Hobey Tracker: Week of INCH 2018

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Anytime we do something that involves rankings or putting things into various categories, there’s typically some behind-the-scenes haggling that takes place before we reach a consensus.

Not so with this edition of the Hobey Tracker.

We can’t put a finger on why or how it happened, but this list came together in less than five minutes with an email and one reply. Rather than look deeper into the reasons, we’re just going to pencil in the birdie on our scorecard and move on to the next hole.

There’s a better than average chance you have suggestions for us, some of which may even relate to the Hobey Tracker. Hit us up at @inch or @INCH_Gladdy with your thoughts. Or send questions for the INCH Podcast, which will record Thursday, Feb. 1. We appreciate the honesty; you can’t pour sand into our wounds.

BIG BOARD

1. Henrik Borgstrom (Denver): Could the Pioneers have the first back-to-back Hobey winners since Maine’s Scott Pellerin and Paul Kariya won in 1992 and 1993? With 16-20—36 in 25 games, Borgstrom is poised to surpass the stellar offensive totals he posted as a freshman. And while he hasn’t had the highlight-reel goals that grabbed our attention last season, he’s scored in bunches. He opened the year by scoring 22 points in his first 11 games and had an eight-game scoring streak end at North Dakota last Saturday.

2. Adam Gaudette (Northeastern): When it comes down to close calls on the Hobey Tracker, INCH has always given the edge to the goal-scorers. So it is with this dynamic Northeastern top line and Adam Gaudette’s prolific stat line that includes 19 goals, 20 assists and a nation’s-best 39 overall points at the time of publication. That gives him a slight edge over teammate Dylan SIkura for now, but it’s a really close call. Both figure to be among the Hobey top-10 finalists in March. Will voters split some of the attention from the duo when Hobey ballots are cast?

3. Tanner Laczynski (Ohio State): As we said earlier this week, we don’t pay enough attention to Laczynski. The sophomore forward has been the definition of consistency for a very good Buckeyes team—after being shut out in OSU’s first four games, Laczynski has at least one point in 20 of the team’s last 22 games with scoring streaks of four, six, and 10 games. If you place a premium on even-strength scoring, Laczynski’s your man. He’s second in the nation in that category with 9-16—25.

BULL MARKET

C.J. Suess (Minnesota State): The leading scorer for the nation’s seventh-ranked team, Suess should be a lock to be one of the 10 Hobey finalists. The erstwhile C.J. Franklin changed his last name last summer as a tribute to his mom. Now he’s capping a terrific four-year career in Mankato by matching his single-season bests in goals and points, and is two assists shy of equaling his previous high in that category. Tying Suess’ offensive prowess to the Mavs’ success may be an oversimplification, but the numbers don’t lie. MSU Mankato is 18-2-0 when he scores a point and 1-5-0 when he doesn’t.

BEAR MARKET

Ryan Donato (Harvard): Look, Ryan Donato is one of the very best players in college hockey and he’ll probably be in the top-10 finalists later this year. We considered him for the Big Board and would have ranked him there, but for one thing. Of course, it’s nothing to do with college hockey and more to do with an incredible opportunity. Donato will soon join the roster of the United States men’s hockey team at the Olympics which means he’ll miss at least a few weeks for the Harvard Crimson, where he has 20 goals and 29 points in 21 games. To win college hockey’s highest individual honor, you’ve got to be playing college hockey. Best of luck to Donato in PyeongChang and enjoy the incredible opportunity. While you’re there, tell old INCH favorite and Harvard man Noah Welch we said what’s up.

HIDDEN HOBEY

Sheldon Rempal (Clarkson): The revelation team of the first several months of the college hockey season was the Clarkson Golden Knights and most of the individual attention went to goaltender Jake Kielly and his five first-semester shutouts. We’ve got our eyes on Rempal, the leading scorer on the nation’s breakout team. The sophomore forward from Calgary ranks in the top-20 in the country in points and has 18 goals. He was a prolific scorer for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL in his final year of junior when he played on a line with current Tech linemate Devin Brosseau, who has 25 points for the Golden Knights.

