Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With The Writer's Roundtable

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, October 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET, "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com, will host a Writers' Roundtable featuring college hockey writers from across the country offering their take on issues and events all over 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 Kevin Allenspach of the St. Cloud Times, Kate Crandall of the Colorado Springs Gazette, Steve Wozniak of the South Bend Tribune 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. EST on Tuesday, October 16th, but feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for their arrival!
Elliot Olshansky: Hello, and welcome to another great week of "Tuesday @ the Rink," brought to you by CSTV.com and USCHO. We have two great chats today - including 2007 Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan at 2 p.m. ET - but we start today with our Writers' Round Table. Joining me now are Steve Wozniak of the South Bend Tribune, Kevin Allenspach of the St. Cloud Times, and Kate Crandall of The Gazette in Colorado Springs.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: Greetings and salutations, all. This should be fun.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Hello everyone and thanks, Elliot, for inviting me.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: I look forward to answering any and all questions. Fire away!

Fred (Boston): What do you think was the biggest surprise of the first weekend?
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: Michigan State showing diddly squat in the Hall of Fame game. I saw no sign of a repeat there.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: North Dakota's utter dominance of Michigan State. I knew they were going to be good, but not that good. Wow. Every other team in college hockey has their work cut out for them. I'm interested to see what teams, if any, will trip up the Sioux and how they'll do that.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Gotta be Robert Morris for me. Taking a team from the CHA and winning the Nye Frontier Classic is a tremendous accomplishment. Though I've been told that it's not as much of a surprise given the Colonials have a very veteran team.
Elliot Olshansky: I like Robert Morris a lot, and I came very close to picking them to win the CHA - Derek Schooley is going to be on my case for picking Niagara because of Les Reaney and Ted Cook - but I certainly didn't expect them to beat BU. They're a good team, though, and gave Notre Dame all they wanted and then some in their split last year.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I got the impression Michigan State (Jeff Lerg) had an off night in goal. That could work itself out. But North Dakota should be everything they're supposed to be. I just think RMU knocking off No. 9 is pretty big.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: On SCSU, they started a goalie who hadn't played in a real game in 18 months and he faced six shots through two periods. First goal, not his fault. The last two, were pretty soft. Like DQ soft.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: You can say they should've scored more than three against Canisius, but Bryce Luker victimized them again. Once with MTU, and now.
Elliot Olshansky: Nice DQ reference, Kevin. Good to know Dairy Queen is getting its money's worth out of that sponsorship they do with the DQ Cup.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Hey, they're the champs here. Haven't put up a banner yet, though.
Elliot Olshansky: We've talked a bit about goalies, and I think that's part of the answer to Kate's question about how to trip up the Sioux. Jean-Philippe Lamoureux played well against Michigan State, but like the man between the pipes for North Dakota's biggest rival, I still think he has some proving to do. Thoughts?
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I just want to know why he's going by Jean-Philippe now instead of just Phil, like last year.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Everyone's going to point to him as the question mark, too, just because UND has so few (question marks).
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: He reminds me a little of Jordan Parise in that he's not flashy, but the team wins when he plays.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: How worried do Sioux fans need to be about their goalie when their offense can light the lamp four, five times a night easily?
Elliot Olshansky: That wasn't enough in St. Louis.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: Goaltending is a huge issue in the WCHA in general. Although the Sioux are one of three teams in the league to return a consistent starter in Lamoureux, he tends to wait until the second half to settle in. I am starting to think that, on a team that deep, he is the weak link. Harsh, but that team is quite deep.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: They can score. A lot. But I think WCHA teams will manage to defend that somewhat. I'm not saying UND isn't going to win, and finish first. But I think the league games will be close.
Elliot Olshansky: They should have a close one Friday night in Chestnut Hill, too. I'm very excited for that one. But moving on...

