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College Hockey Season Preview

With no NHL, all hockey fans turn to college hockey. So here is a quick preview of how the 2012-2013 season will end:

Nick Bjugstad
1. Minnesota Gophers
Last season, the Gophers rebounded and ended up winning the WCHA, thanks to a sometimes scary offense and a very strong defense. Much of that offense returns including WCHA Preaseason Player of the Year Nick Bjugstad, who could have a truly magical season. Also, returning is a pair of forwards in junior Erik Haula and sophomore Kyle Rau. The defense should be weaker this next season especially in goal where they lose Kent Patterson. Freshman Adam Wilcox should start or junior Mike Shibrowski.

2. Boston College Eagles
And now, the team that ended the Gopher's season in last year's Frozen Four. The Eagles lose a lot but should once again appear in the Frozen Four. Sophomore John Gaudreau should have a big season after recording 45 points last season. Another sophomore, Bill Arnold, should also contribute mightily for the Eagles. Goalie Parker Milner returns, and should let up very little.

3. Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines were a solid team in the CCHA, and returns much of that team. Though, the reason the Wolverines are so high on this list is because of newcomers Jacob Trouba, Cristobal Nieves and goalie Jared Rutledge. Trouba is the most talented of the three and should be selected very early in the next NHL draft. Sophomore Alex Guptill is the top returner after recording 33 points last season. Experience is no issue either, with the return of A.J. Treais who had 17 assists last season.

4. Cornell Big Red
Cornell just missed out on the Frozen Four last season, but shouldn't miss out this season thanks to the return of lockdown goalie Andy Iles and senior forward Greg Miller. Miller can score anytime he touches the puck and Dustin Mowrey is a fantastic passer. If Iles can prove to be one of the top goaltenders in the nation and hold up against ECAC opponents, the Big Red could be a title contender.

5. North Dakota
The Fighting Sioux could be truly dangerous this season thanks to the return of one of the WCHA's best players in senior Danny Kristo. Kristo had 45 points last season, 26 of them assists and should help ease the loss of Brock Nelson. Another senior, Corban Knight should make opposing defenses worried Nick Mattson is a beast on defense. Alabama-Huntsville Clarke Saunders should handle the goaltending duties.

6. UMass Lowell River Hawks
Yeah, unless you are a die hard college hockey fan you probably haven't even heard of this college. But, these Hawks have some serious talent returning a lot from last year's surprise. Senior Riley Wetmore should have a big season and junior goalie Doug Carr has proved he can be lockdown in goal. Scott Wilson had a fantastic freshman season and could have a tremendous second year for the Hawks.

7. Union Dutchmen
The Dutchmen dominated the ECAC last season and that could happen once more this season. Junior goalie Troy Grosenick could have a very strong season and has the offense to help him with the returns of Daniel Carr, who managed 20 goals last season and senior Wayne Simpson who had 18 in 2011-2012.

8. Western Michigan Broncos
The Broncos were a conisistent contender in the CCHA in Andy Murray's first year as head coach, leading the Broncos to league's tournament title. They return a lot up front and have great depth in the back. Forward Chase Balisy can score a whole lot and defensemen Dan DeKeyser is an imposing force at defense. Goalie Frank Slubowski should take big steps in his second year with the Broncos.

9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
10. Miami (Ohio) Redhawks
11. Boston Terriers
12. Ferris State Bulldogs
13. Wisconsin Badgers
14. Denver Pioneers
15. UMD Bulldogs
16. Harvard Crimson
17. Maine Black Bears
18. Quinnipiac Bobcats
19. Michigan State Spartans
20. Colorado College Tigers

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