CSTV Hockey Analyst and one of the masterminds behind College Hockey News, Adam Wodon, joins us for a little chat as the college hockey season comes down to the wire and we head into a big tournament weekend in Albany. Adam has been covering college hockey since 1988, as a student reporter at Ithaca covering the Big Red. He has been the play-by-play man both Princeton and Cornell hockey. More recently he has been a regular on CSTV's College Hockey coverage, and you may have seen him breaking down the Frozen Four on ESPN. Bottom line, the guy knows college hockey, and he's willing to deal with us. That's a pretty good combination.Ron Ayers (CHF): Did you get a chance to see Clarkson play at all this year? If so, what were your impressions of this squad? Adam Wodon (CSTV/CHN):
I actually didn't see much of them, unfortunately, though I do check in with people there quite a bit. I saw them play against Cornell, too. I like the way things are headed, that's for sure. It still looks like they could use some more strength and discipline. But the skill is back. Another couple recruiting classes, and I'm hopeful that George Roll will have the program back where it belongs. Ron (CHF): With the top four seeds left in the ECACHL playoffs. Who do you think is going to win this year's tournament and why? Wodon:
Boy I hate questions about predictions :) But ... I think the ECAC would love to see Dartmouth or Colgate win it, so three teams get in the tournament. This would also require Cornell beating Harvard in the consolation game, just to be safe.
I think Dartmouth and Harvard are playing the best lately. But Dartmouth's track record in Albany isn't great. I think all the teams have A LOT of talent. The talent level is highest it's been in the ECAC in quite a number of years. Based on what I've seen, I think Harvard has a 26% chance of winning. Dartmouth and Cornell are 25% and Colgate is 24%. How's that?Brett Gobe (CHF): So you would consider Harvard a lock at this point? Win or lose? Wodon:
For the NCAAs? Yes.Gobe (CHF): Could this be the "quietest" lock in NCAA history? Harvard has seemed to get the least attention of any of the top four this year. Can they make noise in the NCAA's? Wodon:
Well, they've lost in the first round each of the last four years. I keep wanting to believe, but then it doesn't happen. They've come so very close. But there's something about this team that seems to have something going for it. Maybe it's just simply because their non-league record looks really good this year, compared to past years. They lost a lot of defensive talent from last year's team, but there's a character to this team that surpasses what I've seen in the past. And the underclassmen have skills, clearly.
The reason Harvard is in better shape than the others in the national picture is the quality of the non-league wins. None of the other three have that. Of course, they might have to play North Dakota in Grand Forks in the first round ... so ... there goes that :) On the other hand, if they win the ECACs, you could be looking at a real high seed and a very favorable matchup.Gobe (CHF): They did beat UND at home this year. Wodon:
Good point. Different NoDak team at the time, and NoDak will be home in the NCAAs.Ron (CHF): There's been a lot of talk about some massive discrepencies in the PWR coming into this final weekend. You mentioned last week that Cornell could've been the top seed if it weren't for an opening split, and you've mentioned that Holy Cross could be a three seed if they lose to Bentley. If Cornell doesn't make it, is this because of a flaw in the PWR, or because they're just not one of the top tier teams this year? Will people say they were robbed? Wodon:
Well, people will always say that such and such a team was robbed. But we should mention, Cornell is almost a lock at this point, so they'll probably make it. But if they don't, then I don't think that's a flaw in the Pairwise necessarily. The Big Red are around 15th in KRACH right now, which is a better indicator, in my opinion. If they had beaten Michigan State in that game, they'd be No. 1 in PW, but 10 in KRACH. So, there you go. Holy Cross is a different story, because their climb would be based on a Pairwise quirk.Gobe (CHF): Is there a fair resolution between KRACH and PWR? And do you think the selection process will change anytime soon? Wodon:
I don't think it will change soon. For one, I think the NCAA is scared to change. I also think they will say that - all other sports use RPI, so hockey has to also... And, also, the KRACH would put more WCHA teams in the tournament, and less ECAC. So I think the NCAA is just going to continue to look the other way, figuring that it's not good for the sport to exclude the little guy to that extent. And maybe that's a good philosophy, but I think there's other ways to reconcile that than by ignoring the obvious superiority of KRACH.Gobe (CHF): So looking at everything, using current methods, who is the last team in, and who is the last team out the NCAA's? Wodon:
Last team in right now is Nebraska-Omaha, hanging by a thread. Denver is the last team out. Since they are not playing this weekend, things can't change for them - although things that happen elsewhere can shift their RPI, and cause some changes. But it's not likely to have enough of an impact. Of course, if Dartmouth wins the ECAC, UNO would be bumped.Gobe (CHF): Will anyone step up and stop the WCHA run of national champions? Wodon:
I think there's a lot of people that hope so :) I do think it's just better for hockey to spread things around, but most sane people have nothing against the WCHA or the teams or coaches, personally.
Minnesota seems heads and shoulders above everyone, even Wisconsin, right now. So I think the real question is, will anyone defeat Minnesota? I think it will take an upset to do so. I have nothing against Minnesota at all ... but for the sake of spice to the tournament, I think some upsets would be nice to see.
The most likely teams to knock them off are North Dakota and Wisconsin, so take that for what it's worth. North Dakota could bump them off, at home, in the 2nd round. That wouldn't be a surprise.
