Let's be honest here, we don't know much about the WCHA, except for the fact that they are the conference that produces the winners of the national championship every year since Ted Donato had a full head of hair. Other than that, they could be playing in the Big Ten conference and we wouldn't care too much. Fortunately for us, the blogosphere is a large and very informative place, and we have located one of the most knowledgeable college hockey people in the central time zone to help us out. Chris Dilks of the Western College Hockey Blog
is our guest Balki this week. No word on if he has been making good time with our hot blond neighbor.CHF: Do you expect the run and gun games everyone seems to be predicting?
WCH: I don't think it will look like a rec league game, but I do think we'll see some wide open games. St. Cloud seems to be trying to play a more wide open offensive style, and this non-conference series could be a good chance for them to do that. I think a lot will depend on how the games are called this weekend, because both teams seem reliant on the powerplay to get their offense going.CHF: How has St. Cloud adjusted to the new coach?
WCH: Bob Motzko's arrival at St. Cloud has been nothing but positive for St. Cloud. By the end of Craig Dahl's reign, I think a lot of people had lost faith in him to lead the Huskies to that next level. Motzko has rejuvenated the team and the fan base, and has them believing again that they can compete with the best teams in the WCHA. Motzko has also upgraded St. Cloud's recruiting and has some very good players coming into St. Cloud in the future.CHF: Who's the team leader?
On offense, Andrew Gordon is the team leader. He's been one of St. Cloud's top scoring threats for the past three years, and I think he's the guy the team counts on to score. On defense, senior Casey Borer is a guy with a lot of experience. He's struggled a little bit statistically because St. Cloud has been pairing him with one of their freshmen defenseman, but I still think he's an excellent defensive defenseman.CHF: Has goaltender Bobby Goepfert lived up to the hype?
Bobby has gotten off to a pretty slow start this season. Other than one game at North Dakota when he made 40 saves in a 2-2 tie, he hasn't looked like the same player that was so dominant last year. Part of the problem was that in his first three starts of the season, he was wearing a different pair of pads, while his own pair of custom goalie pads were being made. He wore the new pads in the North Dakota and Minnesota series and played a little better.
Coach Motzko said earlier this week that freshmen Jase Weslosky will get one of the starts this weekend. He's being groomed has Goepfert's replacement for next season. He started one game in Mankato earlier this year and played pretty well. He may not be as talented as Goepfert right now, but he's also much better than your average back-up goalie.CHF: Who's under the radar on offense? Defense?
Forward John Swanson is a guy that's really under the radar. He's a local St. Cloud kid and wasn't all that highly recruited, but gets by on pure effort. He's actually worked his way up to St. Cloud's first line and has been seeing some powerplay time. He missed a few games due to a shoulder injury, and the Huskies really missed his presence.
On defense, junior Matt Stephenson is a kid that doesn't get a lot of credit, but I think he's a pretty good defensive defenseman, and is starting to contribute a little more offense this year.CHF: How has the crowd been at the NHC? Will it be a sell out? Are students on break?
The atmosphere at St. Cloud started to die out towards the end of Craig Dahl's tenure as coach, but it's starting to come back. They've been pretty close to selling out all of their games. The students aren't on break, but I'm guessing they won't be quite as wild as they were last week when the Gophers were in town.CHF: Do you think teams from the west might overlook an ECAC team?
I'm sure Bob Motzko has spent all week making sure his players don't overlook Clarkson. The fans are probably a different story. Most hockey fans aren't as familiar with teams from outside the conference, so I don't think they'll take it as seriously. Also, three out of St. Cloud's first four series have been against Denver, North Dakota, and Minnesota, who all seem to be playing in the Frozen Four every year, so I think St. Cloud could be due for a bit of letdown since their opponent isn't as big a name as some of their others.CHF: Can Clarkson sweep?
A road sweep would be tough. I could definitely see Clarkson winning one game, but I have a tough time believing St. Cloud would lose two games at home. Plus, St. Cloud has shown a propensity to tie games this season and had a tie in each of their two series against ECAC teams last season, so a tie wouldn't surprise me.CHF: Game predictions?
I suck at predictions, but I'll say that each teams wins a game by the score of 5-3.
Thanks Chris, if you ever head out past Erie, Pennsylvania, look us up.
Speaking of sucking at picks last weekend I went 7-4-0 in picks moving my season stats to 26-17-9. This week brings us eight conference games and 3 non-conference games.
- Sacred Heart @ RPI - This will be a pretty good game. RPI 6 - Sacred Heart 5
- Colgate @ Quinnipiac - Rock bottom for the Raiders. Quinnipiac 5 - Colgate 2
- Cornell @ Princeton - All four of Princeton's games have been one goal affairs. Princeton 3 - Cornell 2
- Yale @ Dartmouth - The Big Green found their legs last weekend. Dartmouth 5 - Yale 2
- Brown @ Harvard - Harvard in OT. Harvard 4 - Brown 3
- Clarkson @ SCSU - Clarkson comes in angry, takes the opener. Clarkson 5 - SCSU 4
- Colgate @ Princeton - Colgate salvages a split. Colgate 3 - Princeton 2
- Cornell @ Quinnipiac - Probably the best game of the weekend. Cornell 3 - Quinnipiac 2
- Yale @ Harvard - Harvard sweeps. Harvard 5 - Yale 3
- Brown @ Dartmouth - Dartmouth sweeps. Dartmouth 4 - Brown 1
- Clarkson @ SCSU - SCSU is too much at home. SCSU 4 - Clarkson 2
- Yale @ Mercyhurst - Yale in a close game. Yale 2 - Mercyhurst 1
- Harvard @ BU - Harvard's pre-beanbot Boston success continues. Harvard 4 - BU 2