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Tuesday @ The Rink With Todd D. Milewski

Welcome to CollegeSports.com and USCHO's "Tuesday At The Rink" series of moderated chats.

This week's guests are CSTV analyst Billy Jaffe at 2:00 p.m. ET and USCHO WCHA columnist Todd Milewski at 3:00 p.m. ET. Come for one, stay for both!


At The Rink


Todd D. Milewski is in his seventh season as the WCHA Correspondent for USCHO.com, where he follows the goings-on of the league that has produced the last three NCAA champions. His weekly columns give insight into the inner workings of the league and its teams.

He's also the Wisconsin hockey beat writer for The Capital Times in Madison, Wis. He previously covered the St. Norbert hockey team and Division III hockey for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

While Todd will not be stopping by until 3:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday January 25, feel free to submit your questions now and we will save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: Hi and welcome to the second half of Tuesday at the Rink. Our guest is USCHO WCHA columnist Todd Milewski.
Todd D. Milewski: Good to be here. I saw some great questions in Billy Jaffe's chat and can't wait to get started.

Dave(Minnesota): On Saturday the 15th, Minnesota State definintely out played Minnesota. With the Minnesota State-Colorado College series coming up, do you think the Mavs can beat CC?
Todd D. Milewski: I hate to sound too much like a coach, but any team can beat any team these days. You don't have to look too far to show that -- Michigan Tech sweeping Minnesota at Mariucci proves it. But the Mavs have looked impressive on and off this season and they'll get up for the Tigers.

Don (Mankato): What was your take on MSU playing its game vs. Minnesota at Xcel two weeks ago?
Todd D. Milewski: I definitely can see why MSU did it: That's a lot of money for an athletic department that it can put to good use. But I'm surprised we didn't hear a little more from other teams in the WCHA about Minnesota getting to play a road game almost next door.

Phillip D. (Houghton, MI): In your article last week you mentioned your WCHA candidates for the Hobey, but you left out Colin Murphy of Michigan Tech. Not only is Colin 3rd in the nation in points, he is the leader in assists. He is the absolute leader for the MTU team, on and off the ice. To most of us Husky fans, he embodies everything that a Hobey Baker candidate should be. So my question is, why is he not even mentioned? Was it just an oversight?
Todd D. Milewski: Trust me, I could have mentioned more people than the three I did. I just talked to Jamie Russell about Colin Murphy for this week's column, and he had some good things to say -- most notably that he's been great as a leader, which is something you don't always have with a team that's 5-17-1. I wouldn't be surprised if Murphy makes the final 10 for the Hobey, but he has an uphill battle for publicity. Maybe that'll change.

Doug (Kalamazoo): I am a huge hockey fan here in Kalamazoo and am also a student at Western Michigan. Having said that do you think that Brent Walton has a legitimate shot at the Hobey Baker Award or at least receive a far amount of votes? Also his is one of two winger in the top five in scoring, so could he at the very least have a shot at first team All-American?
Todd D. Milewski: I haven't seen him play or talked to many people who have, but I think when you put up that many points, you have to be considered for both Hobey and an All-American spot. But who do you leave off the West All-American first team this year? That's the tough decision.

dggoddard (Houston): What are Denver's chances of winning the WCHA this season? Do you think that they are a better team than the National Champioship team of a year ago?
Todd D. Milewski: I don't think Denver is a better team than it was when it won the NCAAs last season at this point, but I definitely see the potential to reach that level with the balance in scoring and a steady defense. They've got a better-than-average chance of winning the league this year. That home-and-home series against CC to end the season should be huge.

Gary Peterson (Westport, CT): Which ratings system (coaches poll, pairwise or KRACH) do you prefer and why?
Todd D. Milewski: I try not to put too much faith in the poll and don't really know too much about the math behind the KRACH. When it comes down to it, the committee will be using something that looks an awful lot like the PairWise, so I go with that. It's not perfect, but it gives us a look into the process that people who follow basketball would love to have.

Jed (Alexandria, MN): What is the word as to which college Phil Kessel will choose?
Todd D. Milewski: Had to love the sign at the World Juniors a few weeks ago: WWPKD? (What Would Phil Kessel Do?) I wish I had more insight into it, but right now there's one person who knows the answer. Or maybe even Kessel doesn't know yet. I'd love to see him in the WCHA for a couple of years, though.

