October 21, 2008

College Hockey Preview

Who am “I”?

Sean has asked me to write a column on college hockey once a week and I have accepted his invitation. My name is Eric Burton and I own the hockey blog Goon's World.

I am an avid fan of the NHL and NCAA hockey. My favorite NHL teams are the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild. On the flip side; I despise the Montreal Canadians and the Detroit Red Wings (I must say that I hate both teams equally).

My favorite college teams are the North Dakota Fighting Sioux and the Bemidji State University Beavers. That being said, I would rather watch hockey than any other sport except for football and will watch what ever hockey game is on the tube all the way to the end of the last game of the Stanley Cup finals. I did enjoy watching the Pens go to the Stanley Cup finals last spring, however, I would have preferred that they had beaten the hated Redwings.

Games to watch this weekend.

Series one: 2-0-0 Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to the Madison to play the 0-4-0 Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers are reeling after losing a couple of high scoring games to the Denver Pioneers 6-5 and 7-4. Minnesota, on the other hand, opened the season with a home and home series against the SCSU Huskies. These games were much closer; both games ended up being one goal games 3-2 and 2-1. Minnesota is lead in net by Alex Kangas 2-0-0 with a goals against average of 1.50 and a .942 save percentage. Wisconsin on the other hand has used two goalies with little success; sophomore Scott Gudmandson has a record of 0-2-0 with a goals against average of 6.03 and a save percentage of .824. Senior goalie Shane Connelly has been equally unimpressive with a record of 0-2-0 goals against average 5.59 and save percentage of .874.

Wisconsin, normally known for its defensive systems, has given up 23 goals in the first 4 games. This in itself is puzzling since the Badgers have three defenseman that were taken in the first round of the NHL draft; Jake Gardiner 2008, Brendan Smith and Ryan McDonagh 2007 and Jamie McBain who was taken in the second round of the 2006 NHL draft. This should not be happening to a defensive corp. that is this talented.

Minnesota on Defense has two impressive new comers in Aaron Ness and Sam Lofquist who will make major contributions for the Gophers this season. Also, much-heralded freshman forward Jordan Schroeder was one of the best players on the ice for the Gophers this past weekend.

Prediction: Minnesota and Wisconsin split this weekend’s series; records mean nothing during the border battle week.

Series two: Miami RedHawks versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This game intrigues me because it should prove to be an early gauge on how good both teams are. The Miami Redhawks lost power forward Ryan Jones to graduation and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff to the NHL. On the other hand, last season the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a mediocre regular season before getting hot in the NCAA playoffs and losing to eventual NCAA champion Boston College.

The Irish started the season off by demolishing Sacred Heart 7-0 and 3-0 before losing to Denver University 5-2. Miami, on the other hand, opened their season tying and losing against the Vermont Catamounts before beating and tying tOhio State University.

Prediction: Win and a tie in favor of Notre Dame.

Goon’s College Hockey Top Ten

1.) Boston College
2.) Colorado College
3.) Boston University
4.) New Hampshire University
5.) Denver University
6.) Michigan
7.) Minnesota
8.) Minnesota State
9.) Northeastern University
10.) Notre Dame
For more from Goon, check out Goon's World.

Ballhype: hype it up!

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