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Found On A Cocktail Napkin: Week of INCH 2018

It was near the end of the 2008-09 season when then-St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh made a famous declaration. Following a 2-2 overtime tie and subsequent shootout “win” over Princeton in the third-place game of the ECAC Hockey Tournament, Marsh told assembled media in Albany, N.Y. that a center-ice game of canasta between himself and then-Princeton coach Guy Gadowsky would have been just as meaningful as the shootout.

In the eight-plus seasons since then a lot has changed in college hockey. Leagues have emerged, some others have contracted or vanished. And now there are three different ways that tie games are resolved among different conferences in league play. Compound that with additional formats for some in-season and postseason tournaments and it gets pretty messy.

Discussions will take place this summer toward moving to a consistent, nationwide overtime and potential shootout format across college hockey. With a nod to Joe Marsh, we present Nine Suggestions For College Hockey’s Overtime Format, Found On A Cocktail Napkin.

INCH Found on a Cocktail Napkin

  • Assistant coaches take to their cell phones. First to flip a verbal commit from the other team wins.
  • Euchre (this submission postmarked from Houghton).
  • Officials engage in lengthy review to determine which regulation goal was closest to being offside, then subtract it from that team’s total.
  • Coaches bid on a retail product. The one closest to the product’s actual price without overbidding wins.
  • Put your right wing in, put your right wing out. Do the Hokey Pokey and shake it all about.
  • Game ends in a tie, players for both teams get participant ribbons.
  • Team with free live stream of home games wins vs. team that charges, which wins vs. team with no stream. Quality of camerawork is the tiebreaker between teams with the same approach.
  • Each team’s radio announcer gets three pucks delivered to the press box for a high-stakes duel in chuck-a-puck.
  • Two words: Goalie fight.

INCH First Shift: Week of INCH 2018

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

ANTHONY ANGELLO
CORNELL
Jr. | F | Manlius, N.Y.

© 2017 Dave BurbankTalk to most Cornell fans and they’ll say without hesitation that games against Harvard are the most important on the schedule. The entirety of the season is of greater concern within the program. Friday’s 3-0 win at Harvard was meaningful from a rivalry standpoint, but moreso because it was a matchup of teams that carried nation-leading eight-game unbeaten streaks.

Junior forward Anthony Angello scored all three goals for the Big Red (including this beauty) to continue his recent torrid scoring pace. Angello added Cornell’s second goal, the eventual game-winner, in Saturday’s win at Dartmouth.

He has 10 goals in his last 10 games, Cornell is 9-0-1 in that span, has moved into first place in ECAC Hockey, and on Monday the Big Red moved atop the national polls.

STICK SALUTE

North Dakota could easily lure a non-conference opponent to Grand Forks for a weekend, throw open the doors at the rink, sell 11,000 tickets, and count their money like Scrooge McDuck while the Fighting Hawks pound their hapless foe. So we’re pleased to see a power program take a step outside of their comfort zone and schedule a trip to Buffalo next season to face Canisius.

This isn’t the first time  North Dakota has ventured on the less-traveled path — they’ve been to Alaska Fairbanks, Union, and Vermont in recent years. Buffalo is a terrific hockey town, and Canisius has a beautiful new rink that’ll likely be packed to the rafters for the Golden Griffins’ most-anticipated home series in quite some time.

For the 2017-18 season NCHC teams played 83 non-conference games, and 34 were road games. NCHC teams were 16-11-7 in those 34.  Team-by-team non-conference games (road games/total games): Colorado College 5/10, Denver 4/10, Miami 4/10, Minnesota Duluth 5/12, Omaha 4/10, North Dakota 5/12, St. Cloud State 4/9, Western Michigan 3/10.

