Howell’s Pre-season Picks for 1996-97

1) Michigan: Like you thought it would be Princeton?
2) Minnesota: A little young, perhaps, but good depth and the Wooger seems pretty optimistic.
3) Vermont: I can think of three reasons to justify this selection …
4) Michigan State: A very tough team with slight worries on D.
5) Denver: Last year’s late season collapse was probably an aberration.
6) Bowling Green: A great bet, especially if Petrie is healthy.
7) Boston University: Still the best in Hockey East, but definitely some worries due to recent defections.
8) Colorado College: Have to break in the rookies in a hurry.
9) Lake Superior: See Colorado College.
10) Clarkson: Todd White, Dan Murphy and a cast of bangers.
11) St. Lawrence: How you can resist putting these two teams together? A great group of youngsters.
12) New Hampshire: We’ll see if Umile successfully retooled the defense and goaltending.
13) Maine: A lot depends on last-minute roster developments. The Black Bears will probably surprise those who have written them off.
14) St. Cloud: This year’s up-and-comer.
15) Boston College: If only because of Marty Reasoner.
16) Western Michigan: Thank the Lord for the UIC transfers, or the Broncos would have had some big problems.
17) Harvard: Much rides on the freshmen and sophomores.
18) Minnesota-Duluth: Who comes out of the pack in the WCHA? Why not UMD?
19) Cornell: I don’t think Mike Schafer turned from a genius to an average coach over the summer.
20) Merrimack: OK, boys, don’t let me down this year.

Others I considered: Michigan Tech, Providence.

I think Michigan is a brain-dead choice for No. 1 and the next eight are those that I mentioned, although anything could happen to shuffle them within that pack. It seems as if there are numerous teams relying heavily on the contribution of frosh and sophs (CC, Lake State, Harvard, St. Cloud, etc.) and that should make things interesting. This is not a particularly strong year for seniors, but I think the young talent bodes well for the future.

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