Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With USCHO's Paula C. Weston

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, February 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET, USCHO CCHA Correspondent Paula C. Weston stops by "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and CSTV.com. Paula will be taking all of your questions, as well as previewing the CCHA battle between Northern Michigan and Ohio State coming up Friday, February 9 on CSTV.

Although not the original CCHA Correspondent for USCHO, Paula Weston kicked that guy to the curb in the publication's infancy, and has been covering the CCHA for USCHO since the second month that USCHO became a reality, in the fall of 1996.

Paula got her start covering the three Ohio CCHA teams for Michigan's Hockey Weekly prior to joining USCHO, and in her decade of college hockey coverage has contributed stories to the Montreal Gazette, ESPN.com, and to dailies and weeklies throughout the CCHA coverage area.

In her other life, Paula has taught college-level writing for 19 years, and currently teaches at Columbus State Community College.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Paula won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 6th, but feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for her arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Hello, and welcome back to "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We're joined now by USCHO CCHA correspondent Paula Weston.
Paula Weston: Howdy folks! I hope that everyone experiencing the current arctic blast is keeping warm...and anticipating good ice in their local rinks this weekend!

Dwayne (Lisbon): Now that Notre Dame is #1, what are the odds we'll see the Fighting Irish in St. Louis in April?
Paula Weston: Well, probably the same as they were before they were No. 1. This Notre Dame team is an untested commodity in post-season play, but I think Jeff Jackson, Paul Pooley, and Andy Slaggert are the kinds of coaches who can prepare any team for nearly anything -- except Robert Morris. (Joking...just joking...) I think the better question is this: What are the odds that any CCHA team will make a St. Louis appearance? I've been an awfully lonely CCHA reporter at recent Frozen Fours.
Paula Weston: If David Brown continues his career season, the Irish are nearly unbeatable. Nearly. And I don't care who they play. Except for maybe Minnesota. Or New Hampshire. Or Robert Morris.

Steve (Fort Wayne): I've noticed that you have bashed CCHA killer Robert Morris in many of your columns. Where is the love for the Colonials? I watched them play Western last year and they seem like a hard working well coached team. You gotta love a team that works that hard.
Paula Weston: I haven't bashed Robert Morris at all. I have nothing but respect for the Colonials and any team from one of the non-Big-Four leagues that can stick it to one of the Big-Four-league teams. It's just that they're a team that most CCHA teams should beat regularly. It's a running joke that goes back to early last season, and has to do with fuzzy math. If A is greater than B, and B is greater than C... Notre Dame had no business losing to Robert Morris

Dan (Des Moines): What's your opinion on Wayne State wanting to join the CCHA? Are 13 teams too many? Should the NCAA save the CHA?
Paula Weston: Thirteen teams is only too many because my season preview then takes a month to write! This is two different issues, actually: Is Wayne State a good fit for the CCHA? Yes. Is 13 teams too many for any league? Probably. Wayne State is an excellent fit because of its location, its history (we love Bill Wilkinson!), its familiarity with the league, the urban campus -- everything about it, in my opinion, brings something good to the CCHA in real, tangible ways. Except for the fact that the Warriors would be the 13th team in the league.
Paula Weston: The CCHA has had difficulty enough in recent years -- although I'm sure they wouldn't call it that -- juggling the season and post-season schedule to accommodate everything and everyone, and while it's a system that seems to work the best -- the clusters, the current playoff system -- it's far from perfect. I could see the league splitting into individual conferences, but my psychic abilities dim when it comes to league operations.

Chris (Traverse City): What more will NMU's Mike Santorelli have to do this year inorder to create some Hobey Baker talk in the college hockey community? I see him as the best college hockey player in the country leading the nation in goals and short handed goals. Do you think he will make the final ten Hobey canidates? And what are his chances of winning the award.
Paula Weston: Well, he has the 18th-best overall poinst-per-game total in the country. He is second in goals per game, and is tied with three other players for first in shorthanded goals.
Paula Weston: It's true that he's an incredible player -- I can't wait to see him this weekend in Columbus -- but given NMU's year, I'm afraid the buzz surrounding him won't be as loud as you'd like. He may be a finalist, but I think the odds are against him for the Hobey.

Chris, Traverse City: Paula- What are the chances that NMU makes it to the JOE for the 5th straight year? It seems the CCHA has been a bit of crapshoot this year with teams like ND play so well and some other teams struggling; what is contributing to this?
Paula Weston: I think the Wildcats are a longshot to make it to The Joe this year. Santorelli aside, NMU is not scoring goals, and the Wildcats have a harder job of finishing middle-four in the CCHA (and therefore securing home ice) than others near them in the standings because everyone else has two games in hand on the Wildcats. Of course, they could upset to get there -- but, as I said, that's a longshot.

Nate (Philadelphia): Is T.J. Hensick the best Hobey candidate in the CCHA, and if yes, is he the frontrunner nationwide?
Paula Weston: Paula Weston: I think Hensick and Parse are equally good candidates, but T.J. is having a heck of a year. Look at the scoring, nationwide: Hensick, Kevin Porter, Eric Ehn, Scott Parse...but scoring isn't the only thing that matters. Don't count out Eric Ehn.

Stew, Ann Arbor: Why do you think Hensick and Hunwick stayed all four years at Michigan and didn't bolt?
Paula Weston: Because they're smarter than the guys who left. Seriously. They realized that their college experience is irreplaceable, that they had the chance to develop for the same program and coaching staff for four years while getting a degree from the University of Michigan. What I never understand is why other players leave U-M. I don't get it.

