INCH Podcast: 2017 Frozen Four Preview

INCH PodcastIt’s time for the INCH Podcast to take a look ahead to the 2017 Frozen Four. Mike Eidelbes and Joe Gladziszewski started with a look back at how things went at the NCAA Tournament regionals and what it’s going to take for Denver, Notre Dame, Minnesota Duluth, and Harvard to have success at the Frozen Four in Chicago.

Send us your predictions for the Frozen Four MVP by commenting here, or via Twitter at @INCH and @INCH_Gladdy.

Of course, some Hobey Baker Award chatter is sprinkled in, we make predictions for the national championship, and there’s the proper amount of Podcast Deterioration to wrap things up. Enjoy the listen, and enjoy the Frozen Four. We’ll check in with another INCH Podcast next week.

INCH Podcast – 2017 Frozen Four Preview (1 hr, 10 min; 33.5 MB, .mp3)

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INCH Podcast: Selection Sunday

INCH PodcastAn Inside College Hockey tradition continues with the annual Selection Sunday edition of the INCH Podcast. Mike Eidelbes, Nate Ewell, Kevin Zeise, and Joe Gladziszewski chatted about each of the four NCAA Tournament regionals and made predictions on which teams will advance to the Frozen Four.

INCH Podcast – Selection Sunday 2017 (1 hr, 24 min; 39.4 MB, .mp3)

Found on a Cocktail Napkin

Every sports-related website makes predictions. People love ’em. And when Inside College Hockey was up and running on both cylinders, we made predictions, too. As we prepared for the second annual Week of INCH, we pored through the archives to see how accurate we were with our predictions. Turns out, we were surprisingly good. Just take a look …

INCH Found on a Cocktail Napkin

TEN INCH PREDICTIONS FROM THE PAST THAT CAME TRUE

  • An average-sized defenseman from Florida will lead Union to a national title.
  • Penn State will show it’s for real when their Russian kid gets a hat trick against Arizona State.
  • The road to the MacNaughton Cup will go through Bemidji.
  • Mark Morris will be back in college hockey … coaching St. Lawrence.
  • This Michigan-Michigan State series will go along way in determining who finishes last in the Big Ten.
  • North Dakota will never get over the hump with Dave Hakstol behind the bench.
  • It will make complete sense for UMass, Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence, and Vermont to play in Belfast.
  • Jerry York will wear an eye patch.
  • There will be so many games on TV you won’t be able to choose which one to watch.
  • You’ll miss Inside College Hockey when it’s gone.

Hobey Tracker: Week of INCH 2017

hobeytracker

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is presented to a deserving recipient on the day before the last college hockey game of the season. But that doesn’t mean that college hockey fans, players and media members don’t think about it all season. Inside College Hockey’s Hobey Tracker looks at the top three candidates for the award, those whose stock is rising or falling, and other players worthy of consideration.

BIG BOARD

1. Mike Vecchione
Union | Senior | Forward
To Date: 24 GP, 18-23—41, 4 PPG, 3 SHG, 4 GWG, +24 rating

The dilemma here is separating Vecchione’s achievements from those of high-scoring linemates Spencer Foo and Sebastian Vidmar. A few factors help Vecchione in this regard. First, he’s no stranger to voters, who’ve known about him since he helped Union win the 2014 NCAA title. Second, he produces not only in quantity—he’s tied for the NCAA lead in points and second in goals—but also quality. No one in the country has more non-power play goals (14, including an NCAA-best three short-handed goals) or points (28). Finally, he’s got a well-rounded resume—Union’s captain ranks fourth nationally with a 62.2% winning percentage at the faceoff dot and only one player in the country has won more draws.

2. Neal Pionk
Minnesota Duluth | Sophomore | Defenseman
To Date: 24 GP, 5-13—18, 3 PPG, +16 rating

Including Pionk is like putting a deep cut on a greatest hits album, but he’s earned the right to be on this list. The Bulldogs boast exceptional balance and have been the nation’s most consistent team since the season started. In our view, Pionk is their best player and catalyst. Does he have gaudy numbers? No, but they’re solid. He helped propel UMD to a terrific start against a tough opening schedule with 4-6—10 in his first eight games. And while the merits of plus-minus rating have been debated, it’s worth noting Pionk has been a minus player in only three games—the Bulldogs lost by one goal in each of them.

