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The Star-Tribune's Rachel Blount wrote a five-part series of articles chronicling NTDP defenseman Nick Mattson on his first year in Ann Arbor. Brad Schlossman collected the links to the first two articles, and I'm sure he'll have the next three when they're released.

I think the article does a great job of highlighting how difficult a transition it can be for kids and their families. It's something that most fans don't normally get to see. It's a fairly common trend for kids in the NTDP to struggle in their first few months in the program, and these articles really show why.

Jim McCabe of the Boston Globe wrote a nice feature piece on 18-year old freshmen in college hockey. It talks about teams bringing in older freshmen after a year or two of junior hockey instead of the more traditional "true" freshman. It's interesting because I think the WCHA is having the opposite problem right now. Teams would love to have players spend a year playing junior hockey, but are forced to bring them in earlier due to early departures to the pros.

The other issue with kids coming in as older freshmen is that it puts a lot of high school seniors in a difficult position. I know of a lot of kids that could play college hockey, but don't want to basically postpone their life for two years playing junior hockey, and want to go straight to college. It makes it harder for them to have a chance at walking on at a hockey-playing school because they're already two years behind their fellow freshmen.

A few people noticed I didn't mention the little scrum at the end of Saturday's St. Cloud/Wisconsin game that ended without the teams shaking hands. The reason for this is simple. You may remember this from my post on the UND/DU fight: "...that wise decision paid off at the end of the period when Radke came out of the box and picked a fight with Brandon Vossberg to turn some post-period pushing and shoving into another embarrassing fight for the WCHA."

I believe I mentioned to someone else that if Radke hadn't come flying off the bench and picked that fight, barely anybody would have talked about the incident. That was the case in St. Cloud. Two guys got double minors for wrestling around with each other, but ultimately, nothing more came of it. It's a shame the teams didn't shake hands, but otherwise, not much of a deal.

Incidentally, we're now at four fight-free games for the Sioux. And after Friday night's game, any future fights will involve missing a playoff game, so I doubt you'll see them "sticking up for their teammates" again this year.

MGoBlog picked up on the WCHA logjam in the Pairwise rankings. I'll definitely admit that there are things could be worked out with the way the tournament system is set up. But these arguments would have carried a lot more weight back in September before the season started, as opposed to now, when it's not giving people the results that they hoped for.

Brian actually boils this whole argument down to a fairly simple thesis: "It's common sense: if you are one of the worst teams in your conference, you are not one of the best teams in the country" ORLY isn't just an airport in France, my friend.

College Hockey Recruit Exchange released a new Hot 15 Prospects last week.