East Regional Preview

No. 1 Denver (WCHA)

Record: 27-9-4;
WCHA Regular Season Champions

How they got here: At-Large;
2nd in final PairWise Rankings

Key Players: F –
Rhett Rakhshani (21-29-50), Joe Colborne (21-19-40), Tyler Ruegesser
(16-24-40); D – Patrick Wiercioch (6-20-26); G – Marc Cheverie (24-5-3, 2.08
GAA, .932 SV%, 6 shutouts)

Why they’ll win: The Pioneers have two Hobey Baker
finalists – Marc Cheverie and Rhett Rakhshani – and after their nightmare
finish at the WCHA Final Five, they’re looking for redemption. The x-member
senior class has come close, but never made it to the Frozen Four. They’ve been
one and done in the first round of the NCAA regionals the last three years.
Rakhshani, the team captain, turned down an offer with the New York Islanders
over the summer to get his team to the Frozen Four. But they’ll have to work
hard and get in the game from the start for the full 60 minutes – something
they’ve struggled with the remainder of the season.

Why they’ll lose: Just four games into the post-season the
Pioneers are already 2-2. The top line, which accounts for nearly half of the
teams scoring is good, but they were benched in the third period of the WCHA’s
third-place game. Cheverie was shaky last weekend, allowing four goals in the
first game and then three in the first 12 minutes of the first period in the
consolation match, before he headed to the locker room. The team is good, but
they have a tough time getting in the game and haven’t done so hot under NCAA
pressure in the years past. 

No. 2 Cornell (ECAC)

Record: 21-8-4

How they got here: ECAC Tournament Champions; 7th in Final PairWise Rankings

Key Players: F – Blake Gallagher (18-19-37), Colin
Greening (15-20-35), Riley Nash (12-22-34); D – Brendon Nash (2-17-19); G – Ben
Scrivens (21-8-4, 1.79 GAA, .937 SV%, 7 Shutouts)

Why They’ll Win:
They played UNH once this season, directly after winter break and came out on
top 5-2. They know what the Wildcats have offensively, and know how to trap
them defensively. Cornell is top of the class when it comes to defense, and if
they get the early lead, they have a good chance of controlling the puck and
keeping it away from the Wildcats. Not only that, but Scrivens has recorded
three of his seven shutouts of the season in the past three games at the Times
Union Center in Albany.

Why They’ll Lose: The restless grow
weary. It’s always a toss up when going against a team in UNH’s situation.
Cornell will have to come out and play an entire 60-minute game. UNH has become
notorious for coming back late in the game and taking the victory right out
from underneath teams. Also be aware of who scores first– UNH has been shut
out twice in a row and Cornell has shut out their opponents three times in a
row. The first goal could have a huge impact.

No. 3 New Hampshire
(Hockey East)

Record: 17-13-7;
Hockey East Regular Season Champions

How they got here: At-Large;
11th in Final PairWise Rankings

Key Players: F –
Bobby Buter (27-23-50), Paul Thompson (17-19-36), Pete LeBlanc (14-20-34); D –
Blake Kessel (9-26-35); G – Brian Foster (16-13-7, 2.95 GAA, .910 SV%)

Why They’ll Win:
Their slogan this year has been the Comeback ‘Cats. They are hungry, they were
forced out of the Hockey East tournament early and they have the ability to
come back big when they need to. They have competed in 12 games that have gone
into overtime and have come out with a 3-2-7 record in those games. They also
were ranked second in Hockey East for most amount of goals scored in the third
period (32), and were ranked first for the most goals scored in overtime (3).

Why They’ll Lose: They have to come
out from the start. While they have won a few games by stirring it up in the
third period, the first two periods need to be played the same way. They need
to come out with better special teams and as they have said all season, come out
and play a full 60 minute game. Also, they have a scorching hot line of Bobby
Butler, Paul Thompson and Phil DeSimone who have dominated the play at UNH, but
will need a couple more lines to step up and contribute. The Wildcats second
line of Pete LeBlanc, Mike Sislo and Stevie Moses is the most likely to, and
will need to in order to make it past this defensive minded Cornell team. 

