Maine at North Dakota – October 14/15
It’s a rematch of last year’s series, when the Sioux were housed twice in Orono. They try to return the favor at the Ralph despite losing more production than any team in college hockey. The biggest advantage the Sioux have is in net, as Maine’s goalies had save percentages of .894, .890 and .862 last year. Although, when you score 11 goals in a weekend as they did last year vs. the Sioux you don’t need Patrick Roy in net. And of all the great individual talent in Hockey East this year, its Spencer Abbott who is the conference’s returning leading scorer.
Notre Dame at Minnesota Duluth – October 7/8
A rematch of last year’s national semifinal sees the Irish head to AmSoil Arena with the bulk of their team intact, whereas Duluth will be trying to replace some key cogs off last year’s team. I would make a joke about the men in stripes being kinder to the Irish this time around, but Duluth’s national championship banner is being raised October 7th and they wouldn’t want that to get ruined. On a slightly more serious note, it will be nice for Riley Sheahan to finally get a matchup with Duluth’s top line, assuming he can stay out of the box this year.
Cornell v. Boston U – November 26 in Madison Square Garden
The Big Red and the Terriers square off in what could end up being a matchup of top 10 teams in the Garden, and while the usual tenant has good goaltending, the two guys between the pipes for that one aren’t too shabby either. How well Cornell has replaced the production of Joe Devin and Tyler Roeszler will go a long way towards determining their outlook for that game.New Hampshire at St. Cloud State – October 21/22
A matchup between two pretty underrated teams also pits two more good goalies against eachother. For all the Mike Lee jokes, he was pretty solid last year, especially in conference play, and should be an all-league candidate this year. New Hampshire has to replace last year’s conference player of the year in Paul Thompson, as well as Mike Sislo, who had 48 points last year, and 116 in his career. For the Huskies, this is a big year for Ben Hanowski, who was a highly touted player coming out of high school, but has less than a half a point per game in his career so far.
RIT at Wisconsin – January 6/7
The Tigers look to be one of the top teams in Atlantic Hockey once again, while Wisconsin is looking to get back towards the top of the WCHA after missing out on the Final Five last year. The obvious player to watch in this one is Justin Schultz, who led all defensemen in scoring last year and is a bonafide Hobey candidate. Another Badger everyone should know is John Ramage, who is much less flashy at the blue line but is a very good defensive defenseman and one of the best leaders in the country. RIT’s main weapon may be between the pipes, as Shane Madolora led the country with a .935 save percentage.