It's July, but UMD released its expected 2012-13 men's hockey roster this week. It comes complete with numbers and everything!
Since I'm 1) a nerd, and 2) starving to talk hockey in the middle of summer, it prompted me to start thinking. I got the clipboard and a sheet of scratch paper, and started trying to put a lineup together.
Obviously, it's all preliminary. As far as I know, none of it is remotely close to being official. But it should be enough to get you at least thinking about the upcoming Bulldog season. I have a few thoughts, which I'll throw on the end of this post, so keep reading for that, I suppose.
Before October rolls around, this will probably change eight times, but it's fun to look at for now.
With apologies to Michael Russo, from whom I've stolen this idea for "hockey blog content in the summer," here is a quick look at how UMD lines everything up for 2012-13.
Mike Seidel - Caleb Herbert - Justin Crandall
Austin Farley - Tony Camaranesi - Joe Basaraba
Keegan Flaherty - Jake Hendrickson - Adam Krause
Cody Danberg - Max Tardy - Austyn Young
Dan DeLisle - Cal Decowski - Charlie Sampair
Wade Bergman - Chris Casto
Drew Olson - Andy Welinski
Derik Johnson - Luke McManus
Tim Smith - Willie Corrin
Aaron Crandall - Alex Fons - Matt McNeely
Goalies are listed alphabetically, which is a total copout, but I just don't have a feel for how this is going to play out. Instead of wasting more time, I figured I'd just take the copout.
There are probably a few hits on the forward line combinations, and likely a lot of misses. I love Herbert and Crandall together, and I think Seidel is a good fit there.
The negative to Farley and Camaranesi on the same line is both are quite small, but I do remember Jack and Mike Connolly playing together. It's not about size, as much as it is strength, smarts, and mindset. Everything I've heard about Farley makes me envision a guy who will play bigger than his frame suggests. With his size, Basaraba makes a good compliment, especially if he can continue improving and put up better offensive numbers.
We've seen a lot of Flaherty and Hendrickson together, and we saw Krause work with Hendrickson for a while last year, too. No reason this group can't serve as UMD's third line, and no reason this group would be any less effective than Flaherty, Hendrickson, and David Grun were last year (that's a high bar, by the way, as there were games where that line was UMD's best).
I need to see Young play -- he's about the only newcomer I haven't seen play either live or on "tape" -- before I'll be able to really place him. I've heard a lot of good things about his prospects, though. Sampair is a late addition who has some speed and scored a lot of goals in high school. Decowski is another smaller center who has good instincts and puck-moving skills. He could force his way into the lineup, even if it isn't in the middle. I'd love nothing more than for DeLisle to shake off a rough junior season and go out strong. If he can play with more confidence and use his body effectively, he's a great fit on this roster. If not, he quickly becomes part of the closest thing you'll see in college hockey to the black aces (also known as the fifth line in some circles).
As you can see, UMD has a lot of capable centers. Sampair is listed as one on the roster, and that gives UMD six guys on the roster who can play in the middle. It's a good problem to have, especially considering the top two centers from last year -- Jack Connolly and Travis Oleksuk -- exhausted their eligibility.
On defense, there are eight guys capable of playing at this level. I think the top four are virtually interchangeable, with the other likely pairings (I believe) Bergman with Welinski and Casto with Olson. Welinski could make a real impact as a freshman, the way Casto did last year and Justin Faulk in the championship season.
McManus had himself a couple strong games in the NCAA Tournament, probably earning more playing time this season. Johnson and Smith will battle for ice all season, and I think Corrin is definitely in the mix.
As for the outlook, the biggest question going into the fall will be:
Where the hell will all the goals come from?
Yeah, I've already heard it. Ready to hear it a lot between now and the season opener.
There are a couple thoughts I have on this.
For starters, I think you're going to see big seasons from Herbert, Seidel, and Crandall, no matter if they play together or not. Basaraba could also be a candidate for a breakout year. I thought Herbert hit a wall a little bit late in the season, but he had the tying goal in the Maine game (as strange as it was), and I never thought he was playing "poorly," only that he didn't look as explosive as he had previously.
Guys like Casto, Welinski, and Bergman are more than capable of contributing to the offense from the blue line.
Generally, I feel this freshman class is loaded with potential. Camaranesi is highly skilled, as is Decowski, and Farley brings a scintillating combination of skill and snarl. Throw Young in the mix, and you have four forwards who have the ability to really affect this team's offense, and they will all be pushing for playing time throughout the winter.
Will this team score as many goals as the last two? Probably not, but the dropoff is not likely to be as dreadful as a lot of outsiders are assuming.
As for special teams, I think you'll see Welinski man a point on the top power play unit (if not at the outset, then eventually), and Casto is in the mix there, too. McManus got power play time last season, and Bergman has seen a lot of it in his career, too. This is where it'll be interesting to see how much the freshmen can push early in the season. There aren't a lot of power play mainstays returning, so roles aren't necessarily defined right now.
The penalty kill starts with Hendrickson and probably Flaherty, but Krause, Crandall, and Young should play, too.
Thoughts, Bulldog Nation?