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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.

If Cornell is surging to the top of the rankings, it must be time to have USCHO's Adam Wodon back in the caht room for another turn.

Adam steps up to the plate on Tuesday March 1st at 2:00 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 his most recent column, Wodon takes on those who criticize the Pairwise Rankings, as well as looking at the tight race in Hockey East.

While Adam will not be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday March 1st, feel free to submit your questions now and we will save them for his arrival!

CollegeSports.com Moderator: Hello again, everyone. And welcome to another fun afternoon at Tuesday @ The Rink. We have another twinbill for you today. Kicking things off is USCHO's Adam Wodon.
Adam Wodon: Greetings hockey fans. Good to be back. We're coming up on the greatest time of year, so get ready.

Matt (South Portland, ME): How likely is it that if Maine misses the tournament that they would look to replace Whitehead? I don't think it would happen at all, but you never know.
Adam Wodon: I think the odds are pretty much zero. Whitehead took the team to two NCAA finals in three years, in the aftermath of the tragic death of Shawn Walsh. He's kept the team together and they believe in him. This year has been up and down, but Maine is still fighting for an NCAA spot and could make it. The sweep of Lowell last weekend was a great sign of Whitehead's ability to keep the team together through a tough season. Walsh left a pretty high standard to live up to. There's only a couple coaches in the country who could do that.

Ken (Tulsa): What's up with Cornell getting the most #1 votes yet still losing out to Colorado College in the polls? What will it take for Cornell to gain respect from the Western pollsters?
Adam Wodon: I think this is a function of some people voting for Cornell No. 1 based on the week-to-week results, while anyone who didn't vote for them No. 1 is voting for them around No. 4-5 based upon the Pairwise and/or KRACH rankings (see www.uscho.com/rankings/ for details). Cornell doesn't need anyone's "respect". They'll earn it in the NCAAs.

BILL - Poughkeepsie, NY: Hi Adam. Thanks for taking my question. It's exciting to see the immediate impact of new players - notably Colgate's Tyler Burton - and it just so happens he is one of Colgate's first-ever scholarship recipients. This is a program I have followed for decades. Do you think this major philosophical change by the school and others like it is inevitable, harmful, or helpful? Or perhaps schools of Colgate's size without the glitzy stadiums and smaller student enrollment may just find it necessary?
Adam Wodon: I do believe it was necessary for Colgate in order to compete in the long term, and I don't think it adversely affects them from an educational standpoint at all. When St. Lawrence made this move, their coach, Joe Marsh, said that it would actually help academics, because it would allow them to pick from a better crop of players and compete with the Ivy Leagues (which, although they don't give scholarships, they have an advantage in name recognition). So I'd say what Colgate did was inevitable, and helpful all around.

Matt (White Plains): Adam, Do you believe that Cornell has enough offensive depth to defeat a high scoring WCHA or CCHA opponent in the NCAAs?
Adam Wodon: Does a WCHA opponent have enough firepower to overcome Cornell's defense and goaltending on a small sheet of ice? Maybe the question should be asked that way. But, while I stop being a wiseguy - I'll say that it is a legitimate concern for Cornell, just like it was in 2001-02, the year before its Frozen Four appearance. But they will get the tough goals more so than most any team in the country. I'm more worried about whether the defense can contain some of those high-fliers than I am about Cornell's ability to score.

Gene Bernardo: If BC doesn't get a #1 seed, is the committee more likely to send the Eagles west than UNH -- as UNH, which has a more fervant fan base will help the gate receipts better than the Eagles?
Adam Wodon: I think the committee has shown the last two years that it just about doesn't care about attendance anymore - at least, not enough to disrupt the bracket. Whoever is in Amherst or Worcester will draw enough to make it worthwhile. I don't think UNH has to stay East just to satisfy attendance concerns. I think the committee will continue to just go by the numbers, and slot in teams with a 1-16, 2-15, 3-14, 4-13, etc... format, as much as possible. Remember, BU has to be in Worcester, though, so BC as a No. 2 seed - or UNH for that matter - CANNOT be there if UNH is a No. 3 seed.

Shabby-Rome NY: If the KRACH is so mathematically perfect, why not use it, and, who has to be convinced to use it, the playoff committee?
Adam Wodon: You're asking the wrong guy. The KRACH (www.uscho.com/rankings/?data=krach) is as close to mathematically perfect as anything can get. The NCAA men's ice hockey committee would have to decide to use it. The reason they don't is the same reason why it takes 20 years to get any legislation passed -- people don't like change, and don't want to take a risk that other sports aren't taking. It's understandable, actually, but unfortunate.

