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'04 WCHA Predictions?/Final Five?


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I was wondering when they come out with the coaches poll? I teach in the Twin Cities now and was lifting at the high school I work at and ran into Tim Conboy, who plays for St. Cloud (His Dad works at my school) He told me they were getting a really good goalie in this year who might possibly be drafted by his second year. I know that Denver lost one of their good goalies, CC lost key players as well as Mankato. I think that Wisconsin, Duluth and Alaska won't improve much and the gophers will be the team to beat. We should have a good shot, if we have a goalie step up. What does everybody else think? Did I miss something or does this sound about right?

Also, I had very good seats at the X last year for the final five. I was wondering if I have an opportunity to purchase those same tickets again and have priority or do they send out information to me? I can't wait.

You students up there are very lucky! Don't complain about seating changes, at least you are up there and able to see them live!

Hopefully the new Twins station for '04, Victory Sports Network, will carry many of the WCHA games as they said, especially the Sioux because of Dave St. Peter. This is my only hope.

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Goofers are the team to beat.

Sioux have a chance. The team will score goals. Will we keep enough out of the net?

I believe if you bought a Final Five "package" last year you will receive a mailer (hope you're at the same address) asking if you want to renew for the upcoming year. I have for several years now and I think it is pretty much automatic.

Let's just hope our team shows this year at "The Five". It's been 2 dry years and the Final Five is fun but not nearly so much as it is when the Sioux are competing for the championship. Yes, I know we made it last year but frankly the Thurs night loss to plucky Duluth blew.....If you were walking from the Target Center to the Radisson? in downtown Mpls in 2000 singing In Heaven There Is No Beer with the band playing you know of what I speak.

I say watch out for Duluth this year. I think that's the one team that has a chance to really show up under the radar.

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Gophers without a doubt. But remember at the start of last season? Potulny was injured right away & the team looked like a chicken with its head cut off; makes me wonder if they're thin in the leadership department. As soon as he returned they started to roll again. If they stay healthy, they'll probably win the WCHA by a few points but not in a runaway fashion.

I wouldn't mind if the Sioux were bridesmaids this year; winning the McNaughton seems to take a toll on players-CC's a good example as they fizzled at the end of last year. Just my opinion.

I'll say Tech "wins" the last-place race as they have a new coach again & it would be almost impossible for UAA to have the same awful luck 2 yrs. in a row.

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I'll say Tech "wins" the last-place race as they have a new coach again & it would be almost impossible for UAA to have the same awful luck 2 yrs. in a row.

I would put cold cash on UAA taking last place yet again. It would be almost impossible for them to have the same luck again, yes, meaning they'll win more than (ahem) ONE game, but Tech had a few solid wins last year against SCSU, a Duluth team with a late-season surge and (double ahem) er... us. They're returning their top seven scorers and losing only a couple of non-productive seniors. I liked Sertich at the helm in Tech but I think a team like that with so many losing seasons might look at a head coaching change as a fresh start.

UAA on the other hand loses 7 seniors, comes of one of the worst (if not THE worst) seasons in college hockey history, and any team they play against will feel that anything less than a convincing win is a complete humiliation. They're destined for the cellar. Again.

I'm looking for some hard-fought games between the perennial contenders-- UM, SCSU, UND, CC, and also Duluth. We've got six games with UMD this year and I think by the end both teams will be near or in the top 3 in the WCHA, which should produce a strong rivalry, especially with what happened last year at the Final Five. So, my completely premature predictions follow. I've arranged them in tiers, giving more room for error.

Tier One:


Tier Two:

UMD | Mankato | SCSU | Denver

Tier Three:

Tech | Wisconsin | AA

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Although Minnesota is the odds-on favorite, keep in mind that they finished 3rd in the WCHA the last 2 years. Minnesota still seems strong, and finishes very strong, but I really feel that this is the Sioux's year. Predictions:

1. UND

2. Minnesota

3. Denver

4. UMD

5. CC

6. Mankato

7. Wisconsin

8. St. Cloud

9. MTU

10. AAU

Minnesota and UND will compete for a national championship. CC is always strong, but lost a lot. If they hope to compete for a WCHA title and a national championship, the freshman and sophomore classes need to grow up in a hurry. The only thing predictable about Denver is that they are totally unpredictable. Denver has a lot of talent, but it seems like they always do. I am picking them 3rd because they seem to be very good every other year. UMD will be good, perhaps as high as 3rd in the WCHA, but will not sneak up on anyone this year. Those should be the top 5, although Mankato surprises every year and are a bit like Denver. Losing Stevenson, however, is huge.

Wisconsin has a great freshman class and should be improved. St. Cloud loses too much to attrition (at least 1 one to major juniors) and graduation and I believe will struggle more than last year. Tech and Alaska should round out the bottom.

