Tuesday, October 9, 2012

2012-13 All Canadian NCAA Teams

Our Friends at USCHO.com, College Hockey News and Inside College Hockey provide great, all year round coverage of NCAA hockey. They, among other publications, have done a fantastic job of getting college hockey fans ready for the new season. Pre-season polls and power rankings, Hobey Baker predictions and All-Conference teams are all available for readers who could spend hours going through it all.

But there's an angle that provide on The Pipeline Show that doesn't get touched on by our American based counterparts, and understandably so; the Canadian perspective. 

Roughly 25-30% of NCAA players are Canadian and that's one of the major reasons why college hockey is a focus for us on the radio show. Not only do Canadians play college hockey but they do it well. The list of former Canadian NCAA players in the NHL and in pro leagues around the world is as extensive as it is impressive.  And more are on the way.

The following are my picks for the 2012-13 All Canadian NCAA Teams.

I've selected two teams, 12 players representing 7 different schools and 3 NCAA conferences.



Photo: Emily Green / UND Athletics
Corban Knight (North Dakota) - Back-to-back 40 point seasons for the former Okotoks Oiler are a great base from which to build from. Knight, now in his senior year, could lead North Dakota in scoring to close out his NCAA career. The 6-2 and 200 lb Alberta native will center UND's top line. Drafted by Florida, 5th round, 2009. 
Alex Guptill (Michigan) - The Wolverines appear set for another strong season and one of the popular choices as to why in college hockey circles is this sophomore from Ontario. Guptill had 16 goals and 33 points as a freshman under coach Red Berenson last year. The 6'3, 185 lb forward hails from Newmarket, ON. Drafted by Dallas, 3rd round, 2010.

Connor Jones (Quinnipiac) - One half of the offensively dynamic twin punch of the Bobcats, Connor is coming off a 41-points season as the top scorer at Quinnipiac. The natural question would be why Connor and not brother Kellen, the 2010 7th round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers. Connor has outscored his brother every year since 2007-08 and even that season he played 10 fewer games for the BCHL's Vernon Vipers and was just 7 points behind. Unrestricted Free Agent.   


Photo: ECAC Hockey
Danny Biega (Harvard) - Throw passports out the window, here's a player getting consideration by many NCAA pundits as one of the top defencemen in college hockey and a bona fide Hobey Baker candidate. The Harvard captain is now beginning his senior career and, as captain, will look to lead his team in all aspects of the game including statistically; his 34 points last year were second only to the now graduated Alex Killorn. Drafted by Carolina, 3rd round, 2010.

Joey LaLeggia (Denver) - The diminutive Burnaby, BC product notched 38 points as a freshman last season, third highest for defencemen in NCAA hockey. Although undrafted in his first year of eligibility, that wasn't the case after proving that his BCHL stats could translate to the college game against bigger, stronger and faster opposition. It's not out of the realm of possibility that LaLeggia could lead the Pioneers in scoring and collect a ton of WCHA hardware along the way. Drafted by Edmonton, 5th round, 2012.


Photo: WCHA
Sam Brittain (Denver) - There is no question in my mind that had it not been for an off season injury a year ago, Brittain would have been at the very least an invitee to Canada's 2012 World Junior selection camp in December. As it worked out, the Calgary native didn't get back to playing until the very end of January and appeared in only 12 games in all. The 6'1, 215 lb netminder is now a junior at DU and is expected to play out all four years of his eligibility before turning pro. Drafted by Florida, 4th round, 2010.



Photo: College Hockey Inc.
Phil Di Giuseppe (Michigan) - The another Ontario born sophomore with the Wolverines this year, Di Giuseppe made headlines early last season with his quick start. He received an invite to Canada's World Junior camp, didn't make the team and went into a mid-season slump. He ended the campaign getting back to form and finished the year with 26 points in 40 games. Drafted by Carolina, 2nd round, 2012.

Daniel Carr (Union) - A Frozen Four appearance last season for the Dutchmen has many picking Union for a strong follow up campaign this year. Carr is a Sherwood Park, Alberta product that has had back-to-back 20-goal seasons through his first two collegiate years. Can the 6'0, 195 lb winger lead the Dutchmen back to a Conference title and to Pittsburgh next April? Unrestricted Free Agent.

Matthew Peca (Quinnipiac) - He may only be 5'9 and 165 lbs but Peca packs an offensive punch. Playing for Quinnipiac was the fallback plan after not being granted a move to the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts last year but it doesn't appear to have affected his development. Peca finished second only to Conner Jones in scoring for the Bobcats and will look to improve on his point per game debut now that he is a sophomore. Drafted by Tampa Bay, 7th round, 2011


Photo: Kory Wallen / UND Sports
Dillon Simpson (North Dakota) - At 19 years of age, Simpson is younger than a number of incoming UND recruits. Not a big deal at first glance until you remember that he's now a junior and was once a 17-year-old freshman. Despite his youth, Simpson will be a leader from the blueline and play a prominent role including on the power play. His 18 points as a sophomore should be a reasonable bench mark to aim for this year. Drafted by Edmonton, 4th round, 2011.

Andrew MacWilliam (North Dakota) - Speaking of leadership from the UND blueline, the captain of the former Fighting Sioux is the senior from Calgary. The big stay at home rearguard should anchor a strong club in a very difficult WCHA conference this year. At 6'2 and 230 lbs, MacWilliam is physically ready for the next level but will hone his all around game for one more year in college. Drafted by Toronto, 7th round, 2008.


Photo: Associated Press
Frank Slubowski (Western Michigan) - "The Big Slubowski" started his freshman season off in style and ended it even better as the CCHA playoff MVP. The Prince Rupert, BC product was named to the conference All-Rookie team as well. At 5'11 and 185 lbs, Slubowski isn't the prototypical goalie NHL clubs covet in the draft but another strong year with the Broncos under Andy Murray will keep him on the radar. Unrestricted Free Agent.

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