Hockey East Pre-Season Rankings

The NCAA hockey season is just around the corner. If you are one of the people who don't really follow college hockey, you should get into it. If you're used to NHL hockey, NCAA will look like it's moving at a snail's pace with terrible passing; on the other hand, it's a lot of fun to watch these guys develop. If anything, watch a game between BU & BC. It's a great rivalry; anyone can get into it. Hockey East media day was this past Monday. The coaches released their preseason poll. The following is the rankings and my personal comments if I had any:

1. Chestnut Hill University
- Oh, I mean Boston College (but it's not in Boston nor is it a college, so really the name makes no sense). I had forgotten that they are the defending national champs until now. It's possible I might be sick to my stomach. Anyway, yes, BC will be good again. Surprise, surprise. Sophomore goaltender, John Muse, is unbelievable. I actually like him better than former BC goalie, Cory Schneider. The team will be led by Brock Bradford (who missed a lot of last year with injuries), Benn Ferriero and Tim Filangieri. Collectively, they'll play well. They lost a big player in Nate Gerbe who skipped his senior year to go pro. The Eagles will miss all 3'9" of him. They'll also have a big scoring hole to fill. Will they repeat their NCAA championship? It's a possibility, but for the sake of my sanity, let's hope not.

2. Boston University
- The team you should always be rooting for. ;-) BU has a lot of potential this year. If they want to, they can be great. If they don't want to, they could suck. Last year was a medicore year with a poor start and a strong finish that didn't amount to much in the post-season. They have some great players -- Colin Wilson (7th overall to Nashville in 08), Kevin Shattenkirk (14th overall to Colorado in 07), Colby Cohen (45th overall to Colorado in 07), Brian Strait (65th overall to Pittsburgh) and so on. If Wilson can play like he did the second half of last year, it would help BU out a ton. Defensively, they should be pretty sound with Strait, Shatty, Cohen and Matt Gilroy. The interesting situation to watch will be goaltending. After last season, BU got rid of Brett Bennett. That leaves sophomore Adam Kraus and two freshman -- Grant Rollheiser and Kieran Millan - to split the duties. I saw Kraus play in one game last year, and he looked decent. Then again that was against the US U-18 development team. It's totally up in the air, and it could really affect the team who is still dreaming about its days with John Curry. The freshman class has 10 guys in it - aka it's huge. Hopefully they learn quick.

3. New Hampshire - You can usually count on UNH to be pretty good. They lost a great goaltender in Kevin Regan, but I think they'll be fine without him. 2007's 2nd overall pick, James VanRiemsdyk, is back for his sophomore year. He's a big kid, and he wasn't drafted number 2 for no reason.

4. Northeastern - Nobody hates Northeastern. I'm not sure if anybody really loves them either. They're just there. Kind of like Harvard. Their key player is their goalie, Brad Theissen. His freshman year he was one of the best goalies I saw play; last year I felt like I didn't see as much from him. It's not that he was bad, but something wasn't the same. While NEU is never a team that's been a huge threat, you can always count on them to steal games from you when you're not expecting it. Pittsburgh draft pick, Joe Vitale, will captain the team.

5. Vermont - I still don't know what a Catamount is, but oh well. Vermont knocked out BU last year in the Hockey East playoffs, but lost in the semi-final to BC. You can't take them lightly, but they don't really have anything that stands out about them.

6. UMass
7. UMass-Lowell
8. Providence - I think being named the Friars just kills season hopes year after year.

9. Maine - It's weird to see Maine ranked this low. Last year, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 1998. They're usually a dominate team, but last year's unsuccessful season looks to carry into this one. It happens. Teams have good streaks and bad streaks. They also have ten freshman joining the squad this season.

10. Merrimack - Oh gosh. Someone please put this team out of its misery. Ranked last. I think the poor Warriors finish last just about every year. I'd love for them to have a good season one of these times. But I'm not so sure that will happen.



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