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MN's trail just became a little tougher ....


With Weber gone Johnson should be #1 (he's also a junior -- and did fine in relief of Weber when Weber had the hand injury) with Briggs as a backup.

What the heck happened there anyone have any details. Wow, this is a shocker...

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As a Gopher fan I have to be realistic with Martin signing early and now the sudden departure of Weber that this improves UND's chances of making it to the top of the standings. I am inclined to agree with your list and I could see the Gophers possibly slipping to 3rd if the goaltending is suspect.

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First off, let me say this:

MTU -- I do not think they have what it takes to be a last place team. Why? Cam Elsworth, their goalie. He is GOOD. Why has nobody noticed him? Because he plays for a team that has almost nothing other than him to brag about. When I watched him play at the Ralph he was VERY good, even when they got blasted the first game. Why did they get blasted? Well, MTU didn't put any other hockey players on the ice. It was a lot like UNH last year against UMN in the championship game. They looked like they didn't belong in DI. This year they may be able to put a new defensive strategy and get some offense, so I think they will win a few games. However, they won't compete for the top 5 spots.

UMN-- Ok, Im as shocked as all of you at the departure of Weber but I will say this: If there is a weakness on the Gophers, it's Weber. Not bad being that we're talking about a Championship goalie, no? With that said, JJ did ok for them when he played. That said, I still think UMN is the team to beat. I just don't think they will three peat. Not now with all the attrition. They still have speed, scoring, and a pretty good D in front of the net. Without DeMarchi (which I think is an advantage because it will lessen the time the Goofers special teams are on the ice), they will be a smart hockey team and definitely within the top 2 in the WCHA and in the top 5 Nationally. Needless to say, look for UMN to nab a top goaltending recruit sometime soon. He may not come this year, but UMN will not be without a top goalie for very long.

UND -- Weber's departure benefits UND the most, although it may not benefit Parise. Parise had very good luck against Weber. Maybe it will be better. I'm not a good soothsayer so to speak. Our problem is still with goaltending (any word on the Brandt situation?) and I still think special teams will still be an issue (too non productive on what few power plays we get and spending way too much time shorthanded). I look for UND to be right behind UMN in the WCHA standings and perhaps right behind them Nationally. Top 2 WCHA and top 10 Nationally.

UMD -- This is the Dark Horse or Sleeper of the WCHA. This team, backstopped by Reichmuth, is definitely a well set up defensive team. Question is how much offense can they put up? I see Reichmuth competing for the best goaltender record in the WCHA this year. He was FABULOUS last year and he was only a freshman. This team also does very well against ranked opponents, even if they lose the game. Sandelin is a good coach and will guide them to a definite top 5 berth in the WCHA. How far will they get and will they rank nationally? I'm not sure.

MSUM- Fluke team. Good coach, but I don't think they'll repeat last year's performance.

SCSU and UW- SCSU fades this year to meet the record of the Badgers (who will improve pending they actually get those recruits to come to camp (Suter and Brodeur)). It was said that SCSU may have a top goalie coming in that may get drafted in his second year, but wasn't that a lot like what was said about Siembida when he was being recruited? Goalies being drafted is always a "wait and see" situation. If Weber wasn't drafted (#15 overall ranking in North American goaltenders), I'd be leary about this goaltender being drafted as well. Most of the top ranked goalie prospects are either already drafted or in Major Juniors (QMJHL primarily) according to Hockeyfuture.com. There is Chris Holt on the US National U-18 Team that is going college, but I am not sure where.

UAA- Will improve, but still a last place team. My sympathies for the coach.

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Here's my prediction. Minnesota will run away with the McNaughton. The Sioux, Duluth, CC and Denver will fight it out for the 2-5 placings with SCSU and Mankato sneaking around looking to grab home ice if one of them falter. Tech, Anchorage and Wisco have no chance to get home ice but Wisco will not be a team you want to play in the first round of the playoffs. Eaves will have them playing well by the end of the year.

Goaltending has not been Minnesota's strength the past 2 years (although Weber was wonderful against Michigan in the semis) so this loss does nothing to change my opinion that the Gophers will be the overwhelming favorite to win the league. They are so deep at forward its scary. Let's face it Sioux fans, we may have the talent to match up at lines 1 and 2 with Minny but that's it. While our bottom forwards may have the potential, theirs have already proved it. We deal with ifs and maybes, they deal with facts.

Furthermore, they have more talent on the blue line than anyone else. I love our d-men but was disappointed with how they played down the stretch when Hale was out. I am confident they will be better now knowing that David is not going to be there but again, we are dealing with ifs and maybes. The gophs have a hole to fill in Martin but I have never been a big P-Mart booster anyway, I've always thought he was overrated. Replacing him is nothing compared to replacing Leopold.