I'm not convinced BU is national championship caliber. And Miami hasn't won an NCAA game under Blasi, so perhaps that inexperience will hurt. Michigan is always lying in the weeds. And it looks like Michigan State is clicking. So all of those are possible. Gobe (CHF): You're not giving Bentley/Holy Cross/Bemidji much of a shot against the Gophers? Wodon:
Ummm... no.Gobe (CHF): Fair enough. Who, if anyone, is the favorite for Hobey Baker? Wodon:
Well ... speaking of the Gophers, Ryan Potulny is the favorite. He has stepped up big time this year, in every way. It certainly helps to have such a great supporting cast, that allows him to concentrate on the things he does best. Not every player has that luxury. That's why I gravitate towards players like Andy Greene at Miami, and Greg Moore at Maine. People think I'm crazy for pumping Moore over a guy like Chris Collins at BC. But Moore is such a huge influence on that Maine team in so many ways, and I like everything he's about. To be fair, there's nothing wrong with Collins, and Collins plays two-year pretty well too, and he's carried BC at times too. So nothing against Collins at all. ... Matt Carle at Denver is also awesomely talented, but team play will have to come into the picture. Same for Scott Parse at UNO. ... So, I'd say that Potulny is the favorite, followed by Brian Elliott at Wisconsin. Brett Sterling could still have a chance if CC goes nuts in the regionals.Ron (CHF): Lets go back to the ECAC for a moment. You've been covering the ECAC since when? What's your all time favorite ECAC moment? Feel free to tell us it was Clarkson's upset at Lynah in 2004, we won't mind. Wodon:
That would not be one of them :) ... Though it was apparent as that series went on that Cornell was just not the team everyone hoped.
My covering the ECAC goes back to being a student reporter at Ithaca College, covering Cornell hockey starting in 1988. Followed the team quite a bit.
My favorite ECAC moment? Tough call. Perhaps Princeton winning the ECAC Tournament in 1998 (over Clarkson, sorry guys). ... But my favorite memories come from watching ECAC teams in the NCAAs. They often lose, but still :) ... I think of SLU beating BU in 4 OT to make the FF. I think of the 1996 NCAA Regional in Albany, in Schafer's first year. Cornell came SOOO close to beating Lake Superior State when no one thought they had a shot. PC Drouin hit a crossbar in the closing moments, and that sound still reverberates through my ears. That would've tied the game. The next day, St. Louis-Perrin, etc.. defeated LSSU to make the FF. And of course, Cornell's run in 2003, which I got to be the broadcaster for. That was great. Cornell had UNH beat if that game went 15 more minutes.
Being at Lynah Rink in Schafer's first year when they BLITZED Colgate in the playoffs- that was fun. That's when I knew Cornell could win an NCAA game - although they just missed. But the best thing I've ever seen in the ECAC was getting to see Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin play together for four years. They are the best combo I've ever seen.
I've told this story many times - but no one out West thought those guys were for real. Then they played LSSU in the NCAAs. Off the opening faceoff, St. Louis got it, passed to Perrin on a give and go, Perrin passed it back to St. Louis -- and St. Louis drop passed it between his own legs to himself and ripped off a slap shot that missed the net by 2 inches. It was a stunning move - the whole crowd went "ohhhhh" and everyone said -- ummm ... maybe these guys CAN really play. That was the best.Gobe (CHF): Who do you think takes the ECAC POtY this year? Wodon:
Boy - that's a tough one - there's no frontrunner. I think T.J. Trevelyan is the most talented player, and his numbers are really good. So I'd love to see him win it. Though he did go stretches without scoring - and like the whole team, they piled up shots but went cold at times.Ron (CHF): When you were broadcasting for Cornell you probably had the chance to visit every arena in the league, which means you had a chance to eat and drink at a lot of places. What's the best place to get a beer in the ECAC. Wodon:
Cornell fans will want me to say Dunbars - but let's leave that out of it for now :) In fact, I'm partial to anywhere in Ithaca - so let's put that aside Oh ... I know... let's say Maxie's near Albany airport ... karaoke until 4 a.m.Gobe (CHF): I could name some of the worst places... Ron (CHF): You're a night owl. Dunkin' Donuts or Tim Horton's? Or are you one of those foofy Manhattan Starbucks guys now? Wodon:
Dunkin Donuts by far ... no Starbucks - I only go in there if I need net accessGobe (CHF): That's the best answer we've had to that question so far. Ron (CHF): You're the head honcho for College Hockey News, give us a little background and a plug. Wodon:
Well, we created CHN as an alternative to the others, because I'd like to see some things being done that weren't being done. Actually, I'd love to see everyone figure out a way to work together, but that's not always possible. So there was a chance to start something new, and we did. USCHO has a 10-year head start and they do a great job, so the biggest hurdle is just getting the word out that we exist. But slowly but surely, we'll build the resources to make it work -- at least we hope. In the mean time, what we do produce, will be as top notch as possible within the confines any startup faces. And, most of all, it doesn't need to be either/or ... Fans can benefit from getting interesting information and articles out of all places - whether that be the various web sites, or the occasional article at NHL.com, etc... or the local papers.Ron (CHF): Last question. We understand you have an extensive collection of college hockey jerseys. Which one is your favorite? Wodon:
Ha ... nice try fellas ... the trick question at the end ...... Yes, I own one jersey - a replica Clarkson jersey bought in 1991. I've worn it twice... don't tell anyone. I liked the colors. Always had a lot of respect for the program. I do remember the one time I wore a Cornell Hockey sweatshirt on the Princeton bus. Don Cahoon literally had a cow. I don't remember where that thing went. :)