The above photo was taken of Joe Finley as he prepares for the upcoming WCHA season. Fag!!!
- Just for the record there was no delegation of a hockey preview to Moma Dawger. She felt sorry for how pathetic DWG has become and thought she could save the blog from dying. For some reason she also thought people would be interested in reading about the greatest choke job of a program in the last decade of NCAA hockey? Moma D, I could have summed up your Sioux preview in a lot less (and more organized) words. "UND will sucks until January, win a bunch of games to possibly get home ice in the WCHA tournament, Hakstol will get a case of the Albany’s and shit all down his leg in the NCAA tournament and the season ends again without hanging any banners. UND still has the nicest arena in the world though!
WWWWWW, One normally writes a preview the week that the season begins. That would be this week for the Gophers so settle your horses before I send Dawger out to the East side to slap the glasses off your face.
1) Colorado College- The majority of the Tigers roster returns this year. They did lose Jack Hillen to graduation but the Tigers have more than enough talent to find a point man to operate their power play. Bachman also returns for the Tigers and will once again be the 2nd best goalie in the WCHA. If he stays healthy Chad Rau will be the WCHA Player Of The Year. I also have a man crush on Bill Sweatt....he is my 2008-09 TJ Oshie.
2) Denver- Probably won’t win the WCHA, but might be the best built team for playoff hockey. They can score tons of goals and also play lock down Bear style hockey when needed. Tyler Bozak is the best player in the conference that never gets talked about. Frosh Joe Colborne is suppose to be the cat's ass. Goalie is their only question mark.
3) Wisconsin- The most boring team in all of sports. Probably has the most talented and deepest defense in the WCHA if they all can reach their potential. That would be a good thing since their angry little coach doesn’t allow the team to attack. Defenders McBain, McDonagh and Gardnier are all high NHL draft picks. The rest of team is like watching Jumpers, really boring but just enough action to keep people watching and from slashing their wrists.
4) St. Cloud- They should be a fun team to watch this year as long as you can block out all of their fans and just concentrate on what is happening on the ice. Ryan Lasch and Garrett Roe are the two main reasons why St. Cloud will score a ton of goals especially on the power play. Look for Soph. Aaron Marvin to be a bigger factor this season. Marvin is big, strong, skilled and can mix it up a bit. He should score 10-15 goals this season. The mouth breather Jase Weslosky returns in goal for SCSU. SCSU fans seem to think this is a good thing. I think he sucks and still can’t believe a kid that stupid can keep himself eligible to play, even if he is attending SCSU. Also Jordy Christian is one of my favorite Frosh players in the WCHA. He is a very fun player to watch.
5) Minnesota- More on Gophers below. They might start a bit slow because of all the frosh, but will be very tough to skate with the 2nd half of the season. The Gophers power play is going to be very fun to watch this year with all the offensive talent. Kangas is back for his Sophomore season and will once again be the best goalie in the WHCA "eat it Bachman". Teams 5-8 are going to be very tight. Kangas’s is our savior.....Jesus Who?
6) North Dakota- No, this isn’t me taking a piss on my most hated team in all of sports. The fact is they just aren’t going to be very talented this year. Gino Torretta (a.k.a. Ryan Duncan) and Chris VandeVelde are the biggest thing they have going for them and that isn’t saying a lot. Joe Finley also returns for his senior season which means Moma Dawger’s Grandma will get to watch him muff a lot of little guys in the face and then skate away when a bigger players skate up to confront him. Otherwise they are just going to have a bunch of blue collar players without a ton of upside. Even though S.S.S. thinks the Sioux have no goalie talent, Brad Eidness will step in right away and give them a very solid #1. They do have a nice frosh class, but other than Jason Gregoire and Brad Eidness none of them will be counted on to make huge impacts this year. This all adds up to a down year in the land of blonde hair and blue eyes.
7) Minnesota State Mankato- Everyone in the world is picking these chowders to finish in the top 3 or 4 teams in the conference. This spells doom for Mankato. The reason they where a bit above average last year is because most teams took them lightly and they could play all loosey goosey. Last year they where a cute little team that people rallied around when Wisco stole their NCAA spot. This year they will be exposed for a team with average talent and will get most teams "A" game because of their high expectations. I could see UMD finishing a head of them. I also hate them for playing that queer soccer song whenever they score a goal.
