Nye Frontier Classic
CHN Staff Report
Nebraska-Omaha, Colorado College, Merrimack, Alaska-Anchorage
Anchorage, Alaska — Oct. 13-14
The annual tournament hosted by Alaska-Anchorage enters its seventh season and has another good crop of teams making the long trip.
Nebraska-Omaha had a banner year last season, capturing an NCAA bid for the first time in school history largely thanks to the scoring duo of Hobey Baker finalist Scott Parse (20-41—61) and linemate Bill Thomas (27-23—50). Thomas left early though to pursue an NHL career, leaving Parse to fend for himself at least early. Junior Bryan Marshall had 38 points last year and could help pick up some of the slack. Sophomore goalie Jerad Kaufmann will look to build on his 17-11-6 freshman season.
The Tigers of Colorado College start what could be considered a new era after the graduation of Brett Sterling and former Hobey Baker winner Marty Sertich. They lose their top five scorers from last year after the early departure of defenseman Brian Salcido leaving freshman Chad Rau as the top returnee. A team with as much success as they've had won't stay down long, and they bring in plenty of recruits who could see some early time, like forwards Addison DeBoer and defensemen Nate Prosser and Kris Fredheim.
In the games that have already been played, essentially tuneups for the Tigers, it's clear things will be a little different, but that a good season is still possible.
Merrimack suffered through a trying 6-23-5 record last year under first year head coach Mark Dennehy, its worst mark since moving to Division I in 1984. A bright spot was the play of Hockey East All-Rookie team selection Rob Ricci, but he has been suspended for the entire season for a disciplinary issue. Whether Merrimack can step out of the doldrums it has suffered for the better part of this decade, remains to be seen, but a nice showing in an early-season tournament would be a good place to start.
Like Merrimack, the host Seawolves have been going through a lot of changes, too, and not always for the better. They finished 6-27-3 under Dave Shyiak in his first season, and a lot of players jumped ship. But, last season, the Seawolves made the final of this tournament, losing to Vermont. They have some wins to build on, including beating then-defending national champion Denver on their home ice, as well as a win over North Dakota. Their trouble was scoring; they had no 20-point scorers and only four players who exceeded five goals on the season.
First day games: Nebraska-Omaha vs. Colorado College, Merrimack vs. Alaska-Anchorage