We are back! There probably won’t be as much day to day posting here (unless someone wants to buy up this blog of course hint hint) but definitely still more longer pieces. Here’s the first big one, the preseason rankings for the 2013-14 season. Feel free to yell at me for hating your team in the comments or via email. Here we go:
The RedHawks had a pair of Freshmen splitting time almost evenly in net last year, but Ryan McKay, who had a .946 save percentage last year, probably will emerge this year. They return Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik up front and add Freshman Anthony Louis from the NTDP up front. It’s a small recruiting class for Miami, but they won’t have to blend in a lot of new faces and should use their talent and experience to compete for the national title.
Lowell has the best 1-2 tandem in the country in net with Connor Hellebuyck and Doug Carr. They also bring back Scott Wilson, a legitimate Hobey candidate, up front. Lowell returns 4 of its top 5 scorers, but they’ll rely on goaltending to get them to the Frozen Four again. There is a bit of a chance of a drop off given that they neither put a lot of shots on goal nor suppressed them exceptionally well, but the talent is there. Read more…
The Union Dutchmen just defeated defending national champion Boston College 5-1 behind two goals from Josh Jooris. That result was significant not just in the fact that we will have a new national champion this year, but we will also have a first time national champion.
Leo, Gerry and Myles Fitzgerald all play for Victoria of the BCHL, but they are perhaps known better for being the triplets who starred in the 1999 movie Baby Geniuses with Christopher Lloyd (a movie which has 1 whole star on IMDB I might add).
Now all three of them, all 1993 birthdates, have committed to play college hockey at Bemidji State. Gerry Fitzgerald has 23 goals and 41 points in 41 games, Leo Fitzgerald has 26 goals and 50 points in 54 games, and Myles outpaces both of them, scoring 30 goals (7th in the league) and 71 points in 52 games.
They’re all 19 and playing in the BCHL so take their numbers with a grain of salt, but they all pretty clearly look like D1 level players. I don’t think I have ever seen triplets in college hockey, and certainly haven’t seen triplets who were all actors, so that’s pretty cool. Hopefully their hockey careers earn them more praise than their movies did.
(s/t Chris Dilks)
More than any year I can remember, college hockey faces some tough choices when it comes to not only handing out the Hobey but the Penrose and All-American teams as well. Here is my attempt to take a look at who I think should win (not who I think will win):
The NCAA hockey tournament starts this Friday at neutral sites (which is gross, but more on that later) across the country, and thankfully all games will be broadcast on ESPN networks.
Speaking of stupid things, the Pairwise ratings look like this, with Quinnipiac leading the way. Thanks to Canisius upsetting Niagara to win the Atlantic Hockey automatic bid, Western Michigan is the unlucky team left out of the field, pretty shocking for a team that once looked like a lock for the tournament and finished with fewer losses than #1 seed Notre Dame.
The bracket in full looks like this:
1. Quinnipiac v. 4. Canisius
2. Boston College v. 3. Union
It is perceived that because of the lack of other “power” conference teams that Boston College got an easy draw. While I do think ECAC Hockey was a bit down this year, Quinnipiac still reeled off a 21 game unbeaten streak and are a deserved top overall seed. They’re 4-0 this year against NCAA tournament teams, though it should be noted that all four of those were against ECAC Hockey’s other tournament reps.
Union comes in as the conference’s hottest team, having won the ECAC tournament, and along with the Bobcats are two of the only three teams in the country to outscore opponents by at least a goal per game. They’re 17th in scoring nationally, but generate the ninth most shots on goal in the nation, suggesting they could be due for some goals this weekend.
