Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Locker Talk

During critical match-ups throughout the season and during post season runs, many teams will print out articles from their rival teams newspapers and post them throughout the locker room. Generally the articles range from homer newspaper stories about how one team is better than the other, to "smack talk" quoted from some of the players, to even USCHO message board posts.

But here's a new one:
The NMU Wildcats will have a newspaper article looking them in the face for the whole season. Why? Thanks to a South Bend Tribune article that pre-ranks the CCHA teams for the 2007-2008 season.

Here is the story, reprinted for the NMU fans to read:
RedHawks may soar in CCHA action

The Central Collegiate Hockey Association preseason coaches and media polls will be released at the CCHA Media Day on Sept. 25. Tribune hockey writer Steve Wozniak offers a look at his ballot in the media poll, with a brief preview of each team.

1. Miami: All eight defensemen return from last year's team, while Hobey Baker finalist Nathan Davis returns with his linemate Ryan Jones to pace the offense. The RedHawks will get solid goaltending for the third straight year from the tandem of Jeff Zatkoff and Charlie Effinger.

2. Notre Dame: The offense will be even stronger, and could be one of the most prolific in the nation. The defense will still be solid. The only thing keeping them out of the top spot now is the big question mark in the crease. If Jordan Pearce or Brad Phillips can succeed, the Irish will hang another banner above their hockey rink.

3. Michigan State: Yes, they're defending national champs and they return their entire core. But the Spartans will be the Spartans, which means a lot of inconsistent play. They'll lose games they shouldn't, win games they shouldn't, and when the postseason begins, there's no telling what they'll do. Just like every season in East Lansing under Rick Comley.

4. Michigan: T.J. Hensick, Jack Johnson, Matt Hunwick and Andrew Cogliano are all gone. It's a rebuilding year in Ann Arbor for coach Red Berenson, which means about 20-25 wins and a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.

5. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are the best of the second tier in the CCHA. In fact, the Buckeyes could be the entire second tier. Joseph Palmer showed hints of stardom in goal last year, and NHL first-round pick C.J. Severyn could develop into Ohio State's biggest star since R.J. Umberger.

6. Nebraska-Omaha: The Mavericks will live or die by the play of sophomore goalie Jeremie Dupont. They'll likely do an equal bit of both.

7. Western Michigan: The Broncos surprised last year, thanks to the play of freshman forward Mark Letestu and frosh goalie Riley Gill. Letestu bolted for the NHL, but Gill returns to anchor what should be a much improved defensive team.

8. Ferris State: The Bulldogs won't score much, but goalies Mitch O'Keefe and Derek MacIntyre won't let their opponents score much either.

9. Lake Superior: Head coach Jim Roque last year said that goalie Jeff Jakaitas was the sole reason for the Lakers' success. Jakaitas is gone, and Lake Superior will have to now depend on an impressive but inexperienced class of incoming freshmen.

10. Northern Michigan: It's a wonder how coach Walt Kyle holds onto his job, after showing almost no success in five seasons with a roster laden with NHL talent. Expect the Wildcats to have an early season exit, and for Kyle to be shopping his résumé around in the spring.

11. Alaska: The Nanooks lost 40 percent of their scoring in forwards Kyle Greentree and Curtis Fraser to graduation. Coach Tavis MacMillan resigned, only to end up coaching high school hockey in Minnesota. What could Alaska possibly have going in its favor? It's not Bowling Green.

12. Bowling Green: First Jonathan Matsumoto, the Falcons' playmaker last year, jumped ship to the NHL. Then highly touted recruit Josh Unice reneged on his commitment, with the goalie instead opting for Canadian juniors. All of which leaves coach Scott Paluch with nothing but 19-goal scorer Derek Whitmore to hang his hat, and his team's chances, on.
Comments Wildcat fans? I'll dive deeper into this article later this week with some stats and commentary.