Archive for the 'Regular Season' Category

Season Officially Opens

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Tomorrow marks the official opening of the 2006-2007 NCAA hockey season. I’ll be heading up to my alma mater, Clarkson University, this weekend. I’ll get a chance to watch the Golden Knights take on Niagara on Friday, and then face RIT in Clarkson’s 2000th game all-time, so I’m extremely fortunate to be able to immediately immerse myself in some sweet, sweet college hockey. Plus it’ll be very cool to be the audience for a unique milestone that few programs have reached.

There’s some great hockey going on around the country on opening weekend. The IceBreaker Invitational looks like it it will have it all with Miami, Vermont, Colgate and Denver going at it. In addition Miami will dedicate Steve Cady Arena, which has been receiving great reviews.

In addition, the Hockey Hall of Fame game which will pit Minnesota and Maine against each other. For some reason the Quinnipiac v. North Dakota series is coming across to me as pretty intriguing. Plus we’ll see if RIT can lift a game from St. Lawrence again.

The staff has been busy making sure the television schedule is updated, with five games, including the IceBreaker and Hockey Hall of Fame game, all showing up on nationally available outlets. If you can’t get out to the arena, get comfortable, take over the television or set the Tivo.

It’s go time.

Friday, September 29th, 2006

The puck drops on the 2006-2007 hockey season, albeit unofficially, this evening as the Alaska-We Were Here First Nanooks will face the U-18 Development Team in Anchorage, as eight teams will face exhibition opponents this weekend. In addition, a solid array of Women’s Hockey takes place tonight, if you’re in the area of any of these games, this is a great weekend to check out the sport and whet your appetite for the rest of hockey season.

CHN released their All-American team this year, with commentary from Dave Starman. I have no beef with the selections in general, but I’m hoping Brett will be able to spice it up soon with his All-Cliche team which will hopefully be inspired by about six consecutive viewings of Slap Shot.

The staff also got the New Season Primer up which highlights what has happened over the summer, and what we can expect for the upcoming season both on the ice and on CHN.

It looks like North Dakota might go off and sue the NCAA over the Fighting Sioux name and imagery. Despite that fact that several other college teams have been granted waivers to retain the use of their team names, UND has not received the same waiver. A letter shot off in June to the NCAA appeared to have beat down the NCAA’s argument rom every possible angle, but still no love for UND. I tried really hard not to use any puns this paragraph.

Enjoy the hockey!

The Men in Stripes

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

hockey_referee.gifWith hockey season just a few days away, it’s apparent that officiating is not just on the minds of bitter fans who felt they were robbed last season, but also on the minds of coaches who must constantly adjust to not only the new rule changes, but also the way that the referees will interpret them.

I spoke with St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh last week who is entering his 21st season being the Saints bench about the upcoming season. One of the factors he named regarding how well his team will do this year is how well the coaching staff and his players can adjust to the way the game is called. Anyone that is familiar enough with college hockey, knows if it’s on someone like Coach Marsh’s mind, it’s probably on every coach’s mind.

While the only major rule change this year involves the nullification of icing on a playable pass, Coaches and players are still struggling with the referee’s interpretations of hitting from behind and obstruction-interference rules added over the past season. One game’s obstruction interference is the next game’s great defensive play.

This year, the hitting from behind penalty has been clarified, only allowing a minor to be given if the infraction is in “open ice.” It remains a major penalty along with a DQ or misconduct otherwise. The rules involving obstruction remain the same, meant to get rid of the “clutch and grab” of old, while moving hockey towards a fast and flowing style of game, reminscent of the “New NHL.”

We’ll likely be shaking our heads when our favorite player is sent off when a player turns his back at the last second, or a slight push on the back is embellished, but hopefully this will be less so if the officials call these penalties on a consistent basis.

In many cases last year a prat-fall near the boards or a forward raising his hand around a defenseman with one hand on his stick meant a trip to the box. Calling these penalties has effectively discouraged dangerous actions such as boarding, but has also increased the level of dramatic performances on the ice to an extent that De Niro would be proud.

The Rules Committee took note on this increase in embellishment and is requesting officials to penalize more often for tactics such as diving, and we’re starting to see more being called. But until referees can really get to the bottom of diving and nail people (how many diving penalties have you seen in the past two years?) this will remain a game of cat and mouse with the refs. The problem is, referees must err on the side of caution, and that always means erring on the side of the player that appeared to get hit. Until the refs can get a hold of the diving issue or are provided with stronger tools such as suspensions to deter it after the fact (see the “New NHL”) we’ll be seeing a lot of frustration and a lot of adjusting throughout the season.

How do you think the officials will pan out this season in your conference and how well do you think your team will be able to adjust to way officials call the game?

Top 11 Games of the First Half

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Mark your calendars and set your TiVo’s for the most intriguing match ups of the first half of the 2006-2007 season.

October 6th – Maine vs. Minnesota – “Hall of Fame Game”
The first game in the post-Kessel era, Minnesota will face a tough test from Ben Bishop and the sting Maine defense.

October 6th – Denver vs. Miami – “Ice Breaker”
Denver looks to get back into the NCAA tournament, Miami looks to repeat a stellar 2005-2006 season. This game will have repercussions come March.

October 13th – North Dakota @ Wisconsin

In the WCHA opener two powerhouses look to recover from off season departures.

October 13th – Nebraska-Omaha vs. Colorado College – “Nye Frontier Classic”

Colorado is looking to prove that they should remain in the class of WCHA elite. UNO is on the cusp of becoming a power in the CCHA a win here for the Mavericks would go a long way come selection time.

October 20th & 21st – RPI @ Denver

Seth Appert comes home and will see where his RPI team stands against the best of the college hockey world.

October 20th – Bentley @ Air Force
No this is not a joke, Air Force begins it’s Atlantic Hockey season at home against a Bentley team that almost spoiled many teams off season last year.

October 27th – Boston College @ Wisconsin
A rematch of last year’s national championship game. This game has been circled on Chestnut Hill for a long time.

November 17th – Clarkson @ St. Cloud State
Both teams are projected to climb out of recent slumps this season and this match up will provide a good barometer to where each team stands heading into the second half of the season.

November 25th – Michigan @ Minnesota – “College Hockey Showcase”
After the turkey and the football, tune into what could be a preview of the Midwest Regional final, and what always is a great match up.

December 1st – Boston University @ Boston College
Last season these teams met an unprecedented six times, this is the first of three scheduled meetings this year.

December 29th – Michigan State vs. Harvard – “Great Lakes Invitational”
Harvard is looking to reach the NCAA for a sixth straight year, Michigan State is looking to rebound in the CCHA. Another match up which will weigh heavy during selection time.