Westley whens (Boston): Why is the hockey so much better in the west then in the east?
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: A collective gasp just went up from the entire state of Massachusetts.
Elliot Olshansky: Hockey East did have a pretty rough weekend. Not just BU, but Maine and Vermont getting swept, and BC with a real heartbreaker of a loss against Michigan.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I don't want to sound provincial ... Friday's will be a tough game for UND, and they won't have REA on their side.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I think some of it has to do with the intensity of the larger crowds at places like Grand Forks, Madison, and Minneapolis (or in the most recent case, St. Paul).
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: That's a great question. Based on my knowledge of recruiting, it seems to me that WCHA and CCHA teams have larger recruiting areas to draw from.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: I think it just comes down to recruiting. The WCHA and CCHA teams grab a lot from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, which have much better junior and midget programs than in New England.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: One other thing I might point out, and I don't know numbers so I could be wrong, but it seems like the western teams rely more on the USHL, which is probably a tougher proving ground than prep schools and eastern junior leagues.
Elliot Olshansky: Certainly, I think, if you take a look at the elite programs in the east, a lot of them do recruit nationally. BC certainly has had success with guys like Brian Boyle, Chris Collins and Cory Schneider, but they also have brought in guys like Dan Bertram, Nate Gerbe, Carl Sneep, etc. Grant Standbrook was a master of recruiting nationally when he handled those duties for Maine.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: You also have to consider institutional support. Most of the West schools are also Division I in most sports, so they have a lot more in the way of facilities and opportunities than a lot of the small schools in the East conferences.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I think to get a kid from Minnesota out to Boston, you have to convince him he's going to win an NCAA title, or have a chance anyway. In recent years, until the last time, the WCHA had a stranglehold on that.
Elliot Olshansky: Well, when you come within one goal in back-to-back seasons, I don't think you have problems convincing anyone you have a chance. Likewise, Maine going to three Frozen Fours in four years, you have a chance. I do think it's worth noting, though, that BC and Maine are the only eastern schools to make the Frozen Four in the last four years. That says a lot about their consistency and coaching, but we've seen a few different Western teams in that time.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Plus, there's something about kids growing up in Minnesota and watching the WCHA. I suppose it's the same in the CCHA markets and HE, ECACHL, etc. The kids here, I think dream of playing in the league, if not for the powerhouses (UND, Minny, Wisco).
Elliot Olshansky: That's something of a battle that the CCHA is fighting now. Some of the non-big name programs drew so heavily from Ontario for so long, and I remember Mel Pearson at Michigan telling me about the problems that OHL expansion had created for some of the CCHA schools.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: Ask Red Berenson what he thinks of the OHL. He's not real fond of it, to understate.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Seems like the only time the WCHA gets hurt by major junior is if a kid isn't playing much or having an impact (Seabrook, Fast at DU). Although there was the Sam Gagner, Wisconsin situation.
Elliot Olshansky: Could you imagine how scary Wisconsin would be with Gagner in addition to all their other bigtime freshmen?
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: To kind of piggy-back off that comment, i just think the WCHA and the CCHA have more parity. In the east, it's really only Hockey East. As an alum of an ECAC school, it's like apples and oranges.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Well, you've got to figure if he's good enough to play for the Oilers, he could skate with Kyle Turris. It would be fun to see Bucky score some goals for once, too.
Elliot Olshansky: And Kate, as alum of another ECAC school, I'd say that the top teams in that conference can certainly play with anyone. Although, to be fair, I like a lower-division WCHA or CCHA team a lot more than Brown or Union.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: Wisconsin scored plenty enough in the opener against Notre Dame. Four goals against a team that gave up less than two last year is an impressive start to say the least.
Elliot Olshansky: Shall we move on?

