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Commentary: Thoughts on Minnesota’s potential, national goaltending and rivalries

We’ll keep the vibe … random thoughts on college hockey.

Correcting myself

Last week I floated an idea that video should be allowed to be used to determine if an official got the right guy on a major penalty. I read the rule book prior to that writing and I thought that the only way an official could go to video review on a major penalty was in NCAA championship competition, meaning the NCAA tournament.

Page HR-92, under Video Review, Section 60, letter A provides for video review criteria under a heading called NCAA Championship Procedures. Letter G in that section states that video is allowed “To correctly identify individuals who participated in a fight or committed an infraction.”

I thought NCAA championship procedures meant only the NCAA tourney but I was incorrect. My apologies and thanks to those in high places for correcting my interpretation.

Minnesota

I’d love to buy into Minnesota and say that this is the year it makes a long run into the national tourney, but once bitten twice shy. Over the past eight years Minnesota has put out a goalie that seemed to have the goods to get it done. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kellen Briggs but I did buy into Jeff Frazee and Alex Kangas and look where that got us.

I’m buying into Kent Patterson, even though in the two games I saw him he was pretty average. He has played 99.3 percent of the minutes this season, is 17-9-1, has six shutouts and has played with a lead or been in a tie game for 80 percent of the minutes he has played. That is pretty dominant.

Speaking of Minnesota, Mark Bahr did a great job as the video coach for Team USA at the World Junior Championship. Bahr serves in that capacity for the Gophers.

Goaltending

Earlier this season a list of the top 10 goalies in college hockey was compiled and debated.

My feeling (as well as some of the ex-goalies in the NHL scouting community) this season is that there might not be 10 elite goalies at the NCAA level. You have a lot of B’s and C’s but not a ton of A’s.

If you see enough teams you notice that parity exists in college hockey because teams are not getting Grade A goaltending on a consistent basis. Notre Dame has two good ones who have made the Irish a formidable team but neither has taken over yet with a dominant run. As a tandem they are solid.

That is not to say every team is having goaltending issues, but a lot are. Right now, leaving stats out of this, my top three are Kenny Reiter at Minnesota-Duluth, Kieran Millan at Boston University and Shawn Hunwick at Michigan.

After that, and in no order, I like Andy Iles at Cornell and Patterson at Minnesota. Joe Cannata at Merrimack and Doug Carr at Massachusetts-Lowell have been solid all season in an offensive-minded conference. Taylor Nelson at Ferris State and Cal Heeter at Ohio State would round out my list of guys to whom I’d entrust a big game. Your unbiased thoughts?

Wolverines alum report

Speaking of goalies, former Michigan netminder Bryan Hogan posted his first shutout as a pro for the Dayton Gems in a Central Hockey League game against Rapid City. After a weekend set of games and a 24-hour bus ride home, Hogan was rewarded for his efforts with a trade from the struggling Gems to the first-place Wichita Thunder.

The Thunder are an original CHL franchise in the new version of the league. I’m a proud CHL alum, having been the associate head coach of the Macon Whoopee and interim head coach of the Memphis RiverKings.

Rivalry

While not what it once was, the Maine-BU rivalry seems to bring out the best in the teams. Back before BU and Boston College exploded into what it is today, BU-Maine was the all the rage in the 1980s and ’90s.

If you wanted to play in the big city, you went to BU. If you wanted to play out in the country, you went to Maine. Their rivalry was as much cultural as it was hockey. In the last few years each has been able to win big games against each other. In the 1992-93 season when Maine had a team that lost only one game — to Boston University at home, in overtime.

That intensity still resonates today when these two get together and they see each other for a weekend set at Agganis Arena, with Saturday’s game on CBS Sports Network. Both teams are on fire right now and if Maine keeps this up, it will be back in the NCAA tourney where it belongs.

Have some great memories of this rivalry? Tweet them to me at @DaveStarmanCBS.