3. Justin Kloos
Minnesota | Senior | Forward
To Date: 22 GP, 11-16—27, 3 PPG, 3 SHG, 4 GWG, +2 rating

We’ll do a deeper dive into the Gophers as part of the INCH Podcast later this week (preview: we like where this team is headed) and Kloos has led Minnesota’s recent charge to the top of the Big Ten standings and a climb in the national polls. The Gophers are 9-3-0 in their last 12 games and Kloos has 8-12—20 during that span, but he’s more than just a scorer. A terrific penalty-killer (like Vecchione, Kloos has three short-handed goals to date) and an adequate faceoff man, he’s always going to be on the ice in key situations for the Gophers. Kloos is a player you may not appreciate enough when you have him, but you miss him like crazy when you don’t.

BULL MARKET

We won’t identify a specific player here, but rather a trend that’s worth mentioning. Over the history of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, recipients were most often seniors. And specifically four-year players that built their names and notoriety over improving college careers. Then along came a young wave of star players. Johnny Gaudreau won as a junior. Jack Eichel won as a freshman. Michigan freshman Kyle Connor had a strong case last year but the award went to senior Jimmy Vesey. This year’s class of finalists might be senior-laden as well. While they didn’t make this Hobey Tracker’s Big Board, the likes of Zach Aston-Reese (Northeastern), Alex Kerfoot (Harvard), Joe Gambardella (UMass Lowell), and Austin Ortega (Omaha) will get strong consideration from Hobey voters.

BEAR MARKET

Tyler Kelleher | New Hampshire | Senior | Forward

Another senior worth mentioning, Kelleher is among the nation’s leading scorers with 14 goals, 27 assists, and 41 points in 24 games for the Wildcats. The US NTDP product is having his best season as a senior at UNH under head coach Dick Umile. This year’s monster campaign is his third-straight 40-plus point season and backs up a 42-point sophomore season and 46-point junior campaign. All of that points to his deserved-place among Hobey Baker candidates, and if this Week of INCH took place a few weeks earlier, Kelleher likely would have been on our Big Board. But he’s got just one assist over New Hampshire’s last four games, and the Wildcats have a win, loss, and two ties in that stretch.

HIDDEN HOBEY

Jake Oettinger | Boston University | Freshman | Goalie

On a roster loaded with high-profile names and 11 NHL draft picks, Jake Oettinger stepped onto campus and claimed the starting goaltending job at BU. His numbers are staggering. A .938 save percentage and 1.70 goals-against average have allowed Oettinger to build a 13-5-2 record with four shutouts. Notoriety has come with four Hockey East weekly awards. The draft-eligible goalie was one of six Terriers on the gold-medal winning United States team at the World Juniors. While he didn’t start the medal-round games for that team, he’ll certainly be the backbone of Boston University’s Hockey East and NCAA playoff hopes later this spring.

INCH First Shift: Week of INCH 2017

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

RILEY TUFTE
MINNESOTA DULUTH
Fr. | F | Blaine, Minn.

umdchamp1In a college hockey season rife with the kind of parity Roger Goodell dreams about, the Bulldogs have been among the best teams in the country since day one. UMD can solidify its standing in the upper echelon if Tufte continues to flash the skills that prompted the Dallas Stars to take him in the first round of last year’s NHL Draft.

After being held scoreless in his first 20 games — Tufte missed the season’s first two weeks with an injury — he’s scored four goals and two assists in his last six contests, including three goals and an assist in first-place UMD’s sweep at North Dakota this past weekend. The Bulldogs became the first team to sweep the Fighting Hawks in Grand Forks since 2013.

STICK SALUTE

More than 2,700 fans packed West Point’s Tate Rink to watch the latest installment in college hockey’s most unique rivalry as Army hosted Royal Military College of Canada last Saturday. The Black Knights extended their winning streak in the series (which started in 1921) to six straight with a 5-3 win over the Paladins. Freshman forward Dominic Franco scored a pair of goals for Army, which improved its all-time record against RMC to 45-29-7.

BENCH MINOR

A State College, Pa. reporter posted this tweet with a photo of a broom on the ice surface at the Pegula Ice Arena. While it’s unclear whether the action of tossing the broom on the ice was taken by team members, staff, or a boisterous fan, a couple points need to be made. First, we’re all for enthusiasm and celebrating big wins, but that’s probably best left for the dressing room. Second, is it really a sweep when Friday’s game ended in a 3-3 tie, and Ohio State earned a bonus point via shootout? Maybe the team can take some time to “brush” up on its program’s Frozen Four history.

