College Hockey News’ preseason selections for this season.
F Nick Bjugstad, Jr., Minnesota The 6-foot-5 Bjugstad emerged as the premiere power forward in the nation last year, and was in the Hobey conversation most of the season. With 25 goals, Bjugstad could even top that this season. He turned down offers to turn pro to return for the Gophers — a rarity these days for a player of his stature and pro potential — and make another run at a Frozen Four.
F Johnny Gaudreau, So., Boston College People are still talking the move he made to score a goal and seal the national championship game for Boston College last April. But that’s become par for the course for Gaudreau. He only got better and better as the season went on, you can definitely say he’s farther along at the same point in his career than the other two BC alums who are now in the NHL that he’s compared too, Nathan Gerbe and Brian Gionta.
F Mark Zengerle, Jr., Wisconsin With Hobey winner Jack Connolly moving on, Zengerle becomes the most prominent playmaker in the WCHA. Zengerle’s patience and great hands helped him produce 50 points last season, on 13 goals and 37 assists. He’s also a strong skater and good faceoff man, making the 5-foot-11 center from Rochester, N.Y., a huge asset for the Badgers.
D Garrett Noonan, Jr., Boston University Noonan is not always flashy, but he’s definitely effective. With 16 goals from the backline, and a plus-19, he had an impresive sophomore season, and plays well at both ends of the ice. He’ll be expected to carry even more of the load this year.
D Joey LaLeggia, So., Denver The 5-foot-10 LaLeggia may not have been high on the pro radar as fellow Denver backliner Scott Mayfield, but he broke right out of the gate in his college career, scoring 11 goals and 38 points last season.
G Parker Milner, Sr., Boston College Milner was mired in a miserable mid-season slump last winter, and lost his starting job. He then embarked on a remarkable turnaround that rolled all the way to a national championship in Tampa, where he was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. No doubt he got helped by a standout defense, but he clearly came up big time and again down the stretch, capping a remarkable turnaround. He now goes into this season knowing what he can do, and hoping for a repeat performance in his hometown Pittsburgh in April.
F Ben Hanowski, Sr., St. Cloud State Hanowski improved his goal production from 13 to 23 last season, following up a disappointing sophomore year by finally becoming the go-to guy everyone expected.
F Joey Diamond, Sr., Maine The 5-foot-7 Diamond made a big leap last year, from 11 to 25 goals, including 11 on the power play, helping fuel Maine’s resurgence. The Long Beach, N.Y., native will have a hard time topping those numbers, but should get in the ballpark again.
F T.J. Tynan, Jr., Notre Dame His teammate and classmate, Anders Lee, is the one drawing more attention from the pros, but Tynan has been the more consistent producer in his two years so far. His production went down from 54 points as a freshman to just 41 last season, but the team had a disappointing season in general last year. Expect a bounceback in those numbers.
D Danny Biega, Sr., Harvard The 21-year old Montreal native helped lead Harvard’s bounceback season, scoring 10 goals and 35 points, and recording a plus-14 last season. He is a leader of an extremely talented group of young backliners, and if it all comes together, Harvard can go far this season.
D Lee Moffie, Sr., Michigan A steady influence on the backline, he was a solid plus-22 last season. He will be needed even more this year, with a freshman set to replace Shawn Hunwick in net.
G Troy Grosenick, Jr., Union Troy Grosenick and Union were one of the feel-good stories of the 2011-12 college hockey season. The 23-year old recorded a 1.65 goals against average and .936 save percentage in leading Union to the Frozen Four. What can he do for an encore? It’s hard to expect another Frozen Four, but with a veteran team in front of him, there’s no reason why it’s not possible.