A week ago I took part in the 3rd Annual WCHA Blogger & Website Preseason Poll as one of 18 participants and thought it would be a good idea to break down my own picks for the final year of the conference as we know it going from 12 to 1. In ninth place are the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha, who finished seventh and just missed out on home ice last year.
It's tough to count out a Dean Blais-coached team and those might be words to live by in Nebraska-Omaha's third and final WCHA season. The Mavericks made the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and put themselves in contention in 2012 with lesser-known players but unfortunately for them, that raised the interest of NHL teams.
Incoming sophomore Jayson Megna, who scored 31 points, created a bidding war for himself over the summer and signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins while Terry Broadhurst (36 points) signed a pro deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. A third loss, Terry's brother Alex, didn't make it to Omaha - instead signing with the London Knights of the OHL - while goalie Ryan Massa is taking the season off.
One who did stay despite offers was 6'8" defenseman Andrej Sustr, a giant who uses his size to take away space for opponents. He is not the only blue liner with size - only freshman Brian Cooper is under six feet with Jaycob Megna listed at 6'7" and Tony Turgeon at 6'4" - and the defensive corps (including Minnesota Wild draft pick and freshman Nick Seeler) is the strong point.
Seeler is one part of a solid recruiting class that includes Cooper and Philadelphia Flyers pick Anthony Stolarz, who should challenge John Faulkner for playing time in net. The Mavericks do return leading scorer Matt White and Ryan Walters up front but Blais and company will have to overcome the lack of depth with Megna and both Broadhursts gone.
But if anyone is up for the job, it's Dean Blais.
Agree with the picks? Disagree? Sound off below.
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