INCH Writers Rankings: The Top Whatever

It’s been a couple weeks since our first rundown of teams we felt deserved to be on this list. Back then, we had 15 on the docket; this time around, it’s 13. You have no idea how refreshing it is to have the ability to draw the line between “pretty good” and “just north of mediocre.” Or as it’s more commonly called, the NFC East.

1. Boston College (10-1-0): The Eagles have won 10 games in a row and 29 of 30 going back to Jan. 27 of last season. During that same period, Johnny Gaudreau has 22 goals and 24 assists. Just putting that out there.
2. New Hampshire (9-1-2): UNH has more players from Maryland and New Jersey (seven) on its roster than New England (six). Some would find that interesting. Count me among the some.
3. Minnesota (9-2-2): Of the six teams that will comprise the Big Ten hockey league next season, the Gophs are the only one with a record better than one game above .500. On the plus side, none of the programs are on probation.
4. Miami (7-2-3): Fourteen RedHawks have scored more than one point this season. All but four of them are freshmen or sophomores, and both of the team’s goalies (who’ve been impressive thus far) are rookies.
5. Denver (9-3-0): Through 12 games this season, the Pios have given up 30 goals—including 14 in the third period and one in OT. Hey, DU, like Blake said in Glengarry Glen Ross, always be closing.
6. Union (8-2-1): Hats off to Penn State goalie Matt Skoff for his work in the Nittany Lions’ two losses to the Dutchmen last weekend. Union launched a total of 88 shots but could muster just six goals, two of which were empty netters. Wait, was this supposed to be about Union?
7. Notre Dame (9-4-0): Coach Jeff Jackson was fined and reprimanded by the CCHA for criticizing the officials following his team’s 2-1 loss to North Dakota Friday. The fine I get, but what is the reprimand? Does someone at the CCHA office write Jackson’s name on a whiteboard?
8. North Dakota (6-4-2): Sure, coaches, fans, and (to a much lesser extent) players get on the officials’ case, but refs can pretty much squash about 98 percent of the arguments they here by saying they either lost sight of the puck or the whistle blew. This is Lethal Weapon 2-level diplomatic immunity, isn’t it?
9. Nebraska Omaha (8-3-1): Did you know Joss Ackland, the actor who said “diplomatic immunity” in Lethal Weapon 2, also played Hans, the skate shop owner in the Mighty Ducks trilogy? The bulk of those movies were shot in Minnesota, which is where the Mavs will be this weekend to face the Gophers. Full circle.
10. Western Michigan (6-3-1): The Broncos are the only team in the country with a plus-.500 record that has been outscored by its opponents. WMU has netted 23 goals and allowed 24 through 10 games.
11. Yale (5-2-1): The Bulldogs are 1-1-0 this season in games in which they have allowed one goal. Yale is also 1-1-0 in contests in which it has given up four or more goals. Not even Nate Silver could predict what will happen next to the Elis.
12. Boston University (7-4-0): I originally had the Terriers below Dartmouth, then noticed BU’s four losses are (in order) at New Hampshire, at North Dakota, and Boston College and UNH at home. That’s three of the country’s top eight teams. Now I’m thinking this spot might be too low.
13. Dartmouth (5-2-2): Keep an eye on this team, because it seems like the Big Green could go in any direction at any time. After reeling off a six-game unbeaten streak to start the season, Dartmouth blew a 4-1 third-period lead in a loss at Colgate, scored with less than a minute left in regulation to salvage a tie at Cornell, and allowed three third-period goals in a 6-3 at Boston College.