They’ll have to sneak them by Parker Millner, BC’s star goalie. He ranks 48th overall in save percentage this year with a .914 mark, but he was dominant in the NCAA tournament last year and has the ability to do so again. If BC advances though, it will likely be because of their offense. Johnny Gaudreau led Hockey East in points per game, and teammate Steven Whitney led the league in goals with 18, 5 more than the closest competitor. The Eagles might not be as strong as they were last year, but they’re the favorite until they advance
Projected Frozen Four team: BC
1. Notre Dame v. 4. St. Cloud State
2. Miami v. 3. Minnesota State
I saw the Irish play at the IceBreaker tournament in Kansas City this year and even though they won, I wasn’t very impressed. They have really turned it on lately, with goalie Steven Summerhays allowing 6 goals in their last 5 playoff games. The Junior duo of Anders Lee and TJ Tynan combined for 30 goals and 36 points, and helped lead the Irish to the last CCHA tournament title.
But they are probably the third favorite in their own regional. St. Cloud State tied for the WCHA championship with Minnesota, but thanks to some unfortunate nonconference results (getting swept by New Hampshire and Northern Michigan) the pairwise didn’t really break in their favor. It underlines the stupidity of the pairwise that the #1 seed from the best conference in the country this year almost got left out of the tournament, but that’s for another day. St. Cloud is led by Drew LeBlanc, who had 50 points, and Freshman Johnny Brodzinski, who led the nation in goals at even strength with 20.
Miami won the CCHA by three points over Notre Dame, and did it in their typical defensive style, ranking 2nd nationally in goals allowed per game and 6th on the penalty kill. The Redhawks allowed just 26 shots on goal per game this year, 6th fewest in the country. They took at least 20 more penalties than the other teams in the top 10 in shots allowed, so I am assuming they were the best in the nation in terms of shot suppression at even strength.
Projected Frozen Four team: Miami
1. UMass-Lowell v. 4 Wisconsin
2. New Hampshire v. 3. Denver
To me, this is the most wide open regional. Lowell has come on strong thanks to Freshman goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who led the nation with a .949 save percentage and had the second most shutouts in the country, but he has only played in 21 games this year and there is no telling how he will react to his first NCAA tournament action. Lowell doesn’t have a single point per game scorer, though they do have 5 double digit goal scorers.
West (Grand Rapids)
1. Minnesota v. 4. Yale
I mostly don’t touch recruiting here, but when said recruit is the cousin of actress (or “actress”?) Lindsay Lohan, I’ll make an exception.
6’5″ Kevin Lohan currently plays for Merritt in the BCHL, and at 6’5″ his best tool is his size. He has 14 points, including two game winning goals, in 40 games for the Centennials this year. He’s also played from coast to coast over the last three seasons, playing for Shattuck two years ago and then New York Apple Core (EJHL) before joining the BCHL this year.
Lohan is a ’93 so he has another year of junior eligibility remaining, and in a phone interview with the Michigan Daily he said he was unsure whether he would join Michigan in 2013 or 2014.
For the record, Red Berenson has apparently heard of Lindsay Lohan, but would not be able to recognize her. Though to be fair, everyone who saw her in Mean Girls would say the same thing if they saw her now.
For those who were wondering, Red Berenson has heard of Lindsay Lohan. Wouldn’t recognize her though.
— Matt Slovin (@MattSlovin) January 31, 2013
As reported by USCHO, the newfangled WCHA will be admitting Alabama-Huntsville for the 2013-14 season. Without the invite, the program would have been in danger of extinction after the dissolving of College Hockey America.
The Chargers are currently an independent and have already wrapped up their home schedule, a schedule which featured only two games against a D1 opponent (future WCHA foe Minnesota State) with the rest coming against club teams and D3 programs.
This brings the new look WCHA to 10 teams, and it will be interesting to see what happens with any future expansion not featuring a Big 10 team. The biggest immediate problem, though, will be travel. Huntsville is around 4,000 miles from Anchorage, and it is a little over 1,000 from Bemidji,the site of its biggest rival.
Still, this is a great day for college hockey, as realignment threatened to take away college hockey’s most successful foray into the south. Hopefully with Huntsville’s admission into the WCHA more southern programs will make the jump from club hockey to D1.
You can read the school’s release on the news here.