annual nchc thread
with NCHC media day fast approaching wanted to start the thread
preseason all conference already released:
media poll comes out thursday -- my poll will try to crank out this weekend (I'm a dedicated family man now)
as always -- running thread for weekly results and some brief looks at other goings on.
here is my prediction for the upcoming season and some brief comments:
1 DU - a very young team that made the frozen four last year they should be even better this year. ian mitchell returns and they add phenom freshman bobby brink. Filip Larsson is gone but goaltending won't drop off -- in short this team is loaded.
2. UMD -- the 2 time national champs are back for the attempt at the 3 peat. Nick Wolff and Scott Perunovich return on D and lets not forget 45 year old Hunter Shepard who has been at UMD since the carter administration. Up front still a solid group with Noah Cates and Nick Swaney
3, UND -- coming off a very disappointing season where UND failed to make the NCHC tournament they should be much improved. Westin Michaud (CC transfer) should give them some offensive punch and UND should score more goals than last year.
4. WMU -- goaltending the big question mark coming into this season. the oft injured wade allison returns. will he be healthy?
5 -- SCSU -- Loosing a ton off last years team so they may struggle Jimmy Schuldt, Patrick Newell, Blake Lizotte, Robby Jackson and Ryan Poehling are all gone. can they get the defense needed to win some low scoring games?
6 -- Miami -- new coach new attitude . the miami I saw last year was a team that quit on the coaching staff. I expect a lot more improvement on a team that should be more competitive.
7- UNO -- the mike kemp era version 2.0 continues with lots of question marks. will they generate any offense at all? Ward and Jordan are back but will any of the freshman forwards make an impact? wonder goalie Saville could steal some games for them, but this isn't the CCHA anymore..
8 CC -- with the loss of workhorse goalie leclerc and mason bergh and trevor gooch to graduation I expect a bit of a struggle from CC this year.
quick look elsewhere:
Big ten -- OSU has quietly put together a very quality program. -- expect them to make another run at detroit
WCHA -- can mankato play enough tough teams to get them ready for the playoffs? conference isnt that good from top to bottom.
ECAC: will mike shaffer call rand pecknold a classless A**hole again? I expect Cornell/Quinnipiac and Clarkson to all be in the mix
Atlantic Hockey -- AIC should be good again Eric Lang told st lawrence thanks but no thanks to stay at AIC -- Calling it now -- dark horse to win the league is Niagara
HE -- BC should return to form this year and will be a contender. providence will be solid as well. is Umass a one hit wonder? or will they make a 2nd straight trip to the frozen four. my guess is somewhat in the middle top 4 HE finish and possible 2nd round in the NCAA tourney
I think #'s 1 & 2 are pretty much a given. I believe Western will be much different offensively, not relying on Allison to the degree in the past. Goaltending may, or may not, be an issue. Freshmen goaltenders seem to be the rage these days and have performed admirably in this league.
After that, I believe the "bottom six" can be interchangeable. Yeah, some will rag on Omaha, but the incoming class is rated highly and the forwards all carry the blue collar workmen tag. Five man offense, five man defense, decent goaltending. That's all it takes. I expect Prokop to jump into it, as well as Sullivan and Boyer. Weiss should be stronger and improved and we need to see if Brushett can cut it in the NCHC.
Miami improved? Yes, I agree. I don't see CC as going quietly into the night any more than I think UND will lock up 3rd. St. Cloud has solid coaching and no shortage of goal scorers so they aren't going to be a walk in the park either...
PS: And in Omaha, if Jones can't improve his +/-, Coach should give a freshman icetime...
I am a firm believe that goaltending will lead the way in college hockey. Good goaltending can carry you deep into the postseason. I also think a single-goalie system (like a single-QB in football) brings security and confidence.
So, I am picking teams to finish based on goaltending. (I might want to remind you that at this time last year I was talking about CC's Alex Leclerc.)
I don't think there is any question that Hunter Shepard is an elite goaltender. Couple that with the returning group in Duluth. It's a tough hand to beat.
2 and 3 could be up for debate. I went with personal bias of Hrenak and SCSU over Devin Cooley and the Pios. I also think Denver graduated a few more players, though I don't see the oft-mispronounced Jarid Lukosevicius as a great loss.
Everyone is keying in on losses in Colorado Springs, but nobody is talking about the huge addittion for the Tigers -- Ryan Ruck. A graduate transfer, Ruck had very good number as a freshman, before fading and eventually losing his spot to Cayden Primeau. CC is taking a flyer on a veteran presence, here. Mike Haviland has quietly rebuilt this program. There is no better 'team' than the Tigers. (Omaha looks to be following that model.)
Many expect North Dakota to be 'back' this year. I still see regression. This is not the dominant team of years past. Adam Scheel was a saviour last year. Can he avoid a sophomore slump? You can likely write off Peter Thome, unless Scheel struggles. This is likely Brad Berry's farewell in Grand Forks.
Omaha and Western come in with huge unknowns in goal. The Mavericks bring three freshmen netminders in to the season. For the Broncos, there is a veteran option... sort of. That option is Ben Blacker -- who is basically a worse version of Evan Weninger. So, the comparison between the teams is between the top two goaltenders in the USHL, last year: Omaha's Isaiah Saville, and K-Zoo's Brandon Bussi.
...and Miami (OF OHIO). Ryan Larkin is still twizzlers.
I'll explain. Used in a sentence, There is a chance UNO has another twizzlersty season. I hope it's all bulltwizzlers though.
Ryan knows the reference.
Well, what I have seen of Larkin, good and bad, may look different with a maturing defense in front of him. Especially if the rest of the team buys in. Like us last year, with 2 or 3 key players going through the motions, Miami has enough talent to be a problem if they put in the effort. Ask Saint Cloud...