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Found on a Cocktail Napkin: The All-Black Friday Team

INCH Found on a Cocktail Napkin

The INCHWriters.com All-Black Friday Team

F-Herb Boxer (Michigan Tech 1967-70)
F-Corey Cash (New Hampshire 1992-95)
F-Chris Line (Clarkson 1998-2002)
D-Tim Friday (Rensselaer 1981-85)
D-Sean Offers (Dartmouth 2003-06)
G-Joe Blackburn (Michigan State 1997-2001)

F-Will Merchant (Maine 2012-present)
F-Fyfe Dollar (Middlebury 1954-56)
F-Bob (Buy One, Get One) Free (Brown 1978-81)
D-Chris (Credit) Carder (Bentley 1992-93)
D-Reid Cashman (Quinnipiac 2003-07)
G-Nathan Shopbell (Michigan State 2000-02)

Gladdy Says: An Introduction And Early-Season Thoughts

As means of introduction, thanks for reading the debut of Gladdy Says, which will be published here at INCH Writers whenever I feel like it. Over the past several years I’ve found myself reading more train-of-thought briefs from writers like Elliotte Friedman, Pat Forde, Buster Olney, Peter King and others. I thought I’d throw some thoughts out there in a similar format.

The distinguishing characteristic about Gladdy Says is that these briefs will be presented in order; ranked by Opponents’ Opponents KRACH Above Replacement. No they won’t, they’re (mostly) about hockey and capturing the spirit of the thing. I do encourage your comments, rebuttals and feedback at the bottom of this post or on Twitter at @INCH_Gladdy.

GLADDY SAYS: NOV. 19, 2012

• I don’t think anyone would’ve been surprised to see that Sacred Heart was the first team in the nation to allow 50 goals on the season, which they’ve done in the first 11 games. The next-highest total goals-against aggregate is 49, which RIT has allowed in 11 games and Alabama-Huntsville has surrendered in 12 games. Next highest after those two? Michigan and Colorado College at 39.

• I didn’t think there would be a point in the entire season where Cornell would be mired in a five-game winless streak (two ties and three losses) nor did I think they’d struggle to score like they have recently. Certainly, an uptick in degree-of-difficulty on the schedule has something to do with that, but the Big Red have been held to one goal in each of their last three games. That might be remedied in the coming weeks with games against Michigan and Clarkson, ranked 55th and 45th nationally in team defense, and a St. Lawrence team that has allowed 16 goals in its last four games.

• My Rams.

• As Mike Eidelbes and I mentioned via our @INCH Twitter account, we didn’t get the entire band back together but he and I were able to gather this past Friday in East Lansing and check out some college hockey games on the good old color television while catching up on some thoughts about the early part of the season. It was a special-engagement duet reunion show. We consider Jeff Howe to be our one-armed drummer. Of course, we also met up with distinguished hockey scribe Neil Koepke and got his takes on some of the teams and players. Good to see those guys as always.

• Of course, one of the games we dialed up was the Friday night contest between North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth. I encourage the readers to take advantage of your opportunities to watch Danny Kristo play hockey. He’s one of the best offensive talents I’ve seen in my years of closely following college hockey. I consider some of Kristo’s attributes as a combination of the players involved in the great Hobey debate of 2008. His anticipation to make plays and to be in the right places on the ice matches Michigan’s Kevin Porter. Kristo’s skill, excitement, and big-game contributions compare favorably to Boston College’s Nathan Gerbe. Even Jess Myers would buy a ticket to watch Kristo play.

• If I had a Hobey vote this year, I would vote at the end of the season. It’s too early to make any claims at this point.

• Stick Salute to Dartmouth for making my preseason projection that they’ll be a breakthrough team look pretty good in the early going, even without a ton of significant contributions from Dustin Walsh.

• Bench Minor to me for not giving Colgate a little more credit. They have relied on depth in scoring and have great team quickness and have accounted for the departures of Austin Smith and Chris Wagner very capably. Of note on the Raiders, head coach Don Vaughan mentioned that he loves the hockey intelligence that this freshman class has brought to the team. Seven freshmen have been lineup regulars for the Raiders this season and freshman goalie Spencer Finney has started to earn more playing time in recent weeks.

• Finally, a sincere thanks to those who sent many kind words about our work at INCH over the years. I consider myself fortunate to have met great people and to continue many of the friendships built while INCH was more prominent, especially within the ECAC Hockey circles. I can still be found at Lynah Rink for most Cornell home games and am looking forward to seeing everyone around the rinks.

