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Welcome to CollegeSports.com and USCHO's "Tuesday At The Rink" series of moderated chats. Every week, we will bring CSTV's on-air experts and USCHO's columnists into the chat room to talk hockey and take questions on any topic.

The series kicks off on Tuesday, January 18th with USCHO National Hockey Columnist Adam Wodon stopping by at 2:00 p.m. ET. He will be followed by CSTV Analyst Dave Starman at 3:00 p.m. ET. Come for one, stay for both - and mark your calendar every week!


At The Rink


USCHO's Adam Wodon has become one of the preeminent media voices on college hockey. His weekly column is a must-read for the passionate fan, and while you might not always agree with him, he always brings clear opinions and concise arguments.

Along with his regular column online, Wodon is also a studio analyst for CSTV's Friday Night Hockey, lending his opinions and analysis to both pregame and intermission segments.

In recent columns, Wodon has looked at the disappointing play of Michigan's Al Montoya and examined the unsettling events at Canisius.

While Adam will not be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday January 18, feel free to submit your questions now and we will save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: Hi, everyone. USCHO's Adam Wodon is here and is ready to take your questions.

MaverickFan18: Do you think Minnesota State will be in the NCAA Tourney???
Adam Wodon: That's not too likely. They're quite a ways down in the Pairwise right now, and their schedule is not going to be favorable the rest of the way. See: www.uscho.com/rankings/pwr.php

Bill (Grand Rapids): Reading the Bracketology column, how is there any way that four of the top 8 are from the East - none of them would compete in the WCHA, would they?
Adam Wodon: Well, of course it's all subjective. But the Bracketology column is simply going by the PairWise Rankings, which is the method used by the NCAA to select the teams to the tournament. Clearly Boston College can play with anyone. Boston University took a hit this weekend, and may not quite be ready for the big time, but they're getting there. Harvard has proven it can beat anyone as well. Colgate and New Hampshire are wild cards. If you ask me, Wisconsin and North Dakota are probably better than those teams, but it won't really matter until the end anyway.

Tom, Belmont: How much of Harvard's rise is Donato?
Adam Wodon: For the last few years, Harvard has had the talent to do what they're doing this year. They were always tantalizingly close to winning numerous big games that would've made them a real force to be reckoned with, but always managed to be a little short. We can argue all day whether that's because of the previous coach, or whatever. But the fact is, Ted Donato has the team playing on an extra level of focus and intensity that hasn't been there in a long time. It probably could've been any high profile alum - so I'm not sure it's his coaching wizardry per se ... but he's certainly responsible in many respects.

E.J. (DC): With RIT moving to D1, what other schools might be ready to do that? Is there anything to the Navy talk?
Adam Wodon: The only schools that have made definite overtures so far are Navy and Lindenwood, which is a small school near St. Louis that participates in the NAIA. Navy is definitely almost there. They are just waiting to finalize plans for a new arena, for which they already have funding. Lindenwood needs to get approval from the NAIA and NCAA to move a couple of their sports to the NCAA level. It's been a while since there's been an update there, but their coach is very gung ho about the idea, and they've had meetings with the CHA. I'd expect Navy into D-I by 2008-09, but Lindenwood is more uncertain.

Dave (Southington, CT): Have the Rangers tried to sign Montoya and get him into the AHL (where he would likely now be with all the talent ahead of him in the lineup) for development, lockout or not?
Adam Wodon: Well, not since the season is under way. Definitely they made a push to get him during the offseason, but depending on who you ask, the Rangers didn't really want to pay up yet - or Montoya turned them down because he really wanted to return to Michigan. Marty Turco and Steve Shields stayed four years at Michigan and have had great careers, no reason Montoya can't do the same. This is only year three. Time is on his side. There's no rush from either end.

Art ( Lowell): Is Paul Pooley on the hot seat?
Adam Wodon: Well, as much as there can be a hot seat, I suppose he might be there. Providence always seems right in the middle, without much movement to either side. I'm not sure, however, what the expectations are at Providence. Perhaps they are content with that. There doesn't seem to be any sort of major groundswell to get rid of him - except by some rabid USCHO Fan Forum denizens.

