Monday, October 14, 2013

Division I season preview and predictions

The 2013-14 Division I college hockey season kicked off in earnest this past weekend, with both league and non-league action.

It's a five-month sprint among the six major conferences: Hockey East, ECAC Hockey, the WCHA, Atlantic Hockey and the newly-created Big Ten and National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which culminates in the Frozen Four at the big building in South Philadelphia on April 10 and 12 of next year.

From the bones of the old CCHA, Notre Dame joined the now 11-team Hockey East, while Miami of Ohio gained membership in the NCHC. Alaska-Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan were accepted into the WCHA, while Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State joined the new Big Ten.

The NCHC also enveloped old WCHA stalwarts North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth.

Alabama-Huntsville, once a program left for dead by an old administration but eventually resurrected, also joined the WCHA for the upcoming season.

Coming off their first-ever appearance among the top four finishers in the game, reigning regular-season and playoff Hockey East champion UMass-Lowell gained the top overall spot in USCHO's preseason poll, but the new listing this afternoon, finds Miami (Ohio) at the top of the list.

Yale is the reigning national champion, the first Ivy League and ECAC program to have won since Harvard topped Minnesota back in 1989. The Bulldogs topped conference rival Quinnipiac in the first D-I championship game to feature two competing programs since the WCHA's North Dakota beat Denver in 2005.

Since 2000, 11 of the 14 programs to win it all have come from either the WCHA (North Dakota, 2000; Minnesota 2002-03; Denver 2004-05; Wisconsin 2006; Minnesota-Duluth 2011) or Hockey East (Boston College 2001, 2008, 2010, 2012; Boston University 2009) -- with Yale and Michigan State (2007) the others.

On Friday night, Penn State avoided a scheduling conflict due to the Government shutdown, taking on the United States Military Academy and posting a 4-1 win to inaugurate Pegula Ice Arena. The Nits, of course, will be coming to Philly to face Vermont in the second edition of the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff on October 26.

Here's a master list of every college game on a cable network for the upcoming season.

And without further ado, the total unscientific predictions per conference for the upcoming year:

HOCKEY EAST ECAC Hockey Atlantic Hockey
Umass-Lowell Union Niagara
Boston College Yale Canisius
New Hampshire Quinnipiac Robert Morris
Boston University Clarkson Holy Cross
Notre Dame RPI Connecticut
Maine Colgate Army
Merrimack St. Lawrence American International
Umass-Amherst Harvard Sacred Heart
Vermont Cornell Air Force
Northeastern Princeton Mercyhurst

Dartmouth RIT

Brown Bentley

Minnesota North Dakota Ferris State
Michigan St. Cloud State Minnesota State
Wisconsin Miami Ohio Alaska Fairbanks
Michigan State Minnesota Duluth Bowling Green
Ohio State Denver Lake Superior State
Penn State Colorado College Alaska Anchorage

Nebraska Omaha Bemidji State

Western Michigan Alabama Huntsville

Michigan Tech

Northern Michigan

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