Dwayne (New Berlin): Will we ever see the five Big Ten schools (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan St. and Ohio State) together in the same conference again?
Todd D. Milewski: I hope not. Why sacrifice the good of the rest of the game to have one conference of the "big boys"?

Carter (Fort Collins, CO): The CC Tigers have had great chances to win it all in the recent past, but they always seem to come up short. Do you see a difference in this year's team?
Todd D. Milewski: Yes and no. I like not only what Sertich and Sterling bring, but what the Tigers have from other scorers. Heck, they can beat North Dakota 1-0 with a goal from a fourth-liner. But all it takes is one bad game to end it, just like in Ann Arbor a couple of years ago.

Mary (Grand Forks): What do you think is going on with UND? Wasnt Zajac going to be the new "Parise" or did we put to much faith into him? If UND starts to play better, do you think we will make it to the playoffs?
Todd D. Milewski: If UND fans are waiting for the next Parise to show up, good luck. Remember that he has twelve goals three quarters of the way through his freshman season. That's still pretty good. Don't count the Sioux out of the NCAAs -- they have a pretty good shot right now.

Bill Denning, Houston: 1) Do you think that Michigan Tech's recent success is the beginning of an ascent in the WCHA standings, or is it a flash in the pan? 2) To what would you attribute their improvement? Better goaltending, stars pulling their weight more, good coaching, team chemistry?
Todd D. Milewski: To No. 1: I've been debating that myself. I really think Jamie Russell will turn things around, at least more than others have. But I just don't know whether this is just a momentary thing or not. I guess we'll get a better view this weekend when they host CC. To No. 2: More consistent goaltending from Ellsworth and being able to stick to it through tough times.

Matt (Jackson MN): Todd, The Gophers are stumbling. Will they regain top form, or were they playing above themselves early?
Todd D. Milewski: Yes to both. I think they'll be fine come tournament time, which, conveniently puts them at Mariucci. But I think they were playing slightly above themselves and have recently been playing below themselves. The real Gophers are somewhere in the middle.

Jason(Madison): Todd- How do you see the fact that Wisconsin has by far the toughest remaining schedule in the WCHA impacting where they stand at the end of the season? And could it wear them out for the playoffs?
Todd D. Milewski: If I was involved, I'd want a tough schedule down the stretch to point out just exactly what needs to be fixed/tweaked before the playoffs. Like I said in my column last week, I don't think they'll win the league, but if they do, they'll have deserved it because of the opponents in the last five weeks. I wouldn't worry about them being worn out for the playoffs.

Tom (Minneapolis): Craig Dahl has been the coach at SCSU for 18 years and has never won a WCHA title or even a NCAA game. Now the program seems to be sliding into whole Dahl can't get out of. Do think Dahl can bring this prgram back up to respectability or do you think it will continue to fall like UMD did under their former coach?
Todd D. Milewski: Let's remember that Craig Dahl also was responsible for some pretty good seasons and good teams not too long ago. There aren't many programs that don't have a down stretch now and again. Even Minnesota a few years back. I think Dahl can bring them back, and I know for a fact he's putting an emphasis on recruiting to get it done.

Colin, Denver: If Denver holds and finshes third in the WCHA after the Final Five, what region will they land in.
Todd D. Milewski: I honestly think DU could wind up in any of the four regions. I don't think the committee will be shy in moving them anywhere because they don't bring a group in the thousands so attendance won't be a factor. I think everyone wants to avoid that West Regional, though.

Lo Ohms (Duluth): Do you think the addition of Bryan McGregor to UMD's lineup in the second half has been the spark that they have been looking for?
Todd D. Milewski: I have to go back to the Magic 8-Ball on that one: Reply Hazy.

bob (madison): How do opposing teams match up against Wisconsin? Do they put their top defensive lines/defensemen out against the Earl line, MacMurchy line, or Dowell line?
Todd D. Milewski: If they focus too much on one, they pay for it. Mike Eaves has said a lot recently that of everything that's going well with his team, he's happiest with its balance. But Robbie Earl has been taking a pounding recently and got a little frustrated with some no-calls last weekend against Notre Dame, so that's how teams have been playing him.

