Wow. What a championship game. Hell, if Bemidji had shown up at all in their semifinal game I could have looked like a real jackass for my post wondering whether this would be the worst Frozen ever. Instead, Bemidji played like, well Bemidji. Even though BU needed great escapes in both of their games, and the regional final against UNH, in my mind they are one of the great teams ever. The talent up and down their roster was just ridiculous. Colin Wilson is going to be a multiple all-star in the NHL, Matt Gilroy is a potential all-star defenseman, and plenty of other players (Bonino, Lawrence, Shattenkirk) could have significant NHL careers.
So who will be at Ford Field next year? Out of this year’s Frozen participants, Miami is the only one who seems to be an above average bet at this point. BU should have a talented team, but losing Wilson (probably) and Gilroy will hurt them immensely. If Viktor Stalberg comes back to Vermont they could be in the hunt again, but at this point I have to think he signs with Toronto. Bemidji has next to no shot. Not just because they aren’t any good, but they probably won’t have an auto-bid next year.
With all of the presumed early departures, college hockey will be turned upside down next season. The losses of Alex Stalock and Richard Bachman in the WCHA turn Duluth and Colorado College from NCAA teams to conference also rans. North Dakota and Wisconsin have to be the two favorites because they will return the most talent, and should have much improved goaltending.
In the CCHA, Miami looks to be the frontrunner with the return of both goalies and presumably Carter Camper, among other key contributors, but my darkhorse for the CCHA title is Ohio State. The Buckeyes lose leading Corey Elkins, but the youngest roster in college hockey will return presumably mostly intact ready to make a run. They got their NCAA tournament baptizing this year getting blown out by BU, and will try to use that next year to win a game.
Next year in Hockey East I think the return of Boston College will be the story. An added year of experience for John Muse will help the Eagles, although they will be hurt by the loss of Brock Bradford. A key thing for them will be for players like Brian Gibbons to get their numbers back to the level they were at 2 years ago.
In ECAC Hockey Princeton and Cornell should once again be the co-favorites to win the conference. With the return of Zane Kalemba and Ben Scrivens, Princeton and Cornell will be able to shut out their opponent on any given night. Riley Nash will give Cornell a dynamic forward to build a team around, and Princeton will return 7 of their top 9 scorers.
So what’s next for us? Well coming later this week will be the season ending top 16 and we’ll compare it to the preseason version. Then there will be a break, except for analysis of early departures and maybe an NHL playoffs post or two, and this summer we’ll start rolling out preseason rankings for 2009-10. Thanks for a great first year everyone, hope you all enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing.