Each week, FanHouse takes a look at what's going on in college hockey.
For 2009 NCAA champion Boston University and 2008 NCAA runner-up Notre Dame, last season was almost completely forgettable. The Terriers started slowly and never recovered for a chance to defend their national championship, finishing 18-17-3 and bowing out in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, never got anything significant going last year. The Fighting Irish, after winning 31 games in the previous season, finished 13-17-8, disappearing from the CCHA championship radar.
With experienced coaches who have won NCAA titles before -- Jack Parker at BU and Jeff Jackson at Notre Dame -- it was only a matter of time before these teams were back among the contenders.
Parker's career is second-to-none in college hockey history. He's one of the truly legendary coaches in the sport, with over 800 wins, 17 Frozen Four appearances, and five national championships to his credit.
Jackson, meanwhile, has over 300 career wins in stops at Notre Dame and Lake Superior (Mich.) State. He won two national titles with Lake Superior State, and he has four Frozen Four appearances (three at LSSU).
Both these guys know how to recruit, and they know how to win at this level. They've mastered it.
And they're doing it again this year.
|FanHouse's Top 10|
|1.||Boston University (6-0-2)|
|2.||Minnesota Duluth (7-1-2)|
|5.||Boston College (5-3)|
|9.||North Dakota (5-4-1)|
|10.||Notre Dame (6-2-1)|
Forward Charlie Coyle (San Jose), a first-round pick this past summer, has eight points in his first eight college games.
Combine all that with a hot start from junior goalie Kieran Millan (Colorado), and you have one of two unbeaten teams left in the country (Yale, with only four games played, is the other).
Notre Dame shocked many with their free-fall last year, so the fact they've surged out of the gates this season shouldn't be terribly shocking. They have an interesting mix of experience and newcomers this year, and it's working so far.
Senior Ryan Guentzel (undrafted) leads the team in scoring, and senior forward Ben Ryan (Nashville) is averaging a point per game so far this season. Meanwhile, freshman Anders Lee (N.Y. Islanders) has seven goals in nine games, and freshman T.J. Tynan (undrafted) has 10 points so far.
The offensive balance and strong goaltending from sophomore Mike Johnson are leading the way for the Irish, and Jackson appears to have a team capable of contending in the CCHA. Miami and Michigan are favored to win the league, but neither team is off to a world-beating start. It's a league Notre Dame can definitely win if they continue to get strong contributions from all over the roster.
JESSE MARTIN UPDATE
Denver senior forward Jesse Martin (Atlanta) might never play hockey again after neck surgery Monday in Minnesota. Martin was injured Oct. 30 on a check by North Dakota senior forward Brad Malone (Colorado). While there is an argument for it being a clean hit gone wrong, Malone was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct, and he was suspended for last Friday's game against Minnesota Duluth.
Martin is doing well in his recovery so far. His surgery was a success, and he has walked for the first time since the injury. While he won't play again this year (or possibly ever), Martin is on his way to having a successful life. That's the best news anyone could ask for in light of what happened.
The entire college hockey world continues to send their best wishes to Martin as he rehabilitates.
REALLY GOOD AT HOCKEY
Wisconsin's men's and women's programs are off to great starts this year. The men, who were national runner-up a year ago, are 6-2-2 after a win and a tie at rival Minnesota this past weekend. The Badgers have outscored their opponents 43-18 so far this season.
The women's team, which got coach Mark Johnson back after he missed last year to coach the U.S. Olympic women's team, is also hot out of the gates. The Badgers are 9-1 overall, in first place over defending national champion Minnesota Duluth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, and they have outscored their foes 52-18.
That's a combined scoring margin of 95-36 over 20 total games. It's hard to imagine anyone beating that.