BENCH MINOR

First off, stick tap to former North Dakota star Brock Boeser who dominated the NHL All-Star Weekend according to reports we read. Read, because we didn’t watch the coverage. Longtime readers will know that we prefer our hockey the traditional way, so gimmicked-up all-star games aren’t really our thing. When we flipped over to NBC on Sunday afternoon and the first thing we saw was a video review for offsides on a goal in the all-star game(s) … we immediately turned the channel back to the golf tournament playoff.

As a friend wisely observed, “That league can’t get out of its own way.”

SAY WHAT?

“Three legs, blind in one eye, missing right ear, tail broken, recently castrated … answers to the name ‘Lucky.'”

That was the text on signs posted around Lawson Ice Arena by Western Michigan coach Andy Murray. No, he didn’t really lose a pet. He was sending a subtle message to his Broncos: we’re hobbled by injuries to high-scoring forwards Wade Allison and Colt Conrad, among others, but there’s no time for excuses.

“I’m pretty lucky, and I can tell you that dog, if you were his owner and called his name, he’d come over to you and be pretty happy,” Murray told the Kalamazoo Gazette’s Patrick Nothaft. “You get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and realize how lucky you are to be doing what you’re doing, so we’ll never make excuses, complain about injuries or whatever.”

RANKINGS OUTRAGE

We don’t pay a whole lot of attention to national polls. Sure, we’ll take a cursory glance when the rankings hit our social media feeds on Monday afternoons, and we did weekly Power Rankings back in the day mainly because people like numbered lists.

That said, we do like to hold voters accountable. Like, who’s voting for Maine? The Black Bears are just outside this week’s USCHO Top-20 with 44 points. Yes, they’re in the midst of their best season since 2011-12. But while their 14-9-4 record looks good from afar, zoom in and you’ll see their best wins are against meh-plus Boston University and UMass Lowell. Feel free to peel back a layer or two of that onion before casting your ballot.

TWEET O’ THE WEEK

As long-time fans of Rensselaer’s Puckman mascot, we were disappointed when the school relegated him to a lower profile about a decade ago. Imagine our glee, then, when we saw the plucky puck on the front of the Engineers’ sweaters for Saturday’s Mayor’s Cup tilt against rival Union. Unfortunately, Puckman’s presence didn’t spur RPI to victory — the Dutchmen jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 4-3 win.

Suggestions? Feedback? Comments? Check in on Twitter at @INCH and @INCH_Gladdy.

INCH Power Rankings: Week of INCH 2018

action_nd_morrisIt’s the third year in a row we’ve dusted off the modems and dialed back in for Week of INCH. The 2018 Week of INCH starts with the INCH Power Rankings. We get the privilege of dropping in and starting our rankings from scratch with plenty of data points established throughout the year. Here’s how we see things stacking up.

Thoughts, objections, agreements? Hit us on Twitter at @INCH (Mike Eidelbes) and @INCH_Gladdy (Joe Gladziszewski).

1. NOTRE DAME
20-5-1 (14-2-0-0 B1G) LAST WEEK: L at Minnesota, 1-0 ot; W at Minnesota 4-1. THIS WEEK: at Penn State, at Penn State

The recently concluded 16-game winning streak was pretty impressive. So, too, was a 10-game road win streak that ended with a 1-0 overtime loss at Minnesota last Friday. And goalie Cale Morris (pictured above) can play a little bit, too.

2. CORNELL
18-2-1 (12-1-1 ECAC Hockey) LAST WEEK: W at Harvard, 3-0; W at Dartmouth, 3-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Union, vs. Rensselaer

Resist the urge to see 30 goals against in 21 games and say, “Same ‘ol Cornell.” The Big Red are ninth in the nation in scoring despite not having a single player averaging a point per game.

3. OHIO STATE
17-5-4 (10-5-1-0 B1G) LAST WEEK: W vs. Michigan, 4-0; W vs. Michigan, 5-3. THIS WEEK: vs. Michigan State, vs. Michigan State

Note to self: Pay more attention to Tanner Laczynski. The Buckeyes are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games; Laczynski, their leading scorer, has six goals and 10 assists during that span. Additional note to self: Learn how to spell “Laczynski” without looking.

