10 For '05: The Questions
We're only three
weeks removed from the 2004 national championship game, but here
at Inside College Hockey we can't resist casting our gaze toward
the future. A lot can change between now and the drop of the puck
in October, but that doesn't stop our 10 For '05 feature.
We already took
an early look at the top 10 teams
headed into next season and 10 candidates for the Hobey. Today we
wrap things up with a look at 10 burning questions on our minds
as we head to next year.
will be the most exciting newcomer next season?
Well, we can’t
wait to see a fresh face out of western Pennsylvania named Robert
Morris. The Colonials embark on their first season of Division I
hockey in 2004-05, a welcome addition given the programs that have
disbanded over the course of the last two years. Obviously, coach
Derek Schooley won’t have a powerhouse right away but if he
can lure some of the local talent to Robert Morris – Pittsburgh
area products include former Ohio State players Mike Betz and R.J.
Umberger, Harvard’s Dylan Reese, Mike Handza of Denver and
ex-St. Cloud State star and current Penguin standout Ryan Malone
– he’ll be in good shape.
are six guys ready to make the leap to stardom?
Here at Inside
College Hockey, we loved Steve Saviano from UNH. Not just because
of the way he played, but also because he made us look like, as
one coach called us, “prophets.” We had a feeling that
he’d go from very good player to superstar in his senior season.
We expect similar progressions from this group of players, none
of whom was an all-league player this season:
G: Bobby Goepfert,
D: Matt Carle, Denver
D: Drew Bagnall, St. Lawrence
F: David Booth, Michigan State
F: Brett Sterling, Colorado College
F: Stephen Werner, Massachusetts
about a few non-tournament teams ready to make the leap?
The two potential
surprise teams we mentioned in our 10
Teams for ’05 head this list: UMass Lowell and Northern
The River Hawks
were ridiculously young last season, but they made great strides—especially
the sophomore class led by Elias Godoy, Ben Walter and Andrew Martin.
Those guys will be juniors and real leaders on Blaise MacDonald’s
team next year. They also add some talent, led by Niagara transfer
Jeremy Hall (eligible at midseason), while only losing one player.
In the CCHA,
Northern Michigan went 11-5-3 to close out the season and knocked
a surging Michigan State team out of the CCHA Super Six –
again. Next year, Walt Kyle’s third behind the Wildcat bench,
could be the year when they take that next step. Tuomas Tarrki had
a playoff performance that showed he should be ready to take over
in goal. Craig Kowalski, who seemed like he was in Marquette longer
than a 1980s Kansas basketball player, has graduated.
throw one more in this mix, from a surprising source: College Hockey
America. Bemidji State was the CHA’s best team for most of
the season, but lost in the conference title game to Niagara. The
Beavers will have the talent to make up for that disappointment
in 2004-05. Their top six scorers return, although they’ll
have to overcome the loss of all-league defenseman Bryce Methven
and goaltender Grady Hunt.
early top 10 had some surprising omissions. Who are some teams you
can’t count out in 2004-05?
defending champions fit the bill here. Denver didn’t make
the cut because of the guys they lose – led by the heroic
trio of Ryan Caldwell, Adam Berkhoel and Connor James. But if one
team taught us not to count them out in 2003-04, it certainly was
the Pioneers. They’ve got two big things going for them: head
coach George Gwozdecky’s ability to get the most out of his
team, and his staff’s ability to bring talent to Magness Arena.
Young talent like Matt Carle, J.D. Corbin, Glenn Fischer and the
incoming Paul Stastny will headline the Pioneers in the absence
of this year’s seniors.
team to overlook is New Hampshire, which loses its two most important
players in Steve Saviano and Mike Ayers. Here’s the thing,
though: the Wildcats seem to lose their best players every year,
and every year there’s a guy like Saviano (or Lanny Gare or
Jason Krog before him) who turns in a monster senior season. It
wouldn’t be a stretch if that guy was Sean Collins next year,
although the smart money might be on 21-goal-scorer Preston Callander.
Most important for UNH will be improved defensive play – if
they get that, the Wildcats will be in the thick of the Hockey East
title race (yet again).
are some teams that could backslide in 2004-05?
The prime candidates
here are teams that aren’t regulars among the conference contenders,
but produced surprising results in 2003-04. With those criteria,
our eyes turn toward Colgate, Miami and Holy Cross.
have much turnover this fall, with only five players lost to graduation.
The big change occurs behind the bench, as Don Vaughan returns to
the head coaching role and Stan Moore steps back as an assistant.
More importantly, everything seemed to go right for the Raiders
in 2003-04, at least until the ECAC semifinal. That included career
years from several players – among them Jon Smyth up front
and Steve Silverthorn in goal – something they'll need to
repeat for the Raiders to live up to increased expectations.
some fantastic freshmen last fall, and has another good group coming
in. But what could trip up the RedHawks is the loss of three offensive
leaders – Hobey finalist Derek Edwardson, Mike Kompon and
Holy Cross has
some work to do if the Crusaders want to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Their best players – Greg Kealey, Jeff Dams and R.J. Irving
– all graduated, which could be too much to hold off a Mercyhurst
team that seems poised for a big year.
coaches need to produce results in 2004-05?
With only one
job vacancy this off-season, the potential for wholesale changes
at this time next season is quite high. Situations to watch in 2004-05
include (in alphabetical order):
– Mark Mazzoleni salvaged a disappointing regular season by
guiding the Crimson to the ECAC playoff championship. There’s
still a formidable array of talent at Harvard, and another .500
effort won’t be tolerated.