No. 4 RIT (Atlantic Hockey)

Record: 26-11-1

How they got here: Atlantic Hockey Tournament Champs

Key Players: F – Cameron Burt (15-30-45), Andrew
Favot (13-28-41); D – Dan Ringwald (11-23-34), Chris Tanev (9-18-27); G Jarod
DiMichiel (25-9-1, 2.00 GAA, .922 SV%, 6 Shutouts)

Why They’ll Win: The Tigers bring with them more than
the element of surprise. Fifteen seeds don’t have the best track-record in
terms of upsetting a No. 2, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a fighting
chance. In their corner for this East Regional matchup will be a potential
‘hometown’ crowd at Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y – just a few hours by car
for the RIT faithful, and that could be the most valuable ‘sixth man’ anywhere.
Not to mention, AHA teams have quite a background in the tourney, see Holy
Cross’ win over Minnesota in 2006, and Air Force taking down top-ranked
Michigan in 2009. History – and maybe a little bit of luck – could put things
into RIT’s favor.

Why They’ll Lose: The Eastern bracket is possibly the
best goaltending bunch in the tournament. While RIT’s 2.08
goals-allowed-per-game is the third best in the country, they’ll have to get
through fellow top-10’s in Denver and Cornell, as well as another hot goalie in
New Hampshire’s Brian Foster, to make it to the Frozen Four. While their
offense ranks fifth (3.58 gpg), they also play in a weaker conference (they’re
the only AHA bid this year) outside of which they’ve gone 0-6, allowing almost
four goals against in each game, and scoring 1.34 in those six games.

- Compiled by Arianna Ranahosseini, Biz Jacobs and Joseph Edwards

- Video featuring Tim Rosenthal and Kevin Edelson

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East Regional Preview

#1 Michigan Wolverines (29-11-0)

How They Got In: At-Large Bid

Five Players to Watch

Louie Caporusso So. F (24G , 25A, 49 P): 2009 Hobey Baker Finalist
Aaron Palushaj So. F (13, 37, 50)
Mark Mitera Sr. D (1, 2, 3)
David Wholberg Fr. F (15, 15, 30)
Bryan Hogan So. G (24-5, 1.97 GAA, 3 SO, .915 SV%)

What to Watch For:

When Bryan Hogan took over between the pipes, the team has been strong. However last time out against Notre Dame in the CCHA finals, Hogan looked a little shaky giving up five unanswered goals. Senior defenseman Mark Mitera came back on February 27 against Ferris State from injury and has played solid since. Will see if that game against Notre Dame was a stinger on Hogan and the team. The Maize and Blue are 8-2 in their last 10 heading into Bridgeport.

#2 Yale Bulldogs (24-7-2)

How they got there: Won the ECAC

Five players to watch:

Mark Arcobello Jr. F (17 g, 18 a, 35 p)
Sean Backman Jr. F (20, 13, 33)
Broc Little So. F (15, 20, 35, 5 SHG)
Alec Richards Sr. G (19-4-1, 1.97 GAA, .926 SV%, 4 SO)
Brian O’Neill Fr. F (12, 14, 26)

What to Watch For:

Yale has the slight upper hand all-time against Vermont with a 27-24-4 record in the series. The Bulldogs are coming off a high after capturing the Ivy League and ECAC (regular season and tournament) title. Yale’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament was in 1998. All time the Bulldogs are 0-2 in tournament play and are looking for their first victory in the NCAAs.

#3 Vermont Catamounts (20-11-5)

How they got there: At-large bid

Five players to watch:

Viktor Stalberg Jr. F (23, 20, 43): A 2009 Hobey Baker Finalist.
Dean Strong, Sr. F (5, 19, 24)
Brian Roloff Jr. F (10, 17, 27)
Peter Lenes Sr. F (14, 16, 30)
Rob Madore Fr. G (13-9-4, 2.36 GAA, .911 SV%)

What to Watch For:

Vermont is 1-4 in NCAA tournament play with their only win coming in 1996. That year the team made the Frozen Four with players such as Tim Thomas (who now plays for the Boston Bruins) and Martin St. Louis (Playing for Tampa Bay). Vermont has won the last three meetings against Yale; but the last time the two teams played was back in 2005, Vermont’s last year in the ECAC conference. The Cats enter the weekend playoffs with a 5-5-1 record against the fellow teams in the tournament; two of them came against the top overall team, the Boston University Terriers.