4. DENVER
14-6-6 (8-4-4 3/0 NCHA) LAST WEEK: T at North Dakota, 3-3 ot; T at North Dakota, 1-1 ot. THIS WEEK: vs. Minnesota Duluth, vs. Minnesota Duluth

Is there a post-national championship hangover? If there is, it’s not affecting Henrik Borgstrom (16 goals and 20 assists in 23 games). If there is and it is affecting him, we should all be so lucky to be that productive when hungover.

5. CLARKSON
19-4-3 (11-1-2 ECAC Hockey) LAST WEEK: W vs. Yale, 4-1; T vs. Brown, 2-2 ot. THIS WEEK: at Quinnipiac, at Princeton

The Golden Knights are the biggest surprise of this season. A 14-game mid-season winning streak got most of the attention, but Clarkson took off right away with wins over Penn State, Michigan, Western Michigan, Providence, and Union before the first Sunday in November.

6. MINNESOTA STATE
19-7-0 (15-5-0 0/0 WCHA) LAST WEEK: W vs. Minnesota Duluth, 1-0; W vs. U.S. Under-18s, 5-3 (Ex.). THIS WEEK: vs. Alaska Anchorage, vs. Alaska Anchorage

It’s not fair to pin personal production to team success, but it makes for an interesting rankings blurb. The Mavericks are 18-2-0 when leading scorer C.J. Suess scores at least one point and 1-5-0 when he’s blanked.

7. PROVIDENCE
17-8-3 (10-5-3 Hockey East) LAST WEEK: T at Northeastern, 4-4 ot; W vs. Northeastern, 2-1 ot. THIS WEEK: at Vermont, at Vermont

Currently third in Hockey East, we feel bullish on this Providence team that is 7-1-2 in its last 10 games. Erik Foley has 13 goals and Brian Pinho, Josh Wilkins, and Kasper Bjorkqvist all have 11 goals. Two of its three non-league losses came to Clarkson.

8. ST CLOUD STATE
15-6-3 (9-4-1 0/0 NCHA) LAST WEEK: L at Minnesota Duluth, 5-1; W at Minnesota Duluth 2-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Omaha, vs. Omaha

The Huskies have just three skaters among the nation’s top 100 point-getters — as a comparison, Denver has three in the top 19 in that category. But SCSU averages about a quarter of a goal per game more than DU thanks in large part to 15 skaters with 10 or more points.

9. NORTHEASTERN
15-7-4 (11-5-2 Hockey East) LAST WEEK: T vs. Providence, 4-4 ot; L at Providence, 2-1 ot. THIS WEEK: vs. New Hampshire

When you’ve got two of the top-four scorers in the country in points-per-game in Dylan Sikura and Adam Gaudette, it’s a good place to start. Frequent linemate Nolan Stevens has 16 goals. But after that, the next-best goal output is seven goals from Grant Jozefek.

10. MINNESOTA DULUTH
14-11-3 (8-8-0 0/0 NCHA) LAST WEEK: W vs. St. Cloud State, 5-1; L vs. St. Cloud State, 2-1. THIS WEEK: at Denver, at Denver

Quick, who’s the nation’s leading scorer among freshman defensemen? NHL first-rounder Cole Makar of UMass? Michigan’s Quinn Hughes, a likely NHL first-rounder in 2018? Nah, it’s the Bulldogs’ Scott Perunovich, with six goals and 18 assists in 26 games.

11. MINNESOTA
16-13-1 (7-10-1-1 B1G) LAST WEEK: W vs. Notre Dame, 1-0 ot; L vs. Notre Dame, 4-1. THIS WEEK: Off

He’s not eligible for national statistical rankings yet; if he were, midseason addition Mat Robson would stand fourth in the nation in goals against average (1.73) and fifth in save percentage (.935).

12. NORTH DAKOTA
12-8-8 (6-6-4 0/2 NCHA) LAST WEEK: T vs. Denver, 3-3 ot; T vs. Denver 1-1 ot. THIS WEEK: Off

Strange to see the Fighting Hawks rank 33rd nationally in scoring offense at 2.86 goals per game, but NoDak has managed to stay afloat thanks to a stout defense led by blueliners Christian Wolanin and Colton Poolman.

