Small Sample Size-Itis

Being dissatisfied with the way some of my predictions have gone so far, I am going to take a flyer on guesswork this week. There has been enough observable hockey to make a few conclusions: New Hampshire, Brown, Yale, and Providence will unfortunately all lose. But there are also a number of series that will provide a considerable amount of information about teams that are still sitting in the cloud of significant unknowns.  UW/BSU is obviously the most key of these (obviously a high scoring game favors the Badgers and vice versa). BC/Cornell, BU/Northeastern, and to a lesser extent Princeton/Mercyhurst are all important series.’Who is Cornell’ is the question we ask every year. It should also be clear that I think despite their rough last few games, BC suffered from the single elimination play-off structure primarily. The Huskies are yet again playing rope-a-dope with the universe, and Princeton has the potential to make noise in the ECAC this year but we’ll see how they match up out of conference.  Stay tuned.

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….

West Coast Swing

Here is what Coach Johnson has to say on the UW website about the decision to open the season in San Jose:

“It will be a different area than we touched back in 2004 when we went to Southern California,” Johnson said. “A former teammate of mine at Wisconsin, Rod Romanchuck, I connected with him a few years ago when the youth national championship was being played in San Jose, and knowing he had a daughter that was attending Providence, it was a great opportunity to connect with the folks at Providence to show the San Jose community what Division I women’s hockey looks like.

“Similar to our trips to Fort Meyers, Lakewood and Vail, there will be a lot of young ladies and a lot of people that haven’t seen a Division I game, so it is an opportunity to help grow our sport. We will put a clinic on to help those young ladies not only see what Division I hockey looks like, but get a chance to go on the ice with our players.”

I don’t know what kind of youth hockey growth is happening down on the Peninsula, and I am curious to see what kind of draw these programs have. One is as nationally known as you can get in this sport, and one has a history to draw on, but neither have been big in the news recently. On the other hand, for locals the opportunity to skate with NCAA players is huge. And the games a great deal. Some Midwesterners on the USCHO boards seem to think $12 tickets are expensive, whereas generally you can’t even get inter-city transit for that little in the Bay Area. I certainly am going to take advantage of the rare opportunity.

Coaches Behaving Badly

The latest case is out of UConn, following situations earlier this year at OSU and Quinnipiac. The behavior seems largely obnoxious and unpleasant, rather than downright jaw-dropping as in the case of the Buckeyes. Part of the complaint is also that the coaching staff failed to rein in upperclass players who were engaged in hazing practices.

I tend to think that as with police brutality, what we are seeing here is not increase of incidence but increase of incidents becoming public. The situation has always been this bad, we just are more likely to become aware of it now. In the case of coaches using abusive language and turning a blind eye to hazing, we are also seeing a new and growing understanding of behaviors as unacceptable that would be considered normal a generation ago. Like sexual harassment, which is sometimes a component of inappropriate coaching, women have long been told that these problems are either something they must put up with in order to be considered tough or for the sake of the team, or their hysterical female emotions are causing them to overreact. For the good of our culture as a whole, including for men who have had to endure this same nonsense in the past and now also have found the courage to speak up, that’s finally changing.