The Sioux finished last year DOA. Other than a handful of players, the team showed no grit or determination. Could they challenge Minnesota? Sure, if things fall into place. But my head says not likely. I hope I'm wrong but I refuse to go into this season with high expectations for this team when the evidence is not there to support it.

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You make some good points but as an outsider looking in on the UND roster no one (except possibly BC) in college hockey will put out a better first line than UND. With an anticipated top line of Parise, Murray. Bochenski, Blais has used a formula like this to win National Championships. The main difference here is he had a better goalie situation in those previous years. So the biggest if in this case seems to be with finding a reliable goalie.

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The Sioux finished last year DOA. Other than a handful of players, the team showed no grit or determination. Could they challenge Minnesota? Sure, if things fall into place. But my head says not likely. I hope I'm wrong but I refuse to go into this season with high expectations for this team when the evidence is not there to support it.

I agree that UND's finish last season was very poor and leaves some major questions to be answered about the offensive side of things. However, it cannot be questioned that UND's top line (On paper) should be one of the best in the nation, followed closely by line #2, assuming Stafford ends up there with Lundbohm & Massen.

There was a huge improvement from '01-02 to '02-03 for the big soph. class, and I have no reason to doubt they will continue that trend, regardless of the late swoon last season. Some examples of individual point production improvements:

Massen 13 to 35

Lundbohm 23 to 52

Bochenski 32 to 62

McMahon 11 to 20

Schneider 14 to 41

Fuher 4 to 25

Defensively, you've got to remember that UND was playing 1 junior, three soph's and two freshmen for the majority of games last season (Marvin played in 30 games, although some were as a forward). Finally, for the first time since '00-01, the Sioux will have a team with more than 2 upperclassmen playing defense.

Speaking of youth vs experience, here are approximations of the makeup for the 20 player normal rosters of the Sioux by year:

'99-00 = 11 upperclass, 6 freshmen

'00-01 = 10 upperclass, 5 freshmen

'01-02 = 6 upperclass, 11 freshmen (ouch!)

'02-03 = 5 upperclass, 5 freshmen (if you include Genoway)

'03-04 = 11 upperclass, 5 freshmen

and a look at the Goph's last season:

'02-03 = 9 upperclass, 5 freshmen

I'm not saying these numbers will always translate to success or failure in a given year, but look at what UND accomplished in '99-01 era (back to back Frozen Four appearances) versus what happened the last two seasons.

Given all of the above, I believe you will see UND in the race for #1 this season, with the Goph's being the obvious favorite. Here is my expected order:











And if there were a Frozen Four lineup I'd like to see, it would be:





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I am terrifically optimistic about UND this season. I think this team will put on the type of show that we haven't seen in years. I expect the top line to be as good as it has been under Blais (Line of Fire quality), the top two lines to rival the 99-00 team's one-two punch (Goren/Ulmer/Bayda followed by Panzer/Lundbohm) and the third and fourth lines to be better than we've seen since the Blake/Hoogsteen class graduated. The defense should be rock solid.

Questionable goaltending may derail the team short of a title, but it won't make the show any less entertaining along the way.

I'm always too optimistic at this time of year (in the offseason everyone's a potential all-American), but that's what I think.

I also think Minnesota, BC and Michigan will put fantastic teams on the ice this year.


As for Weber and MN, I wish Weber the best personally and I hope he continues his education. MN now loses 1 goalie, 2 defensemen and no forwards from a national championhip team. That's probably the lowest level of losses a champion has suffered in recent memory. If I were a Gopher fan, I would still be pretty confident.

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I'm not going to make any specific predictions as to where the Sioux will finish in the league or nationally, but I will predict this: They will be very good in 03-04, NC capable good.

Brady Murray is the real deal (maybe not Zach real, but real nonetheless).

The defense will be solid.

The Sioux will get goaltending this year.

Can I defend any of this? No. I've just got a feeling.

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Don't forget Drew Stafford, folks. This season will be his draft season, similarly to last season for Parise. I heard (somewhere) that he was slated early on to be picked in the top 15 in the first round. Look for him to shine. Hopefully, he'll help put the doledrums of the 3rd and 4th line to a quick end.

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Don't forget Drew Stafford, folks.

Hopefully, he'll help put the doledrums of the 3rd and 4th line to a quick end.

I'm probably being unrealistic, but I'm with OETKB -- I think Stafford(fr) will be on a line with Lundbohm(sr) & Massen(jr) (and not in the 3rd or 4th line)....

Throwing out my guesses:

Bochenski(jr) with Parise(so) & Murray(fr); Hale(sr) with Prpich(so) & McMahon(jr); Canady(jr) with Fylling(jr) and Palmo(sr) or Genoway(jr) .........

Sorry to go off on a tangent --

final 5: UMN,UMD,Denver,UND,CC

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I've just got a feeling.