8) UMD Bulldawgers- They have a real nice goalie in Alex Stalock who can steal games for them. That is about it. Otherwise they are really balanced with no high end talent. This spells 7 or 8th place and Scott Sandelin finally getting fired. I take it back, UMD can't finish ahead of Mankato. At least they have a new rink opening in two years!
9) Michigan Tech- Suck like WWWWWW’s 2007 NFL predictions.
10) Alaska Anchorage- Suck like Baby Dawgers pink Sioux stick. You can see Russia from their campus though! That was a political joke for Bogart... uppity prick!
The 2008 Gophers will most likely start the season with up and down results because of the youth that will be in their lineup every Friday and Saturday night. The good news is the hockey SHOULD be entertaining to watch this year. The biggest difference in 2008 is the Gophers power play will be much improved. The return of Ryan Stoa and the addition of Jordan Schroeder and Aaron Ness to the power play unit should be huge. Their will also be enough talent left over to make the Gophers 2nd power play unit as potent as 2007's #1.
The Other key change for 2008 was a major coaching change. Mike Guentzel is now out (now at Colorado College) as the Gophers top assistant coach and has been replaced by Mike Hastings. I was a huge fan of Guentzel because he was kind of a hard ass type coach which was a good thing for some of the fancy boys the gophers recruited. That being said, I do agree with the change because I think the Gophers needed a new voice and some new ideas to freshen up the program. Hastings has a long record of developing high end talent and will be counted on to improve the defense.
Goalies- The Gophers return Alex Kangas and that is all you need to know. Kangas is the greatest Gopher player of all time. ALL TIME!
Defenders- This is the area that scares me the most entering the season. The Gophers top returning defender should be David Fisher, but the kid has shown us nothing other than a 2 month window to start last year. The other two returning players who will be counted on are RJ Anderson and Dawgers sexier and less follicly challenged clone, Cade Fairchild. Fairchild has a chance to be a very good NCAA player if he continues to develop. I wouldn’t pick RJ Anderson for my Phy Ed floor hockey team if I had the 2nd to last pick and had to chose between him and a special needs child. I am not kidding. It scares the hell out of me that Lucia continues to talk about riding RJ this year.
Aaron Ness is going to be a very fun player to watch in the open ice and on the power play, but I think he will struggle in 5 v 5 situations. I am guessing the coaches will need to reel him in a bit because he was in deeper than the forwards in last weeks exhibition game. It makes for fun hockey, but 2 v1's the other direction and RJ being the 1 equals trouble. Other guys who will chip in on D are Werhs, Sam Lofquist, Grant Scott and Schack. The Todd, the Schack mention was for you!
Forwards- The Gophers should score more goals than last year, but that isn’t going to take much. The top line of Stoa, Barriball and Schroeder should be very good if Barriball can find away to tap in those pesky open net goals when Schoeder threads the puck to the far post. For those who don’t know it yet, Jordan Schoeder is going to be sexiest Gopher to ever live. He will be the WCHA’s Paul Kariya.
I am guessing the 2nd line will be made up of Flynn, Lucia and WWWWWW’s guy Carman. I expect Carman to have a big year as long as he continues to attend class and stay eligible. Flynn and Lucia should be career 3rd line guys, but both work hard and create chances. The only problem is they usually Hakstol those chances down their legs. If Patrick White and Mike Hoeffel continue to improve I think they will find themselves moving up to the 2nd line. Granted it was an exhibition game, but both of them looked much improved, especially Hoeffel. My call of the year is Hoeffel will have 15-20 goals this year.
Other players who should see a lot of minutes and chip in this year are Nick Larson (will be a stud in years to come), Justin Bostrom, Taylor Mattson (will be a great penalty kill guy) and Jake Hanson. There are some other talented frosh, but the minutes won’t be there and either will the performance this year.
Overall it will be an up and down year for the Gophers, but a lot more enjoyable to watch than last year. If the Gophers can actually keep some players around, next year could be NCAA Championship #6. Its been a while so I will remind everyone UND sucks. Preview that W!