SAY WHAT?

A first-intermission promotion at Yost Ice Arena on Friday night ended up being more of a talking point than Michigan State’s 3-0 win over the Wolverines. When the Wiener Dog Races were announced, it was go time. Instead of, “Ready, set, go!” some of the participants opted for, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” We can’t help but wonder if the dashing dachshunds were making an editorial statement the current standard of play from two legendary programs.

RANKINGS OUTRAGE

Stick tap to all of the voters in national polls. Outrage must be the descriptive word to illustrate their emotions when it’s time to compile their rankings at the end of the week. A revolving door at the top of both national polls, especially in recent weeks, and inconsistency in form from the nation’s top teams make the task especially difficult.

There is an upside to the week-to-week uncertainty. When fans head to their local rinks or tune into television broadcasts or webcasts, they can expect almost anything. It’s setting up for a wide-open conclusion to the year and a heck of a postseason.

TWEET O’ THE WEEK

Literally. It’s the tweet of the Week of INCH. Even though Inside College Hockey ceased regular publication prior to the 2012-13 season, we still closely follow the game we love. We realized last year that these end-of-January weeks are among the worst weeks of the year for sports, and it inspired us.

With that in mind, allow us to get the band back together. For the second year in a row, Week of INCH will include many of our old editorial features. We drop the puck on things with this First Shift. We’ll have a Hobey Tracker and Found On A Cocktail Napkin in the middle of the week and preview the weekend with our Friday Four-cast. Of course, the legendary INCH Podcast will be available for download Friday morning. We’ll wrap things up with the INCH Power Rankings on Sunday night, Jan. 29.

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

There’s some spirit that needs capturing. Thanks for reading.

INCH Podcast: 2016 Frozen Four Recap

INCH PodcastNorth Dakota is a deserving national champion, Tampa is a deserving Frozen Four host city and Jimmy Vesey is a deserving Hobey Baker winner. Those are the themes for the latest edition of the INCH Podcast. Joe Gladziszewski, Mike Eidelbes, Jess Myers, Kevin Zeise, and James V. Dowd have the 2016 Frozen Four recap with more than two hours of discussion on the topics mentioned above and also some NHL chatter ahead of the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. Our apologies for the file size, but take a minute to download and listen or import to your audio devices. It’s worth it.

INCH Podcast – 2016 Frozen Four Recap (2 hr 10 min; .mp3, ~120 MB)

INCH PODCAST: 2016 NCAA Tournament

INCH PodcastIt’s an annual-ish tradition, and we didn’t want to miss out on one of the best times of the year to talk college hockey. Joe Gladziszewski, Mike Eidelbes, Kevin Zeise, and James V. Dowd have the 2016 NCAA Tournament edition of the INCH Podcast. We go region-by-region to discuss the matchups ahead of this weekend’s schedule. We also debate tournament selection criteria, coaching changes, and make predictions of winners at each regional.

INCH Podcast – 2016 NCAA Tournament (1 hr 44 min; .mp3)

INCH Power Rankings: The Top Whatever

When the full-out publication of Inside College Hockey transitioned here to INCHwriters.com, the policy on rankings became biased … against round numbers. Just because one can create a top 15 or top 20 doesn’t mean that many teams are worthy of mention. The end result, therefore, is the INCH Writers Top Whatever Power Rankings. We rank the teams until we feel like no one else deserves to be rated.

Here’s how the Inside College Hockey editors and staff rank the nation’s top teams (along with a note for each team).

1. Quinnipiac (21-1-6, 12-0-4 ECAC Hockey)
LAST WEEK: T vs. Cornell 2-2 ot, W vs. Colgate 6-3. THIS WEEK: at St. Lawrence, at Clarkson

Sam Anas scored twice against Colgate on Saturday and has at least one goal in six straight games. Anas now has 20 goals on the year, the third-straight season that the junior has hit the 20-goal mark.

2. North Dakota (22-3-3, 13-2-1 NCHC)
LAST WEEK: Off. THIS WEEK: at Denver, at Denver

It’s easier to win when playing with a lead: North Dakota has outscored its foes by a 31-14 margin in the first period, including an 18-5 edge in NCHC play.

