The WCHA had a good weekend of non-conference games. As a Badger fan, I am not sure what to take from this weekend. I was also able to take in a Colorado College game and caught some surprises in the arena.
First up is Colorado College.
For the past three years I have been a fan and a season ticket holder to the Colorado College Tigers. I thought the first two years were real good ones and the last one was the sucker punch that I needed to take off, amongst moving being the other.
So this year I watch the games from the television unless Wisconsin comes to Colorado (NOV 30,DEC1).
But I took in a CC game on Saturday and this will be the review that I was waiting to write.
Coaching: I've known the staff at CC for quite a while. Coach Owens is pretty good at staying the course and not falling to pressure from outside sources. He makes tweaks but a overhaul is rare. I saw the same coaching staff as I have the past three years: steadfast and loyal to the way they do things. So nothing new, take that as a good thing.
Offense: This is what I thought I wouldn't see. Losing Jaden Schwartz to the NHL and a host of talented seniors was sure to cost the Tigers. Not the case, they continue rolling but more as a team. I like that a little better than playing one guy for most of the minutes. Good job to all four lines getting action. I thought everyone played really well, while most players did little to no developing last year, I feel from this one game that they picked off where they stopped two years ago.
Defense: This is what I knew I wouldn't see this weekend. I guess everyone goes into Vegas knowing they will leave rich, but no one ever does. I was wrong here too. Wow was I wrong, and happy for it. Last year was a horrific attempt at defending and I really couldn't pin point the faults. Guentzel was a great player, Dineen was a good leader. The defense looked good on paper but never made the impact they needed. But I also knew that CC was a bomb on defense waiting to explode. That happened from what I saw. Harstad played well and so did Stoykewych before he was injured. I'm most impressed with Marciano. He was a stay at home defender for the last two years. That changed on Saturday and I think that's the biggest difference from last year.
Goaltending: I only got to see one night, and from that one night I can only judge off the goaltending I did see. That goaltender was Joe Howe. Joe is a great guy and I don't know what the future holds for him but I wish him the best. With that being said, I think the best way to sum up this Saturday's effort was horrible. I had seats which made me privy to Howe's net. He's not tracking the way he did his freshman and sophomore year. The puck has become a problem and he seems to lock up before the shot is taken. Needless to say the goals he did give up were pretty bad. On this case, I'd have to disagree with Owens that CC has a good tandem. Howe just isn't the same goalie he was his first two years.
Overall: I think CC is way under-rated. I would venture to say CC will finish top five this year. They have the ability to make plays. Given that Clarkson didn't look like much of a contender, CC still put up 40 shots and got 5 goals. That bodes well for top competition where they will probably get 10 less shots and two less goals.
I'm a bit shaken by what I saw this weekend. I shouldn't be shaken, but I am. Last season WI got most of their goals off rebounds and Justin Shultz was the leading scorer. He's gone now and nothing left me thinking national championship banner for the Badgers.
Offense: Anemic. They played horrible on both nights, and nothing about this offense says "reloading OR rebuilding". The whole "twitter-gate" with Kerdiles hurt the Badgers big time.
Defense: The bright spot that I didn't think would be there. Wisconsin changed their game quite a bit from last year. They still have good players but they block shots A-La Ferris State. I think this will help the shaky offense and maybe team red can find their stride mid season.
Goal-Tending: Rumpel played pretty well. He's a big body who takes up much of the net to begin with. I think he tries to sell that when playing puck handlers and then get's burned. I think he can improve there. Peterson played Saturday when I was not watching and I've already heard the groans of his play. I knew this was a one goalie team, so nothing new to report.
Overall: I saw a report placing WI 4th in the WCHA for predictions. If Kerdiles' suspension does hold up, and/or something does change soon expect this team to be the Enron of the WCHA.