The 2012-13 NCAA men's ice hockey season has officially begun in some parts of the country as many schools begun their first exhibition games of the year. None of the games account towards their win/loss record but they do give us an early look at some of the top young prospects from across the nation and that's never a bad thing. Most of the teams that were in action this weekend were from the WCHA or CCHA, which is a good thing for the Hurricanes because the majority of their college prospects play in that conference. Ice time usually gets spread around in exhibition games, too so that everyone can get a chance to play and develop chemistry.
There were only three players in the Hurricanes system who played over the weekend but all of them played very well. The one who most fans ahve their eyes on are Minnesota's junior defenseman Mark Alt, who should have a big role this year on one of the best hockey teams in the nation. The Gophers certainly made a big statement in their exhibition game over Lethbridge University as they took care of business with a 7-0 win. Now, the major story in this game revolved around Christian Isackson's natural hat trick but Alt also joined the fun and scored a goal himself in the second period. Alt ended up being on-ice for three goals, one of which coming on the powerplay and ended the game with two shots on goal. He was also named the third star of the game. This was a pretty easy win for the Gophers as they dominated Lethbridge on with a 65-16 shot advantage.
The Gophers weren't the only team in the WCHA pitch a shutout in their exhibition contest this weekend, as the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the United States Under 18 team by a score of 5-0. The USA U-18 team is one of the better developmental squads to come out of the USHL, so they gave the Badgers a good fight despite being blanked on the scoresheet. The most exciting news from this game is that Carolina's fifth round pick from this year scored a goal. Woods is a sophomore now and should be a in a bigger role than he was last year, so I'm excited to see how he performs. It may be only an exhibition game, but it's good to hear that he was able to make an impact in this game by finding the back of the net.
Woods wasn't the only player from this year's draft class to see some action this weekend as the team's sixth round pick, Collin Olson, got to play a little over 32 minutes between the pipes for Ohio State in their game against Waterloo. Unfortunately, he only saw five shots and gave up a goal which put Waterloo in front at the time but the Buckeyes were able to come back and get the win. Olson is only a freshman and it's going to take a lot for him to unseat the Buckeyes' senior netminder Brady Hjelle but I'll look forward to see how he progresses in the upcoming years. Hjelle only started eight games last season but I'm not sure how many chances Olson will get in his first year since goalies take awhile to develop. Regardless, I hope he gets a shot somewhere down the line and it was good to see him get some playing time this weekend.
There will be more updates to come in the following weeks and I'm very excited about what the future holds for some of these players. The Canes have developed quite a few players out of the college rankings the last couple of years and I'm sure that we'll see more as time goes by.