3. Boston College (19-4-4, 11-1-4 Hockey East)
LAST WEEK: W vs. Harvard 3-2 (Beanpot), W vs. New Hampshire 4-3. THIS WEEK: vs. Boston University (Beanpot Championship), vs. Merrimack, at Merrimack

A belated congratulations from INCH to head coach Jerry York on leading 1,000 career college hockey victories as head coach. The Eagles will play Monday night for their 20th all-time Beanpot championship and sixth in the last five seven years.

4. Providence (19-5-4, 10-3-3 Hockey East)
LAST WEEK: W at Maine 1-0 ot, W at Maine 4-2. THIS WEEK: vs. Connecticut, at Connecticut

After starting the season unbeaten in 15 games, a mid-season slump coincided with star defenseman Jake Walman being out of the lineup. The Friars have won six of their last eight games and Trevor Mingoia has five goals, six assists and a plus-6 rating in that stretch.

5. St. Cloud State (23-6-1, 13-4-1 NCHC)
LAST WEEK: W at Miami 5-1, L at Miami 3-2. THIS WEEK: Off

The Huskies average 4.33 goals per game and they get the production from different sources. Six different players have 10 goals or more on the season. No other team in the country can claim that distinction.

6. Notre Dame (16-5-7, 12-2-2 Hockey East)
LAST WEEK: W at Vermont 2-1, W at Vermont 3-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Maine, vs. Maine

After starting the year with a 5-4-4 mark, the Fighting Irish have gone 11-1-3 in their last 15 games. During that span, junior goalie Cal Peterson has posted a 1.67 GAA and a .946 save percentage.

7. Yale (14-5-4, 9-4-3 ECAC Hockey)
LAST WEEK: W vs. Dartmouth 5-1, W vs. Harvard 2-1. THIS WEEK: at Colgate, at Cornell

After three-straight losses left Yale with a 5-4-2 record in early December, the Bulldogs have gone 9-1-2 since. Goalie Alex Lyon has played all 12 of those games, and allowed just 16 goals (1.31 GAA) with a .949 save percentage and two shutouts.

8. Michigan (17-4-4, 8-2-2 B1G)
LAST WEEK: L vs. Michigan State 3-2 ot (Joe Louis Arena); W at Michigan State 4-1. THIS WEEK: at Wisconsin, at Wisconsin

The Wolverines have scored 49 third-period goals this season. That’s the same number of goals Princeton has scored in 23 games.

9. UMass Lowell (17-6-5, 10-4-4 Hockey East)
LAST WEEK: T vs. Northeastern 2-2 ot, L vs. New Hampshire 3-2. THIS WEEK: at Boston University, vs. Boston University

There’s a big divide between the top-five teams in Hockey East and the rest of the pack. Only four of those leaders will get the first week of the league tournament off. The River Hawks have four league games remaining – home-and-home series with Boston University and Boston College.

10. Denver (13-8-5, 9-5-2 NCHC)
LAST WEEK: Off. THIS WEEK: vs. North Dakota, vs. North Dakota

Chalking up a pair of wins for North Dakota when the Fighting Hawks visit Denver this weekend? Guess again. NoDak hasn’t swept a road series from the Pioneers since Nov. 21-22, 2003. That was so long ago, DU bounced back from those losses by beating Findlay six days later. We’re not making this up.

11. Boston University (16-7-4, 9-4-3 Hockey East)
LAST WEEK: W vs. Northeastern 3-1 (Beanpot), W at Massachusetts 6-3. THIS WEEK: vs. Boston College (Beanpot Championship), vs. UMass Lowell, at UMass Lowell

Hey Cam Newton, now that you’ve got some free time in the offseason, we encourage you to learn about Matt O’Connor – an example of how to conduct yourself with respect and perspective in difficult situations.

12. Harvard (13-6-3, 9-4-3 ECAC Hockey)
LAST WEEK: L vs. Boston College 3-2 (Beanpot), W at Brown 3-2, L at Yale 2-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Northeastern (Beanpot Third Place), vs. Rensselaer, vs. Union

At times this season Harvard has looked like a Frozen Four contender. Digging a little deeper shows five of the Crimson’s six losses are against Quinnipiac, BU, BC and Yale. That big game record is why we slot this team here.