Tim (Madison): Adam, on a recent CSTV intermission segment, you mentioned Phil Kessel's decision being down to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Is this something you know to be true, or was it speculation?
Adam Wodon: I can't say it's a 100% fact, but based on all the scuttlebutt I've heard from various people, it's unlikely it would be anyone but one of those schools. After playing a game at BU recently, someone asked him about the Terriers. His linemate, Jason Lawrence, is already committed to BU, and of course the arena is beautiful. Kessel said he wouldn't rule it out. But I'd be shocked if it's not Minnesota or Wisconsin. He said he'd let everyone know at the end of February, although the letter of intent date is not until April.

Dave (Colorado Springs): Do you think CC can stay at the top of the rankings despite all of their injuries?
Adam Wodon: They do have a number of guys banged up, and Scott Thauwald is out for the season. But they seem to have a lot of depth and interchangeable parts after the first line, so that these losses aren't entirely critical. So long as Sterling, Stuart and Sertich are healthy, there's no reason they can't go all the way. And the goaltenders of course. Staying on top of the rankings is more difficult, since one loss, and you can slip. But the rankings don't really matter anyway. Any of the teams in the top 10 right now probably could win a national championship if things broke right. But CC and Minnesota clearly are a notch ahead right now.

Conrad (Columbus): In your recent column regarding the enforcement issue, you state that the WCHA is not following the same path as the other leagues. Can you expand on this and do you think that this will be an advantage or disadvantage for WCHA teams in the NCAA's? Will there be a madated style of refereeing for the tournament?
Adam Wodon: Without having spoken directly to the WCHA people in a while, the sense I get is that they haven't been as aggressive in staying on top of their officials and making sure they continue to crack down on the obstruction away from the puck, which was the key part of the preseason mandate. On the other hand, their mentality may be: "Well, our games are played in big rinks, and the scores are high anyway, why should we bother fixing what isn't broken?" I can't say for sure that's the thinking, but it seems reasonable. I think it might hurt them in the NCAAs on smaller surfaces, but then again, I think Minnesota and CC have already proven capable of dealing with it.

Bruce Carlisle , San Francisco, CA: Hasn't this been a better than usual year for the ECAC versus non league competition? For example you have three ECAC teams in the top 15, St. Lawrence at 5-1 vs. the CCHA. When was the last time that happened?
Adam Wodon: The ECAC has not been this strong since 1998, that's for sure. That's the last time they had three teams in the tournament. But beyond that, the quality of player is there that we haven't seen in a while. They're never going to get the recruits Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc. get. But there are a couple dozen future NHL caliber players in the ECAC right now, and it's lifted everything up. In addition, the coaching is at an all time high level. It's unfortunate Vermont will be leaving the league at this time. The ECAC should get 3 teams in the tournament, barring any disasters.

Pat Carnigan (Colorado Springs): I know that it's a small school, but what else does Colorado College have to do to gain more attention/respect? Granted, a few more Frozen Four appearances wouldn't hurt, but for a team that's consistently in the top 10 national rankings, I feel they get lost among the larger schools.
Adam Wodon: I'm not sure what the definition of respect is. If you want Sports Illustrated to put them on the cover, you can stop holding your breath. USCHO/CSTV has them ranked No. 1 - we talk about them almost every week on CSTV's Friday Night Hockey, and we praise them all day long. Not much else can be said that isn't already being said.

Adam, St. Cloud: Do you think Craig Dahl has over-stayed his welcome at SCSU?
Adam Wodon: Without seeing their games all the time, and without being an Xs and Os expert, it's hard for me to say how he is in a pure coaching sense. But I sure do wish people would get off his back. This is a Division II school stuck amidst giants, and all Dahl does is bring in more talent every year. Yes, they've hit a little bit of a lull, but by the same token, they are competing against a resurgent Minnesota and Wisconsin the last few years, with new coaches that have done wonders at the big powerhouse schools. Craig Dahl also happens to be one of the nicest gentlemen I've met among the coaches, and it's hard not to root for a guy like that.

