Anaheim has dipped more into the college ranks through the past few drafts. They have eight prospects playing in the NCAA, up from just five last year and including a first-round pick from each of the past two drafts.
Jake Gardiner, D
After a promising rookie season, Gardiner’s game has taken a step back this season. He’s produced only three points in 20 games on the season after 21 as a freshman. A big part of the lack of production has to do with Gardiner being slotted into more of a defensive role. Brendan Smith (DET) receives most of the power-play minutes, so Gardiner is focused more on the defensive end of the ice.
The smooth-skating defenseman will likely step into that role if Smith turns professional after the season, as expected. From a development standpoint, it’s a move that could pay off for Gardiner, as he converted to defense from forward while in high school.
The opening month of the 2009-10 NCAA college hockey season featured a little bit of just about everything. Below is a look at back at some of the high (and low) lights of the month. Unless otherwise indicated, all stats are current as of Nov. 1 and are for all non-exhibition games.
The 2008-09 season couldn’t end soon enough for the Michigan State, but fast forward seven months later into a whole new season, and the Spartans are back in top form.
At this time last season, the Spartans posted just 13 goals through eight games. This season that number has more than doubled to 29, which also leads the nation.
Tropp, who was suspended for the duration of the 2008-09 season following an incident in the Jan. 25 game at Michigan then reinstated in March, has been on tear for Michigan State since the season began. The junior winger from Grosse Pointe Woods, MI currently ranks second in the nation with 13 points (seven goals, six assists). His seven goals also co-lead the nation. Tropp’s highlight performance of the season thus far came on Oct. 16 when he posted his first career hat trick in the Spartans 5-3 win at Maine.
Entering the first full season with GM Bob Murray at the helm, the Anaheim Ducks are at a crossroads for their franchise going forward. The mark of Brian Burke is still very visible on this team, and it will remain so for the next few seasons. There are many players in the system that fit Burke’s trademarks of aggression, size, toughness, and some scoring.
However, once Murray took over last season, he was able to put his own flavor on the team through some deadline deals and high-profile offseason moves. Murray traded for highly-touted prospects in Luca Sbisa and Nick Bonino, and was also to grab some offense at the draft in Peter Holland and Nick Palmieri.
Anaheim is very strong on the blueline going forward. There isn’t as much depth up front or in goal, but there are several promising players at both positions who may be on the right track.
If the measure of an amateur athletic program is the promotion of its trainees to bigger and better things, then the 2009 Frozen Four tournament taking place in Washington, D.C. provides ample evidence of the strength of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Eleven players taking part in the NCAA‘s showcase event spent time in the NTDP before moving on to their college careers, including eight players from the Boston University squad and three players representing Miami University.
It’s down to the final four teams vying for the national championship: Bemidji State University, Boston University, Miami University and the University of Vermont.
Of the four participants, only Boston University has won a National Championship. Bemidji State has won six National Championships but all have come at either the D-II or D-III level.
This year’s Frozen Four takes place at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. The semi-final games get underway on Thursday, April 9, with Game #1 beginning at 4pm EST and Game #2 beginning at 7pm ET. Both games will be carried live on ESPN2.
The winners of the semi-final games move on to the National Championship game on Saturday, April 11, which will be carried live on ESPN at 7pm ET.
Between the semi-final games and the National Championship game on Friday, April 10 is the Frozen Four Skills Challenge as well as the presentation of the Hobey Baker and Hockey Humanitarian Awards. The Hobey Baker Award presentation will be carried live on ESPNU at 7pm ET.
This year’s Frozen Four also features 23 prospects representing 15 NHL teams. All participating teams have at least one NHL prospect on their roster. Boston University has the most with 13, followed by Miami with five, Vermont with four and Bemidji State with one.
Below is a preview of the semi-final games.
Game #1: Bemidji State University vs. Miami University