Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With The Writers' Round Table

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, January 15 at 1:00 p.m. ET, "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com, will host a Writers' Round Table featuring three of USCHO's conference correspondents discussing issues across college hockey.

The Writers' Round Table is a new recurring feature as part of "Tuesday @ the Rink." College hockey beat writers from across the country will join CSTV.com's Elliot Olshansky to discuss the weekend that was, the weekend ahead, and national issues in college hockey.

Confirmed for Tuesday's Writers Round Table are USCHO's Atlantic Hockey correspondent Chris Lerch, CHA correspondent Matt Mackinder, and CCHA correspondent Paula Weston., and CSTV.com Rink Rat Elliot Olshansky, who will moderate the panel.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Our panel members won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, January 15th, but feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for their arrival!
Elliot Olshansky: Good afternoon, and welcome to "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. I'm happy to be moderating another Writers' Round Table this week, with three of USCHO's distinguished conference correspondents. Joining us today are CCHA correspondent Paula Weston...
Paula Weston: Hello everyone! Greetings from the decidedly wintry city of Columbus, Ohio!
Elliot Olshansky: CHA correspondendent Matt Mackinder...
Matt Mackinder: How's it going, everyone? I'm here in the frozen confines of suburban Detroit ready for your questions, so let 'er rip!
Elliot Olshansky: And Atlantic Hockey correspondent Chris Lerch, who should be joining us shortly
Elliot Olshansky: Let's get started with our first question

Brian Fish (Deeetroit): Wayne State had a terrific sweep at NMU, which was great to see. I know their D-1 program is dead, but is there any talk of them playing on a less expensive level like D-3 or even, dare I say, club (ACHA)?
Paula Weston: I'll defer to Mackinder's expertise on this one. I've head nothing, but I have to say -- again -- that I'm very sad to see the end of WSU's men's program.
Matt Mackinder: It's a sad situation, but when it all comes down to money and the piggy bank is empty, hey, what can you do?
Paula Weston: And I've heard nothing of them playing D-III or club.
Matt Mackinder: Wayne State doesn't offer club sports.
Matt Mackinder: just Division II and D-I men's and women's puck
Paula Weston: And there you have it.
Paula Weston: I just wonder where Bill Wilkinson will land.
Matt Mackinder: Hopefully not in retirement.
Paula Weston: I don't think so. I think he'll coach somewhere. But where?
Elliot Olshansky: I think I've heard things about Europe...but personally, it could be nice to see something like the end of Slap Shot, where the team wins a title in its last year.
Elliot Olshansky: Moving on...
Elliot Olshansky: Moving on...

Eric Grand Forks, ND: Are the Pundents giving the CCHA getting way too much credit? If you look at the SOS for two of the top teams in the CCHA; Michigan has played the 31st toughest schedule, while Miami has played the 28th toughest schedule. Why are these teams still impressive?
Paula Weston: The "pundents" giving the CCHA too much credit? Because the two best teams in the country are Miami and Michigan, and three of the four top 10 teams are CCHA teams?
Elliot Olshansky: I say it all the time...hockey games are played on sheets of ice, not sheets of paper, and having seen Michigan and Miami, these teams look like the No. 1 and No. 2 teams.
Paula Weston: It's not just the press that votes in the polls. I'd be willing to wager that many, many coaches around the country would say that Miami and Michigan are the top two teams in the nation right now.
Paula Weston: And while hockey games are played on sheets of ice and not paper, RinkRat, you would be out of work if people didn't want to see the endless banter about our sport.
Elliot Olshansky: Of course, I tend to like Miami a bit more than most, because I do still wonder about some of those Michigan freshmen hitting the wall.
Paula Weston: It's always foolish to underestimate Michigan. I think that may be the one true thing I've learned covering hockey these last dozen years.
Chris Lerch: Sauer looks like he's now the goalie many of us thought he would be...starting out at 17 is tough. He'd be a freshman at many schools.
Matt Mackinder: Or still in juniors
Paula Weston: Chris, I couldn't agree more. I've said repeatedly that the kid is just a 19-year-old junior, the same age as many freshmen in D-I.
Paula Weston: Josh Blackburn has something to do with Sauer's progress this season. And maturity doesn't hurt. Neither does confidence. Or maybe he's just happy to have so many other kids near his age on the team.
Matt Mackinder: Or having Red's confidence.
Paula Weston: That helps a lot, Matt. You know that Red doesn't pull any punches, verbally. He will praise when it's earned, and he will be brutally honest most of the time.
Matt Mackinder: As a coach should.
Paula Weston: Agreed, Matt. So why isn't Sauer a Hobey candidate?
Matt Mackinder: Because three guys from Canisius are better
Chris Lerch: I'm working on a story on "Vote for Hobey"...that list isn't very inclusive, let's put it that way.
Paula Weston: And we'll have to agree to disagree, Matt, that Sauer isn't as good as those three kids from Canisius.
Elliot Olshansky: I think the way it works is that each team submits three players for the fan voting
Chris Lerch: Correct, Rink Rat
Chris Lerch: That list can and will be different than the coaches' ballots.
Elliot Olshansky: Good to know. OK, moving on to a recent development...

