Friday, September 30, 2016

Annual NCHC predictions

As I have done for the past several years, I will try and provide a bit of a preview/prediction of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). To properly get myself in the right mindset for this, let's look back at what I predicted from a year ago:
1. University of Minnesota-Duluth, who actually finished fourth
2. St. Cloud State, who tied for second
3. Tie between Denver and North Dakota, Denver finished tied for second and UND was first
5. Nebraska-Omaha, who actually finished sixth
6. Miami, who actually finished fifth
7. Western Michigan, actually was seventh
8. Colorado College, actually was eighth

As you can see, UMD was by far my worst call. Other than that, I wasn't too far off, but I can certainly do better, and should, this year. Without further fanfare, here is my prediction for this season:
1. University of North Dakota: It is hard not to pick the defending national champs here. Despite the loss of three of their top four leading scorers, and nearly all of their defense, the Fighting Hawks are one of the best at reloading. The real key for UND though is they return spectacular goaltender Cam Johnson and leading scorer Brock Boeser. Johnson will be the big key for the Hawks. If he can be as spectacular as last year (1.66 GAA, .935 save percentage), UND will certainly be near the top of the conference.
2. Denver: Denver should easily be up here after finishing with a loss to the champs in the Frozen Four a year ago. Sure, the Pioneers will be without sensational scorer Danton Heinen, but Denver does return most of the rest of their scoring, defense and goaltending. The big key for the Pioneers will be replacing Heinen's scoring, but I think Denver will find a way.
3. St. Cloud State: This might be my bias showing here, but despite losing an All-American goaltender and like every single one of their top scorers and a couple strong defender, I still believe in the Huskies. The biggest challenge will be replacing Lindgren in net, and the Huskies have three contenders in competition right now. As far as scoring, the Huskies still return six 20+ point scorers (they had 12 last year), so the offense shouldn't be a problem. Plus, the Huskies have talented Poehling brothers (two are twins, one forwent his senior year in high school and is 17) to shake things up.
4. Nebraska-Omaha: UNO is a tough team to predict, but I see good things on their horizon. Sure, the Mavs lost top scorer Jake Guentzel, but they return just about everyone else. I wouldn't be surprised if Austin Ortega and Co. could win close to a dozen conference contests and 20+ games overall. The big key will be finding scoring replacements for Guentzel.
5. Miami: Miami has one of the best freshman classes in the country this year, with 14 incoming freshman. Sure, the Redhawks lost goaltender Jay Williams and their second and fourth-best scorers, but they do return leading scorer Anthony Louis. The big key for Miami will be replacing Williams in net.
6. Minnesota-Duluth: Oh, how the tables have turned in Duluth. The Bulldogs will be without goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, who left early for the pros, and lose their top two scorers from a year ago. UMD does have nine talented incoming freshman and the three, four and five scorers from last year, but I have a feeling that net will be tough to replace. He was the biggest reason that the Bulldogs were relevant a year ago.
7. Western Michigan: The Broncos will remain entrenched in seventh place. The return Griffen Molino and Sheldon Dries, but lose Nolan LaPorte and good goaltender Lukas Hafner. Keep an eye on Frederick Tuffels.
8. Colorado College: Perennial cellar dwellers, CC does return a number of players from a year ago, losing only top scorer Hunter Fejes, but that won't be enough to get the Tigers out of the basement.

There we have it. Denver and UND should be in a showdown come Frozen Faceoff time, and I expect that at least four teams from the conference will make the NCAA's, if not five.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NCHC preview

Usually when I predict the NCHC (or WCHA) standings, I go with my gut, and base it mostly on rumblings I've heard or read. This year I went a step further, and actually did some research (I know. How bold of me?) Anyhow, I've reached some conclusions, and hopefully what I will say will hold some water when the dust settles. Here are my rankings of the NCHC teams this year:

1. University of Minnesota-Duluth: Duluth lost very little from a good team that lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA's a year ago. All the Bulldogs did lose is a few of their middle of the pack scorers and a little defensive depth. Otherwise they return almost all of their scoring and both goalies that had playing time a year ago. The Bulldogs were 21-16-3 overall and 12-9-3 a year ago, and I could see those wins jumping up to 25 and 15 this year, despite a very tough NCHC.

2. St. Cloud State: This could be me being a homer, but even despite losing Johnny Brodzinski and Ethan Prow from a year ago, I think that the Huskies will be much better this year. They return big Chuck Lindgren in goal, and their other four top scorers. They have a strong crop of freshman to pair with  a great senior class. If the Huskies want to make another Frozen Four run, this would be the year to do it.

