On Porter and Kolarik
Frequent commenter and NCAA enthusiast J. Michael Neal is a big-time Michigan guy, and he had a great post today about two Coyotes prospects, Hobey Baker winner Kevin Porter and teammate Chad Kolarik, who helped lead that team to the Frozen Four semi-finals last week:
I suppose that that means that a lot of people will think of the team as a failure, since they lost in the semi-finals to Notre Dame, a team they went 2-0 against in the regular season. Where others will remember underachievers, though, I see a team with 12 freshmen that gelled instead of struggling...One a fourth-round pick, the other a seventh. And I wouldn't bet against seeing them with Phoenix at some point.
After backup goalie Bryan Hogan let in the overtime goal that ended Michigan's season, I watched these two. It was a sad scene. Most of the team went to console Hogan ... who has unfairly blamed himself for the loss. Kolarik and Porter hugged each other about ten feet to the right of the goal. I haven't ever seen anything quite like it.
The NCAA's something I don't get to talk about nearly enough, as it's covered only sporadically in this country despite the major impact the U.S. college game is having on the NHL every year. It's great hockey, however, and more and more, teams are unearthing gems like Kevin Bieksa, Tom Gilbert and Mike Mottau from the NCAA system, signing top undrafted talent or finding late-bloomers late on draft day.
From mighty mite Nathan Gerbe (Buffalo) to giant Brian Boyle (Los Angeles), terrific talent is quietly coming out of the U.S. development system, and NHL clubs like the Devils that heavily scout the NCAA are seeing the benefits.
I think we're just starting to see the impact of the league on pro hockey.