Puck Daddy - NHL

Hockey 101 is a new, weekly Puck Daddy feature on U.S. Division I college hockey. Stick around and you just might learn a thing or two. Part two will run later this afternoon.

The problem with - some would say charm of - college hockey is that it's a very regional iteration of an already-regional sport. There are 58 teams in the NCAA's top division, but the majority, 33 of them, are located in four states: "The Three Ms" (Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota) and New York.

So why, you might be asking, if you don't live in those four states or within a few dozen miles of one of the other 25 teams, should you care?

Well, the college game has had a profound effect on the pro game. As you'll soon see, a number of the game's stars, both for all time and today, have come from the college ranks, and an argument could be made that the NCAA develops the NHL's most complete players. All that can be debated at a later date, I suppose.

Without further ado, let's get straight to your guide to NCAA hockey.

(All standings in preseason polls are as picked by coaches unless noted otherwise. The national poll is selected by the media only.)

Name: Air Force Falcons

Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.

Conference: Atlantic Hockey (AH)

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: None

2009-10 poll positions: No. 1 of 10 in AH, No. 19 in national poll

Why you should care about them: Contrary to what you'd probably think about service academy athletics, they're actually a pretty good team.

Name: Alabama-Huntsville Chargers

Location: Hunstville, Ala.

Conference: College Hockey America (CHA)

National titles: 2 (1996 and1998, both in Div. II)

Alumni in the NHL: Jared Ross

2009-10 poll positions: No. 4 of 4 in CHA

Why you should care about them: This might be your last chance to do so. There's a real danger the team could folds when the CHA does after this season. Check out SaveUAHhockey.com for info on how you can help.

Name: Alaska Nanooks

Location: Fairbanks, Alaska

Conference: Central College Hockey Association (CCHA)

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Aaron Voros(notes), Kyle Greentree(notes), Jordan Hendry(notes), Shawn Chambers

2009-10 poll positions: No. 6/7 (media/coaches) of 12 in CCHA, received 1 vote in national poll

Why you should care about them: They're seriously like 35 miles from the Arctic Circle, and they have to take tunnels to get anywhere on campus in the winter (which is every month that isn't August).

Name: Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Conference: Western College Hockey Association (WCHA)

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Jay Beagle(notes), Curtis Glencross(notes), Mike Peluso

2009-10 poll positions: No. 9/9 (media/coaches) of 10 in WCHA, received 1 vote in national poll

Why you should care about them: If you live in Alaska and don't like Fairbanks, I guess.

Name: American International Yellow Jackets

Location: Springfield, Mass.

Conference: Atlantic Hockey (AH)

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: None

2009-10 poll positions: 10/10 in AH

Why you should care about them: You live in Springfield and find the hike to Amherst to be too much.

Name: Army Black Knights

Location: West Point, N.Y.

Conference: AH

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: None

2009-10 poll positions: 6 of 10 in AH

Why you should care about them: You like the military, but not so much flying.

Name: Bentley Falcons

Location: Waltham, Mass.

Conference: AH

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: None

2009-10 poll positions: 7 of 10 in AH

Why you should care about them: You go there

Name: Bemidji State Beavers

Location: Bemidji, Minn.

Conference: CHA

National titles: 6 (1984, 1993-95, 1997 in Div. II; 1986 in Div. III)

Alumni in the NHL: Andrew Murray(notes), Matt Climie(notes), Joel Otto

2009-10 poll positions: No. 1 of 4 in CHA, received 66 votes in national poll

Why you should care about them: Their improbable run to the Frozen Four last year captured imaginations and probably saved their program, which was in danger of folding with the CHA. They'll join the WCHA next season.

Name: Boston College Eagles

Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Conference: Hockey East (HE)

National titles: 3 (1949, 2001, 2008)

Alumni in the NHL: Brian Gionta(notes), Brooks Orpik(notes), Rob Scuderi(notes), Benn Ferriero(notes), Andrew Alberts(notes), Brian Boyle(notes), Scott Clemmensen(notes), Bill Guerin(notes), Chuck Kobasew(notes), Peter Harrold(notes), Marty Reasoner(notes), Kevin Stevens, Joe Mullen, Craig Janney, Brian Leetch

2009-10 poll positions: No. 3 of 10 in HE, No. 12 in national poll

Why you should care about them: They're usually a fun team to watch and they're a factory for NHL defensemen

Name: Boston University Terriers

Location: Boston, Mass.

