It is hard to believe that college hockey season is upon us again, the longest sports season in college sports. Longest and arguably most exciting and enjoyable.
No exhibition this season for the Bulldogs as they jump right into the season with a respectable opponent in Ohio State.
The history between these teams is limited, as the Buckeyes own the series going 2-0-1 against UMD. But this year is different. UMD faces old comrades in associate coach Steve Rohlik and goaltender Brady Hjelle. In a weekend where many really don’t know what to expect when teams hit the ice, it is off ice interests that make this interesting.
There should be no rivalry or hard feelings because of the departures, but they are interesting nonetheless. Rohlik left after winning a national championship with UMD. He is a good coach and filling his hoes behind the bench was a tall task, but Herter and Plante seemed to have done well last season.
The more interesting player in this reunion is Hjelle. His departure after the 2009-10 season was unexpected and left Bulldogs fans wondering if a guy named Kenny Reiter could take on the #1 role he seemed to win right at the end of the season without the backup of a seasoned alternate. Most know what happened next, Reiter dominated the goalie scene in route to UMD winning the 2011 National Championship.
So in a game hat starts off a long season, we can look forward to seeing if scoring can be found, goaltending be consistent, and if UMD can win at least 22 games for a fifth straight year. And there may be a little incentive to see Brady Hjelle take a peak at a banner in the rafters.
Weekend Picks by Fiskness. First week of the season brings the chance to make hockey picks (guesses at best) for the first time this year. Not a not of X’s and O’s to compare at this point of the year. So all of the picks will be short and sweet.
Michigan State at Minnesota Twin Cities: Gophers at home will take advantage and hold on for a 3 point weekend.
Ohio State at Minnesota Duluth: UMD at home will be able to use the friendly confines for a 3 point weekend. Brady Hjelle looks to be the spoiler.
Saint Cloud State at New Hampshire: Maybe the most interesting series of the weekend. The safe pick is a split.
Minnesota State Mankato at Alabama – Huntsville: Do the Chargers have a chance beating anybody other than Penn State? Mavericks sweep.
Wisconsin and Northern Michigan (in Green Bay): Both teams looking for identity, splitsville.
Clarkson at Colorado College: Home advantage should help CC, but I need to see them play before pick them to sweep. Split.
Nebraska – Omaha at Army (Maine and Notre Dame) (Icekreaker): The Mavericks should be able to beat the Black Knights, but Maine or the Irish should be too good for a UNO sweep. Split
Canisius and Air Force at Alaska – Anchorage (Kendal Hockey Classic): The Seawolves should be able to split the games in this year’s tournament. UAA wins against Canisius and losses to the Falcons.