2013-14 Preseason Top 16
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.
3. Boston College
BC loses Parker Milner, but Thatcher Demko is a highly touted Freshman. Johnny Gaudreau probably begins the year as the Hobey favorite, and the Eagles bring back Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes, as well as one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
4. North Dakota
The Sioux lose a lot of talent both up front and on the blueline, but Sophomore Zane Gothberg finished strong last season, giving UND a chance to win each game. They have one of the best recruiting classes as well, welcoming the likes of Adam Tambellini, Keaton Thompson and Gage Ausmus. Dillon Simpson is a Senior yet will still be one of the younger players on the team, turning 21 midway through the season. And Rocco Grimaldi enters the year after scoring at least a point in 13 of UND’s final 15 games last season.
Nic Kerdiles is a major Hobey candidate, and he wasn’t even the Badgers’ leading scorer last year. That would be Michael Mersch, who put up 23 goals. Joel Rumpel, like Gothberg, finished strong in net for Wisconsin, and ended up with a save percentage just south of .930. Grant Besse, Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, is the Badgers’ star recruit.
6. Notre Dame
TJ Tynan is one of the best and yet perhaps most underrated players in the country, all at the same time. He has declined in goals and points each of his three years in South Bend, but he remains one of the best skaters in the country and, if he has talent around him, can be both a playmaker and goal scorer. The Irish will depend on a deep, and big, defensive corps to protect Steve Summerhays, who finished 10th in CCHA play in save percentage. That might not matter though, as the Irish allowed the fourth fewest shots per game in the country last year. It will get a bit tougher heading to the more open Hockey East, however.
The Gophers lost a lot from last year’s team, but what returns (and was added) is enough to challenge for the national title. Adam Wilcox acquitted himself in net quite nicely, and Kyle Rau is back and is expected to put up huge scoring numbers. Also expected to contribute is Hudson Fasching, who might have a short – but goal filled – stay in the Twin Cities.
RPI won’t show up this high on many other lists I assume, but their case is actually quite strong: from the second place team in ECAC last year, the Engineers return 9 of their top 10 scorers, a goalie who had a .935 save percentage as a Freshman, and the bulk of a lineup that allowed the 8th fewest shots on goal per game in the entire country. They’ll have to step it up on offense (46th in shots) but having all those forwards a year older will do wonders, and they should be the early ECAC favorites.
Jacob Trouba and Jon Merrill are gone, but they still have a deep group back led by Mac Bennett and Brennan Serville. Spencer Hyman and Nolan DeJong will add more talent back there. Up front, JT Compher is the biggest addition up front to add to high draft picks and possible All-Americans Boo Nieves and Phil Di Giuseppe.
Andy Iles is one of the best goalies in the country, and Brian Ferlin, who had 10 goals and 24 points last year, is expected to have a big Junior year. The Big Red really struggled offensively, but they return 8 of their top 10 scorers and add plenty of offensive talent up front, including Eric Freschi and Alex Rauter.
Jon Gilles might turn in a Hobey type season from a goalie, and they have a pretty good group of defensemen in front of him as well. They were just 32nd in shots allowed last year however and no goalie, not even Gillies, can overcome that for a full season.
12. St. Cloud State
The Huskies lose (somehow) Hobey winner Drew LeBlanc as well as Ben Hanowski, but return Nic Dowd, who had 14 goals and 39 points, as well as Johnny Brodzinski, who had 22 goals, 21 of which were at even strength, which was the best mark in the country. In net, Ryan Faragher will probably have to improve a bit from his .914 save percentage if the Huskies want to challenge Miami and North Dakota in the NCHC.
13. Minnesota State
Stephon Williams was great in net and while the Mavericks aren’t top heavy either up front or in defense they boast deep groups in both areas. Their win total might be a bit heftier than some teams ahead of them; the trick will be deciding whether it is because of their talent or the strength of their competition.
14. Western Michigan
Chase Balisy has an outside Hobey chance, but a lot of Western’s success will hinge on continuing the strong team defense they played last year, when they allowed just under 25 shots per game, 3rd best in the country.
15. Boston U
I consistently am stumped by the Terriers. For all the talent they had last year they went just 21-16-2, and missed the NCAA tournament. They return a lot of that talent, however, so I’m betting on it again. They were an embarrassing 45th in shots allowed, putting a lot of pressure on the now Sophomore goalie tandem of Sean Maguire and Matt O’Connor.
16. New Hampshire
The Wildcats return first team all Hockey East defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, as well as the vast majority of their scoring. They were 5th in shots per game last year, so expect more of the same out of the Wildcats. If they can improve a bit defensively (25th) or get a big year from Casey DeSmith (.924 save percentage) this ranking will end up looking much too low.