Conference: HE

National titles: 5 (1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009)

Alumni in the NHL: Matt Gilroy(notes), Colin Wilson(notes), Chris Drury(notes), Adrian Aucoin(notes), Mike Grier(notes), Freddy Meyer(notes), Jay Pandolfo(notes), Tom Poti(notes), Keith Tkachuk(notes), Ryan Whitney(notes), Rick DiPietro(notes), Tony Amonte(notes) (and like half the 1980 US Olympic team)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 1 of 10 in HE, No. 2 in national poll

Why you should care about them: They won a national title last year and would have given a bunch of AHL teams a run for their money. Lots of skill in every position.

Name: Bowling Green Falcons

Location: Bowling Green, Ohio

Conference: CCHA

National titles: 1 (1984)

Alumni in the NHL: Kevin Bieksa(notes), Rob Blake(notes), Greg de Vries(notes), Ken Klee(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 12/12 (media/coaches) of 12 in CCHA

Why you should care about them: Look at all the NHL defensemen that went there!

Name: Brown Bears

Location: Providence, R.I.

Conference: Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC)

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Yann Danis(notes), Todd Simpson(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: 12/12 (media/coaches) of 12 in ECAC

Why you should care about them: Your grades weren't good enough to get you into one of the good Ivies.

Name: Canisius Golden Griffins

Location: Buffalo, N.Y.

Conference: AH

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: None

2009-10 poll positions: No. 5 of 10 in AH

Why you should care about them: You live in Buffalo and love an underdog, although that may be redundant.

Name: Clarkson Golden Knights

Location: Potsdam, N.Y.

Conference: ECAC

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Chris Clark(notes), Craig Conroy(notes), Erik Cole(notes), Kent Huskins(notes), Randy Jones(notes), Todd White(notes), Willie Mitchell(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: 8/11 (media/coaches) of 12 in ECAC

Why you should care about them: They churn out NHL talent and they're a real tough team to beat, plus they REALLY hate St. Lawrence.

Name: Colgate Raiders

Location: Hamilton, N.Y.

Conference: ECAC

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Andy MacDonald, David Conte

2009-10 poll positions: 9/7 (media/coaches) of 12 in ECAC

Why you should care about them: You are Andy MacDonald or David Conte.

Name: Colorado College Tigers

Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.

Conference: WCHA

National titles: 2 (1950, 1957)

Alumni in the NHL: Mark Stuart(notes), Jack Hillen(notes), Tom Preissing(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: 7/8 (media/coaches) of 10 in WCHA, received 25 votes in national poll

Why you should care about them: You don't like Denver.

Name: Cornell Big Red

Location: Ithaca, N.Y.

Conference: ECAC

National titles: 2 (1967, 1970)

Alumni in the NHL: Douglas Murray(notes), Joe Nieuwendyk(notes), Byron Bitz(notes), Ken Dryden (you may have heard of him)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 2/2 (media/coaches) of 12 in ECAC, No. 7 in national poll

Why you should care about them: You and your buddy Broccoli Rob like to remember the good ol' days when you were in Here Comes Treble together. Also, they're pretty good at hockey.

Name: Dartmouth Big Green

Location: Hanover, N.H.

Conference: ECAC

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Lee Stempniak(notes), Tanner Glass(notes), David Jones(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 5/5 (media/coaches) of 12 in ECAC

Why you should care about them: You hope to one day see Hugh Jessiman(notes), a Dartmouth alum and the only 2003 first-round draft choice to never play in the NHL, make the big time.

Name: Denver Pioneers

Location: Denver, Colo.

Conference: WCHA

National titles: 7 (1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005)

Alumni in the NHL: Matt Pettinger(notes), Matt Carle(notes), Paul Stastny(notes), Antti Laaksonen(notes), Kevin Dineen, Craig Patrick, Glenn Anderson

2009-10 poll positions: No. 1/1 (media/coaches) of 10 in WCHA, No. 1 in national poll

Why you should care about them: They're going to be frighteningly good this year.

Name: Ferris State Bulldogs

Location: Big Rapids, Mich.

Conference: CCHA

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Jason Blake(notes), Chris Kunitz(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 9/8 (media/coaches) of 12 in CCHA

Why you should care about them: You and Cameron and Sloane are trying to duck out on Ed Rooney and see a Cubbies game.

Name: Harvard Crimson

Location: Cambridge, Mass.

