Howdy, folks. It’s that time of year again. Every so often The College Hockey Blog will be unveiling our Preseason top 16 teams, one by one. If you want to see the top 16 in order, and links to each individual preview, click the tab at the top of the page. Today’s team is #11 UMass-Lowell
Last year UMass-Lowell rode an impressive 12-5-2 second half mark all the way to the Hockey East championship game, where they lost a controversial final to Boston University. Tons of experience is back for the RiverHawks and they have a shot at their first NCAA tournament appearance in 14 years. Read more…
Howdy, folks. It’s that time of year again. Every so often The College Hockey Blog will be unveiling our Preseason top 16 teams, one by one. If you want to see the top 16 in order, and links to each individual preview, click the tab at the top of the page. Today’s team is #13 New Hampshire
Honestly, it was tough as all get out to rank teams 13-16. I can’t say I’m terribly excited about this UNH team. They scored 116 goals last year, good for 4th amongst all Hockey East teams. James van Riemsdyk wasn’t their leading goal scorer, but he was their leading scorer, and was the only Wildcat over 1 point per game. The next time Wildcat fans see van Riemsdyk however, he’ll be suiting up for the Philadelphia Phantoms (or possibly the Flyers, who knows).
After an up and down season in 2007-08, UNH lost in the Hockey East playoffs to Boston College before an epic comeback against North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and then eventually succumbing to eventual champ BU in the second round.
Howdy, folks. It’s that time of year again. Every so often The College Hockey Blog will be unveiling our Preseason top 16 teams, one by one. If you want to see the top 16 in order, and links to each individual preview, click the tab at the top of the page. Today’s team is #15 Boston College
Like #16 Northern Michigan, there were a lot of teams I flirted with putting in this spot, but in the end I went with the Eagles. Although leading scorer Brock Bradford (2nd nationally with .68 gpg) graduated, the Eagles had so many guys that took a step backwards last year that I am banking on it being just an aberration. For example, John Muse went from a 2.20 GAA to a 2.72 mark, and a .921 save percentage to a .904%. Ben Smith (25 G, 50 pts to 6 G, 17 pts), Joe Whitney (11 G, 51 pts to 7 G, 15 pts) and Brian Gibbons (13 G, 35 pts to 9 G, 28 pts) were all guys who took huge steps backwards in 2009. The talent level was still there, but the production was not. Read more…
This year’s Frozen Four is one that has blow-out potential, mixed in with possible intrigue. Two teams, Bemidji State and Miami, meet in the first Frozen Four for each of them, while the top overall seeded Terriers meet Hockey East foe Vermont in the second semi. While on paper BU appears to be the heavy favorite, Vermont is probably the last team they want to see in the semis, as I’ll get to later.
If BU can win their semifinal over Vermont, casual college hockey fans will have a team to cheer for in the finals, either the upstart Beavers or the RedHawks, although being out west I do know that a lot of fans are jealous of Miami’s success and resulted reputation over the past couple of years, so Vermont or BU could have some extra fans come Saturday night. Read more…
While the carnage in the post two below this one is going on, hopefully some stragglers will offer their opinions on the Hockey East awards. Hockey East is the only conference this year with two teams in the Frozen Four, and top to bottom it has been the deepest and best conference all season. Last year’s national champion lost one contributor, a key one to be sure, but went from national champs to out of the NCAA Tournament.
Northeastern led Hockey East for much of the season, before being overtaken by Boston University, who also added a Hockey East tournament title and a Beanpot title, on the last weekend of the season.
So as you can imagine, coming up with a coach of the year was mildly difficult in the least. Was it Greg Cronin, who led the Huskies to 2nd place and 2nd place in the Beanpot? Was it Blaise MacDonald, who took UMass-Lowell from afterthought to the conference title game? Or was it Jack Parker, whose BU team dominated college hockey all season long.
Our Hockey East coach of the year is none of those, but rather Vermont’s Kevin Sneddon. Sneddon led Vermont to a 3rd place tie in Hockey East, and his Catamounts will be competing in the Frozen Four next weekend in Washington, DC. Vermont has gone 22-11-5 so far this season, a 5 win increase from last season’s 17-15-7 mark.
The player of the year award was similarly difficult to nail down, as we were back and forth between Northeastern’s Brad Thiessen and BU’s Matt Gilroy. But we decided to go a completely different direction, tabbing Boston University’s Colin Wilson. The future Nashville Predator has 52 points so far this season for the best team in hockey, and also played a huge role on the United States team at the World Juniors. Wilson led Hockey East in points per game with 1.27, and was tied for 9th with 15 goals. The most impossible to put together first team is after the jump, along with the second team. Read more…
So we come to our final bracket, in which the #1 overall seeded BU Terriers reside. BU is the 3rd ranked offensive and defensive team in America. They are also the 2nd best team in the country on the power play, and 11th on the kill. So as you can see, they’re going to be tough to beat. Led by the most talented player in the country in Colin Wilson, BU has a great mix of players up front with Wilson, Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins.
