This Week in D-I: November 6, 2009

Used to play “I spy with my wandering eye” with my kids, when both they (all six of them) and I were a lot younger.

Found myself doing so again this week as I perused the D-I landscape.

What Caught my Eye: WCHA

Da Badgers. Just when you think you’ve got Wisconsin figured out, the Badgers hit you with a crate full of knuckle pucks.

Yes, they are the defending national champs, but they’ve also lost their accomplished head coach – Mark Johnson – to the Olympic team. And yes, all their firepower (sophomore sniper Brooke Ammerman excepted) has been siphoned off to the Olympics, to graduation, or to both.

But when they sputtered to a 2-3-0 start, and were beaten by teams (Ohio State, Bemidji State, and North Dakota) they’ve manhandled in the past, one could sense a seed change was underway.

That’s when they go and outscore Ohio State, then upend high-flying Minnesota.
That’s what caught my eye there.

What Caught my Eye: ECAC Hockey

Gotta be Clarkson. You knew the program was building. You knew that the Desrosiers – Shannon and Matt – were probably the best married couple coaching tandem in womens hockey (okay, the sample size for that one is a little small).

But the way they handled New Hampshire (6-2) and Boston University (7-2) was very impressive. Connecticut transfer Dominique Thibault has indeed been the impact player that every one hoped she’d be (7-8-15), but she’s had scoring help with three fellow Golden Knights having joined her in the double-digit point club.

Clarkson has the second-stingiest defense in the country, but also the seventh-most prolific attack. Nice balance, which has vaulted Clarkson to the second spot in the USCHO poll … their highest ever ranking, if memory serves.
So, yeah, that’s what caught my eye.

What Caught my Eye: Hockey East

The roster that the WHEA will be putting on the wide Whittemore Center ice for the Nov. 22 tilt against the U.S. National team as part of the Qwest Tour.

The squad, with reps from all eight WHEA schools, isn’t long on experience with just six seniors among the skaters. Now the Nationals, with more than a dozen players who were playing college pucks last year, have been thrashing its collegiate opponents so far.

Its 6-1 rout of the WCHA All-Stars, and 11-1 blasting of North Dakota, stand in testimony. Neither could have been very pretty or entertaining to watch, for that matter.

One remains hopeful that the group sent out by the WHEA – headed by Player of the Month (and one of the most exciting skaters in the game today) Kelly Paton of UNH – will manage to keep matters close. Or hey, even pull off a stunner.

What Caught my Eye: CHA

A coupla things, there. The first is that Mercyhurst suffered its first loss of the season, a Halloween night 4-3 setback to Minnesota-Duluth, but was still able to hang on to its No. 1 poll ranking. The Lakers played a stiff non-conference slate, and will now get to work against its CHA sisters with a pair of weekend tilts at Wayne State.

The other is that Robert Morris will head out to Wisconsin (see above) for what on paper would be a pair of romps for the Badgers. However, last year, the Colonials made a similar trek out to Minnesota and shocked the Gophers – then ranked No. 1 – 3-2.

Caveat Badger, I guess.


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