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Reviewing NCHC Preseason Predictions

Matt Dewkett

Before every season, it's common practice to make some preseason predictions. Of course it's impossible to ever really know what is going to happen in a season. Things like injuries, strange officiating decisions, and a myriad of other factors all go into making these predictions mostly moot. But it's still a fun exercise to do, and it's even more fun to look back at those preseason predictions now that we know how the final standings actually ended up.

So here's a look at my preseason NCHC conference predictions, and how they stacked up with what actually happened in the NCHC this season.

Predicted:

1. North Dakota

2. Denver

3. Minnesota Duluth

4. Omaha

5. St. Cloud State

6. Miami

7. Western Michigan

8. Colorado College

Actual:

1. North Dakota

2. St. Cloud State

3. Denver

4. Minnesota Duluth

5. Miami

6. Omaha

7. Western Michigan

8. Colorado College

What I got right:

-I was in the minority that picked North Dakota to win the league title, but the Fighting Hawks(okay, I didn't predict they'd be called the Fighting Hawks prior to the season) won the league by two full games. I might not have made that pick if you had told me Matej Tomek wouldn't play a single minute this year, but Cam Johnson developed into a solid number one, aided by a defense that could make any goalie look good.

-I got the NCHC equivalent of a free space correct by picking Colorado College to finish in last place and Western Michigan to finish in seventh. Of the two, Colorado College finished slightly better than I thought, earning 13 points. I would guessed Western Michigan would have finished closer to the tier ahead of them than they did to Colorado College.

-Brock Boeser as newcomer of the year looks like a pretty good pick. He led the league in conference scoring with 20 goals in 24 games.

What I got wrong:

-I had more faith in St. Cloud State than the rest of the predictors, who picked the Huskies to finish sixth in the league. But I don't think anyone could have predicted that St. Cloud State would spend the entire season ranked top-five nationally and fighting it out for first place in the league until the final weekend of the regular season. The situation looked grim for the Huskies coming into the season having to rebuild their defense and losing the one guy that actually scored for them last year. But the impact of their big freshman class, especially on the blue line, and the return of a healthy Kalle Kossila, the development of Patrick Russell, and some young forwards making a big jump in production was enough to turn this into one of the best St. Cloud State teams ever.

-Halfway through the season, it looked like I was too conservative in my prediction for Omaha. It turned out I was far too generous. They started 2016 with a 14-3-1 record and were #1 in the Pairwise. But they're 4-11-0 since then and have lost their last six games to put them outside the NCAA Tournament bubble, and needing an upset series win over red hot Denver to keep their season alive. I projected average goal tending for the Mavericks this year. Instead, they got sensational net play in the first half of the year, and very bad play in goal in the second half.

-I picked Danton Heinen as the player of the year. If the award was for the second half only, Heinen wins it hands-down. He has points in 12 straight games, and eight of those are multi-point efforts. But it was a slow start to the season might keep him from winning the award. St. Cloud State's Kalle Kossila or someone off North Dakota's top line may have the edge over Heinen in voting.