T-3rd: Denver and University of North Dakota: I couldn't make up my mind which team is better, so I'm just going to say these two teams will tie. The Pioneers lost Joey Laleggia and some secondary scoring, but return Danton Heinen and second scorer Trevor Moore, both goaltenders and most of the rest of their defense. Denver made it to the NCAA with a 24-14 overall record and 13 wins in the NCHC. A similar record would not be out of the question. UND on the other hand lost a lot. The North Dakota squad will be without star goaltender Zane McIntyre as well as a lot of scoring and players in general. The biggest loss of all though might be long-time head coach Dave Hakstol. With Drake Caggiula and Paul LaDue back and a strong defensive lineup, I'd still expect the nameless hockey team to be very good.

5. University of Nebraska-Omaha: It is no secret that Ryan Massa was the big reason that UNO made a Frozen Four run last year. He graduated. The Mavericks do return almost every other player on their lineup, and they will still be a very good team, but a goaltender remains in question. In a loaded NCHC a great goaltender or goaltending duo is a must, and I just don't see them making up for it with everything else to be in conference title contention. That said, an NCAA bid is likely in their future.

6. Miami (Ohio): The Redhawks lose their top three scorers including Austin Czarnik and Blake Coleman, who carried them late last year. Miami lost to the eventual champion in the NCAA, and do return strong goalie Jay Williams, but I foresee scoring to be a big issue for the Redhawks this year. They will play in a lost of close games, and will still likely be looking at a chance at an NCAA berth when all is said and done, especially if they find some scoring.

7. Western Michigan: This is where the NCHC drops off. WMU was 14-18-5 overall last year and had just six wins in conference play. They lost their second and third-leading scorers. They return most of the rest, including most of their defense and their goalie, but it won't be enough to crack into the top six.

8. Colorado College: CC was not very good last year and they lose almost all of their defensive crew and their second leading scorer. They return Cody Bradley at goalie, but I don't foresee them being very good or even getting 10 wins.

I can't wait for the season to begin this weekend. I will hopefully be posting some more updates about the NCHC as the season goes along. #GOHUSKIESWOOOOO

Friday, September 11, 2015

Annual NFL predictions

NFL Predictions

Watching the end of last night's Patriots/Pittsburgh game, I realized I haven't made my predictions for the NFL season. Down and dirty, here they are:

1st round:
3 Green Bay (13-3) over 6 Minnesota (11-5)
5 Philly (11-5) over 4 New Orleans (11-5)
3 Baltimore (10-6) over 6 Miami (9-7)
5 Pittsburgh (9-7) over 4 KC (8-8)

Round 2:
2 Seattle (13-3) over 5 Philly
3 Green Bay over 1 Dallas (14-2)
2 New England (13-3) over 3 Baltimore
1 Indy (13-3) over 5 Pittsburgh

Conference Championships:
Green Bay over Seattle
New England over Indianapolis

Super Bowl: New England over Green Bay 31-24

Also, as a comedic bonus, here is a look at my predictions from last season:

6) Chicago (10-6)
vs. 3) Philadelphia (11-5)

5)Tampa Bay (11-5)
vs. 4) Minnesota (10-6)

1) New Orleans (12-4) bye
2) Arizona (11-5) bye

Second round:
6) Chicago
vs. 1) New Orleans

4) Minnesota
vs. 2) Arizona

NFC Championship:
2) Arizona
vs. 1) New Orleans

6) Tennessee (10-6) 
vs. 3) New England (11-5) 
5) San Diego (11-5) 
vs. 4) Cincinnati (11-5)
1) Indianapolis (13-3) bye
2) Denver (12-4) bye 
Second round: 
5) San Diego 
vs. 1) Indy
3) New England 
vs. 2) Denver
AFC Championship: 
5) San Diego
vs. 2) Denver 
Super Bowl: Denver over New Orleans

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014's top 10 TV shows

Everyone has appeared to transform into "end of the year list"-mode, so I may as well too, right? I have decided to share my top 10 television shows that I enjoyed in 2014.

As I have in the past mentioned with columns like this, these are only shows that I viewed in 2014, so your favorite show might not be on this list, and it's not because it isn't great (I mean, it could be), but is probably left out because it really is bad, or not that good or maybe I just didn't see it.

Anyways, without further adieu, the top 10 TV shows of 2014:
10. Degrassi: The Next Generation
I've been in love with the realness, and excellent casting of this Canadian TV melodrama for way over a decade now, and it has not lost much steam in its 14th season. New characters continue to invade the plot lines twisting and turning through the halls of Degrassi High, and as long as they do, I'll continue watching.