Feeeeeeelings, whoooa whoooa feeeeeelings. Sorry, I couldn't resist :glare:

I don't think Weber's departure should be underestimated. Any time a team loses a goalie with the 2nd-best GAA in school history & a NC under his belt is more than a small loss. Kollar, like Johnson, was a solid back-up goalie but we all know what happened when he became a starter. Not saying Johnson will tailspin like he did, but just like lawkota said, that's one more "if" & "maybe" & one less "fact" for them. Gophers should still finish 1st barring any other sudden departures.

The Sioux D should be just fine this year. Remember that we had A. Schneekloth (the human pylon) during our back-2-back FF appearances & we were a goal away from repeating.

Forwards will be very exciting to watch this year & perhaps Murray will elevate Parise's game even higher. I'm very high on Stafford after his recent jr. tryouts & believe he could maybe become a force his freshman year. Guys like Lundbohm, Massen, Prpich, McMahon should continue to climb; the only ?s will be if Connelly, Canady & Genoway climb out of their shells.

Goaltending. Yeah, gotta believe & hope that there'll be a steady improvement in that area. I like Dean's proactive approach in bringing in 2 new guys.

If the Sioux can find consistent goaltending & 4th-line scoring, the possibilities seem endless.

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I think the Sioux can make a run at the gophers if things fall in place, especially on the goaltending end.

I will be upset if the difference between the two is only a few points and the Sioux lose a game at St. Cloud just after the New Year.

When is the WCHA going to get it through their thick skulls not to schedule league play during the World Junior Tournament, especially rivalry games. It is not like the tournament is played different times from year to year. Last year we played Colorado College with three players missing, and this year we could be short three, or possibly more players.

I believe Minnesota plays non-conference during the World Juniors this year. I am sure other leagues aren't too thrilled about playing conference games during World Juniors either, so I would think that a non-conference schedule could be worked out that would benefit all leagues.

Ideally you would like to show league strength for the NCAA when league faces league. I happen to think league standings should hold a greater deal of weight and that everything that can be done to make league play the same for every team, or close to it , should be done.

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1. UND - Glorious return to the top. Claims the McNaughton anchor. :huh:

2. UM - Fail to capture the "ultimate", settle for another NC. :glare:

3. DU - Down again, up again, down, guessing an "up" season.

4. UMD - Scoring questions.

5. CC - Probably the only team in top five that could lose home ice.

6. SCSU - I can hear the whining about Dahl already.

7. MSU - More of their ties turn to losses than wins.

8. UW - I just love putting them down here.

9. MTU - Still better than AA.

10. AA - Three wins.

I would not be shocked with any of the top four winning either the league or conference tourney. I think the separation Due to the balance of offense and defense of UND and the Gophers experience, these are the two WCHA teams who are NC threats.

I had hopes that this years Gophers team would rival the '99 Sioux and blast everything in sight, but that is not going to happen. JJ will do fine, but he is not the type of goalie who is going to hide freshmen defensemen's mistakes.

Despite what others may post the Gophers defense is unproven and some would even call it suspect. The thought of Ballard lining up against the opponents top line does not warm my heart. Judd Stevens will probably move into the top two defensive pairings and he will now be facing much better players than he faced as a third pairing defensemen. Similar to Dean and his goalies, Lucia will throw ice time at a bunch of defense and I am confident by year end the Gophers will have six defensemen playing very well. If the Gophers are pumping in 4-5 a game and giving 3-5 a game, they will clearly be the most entertaining team in the country.

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sagard Posted on Aug 26 2003, 11:58 PM...

2. UM - Fail to capture the "ultimate", settle for another NC.

...I am confident by year end the Gophers will have six defensemen playing very well. If the Gophers are pumping in 4-5 a game and giving 3-5 a game, they will clearly be the most entertaining team in the country.

I have always found UMN disgusting, but never entertaining. :glare:

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  • 4 weeks later...
1. Minnesota

2. Minnesota Duluth

3. North Dakota

4. Colorado College

5. St. Cloud

6. Denver

7. Mankato

8. Anchorage

9. Wisconsin

10. Michigan Tech

Final Five

CC over SCSU

UMD over UND (EXPECT it this year)

UM over CC

UMD over UM

see you october 4th

Quote Me, UMD will not finish in the top 3 of the WCHA this year. Thanks

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This thread is so old I don't remember my top three. :0 I'm an old man. Superman, you can quote me, I may be a UND fan but only a fool would turn his back on possibly the best if, at worst, one of the best returning goaltenders in the WCHA. UMD will upset someone this year. Will it be UND? Will it be UM? Who knows. I just hope UND makes it far this year.

Just some historical context: The last time I watched an entire season when I was graduating at the end of the year, the Sioux won it all. I graduated the first time (don't ask) in May 2000 :)

That statistic only matters if you work for ESPN. :D

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