The USA Today poll was released a couple days ago, so that means it is officially poll season. USCHO and INCH should be unveiling theirs shortly, and while I would usually break mine out with team by team capsules over at TCHB, I am giving you the Too Many Men on the Site reader a special treat by unveiling them here. So I have enough material to fill the next month, I will be doing it in three groups of five. Here then is the hardest group to do, #s 15-11:
15. Michigan State
As with every team down here, I am not positive what to think about the Spartans. On one hand, they lost their best player, defenseman Jeff Petry, off last year’s team, but on the other hand Sophomore Torey Krug is there to semi fill in his skates. Goalie Drew Palmisano had only a .917 save% last year, but he has the ability to be one of the better goalies in the conference this year.
The Mavs switch from the CCHA to the WCHA this year, and though they already had good scoring, look for that to shoot up even more. Though they don’t have a star forward, they are one of only 4 teams to welcome back 5 players who had 10+ goals a season ago. I like Matt Ambroz to have a good year, as well as Matt White. With Eddie del Grosso graduated, the Mavs don’t have much scoring from the blueline, but they shouldn’t need much.
At first I was a little down on Wisconsin, but the Badgers had a ton of depth last year, and they had NHL draft picks who were healthy scratches a season ago. Craig Smith and Jordy Murray had good years last year, and Wisconsin has some good incoming talent like Tyler Barnes and Mark Zengerle. Zengerle could end up on the first line when it’s said and done. This might be an aggressive ranking of the Badgers but I like the potential of the young guys and think they could grab one of the last NCAA berths.
Cornell lost a ton from last year’s team. Riley Nash left early, Ben Scrivens graduated, but the Big Red still figures to be one of the top teams in ECAC Hockey. Patrick Kennedy is probably the best offensive player, but I look for the Big Red to return to the solid defensive style they’re known for. Union could usurp Cornell in the “second ECAC spot” in the poll, but the Big Red deserve to be there for now.
11. Boston University
Another team that lost a lot off last year’s team, and wasn’t very good. This might be too high for the Terriers, but I guess I just have a feeling. Alex Chiasson came in as a highly touted recruit last year and failed to live up to his expectations. Still, he has tons of talent and I think he will have a big improvement. Matt Nieto is a very talented kid, and I think he will adjust to the college game very well. In net, Kieran Millan is back for the Terriers. He isn’t the best goalie statistically, but he does have a national title under his belt so you never know.
I will begin unveiling my top 10 next week.