Superior State: Frank Anzalone likely wouldn’t have been back
this season, but cash-strapped Lake Superior State couldn’t
afford to buy out the final year of his contract. Barring a miraculous
turnaround, it won’t be an issue this time next year.
State: With all but two players returning from last year’s
team, the Spartans will be the CCHA’s best outfit not clad
in maize and blue. It’s doubtful Rick Comley will get dismissed,
but expectations for 2004-05 are justifiably high and the natives
The Mavericks have been beset by numerous player defections over
the past two seasons. Some attribute that to coach Mike Kemp’s
edgy style. UNO will be hard pressed to finish higher than 11th
in the CCHA next year.
If Bruce Crowder spends any more time on the hot seat, he’s
going to have to invest in a pair of Kevlar pants. He’s another
coach at the end of his contract. What will he have to do to keep
his job? Not sure, but qualifying for the Hockey East playoffs would
be a start.
Paul Pooley has lured some decent talent to Providence over the
years, but it’s rarely translated to on-ice success. With
BC, Maine and UNH entrenched in Hockey East’s upper division
and Massachusetts and UMass Lowell on the rise – and let’s
not forget about Boston U. – these are tenuous times for the
Friars’ head coach.
a roster of six guys any coach would love to have on his team?
told his team before the national semifinals in Boston that he wouldn’t
trade any player on his team for any other player in the country.
That doesn’t mean that coaches don’t love the talent
of players like Junior Lessard or Ben Eaves, but here’s what
they really covet – heart-and-soul types who do the dirty
work, never take a shift off, and get better every day. Denver was
full of those guys, and so is this list. They may not have the natural
gifts of a Lessard or Eaves, but this group works for everything
they get, and you’ll never hear them complain:
G: Jordan Sigalet,
D: Cleve Kinley, UMass Lowell
D: Andy Schneider, North Dakota
F: Stephen Gionta, Boston College
F: Brendan Bernakevitch, Harvard
F: Mike Lalonde, Michigan State
would an NHL labor impasse mean for the college game?
A lot of things,
but the most intriguing outcome might be the chance for greater
exposure. Without the NHL, regional sports networks would be looking
for ways to fill the programming void. Perhaps more exciting is
the possibility that ESPN could turn to college hockey as an alternative,
which is not as far-fetched as one might think. All in all, more
games on cable and/or satellite may not only lead to a growing fan
base, but would help to remove the regionalization that divides
the nation’s college hockey fans.
the lockout keep college kids from turning pro?
One would think
so, but there are two factors that may entice underclassmen to make
the leap. First, a lockout would force many teams to option younger
players to the American Hockey League, which in turn would make
the AHL the world’s best developmental league. Second is a
scenario posited on a recent “Hockey Night in Canada”
telecast by respected analyst John Davidson, who said that in the
event of a lockout, NHL coaches could opt to work with players in
the minors, quite a benefit for a young player learning the pro
Who are some guys who will make us proud at the NHL level next year?
This space is
reserved for players like John-Michael Liles and Tom Preissing,
both of whom stuck with the parent club right out of training camp,
or Michigan's Jed Ortmeyer, who was summoned from the minors midway
through the season and never went back.
Pöck, New York Rangers: The moment he debuted with the Blue
Shirts in March, the former Umass standout became the Rangers' top
offensive threat from the blue line. That's as much of a credit
to Pöck's talent as it is to the sorry state of affairs with
Manhattan's hockey club.
Lessard, Dallas Stars: Maybe it's not a reach to predict that the
reigning Hobey Baker Award winner will transition smoothly to the
NHL (although you might want to ask Peter Sejna what he thinks).
And sure, the Stars have a collection of all-stars at forward. Unfortunately,
with guys like Arnott, Val Bure, Corson, Guerin and Turgeon up front,
it's the Campbell Conference all-stars. Dallas' first-round exit
from this year's playoffs likely signals the start of the youth
Parise, New Jersey Devils: With three Stanley Cups in the last decade,
one can argue that the Devils have been the NHL's top franchise
during that time. Still, as good as Martin Brodeur is in goal his
job becomes much easier if his teammates can score more than 2.6
goals per game. New Jersey can definitely use some scoring pop behind
its top line of Elias, Gomez and Gionta. You think a finisher like
Jamie Langenbrunner would benefit from playing on a unit with Parise?
Kunitz, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim: Kunitz was expected by Anaheim
brass to make the parent club this season, but was dispatched to
the team's AHL affiliate in Cincinnati following a disappointing
training camp. Kunitz got off to a slow start in Cincinnati but
finished strong, closing the regular season with 19 goals and 44
points in just 59 games in addition to six assists in 21 games with
Anaheim. He also showed some grit, earning 101 penalty minutes,
and should be ready to make an NHL splash in the fall.
Caldwell, New York Islanders: Of the Isles' six regular defensemen,
four (Adrian Aucoin, Eric Cairns, Roman Hamrlik and Kenny Jonsson)
will be 30 or older at the start of the 2004-05 season, Janne Niinimaa
will be 29, and the team's farm system doesn't boast a blue-chip
defensive prospect. Enter Caldwell, the Denver captain who proved
his mettle by playing with two wonky knees during the last two months
of the season with no noticeable drop-off in his game. He may require
a year of seasoning in Bridgeport, but Caldwell is solid defensively,
exhibits an offensive flair and makes smart decisions. We can't
wait to see him when he's healthy.
this to a friend
Us | Advertiser
Info | Site Map | Privacy
© 2004 Inside College Hockey, Inc., All Rights Reserved