Joseph (Quincy, Ma): With the future of the NHL in a state of doubt, how is that going effect College Hockey down the line? Kids work hard because they want to make it to the NHL and college was the path to that. But if the end is not the NHL, are the means worth doing just for college athletics?
Adam Wodon: Perhaps then the kids and parents would go back to the true meaning of college hockey -- playing hockey AND getting an education. Not that most of them don't view it that way, but it's veered a little too much the other way for my liking, with players just coming to college with dollar signs in their eyes. It's good that college is being used as a stepping stone, don't get me wrong, but I've yet to see a player hurt by staying in school as opposed to coming out early, and I wish more would realize that. Also, college hockey did perfectly fine 30 years ago when those players didn't even really have a hope of the NHL. ... All that being said, pro hockey is not going to disappear, so there will always be opportunities, and I don't see things changing much in the long run.

Tim (Madison): Assuming the NHL is in action by next season, what players would you consider candidates to leave school early?
Adam Wodon: Well, these days, you never know. But I'd say Al Montoya is a prime candidate. Certainly CC's juniors, if they win a national title, Sertich and Sterling would be tempted to leave. Jeff Tambellini at Michigan is another one, with the way he's bounced back this year. I like to see everyone stay, but you can't begrudge them from going. It's hard to get into everyone's head though. Hard to say what any one of them is thinking.

Roger (Worcester, MA): Adam: What did you think of the situation at Canisius? Should more coaches be worried that their athletic director won't support them when push comes to shove?
Adam Wodon: That's sure a loaded question. This assumes the athletic director didn't support Brian Cavanaugh. And there's evidence in both directions. We're still trying to sort that one out. If Cavanaugh was as much of a problem as the players say he was, then the AD would be right to let him go. By the same token, if Cavanaugh was a problem for years, why did it happen in the middle of the season. Something doesn't quite make sense. But as for other coaches having to be worried - of course every situation is different, and it's like everyone's boss. It just depends on who you work for. Most ADs I know are fine people and would do the right thing, whatever that may be.

Ben, Baltimore: Is Dartmouth this year's Harvard, i.e. a team that starts slow but builds up to a playoff run? It seems like the Green have finally found its offense.
Adam Wodon: I'm not sure there is a pure similarity there. First of all, Dartmouth hasn't done it yet, so who knows. Second, the type of woes that Dartmouth has had this season don't strike me as the same issues Harvard's had in the past. Third, Bob Gaudet, for my money, is the best Xs and Os coach in the ECAC - though there are plenty of others that give him a run for his money. Dave Peters does an incredible job at recruiting, and the Big Green are an extraordinarily dangerous team in the playoffs. I really like their team. I think their "run" as it were, has already started, so that's another difference from Harvard, which usually waited until March. They may have dug themselves too much of a hole, though, to be a factor in the regular season race, because the ECAC is so competitive this year. As a result, Dartmouth is bound to lose more games to good teams. But it would not shock me if they won the ECAC tournament.

John (St. Cloud): With a brutal schedule to start the season, most MSU fans thought the second half would prove to be stronger. Although still young, the second half of the season has started slow for Michigan State. Why hasn't MSU proved their potential this season?
Adam Wodon: That's a good question. They've had injuries - to Mike Lalonde, for example. And they just haven't gotten production out of guys they expected to produce. AJ Thelen has had a tough sophomore season, both offensively and defensively, and they suffer through far too many lapses in big moments. It's hard to pinpoint the reason for it, but they have clearly underachieved ... though they do have some big wins, and they've gotten great contributions out of the Fretter-Miller-Mueller line - which no one expected.

MoonMan (madison): Whats up with UND? The D was supposed to be a rock, yet its been more like a sieve.
Adam Wodon: I don't know - they're barely allowing 2 goals per game in conference play. Hardly sieve-like. Frankly, scoring has been more of an issue lately. I just think they have a new coach, and lost two big offensive starts. Spirko and Zajac are going to be good, but they aren't yet Parise and Bochenski.

