The 2008-09 Michigan Hockey schedule has been released! The non-conference slate is kind of disappointing after seeing the teams we faced last year. It's kind of weird that Michigan is making the trip all the way to Boston to play one game (Harvard and UMass were rumored opponents, but obviously neither one went through). Even more strange is the fact that two days before they're in Boston to take on the Terriers, the Wolverines will face Niagara at Yost in a rematch of their first-round NCAA Tournament game.
The schedule can be divided into three distinct sections. The first and third sections aren't all that difficult, while the middle is absolutely brutal.
It will be important to get out of the gate in a hurry. Even with games at BU and Alaska, I'd argue that the first twelve games of the season all fall into the "should win" category. I'd say it's probably a disappointment if Michigan doesn't take at least 19 points out of 24 in the first six weeks.
Then comes a hellacious two months of games. From late November through the end of January, the Wolverines go: at Miami, at Miami, at Minnesota, at Wisconsin, MSU, at MSU, Michigan Tech, MSU/North Dakota, Miami, Miami. They then get a weekend against Bowling Green before playing MSU in a home-and-Joe and then a home-and-home against the national runners-up, Notre Dame. There are no gimmees in college hockey (see losing to OSU at home last year) but 13 of those 16 games look especially tough. Only the pair against BGSU and the GLI opener against Tech look to be "easier" games. That's a brutal stretch.
If Michigan ends up facing Michigan State on the second day of the Great Lakes Invitational, the Wolverines and Spartans will play each other five times in a ten-game span from December 5 to January 24. I actually really like that. The games with MSU are usually hard-hitting and entertaining as long as the Wolverines show up (MSU always seems to bring it). It won't be quite as fun as a best-of-seven would be, but there should be a little extra nastiness in there by the end of that stretch.
While the middle section of the schedule is fairly difficult, the end of the season looks to be pretty easy (on paper, of course). Michigan closes the season by playing LSSU and UNO in series at Yost, Ohio State on the road, and the usual season-ending home-and-home with Ferris.
The western regionals this year are in Minneapolis (Mariucci, not XCel) and Grand Rapids.
The roster for the USA World Junior Championships try-out camp has been released (Word document) and there are--fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint--a lot of familiar faces on the list. Amongst the 18 defensemen and 30 forwards attending the camp are: Scooter Vaughan, Robbie Czarnik, David Wohlberg, Matt Rust, and Aaron Palushaj. If I had to bet right now, I'd say Rust and Palushaj will be our only losses for the GLI. I didn't realize Pacioretty was too old, but that definitely is a plus for the Wolverines.
USA Today has Brandon Burlon going 19th overall to Columbus.
TSN isn't quite as high on Burlon, ranking him 42nd overall. They compare him to Adrian Aucoin. The CSB ranked him #41, ISS has him 52nd, Red Line 21st, Bob McKenzie has him 59th and THN ranks him 58th.
Robbie Czarnik is listed as an Honourable (sic) Mention on TSN's page, which puts him in the 61-75 range. His rankings (in the same order as listed above for Burlon) are: 88, 32, 80, 97, 57. Seems like people are all over the board on him.