This is by far the most coverage I’ve ever seen on the ACHA and I love it.
Over 500 viewers consistently for online streams (thanks Youtube) and continuous live hockey for days on end is making our day jobs go by faster. With the D1 & D2 tournaments down to the semifinals, here’s what I’ve learned….
From top to bottom this tournament keeps improving. Comparing the ACHA D1 bottom feeder teams at this tournament like Pitt and Drexel to a middle of the pack NCAA D3 team is very realistic. Then when you look at the top end teams, I think any of the semifinal contestants (Minot, Adrian, Lindenwood, Illinois) could compete with any top 10 NCAA D3 team.
ACHA D2 is bringing on some competitive hockey to the table as well. At a level where you would think average Junior A players would be able to step in and make an impact is making me look silly. Knowing “junior a” players in the tournament, I’ve been trying to pick them out through watching online and it’s not easy. They’re bottom six guys because of the depth and actual development players are starting to go through at this level. I expected a tough tournament, but the skill and overall depth of the teams is a nice surprise.
THE GOALIES. Through D1 and D2 the goalies have been solid. I knew there was some good tenders in the ACHA before the tourney, but these guys keep getting better. It would not surprise me if the NAHL effect (lower level than USHL, better development) ends up hitting the ACHA because these goalies look positionally sound and smoother than most college tenders. Will be interesting to see in a few years where these guys end up because it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few push for coast spots.
If I’m picking teams to win (again) I’m going to stick with Minot and for D2 I like Northeastern. High powered offence and defence that isn’t pretty, but gets the job done is exactly what I like. Minot had a gutsy QF win over Colorado. The goaltending and defence was solid, but the lack of offence could be a problem against Adrian.
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