Richter547: What's going on with Clarkson? They brought in a ton of talent in Shawn Weller and Steve Zalewski, and yet they end up at the bottom rankings of the ECAC. Is this something to do with Coach Roll or is it simple lack of motivation?
Adam Wodon: I don't think it's either one. I see it one step back before taking two steps forward. People got a little over-excited at last season's finish - but George Roll needs a little time to get things going. Those two freshmen are great, and there will be more. They are definitely in a funk right now - but remember, again, the ECAC is improved across the board this year. Every night is a tough game. So even if Clarkson improved slightly from the beginning of last year, Vermont, Princeton, Dartmouth, St. Lawrence, Harvard have all massively improved.

Gotter (Boston): I think the decision to replace UVM with Quinnipiac in the ECAC was bad for our league. Do you agree and, if so, who would you have selected?
Adam Wodon: I think Quinnipiac is the best addition that could've been made among the candidates. I'd have had no problem if they left it at 11 teams. But if a team was to be added, I think they are the best overall fit. Niagara would've been great from a hockey standpoint, because their program is farthest along. But academics and distance were a factor. Quinnipiac is as good a school academically as Vermont, if not better, so there's no issue there ... and their commitment to the program is second to none. Jack McDonald, the AD there, is one heckuva squeaky wheel and will get things done - even if he'll drive everyone crazy in the process.

John (New York): How do you think Vermont will do in Hockey East next year?
Adam Wodon: Jugding by their play this year, they'll do just fine. Obviously the competition level will be higher, but I think they are already at least as good a team as, say, Providence, and there's no reason they can't compete with the likes of Lowell and UMass every year. BU and BC are of course in a class unto themselves, and it would be hard to crack that. Same for Maine and New Hampshire -- although they are state schools in the same vein as Vermont -- so who's to say in 10 years Vermont can't be on that level. Where were UNH and Maine 20 years ago?

Larry, Sugar Land, TX: Do you think Denver will be able to get back to the Frozen Four?
Adam Wodon: At the beginning of the season, I said no. I thought their losses were too great - even though there were only four key guys gone, they were enormously key losses, both on the ice and as leaders. And I thought people there were fooling themselves that an early-season slump was just a slump. I figured it was a sign that they just weren't as good this year. But I was wrong. They certainly have enough weapons to do it again. Again, there's stiff competition, so they have no better chance than 8 other teams, but they are right there. Their freshman have integrated a lot faster than I thought, the goaltenders have played better than I thought, their seniors have stepped up huge and they have a great coach.

Robert (Chelmsford, Mass.): How effective do you think college hockey has been this year in capitalizing on the absence of the NHL? What do you think college hockey should be doing to get more fans, in general?
Adam Wodon: I'm not sure there's any more that can be done. It's been over-commercialized in some places already, I'd hate to see it become like the Mickey Mouse extravaganzas/sensory overload that the NHL has become, with all sorts of marketing gimmicks and what not. I think the best thing college hockey can do is, have games on TV, and let people see how good it is. And with CSTV and other outlets, more games than ever are on. It's never going to be college basketball - stop worrying about it and enjoy it for what it is. We all know how great it is.

Ryan (Boston): With the Beanpot less then a month away, who takes it?
Adam Wodon: Well, Harvard has already beaten both BU and BC this season, so maybe they can finally do it. But BC and BU have come on real strong since then. Meanwhile, Northeastern has beaten Colgate twice this year and Colgate is merely the first-place team in the ECAC and just beat Harvard. So, bottom line - who the heck knows. My gut tells me it will be BU. But I'd love to see it be Harvard.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Adam needs to run, so we need to end things for now.
Adam Wodon: Thanks everyone. I had a great time. Those were excellent questions.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Don't forget to join us in just a few minutes for our next chat, with CSTV hockey analyst Dave Starman. If we didn't get to your question, feel free to re-submit it for Dave.

 
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