Speaking of great rivalries and great games, CBS Sports Network has Colgate at Cornell Friday night from what I consider among the top five hockey atmospheres in NCAA hockey, Lynah Rink at Cornell.

St. Cloud-Minnesota and Wisconsin at North Dakota round out some great weekend sets in college hockey.

On Anders Lee

Anders Lee’s football connections have been well chronicled. What is interesting is that NHL scouts who saw the Notre Dame forward play high school football in Minnesota told me last weekend that he was a Tim Tebow (athletically) style of QB. Lee was a running QB who could throw a bit but it was common to see him run 10-15 yards to the end zone carrying five or six defenders with him. He was never afraid to call his own number.

The concern with many NHL teams was whether he would be committed to football or hockey. One NHL exec even joked that when he got to Notre Dame as a freshman he was the best QB on campus.

Lee is a cross between a junkyard dog and a prototypical NHL power forward. He can play physical and snarly and also has tremendous skills and a touch of finesse near the net.

Split in South Bend

Good series at Notre Dame between ND and Michigan last weekend. A few things became either clearer or were confirmed in my mind out of it:

• Notre Dame can control the pace of a game with its forecheck and puck management. The Irish can be a disciplined team with and without the puck and they have much more of a pursuit mentality than in years past. They also can be a physically intimidating team when everyone in the lineup is on board with that plan.

• Hunwick is among the top three the goalies in the country as mentioned above. I’ve seen most if not all goalies this year in what is not a fantastic goaltending corps across the nation. My opinion, and it is just an opinion, is Hunwick is just better than everyone else out there.

Why? Hunwick plays big. He has that John Vanbiesbrouck quality in him to present a huge target and not use his hands to cover space. He challenges well, plays big, protects his crease, has great feet, controls rebounds and can get out of his net to move pucks to either side of the zone using either his forehand or backhand.

He is also smarter than most of the goalies I have watched this year. He knows how to look around a screen, can anticipate the options of the attacking team and plays a somewhat situational style. He uses his blocker well and catches the puck with consistency, something that seems to be a big problem with a lot of NCAA goalies. Hunwick makes saves as opposed to just blocking shots. He is almost a clone of former Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg and might be a hair more athletic in the crease.

• Michigan is greater than the sum of its parts. With Jon Merrill back, Greg Pateryn can go back to being that rock-solid defenseman you don’t notice as opposed to playing in the spotlight as he did during Merrill’s absence. Their defense corps isn’t among the best they have had but it is a pretty dependable unit.

Up front, tell me who scares you as a game breaker. Tell me the line that as an opposing coach you look at on paper and say, “Wow, that is a scary line.” The answer on both fronts when looking at a line chart is no one outside of Merrill.

Then you watch them play and you realize that they can roll three good lines and have a fourth that can outwork you if you let them. The top line centered by David Wohlberg between Alex Guptill and Chris Brown has been responsible for about 75 percent of Michigan’s up-front scoring lately. The defense corps is solid with Pateryn, Lee Moffie, Merrill and Mac Bennett as the top four. Then you have goaltending behind you.

What separates Michigan from some of the up and comers that are having good runs this season is that Michigan knows how to win and it knows how to play in the bright lights. The Wolverines usually don’t beat themselves and they don’t panic. This is a group that lost a ton from a team that went to the Frozen Four, and most of the remaining players (and many of the ones who left) will openly admit they had no idea they’d get to St. Paul last year.

As usual, Michigan becomes a very interesting watch nationally. Barring a disaster, they’ll be a team not to take lightly come tourney time. They are not the best team in the NCAA but could play the best when the chips are down in March and April.


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  • tiger fan

    Biased comment: Goalie, Shane Madolora (RIT)

    • OrangeBruin

      especially considering Madolora beat Nelson from Ferris State, one of the of the goalies “trusted” in a big game, up in Vermont.

