If you’re a fan of parity in college hockey, the way this season has started has to warm your heart. While parity itself is typically a good thing, this probably isn’t the year for it.
Yeah, that sounds weird, but it’s true.
College hockey is in a unique position this season, one that it has been in before, but not quite like this. The NHL lockout creates a void in the market for hockey. It’s a void that college hockey is better positioned than any league in the U.S. to fill, with multiple television contracts, a fervent press covering it, and brand recognition in the American sports marketplace.
Despite the seemingly easy-to-fill void, college hockey hasn’t had a lot of headline-worthy moments or games so far this season. There hasn’t been a lot to grab the attention of the starving hockey public.
Outside of the play of Boston College and Denver so far this season, there has been some maddening inconsistency among the top teams in college hockey. The nationally-televised games so far this year have been utterly boring and some of the best games of the year had no TV at all.
Parity becomes a problem when it is born out of underachieving teams and poor execution on the part of some of the nation’s best players. That’s when parity is fairly uninteresting to the casual hockey fan who has no basis for being a college hockey fan outside of wanting to see good hockey.
This is a year where the best teams have to be very good. Where the best players, particularly NHL prospects with a built-in following, have to be the best players. Where the big-name schools have to be competitive.
This, however, is the nature of sport. This is the nature of college hockey. You can’t expect everything to go according to plan. There really isn’t a plan to begin with.
College coaches and players have games to win. They have an obligation to their schools and the fans that are already paying customers to win hockey games. It just isn’t translating to overly compelling hockey to start the year.
As we get into the bulk of the television schedule for the season, there is reason for optimism that there are plenty more opportunities for college hockey to start drawing in a new audience, which only helps the game long term.
Dartmouth (DARTMOUTH!) is the Nation’s Last Unbeaten
Well, if you had Darmouth as the nation’s last unbeaten team at this point in your local office pool, you’re lying. Your office doesn’t bet on college hockey and you wouldn’t have picked Dartmouth anyway.
The Big Green is rolling, though. After an opening-night tie against Yale, Dartmouth has won five straight. That streak includes knocking off Union, a nationally-ranked opponent and a Frozen Four team from a year ago. So maybe it’s not just a fluky start.
Sophomore Tyler Sikura has 11 points, while junior Eric Robinson has collected seven goals, good for second in the nation.
It also appears that junior netminder Cab Morris is coming into his own in his junior year, after limited playing time his first two seasons. Morris currently has a 3-0-1 record, 1.22 goals-against average and .946 save percentage. At one time, Morris was a top goaltender in the USHL, so this is hardly a surprise, but his play has raised Darmouth’s expectations.
The media picked the Big Green to finish 10th in the ECAC, but knocking off conference powers like Yale and Union on the young season might have some of those scribes deep-frying their crow.
Dartmouth has a humongous road test this weekend with games at Colgate and Cornell, so we’ll see just how for real this team might be. There’s certainly a good amount of skill on this squad and if Morris can continue his stellar play, look out.
The Best Player in College Hockey
There is a very sound argument that can be made that the nation’s best player right now is Boston College sophomore Johnny Gaudreau. As far as I’m concerned, he’s certainly the most exciting and the numbers are backing it up.
Boston College has played nine games this year. Gaudreau has had a point in all of them. He’s scored seven goals, five of them are of the game-winning variety. Sure, game-winning goals is a lame stat, but to have five in the first nine games is something else.
BC has yet to blow anyone out this season, and each of Gaudreau’s seven goals have factored into games in a meaningful way.
On top of that, Gaudreau’s playmaking ability is making his linemates better. Along with Pat Mullane and Steven Whitney, Gaudreau’s line might be the best in college hockey. The trio has combined for half of BC’s 30 goals this year and gives Jerry York a line that he can put on the ice in any situation.
Gaudreau is a dominant player at 5-7, 150. He does it with above average skating, elite puck skills and high-end hockey sense. There’s an offensive know-how Gaudreau has that you just don’t see come around too often, particularly among American-born players.
The folks over at BC Interruption that started the Gaudreaubey Baker campaign might be on to something. It’s early yet, but the way Gaudreau is playing, there’s no reason to think he can’t win the Hobey as a sophomore.
His offensive creativity and nose for the net give him the tools that could make him one of the elite players in college hockey history. How’s that for hyperbolic?
BC Lands Top Recruit, Cornell Loses One
Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Ian McCoshen is a potential first-round talent for the upcoming NHL Draft, and up until last week, he was the top uncommitted player in the country. He’s been sought after by many a major program. Earlier this summer it was believed McCoshen had narrowed down his choices to North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Nebraska Omaha.
Late Thursday night I got a message from a source close to McCoshen, who revealed that the 6-3, 207-pound blueliner had chosen Boston College as his destination for next season.
The news came as a surprise as BC was not among the teams believed to be in the hunt, and since the Eagles already had a pair of high-end D prospects committed for next season in Steven Santini and Scott Savage, both out of the National Team Development Program, as well as Chicago Steel Dman Sam Piazza, it didn’t seem like they had a need.
However every team in the country could have a need for a player of McCoshen’s stature.
Waterloo’s big defenseman has good offensive tools, but has proven to be a high-end defender, who can play the physical game and has good awareness in all zones. He obviously has pro size and there’s also a steadiness to his game which has brought him a lot of praise.
Obviously, getting McCoshen only strengthens an already elite recruiting class that also includes forwards Ryan Fitzgerald, Adam Gilmour and Austin Cangelosi.
It was also a tad surprising as an OHL source had indicated that McCoshen was seriously considering the OHL route. His rights are held by the Saginaw Spirit.
According to the source close to McCoshen, the defenseman had never considered the OHL as an option.
This is another huge get for Boston College, which obviously doesn’t need a ton of help as the No. 1 team in the land. With Florida first-rounder Michael Matheson likely to be back for his sophomore season, the Eagles will possess a young, but elite D corps next year.
In other news, Cornell lost a prized recruit as Michael McCarron revealed he has committed to Western Michigan University on Twitter Sunday. McCarron was slated to join the Big Red next season, but multiple sources have indicated that the 6-5 forward was unable to clear admissions at the Ivy League school — not an uncommon problem for the Ivies.
McCarron was initially committed to Michigan State, prior to giving Cornell a verbal. The current U.S. National Under-18 Team forward’s brother John plays at Cornell and it was believed that was a major reason for pulling his commitment from Michigan State.
So, while the optics aren’t great to have three commitments in the span of two years, there were certainly some unique circumstances attached.
It should also be noted that the London Knights traded for McCarron’s rights last season and are believed to be planning a push for the big forward’s services this off-season.
Assuming he sticks with his commitment to WMU, the Broncos are getting a high-upside player that brings a physical presence and unusual touch for a player his size. There has been a lot more NHL Draft buzz about McCarron this season as he continues to show improved skating and his immense 6-5, 228 frame makes him an attractive pro prospect.
This week’s video comes to us via the Thank You Terry Blog. Air Force head coach Frank Serratore is known for many things, including his ability to get the most out of his players and his passion.
Air Force defeated Penn State 5-1 Friday night, but Serratore wasn’t too happy with his team’s play in that 5-1 win. He shared that displeasure in his post-game presser, and it was 11-plus minutes of wow:
Also, it appears Serratore is clairvoyant. At the 37 second mark he says, “If we play that way tomorrow, that score, I’ll guarantee you is going to be turned around.” Air Force lost to Penn State Saturday night by a score of? 5-1.