INCH Preseason Faceoff
just hours until they drop the puck, the Inside College Hockey staff
gets giddy as if Santa is on his way. So to pass the time, we got
together and did what we enjoy most – talked college hockey.
The five participants wrote the six INCH conference previews; here's
what we had to say.
a topic – I love college hockey, but is the season starting
too damn early?
Ewell: It is a long season ... but I don't hear
anybody complaining that the summer in New England is too long,
you know what I mean? Too much of a good thing isn't too much. It's
like mayo on a sandwich.
Myers: I think college hockey season is about right,
especially when the NHL lasts three months longer. And there was
snow on the ground in Keith Ballard's hometown this morning, so
drop the puck already!
Good point. But in the NHL, that's their job. These guys in college
are, in theory, supposed to be attending classes. Not so easy when
you start practice in September and wrap it up anywhere from mid-March
to early April.
True, but it's also not college hoops – thank god –
where they are playing all kinds of mid-week games.
Great point about mid-week games. College hockey's schedule makes
it more conducive to actually being a student-athlete.
Gladziszewski: Well, this is one spot where the
ECAC is in a bind. In order to recruit, they've got to schedule
early games (see BC at UVM and SLU at the Lefty this weekend). But
there's a competitive disadvantage for the Ivies, who won't start
for two more weeks.
In a sense, every coach is recruiting against major junior, since
their biggest argument against a kid going to college is the number
Jahnke: What would a better start date be?
Next season marks the start of a uniform first day of practice,
which will kind of help alleviate things a little bit. But until
then, it's more or less a free-for-all.
Instead of starting to early, how about the idea that on April 10,
the season ends too late?
But if it was any earlier, it would be too cold
to go bar-hopping at the Frozen Four.
Right, that's why nobody goes bar hopping in Duluth all winter –
It's never too cold to go bar hopping
I'm lost as to what the remedy would be for a long season. Play
fewer games? More games per week? More around Christmas?
What about the interest level of the fans at this time of year –
and this is directed toward you CCHA and WCHA types – can
they fill a 70,000 seat football stadium and still care about hockey?
Bingo: it never seems to end too late, because there's nothing else
grabbing my attention. In the fall, there's college and pro football
and the baseball playoffs and I feel like, as a sports fan, I'm
being pulled in many directions
Nobody's going to want to play fewer games, so a shorter season
is going to mean more mid-week tilts.
Will people go for that?
In the past, traveling with a team like Denver, I was always envious
of teams out East that could jump on a bus and get to a road game
in an hour ... and sleep in their own beds that night.
Right. Mid-week games are fine in Boston. Not so easy in Grand Forks.
Or the CHA – Colorado Springs to Huntsville on a Tuesday?
Speaking of East-West, has the balance of power shifted? Look at
the teams in the Boston area alone. Quite an array of talent.
Yeah, but the clear-cut favorites are in the Twin
Hockey East is probably the deepest conference,
but Minnesota is still the 500-pound gorilla in the room.
Even the best Hockey East teams, with the possible
exception of BC, have serious question marks. But you're right about
depth – picking Maine at 5th in a conference is downright
I think BC has the biggest question mark among the
trio of hotshots in Hockey East. Sean Fields and Mike Ayers are
Goaltending-wise you're right, Gladdy – but
BC's lineup is more solid than BU or UNH.
Agreed, but you could give Eaves, Eaves, and Voce
three breakaways and still be tied 0-0.
Put Maine in the CCHA. Where would they finish –
Is the CCHA going to bounce back? Tough couple years, it seems.
It'll still be a struggle this year.
No kidding. Right now, I'll take the top four in
the ECAC over the top four in the CCHA.
Wow. When was the last time that was said, 1982?
I was 2 years old
Here's one, guys: what or who are you most looking forward to watching
as the season gets going?
I wanna see if Duluth is as good as advertised.
BC opener should be a good test.
UMD has gotten a lot of hype (some of it from me)
for a team with a legitmate shot to open 1-4.
In the WCHA, there's plenty of buzz about David Backes at Mankato,
and whether he can contribute right away.
I can't wait to see what type of impact the new
coaches, especially Kevin Sneddon at Vermont and George Roll at
Clarkson, will have. Not just the on-ice product, but on the hockey
communities in Burlington and Clarkson. The Gut and Cheel can be
great home rinks.
College Sports TV. I can't believe there will be a game of the week
I want to see Dean Blais and Jerry York match their
top lines in that CSTV game in Grand Forks.
Another question: how good are Miami's frosh goalies?
I've heard both are very good. Both are top six among freshman goalies.