13. WISCONSIN
13-12-4 (7-8-3-1 B1G) LAST WEEK: W vs. Penn State, 4-2; T vs. Penn State, 4-4 ot. THIS WEEK: at Michigan, at Michigan

Apropos of a team just barely above the .500 mark, the Badgers haven’t had a winning streak of longer than three games this season, nor have they lost more than three consecutive games in a row.

14. BOSTON COLLEGE
13-10-3 (13-5-0 Hockey East) LAST WEEK: W vs. Massachusetts, 2-1; L at UMass Lowell, 3-2; W vs. UMass Lowell, 5-2. THIS WEEK: at Connecticut

Standings will show Boston College in first place in Hockey East. Not bad. Further examination will show BC with an 0-5-3 record in eight non-conference games in which they were outscored 31-17. The Eagles have a first-round Beanpot matchup against Northeastern next Monday.

15. OMAHA
14-11-1 (7-9-0 0/0 NCHC) LAST WEEK: W vs. Western Michigan, 6-2; W vs. Western Michigan, 7-3. THIS WEEK: at St. Cloud State, at St. Cloud State

More than most others, this team covets a home-ice playoff series. In its last eight home games, Omaha has scored 47 goals. On the other side, Omaha has been shut out in its last three road games.

16. PENN STATE
13-11-4 (6-8-4-2 B1G) LAST WEEK: L at Wisconsin, 4-2; T at Wisconsin, 4-4 ot. THIS WEEK: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Notre Dame

Penn State was the first team this season to reach 100 total goals scored, but their production has slowed down lately. The Nittany Lions have just nine goals in their last five games and are 0-4-1 in that stretch. That skid followed an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3).

17. WESTERN MICHIGAN
13-12-1 (8-8-0 0/0 NCHC) LAST WEEK: L at Omaha, 6-2; L at Omaha, 7-3. THIS WEEK: at Miami, at Miami

The Broncos started the year 9-5-1; they’re 4-8-0 since. With high-scoring forwards Wade Allison and Colt Conrad shelved due to injuries, WMU’s hopes of a second consecutive NCAA Tournament trip appear to be fleeting.

18. BOWLING GREEN
16-8-6 (13-4-5 0/2 WCHA) LAST WEEK: W at Lake Superior State, 5-3; W at Lake Superior State, 3-2. THIS WEEK: vs. Michigan Tech, vs. Michigan Tech

One of the coolest evolving rivalries that has come from conference realignment (to us at least) is the Bowling Green vs. Michigan Tech matchups that have taken on added importance over the last couple of years. MTU won the WCHA title game last year in double-overtime. BG answered this season with a win and tie at Houghton in November and a victory in the GLI title game in Detroit in January. They’ll meet up in Bowling Green this weekend.

19. BEMIDJI STATE
14-8-6 (11-5-4 0/2 NCHA) LAST WEEK: L at Alabama Huntsville, 5-1; W at Alabama Huntsville, 5-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Lake Superior State, vs. Lake Superior State

Senior goaltender Michael Bitzer’s stellar four-year run in goal for the Beavers is drawing to a close. With career numbers of 63 wins, 21 shutouts, a 1.94 goals against average, and a .923 save percentage, you’d be hard pressed to find BSU fans who have quibbles with Bitz.

20. UNION
15-12-1 (10-4-0 ECAC Hockey) LAST WEEK: W vs. Rensselaer, 4-3. THIS WEEK: at Cornell, at Colgate

In debating Union’s viability for this space, we were struck by its current four-game winning streak, a win and tie at North Dakota in late November, and an admitted mulligan theory after a brutal 0-5-0 start to the year. The Dutchmen get a chance to further prove themselves this weekend at Cornell and Colgate.

Bubble-licious – Boston University, Harvard, Michigan, Northern Michigan, UMass Lowell