September 27, 2005
Building the Perfect Beast

It was a conversation that sustained the Inside College Hockey staff this summer. At that point in the year when college hockey seemed to be at its apogee, we started to kick around the idea of building a Dream Team.

Notice we called it a Dream Team, and not an all-star team. Instead of lumping the top dozen leading scorers of a year ago on the list, we wanted to plug in players who win faceoffs, kill penalties, block shots and exhibit leadership. Our third line would be an actual checking line, a bit more skilled than the average third line, perhaps, but not all that unrealistic. Our backup goaltender would be an actual backup, someone who played sparingly but performed abmirably when summoned.

With that in mind, INCH is pleased to unveil its first-ever Dream Team, which we feel represents the nation's best players in their various roles.


Gabe Gauthier
Sr., Denver

Phil Kessel
Fr., Minnesota
Matt Moulson
Sr., Cornell
It's what you'd want in a top unit – a dangerous offensive trio that won't shirk responsibilities in their own end. We don't expect Kessel to be a force defensively, but that's not why he's on the team, and that's why he's skating with Gauthier and Moulson, who are two of the best (if not the best) all-around players in the game today. It doesn't hurt that Moulson is a rugged 6-1, 205 pounds and Gauthier checks in at a stout 5-9, 185. Plenty of people will scoff at our choice of Kessel to center the top line. Will he be as good as advertised? Maybe not, but you can't leave a kid who has the ability to be a once-in-a-generation talent off this team.

Andrew Ebbett
Sr., Michigan

Jon Smyth
Sr., Colgate
Brett Sterling
Sr., Colorado College
He may be on the second line, but Sterling’s here to anchor our top power play unit. Eighteen of his 34 goals last season came with the man advantage. Besides, the 5-8, 185-pound wing is easily one of the prickliest players in the college game – think of Yosemite Sam on skates. On the other wing is Smyth, a player with good size and skills who thrives in every situation as evidenced by 17 goals, 17 assists, six power play goals, six game winners and two shorties last season. Ebbett is the perfect guy to play between the two snipers. Of his 101 career points, 77 are assists. His game isn’t limited to setting up others, however. He’s also a valuable special teams performer and one of the CCHA’s top faceoff men.

Stephen Gionta
Sr., Boston College

Ryan Huddy
Sr., Bemidji State
Drew Miller
Jr., Michigan State
This line is so versatile Ron Popeil should be hawking them on a 2 a.m. infomercial. Although they don’t slice or dice, they play smart, skate, score and have the ability to shut down the other team’s top unit. If an award for the most improved college player existed, Miller may have won it last season. His 33 points marked a 23-point gain from the previous year; his penalty killing and leadership skills are immeasurable. Gionta, while not as explosive offensively as his older brother, Brian, is like duct tape – he’s got a million uses. Why Huddy? Well, for starters, it’d be pretty cool to see his dad, former Oiler Charlie Huddy, at the home rink. And while he’s average defensively, his heady play, steady improvement and ability to pitch in offensively earns him a spot.

Adam Powell
So., Alaska-Fairbanks

Andy Sertich
Sr., Minnesota
Rob Lehtinen
Jr., Northern Michigan
You may be wondering, how does one pick a dream fourth line? In this case, we filled specific needs while adding flexibility. For example, Sertich can both play defense, so if one or more of our blueliners get dinged, we’ve got an insurance policies. Sertich is also pretty good on draws and can kill penalties, and the latter is a strength of Lehtinen's. He's not too big, but has good wheels. Incidentally, size is where Powell fits in – we’ve brought along the 6-2, 235-pounder for those occasions we need a little extra beef.
Matt Carle
Jr., Denver
Andy Greene
Sr., Miami
Our dream team carries six defensemen, but given the way Carle and (especially) Greene eat minutes, we could get away with dressing four or five. You don’t see much of Greene because he’s tucked away in bucolic Oxford, Ohio, but he’s the nation’s best blueliner. His game has no holes. Carle’s no slouch defensively, but he’s at his best when he has the puck. Just ask the approximately 15 North Dakota players he slalomed through en route to setting up teammate Paul Stastny’s goal in the third period of last season’s NCAA title match.
Reid Cashman
Jr., Quinnipiac
Jaime Sifers
Sr., Vermont
Sifers comes highly recommended for both his ability and his leadership skills, which is why he’s the pick to wear the “C” for the dream team. At 5-11, 210 pounds, he’s been compared to former Michigan State standout and two-time All-American Mike Weaver, another smallish rearguard with exemplary defensive capabilities. He’s the perfect complement to Cashman, who led Atlantic Hockey in scoring last season with 45 points in 37 games. Naysayers will point to the Bobcats’ level of competition as a reason for Cashman’s success, but when you lead your conference in scoring – whether it’s the NHL or the house mite league – from the blue line, you’re doing something right.
Peter Hafner
Sr., Harvard
Kevin Schaffer
Jr., Boston University
We couldn’t round out our defensive corps without adding a couple stay-at-home types. It’s merely coincidence that we opted for two guys who within a two-line pass of each other. The 6-5, 200-pound Hafner, who’ll captain the Crimson this season, has the wingspan of velociraptor – perfect for poking pucks away from onrushing forwards – and manages his size well, amassing just 30 penalty minutes last season. Schaeffer’s not quite as big, but at 6-1, 190 pounds, he’s not a midget, either. He’ll score a little bit (31 points in 79 career games) and adds durability to the lineup.
David McKee
Jr., Cornell
Noah Ruden
Sr., Michigan
There are probably college hockey fans who think McKee’s first name is Yeah But. That's because when they review his numbers from last season – a 27-5-3 record, a 1.24 goals against average and a .947 save percentage – they’ll say, “Yeah, but McKee plays in a weak conference” or "Yeah, but McKee doesn’t face any shots.” Cornell’s schedule and style of play might help McKee’s numbers a tiny bit, but he proved his worth at last season’s NCAA West Regional in Minneapolis where he made 34 saves in a win against Ohio State and 37 stops in a 2-1 overtime loss to Minnesota.

Stuck behind workhorse Al Montoya the past three seasons, Halley’s Comet made more frequent appearances than Ruden. When pressed into action, however, he’s been pretty good. In 18 career appearances, Ruden is 2-3-0 with a 2.15 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Think of him as the hockey equivalent of the situational lefty – Ruden may only enter the game occasionally, but when he does, he’s capable of getting the out.

Head Coach: George Gwozdecky, Denver
Winning back-to-back national championships will get you named to plenty of Dream Teams, but it's the manner in which he won them that has us so impressed with George Gwozdecky. In neither case were his Pioneers considered the most talented team entering the season, but he can clearly identify and recruit talent. Once they're on campus, his players develop and play a disciplined system.

Assistant: Grant Standbrook

Assistant: Casey Jones
Ohio State

This group is hand-picked, but if we want an assistant who makes a living out of beating the bushes in order to find overlooked or undiscovered talent, Standbrook’s the guy. His methods may raise the hackles of a few people – we, of course, frown on skullduggery – but the results are undeniable.

Jones spends so much time on the road, he could probably reel off the list of restaurants found in the food courts of major North American airports. The globetrotting Jones has helped build a roster that features 26 players representing 14 U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Keeping Ohioans like Tom Fritsche in-state also helps.

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