Not only do they have those guys, but they have a nice blend of youthful exuberance and veteran leadership. The guy I really love on their team is Senior forward Brandon Yip (19-20–39). Yip had tons of promise coming into BU, and he didn’t really blossom into the superstar everyone (or at least I) thought he would. But there’s no doubt he has been a very solid college hockey player and had himself a great career.
And I would be remiss if I discussed BU without talking about Freshman goalie Kieran Millan. Millan is trying to repeat the trick of crosstown rival John Muse by winning the national title as a Freshman goalie. And Millan’s numbers have been fantastic. Millan led Hockey East in GAA (1.84) and wwas third in save percentage (.932). No doubt BU poses a tough matchup to any team, but they could be vulnerable to a team with a great powerplay, seeing the amount of penalty minutes they take (18.7 per game).
The team assigned the task of beating them is Ohio State, the last at-large team in the field. The 5th place team in the CCHA has beaten some good teams this year (Denver, Notre Dame, Michigan, Miami) but are just 4-7-1 against the NCAA tournament field, and have also lost to teams like Michigan State, Western Michigan and Lake Superior State.
The Buckeyes leading scorer is Senior Corey Elkins (18-22–40) but their best player is Freshman Zac Dalpe. Dalpe has had some injury problems throughout the year, but when he is on the ice Ohio State becomes a completely different team. My X-factor for the Buckeyes in this game will be defenseman Shane Sims, a Sophomore who doesn’t get a ton of ink but he’s a very good offensive defenseman.
Although Ohio State possesses the talent to give BU a run, BU is just so much better at every part of the game and I think they’ll take it by a score of 5-2 or so. Read more…
It’s a couple years old, but damn I love that picture. It must be the helmets.
Anyways, the East regional in Bridgeport is definitely the most balanced of the four regionals. It features two conference champions, a team that was in the Frozen Four last year, and one that is back to the tournament after a looooooong absence.
The #1 seed Michigan Wolverines are incredible up front, led by a Sophomore trio that actually reminds me of North Dakota’s amazing trio two years ago of Jonathan Toews, TJ Oshie and Ryan Duncan. Aaron Palushaj and Louie Caporusso were each in the top 10 nationally in points per game, and this came in one of the most defensive conferences in the country this year. With Mark Mitera out for much of the year with a knee injury and Steve Kampfer out after being attacked by a Michigan football player Michigan survived defensively, especially once Bryan Hogan took over in net, and now that those two defensemen are back Michigan will be even tougher to crack defensively.
Hogan has had a couple of rough ones lately, however, including giving up 5 goals to Notre Dame in the CCHA title game. Michigan definitely won’t overlook Air Force given the Falcons’ last two efforts in the NCAA Tournament, but they will be in for a dogfight.
Air Force, on the other hand, comes into their third straight NCAA tournament after giving Minnesota a run for their money 2 years ago and Miami a run for their money last year. They of course are led by Sophomore forward Jacques Lamoureux, who leads the country with 32 goals, .82 per game. He also leads the country with 15 power play goals. Unlike the past couple of years, Air Force has more defensive help, led by Greg Flynn, and they have a great goalie in Andrew Volkening who has been great, especially lately with 2 shutouts in a row at the Atlantic Hockey semis and finals.
Oh and by the by, Lamoureux also leads the nation with 9 game winning goals. For that reason, I’m going with the shocker and taking Air Force to upset Michigan. Read more…
Grand Rapids is the site of our Midwest Regional. It features three very good teams, three in fact who could win the regional, but it also features the best team in the country, and my pre-tournament pick for the national championship.
The Fighting Irish come in on a hot streak, having won both the CCHA regular season and playoff championships. The Irish can bring it both offensively and defensively. Although players like Erik Condra, Christian Hanson and Ryan Thang steal all the headlines, Calle Ridderwall is the player who leads this team with 17 goals. The Irish don’t have a player over a goal per game, but they have six guys who are in double digits in goals. Defensively they are led by first round pick, and one of my personal favorite players, Ian Cole. Cole does everything for this team. He can score (26 points) and he plays very solid defense. In net, Jordan Pearce has been fantastic, although it’s a bit easier for him to be given the defense he has in front of him. They’ll easily run Bemidji out of the building. Read more…
Finally, we come to the best conference in the nation this season. Hockey East has routinely featured 4 or 5 teams in our top 16 all season, and BU has spent 12 straight weeks atop our rankings.
Hockey East features a solid top 4 of BU, Northeastern, New Hampshire and Vermont, all of whom could make a run at the Frozen Four in Washington DC. Read more…