      • DStar64

        I like Madolora, I think he’s pretty darn good.  However don’t let one neutral site game in mid season make such an impact on your view of this.

        Appreciate the comments.

        DS

        • Goalieunion

          Really? You say in a previous comment that it only takes a game or two to see “what a goalie is all about”.

          • Dstar64

            If you know what the hell you are doing.
            DS

  • Guest

    I can’t believe you don’t have Ryan Faragher in the top 5.  What he has done as a 20 year old and at 6’2 is crazy.  Look at the games and shots he has won.  Seeing SCSU and watching Box scores.  They give up a ton of high quality chances

    • Husky30

      I agree. He has been stellar. No doubt Starman hasn’t even seen him play. Lame article.

      • Fan Man

        Faragher needs to be more consistent to be ranked in the top 5.  I would say maybe top 15

  • Kazakh-mike

    They are playing well… mostly. I would rather have a team that never wins a championship, but is chock full of local boys, than a champion that is all Canadians. Nothing against Canadians or players from other countries, but I can’t cheer for a team that doesn’t represent me… kind of like voting for George Bush or something.

    • GeauxSioux

      What the hell are you talking about?

      • nogofer

        He is a bleeding heart liberal…  ‘Nuff said…

    • nogofer

      You HAD your 23-run of winning NOTHING with your all local boy teams from 1980 till 2002.  Then a kid from ND and a kid from Europe saved the gofers from going to D3.  UND currently has kids from across the US and Canada, that makes UND North America’s Team…

  • Zekebud

    Having been to most Ohio State games this year, I would not put Heeter in the top group. He has existed mostly behind a strong team and is slowly returning to more average numbers.

    The goalie I do trust the most and the one who gets little attention outside the ECAC is Paul Karpowich of Clarkson. After years of showing immense talent, he has finally broken through and is the essential reason Clarkson is having a renascence year. His absurd .931 SV% comes with a (relatively) poor team and a first-year coach that is rebuilding the program. He is, in my mind, the clear top goaltender in the country.

    • Fan Man

      One of them for sure, I agree!

    • Dstar64

      Point well taken but don’t undersell Heeter.  Still trending upwards. Don’t agree about his playing behind stromng teams. At least not until this season.

      Thanks!

      DS

  • Pondhockey

    Starman – the goalies u list all play for ranked teams. Have u seen all the goalies? There are some very good goalies in Atlantic Hockey receiving pro interest. Karpowich of Clarkson is an outstanding pro prospect and is clearly an elite goaltender. Do you have any idea how these guys play or do u just look down the list of the top teams and pick out the ones that have been on tv? There r a lot of excellent goalies playing NCAA hockey. If u asked coaches, players and fans of all the teams a lot more than 10 would tell u they have an elite goalie.

    • Fan Man

      Did you hear his comment when he mentioned alot of B and C tenders and not alot of A’s….   ELITE is a word you should be carefull with because what I think the writer is noting is that comparing to pro or who will be going, there are not a lot this year.  NHL anyway…

      • Anonymous

        I tend to agree that Karp is Elite though, beyond him no one I can think of to add to that. Being a biased Cornell fan, I say you have to put Iles in your top tier, but I can see why others wouldn’t feel the same.

        • Fan Man

          Karp is a Beast and maybe can be overlooked!  He plays with tenaciously which I love..  IIes cannot be overlooked and can steal games for the Big Red.  They are going to need him in the next couple of weeks   GO SIOUX~

    • Dstar64

      Fair points.  I call them as I see them.  Love when players prove me worng.  Hopefully many will.

      Thanks,

      DS

      • CchaFan

        Call them as you “see” them? Tell your readers how many starters or co-starters you have not seen play this year. It is well documented that the Notre Dame coaching staff believes their goaltending has been inconsistent, yet you call them solid.

