Monday, March 16, 2009

Gandalf's WCHA Awards

WCHA season awards should be announced this week, so why not throw out some predictions. I attempted to be as unbiased as I could. My viewing of some of these players was pretty limited this season, so I did take a lot of stats into consideration.

1st Team WCHA

F – Ryan Stoa, minnesota
F – Justin Fontaine, Duluth
F – Ryan Lasch, St. Cloud
D – Jamie McBain, Wisconsin
D – Chay Genoway, North Dakota
G – Marc Cheverie, Denver

2nd Team WCHA

F – Jordan Schroeder, minnesota
F – Blake Geoffrion, Wisconsin
F – Chad Rau, CC
D – Kurt Davis, Mankato
D – Patrick Wiercioch, Denver
G – Alex Stalock

3rd Team WCHA

F – Anthony Maiani, Denver
F – Kael Mouillerat, Mankato
F – Tommy Grant, UAA
D – Josh Meyers, Duluth
D – Garrett Raboin, St. Cloud
G – Brad Eidsness, North Dakota

The top two goalies are pretty close in stats, Cheverie and Denver competed for the MacNaughton, Stalock and Duluth had to win on the road last weekend, this was my tie-breaker. Blake Geoffrion leads the WCHA in PP goals, though he is lower in points overall, he deserves some recognition. UAA had a great season and Tommy Grant played tough against the Badgers, he deserves some recognition as well. Goon will probably comment that I didn’t include Duncan. North Dakota didn’t have a dominate forward this season, but they had a lot of good forwards (a lot like Denver). Plus I still think the Gnome should never have won the Hobey in 2007 since his linemates were the real talent on the ice. Good thing for Duncan, Travelocity has a big contract waiting for him.

WCHA All Rookie Team

F – Derek Stepan, Wisconsin
F – Jordan Schroeder, minnesota
F – Mike Connolly, Duluth
D – Patrick Wiercioch, Denver
D – Jake Gardiner, Wisconsin
G – Brad Eidsness, North Dakota

Brett Olson (Michigan Tech) and Joe Colborne (Denver) are just as deserving in the forward department. Stepan was critical to Wisconsin’s second half, and while maybe the team results on the ice weren’t always what Badger fans expected, Stepan’s play was outstanding and really has me looking forward to what he can do next season. I have more thoughts on him for later this week.

The Western College Hockey Blog has their own picks for WCHA awards. That post includes links to some of the voters who were kind enough to post their picks, this includes Todd Milewski.

I have to strongly disagree w/ Chris on his reasoning why Jake Gardiner should not be on the All Rookie Team. I have Gardiner on my team, but I could understand him being left out, just not for Chris’ reasoning. He states that Gardiner and midget blue line gopher Aaron Ness didn’t live up to expectations. I would certainly agree in Ness’ case, he was very highly touted (especially by Woog and the Rug I’m sure). Gardiner was certainly a high draft pick last June by the Anaheim Ducks, but that was based on potential. Gardiner has all the potential to be a NHL blue liner, but we should recall that two years ago Gardiner was still a forward.

Coming into the season, most Badger fans weren’t expecting too much from Gardiner, besides some sweet skating and offensive upside. Between the transition from high school to college, and the still recent position switch, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say fans were thinking we might have another Brendan Smith like freshman campaign on the ice. Instead, Gardiner has played more like Cody Goloubef did last season w/ more offensive upside and still a little rough around the edges on defense. He’s been on the top pairing w/ Jamie McBain the entire second half of the season, he must be doing something right.

My own view on freshman defensemen is that I just hope they aren’t a regular liability to the team on defense; if they mix in some offense, great. Gardiner has been anything but a liability; in fact he has been a huge asset to the team. If I was the Ducks GM, I would be beaming right now seeing how Gardiner has progressed. He still has room for improvement, and Coach Osiecki will continue that tutelage next season, but based on any realistic expectations coming into this season, Gardiner has been top notch setting the bar higher each week and then meeting it.

The last award I will give out is for worst WCHA official. It was a hard vote, but in the end it was a tie; all WCHA officials suck and each deserve equal recognition for doing a really shitty and inconsistent job every time they hit the ice for a WCHA game.