter of fixing everything, as AIC ranked 55th
nationally in scoring and 59th in team defense one year
||The Warriors need to score some goals after lighting
the lamp just 37 times in 34 games last year.