Conference: ECAC

National titles: 1 (1989)

Alumni in the NHL: Craig Adams(notes), Craig MacDonald(notes), Dominic Moore(notes), Noah Welch(notes), Don Sweeney

2009-10 poll positions: No. 4/4 (media/coaches) of 12 in ECAC, received 35 votes in national poll

Why you should care about them: Winning the Beanpot doesn't matter to you at all.

Name: Holy Cross Crusaders

Location: Worcester, Mass.

Conference: AH

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Patrick Rismiller

2009-10 poll positions: No. 4 of 10 in AH

Why you should care about them: They beat Minnesota in the NCAA tournament once, and that was pretty widely celebrated as being awesome by almost all college hockey fans.

Name: Lake Superior State Lakers

Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Conference: CCHA

National titles: 3 (1988, 1992, 1994)

Alumni in the NHL: Brian Rolston(notes), Doug Weight(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 10/10 (media/coaches) of 12 in CCHA

Why you should care about them: Doug Weight is pretty much considered universally awesome.

Name: Maine Black Bears

Location: Orono, Maine

Conference: HE

National titles: 2 (1993, 1999)

Alumni in the NHL: Paul Kariya(notes), Brett Clark(notes), Doug Janik(notes), Corey Larose, Mike Lundin(notes), Scott Pellerin, Dustin Penner(notes), Keith Carney(notes), Eric Weinrich

2009-10 poll positions: No. 8 of 10 in HE, received one vote in national poll

Why you should care about them: Their fans are jumping off the bandwagon, so now's the perfect chance to hop on. Also, there's nothing to do in Orono.

Name: Mercyhurst Lakers

Location: Erie, Pa.

Conference: AH

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: None

2009-10 poll positions: No. 2 in AH, received 6 votes in national poll

Why you should care about them: They used to make the NCAA tournament a bunch and they might just do it again.

Name: Merrimack Warriors

Location: North Andover, Mass.

Conference: HE

National titles: 1 (1978, Div. II)

Alumni in the NHL: Steve McKenna, Greg Classen, Matt Foy(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 10 of 10 in HE

Why you should care about them: They're the little team that could, and there's absolutely no way they finish as low as the coaches think they will.

Name: Miami (Ohio) Redhawks

Location: Oxford, Ohio

Conference: CCHA

National titles: None

Alumni in the NHL: Dan Boyle(notes), Randy Robitaille(notes), Ryan Jones(notes), Andy Greene(notes), Kevyn Adams(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 3/3 (media/coaches) of 12 in CCHA, No. 4 in national poll

Why you should care about them: They went to the Frozen Four last year and they're looking real good again.

Name: Michigan Wolverines

Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

Conference: CCHA

National titles: 9 (1948, 1951-1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1996, 1998)

Alumni in the NHL: Mike Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Andrew Cogliano(notes), Mike Comrie(notes), Andrew Ebbett(notes), Matt Hunwick(notes), Jack Johnson(notes), Mike Knuble(notes), Mike Komisarek(notes), John Madden(notes), Brendan Morrison(notes), David Moss(notes), Kevin Porter(notes), Eric Nystrom(notes), Jed Ortmeyer(notes), Max Pacioretty(notes), Jeff Tambellini(notes), Mike van Ryn(notes), Aaron Ward(notes), Al Montoya(notes), Marty Turco(notes), Red Berenson

2009-10 poll positions: No. 1/1 (media/coaches) in CCHA, No. 3 in national poll

Why you should care about them: Their loss in the NCAA tournament last year was a total fluke, and they're going to be monsters this season.

Name: Michigan State Spartans

Location: East Lansing, Mich.

Conference: CCHA

National titles: 3 (1966, 1986, 2007)

Alumni in the NHL: Justin Abdelkader(notes), David Booth(notes), Rod Brind'Amour(notes), Adam Hall(notes), Shawn Horcoff(notes), Andrew Hutchinson(notes), Duncan Keith(notes), Tim Kennedy(notes), John-Michael Liles(notes), Drew Miller(notes), Corey Potter(notes), Jim Slater(notes), Mike Weaver(notes), Ryan Miller(notes)

2009-10 poll positions: No. 8/8 (media coaches) of 12 in CCHA,

Why you should care about them: You like good teams and are creepily obsessed with the movie 300.

Ryan Lambert loves college hockey (maybe too much), and writes about it weekly here at Puck Daddy. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

Related Articles

Puck Daddy

Add to My Yahoo RSS

Related Photo Gallery

Y! Sports Blog