5 Bold Predictions for Next Season
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK—
Any sports reporter worth his name will tell you it is the dog days of summer. There are few storylines flying around worth writing about. The good news is we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With only 20 days until training camp opens on September 10th, 2019, it is almost time for fans and coaches alike to look forward to the upcoming season and try to anticipate what is to come. I have done my fair share of research over the summer and I know I am supposed to be unbiased, however I have a good feeling about this Columbia Lions hockey team. Here are my five bold predictions for the 2019-2020 hockey season:
1) Lions Make a Jump in the Standings
Massive changes occurred in the MCHC this offseason as number one and number two ranked programs Fordham and Hofstra have opted to leave the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference. We are unsure why they left as neither school answered my request for an interview to explain their reasoning but one thing that is certain is the position of ‘top dog’ in the conference is there for the taking. After a tough rebuilding year that saw the Lions stumble to a 4-11-1 record, they’re hoping a strong offseason and breakout performances from key players can help them secure the ‘top dog’ or should I say “top cat” position. Since this is a bold prediction column, I am going to boldly predict that the Lions will win at least 10 games next season.
2) Lions Make a Splash in Nashville
Hopefully you packed your cowboy boots because the Lions are invading Nashville for a weekend tournament starting November 8th. In between country music shows the Lions will be seeing new, out of conference opponents in the Vanderbilt University hosted tournament. The general consensus around the team is that this is a business trip, not a vacation. With a mindset like that expect this Lions team to prey on their opposition and maybe come fly back to the big apple with a nice big trophy.
3) Dunn Leads League Again
I know this is not that bold of a prediction, but it has been a long off season for me as well so cut me some slack. Columbia Lions Captain Andy Dunn had a breakout sophomore season for the Lions leading the team in Goals with 22, Assists with 33, and Points with 55. Dunn’s points and assists lead the entire MCHC conference. Dunn has nothing left to prove, but you wouldn’t know that if you spoke to him. His mindset going into next season should have opposing team goaltenders shaking in their boots. Dunn spent his offseason training at a new gym in Toronto with hopes of shattering his career highs and leading this Lions team into the playoffs.
4) New Recruits Step Up in Big Ways
One thing every college sport fan loves is the turnover. You can have a favourite player for four seasons and next thing you know they’re gone. They take their jersey off one last time and replace it with a suit and tie. They finish the game they love and replace it with a 9-5 job for a company you’ve probably never heard of. As sad as it is to see graduating players move on, it makes room for fresh faces with all the potential in the world. Two fresh faces you will be seeing sporting the Columbia blue this year are Dennis Franklin, a forward from Oakland, California; and Weston Goodman, a defenceman from San Jose, California. Franklin, a forward who is joining the program after averaging 0.5ppg last season at Taft School in the USHS Prep league will add much needed scoring depth to the Lions roster. Look for Franklin to potentially see first line minutes as the season goes on. Much like his fictional TV cousin from “Breaking Bad” Saul Goodman, Weston’s defensive play is all good man. Look for Weston to be relied upon heavily to shut down opposition’s top lines. Look for Goodman to potentially play with veteran defenceman Dean Foskett, who will provide a calming presence to counteract Goodman’s high energy style of play.
5) 2 becomes 1A
Peanut butter needs jam, Batman needs Robin, Marky Mark needs the Funky Bunch, Dunn needs Vermette. There is no doubt Dunn is the driver of the Lions offense but who gets to ride shotgun on this journey through the MCHC? Last season, with an even 11 goals and 11 assists forward Ben Vermette was the Captain’s right-hand man, sitting second on the team in most statistical categories (one point ahead of lethal offensive weapon Kyle Lopes). Vermette knows he had a productive season, but he also knows if he wants to help this Lions team reach new heights, he is going to need a big season. Any expert will tell you a good 1-2 punch is effective but looking at recent success stories in the NHL one similarity you will find is championship teams have a 1 and a 1A. Look for Vermette to take strides into filling that position as 1A.
There you have it, my five bold predictions. I always enjoy reading the comments and seeing your opinions on these topics, but I am definitely looking forward to this season to see just how right (or wrong) I was with these predictions.
Mark Rassell is a Junior Reporter for the Columbia University Men’s Hockey Team. A long-time fanatic of Collegiate sports in the Atlantic Northeast, Mark found himself disagreeing with many expert opinions about the events he witnessed so he began an online blog containing his thoughts and opinions which gained popularity throughout the online community leading him down this career path. The blog has now been taken down, but you can follow him on Twitter at @Mark_Rassell