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Beginning of the end/The Red Line

October 11, 2012
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor (bveale@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

Just think, tonight's Michigan Tech hockey game at Lake Superior State is a conference game in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association next season.

I wish I were more excited about that right now, but as a new hockey season begins, the past and the future play on my mind a lot. The present feels a little less urgent.

If you've read my column over the past year and a half, I think you know my opinion of this brave new world of college hockey. I can't unspend Terry Pegula's money at Penn State, unplug the Big Ten network or undo the machinations that brought about the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

However, it's not exactly something I'm going to brush off and get over. College hockey done this way is something that's written on my heart since I was a little kid.

If you read the message boards on the Internet, you'll find many fans of opposing schools who find this axe to grind amusing or annoying. My thought is, if you're going to leave us for another lover, why are you surprised when we can't help but badmouth you to the kids?

Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson said in the season preview article on page 2 of today's College Hockey Digest special section that the Huskies are not going out there this season with revenge on their minds. I admire the professionalism.

For the time being, I'll try and adopt the same keep-it-light approach. After all, Michigan Tech is both competitive and appears to be entertaining to watch, which should make a long winter (seriously, it's snowing already) a little bit shorter.

I'm not going to pick the WCHA games this season. Stephen Anderson is doing a great job keeping up on all things Michigan Tech, including its opponents, which makes me taking a flyer on Minnesota State against Denver an unnecessary use of my time and your newsprint.

However, I still watch as many games as I can, and I still have a few thoughts to share:

I'm instantly a tad wary of just about any preseason media consensus as clear as that which has formed behind Minnesota. Reminds me of the 2008-09 season, when everyone and their brother thought Colorado College would have it in the bag by Christmas. The Tigers finished a distant third in the standings that season.

It's hard to imagine many teams having the firepower to stick with the Golden Gophers, and heck, I'd pick them for first too. I'm just saying, don't bet the farm.

I am sad about Denver leaving the WCHA, even moreso that they won't be playing in Houghton this season. George Gwozdecky suit jokes are always fun, particularly after last year's goalie-pulling extravaganza. The Pioneers are solid and I've got them penciled in at No. 2.

St. Cloud State got a late invitation to the NCHC party, but with their offensive firepower and capable returners on the blue line and in goal, I'm not sad to see them go. Also, as an editor, the Huskies-Huskies series is a tremendous pain and will not be missed.

Wisconsin not being good last year was particularly jarring. It won't last long. UMD not being as good this year may be jarring.

As for North Dakota, I thought about ranking them sixth out of spite, then I decided to rank Michigan Tech sixth and North Dakota seventh out of spite. Me and the Fighting ______ have issues.

CC lost a lot of talent, but still has a lot of talent, plus a pair of steady goaltenders. They'll be right in the mix for home ice. Wonder if they finish seventh and Tech sixth if they'll spend a week in the Copper Country?

Nebraska-Omaha will be in its third conference in five years next year. I'll keep the Mavericks together with Minnesota State in ninth and 10th.

Bemidji State looks like a one-man show in 11th and I'm not sure if Alaska Anchorage even has that.

So this is it. The season begins tonight in the Sault and it should be a good one. I just have to make sure not to treat it like the beginning of the end.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.

 
 

 

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