Maxim Starchenko (Michigan): What impact, if any, will the ruling to allow Canadian Universities admission into the NCAA have on college hockey?
Matt Mackinder: I don't like it. It'll make the NCAA one big cluster-bleep.
Elliot Olshansky: I don't know, Matt, I think there would be some folks who would be very happy to include a Canadian school if it would help save the CHA.
Chris Lerch: Same here. There are a couple of Canadian schools who have tried to play an independent schedule of NCAA teams and would really like to join CHA.
Matt Mackinder: Just what the CHA needs - more travel costs...
Paula Weston: It's a double-edged thing, in my opinion.
Paula Weston: Some Canadian players would certainly opt to stay home, but some would opt to come to the States for lots of reasons. And no one is talking about the possibility of American kids going north of the border, are they?
Matt Mackinder: The best thing for college hockey is for the five conferences to absorb the four CHA teams. Period. Canada is not the answer.
Paula Weston: Every geographically far-flung league has enormous travel costs, Matt. Unless you're Hockey East, you travel...a LOT.
Matt Mackinder: Not as much as the CHA.
Matt Mackinder: Alabama to Minnesota?
Paula Weston: Miami to Fairbanks? Michigan Tech to Anchorage? Michigan Tech to Denver?
Paula Weston: It's a 14-hour drive from Columbus to Marquette, Mich.
Chris Lerch: I think we need more, not less conferences. Smaller, regional conferneces - 8 or so teams.
Paula Weston: Chris, you're right -- more conferences, not fewer. To suggest that the CHA travels more than the WCHA or CCHA is just wrong.
Matt Mackinder: With their nonconference schedule, it's probably about even.
Chris Lerch: A lot of coaches I have talked to want that. They have to get the ADs together. Let the Big 10 go off and do their thing and re-align the rest. A super confernece might not be bad for college hockey in general.
Matt Mackinder: Not enough ADs are hockey-oriented, though. You need more hockey people helping out.
Paula Weston: I want to see a Southern Collegiate Hockey Association. Florida State, Florida, and Georgia play huge club hockey -- they're crazy about Georgia club hockey. And there's big club hockey in Texas at big schools.
Chris Lerch: The Arizona club teams draw more than one-third of the D-I teams.
Matt Mackinder: Who's got $$$ to burn, though?
Paula Weston: Doesn't have to be money to burn.
Matt Mackinder: But it's not free.
Paula Weston: The bigger schools with football programs are the logical place to look for expansion. They're nuts about sports -- and hockey is very popular in those areas.
Chris Lerch: Speaking of which...Navy will go D-I, take it ot the bank...but when remains to be seen. Speaking of which...Navy will go D-I, take it ot the bank...but when remains to be seen. And they'll go AHA
Paula Weston: As for a Big Ten conference, I have really mixed feelings. Big Ten hockey might, indeed, be good for college hockey exposure, but I like the way the WCHA and CCHA are set up now, with a mix of big and smaller schools.
Matt Mackinder: The CCHA is hardly "central," so perhaps realignment there would be in order.
Paula Weston: What's not central about the CCHA? With the exception of Fairbanks?
Matt Mackinder: The midwest and, oh yeah, UNO and Alaska. Nice footprint.
Paula Weston: I'm not against realignment, but wholesale slaughter is not something I'm interested in. It's not just about geography -- and, yes, Omaha is 10 hours and change west of Oxford (when driven correctly) -- but about rivalries, history. The WCHA and CCHA have been around a while. There are some things you'd hate to lose.
Chris Lerch: I agree that the hockey-only conferneces have helped the sport...look what happened when the MAAC tried to run a hockey league.
Matt Mackinder: I think the conferences should be geographically oriented, like AHA, HE and ECAC. Just my opinion.
Paula Weston: Good point, Chris. The good ol' MAAC.
Paula Weston: Air Force is a natural pick, of course, for the Atlantic Hockey Association.
Chris Lerch: AHA has risen the standard for those schools. Better budgets, better recruits, better barns...and there's always beating Minnesota a couple of times.
Chris Lerch: AHA has risen the standard for those schools. Better budgets, better recruits, better barns...and there's always beating Minnesota a couple of times.
Paula Weston: I agree, Chris. The AHA is a formidable conference right now. Very impressive growth in that league.
Elliot Olshansky: Say what you will about Air Force's fit in Atlantic, but one of the first things I thought when that news broke - besides "the CHA is in trouble" - was "wouldn't it be great if you took the Army-Air Force rivalry and added the drama of a championship to the mix?" And lo and behold, look what we got.
Paula Weston: The remark about Air Force, Elliot, was sarcastic.
Chris Lerch: I was at the RIT-Gophers game and nobody knew where poor little RIT was from. When asked for the hundredth time, one RIT player said it was "south of Finland".
Matt Mackinder: But the AHA and CHA are still not CCHA/WCHA-caliber leagues.
Matt Mackinder: If a kid has a choice between Bentley and NoDak, um, he's going to NoDak.
Matt Mackinder: If a kid has a choice between Bentley and NoDak, um, he's going to NoDak.
Paula Weston: Chris, with all due respect to the Golden Gophers, that was a great and beautiful thing. Matt, as for your remark about the AHA and CHA not being CCHA/WCHA-caliber leagues, are you suggesting that the AHA and CHA are ECAC/Hockey East-caliber leagues?
Chris Lerch: Minnesota was going through a stretch where they just were miserable in the third period. I think they'll snap out of that.
Matt Mackinder: No, I'm saying that there is no parity amongst leagues. At all. I also don't know where I'm going with my argument.
Paula Weston: I can't agree with you, Matt. Um, about the parity statement, not that you don't know where you're going with your argument.
Paula Weston: I think there's huge parity among three of the "traditional four" leagues. I don't think the ECAC looks as good this year as it did last (sadly). That may change. And I think the CHA has a ways to go...but the stability of that league (or lack thereof) is an issue.
Paula Weston: But I think many of the teams in the CHA can play with anybody.
Matt Mackinder: Right. There is the CCHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC and "the other two."
Matt Mackinder: It sucks, but that is how the majority of people sadly see it.
Chris Lerch: Top to bottom CHA is stronger than AHA, I think. Look what Bobby Mo did to AIC, for example.
Chris Lerch: But I think the top four in AHA would compete well in the ECAC.
Paula Weston: I'm pretty sure, Matt, that the play of the teams of the "other two leagues" will change peoples' minds in the future. You've got to give the rest of the world time to catch up with what's going on in the CHA and AHA.
Paula Weston: And, dammit, I want that SCHA so that I can make my mother's dreams come true and move to Florida.
Chris Lerch: RIT is coached by two former CCHA players (Wilson and Hills) and they draw a lot of parallels between AHA and the early days of the CCHA when they played.

