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Tuesday @ The Rink With Billy Jaffe

Welcome to 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

CSTV Analyst Billy Jaffe has been criss-crossing the country all season for CSTV, calling the best games in each conference.

Jaffe brings a unique national perspective to his analysis, having seen the top teams and talked to the top coaches each week in his preparation.

Each week, Jaffe breaks down the CSTV Game of the Week on, providing keys to victory and an outline for the viewer of what to be paying attention to.

While Billy will not be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday January 25, feel free to submit your questions now and we will save them for his arrival! Moderator: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Tuesday at the Rink. Our first guest this afternoon is CSTV hockey analyst Billy Jaffe.
Billy Jaffe: It's great to be here. I'm looking forward to all your questions.

Vinod (New York): What are your thoughts regarding Cornell's chances this year at the Frozen Four?
Billy Jaffe: I like Cornell's chances to go pretty far this year becasuse they play a real strict system and are dedicated to it. They believe in what Mike Schaefer preaches and it can be frustrating to play against. If they can improve on their transitional offense and keep up good team speed I think they can do some damage this year. Maybe not Frozen 4 but a few rounds for sure for Cornell.

mike st cloud mn: Do you think the Gophers should put Chucko on the second line and move Hirsch to the first to have two assist men on the first two lines and two scorers on each line?
Billy Jaffe: Well, I do know that Don Lucia likes having the strong Chucko on the line with Irmen and Potulny for the type of element he brings to the line. I am sure Lucia has thought about moving Hirsch up there but combos are a funny thing in that sometimes the more "obvious" ones really are not the best.

David (Boston): Do you think CC is better than BC? It seems that if Minnesota were not playing poorly CC would not have swept them.
Billy Jaffe: There is a good possibility we'll all find this answer out in Columbus come April. I like both teams' depth and balance as well as the fact that they have real good goalies. One advantage BC might have is that they play on regulation ice (200x85) vs CC on Olympic sheet and regulation ice is what NCAA tournament is played on.

Garret(Hancock): How do you feel about the play of the Michigan Tech Huskies in 2005 after the sweep of #4 Minnesota last weekend?
Billy Jaffe: Even though I have not seen them in person, I like the way Tech has perservered this year. It would have been real easy to throw in the towel after Christmas but they have come out playing even harder. They have real good goaltending and are strong up front. If they keep this new confidence going, they will be a hard team to play against every weekend.

brandon(auburn): With the standings in Hockey East congested at the top, who do you think will play the best down the stretch to win it at the end of the season?
Billy Jaffe: I like BC and UNH to finish at the top of HE this season. BC has really established a team defense first attitude and now they are starting to bury more goals. I also think Patrick Eaves is one of country's best. UNH has a pretty good offense and they believe they are good which is so important coming down the stretch. Keep and eye on UMass Lowell as they keep on making a move too.

Tom, Marquette: What is NMU's chances at getting an at large bid to the NCAAs?
Billy Jaffe: At 12-7-5 and in third of the CCHA, Northern has a little work to do down the stretch to make the NCAA's. The CCHA is not considered as strong this year and with the better play in WCHA and HE don't be surprised if the CCHA only gets 2 teams to the "dance" this year.

William, Sioux Falls, SD: Billy: What was it like playing for Red Berenson at Michigan?
Billy Jaffe: Playing for Red was a real good experience. He carries such a reputation from all that he accomplished in college and the pros and he is good at passing on what he learned to his players. He can be tough at times, but that is not a bad thing. He believes in education and expects all of his players to be good students.

Rob in Vancouver: I think that T.J. Hensick is the best individual player in college hockey at the moment. Your comments, and can he win the Hobey Baker Award?
Billy Jaffe: I think that TJ is one of the best players in the NCAA as well. He has really progressed as a player and his coach (Red) says that he is a "pleasure to coach and watch." TJ took his healthy scratch at Wisconsin in November to heart and has committed himself to better defense as well. I have no doubt he will be a finalist for the Hobey.

lou waterford ny: Is Dan Fridgen on the hot seat at RPI, even though RPI swept Clarkson and Saint Lawrence this past weekend?
Billy Jaffe: I will be in Troy for the Big Red Freakout Feb. 12 (vs. Brown) for CSTV and will have a better feel then what is going on at RPI. From people I have talked with, I do know that more was expected there this year.

Adam (Clifton Park, NY): What can we expect between Cornell and Clarkson this Friday? Has the young Cornell team arrived in the upper echelon of college hockey?
Billy Jaffe: First, you can expect lots of physical play and great energy from both teams. Cornell lost two games last year to Clarkson at home to end their season and I know they haven't forgotten that. Second, I imagine it will be low scoring as both teams are really focusing on defense first. If Cornell gets more PP chances than Clarkson they will win as their special teams are great. I do think Cornell has started to "arrive" but I would be really excited for the Big Red team next year, too, when they willl be really experienced.

hockeyfan (new york): Who do you like to come out of Atlantic Hockey this season? The top of the standings are pretty tight at this time.
Billy Jaffe: Looks like Holy Cross and Canisius will be there in the end. With all that has transpired at Canisius it wouldn't surprise me if they have banded together even more as a team and make a statement by winning the conference.