INCH Writers Rankings: The Top Whatever

Every Sunday night during the hockey season for 10 years, the INCH staff at rolled out the Power Rankings, our take on the nation’s top 20 (actually, we rated the top 16 teams our first year) and without a doubt the most popular feature of the old site. It’s not as easy as it seems, however. There were weeks we felt only 14 teams deserved to be ranked. Or 17. Some nights we’d get through about a dozen or so teams and declare, “Everyone stinks.”

Now that we’re at INCHWriters.com, we’re not going to rank a fixed number of teams. We’ll just go until we feel no one else deserves to be ranked. It’s a new era, people.

1. Boston College (8-1-0): Jerry York needs four victories to pass Ron Mason and become the winningest coach in college hockey history. If the Eagles can win their next three, York would break the record Dec. 1 at home against Boston University. Nice.
2. Denver (7-1-0): We figured the goaltending would be strong, but the offense has been unreal. Eight games into the season, the Pioneers have 33 goals and 12 different players have scored at least once.
3. New Hampshire (6-1-1): The Wildcats’ roster entered the year with a combined 131 career goals. Through eight games this season, they’ve banded together to score 26 goals.
4. Minnesota (6-2-1): Minnesota is, at worst, the second most-talented team in the nation. But losses to Michigan Tech and Minnesota State are a concern. Improved teams, sure, but if you’re the Gophers, you’ve got to be ready for your opponents’ best shot every night.
5. Miami (6-2-2): There aren’t Vegas odds for college hockey games but if there were, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say the RedHawks would be favored in its next 18 games. Not saying they’ll win them all, but don’t be surprised if they reel off a few wins between now and the beginning of February.
6. Union (6-2-1):
Saturday’s loss to Dartmouth snapped the Dutchmen’s seven-game unbeaten streak. Losing goalie Troy Grosenick, who was hurt in Friday’s win at Harvard, for an extended period of time would be a bigger blow; he’s listed as day-to-day.  
7. Notre Dame (6-3-0):
In our Great 58+1 rankings, we said the Irish would go as far as their goaltending allowed. In eight starts, Steve Summerhays has a 1.64 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
8. Western Michigan (5-2-1):
In its five wins and one tie, the Broncos have given up a total of eight goals. In its two losses? Eight goals allowed. So, yeah, that pretty much sums it up right there.
9. Dartmouth (5-0-1):
Nice start, Big Green, but noting you’re No. 1 in the computer rankings that shall not be mentioned in mid-November? Plenty of room for that next to the Matt Barkley for Heisman website.
10. Colorado College (7-3-0):
Through 10 games, the Tigers have seven players with three or more goals; four players (Andrew Hamburg, Alex Krushelnyski, William Rapuzzi, and Scott Winkler) have combined for 21 of the team’s 36 goals.
11. North Dakota (4-3-1):
Guess it’s been a bit of an uneven start for NoDak, but it seems like they’re still trying to find the right combinations. No need to worry, however.
12. Cornell (3-2-1):
Last weekend wasn’t a great one for the Big Red, who allowed a total of nine goals in losses at Princeton and Quinnipiac. They’ll have to try to right the ship this weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth.
13. Nebraska-Omaha (6-3-1): Touted rookie goalie Anthony Stolarz has taken a back seat to senior John Faulkner, who’s 6-0-1 with a 2.03 GAA and a .915 save percentage in seven starts.
14. St. Cloud State (6-4-0): With Ben Hanowski sidelined due to injury for all but five games—coach Bob Motzko hopes he’ll be back before Christmas—Nic Dowd (6-8—14) and Drew LeBlanc (5-9—14) have picked up the offensive slack.
15. Boston University (5-3-0): According to my reasonably accurate calculations, the Terriers are 82-42-16 all-time at home since moving into Agganis Arena in Jan. 2005. Their record against BC in the new digs? 2-9-1.