Friday, June 5, 2009

Daily Cardinal previews…albeit a tad early

The Daily Cardinal has been busy getting ready for the Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams 2009/10 campaigns. Why not? It might be June, but it’s never too early to start thinking Badger Hockey again. I never actually took a break.

First, I found a few things from my Women’s Update post from a few days back. Here are some links to Female POY: Jessie Vetter and Top Women’s Team: Women’s Hockey.

The Cardinal gives a good breakdown of the upcoming Men’s season. They pose a few legitimate questions: Can the glut of talented skaters finally play up to their potential, and how will the team replace several key contributors whose Badger careers just finished? The first question is much harder to answer than the second. I thought all the talent the team had last season was going to translate into success, and we all remember how that ended in countless 3rd periods throughout winter.

Replacing Shane Connelly, Tom Gorowsky and Jamie McBain hopefully won’t be that difficult. Its certainly hard to say losing a Hobey Finalist, WCHA POY and All-American is no big deal, but when the team currently projects to return the most talented blue line in NCAA hockey, along w/ stud freshman Justin Schultz, and likely NHL pick John Ramage, the Badgers should be in good shape. Seven senior forwards (along w/ Derek Stepan), and All-USHL 1st Teamer Brett Bennett should help lift anxiety.

The defending National Champion Women’s team was also previewed. The best team in school history likely gives way to another talented team that will have to overcome two big hurdles to repeat and take home NC #4. A very successful senior class graduated, especially the losses of Erika Lawler and Jessie Vetter will be tough to replace. On top of that its Olympics time and Mark Johnson will be coaching Team USA, w/ Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan likely joining him in Vancouver.

There is always good news though. The Freshman Sensation Brooke Ammerman is back after posting 27-27-54 as a frosh, Jasmine Giles and Kyla Sanders both had their best seasons as Badgers, and Malory Deluce and Carolyne Prevost are both talented forwards who are back. The blue line is still solid despite the loss of Alicia Matthews. Coming in is arguably the best recruit in the country in Dousman, WI’s own Brianna Decker. She is joined by some talented Canadians including Breann Frykas and Saige Pacholok, and possibly Jessie’s replacement in goal, Rebecca Ruegseggar.

Lastly, the Daily Cardinal previewed three Badgers to watch and two of them happen to me hockey players! Derek Stepan is ready to go Joe Pavelski on the rest of the WCHA. After a slow start, he brought it in the 2nd half, including a most memorial moment when he scored two SH goals during the same PP against the Fighting Sioux. While the dynamics of the team were different, his presence toward the end of last season was what I was hoping Kyle Turris was going to bring to the Badgers by the end of his freshman year. I think a 50 point season is w/ in his grasp.

I already mentioned her, but Brooke Ammerman is another Badger to watch. She was 5th on the team in scoring last season, but assuming Duggan & Knight are going for gold, she’ll be the top returning scorer. Last season she anchored the 3rd line, which was arguably better than most first lines in the country. This year she’ll have to pull a lot more shifts against their opponent’s top players, as her role on the team will expand. She still has a talented supporting cast, but I agree w/ the Daily Cardinal, I think its Ammerman’s team to lead, at least in making the opposing goalie look like a sieve.

Wait until 2010/11 when the forward corp features Ammerman^2 (both Brooke and her sister Brittany), Decker, Knight, Duggan, Deluce, Prevost and recruit Madison Packer. I just hope there are enough goals to go around for that group.