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Reviewing the Previews: WCHA

Unlike last year, I made it through all 10 team previews for the WCHA this season. Here's what my predictions ended up looking like:

1. Minnesota
2. Denver
3. North Dakota
4. Wisconsin
5. St. Cloud
6. Minnesota-Duluth
7. Colorado College
8. Minnesota State
9. Michigan Tech
10. Alaska-Anchorage

So what have we learned?

I think above all, it's that as much as we all love college hockey, people are passionate about their food. I called Grand Forks "Camp Depression" and got two angry comments criticizing my restaurant choice.

The other thing I think that we've learned is that all of the early departures this offseason have really made things wide open in the WCHA this year. As an anonymous commenter pointed out, for being picked to finish first, there were a lot of question marks and potential weaknesses for Minnesota. I also probably went out on a bit of limb by picking Denver to finish second, even after they lost Paul Statsny to the pros. But really no matter who I put in the top two slots, there would have been serious concerns and lots of legitimate reasons to move them down. Somebody had to be up there, and I think I picked the two least flawed.

Also, unlike previous years, there isn't as much distinction between the "haves" and the "have-nots". This year, unlike previous years, could be the year that a team that didn't finish in the top five the previous season, like St. Cloud or Duluth, really surprises people and finishes as high as second or third in the league. Even the bottom four teams that I predicted could all be dangerous because they are all very strong in net, and Wisconsin proved last year how far great goaltending and solid defense can take you.

As much as all the early departures the WCHA has suffered may hurt the quality of play in the league, it has created a more even, and probably more exciting league. There's reason for optimism all around the league this year, for what should be an incredibly exciting season.