The NCAA: Already Interesting

Yeah I’m holding the Miller post until I gather more info.

Meanwhile her old program did not beat the living corn pone out of Lindenwood, though it will take awhile for a new coaching and recruiting philosophy in Duluth to take hold. That’s a huge moral victory for the Lions. Although a moral victory gathers no poll points. Nor did Minnesota destroy Penn State in game one, and Robert Morris skated to a tie with BSU in game two, which augers well for an competitive CHA this year. Saint Cloud State also beat the Raty-less Whitecaps in a somewhat surprising turn of events. Although there are some who would argue it was more surprising that a barnstorming team who has probably practiced twice did that well against the Gophers (or, the current Gophers, in a kind of intersquad match-up) in the first place.

Teams that got defeated by their CIS opponents: in trouble already (there are many fine players on those teams but they simply aren’t the semi-professional machines that NCAA D-I provides). Teams that allow multiple goals to PWHL squads? Also suspect.

The real question-answerer among the upcoming week’s games is Lakers-Bobcats. Can Mercyhurst integrate its crop of first-years quickly?  How much do the coaching change and graduations affect QU (a lot, has already been my take).  The outcomes of that series will go a long way in setting the tone for the year on the poll. This is a season of truth for Colgate’s sophomores: if the games are high-scoring, they triumph. If they are defensive, RMU can probably scrabble out at least a tie.  OSU, while technically more talented than Lindenwood, is also a team they can face with confidence after their opening series. If RIT can beat bottom shelf WCHA talent it will send a huge message to the rest of the conference. And BC had better darn well thrash the Bulldogs if it wants to send a message of its own, although really its problems began late in the season last year after a blazing start.

Semi-bold predictions: UW and BC sweep; Colgate a win and tie; OSU and Lindenwood two ties; ‘Hurst and QU split. RIT sweeps. Now let’s see how well that lines up with Marttila’s opinion….

College Profile: Colgate

Colgate is indeed named for the family with the toiletries empire. They have a long association with the school, which was founded in 1819. It didn’t go coed until 1970, which is par for the course for schools of its age. There was a lot of merging and de-merging with other local seminaries and universities. It started out Baptist and has also gone through several name changes. One of those splits created the University of Rochester.

The liberal arts college (yes it’s called a university), with enrollment just under 3,000, is located in a sylvan, mountainous New York setting complete with picturesque small town of Hamilton. It’s fairly expensive and is considered Ivy-esque for a SLAC: highly ranked in the U.S. News type of categories but mid-range (49th, still not bad) in terms of things the Washington Monthly ranks for, like creating social mobility. The campus made the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll for renewable and non-carbon-polluting energy practices. The school does have a Greek system, in which about 45% of students are enrolled. Colgate has an interesting numerological relationship with the number 13.

There seems to be a really well-thought-out core curriculum based around crucial interdisciplinary themes, rather than framing itself as some kind of timeless great books blahdy blahdy. The school website describes it as “ambitious and elegant” which is a lovely word choice. There are a surprising number of language majors, a *lot* of majors involving environmental sciences (including economics), a Native American Studies major, and a Peace and Conflict studies major among 50 or so others. The numbers suggest that many students go into careers in finance/business or in communications, so I hope someone is A. taking those liberal-artsy courses and B. translating their critical thinking focus into other fields. Bob Woodruff and Andy Rooney are among Colgate’s well-known alumni. Uber-leftist Chris Hedges and conservative commentator Monica Crowley are also both Colgate alums.

Colgate’s mascot is the Raider, about which I had trouble finding information. I later realized this had to do with the mascot, the ‘Red Raiders,’ referencing their maroon or red uniforms, but also initially being Native American. It has since been altered, to the school’s credit. Their athletics page prominently features their ‘You Can Play’ anti-homophobia video, also a welcome touch.  The women’s hockey team began as Division III in 1997, got pretty good very fast and switched to D-I in the 2000-2001 season. They’ve finished with a record above .500 three times since then, with a 19 win campaign in 2008-2009 as their best total. They’ve reached the ECAC semifinals once. Last year in a recruiting coup they brought in three first-years who had played with the U-18 Canadian national team. With the addition of goaltending this year, it still remains to be seen how that will pan out.

Sources: Colgate.edu, Wikipedia

Initial ECAC Thoughts

Some impressionistic remarks:

My goodness, how young the Clarkson championship team was. Much of that core remains intact two years later, with a few key exceptions. One of them, Howe, has been capably if not completely replaced by Shea Tiley. Since this is only Tiley’s second season, that she actually has room for growth given her first-year numbers is impressive. Carley Mercer has stepped into the lead scoring role. The Golden Knights continue their reputation for serving as Team Canada south, adding six from the Great White Behemoth including two who saw action with U-18s, and the rest are development camp-level which is nothing to sneeze at. I predict they take the conference.

Harvard is the other school that retains an elite core (Picard has been playing for 8.6 million years now), solid if not spectacular recruits (exception: Zarzecki), and some sophomores who should be coming into their own like Laing. The Crimson were the best overall special teams units in the country last season according to College Hockey Stats. Harvard will contend for the title as well.

Last year’s biggest disappointment outside of Hockey East, Colgate, clearly believed its major hole to be goaltending. It’s picked up a promising first-year plus a backup for that role. But the Raiders were disappointing primarily because the ’14-’15 recruiting class was spectacular on paper, and the fact that as a team they produced 54 goals is not Rando’s fault. This group still has that potential as they age and let’s hope we see it.

Dartmouth returns Stacey, but the recruitment was decidedly meh and Chemago faced almost 800 shots last year. For a goalie whose save percentage is not stellar it would help to cut those down. Brown proudly announced on its website that it landed 17 players on the ECAC all-academic team, which A. of course and B. kind of sadly hilarious. They do feature one interesting new face in Cara Najjar. The team still desperately needs both scoring and goaltending. But look…just go write your American studies paper on the hermeneutics of suspicion.

And then there’s the incalculable loss program, Cornell. Although the odd thing is that they seem to graduate irreplaceable players every single year and still float around the top ten without major wow-factor recruit signings. This year they finally ratcheted up the wow factor again. Sans Saulnier, Jenner, and Fulton, the Big Red pick up three from Canada’s U-18 squad plus some American junior talent. It’s going to take time for the young players to coalesce and the goaltending is solidly middle of the pack (I do wonder if Boughn might be the better choice for them moving forward) so expect Cornell to take a step back next season but be ready for 16-17.

Next time: rounding out the ECAC teams and starting in on the endless amusement (said in a loving way) that is the CHA.