The 2012-13 NCAA hockey season gets underway this weekend with a handful of non-conference games and a load of exhibition games, mostly against Canadian university teams.
This was a fairly uneventful off season, since most of the dominoes fell last summer. We’re entering the last season for the WCHA as we know it and the last season of the CCHA. Penn State begins independent play this year, before all hell breaks loose next summer.
I’m looking forward to this season, if only because the Golden Gophers are coming off of a surprise Frozen Four appearance, and didn’t lose anyone early. The team is still young, with only one senior, but scoring and defense shouldn’t be huge issues. Goaltending on the other hand is a huge question mark. Kent Patterson played all but about 20 minutes last season and is gone due to graduation. This leaves two freshmen and a junior who has played about 1 period of college hockey. If the Gophers can work out this situation, there’s a very good chance they’ll be celebrating in Pittsburgh come April.
Other top teams are the usual suspects: Boston College, North Dakota, Michigan. Union, Cornell, UMass-Lowell, and Western Michigan are in the top 10 based off of strong performances in the last season or two, but I tend to take a wait and see attitude on teams that aren’t traditional powerhouses. They may have a couple brilliant seasons (a la Lake Superior State in the early 90s), but tend to regress to the mean.