WSR's Unofficial Division 2 Central Region Poll #1

10/30/14 - SPRINGFIELD, MO - Now that Steve Casson is no longer an official pollster for the ACHA Division 2 hockey elite, the door has been opened to re-launch the popular WebSportsRadio.com poll!

As before, Casson will be joined by fellow WSR broadcaster Dan Lee. The pair have a combined sports journalism history in excess of 55 years, including stints by both men as newspaper sports editors and sports program directors.

They will team up to share their opinions and argue incessantly over who should be members of the all important top 10 of the ACHA Division 2 Central Region.

With the first official poll due out Oct. 31, Steve and Dan are ready to take the plunge and test their knowledge against those who truly matter with a no-holds barred disregard for logic and/or wisdom.

Points are awarded 1 through 10 with 10 being the highest. Dan and Steve’s polls are formulated independently of each other and then the points are added together. Then we disclose the method (reasons behind) our madness.

Hopefully it will be as much fun as in years past, but we give no guarantees. Enjoy!

 

 

#1 Lindenwood (Belleville) - Steve: 1, Dan: 1

Steve: Lindsay Middlebrook, a former NHL goaltender, has done well putting together a team with junior hockey influence. He’s coached a Lynx team of eight Canadians, 14 U.S., and two Swedes to an undefeated record. They have shut out Utah and three of four teams at the ACHA Showcase earlier this month. Goaltenders Kyle Miller and Jackson Germaine have seven combined shutouts while allowing only seven goals combined. Unfortunately, the Lynx are a first-year team which can be ranked out, but not elligible for the National Tournament.

Dan: Led by Brad Edwards’ 25 points (7th in the region) and the top two goaltenders in the Central Division, Lindenwood Belleville is hard to deny. Both Kyle Miller and Jackson Germaine sport a save percentage above .973 and have shared equal time in net. One more thing: no less than three of the top nine points scorers in the region reside here. This is one buzz saw of a team, even if they are ineligible for postseason play this year.

 

#2 (T) Lindenwood - Steve: 3, Dan: 2

Dan: With their only blemish a 5-0 loss to Lindenwood Belleville, the Lions are looking rock solid. A sweep of SIUE and wins over western power Arizona State (Elite) and Dayton put them at my number two slot, but they will have to work hard to stay there. A win over GVSU sneaks them ahead of the Lakers - for now.

Steve: Yes, the Lions won 1-0 over Arizona State (Elite) and Grand Valley suffered a 3-2 loss, but it’s the Lakers early strength of schedule that keeps them above Lindenwood for now. The Lions have not allowed a goal in the last 192:50, according to their Twitter page.

 

#2 (T) Grand Valley State - Steve: 2 Dan: 3

Steve: Home ice has been good to the Lakers, who are 6-1 at Georgetown Ice Center. They beat Utah, which will probably settle in at #3 in the West behind Arizona St. Elite - their only loss - and Northern Arizona. Grand Valley has allowed an average of 2 goals per game on the road. The Lakers are winning with only two players in double-figure scoring: Colin Finkhouse (8G, 7A) and Jacob Endicott (5G, 5A).

Dan: Grand Valley State is another team that starts with an iron defense, led by goaltenders Doc Hoekzema (5-0) and Ryan Morey (4-1). Morey actually has the better overall stats despite the one loss to Arizona State (Elite), 3-2. But part of their success is that the defense has only allowed an average of 21 shots on net per game. Head Coach Mike Forbes has the Lakers primed for another great year.

 

#4 Missouri State - Steve: 4, Dan: 5

Dan: Of the Ice Bears’ three losses, two were to the unbeaten, #1 team in D1 (Central Oklahoma Broncos) and the other was an ugly 6-5 second game against SIUE in which many key players were missing. In fact, there were key players missing in the two games at UCO as well. But truly great teams can’t make excuses, and Missouri State has yet to prove themselves worthy of that plateau. Jack Ryan (15G, 29 Pts) is 5th in Central points (despite missing several games for various reasons), and he leads an offensive charge that is second to none in all of Division 2, averaging 7.2 goals per game. The Ice Bears also have capable goaltending in Justin Davis and Steve Lombardo. If they can focus on the prize, this may be the team to watch.