Minneapolis: Would it be possible to have referees not be associated to conferences and have them referee games in all conferences? The playoffs are one and done. The way things are setup today there isn't time to "feel out" the referees from other conferences because they are not used to the way they call the game.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I think it's possible to have the referees nationally governed. You'd have some travel from east to west, but I don't think some airfare is going to break college hockey.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I think the bigger issue is two referees at each game, which the WCHA coaches hate, 10-0.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: That certainly would solve the problem of disparate officiating, but it would be a scheduling nightmare.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: There does seem to be a different style of play from conference to conference. It would benefit the referees to see the variety before they see these teams in the tournament.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Do the rest of you like the 2-and-2 format?
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: Has anyone else watched the two-and-two system? Man, the ice is packed, especially on an NHL sheet but on the Olympic sheet, too? In my humble opinion, the 2-and-2 system is too much of a good thing. In the two USA under-18 exhibitions I watched this weekend, the refs kept getting tangled up in the play.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: I think it will create some inconsistency within the same game at times, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for now.
Elliot Olshansky: As far as shipping refs around, I know some of the WCHA fans can't stand Derek Shepherd, but I don't think they'd consider one of the ECAC's Murphys to be an improvement.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I just think if you take the extra expense of two referees, that would cover the travel you're talking about east-to-west and vice versa. If everyone believes there are going to be enough good officials, fine.

Hochs (West Bloomfield, MI): What does the demise of Wayne State hockey do to the College Hockey landscape? Do the four remaining CHA teams get picked up by another conference?
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: I don't sense an urgency from the WCHA to expand, at least not when Bemidji State is still playing in an antiquated arena.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: And, having just seen an AHA team, I gather from their party that they're not in a rush to accept the four homeless schools, either.
Elliot Olshansky: Well, as far as Bemidji is concerned - and I don't think Atlantic goes to Minnesota, even if it does go to Colorado - Tom Serratore has seemed pretty confident about a new barn when I've spoken to him. As for Atlantic, I think Bob DeGregorio, their commissioner, had designs on Robert Morris and Niagara until the CHA situation became so dire.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: The CHA plays a crucial role in the college hockey landscape of giving new Division I programs a starter league. I think the college hockey powers-that-be should be doing everything they can to encourage some schools on the brink of adding college hockey (i.e. Syracuse) to accelerate that process.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: But I think this is a classic example of how the big schools need to suck it up and do what's right for college hockey. The problem is keeping a sixth conference. I don't see how you do that.
Elliot Olshansky: I wrote an article on Penn State's situation when the CHA situation first went semi-critical, when Air Force left. They can't do it...there are too many sports at the school to add hockey at the varsity level, especially given how competitive PSU tries to stay in its existing sports. when you look at how many varsity sports Penn State sponsored compared to another major national athletic program - like Texas, for example - the gap is pretty huge.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: But it begs the question of whether Division I hockey would be better served by contraction or expansion.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: I just think that sixth conference serves an important function. If it can't survive, then some of these big schools should stick their necks out for these four programs.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Contraction = smaller NCAA field.
Elliot Olshansky: Excellent point, Kevin. I've toyed every now and then with the idea of a promotion-relegation system based on European soccer, where the last-place team in the WCHA would play in the CHA for a year, but there are a ton of problems:
Elliot Olshansky: 1) the coaches would never go for it. 2) The WCHA team could win, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a CHA. and 3) Sticking Anchorage in the CHA would put a big bite into some already-strained travel budgets
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Anchorage might never come back.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: Elliot, what a fascinating idea.
Elliot Olshansky: Why, thank you.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: The remaining teams could play as independents. They would lose the automatic bid, but if they could schedule non-conference matches against some of the bigger teams, they could still earn at-large berths with a good enough RPI.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: It might actually be more attractive to a Robert Morris recruit to tell him he won't be playing CHA teams over and over, but he'll be seeing the top 20 teams in the country and probably getting more TV exposure because of it.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: That's a good way to look at it. However, I think scheduling in some ways is a headache now. Can you imagine a bunch of teams trying to put together an entire independent slate? Would they find 34 games?
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: That would be a good compromise to the CCHA and WCHA. You don't have to take these teams, but you have to help give them a schedule.
Elliot Olshansky: Well, I think this is a problem that isn't going anywhere very quickly. Ryan Duncan starts in a minute. Time to say goodbye.
Kevin Allenspach, St. Cloud Times: Thanks for having me.
Steve Wozniak, South Bend Tribune: Let's do it again.
Kate Crandall, The Gazette: Thanks a lot for including me!
Elliot Olshansky: That'll do it for the first of our Tuesday @ the Rink chats. Our second, with Ryan Duncan, starts NOW!