Friday, October 3, 2008

Around the WCHA/NCAA

A few items from around the WCHA/NCAA . . .

New DU Blog
As you know, we love the Let's Go DU blog, and now there's another DU blog we think we'll like a lot. Puck Swami has recently launched Know Your Foe, and in it he will be previewing DU opponents. Should be interesting to see what he has to say about other WCHA teams as the season gets underway.

USA Hockey Magazine: Next American Star
USA Hockey Magazine features goaltender Richard Bachman of CC in it's latest installment of Next American Star.

Another WCHA preview
Well, it's just INCH, but INCH has released its WCHA preview, with the Badgers at #4.
Predicted Finish
School Of Note
Colorado College Yes, Jack Hillen is gone. But so many formidable elements return as the Tigers seek their fourth MacNaughton Cup in the past seven seasons.
Denver Rakhshani and Ruegsegger (with a hefty helping of Bozak) make the Pioneers as hard to stop as they are to spell. The lone question is in goal.
St. Cloud State Good goaltending and great offense return to the fold, as Husky fans swear this is the year they'll be playing in April, in Roe's backyard.
Wisconsin With Gardiner joining McBain, Smith, Goloubef and McDonagh on the back side, the Badgers have arguably the most defensive talent in the nation.
Minnesota State The political world isn't the only place where you'll find hard-working Mavericks who talk about the importance of veteran experience.
Minnesota Thirteen members of the Gopher roster didn't play college hockey last year. A dozen of them are freshmen, and one, thankfully, is Ryan Stoa.
North Dakota A lack of proven talent in goal is the big question for the Sioux. Of course, we had similar thoughts about CC last year, and that turned out fine.
Minnesota Duluth The offensive depth and the goaltending are the bright spots at the DECC. But defensive questions need answers for the Bulldogs to move up.
Michigan Tech The duo of Nolan in goal and Kinrade on the blue line is a good place to start. But the Huskies need goal-scorers to stay in the home ice race.
Alaska Anchorage The trio of Lunden, Crowder and Clark combined for 73 points last season. Beyond them, well, did we

In addition to WCHA rankings, INCH also picked the following:

Breakthrough team: Mankato
Primed for a fall: North Dakota
Pressure to perform: Minnesota-Duluth
Toughest act to follow: Bill Howard (Wisconsin)
Best Player: Chad Rau (Colorado College)
Impact Newcomer: Jake Gardiner (Wisconsin)

Needless to say, North Dakota fans don't like being placed 7th (hey, I didn't like it when WCH put Wisconsin 7th). The College Hockey Blog jumps into the fray, saying, "While I think that is a spot or two too low, it’s pretty tough to say they’re better than any of the teams above them." The College Hockey Blog also feels that Minnesota is ranked too low.

I'm no good at predictions, so I'm not going to say to much, but I kind of get the feeling that this season might be a bit like last season where there was a lot of parity in the WCHA. I wouldn't be surprised to see 3-7 a jumbled mess.

My favorite part of this whole thing is this line from the front page intro to the article: "If last year is half as entertaining as this season, WCHA fans are in for a heckuva ride." So, either INCH already knows how exciting this season will be, or this season will have to be twice as entertaining as last season in order for WCHA fans to have a heckuva ride. HA!

More recruitment age discussion
In USA Hockey Magazine, INCH's Jess Myers looks at the increasingly young age at which players are recruited. I don't find this article all that insightful -- all it seems to do is tell us what we already know, that players are committing at an increasingly young age. No kidding, thanks for the newsflash. But the part about Coach Jeff Jackson caught my attention, as it seems to me that Notre Dame is one of the schools that has been a active in recruiting younger kids. IIRC, Jordan Schmaltz had a visit to Notre Dame planned when the Badgers offered him for 2012. And when Robbie Russo committed to Notre Dame for 2011, he was just 4 months older than Schmaltz was when he committed.
After guiding Lake Superior State to a pair of NCAA titles in the 1990s, Jeff Jackson stepped away from the college game for a decade. Upon returning, Jackson got a hard lesson in how drastically recruiting had changed when he took over at Notre Dame in 2005. He said that in his first tour as a college hockey coach, he’d never recruited a kid that wasn’t in high school, but after coming on board with the Irish, Jackson’s assistants in South Bend immediately encouraged him to attend USA Hockey’s Select 15 Festival.

“I went to the Select 15s and came back with a dozen or so names of kids that I thought we should look at further,” said Jackson, who coached the Irish to their first-ever Frozen Four appearance this past April.

“Within two weeks, six or seven of them had already made verbal commitments to other schools.”