Steve: The Ice Bears have outscored teams 101-36, which is tops in Division 2, while 12 players have scored in double digits with defensemen taking three of the top six team spots. Their Division 1 losses to Central Oklahoma - a tune-up before jumping to D1 next year - came in the third period as the Broncos have a way of pulling out games in the final 20 minutes. The Ice Bears have allowed only five power play goals on 98 chances for a 95.0% penalty kill.

 

#5 Michigan State - Steve: 7, Dan: 4

Steve: Granted wins and losses to Division 1 teams shouldn’t figure into a decision, but a shootout loss to current #11 Illinois shows the Spartans mean business. Their schedule will get tougher and more wins could propel coach Jim Martin’s team up a few notches.

Dan: I knew when I put them down as my #4 that this would be where Steve and I would battle. 4-2-0-1 doesn’t look all that impressive until you consider that all three losses were to D1 schools, one of which (Western Michigan) yielded a split. I’m going from their recent years of success as well, and I completely understand Steve’s logic at placing them further down. But I’m sticking to my guns on this one, and I think time and an extreme schedule will prove me right.

 

#6 Northern Illinois - Steve: 6, Dan: 6

Dan: Led by Justin Rucinski’s 22 goals and 32 pts (2nd), Northern Illinois has rebounded from a shaky 0-3-1 to reel off nine straight wins. Their schedule has not been overpowering and they suffered two shutout losses to Missouri State early on, but this team seems to be getting stronger every week. They will not go quietly into that good night, for sure.

Steve: After a pair of shutout losses to Missouri State, a 10-game unbeaten streak started after a 3-3 tie with Central Michigan on September 26. Look Out for Justin Rucinski, along with Eric Svejda. The Bollingbrook, Illinois native is second on the team with 11 goals and nine assists.

 

#7 Illinois State - Steve: 5 Dan: 9

Steve: Preparing for a change of scenery (to D1) next year, the Redbirds front loaded their schedule with Division I teams. Subtract four losses to the higher tier squads, and Illinois State has only one Division 2 defeat - 6-5 to SIUE October 18th. Tim Talty leads the league in points with 10 goals and 24 assists. Nine players are in double-digit scoring, with Connor Anderson’s 12 goals and 17 assists tying him with Missouri State’s Jack Ryan at No. 9 in D2 for total points.

Dan: Illinois State could be a better team than I am seeing, but a split with SIUE and a lackluster schedule of D2 teams so far has left me wanting to see more before I get behind them.

 

#8 Northern Michigan - Steve: 8, Dan: 7

Dan: Yes, they were swept by GVSU and Michigan State, but they were close games and a sweep of Robert Morris Maroon and a good overall record is enough to get them here - for the moment.

Steve: Have played a respectable schedule with northern teams. Dallas Mclaughlin is leading the team with 22 goals and six assists. He’s one of four players in double-digit scoring.

 

#9 Central Michigan - Steve: 9, Dan: 8

Steve: A large goal differential has helped a team that has had past problems off the ice. The Chippewa’s 3-2 loss to Grand Valley State in overtime October 18th bodes well for the Maroon and gold. They have allowed only 35 goals but they will have to pick up the pace as the season progresses.

Dan: Central Michigan hasn’t shied away from a strong schedule so far and they have held up fairly well. An overtime loss to GVSU and avoiding a sweep by Northern Illinois (3-3, 3-6) keeps them floating in the top 10 pool.

 

# 10(T) Robert Morris (Maroon) - Steve: 10, Dan: Honorable Mention

# 10(T) Southern Illinois-Edwardsville - Steve: Honorable Mention, Dan: 10

Dan: Not but a stone’s throw between RMU Maroon and SIUE for the last spot. Even the total goals scored in the split between the two teams were the same. But since they were on RMU’s ice, I have to give the edge to the visiting Cougars. SIUE has been all over the map with good wins and bad losses (including two to Iowa), so this could easily change by next poll.

Steve: This is a tough spot. I wanted to put Southern Illinois-Edwardsville here since they have split with Missouri State and Illinois State, but for now a sub .500 record doesn’t justify the spot. The RMU Eagles have also split with SIUE and have a shootout loss to Northern Michigan. This will be a tough spot to fill in later polls.