Tony (Philadelphia): Michigan State has gone 11-2-1 in the last 14 games but instead of moving into a top spot in the Pairwise Rankings, they have become a bubble team. If MSU continues to win can they become a #2 or even a #1 seed for the NCAAs? It doesnt seem likely with how the PWR has been working.
Paula Weston: It does seem unlikely that MSU can be a No. 2 or No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament -- unless they really win out. It's possible. I just don't see the CCHA as very strong this year, compared to the other leagues. I guess the PWR supports that. Of course, I don't make the rules.

mike (mishawaka, IN): It seems more and more likely we may have a slightly similar situation to the BCS a few years ago when USC was #1 in all the human polls but failed to play for the title. There's a good chance Notre Dame may finish #1 in all the polls but be a 2 seed. If you are not satisfied with the selection process, what would you change?
Paula Weston: Well, first of all, I think it's unfair to compare the PWR with the BCS, completely, just as it's unfair to compare football with hockey, or basketball with hockey. D-I men's ice hockey is still a very finite sport; by that, I mean there are only 59 teams (58 tournament eligible). And the polls are NOT the PWR, the RPI, or any other statistical rating system. The polls are just that: polls, based on educated opinions. We hope that the pollsters have educated opinions. So while ND is No. 1 in the polls, they're not No. 1 in the PWR for statistical reasons.
Paula Weston: All that having been said, I really don't have a problem with the way in which the NCAA currently chooses the field of 16. I think the committee does the best it can with what it has available, and because humans are involved, human error is sometimes a factor.
Paula Weston: I do how like the committee responded after four WCHA teams played in the Frozen Four in Columbus. The only gripe I have actually stems not from how the committee decides things but from how teams play: I want a CCHA team in the Frozen Four, and the only entity that can decide that is the given CCHA team playing.
Paula Weston: And Notre Dame wouldn't be "slighted" if they finished No. 1 in the poll but were a No. 2 seed. Two different animals.

Mike W (Oxford): Hi Paula. I just wanted to tell you what a big fan I am. I read your column religiously and I'm never disapponted. Your style and sense of humor are matched only by your very keen hockey insight. I watched the CCHA all-access show on tv the other day and they were touring Steve Cady arena. I kept thinking of you saying in your column: "It's so pretty". Ok, a question, already. Actually two: 1) I love the CCHA as much as you, but I don't like our chances in the postseason this year. I would be surprised to see a CCHA team in the frozen four. Your thoughts? 2) I really want your job. Any advice on how I can steal it from you?
Paula Weston: What great questions, Gentle Reader. You obviously are a man of style and intellect.
Paula Weston: You mentioned my favorite thing in college hockey right now: Steve Cady Arena. Oh, now you've distracted me with the shiny object!
Paula Weston: Thank you, Mike in Oxford, for the compliments. I appreciate the RedHawk fans' often misguided faith in me. It's huge fun to go to Oxford, and not just for my new boyfriend -- Steve Cady Arena -- but because the fans there are super and don't throw things at me. That last part is a bonus.
Paula Weston: Now to answer your questions as honestly as I can.
Paula Weston: I don't like the CCHA's postseason chances, either. That doesn't make me very popular in certain league offices, but it's true. Odds are against our boys. I think Notre Dame can ride David Brown and great coaching very far...but they have to score more goals. Their GF-GA ratio is two-to-one -- excellent, by any standards -- but most of those come against CCHA opponents. I fear for them when they get out there in the big world, and pray that they draw Boston College.
Paula Weston: Of course, my money was on Miami preseason, as I said in my preview. I don't know what happened last weekend in Alaska, as I haven't spoken to anyone in Oxford yet this week, but 0-2-2 in the last four games doesn't bode well even going into the CCHA playoffs.
Paula Weston: Before Drew Miller left MSU last year, I would have put money on the Spartans playing the Sioux in this year's title game. (And before some Sioux departures.) MSU was an incredibly exciting postseason team last year.
Paula Weston: But never, ever, ever, ever, ever discount Michigan. They have the best not-so-secret weapon: Red Berenson. He's an uber-coach who can sometimes coax something from nothing, and look at that offense!
Paula Weston: Still, I see myself as very lonely in St. Louis, and not just because I don't foresee any CCHA teams there. I'll also be surrounded by USCHO staff. Very lonely, indeed.
Paula Weston: As for my job, I'm sure that you can contact my esteemed editor, Scott Brown, and he'll hand it to you. I don't think he'd even bother to call me and tell me that I'm canned. Ask him. It can't hurt.
CSTV.com Moderator: That's all the time we have with Paula this afternoon.
Paula Weston: Thanks, everyone, for spending time with me here at CSTV and USCHO. And thank you for your continued support of USCHO and my column. I can't tell you how much fun these past 11 years have been, getting to know everyone associated with the CCHA and college hockey, and how much I look forward to seeing CCHA fans in Detroit for the playoffs. Thanks to everyone who write regularly to let me know that I'm terrific or terrible -- you're the best. If you're dealing with the cold, keep safe and warm, and be sure to say hello to me if you see me in a rink somewhere. And, Mike in Oxford, I was only kidding about the job.
Paula Weston: Scott Brown probably WOULD call me before firing me.
CSTV.com Moderator: That will do it for this week's "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats. Check back for more info on next week's guests, and remember that you can see Northern Michigan take on Ohio State this Friday at 8 p.m. ET, LIVE on CSTV!
CSTV.com Moderator: Thanks, and have a great week!