Theresa: Hey everyone, Theresa Spisak here, filling in for Scott Brown once again. We didn’t have many games this past week, but the end results seem to be stabilizing out a bit now that we’ve hit the midway point of the season. Once again, we have some shuffling in the top of the polls, but it appears — at least for now — that we’ve got our top teams in the CCHA and WCHA, given the lead in records. In almost every other conference, however, the teams are bunched up. Jim, do you think things will stay the same out East, with everyone close together, or does anyone have the potential to break away from the pack?
Jim: Nice to have you back again, Theresa. My thought is that the East is finally ready for a battle to the wire all around. While the ECAC and, for the most, part Atlantic Hockey have had plenty of parity over the years, Hockey East has seen the same foursome — Maine, Boston College, New Hampshire and Boston University — sit around the top. At least three of those four teams seem to be in it come seasonâ€™s end. This year, though it once again could be three of those four near the top, we have new faces like Northeastern and Mass.-Lowell poised to end the pattern. I worry that the River Hawks donâ€™t have the power to keep them sailing through the second half, but it certainly seems that Northeastern could keep at least one of those four clubs on the outside looking in for home ice. On another note, you mentioned the poll. Does it seem fair to you that Miami jumped over an idle Michigan last weekend? My experience is that the number one needs to lose to fall from graces. Michigan didnâ€™t even have that chance. It was a very close vote, but Iâ€™m interested in hearing your thoughts.
Theresa: It may not have been fair or right for Michigan to have dropped a spot after being idle, but teams do rise and fall even after not playing. I think if Miami hadn’t played a ranked opponent instead of then-No. 16 Rensselaer (whom the RedHawks beat handily), Michigan would have stayed on top. After a week with few games, I think it boiled down to a “what have you done for me lately” type of situation, fair or not.
Jim: I agree with your reasoning, just donâ€™t believe that itâ€™s fair. Speaking of fair, I see your alma mater Boston University has reinstated its suspended players. The Boston Globe reported the players violated a team rule that you canâ€™t drink on Sundays. I have a feeling that, even if this Puritanical law exists, those players maybe did a little more than tilt a Heineken on the Lordâ€™s Day. Youâ€™ve been around the game long enough, what are your thoughts on the whole situation?
Theresa: The official team rule, as far as I understand it, is that in season, of-age players can only drink on Saturday nights after the weekend games are done. The rumors I’ve seen floating around the incident (a few from relatively credible sources) state that the players in question grabbed a beer while watching football after attending a funeral. If one is to take that story at face value, the circumstance is somewhat justifiable and explains the relatively short suspension. I have a feeling that had it been a worse violation of team rules, we would still see the players suspended. I do think this may have been handled better had it been kept inside the team, much like the 2004 Frozen Four when Denver’s Lukas Dora had to sit the championship game for violating a team rule. To this day it is still unknown what he did. Sure, we as the media and public want to know all the details, but sometimes — and maybe I say this as a former athlete — it’s better to keep things in-house. Truth be told, it just doesn’t look like Jack Parker has much control over his team these days.
Jim: I agree about keeping things in house. In all of my six-plus seasons working for college hockey teams, I never saw incidents of minor proportion because major media didn’t speculate as we do today. As I say that, I realize people like you and I in this real-time media world likely contribute highly to that. On to a happier note, letâ€™s talk about the holidays. If thereâ€™s one team that really could use a big Christmas present from Santa, who do you think it would be? Out East, I think itâ€™s Cornell coach Mike Schafer, along with Maineâ€™s Tim Whitehead and the aforementioned Parker. This trio sure would like to see something like a basket of wins or a few more goals under their Christmas tree on Dec. 25. Anyone out West looking for similar treatment?
Theresa: Well, I’m sure North Dakota’s Dave Hakstol hopes for a strong second half for the fourth straight year and Minnesota’s Don Lucia wishes for a complete turnaround. Everyone from the CHA would like crystal balls to see their collective futures. Air Force’s Frank Serratore would like a nice big box of consistency and wins — no more ties, thank you very much. Finally, I’m sure Miami’s Enrico Blasi, Michigan’s Red Berenson, Denver’s George Gwozdecky and Colorado College’s Scott Owens would just like things to keep going the way they are.
Jim: Wow, yâ€™all are greedy out West. I do, though, agree with everything you said, with a strong emphasis on the CHA. Itâ€™s really a problem at this point where the future will take the remaining soldiers in the CHA. But that will be a topic for next time. And on that note, on behalf of Theresa and Scott Brown, let me wish everyone a Happy Holiday! Weâ€™ll be back in a few weeks with more of our random musing from around the world of college hockey. Until then, stay warm (or stay cool, to those heading to the Florida tournaments)!