  • Guest

    Eric Hartzell could be a sleeper goaltender. Elite status? Maybe not yet. His only major blemish on the season is RMU. After that he has matured quite a bit this season. Again, is he elite? Not quite sure. It will be telling down the stretch.

  • Anonymous

    Kent Patterson is the best goalie in the WCHA which in turn makes him the best goalie in country.

    • xTEDxTHExREDx

      Kenny Reiter runs rings around Kent “whathaveyoudoneformelately” Patterson

      • Jason

        great 4 goal performance by kenny tonight…

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IBX3ZLT5XKNZDOL2YZHPVX27VI STEVEN P

        Who was in net when the Gophers swept the Puppies in Duluth earlier this year? He sure made a swell girlfriend.

      • guest

        6 goose-eggs buddy

    • GeauxSioux

      Unfortunately Kent Patterson plays for the Gophers meaning his season will end early yet again.

      • Sue = paper champ

        What’s funny is a Sue fan making cracks about not winning in the post season. Hey, those 90s are getting further away by the day.

        • nogofer

          2000

  • Bob

    If you look at Connor Knapp’s body of work over four years, and his season thus far, it’s hard to keep him out of the conversation. Prior to this season, I’d put his partner Cody Reichard in the mix but it just hasn’t worked out for him this year.

  • streaker

    Dave: Thanks for the kind words on Hunwick and Michigan in general. Shawn has been overlooked by the CCHA in the shadow of other goaltenders with better numbers, but none of them has done what that kid has done. He is the backbone of the team.

    One correction though: The top line consists of junior Chris Brown, senior David Wohlberg, and my choice for CCHA freshman of the year, Alex Guptill. He leads the team in goals and is a physical force. Freshman Phil DiGuiseppe is on the second line with senior Captain Luke Glendening and junior AJ Treais. They were huge in creating the GWG last saturday night. 

    • Dstar64

      You are correct, was a misprint on my part, meant Guptil.  Thx cfor noting that!

      DS

  • flopper

    “Leaving stats out of this”……..what kind of statement is that Mr.Starman ? on what basis could you objectvely assess any of the goaltenders…..until you have seen them all or at least a great number of them and assess their abilities in a like manner …. leave it !!

    • Dstar64

      Numbers can prove or disprove anything.  While numbers factor into any equattion, let your eyes tell you the story.  Any good scout or ex goalie can look at a goalie for a game or two and pretty much know what the kid is about.  Remember, Sean Burke had awful junior numbers, his NHL career was pretty solid.  His numbers proved irrelevant.  Just a thought.

      Thanks.

      DS

      • Offtherails

        You contradict yourself in regards to your comment above when you say that Patterson looked average to your expert eyes then reel off his good statistics to call him dominant.

        • DStar64

          It does seem that way….my point was that I feel his style is one that lends him to success over a long haul.  He wasn’t great in the two games I saw live but have seen him film a bit.  I like how he plays, I like his fundamentals.  A kid can be average but you seeing beneath the surface you can make a decision that a kid can be better than what he showed you that night by his physical attributes.  Good point though-didn’t explain that well.

          DS

  • Netstuff

    “Back before BU and Boston College
    exploded into what it is today, BU-Maine was the all the rage in the 1980s and
    ’90s.”

     

    Is CBSCS giving you a percentage of the ad sales from Saturday night’s
    game?

     

    Before BU / BC played, it was mustard gas in WWI that was
    exploding, as the two teams were rivals for half a century by the time they met
    in the NCAA Championship game in 1978, the very first season that Maine had an NCAA
    program.

     

    In 2005, Sports Illustrated called BU /BC “the greatest
    rivalry in all of sports.” Meanwhile, Maine’s fledgling program had (very) sub-.500 years from 80-81 to 85-86 and didn’t have close to a winning conference
    record until 86-87.

     

    Are you from Maine,
    sir? While Shawn Walsh and Jack Parker had a well-chronicled antipathy, you
    sound like a guy who mixes up a batch of soda in his bathtub and claims that
    Pepsi never heard of Coke.

