2017 18 College Hockey Predictions: Conference Champion Picks
Six conferences, six winners.
It’s not just the NHL about to begin, and with that comes our 2017 18 college hockey predictions.
The Denver Pioneers climbed back to the top of the college hockey world this spring at the Frozen Four. That certainly was no surprise as a final result, either for last season or in general. That team knows how to win hockey games, which is why they do it so often.
Now, hope springs eternal at the start of a new season. Denver, despite being the 2017 national champion and top team in the field, was not the NCHC winner. That fell to Minnesota-Duluth, the second-best team in the country, which lost to Denver for the whole bag of marbles. The Bulldogs would rather have the national championship than the conference one.
Yet today, our concern is determining the conference champions of men’s college hockey this season. Six conferences, six champions, and six automatic bids to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Ten more make it into the field, but without the glitz and glamour of a conference title. Who will those six teams be?
2017 18 College Hockey Predictions: Atlantic Hockey
The leaders of the conference’s preseason poll were the Air Force Falcons. Such an outcome would be a repeat for the Falcons, who won it in 2017 en route to the East’s third seed. Air Force ultimately lost to Harvard in the Providence regional final.
No doubt, Air Force remains the best team in Atlantic Hockey this season. Yet, the Robert Morris Colonials have more than a shot at claiming the AHC title. Air Force lost its star goalie, Shane Starrett, in the offseason to the lure of professional hockey. However, they still have such talented players as Jordan Himley, one of the nation’s leading goal scorers in 2016-17.
The Colonials can give Air Force a run, but it may not matter, as both have a shot at the tournament.
Atlantic Hockey Champion Prediction: Air Force Falcons
2017 18 College Hockey Predictions: Big Ten
If the coaches are right, the Minnesota Golden Gophers will win the Big Ten. However, there is a new team in town, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and they just got to the Frozen Four. Oh, and Wisconsin is usually in it, Penn State are the defending conference victors, and Ohio State snuck into the dance as well. In just a few years, the Big Ten has become a serious hockey conference.
Tyler Sheehy is the man to watch for the Golden Gophers, a team that has definite Frozen Four aspirations in 2018. Sheehy himself could win a Hobey Baker if his trajectory continues. He leads what may be the best roster in the conference. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is a well-coached team under Jeff Jackson, and Wisconsin has its usual handful of NHL prospects. Given that the Gophers are coming off of a strong season, however, it’s hard to argue with the coaches on their thinking.
Big Ten Champion Prediction: Minnesota Golden Gophers