Tuesday, September 22, 2015

10 things I learned from the WCHA coaches

On Monday, the WCHA coaches held their annual preseason conference call to preview the upcoming season.. Here's a nugget of information gleaned from each of the of the coaches, plus a couple of extra bits from the call:

1. Alaska Anchorage has just one senior forward, but he's a good one, Blake Tatchell (79 career points). Coach Matt Thomas, however, says he doesn't "want to put the burden of a young team on (Tatchell's and the three other seniors') shoulders."

2. Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said the Falcons will be a "by-committee team," and it's a pretty good committee with their top four scorers and six of their top seven returning from a year ago. Each had at least 20 points. "I feel this year's group is deep at all three positions," Bergeron said.

3. According to Ferris State coach Bob Daniels, Preseason Rookie of the Year Corey Mackin comes in "really highly touted." ... "He's a really talented player, he's gifted offensively and can skate. I think he can play at a fast pace. The transition should be pretty good for him."

4. Lake Superior State goalie Gordon Defiel led the country in saves (1,148) last season as a freshman, and coach Damon Whitten hopes the Lakers can give him more goal support. LSSU averaged about 1.5 goals per game. "It was a tough situation," Whitten said. "(Defiel) felt like, if he gave up one goal, it was going to be a tough night."

5. Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson is keenly aware of what's standing in the way of his team. "We have to figure out a way to beat Minnesota State," he said. Indeed, the Huskies, who finished the season 29-10-2, were 0-4-1 against MSU last season, including the Final Five championship game.

6. Northern Michigan, according to coach Walt Kyle, lost 156 man games to injury last season. "We were extremely beat up and couldn't get anything going," he said. Among the injured was goalie Mathias Dahlstrom, who suffered a concussion and a torn ACL.

7. Alabama Huntsville coach Mike Corbett admitted that his team isn't "the sexiest program out there," but he's trying to recruit hard-working, tough-to-play-against guys who are "up to the challenge of building a program." ... "Getting guys who want to be here, that's my litmus test," he said.

8. Four of Bemidji State's top seven returning scorers are centers, coach Tom Serratore said, and he thinks the Beavers' strengths are up front and in net where goalie Michael Bitzer returns from a great freshman season. Defense will be a different story with Matt Prapavessis gone.

9. Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings didn't shy away from the questions surrounding his team and, really, asked them himself: "Can Bryce Gervais survive without Matt Leitner?" and "Can the seniors step up, (like) Teddy Blueger going into his fourth year." Of course, goaltending is another question, and Hastings said that "situation is wide open."

10. Alaska has the Preseason Player of the Year in Tyler Morley, but in the most inspiring player on the roster is defenseman Justin Woods, who, coach Dallas Ferguson said, will be back on the ice htis year after missing all of last season while undergoing treatment for a rare form of bone cancer.

Another thing ... WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said the league is taking "baby steps" on exploring national TV coverage of the league. Look for an announcement on this soon, he said. Robertson also said the league continues to look into expansion as well as a Final Five opportunity beyond 2017 when it returns to St. Paul (it will be in Grand Rapids at the end of the upcoming season).

And another thing ... WCHA officials chief Greg Shepherd talked about the new emphasis on scoring when it come to contact with the goaltender. If a goalie is in the crease and contact is made by a player in the crease, a goal will be waved off. If the goalie is outside the crease, the goal will count.

1 comment:

MSU84grad said...

Great synopsis Shane! Let's hope we don't have to deal with a goaltender contact play at the end of this season. Any hints as to alternatives to Final Five locations (e.g. hosted by a school)?