Inside College Hockey
Send your questions now and join The Show on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Nate Ewell (1:30 PM)
Happy Thursday, everybody, and welcome to Inside College Hockey in The Show. It's an absolutely fantastic weekend of college hockey action coming up, and Mike Eidelbes and I are here to chat about it ... so without further ado ...
Big Al (Guatemala)
Guys, what do you make of Minnesota's somewhat disappointing regular season? I know they have a tough schedule, but this has become a pattern over the last couple of seasons. They are clearly a different team come March. Is it a motivational problem? If so, does that reflect on the coaching staff?
Mike Eidelbes (1:33 PM)
I don't think it's a motivational problem as much as it is a part of being a young team. Freshmen such as Goligoski and Hagemo have been pressed into playing key roles early. Evey Ryan Potulny is playing his first full season of college hockey. The Gophs seem to have hit the wall after the World Junior Championship.
Guys, earlier in the season, BC was on just about everyone's Frozen Four list. Now I don't hear their name quite as much. What happened? Was it just injuries slowing them down? Or were they not quite as dominant as people thought they were? Are they still one of your picks for the final weekend? Go Bengals.
Nate Ewell (1:34 PM)
The injuries to Andrew Alberts really hurt BC -- he's a rock for them on D, and that's a position where they don't have a lot of depth. They bounced back without him last weekend against UNH, but they'll probably need him to get to the Frozen Four. If he's healthy, I think they make it.
Mike Eidelbes (1:36 PM)
I think the x factor for the Eagles is in goal. Matti Kaltiainen is, well, you know what he is. Schneider has been good, but his heath is a question, too. And if he is healthy, does Jerry York pick one guy and ride him or rotate?
Nate...where do you see Kessel committing to? I know he has a press conference for tomorrow, and Ive heard either Minnesota or Wisconsin. Thanks!
Nate Ewell (1:38 PM)
You've heard what we've heard, Dan. We'll all know in a little more than 24 hours, and he'll be chatting here with Mike shortly thereafter -- so you can look forward to that. Certain reports have him going to Minnesota, but I wouldn't rule the Badgers out.
With Colorado College and Denver aside it seems that the WCHA has a had a lackluster performance this year in comparison to previous years. Will this conference still make its mark on the NCAA tournament with only four teams predicted to be in the brackets?
Mike Eidelbes (1:41 PM)
Good question. Most conferences would love to have four teams in the tourney, by the way. I think what you refer to as 'lackluster performance' is more a by-product of the young players at Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. By nature, freshmen and sophomores just aren't as consistent as juniors and seniors. If I were a coach, I wouldn't want to play Minnesota in the West Regional in their own barn, and Wisconsin is a tough draw because they can outscore you or shut you down with Bruckler.
Grady (Rochester, NY)
Nate, you talk about the race for first in Hockey East in your notebook, but isn't it really a race for the top two spots? You just want to avoid having to play UMass Lowell and Northeastern in the first round?
Nate Ewell (1:42 PM)
This better not be Grady Little. You're exactly right, though -- nobody wants to face those two teams in the first round. That's why it's tough to say the four teams playing this weekend will all be back in Boston in two weeks. UMass Lowell and Northeastern have great shots at first-round upsets.
Taj (Cambridge, MA)
Which team do you think has the best top line in the country (not just talent, but chemistry too)?
Nate Ewell (1:43 PM)
The line I really like is Sean Collins, Preston Callander and Brett Hemingway at UNH, because all three are dangerous as both scorers and playmakers. Of course, UNH really has two first lines the way Micflikier has been playing.
Mike Eidelbes (1:45 PM)
How about Marty Sertich, Brett Sterling, and anyone with a stick blade on the ice at Colorado College? No disrespect to the third guy on that line (Jimmy Kilpatrick), but Sertich and Sterling are so dynamic and their games complement each other so well...it's a real treat to watch them play together.
Chase (Greenwich, CT)
If you had to pick a goalie, regardless of the defense in front of him, to lead your team through this year's NCAAs, whom would you choose?
Nate Ewell (1:46 PM)
Good answer on that last one, Eidelbes ... I may have to rethink my support of the Wildcats.
Nate Ewell (1:47 PM)
But I'll stick with a Hockey East guy on the goalie question. Give me Jimmy Howard. He's playoff tested and playing well right now.
Mike Eidelbes (1:49 PM)
Jimmy Howard is a fine choice, but I'd take Jordan Sigalet of Bowling Green. His numbers don't jump out at you, but he's a guy that's comfortable facing 40+ shots a night and doesn't need a lot of support. If you haven't seen him play, you have no idea what you're missing.
Nate... Who do you think is this years WCHA player of the year?
Nate Ewell (1:50 PM)
Marty Sertich, hands down.
Nikken (Brooklyn, NY)
I'm originally from Colorado and everyone there is talking about this weekend's huge Denver/CC series. Care to give a prediction? Which team do you think has the better shot at a national title?
Mike Eidelbes (1:52 PM)
I think you'll see a split this weekend. As far as winning it all, I'm partial to the Pioneers. Not only have they just done it, but I like their depth better than that of CC. And no team has a defensive pair like Skinner and Carle. That's like having MacInnis and Pronger on the blue line.
Nate Ewell (1:53 PM)
I'll go out on a limb and predict three or four points for the Pioneers this weekend. I love their depth.
Tim (Boston, MA)
Vermont comes into Hockey East next year. They look great right now, but what should the Catamounts expect against the eastern powerhouse?
Nate Ewell (1:54 PM)
Good question. I think the improvement in the ECACHL this year by teams like Harvard and Cornell has helped prepare them well. It won't be such a big jump, but a top-four finish -- especially since Scott Mifsud graduates -- may be too much to ask.
Nate Ewell (1:54 PM)
Speaking of Mifsud, he's also chatting with us here tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.
Why can't the Badgers score goals? They have as much talent and depth as anyone, but only seem to put up 4 or 5 once every three weekends. Do they play a really defensive system?
Mike Eidelbes (1:57 PM)
They don't play a defensive system, per se, but I know Mike Eaves places a lot of emphasis on the defensive responsibilities of his forwards. For example, Robbie Earl isn't known for his defensive prowess, but Eaves won't hesistate to keep a guy like that on the bench in key situations if he feels he's a liability.
Mike (philadelphia, pa
Guys, with the NHL lockout looking like it may never end, wouldn't this be a great time for college hockey to try and market the game on a more national level?
Nate Ewell (1:59 PM)
Absolutely. And things like this chat are a great opportunity to expose the game. If you're new to it, check out our Intro to College Hockey on insidecollegehockey.com. In ways, the sport hasn't done enough to capitalize this year, but the best time of year -- the playoffs -- is ahead of us. Hopefully it will grab more attention.
Ben (Ithaca, NY)
I know Cornell will likely be a #1 seed come tourney time, but what are their chances of actually winning the Frozen Four? It seems that they can dominate inferior opponents, but teams that play like teams give the Big Red fits.
Mike Eidelbes (2:02 PM)
Cornell reminds me a lot of the Michigan State team that made it to the Frozen Four in 2001. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I think they've certainly got a chance to win it all, but they've got to dictate the flow of the game and, moreso than any other team, they've got to avoid letting their opponent jump out to an early lead.
Mike Eidelbes (2:03 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions. If you didn't see yours make the cut, no worries...check insidecollegehockey.com later today. We'll answer some of the questions we didn't get to in INCH Overtime.