With the NHL lockout showing no signs of ending soon, many hockey fans are looking for alternatives to get their hockey fix. NCAA hockey is the most natural choice for many in the United States.
The school names in many cases are familiar to hockey fans who follow other college sports. With over one hundred regular season games being televised on US cable networks, following college hockey this season may be easier than ever before unlike during the two prior lockouts when televised college hockey was scarce.
Due to the possibility NHL fans might be looking for a bit of knowledge on the college game we turned to someone who knows the college game, Dave Starman, to answer a few questions for us. Starman is in his tenth year as a hockey game analyst for the CBS Sports Network.
Since 2009, Dave has served as an analyst for the NHL Network's coverage of Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships. In addition to broadcasting, he is currently employed as an amateur scout by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The former University of Hartford player has also coached on a variety of levels within the sport.
SB Nation: What do you think the NHL lockout's impact will be on this college hockey season?
Dave Starman: Not sure it will do much for attendance but those who want to watch hockey on TV will certainly have ample opportunity to do so and see the top programs in the nation on national and regional broadcasts. We at CBS Sports Network enter our tenth season carrying college games on a national network. We start November 15 with Notre Dame at Michigan.
What suggestions, in terms of programs and/players to follow, would you make to NHL fans, who may have never watched or followed college hockey, but due to the lockout are thinking about following college hockey?
The college game is a little different but I'd suggest to fans they watch the hybrid icing rule because that eventually will become an NHL rule also. College hockey also has many different rinks that are different sizes in terms of width but one rink is actually longer than the 200 foot standard and I think it is at Army, another team on CBS Sports Network this season.
Boston College is the defending champ and they are loaded once again. I think the WCHA is once again a conference with many strong teams and Minnesota is about to go from good to great once again. Michigan is always tough but MSU is starting to regain some traction they lost in the latter part of the last decade. Hearing Harvard is going to be pretty solid on the back end. Keep your eye on Miami and Western Michigan.
Speaking of the NCAA, any thoughts on the Nick Kerdiles situation?
People want to blame the NCAA for being to uptight with their rules and there is merit to that. Looking at it from an outsider's perspective it seems that too many kids do not know NCAA rules and that some family advisors/agents don't do a great job making sure they do regarding social media and other things that can get them in trouble.
What are your pre-season predictions for winners in the major conferences?
* Atlantic Hockey: Air Force. Always a speed team that is in incredible shape and well coached.
* CCHA: Tough one but I think Western Michigan is the best team defensively in the conference.
* ECAC Hockey: Always a dog fight but I think Cornell has enough to take Union to the wire and edge them out.
* Hockey East: Boston College is the easy pick here but there are a lot of good teams here. BC should win it but keep an eye on UNH.
* WCHA: Early leaning is Minnesota.
Do you see anyone as being a pre-season favorite for this year's Hobey Baker Award?
Way too early to tell.
Will we see any surprise performances like Union and Ferris State again in this year's NCAA tournament or are only powerhouses like Boston College, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, etc. going to wind up in Pittsburgh for the Frozen Four?
Great question and it always depends on the regional draw. Atlantic teams can make a run, we have seen that. The Frozen Four is usually about who stays healthy, unlike the NHL you can't replace injuries with mid season callups or make a trade.
What are you personally most looking forward to this coming college season?
No. 1 is our tenth season on the air. No one thought we'd be around this long when we started as CSTV but we proved that when you care about your product you can make some big inroads and we did in college hockey. No one else has done regular season games across every conference for the past nine seasons like we have.
On the ice, I always like to see how freshmen get their NCAA careers started and how the seniors finish them up. So many freshmen have good starts and then don't really explode until their senior year. It is like they wake up and all of a sudden they realize it is starting to end and they'd better lay it out all out there. Upper classmen and good seniors are the key to a title run. There are about ten teams that have that.
Thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer our questions. In addition to watching him call games on TV, you can follow him on Twitter.