13. Michigan Tech (16-7-5, 13-6-3 WCHA)
LAST WEEK: W vs. Lake Superior State 3-0, W vs. Lake Superior State 3-1. THIS WEEK: Off

Getting swept by visiting Alaska Anchorage in early December was an eye-opener for the Huskies. They’ve gone 7-1-4 since, with the only loss coming to Michigan in the Great Lakes Invitational title game in Detroit.

14. Minnesota State (15-10-5, 13-4-5 WCHA)
LAST WEEK: W vs. Bowling Green 5-1, L vs. Bowling Green 3-1. THIS WEEK: at Alabama-Huntsville, at Alabama-Huntsville

Safe to say the Mavericks are comfortable on home ice, especially in league play. Minnesota State is 10-2-0 against WCHA rivals in Mankato this season and in two-plus years in the revamped conference, the Mavs’ home mark in the circuit is a sparkling 34-4-2.

15. Penn State (17-8-3, 7-5-0 B1G)
LAST WEEK: L at Minnesota 4-1, W at Minnesota 5-3. THIS WEEK: at Michigan State, at Michigan State

The Nittany Lions snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Minnesota Saturday. They’ll have a good chance to build momentum heading into a season-ending series at Michigan. Prior to that Penn State has six games lined up against the bottom three teams in the Big Ten between now and March 11-12.

16. Bowling Green (16-9-6, 12-5-5 WCHA)
LAST WEEK: L at Minnesota State 5-1, W at Minnesota State 3-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Miami

You might want to have flexible postgame plans if you’re heading to a Falcons game. Bowling Green has played nine overtime games this season, seven of them at home.

17. Robert Morris (17-7-4, 14-4-4 Atlantic Hockey)
LAST WEEK: W at Sacred Heart 2-1, W at Sacred Heart 2-1. THIS WEEK: vs. Army West Point, vs. Army West Point

Senior forward Zac Lynch enters the Colonials’ weekend series vs. Army West Point with a nine-game point streak. The Pittsburgh native has at least one point in 26 of RMU’s 28 games to date this season.

Bubble-licious: Cornell, Omaha, Clarkson

INCH Podcast: Reunion Concert

INCH PodcastWe got the band back together! It seems that the popularity of podcasts escalated, you know, as soon as ours went into retirement. But have no fear, we’re back with the INCH Podcast on this Week of INCH. Topics include new teams in college hockey, what’s going on in the Big Ten landscape and some Hobey Baker chatter, including a trivia question starring Scott Pellerin. Of course, it wouldn’t be an INCH Podcast without a little deterioration. Allow us to set the stage for your college hockey weekend.

INCH Podcast – Week of INCH (1 hr 27 min; .mp3)

Friday Four-cast: Week of INCH

Penn State at Minnesota (Fri.-Sat.): As explosive as Michigan has been this season, the Wolverines enter the weekend tied with Minnesota for first place in the Big Ten, six points ahead of third-place Penn State. For all intents and purposes, a Gophers sweep eliminates the Nittany Lions from the regular-season title chase and sets up a huge series in two weeks when Michigan visits Mariucci Arena. In Penn State’s four previous games in Minneapolis, they’ve been outscored by the Gophers by an 18-4 margin.

Bowling Green at Minnesota State (Fri.-Sat.): Two wins for the host Mavericks and Verizon Wireless Center staffers can think about scouting the arena’s rafters for a spot to hoist a second WCHA regular-season championship banner. These teams are trending in opposite directions—first-place Minnesota State is 14-5-5 after starting the season with four losses in as many games; second-place Bowling Green, meanwhile, got off to an 11-3-5 start but has a 4-5-1 mark since Dec. 30.

Dartmouth at Yale (Fri.); Harvard at Yale (Sat.): Quinnipiac has built a cushion atop the ECAC Hockey standings, but these three Ivy rivals are in the national polls and among a tightly-packed group of teams chasing top-four spots in the ECAC Hockey standings. When they played in the first week of November, Yale tied at Harvard and won at Dartmouth. This weekend, Ingalls Rink is the place to be for the biggest games in ECAC Hockey.

Beanpot Tournament (Mon.): It’s Harvard against Northeastern in the third-place game during happy hour, because it’s the second Monday of the Beanpot and that’s how things usually work. The championship game between Boston University and Boston College is the third meeting of the year between these rivals. In mid-January, BC won at home and tied at BU as Eagles defenseman Ian McCoshen had five points (2-3—5) on six BC goals that weekend.