Hurley (New York, NY): Adam, How do you think Jessiman's return will affect Dartmouth? Will his lack of conditioning make him less effective? Or will the fact that he hasn't had a full season of wear and tear on his body give him an advantage? Any chance his return could disrupt the team's late-season chemistry? Or is he the piece that puts the team over the top for a playoff run?
Adam Wodon: I'd love to see Jessiman come in, fulfill his potential and lift Dartmouth to the Frozen Four. That's a lot to ask for, though. I don't think Jessiman is a disruption because they are putting him on a third line - albeit with some talented players. From all reports, his conditioning is OK, and I'm sure by next weekend - for the anticipated Dartmouth-Vermont series - he'll be fine. The biggest question with Jessiman is not any of that stuff -- it's whether he can stay disciplined, work hard, and play hard on every shift - as was promised before this season started. If he does that - the sky's the limit.

Alex (Minneapolis): Minnesota looked good for the first time in a long time last Saturday against St. Cloud. Do they have the talent and depth to make a post season run? Also, Phil Kessel has reportedly narrowed his choices to Minnesota and Wisconsin, any further insight on which of those schools has the upper hand? Thank you.
Adam Wodon: Minnesota has the talent and depth to do anything they want. But I wouldn't read a whole lot into sweeping St. Cloud - a struggling team. The Gophers will have to prove it in other ways. But I love the way Don Lucia turned the screws on his team's work ethic last weekend. I think he sat back a little bit during the Gophers' little swoon, waiting for the right time to bust some humps...and he found the right time and is pouncing on it. The Gophers' swoon did nothing to hurt their FF chances, so long as they get back in gear in the next couple weeks.

Jeff (New York City): Adam, what has happened to Colgate over the last month? There were some injuries and a flu bug for awhile, but Colgate fans are speculating that the team is just tired out from the season. Do you think this is part of it? Does Coach Vaughan need to roll his lines better?
Adam Wodon: I haven't seen Colgate recently, but I do know that's one of the best coaching staffs in hockey, and whatever the case may be, it's probably not a matter of the coaches tiring the players out. The ECAC is tough this year, and Colgate ran into some difficulty. They have a lot of talent, but it's going to take an ECAC title at this point to get into the NCAAs. Their out of conference schedule just wasn't strong enough.

Bucky (Mpls): It appears that Phil Kessel has decided his choice of college, either being Mnnesota or Wisconsin. Which school would he fit in best at and why?
Adam Wodon: I don't see how Phil Kessel can go wrong either way. Minnesota may be a bit more wide open with the bigger ice and their style - but I doubt Mike Eaves is going to try to restrain Phil Kessel if he goes to Wisconsin. Two great coaches, two storied programs, two big fan bases. I'm a fan of downtown Madison, though - so maybe he should pick there.

Benson (UVA): Is there any chance at this point that Harvard could get left out of the NCAAs if they don't do well in the ECAC tournament?
Adam Wodon: If Harvard loses its quarterfinal series, it will probably cost them. If they win that series and at least split in Albany, I think they're perfectly safe.

Alex (Somerville): Despite what the numbers may say, isn't it difficult to make the argument for Minnesota to receive a number-one seed over Cornell? In other words, why should a team with 12 losses and a losing record in 2005 receive a better seed than a major conference champion and a team that's lost only once in 2005?
Adam Wodon: If one team has 12 losses playing in the NHL - and the other has 2 losses playing in a midget league - would you say the team with 2 losses is better? Obviously that's an exaggeration, and the ECAC is pretty tough this year ... but the whole point is strength of schedule matters. And Minnesota has played the toughest schedule in the country, bar none. That said, it's still very close, and there's games to be played.

Bob (Boston): Adam, what do you think of Chris Serino's future at Merrimack? His contract is up and they haven't exactly been stellar under him (69-124-25). Plus he's the AD. Do you think he'll bring in some fresh blood to try to get MC out of the Hockey East basement? With an upgraded arena and a new coach, it could be a new era for Merrimack hockey.
Adam Wodon: There's a lot of blame to go around at Merrimack, and there's a lot of blaming being done, which is part of the problem. They've had a ton of injuries this year - but that excuse only goes so far. It's hard for me to pinpoint from a distance what the issue is, but clearly something isn't right. The job is not getting done. Serino may be inclined to step back as AD only, and bring someone else in. It may be time for that - but that doesn't mean it's all Serino's fault.

Erik (White Bear Lake): In your opinion, who is the best signed or un-signed player who will play collegiate hockey next year?
Adam Wodon: Is this Kessel's dad? That's too easy.

