October 6 , 2006
ESPN.com's 'The Show': INCH Overtime

As hard as we try, it's virtually impossible to address every question we receive during our weekly college hockey chat on ESPN.com's 'The Show'. So we thought, why not take the best submissions that didn't get answered and post responses on INCH?

The result is INCH Overtime. When warranted, we'll tackle everything that we didn't quite get to during 'The Show.' We see it as a win-win: your question gets answered, and we get talk more hockey.

Below you'll find what we had left in the mailbag after we wrapped our chat with Miami coach Enrico Blasi.

I know UW is ranked #1. I dont think they should be. They lost way too much. Do you think they can repeat after losing all those players? Do you think Skille will be a top player in his sophmore season? Who are the Badgers top compitition to knock them off? Casey (Madtown)

Jess Myers: Actually, the only relevant place I’ve seen the Badgers ranked No. 1 is in the WCHA coaches poll, and there they were tied with Minnesota. I think they can repeat, but it’ll take another monster year by Elliott in goal and some new sources of offense. You’re not going to replace Pavelski and Earl’s offense right away, so look for the Badgers to struggle to score in October, and find their legs at forward later in the season. That means that Elliott and experienced defenders like Klubertanz and Likens will more important than ever in the next month. And yes, Skille has all of the tools and the confidence to be a top offensive player.

As a Clarkson alum, I still follow the team and the ECACHL. I am wondering who the best team in the ECACHL is going to be? Dave Y. (Winooski, Vermont)

Joe Gladziszewski: Opinions differ, but people generally expect Colgate, Dartmouth, and Harvard to have the best chance to win the regular-season titles. Clarkson is a popular pick to move toward the top of the league standings after finishing around ninth over the last few years. In the preseason ECAC Hockey League Coaches Poll, no team received more first-place votes than the Golden Knights.

I see giant gaps between tiers in the Hockey East. How will good teams like UNH, Vermont, and even UMass fair in the same division as BU, BC, and Maine? Jeff

Jeff Howe: There is definitely a gap following BC, BU and Maine, but that gap certainly is not "giant." UNH is entering this season as underrated as ever, but the Wildcats will still be very good. Richard Umile is extremely excited with the defensive unit he has and freshman goalie Brian Foster should fill in nicely for the graduated Jeff Pietrasiak. Plus, we all know UNH won't have any trouble scoring goals. And don't sleep on Providence, which will come back stronger and deeper after an overachieving season last year.

A little further down the ladder is Vermont, which was the flavor of the conference last season before the Catamounts struggled mightily in the second half, finishing with a 3-9-4 record after Jan. 20. With Joe Fallon as the backstop, the defense will once again be top notch. But without Brady Leisenring, Jeff Corey, and Jaime Sifers (84 combined points last year), how can UVM solve the scoring woes that often haunted them when they slumped a year ago?

Like Vermont, UMass needs to find the back of the net to make a jump in the standings. The Minutemen lost their top-two scorers from last season in Marvin Degon and Stephen Werner. Even with the pair, however, UMass was the eighth-highest scoring team in Hockey East in 2005-06. Replacing those two isn't the issue here. The Minutemen need to far surpass their production of a year ago to make any kind of splash in the conference.

How much impact will Erik Johnson make on the Gophers this year? They are atop pre-season WCHA rankings with Wisconsin but all the fallout of talent to grad and the NHL, could this team really slide? Tim from St. Paul, MN

Jess Myers: If the Gophers slide, it won’t be because of Erik Johnson and their overall youth in some key positions. Alongside youngsters like Johnson and Fischer on the blue line, they have one of the top defenders in the nation (Goligoski). And you know that the likes of Wheeler and Hirsch have the potential to score in bunches. If I were a Gopher fan, my biggest concern would be goaltending. A no-show by Frazee and Briggs (when he returns) and there will be trouble in Mariucci.

Broomball...that is the third time I have seen that word in the INCH section. What is it that? So confused! Keith (Austin)

Joe Gladziszewski: Seriously? No broomball in Texas (I assume)? It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Teams take the ice in sneakers or tennis shoes and try to bat a rubber ball into a hockey goal and instead of sticks they use plastic brooms. Specialized equipment is available for the sport, but that's a basic description.

Thanks for the questions. Remember to check out The Show each Thursday, and let us know if you have ideas for guests you'd like us to invite.

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