    • Dstar64

      Think you are overthinking this one but thx for the comments.  Love BU-BC but there was a time when Maine-BU had a very special place in the history of the conference as a great rivalry.  Never said one was better than the other, just made a point that at one time this was a pretty intense clash. 

      I am not from Maine as a by the way. 

      Funny you use a soda example.  In 1925 my grandfather started what has become NYC’s oldest fontain soda service business, one in which I am a third generation part owner.  No confusion over who Coke and Pepsi are in my world.  :)

  • http://www.collegehockeypulse.com/ mrjakep

    I think the Rivalry factor is a huge draw for college hockey!

    Every weekend there is rivalry game that is sure to be intense; be it Cornell – Colgate, UND – MN, Army – Air Force, Michigan – Notre Dame, BU – BC and many others!  

    That is why this conference realignment is such a disappointment!  It will tear apart some of these great rivalries that have been built up over the years!  A few of which I mentioned above.

    I just don’t understand how the NCAA can see this as a good move for college hockey!  What other sport do you see where the rivalry games are REAL and not just some game that the sports media has hyped up to be something it truly isn’t!

    Of course I am biased as I pay attention to the WCHA and this change will dramatically impact me and the teams that I follow!

    In talking to other fans that closely follow other conferences, I have learned a lot about the other rivalry games that are out there, almost “hidden” under the radar of national coverage!

    I am really not trying to complain here I just love the intense rivalries that happen week in and week out and hope the future of college hockey is focused on promoting these rivalries instead of tearing them apart!

  • Newenglander

    “National” goaltending ? Gimme a break.

  • flopper

    I just wonder where this poor guy in uah ends ends up on the ” EYE CHART ” ??  

  • Maczeez

    You can leave the stats behind or discuss them all day when it comes to Kieran Milan from BU but in the end you need to watch this guy play to understand that he is not the talent Parker thinks he is. He has a below average glove hand, doesn’t redirect shots saved with his blocker into the corner. Thus, he leaves so many fat rebounds for opposing teams they can’t help but easily slide them into his net. And, has he ever made a save while staying up? Never have I seen a goalie go to the butterfly so quickly and so many times. He leaves the top of the net wide open for pretty much the entire game. He also has a problem finding the puck when the opposing team is funnelling it into the low slot. I don’t know, maybe it’s all to do with the 3 terriers standing in his way pretending to play defense.

  • BlueCollerBroncs

    Obviously he’s only a freshman and has not had enough time to prove himself as an elite, but what are your thoughts of WMU’s Frank Slubowski? His numbers are great and he’s come up big multiple times this year.

  • Rich

    The fact that Milan is ahead of Carr and Cannata shows a lack of knowledge of the stats on your part. Carr has an under 2 goals against in a conference that boasts offense. Cannata isn’t far behind with a 2.02 average. Milanis a 2.57. Milan isn’t even one of the three best goaltenders in his conference (rawlings would be my third) never mind top in the country. I have the pleasure of seeing Carr play every week, and he is probably the most underrated player I have seen in some time. Watch him play yourself and maybe you will get some sense about which goalies are actually good in hockey east

    • Rich

      I will ad as a big Lowell fan our offense is overrated by scoring a lot of goals on some bad teams (Milan being one we put up a large number of goals on). This team Is 16-7 because of Doug Carr. Without him the team would be lucky to be in the top 20

  • nationalchamps02

    I go to UMD, but am from the twin cities. Kenny Reiter is absolute garbage. Everyone who read your article is now dumber for doing so. Dude gave up 8 total goals to Michigan Tech this weekend. Not to mention he gave up 10 in a weekend against Lucia’s squad earlier in this year. Maybe you should try watching a few games and seeing what kind of goals he gives up rather than just looking at a box score. No doubt in my mind Kent Patterson is the best goaltender in the WCHA. #gophernation