NMUWILDCAT Lafayette, IN: What CCHA teams are sleepers to win the conference tourney?
Billy Jaffe: Well, on our first CSTV game (in Maine) I picked Michigan State to be a real surprise this year so....I guess I have to stick with them for now. They haven't shown me that much yet but they do have some real good talent. I also think NMU and Bowling Green have a good chance at sneaking up on the conference.

Brandon: Who do you think the darkhorse choice is in the ECAC? Who is the favorite at this point to win the ECAC's?
Billy Jaffe: My favorite to win it is Cornell. I just think they are starting to peak at the right time. I also think it will be very close with Colgate and Harvard right there as well. If you want, you can call Harvard my "sleeper" to win it.

James (Milwaukee): Wisconsin has three lines that are capable of filling the net on any given night. Are there any teams in the nation that can match the Badgers' scoring balance?
Billy Jaffe: A few come to mind right away: Minnesota, Michigan, Denver. Maybe Michigan has the best lines along with Wisconsin offensively, but the other two I mentioned also can score and roll three or four lines as well as anybody in the country. Moderator: Just a reminder that after Billy is done, we will be joined by USCHO WCHA columnist Todd Milewski. If we don't get to your question with Billy, please re-submit it and we'll try to get it to Todd.

Jim (Appleton, WI): How would you compare the styles of the WCHA and Hockey East? Which do you think works best come tournament time?
Billy Jaffe: Teams play so many good non-conference games now that they are relatively familiar with other styles by the time they get to the tournament. I really think it is more of a team thing than a conference thing. Granted, the WCHA this year is really strong and the teams can flat out skate. But, BC, BU, and UNH can also play some excellent hockey too. Yes, it is more grinding and less wide open (smaller ice surfaces don't allow for it as much) but I still like the way they play. This year I think the WCHA has a better chance of sending more teams to the tourney.

Josh (Dover, NH): Caught a great UNH/BC game last night (2-2 tie) at BC. Any thoughts as to how Hockey East will shape out at the end of the regular season?
Billy Jaffe: My gut tells me BC will beat out UNH by a point or two. BC will win with one of the best team defenses in the country and the fact that their goalies form a pretty dynamic pair. Also, BC has excellent leadership at important positions (ie, Alberts and Shannon).

Eric (Ann Arbor): Hey Bill. Go Blue! What do you think Michigan's odds are of making it into the Grand Rapids regional? Obviously, this would be the best regional for us, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. If it were to happen, how do you see it going down?
Billy Jaffe: If Michigan can find a way to win out and dominate the rest of the way, they do have a chance at ending up in Grand Rapids for the regional. If they get there it is a huge advantage for them (and a nice boon for NCAA attendence) and I would see them winning it as well. I would say odds are at best 50/50 right now though as all the good WCHA teams are making it difficult to ignore a few of them as #1s.

Evan (Edina): Who are the best teams you have seen this year? Who is the biggest disappointment?
Billy Jaffe: The best teams I have seen in person (not in order as they have all had ups/downs so far): Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, BC. Biggest disappointments: Michigan State, Minnesota Duluth, Notre Dame.

Rich (Gray, ME): Hi Billy, What are your thoughts on the mandate to crackdown on obstruction? Do you feel it is working?
Billy Jaffe: Yes and no. I love the idea to open up the game but I don't know if they have really made it any easier on the officials. We need to make hockey in general more open and exciting and the initial emphasis to call all the neutral zone stuff is excellent. However, many games I have seen still have the biggest problem and that is inconsistency from the refs. There still is no true standard as to what is called.

bob (madison): What WCHA team is best equipped for a title run? Does Wisconsin's youth hurt them? Is Minnesota's mini-slide going to continue?
Billy Jaffe: I look to experience, depth, goaltending and skill to determine who I think will be there in the end. With that said, I would say the best equipped teams would be Wisconsin and Minnesota. Even though the Badgers are young, they have great leadership and do not act it. And Minny, well I just think they are going through something most teams do at some point during the year. I would rather go through it now than in March!

Ryan M (Boston): Has your Hobey list changed any? Do you think Patrick Eaves can win it?
Billy Jaffe: Every week on CSTV we come out with Billy's Baker Half Dozen. This Friday there is a change to my six candidates that might surprise some people but remember, I don't just judge the player's numbers...he's got to do things to help his team win. Make sure to tune in Friday for the new list! Sorry, gotta save somethings for the telecast! But yes, I do think Patrick can win it as he has really turned it up lately. Moderator: That is all we have time for with Billy.
Billy Jaffe: Thanks for all the great questions, everyone. I had a lot of fun and look forward to doing this again. Moderator: Don't forget to join us in just a few minutes, when our guest will be USCHO WCHA columnist Todd Milewski.

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