#4 Air Force Falcons (27-10-2)

How They Got In: Won Atlantic Hockey

Five Players to Watch

Jacques Lamoureux Jr. F (32, 20, 52): 2009 Hobey Baker Finalist
Brent Olsen Sr. F (12, 29, 41)
Gregg Flynn Sr. D (7, 33, 40)
Matt Fairchild Jr. F (17, 19, 36) Atlantic Hockey Tournament MVP
Andrew Volkening Jr. G (27-10-2, 2.02 GAA, .916 SV%)

What to Watch For:

Goaltending and Defense stole the show at the Atlantic Hockey championships in Rochester, New York this past weekend for the Falcons. Andrew Volkening made 51 saves en route to two shutouts against Bentley and Mercyhurst. Another player who could be a difference maker is Josh Frieder who had a goal and three assists in the conference tournament. The Falcons almost pulled off the upset twice, once against Minnesota in 2007 in Denver and the other against Miami in 2008 in Worcester. In the best season in program history, will the third time be the charm?

Compiled by Mikaela Reynolds and Tim Rosenthal

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East Regional Preview

The East regional is one very interesting bracket. Michigan is the top overall seed, and rather than sending them to Madison (University of Wisconsin host) or Colorado Springs (Colorado College host) the committee sent them to Albany, New York in a neutral site which was a good move. This bracket features a St. Cloud State team that is dynamic, a Clarkson team that loves to grind you to the boards and a Niagara team that loves the run and gun style.

Michigan however, has all of those three talents combined. It can be dynamic when it has to be, it can grind you to the boards when needed and can also play the run and gun style of offense. The Wolverines have to be the favorite in Albany and it will be a shock if they lose in this regional.

Here are some thoughts on the first round match-ups as well as the predicted winner in the East (if I didn’t ruin it for you already).

#1 Michigan vs. #4 Niagara

As mentioned earlier, the Michigan Wolverines are the team to beat in this regional. Red Berenson’s club is 31-5-4 through 40 games and has played a great brand of hockey all year.

Kevin Porter (CCHA Player of the Year) is one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker award and with good reason. Porter is second in the country in points (56) and scored 14 goals on the power play (third most in the nation). His line-mate, Chad Kolarik, could have been another Hobey finalist had it not been for an injury that made him miss four games. Kolarik had 48 points and could be the second Wolverine with 50 points by week’s end.

Max Pacioretty was the CCHA Rookie of the Year, and fellow freshman Aaron Palushaj led all CCHA rookies in points with 38. Goaltender Billy Sauer had great numbers and should help the carry the Wolverines back to the Frozen Four.

Niagara has three very dangerous weapons on offense. Vince Rocco, Matt Caruana and Ted Cook all had 30-plus points. Juliano Pagliero is the team’s leading goaltender and had four shutouts during the course of the year.

For Niagara to win, they will need to rely on Pagliero and get contributions from such players as Chris Moran, Egor Mironov and Kyle Rogers.

It would be a surprise if Michigan did not come out victorious, but, who knew about Holy Cross two years ago when they defeated Minnesota? Same situation, different scenario – the Wolverines will prevail. But, it will be closer than some people think.

Prediction: Michigan 4 – Niagara 2

#2 St. Cloud State vs. #3 Clarkson

In his third year at the helm, head coach Bob Motzko has taken his St. Cloud State Huskies to back-to-back NCAA appearances. Last year, the team struggled in the end of the year losing their last three games, including one against Maine in Rochester in the NCAAs.

Another Hobey Baker finalist will be on the ice for the second game, that being Husky forward Ryan Lasch. The sophomore forward, is third in the country in scoring with (25G, 28A) and an all WCHA performer. Garrett Roe and Andreas Nodl provide a lethal one-two-three punch for this St. Cloud State offense.

Jase Weslosky has stepped in nicely in goal. In his sophomore season, Weslosky was ranked fourth in the WCHA with a .931 save percentage and was fifth in goals-against-average at 2.12.

The biggest weapon for St. Cloud State will be the power play. This team had a spectacular power play netting 46 goals in 198 attempts for a 23.2 percent rating, the best in the WCHA and fourth in the country.

On the other side, the Clarkson Golden Knights are a team that is looking for answers. The Knights lost their first round game to Colgate, which led to a decline in the final pairwise rankings. However, they do get to play in the state of New York.

Matt Beca and Steve Zalewski provide a good scoring duo while Chris D’Alvise and Nick Dodge also contributed to the scoring department.

While the offense was solid, the defense as well played its part. Grant Clitsome and Phillipe Paquet provide a good tandem when they are together. Overall this was probably the top defensive duo in the ECAC and helped goaltender David Leggio out a lot.

While one team is dynamic, the other team is a grinder. This could be one of the best games of the tournament. However, Clarkson will come out on top.

Prediction: Clarkson 3 – St. Cloud State 2

Regional Final Prediction: Michigan 4 – Clarkson 1

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