Forum Frenzy of Links – USHL’s Impact; Swing Weekend in Hockey East

Forum Futures

The USHL has largely become the dominant feeding grounds for Hockey East and in a broader sense, all of college hockey. Gone are the days of a high schooler transitioning directly from a Catholic Conference team like CM or even an ISL program like Thayer Academy. It’s truly a sign of the times and although I am empathetic of the fact that teenagers MUST abandon the young innocence of High School nowadays to expediate their development skills, it’s a sad phenomenon and one that I feel is not in the best interest of the kids.

Enough of my pontification on this matter; as Brad Pitt uttered in the movie, Moneyball “adapt or die”. The USHL continues to evolve along with the various other Tier 1 and 2 junior leagues throughout the US and Canada and this year formulated its first ever Top Prospects game in conjunction with the NHL. The game was played with virtually no fanfare except for the plethora of NHL Scouts who seemed to be the only visible entity in the stands on Tuesday night. According to most analysts, the game was put together in a last minute, ad hoc fashion and as a result, the attendance suffered.

To substantiate my point on the sheer numbers of USHL alums who transition to college hockey, just scroll through the infamous, Chris Heisenberg’s spreadsheet detailing the current USHL players and their respective college commitments. The college hockey nemesis to the north, the CHL, also recruits heavily from the USHL which continues to be teh class of US Junior hockey leagues.

Chris Peter’s put together an outstanding feature and breakdown of Tuesday night’s tilt in Muskegon, Michigan. Included in his anlaysis was his take on some future Dog Pound/Dog House Hockey Easter’s -Robby Bailargon (Indiana Ice/BU) and John Gillies (Indiana Ice/Northeastern) who will be competing in the Beanpot in the years to come.

Bracketology

Senior writer Jayson Moy (USCHO) posted a bracketology breakdown on the website earlier this week. It’s always around this time of year when fans of contenders and especially bubble teams start formulating potential match ups in their head to see where their team lies in the NCAA picture. It aslo helps fans define their rooting interests as it relates to other bubble teams that their respective school’s will be competing against. We all know that Pairwise provides the bible in a sense for benchmarking purposes and is set up in much the same format as the NCAA selection committee. To underscore the importance of these games down the strecth, UMass Lowell dropped from #3 to#10 in the PW after their inexpicable loss to Providence on Tuesday night.

As of January 25th, the 16 would be dancer’s are as follows:

1 Boston University
2 Minnesota-Duluth
3 Ohio State
4 Notre Dame
5 Michigan
6t Merrimack
6t Northern Michigan
6t Ferris State
9t Boston College
9t Massachusetts-Lowell
11 Cornell
12 Denver
13 Minnesota
14t Michigan State
14t Miami
16 Colorado College

4 Region’s:

There are four regional sites (East — Bridgeport, Conn.; Northeast — Worcester, Mass.; Midwest — Green Bay, Wis.; West — St. Paul, Minn.)

As Bracketology relates to Hockey East:

No. 1 seeds — Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth, Ohio State, Notre Dame
No. 2 seeds — Michigan, Merrimack, Northern Michigan, Ferris State
No. 3 seeds — Boston College, Massachusetts-Lowell, Cornell, Denver
No. 4 seeds — Minnesota, Michigan State, Miami, Mercyhurst

**BU would be placed in the NE region**

The brackets as Jayson Moy had set them up:

West Regional:
Minnesota vs. Minnesota-Duluth
Massachusetts-Lowell vs. Northern Michigan

Midwest Regional:
Miami vs. Ohio State
Cornell vs. Merrimack

Northeast Regional:
Mercyhurst vs. Boston University
Boston College vs. Ferris State

East Regional:
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Denver vs. Michigan

Pot Puck Drop – Swing Weekend in HE:

Virtually every series on tap in HE this weekend has some significance with the BU and Maine tilt being the signature series of course. BU will finally face some true competition as their last 3-4 weeks of action have been against mediocre teams. If you notice a lack of teeth, an exorbitant amount of overalls and a sea of Maine plates on I-95, don’t be alarmed; that is simply the University of Maine hockey fans making their trek to Agganis arena for a huge weekend series. The Black Bears will make the trip down to Boston on the heals of an impressive weekend sweep of BC. Maine has the NHL-esque talent up front to compete with anybody in the country and I look for a strong effort against the Terriers. The last time BU played against an elite team they fell to Notred Dame on New Year’s Eve (I discount Merrimack as elite at this point). The BF is calling for a Black Bear sweep at Agganis as I believe BU doesn’t have the prolific scorers to compete with the likes of Abbott and company.

Another intriguing matchup features a home and home with UMass and fake UMass (Lowell) facing off in Amherst and then on Crack Street Saturday night. Its a true dichotomy as UMass Lowell is inept on the road and the Minuteman are undefeated at the Mullins Center. In playing the odds, the BF looks for a split on the weekend, although a sweep would provide a big move up the charts for either club. A sweep by UMass (14 pts)would propel them into a tie with Lowell who currently sits on the precipice of a home ice spot in 5th (18 pts). Dick Baker examines the challenge that lies ahead this weekend for UMass as they face arguably the best goaltender in the league this year in Doug Carr (Hanover, MA).

One would think that a BC/UNH series this late in the year would be substantial as far as playoff posititioning is concerned. Sadly both teams have struggled, specifically UNH who sits in the 8th spot, and a sweep would do wonders for both clubs. I look for BC to get back on track and sweep the weekend action as they simply have too much talent to continue to struggle. The BC Hockey Blog previews the weekend series between BC and UNH and some take Jerry York’s shuffling of the lines.

HE weekend action on tap:

CHN Tweetcast Schedule : Hockey East on the Airwaves

Friday, January 27 – Hockey East Time/Status
Maine   at Boston University   7:00 ET
Northeastern   at Vermont   7:00 ET
UMass Lowell   at Massachusetts   7:00 ET
New Hampshire   at Boston College   7:30 ET
Sat, January 28 – Hockey East Time/Status
Maine   at Boston University   7:00 ET
Northeastern   at Vermont   7:00 ET
UMass Lowell   at Massachusetts   7:00 ET
New Hampshire   at Boston College   7:30 ET

 **Providence plays at Merrimack on Sunday***

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