April 26, 2005
10 for '06: The Teams

Less than three weeks ago, we were crowning the 2005 national champion in Columbus, Ohio, but here at Inside College Hockey we can't resist casting our gaze towards the future. A lot can change between now and the drop of the puck in October, but that doesn't stop us from kicking off our 10 for '06 feature with an early look at the top 10 teams going into next season. In the coming days we'll offer our thoughts on the 10 top players and 10 big questions for 2005-06.


Of Note

Colorado College 2004-05 record: 31-9-3
Key returnees: F Marty Sertich; F Brett Sterling; F Mark Stuart
Key losses: G Curtis McElhinney; D Richard Petiot; F Scott Polaski
The Tigers lose one forward (the gritty Polaski), one defenseman (the gritty Petiot) and one goaltender (All-American McElhinny). Plenty of talent returns, however, led by Hobey Hat Trick finalists Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling and All-American defenseman Mark Stuart. In goal, Los Angeles Kings draft pick Matt Zaba is a capable replacement for McElhinney.
Denver 2004-05 record: 32-9-2
Key returnees: D Matt Carle; F Gabe Gauthier; G Peter Mannino
Key losses: F Jeff Drummond; F Luke Fulghum; D Matt Laatsch
We downplayed the Pioneers after they won the 2004 title, and look where it got us. The defending champs' losses are significant, but national coach of the year George Gwozdecky welcomes back no fewer than five All-America candidates and two likely Hobey Baker Award finalists, forward Gabe Gauthier and defenseman Matt Carle.
Cornell 2004-05 record: 27-5-3
Key returnees: F Shane Hynes; G David McKee; F Matt Moulson
Key losses: D Charlie Cook; F Mike Knoepfli; F Mike Iggulden
Forty-five years after the original M & M Boys ran roughshod over the American League, the Big Red tandem of Matt Moulson and David McKee will key Cornell's bid to win the ECACHL regular season and postseason championships for the second straight year. Of the five seniors the Big Red graduate, defenseman Charlie Cook will be the toughest to replace.
Minnesota 2004-05 record: 28-15-1
Key returnees: D Alex Goligoski; F Danny Irmen; F Ryan Potulny
Key losses: F Garrett Smaagaard; D Judd Stevens; F Barry Tallackson
It's not as much about what the Gophers lose from this year's team as it is about what they'll bring into the fold in the fall. Goaltender Jeff Frazee, forward Blake Wheeler, and incomparable Phil Kessel — possibly the best U.S.-born player ever — join Danny Irmen, Ryan Potulny, Kris Chucko and Co. in the maroon and gold.
Wisconsin 2004-05 record: 23-14-4
Key returnees: F Robbie Earl; D Tom Gilbert; F Joe Pavelski
Key losses: G Bernd Brückler
Everyone's back for the Badgers, save goaltender Bernd Brückler. Of course, Bruckler saved the Badgers on many occasions. Returnee Brian Elliot and newcomer Shane Connelly are the candidates to fill the net. Speaking of filling the net, shouldn't a team that has Robbie Earl, Joe Pavelski, Ryan MacMurchy and Jake Dowell average more than 3.10 goals per game?
New Hampshire 2004-05 record: 26-11-5
Key returnees: F Brett Hemingway; F Jacob Micflikier; D Brian Yandle
Key losses: F Preston Callander; F Sean Collins; D Tyson Teplitsky
The Wildcats' biggest weapon, year after year, is the improvement they see in their returning players. This year, it was Jacob Micflikier, Brett Hemingway and Daniel Winnik stepping forward to make UNH the most dangerous offensive team in the East. Kevin Regan proved to be among the nation's best freshman goaltenders, and you can expect the likes of Mike Radja, Matt Fornataro and Craig Switzer to improve and help fill the shoes of the departing seniors.
Ohio State 2004-05 record: 27-11-4
Key returnees: G Dave Caruso; F Tom Fritsche; F Rod Pelley
Key losses: F JB Bittner
The Buckeyes have made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and that string will likely grow to four in 2006. In fact, next year's squad could be the best in coach John Markell's 11-year tenure in Columbus. Nine OSU skaters scored 20 or more points last season; eight of them return, as does underrated goaltender Dave Caruso.
North Dakota 2004-05 record: 25-15-5
Key returnees: F Brady Murray; F Drew Stafford; F Travis Zajac
Key losses: D Nick Fuher; F Colby Genoway; D Andy Schneider
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of the Fighting Sioux's run to the NCAA championship game was the emergence of the team's topflight young talent. Forwards Travis Zajac, Drew Stafford and Rastislav Spirko and goaltender Jordan Parise were brilliant down the stretch. With a healthy Brady Murray and the addition of newcomers such as U.S Junior National Team member Brian Lee, North Dakota shouldn't skip a beat.
UMass Lowell 2004-05 record: 20-12-4
Key returnees: F Elias Godoy; D Cleve Kinley; F Ben Walter
Key losses: D Peter Tormey
Yes, we thought the River Hawks would be around this spot in 2004-05. And no, they didn't make it this far, although they were a team to be reckoned with in the second half. Assuming they have learned how to win — and all evidence outside of Orono, Maine, suggests that they have — this team, which loses only one regular, will challenge for the Hockey East title. Forwards Elias Godoy and Ben Walter, along with defenseman Cleve Kinley, are All-America candidates.
Michigan 2004-05 record: 31-8-3
Key returnees: F T.J. Hensick; G Al Montoya; F Jeff Tambellini
Key losses: F Milan Gajic; F Eric Nystrom; D Eric Werner
Sure, the Wolverines lose 10 seniors from a team that won the CCHA's regular-season and playoff championships. And while that's a lot of bodies to replace, none of 'em are named Hensick, Hunwick, Montoya or Tambellini. Throw in guys who would star on lesser teams (Andrew Ebbett, Chad Kolarik, Kevin Porter) and heralded newcomers such as forward Andrew Cogliano and defenseman Jack Johnson ... the Wolves will be fine.
Poised for a Breakout: Vermont, Nebraska-Omaha

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