9. Parks and Recreation: I can not get enough of what is the only good program left on NBC. That Ron Swanson does it to me every time, especially when he is drunk, but also like last season, when he shows he cares. Aziz was hilarious as always last season, and anytime that Jean-Ralphio (brilliantly acted by Ben Schwartz) shows up, it is a good time.

8. The League: Comedies will be a theme within the top 10, and this sports writers/fantasy football enthusiasts dream has chugged along this year, even going so far as to add an Adam Brody ghost to the mix, plus the whole Ménage à Cinq bit was great in the end. This show continues to innovate, yet stay oh so familiar. Plus anything Jon Lajoie touches turns to gold. 

7. House of Cards: Netflix's best and most storied franchise had a solid second season. While many critics, including one of my favorites, Grantland's Andy Greenwald, didn't think the season was great, but I enjoyed it, and anytime you violently kill off the show's main protagonist, and still stay relevant, is impressive. 

6. Archer: This season it was really Archer: Vice, since the gang became drug dealers/smugglers for a year, but the same hilarious antics ensued, and it was pretty great. If I hadn't heard the news that they were basically forced to change  away from using ISIS, it probably would have been higher. 

5. The Walking Dead: TV's most popular show made some headway into becoming watchable and exciting this year. The heart-wrenching finale last season, along with the quick wrap-up of Terminus, more deaths in the family, and a thrilling ending to the fall season, it was once again a solid year of TWD. 

4. Scandal: Always exciting, thrilling, twisting, turning and sexy, Scandal has not disappointed me yet. Revelations, secrets, lies and steamy bedroom scenes, should keep anyone tuned into what has become my secret pleasure. 

3. Pretty Little Liars: I just lied. My real secret pleasure is Pretty Little Liars, which is a murder-mystery version of Scandal, set in a small town in Pennsylvania. The road to finding out who "A" is has been a roller coaster, filled with more twists than the best of water slides. It could be anyone, even my most favorite characters, and whoever it is, is sick. It's great. 

2. Game of Thrones: Still the most relevant, buzz worthy show out there, this had to be near the top of my rankings. The fact that George R.R. Martin told fans who told him he should finish before he dies to f--- off, made it even better. I can not wait to return to the fields and cities of Westeros and hopefully see some more heads get squished. 

1. True Detective: Watched all in a binge after the internet explosion of praise became too much for me to ignore, True Detective turned out to be my favorite show of the year. Woody and Matthew are two of my favorite actors in anything, and they brought forth their best for this one. I am truly looking forward to another season with what looks to be a very promising cast. Taylor Kitsch!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

BOB pt. 8

This will be my final Best of Blog post. It will cover Jan.-March of 2014.

10. Wes Harrison
9. Christian St. Claire
8. Bailey Neubauer
7. Courtney Gallagher and Molly Lodoen
6. Luke Amsbaugh
5. Rachel Fix, Paige Stratton and Joe Bender
4. Danielle McDonald
3. Camille Deschamp
 2. Random Family, should be ad picture
1. Scott Johnson, Corey Fehringer and Dano Fagerlund

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BOB pt. 7

It is time for the second to last Best of Blog series post, which will cover July to Dec. of 2013.
10. Shelby Grenier
9. Leah Parizek and Savannah Bruce
8. Ethan Miller
7. Several Sioux defenders
6. Ethan Miller
5. Julian Vasquez
4. Hawkin Smette and Tom Nesvold
3. Brody Moum
2. Julian Vasquez
1. Chase Conway
That's all for this week. Next week will be the eighth and final edition, which will include pictures from Jan. to Jun. of 2014, which will includes some MN pics from my new blog:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BOB pt. 6

Sorry for the delay. Was off hunting deer in the Minnesota woods, snow and cold (though I didn't find any). Here is part six of my best of blog series, which covers Jan.-Jun. of 2013.

10. Pedro
9. From left: Qu'Shar Little, Roybell Baez, Billy Engel, Spuddy (R.I.P), Ben Veith and Levi Tomlinson
8. Parker Engelhard
7. Luke Amsbaugh, Harrison Aide
6. From left: Zach McDonald, Seth Serhienko and Matt Mehlhaff
5. Harrison Aide
4. From left: Bailey Neuabauer, Ashley Blue, Karlee McCloud
3. Ladyjacks fans
2. Andrew Hill
1. Dashamone "Spuddy" McCarty
Stay tuned next week (maybe) for Pt. 7, which will be July-Dec. of 2013.