PCM (Grand Forks): Do you guys think the Sioux will make their annual second half run again and get in the frozen four and be able to get the title finally?
Paula Weston: Why wouldn't they? That's another team I couldn't underestimate. But I have to say that I really love CC this year.
Elliot Olshansky: Why oh why did I call CC overrated after the preseason poll?
Chris Lerch: Yes..and no. Get there, yes. Win it all...no.
Paula Weston: Because you're a fool, Elliot...just as I called Michigan to come in third in the CCHA preseason poll, foolishly.
Elliot Olshansky: Well, as far as North Dakota goes, I have to think that sweeping Michigan Tech was a good sign, especially when you look at what Tech did at the GLI. I think the leadership on that team is good, both between the guys who came back and a guy like Robbie Bina, who's really fortunate to be playing, and the talent is certainly there to win in the tournament in the right situation. But I have to say that I don't particularly like them against Michigan, Miami or Denver...I think the North Dakota team we were expecting in the preseason is still there somewhere, and that team can beat CC.
Chris Lerch: And did the question say "finally"? I've seen the Sioux win two titles in person, and I'm not THAT old. It's that expecation of success that makes coaching at these top programs so hard. I'm reminded of Rick Comley's comments last season after winning.
Paula Weston: No kidding, Chris.
Chris Lerch: There are about 50 schools that just want a shot...and another eight that EXPECT to be there and it's a disappointment if they don't win the whole thing.
Elliot Olshansky: Well, I will say that making it to the Frozen Four three years in a row and losing has to be frustrating. A Buffalo Bills Super Bowl win in the mid-80s wouldn't have made the early 90s any less frustrating, right?
Paula Weston: Hey, I'm a Buffalo Bills fan.
Paula Weston: Three straight trips to the FF without winning is heartbreaking, no question. But it's three straight trips. How many other programs would like to be able to claim that? And think of what that does for recruiting.
Matt Mackinder: Ask Alabama-Huntsville about getting to the CHA finals and not winning - until last year, of course.
Chris Lerch: They can commiserate with St. Norbert in D-III...automatic to the Frozen every year.
Chris Lerch: And then they run into Middlebury, except last year...when they ran into Oswego.
Paula Weston: Chris, isn't that scenario extraordinary? A good SUNY team. What is the St. Norbert mascot?
Chris Lerch: A Green Knight
Paula Weston: Get out.
Chris Lerch: D-III has better mascots, that's why I love it.
Chris Lerch: The fighting Ephs of Williams, The Cobbers of Concordia, The Pipers of Hamline, the Jumbos of Tufts. Somebody stop me!
Elliot Olshansky: That'll be me.
Elliot Olshansky: OK, time to cut this off, we have a goalie who's in the top five nationally in save percentage and goals-against average to talk to.
Paula Weston: Who probably knows more about the state of college hockey than we do.
Chris Lerch: But he's not on Vote for Hobey
Paula Weston: Thanks to everyone who spent Tuesday afternoon with us!
Paula Weston: And thanks to my wonderful colleagues, with whom I never get to spend time -- virtually or otherwise.
Chris Lerch: Billy and I hail from the fair city of Rochester, so I wish him well....and the rest of our viewers. Enjoy the rest of the season.
Matt Mackinder: Thanks everyone for watching us rant about a sport we all love! Take 'er easy!
Elliot Olshansky: And now, it's time to go over and chat with Billy Sauer...