Dan (Rochester, NH): Who do you think will wind up on top after this weekend in Hockey East?
Adam Wodon: With two home games against the no. 4 team, BC would seem to have the upper hand. This assumes Andrew Alberts comes back on defense and is healthy, which is still in question. Meanwhile, BU and UNH have a home and home, and UNH has the one-point lead. So impossible to predict, but I do know this ... they'll all probably be at The Fleet in a couple weeks, and that's where it will really matter.

Bill (Marquette): Why is the CCHA taking such a beating in the Pairwise and the Braketology? Not only is 3rd place NMU having trouble keeping up, now 2nd place OSU is out of the latest brackets.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: Because the CCHA is having a poor year. It's that simple. Check out the out of conference record of the CCHA this season. Ohio State went 0-1-1 against Clarkson, for example. I like OSU, but remember, they've also been shut out the last two years in the NCAAs.

Joe (Atlanta,GA): With Michigan State destined to finish with a sub .500 record for the first time in their CCHA history, do you think Rick Comley is on his way out of East Lansing? If not, what can he do to get the program turned around quickly?
Adam Wodon: It's hard to believe that Ron Mason would shove his hand-picked successor out the door so quickly, especially someone with the reputation that Rick Comley has in this game. But I do think that Spartans fans have every right to feel antsy about the direction of the program, I'll say that much. It's only been three years though. I don't think it would be fair to make a change now, even if you thought it was best.

Nick (NYC): Are teams less afraid of going to the Minneapolis regional since the Gophers' little swoon started? Should they be?
Adam Wodon: Perhaps some teams are, and some people, like my cohort Dave Starman, think it's no big deal now - but they would be wrong (wouldn't be Starman's first time). If the Gophers get the No. 1 seed, they are going to be a very tough out - I don't care how mediocre they played in 2005.

Dustin (Lynchburg, VA): Adam, how does this year's Cornell squad compare to the frozen four team of two years ago, with LeNeveu, Vesce, Baby, Murray, etc. Is this team really as good?
Adam Wodon: Saying this Cornell team is not as good as two years ago is hardly an insult. That team was as complete and dominant as any ECAC team in the last 15 years, and they deserved all the accolades. No doubt in my mind that team was as good as any of the other FF teams that year. Someone had to lose, and they did - by one goal, despite dominating 40 minutes of the game. So, that said, this team is not as good. They do not have someone like Doug Murray, they do not have someone like Stephen Baby up front. But they do have plenty, and they are very deep. The goaltending is just as good, in my opinion, and there is no reason they can't make the FF. The 2003 team would've been a huge disappointment if they didn't make the FF. This team, I can't say they are as good as Minnesota, Denver, CC, BC ... but a FF is definitely *possible*.

Houk (USAFA): Do you foresee Dartmouth dropping in the pairwise next week because they will be playing Yale, while other teams will be playing a stronger schedule? Do they need to win the ECAC tournament to get into the NCAAs, or can they get an at large bid?
Adam Wodon: Dartmouth will not be hurt by playing Yale because your RPI cannot go down as the result of winning games in your own conference tournament. If they beat Vermont in the second round, and split in Albany, they are in.

Adam (Milwaukee): What does Minnesota-Duluth need to do in order to get into the NCAA tournament?
Adam Wodon: A lot of prayer.

Adam (Canton, NY): Do you think St. Lawrence has a chance to get to the ECAC Finals?
Adam Wodon: They have some weapons, but that's an awful lot to ask.

Eric (Saco, ME): Adam, with teams that were so highly regarded at the beginning of the year now fighting just to get into the tournament - thinking specifically of Maine and North Dakota here - does it make for a more exciting tournament with more likely upsets than in years past?
Adam Wodon: Honestly, I always felt North Dakota and Maine would have their struggles, and many others did too. You can never really tell how a season will go until it gets played. So that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with whether there will be upsets or not. I'd love to see upsets, because they are always fun, but the top of the Pairwise is pretty strong right now. I think there's about 10 teams that can win it all, but the top 4 have a better shot than the others.

Andrew (Minneapolis): OK Adam, pressures on.... Who is your frozen four? Who is your national champion? Oh and for the hard one, who the MVP?
Adam Wodon: Last time I picked against Cornell - so as not to jinx them - they almost disowned me ... so I won't make that mistake again. I did pick Michigan at the beginning of the year, but I have no confidence right now in that happening. I'll just say that I love Denver, Wisconsin and CC, and I am not counting out Minnesota by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm holding out hope there can be surprises.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: That is all we have time for with Adam.
Adam Wodon: Thanks, everyone. Those were some tough questions this time.
CollegeSports.com Moderator: And don't forget, we still have CSTV's Billy Jaffe coming up at the top of the hour. So if we didn't get to your question, feel free to send it in for Billy. See you all again in a few minutes.

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