How good are anyone's goalies? There's really no Ryan Miller or
Dave LeNeveu out there.
And on another topic, does that matter any more?
Taking into account that Adam Hauser has a championship ring, my
answer would be no.
Save for 20 minutes versus Michigan, did Travis
Weber win any games for the Gophers last year?
Did he lose many, though?
So are we making too much of Minnesota’s goaltending situation?
Some readers think so.
That's my point exactly: there aren't any goalies
out there in my opinion that can steal a game.
If people haven't noticed already, Mike Schafer's doing some awfully
impressive things at Cornell. He'll have a freshman class that will
be relied on to contribute right away (including goalie David McKee).
People like Cornell, but I don't think he gets enough credit
Schafer's put Cornell in position to be dominant in that league
for years to come.
Exactly, and check the ECAC three years ago ... St. Lawrence and
Colgate were at the top of the league.
Joe, excellent point. In your opinion, is Shane Hynes the key to
that team? He's gotta be more consistent than he was last year,
I think, especially with his size.
Good call, Mike. To me, I'd say Hynes and the freshmen defensemen
are the keys. They are good – are they good enough?
Hynes has some other members of that sophomore class who made nice
contributions, but they'll need to take on an advanced leadership
role even as second-year players. Cam Abbott, Chris Abbott, Matt
Moulson, and Dan Pegoraro will be very important. It's hard to stay
on top in the ECAC, but Cornell will be there for a while
Here's one, guys: which was the toughest team to
pick in your conference standings?
In Atlantic Hockey, it's tough to read UConn with all those freshmen.
In the CHA, I didn't know what to make of Huntsville. Defending
regular-season champs, but lost nine seniors.
In the WCHA, Wisconsin is the great mystery. Their returners aren't
that impressive, but their rookies are supposedly the real deal.
Will any of it matter if they're "team turmoil" off the
Youth led me to pick UMass Lowell last in Hockey East, but it wasn't
easy. I just have a feeling Blais MacDonald could put things together.
Plus, I picked UMass 9th last year ... maybe it's a good spot to
In the CCHA, I'm convinced you could put teams three through eight
in a hat, pull them out randomly and not be too far off base. It's
ECAC is probably the same – right, Joe?
Yes, from Yale at 4 through Rensselaer at 10, it's anybody's game.
There are four new coaches in the ECAC, so that didn't make things
very easy. Clarkson's been difficult to figure. They've got a lot
of talent, but George Roll's starting with discipline and accountability.
If the Knights buy into that, they'll be dangerous
In the CCHA, Mike, Ferris is still a cut above at No. 2?
I think Ferris is a cut above. But every other team seems to have
a potentially fatal flaw.
Speaking of Ferris, and goalies, I'd say Mike Brown is a guy who
can steal a game.
Very solid, but I don't think spectacular to the point of game-stealing.
Maybe once or twice. He's damn good, though.
He makes the saves he should. A lot of teams don't have a goalie
Including some in the top 10.
What if Jerry York could trade Voce for Mike Brown? Would he do
it? Would you do it?
No way. Tony Voce does so much, penalty killing and everything.
He's a perfect compliment to Ben Eaves, and those guys were there
for that national title. Jerry York puts a lot on those guys, and
the other two seniors, J.D. Forrest and Ty Hennes.
What about a game of shinny between the all-conference teams from
each league ... we could get a line of Vanek-Parise-Joseph with
Ballard and Suter and Berkhoel against a trio of Vesce-Jessiman-Pettit,
Welch and Sifers, and Danis.
Here's the thing: the Hockey East first line might be BC's first
line. That's scary.
It sure is.
That would be fantastic. I'd roll Tambellini-Legue-Slater for the
CCHA and put Brown in goal. Roll the dice on defensemen ... kind
of a down year on the blue line in the CCHA.
Kind of a down year on D overall, I think. Maybe we'll see scoring
go up a bit?
Dean Blais seems to think so. He believes his top line of Parise-Bochenski-Murray
can score 100 goals.
That'll be twice LSSU's total.
Back to the mention of CSTV, does the increased national TV exposure
for the game change the way the Hobey is selected?
If you don't see a guy once or twice on TV, and you're voting for
the Hobey, you're not doing your job.
It should take the regional bias out of it, perceived or real.
But does the trophy go to the guy who scores a hat trick on CSTV's
game of the week, like one good game on TV can win the Heisman?
But going back to the pre-CSTV era, a lot of media don't get to
see players until the Frozen. I think Vanek's show in Buffalo make
him the pre-season favorite for Hobey.
this to a friend
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