Mac Ottawa: What do you think of the new crackdown on obstruction in NCAA hockey? I've watched a few games and I find it has killed the flow of the game, and I don't like the fact that most games are won by the special teams.
Todd D. Milewski: Here's the problem I have with it: I thought it was going to unite college hockey into one kind of game. Instead, we seem to have a number of different interpretations of the way things should be called. The CCHA calls things differently than the WCHA -- a WCHA ref admitted as much to a CCHA coach earlier this season. That could be tricky to WCHA teams in the NCAAs.

Derek - Minneapolis: How in the world can a team like Bemidji State be ranked higher than UMD in the PWR? UMD has stumbled, but they also have quality wins of which BSU has none.
Todd D. Milewski: Ouch. That's gotta hurt. UMD doesn't get ranked because its RPI is below .500. If the Bulldogs get their RPI above .500, you would think they'd be ranked above Bemidji.

chris(grand forks): Do you think that Philippe Lamoureux could be the key to how far North Dakota goes this year in the NCAA's? Is he ready to be in net Friday and Saturday or is the Parise swap a good move for Hakstol? Lamoureux played both nights two weeks ago against CC and was swept, and still named WCHA Rookie of the Week, that's saying something.
Todd D. Milewski: I'm not privy to the entire situation at UND, but the times I've seen Lamoureux play, I've been impressed. They just need someone to step up and take the job, and so far Lamoureux seems to be the closest to doing that.

Paul (minneapolis): Of the current WCHA players, who are your top 3 guys you would pay to see and why?
Todd D. Milewski: Robbie Earl, because you never know what he's going to do with the puck or whether defensemen are going to be able to keep up; Danny Irmen, because you just see his talent all over the ice; and Mark Stuart, because I don't think there's a better shut-em-down defenseman in the league.

Nick, Minneapolis: Is the youth on Minnesota's roster going to be a factor down the stretch and into the postseason?
Todd D. Milewski: It might be, but it's up to their captains to get things together. Young players have done great things in this league recently, so it's no stretch to say the Gophers could have the same thing happen. They need some defensemen to get healthy, too.

Jim (Appleton, WI): The last couple of Bracketology articles on USCHO.com haven't looked very promising for Wisconsin. Some put Wisconsin on the bubble of making the tournament at all. Doesn't that seem pretty extreme for a team ranked top 5 most of the season? Is a #2 seed out of the question for UW?
Todd D. Milewski: Just remember that the Badgers' strength of schedule will take off in the last few weeks of the regular season. And consider that the polls and the PairWise aren't linked, so it's not out of the question for a top-five team to be low in the PWR. But if UW can go 7-3 or even 6-4 in the last 10, they should be fine.

Darler (Zimtown): What do you think about Anchorage beating some big name teams this year?
Todd D. Milewski: After watching the Seawolves beat Wisconsin in the playoffs last season, nothing they do will surprise me. But considering their losses from last season and the way this season started with the Lee Green/Brett Arcand Kootenay incident, they're doing better than a lot of people expected.

Qman: Who do you like outside of the WCHA this year? Who can play with the big dogs of the WCHA?
Todd D. Milewski: I've seen BC a few times on TV, and I'm not sure what it is about them, but I like the way they play. Plus, Patrick Eaves is an incredible player. This may sound crazy, but I think Harvard could make some waves in March.

Jim(Denver): If you were voting for the WCHA Rookie team would would be the 6 guys you'd pick?
Todd D. Milewski: Joe Pavelski, Paul Stastny and Travis Zajac up front; Kyle Klubertanz and Alex Goligoski on defense; and I'd have to make a choice between Peter Mannino and Phillippe Lamoureux in goal. Right now, considering the recent events, I'd pick Mannino.

George (Minneapolis): Do you have an early prediction on who'll be playing in the Final Five and the tourney winner (and, along with it, its auto-bid)?
Todd D. Milewski: Haven't thought of it yet, but here goes: Minnesota beats Duluth in the play-in game; Wisconsin beats Denver and CC beats Minnesota in the semis; and Wisconsin wins the championship game 3-2 in triple overtime. And if that comes true, I'm going to Vegas, baby.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: That's all the time we have today. Thanks for all the great questions.
Todd D. Milewski: I had a blast. Those questions were really good. I can't wait to do it again. Thanks, everyone.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Don't forget to join us again next week for Tuesday at the Rink. Our guests will be CSTV hockey analyst Mike Eruzione and USCHO ECACHL columnist Juan Martinez.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: See you all again next week.

 
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