Midwest Regional Preview

No. 1 Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (CCHA)

Record: 27-7-7; CCHA Regular Season Champions

How they got here: At-Large; 1st in Final
PairWise Rankings

Key Players: G – Cody Reichard (18-4-3, 1.79 GAA, .924
SV%, 5 shutouts), Connor Knapp (9-4-3, 1.88 GAA, .921 SV%, 4 shutouts); F -
Jarod Palmer (18-27-45), Andy Miele (15-29-44), Tommy Wingels (17-25-42); D – Chris
Wideman (5-16-21)

Why They’ll Win: Miami may be the deepest team in the
country, from the net out. Sophomores Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp are two
starting-caliber goalies that will leave any team guessing what’s coming at
them. Defensively, they allow just 1.85 goals against per game – tied for tops
in the country with Cornell. On the offensive side of the puck, they score 3.44
goals per game (eighth in the NCAA), including the fifth-ranked penalty kill in
the country. Of course, if strong all-around play doesn’t intimidate teams,
Miami is the second-most penalized team the in the NCAA – a big indicator that
they’re willing to get into the rough stuff when the need arises.

Why They’ll Lose: Anyone who’s followed college hockey
over the past few seasons knows that Miami’s history over the past few seasons
has been filled with lots of wins, but marred with losses when the chips are on
the table – see last season’s loss to BU in the National Championship game.
While being top-ranked brings some serious expectations, a loss in that
position is not unheard of, as the RedHawks found out in their own league
tournament. Complicating things even more is the selection committee’s attempts
to spark attendance, as Michigan is in the Midwest Regional as well, setting up
a possible rematch with the Wolverines before the bracket closes. Looking ahead
could cost them, dearly.

No. 2 – Bemidji State
(CHA)

Record: 23-9-4;
CHA Regular Season Champions

How they got there: At-Large; 8th in Final PairWise Ranking

Key Players: F –
Matt Read (19-21-40), Jordan George (13-21-34), Ian Lowe (20-10-3); D – Brad
Hunt (7-26-33); G – Dan Bakala (19-7-3, 2.27 GAA, .919 SV%, 3 shutouts)

Why They’ll Win:  The Beavers made an unprecedented
run to the Frozen Four last year on the heels of Read, Matt Dalton and Tyler
Scofield. Read is the only part of
that tri-fecta that is back for the Beavers. Bakala has proven that he can keep Bemidji State in a game
if they need to lean on him, but the team speed of the Beavers has kept the
pressure off of Bakala for the most part. Bemidji did away with Notre Dame last year by a score of 5-1 in the
opening round and they could send another CCHA team packing in the first round
this year. Read is the offensive
catalyst and he is tough to stop once he gets going.

Why They’ll
Lose: 
This year’s team has the
experience that last year’s team did not, but the Beavers are not coming into
the tournament as hot as they did a year ago. The Beavers won seven of eight games before hitting the
tournament scene last year but this year looks a little different. The Beavers had a really tough time in
the CHA tournament as they lost to Niagara in the first round and then tied
Robert Morris in the consolation game. The Beavers might have played a good non-conference schedule, but piled
up against conference opponents. The
lack of quality opponents during the regular season could end up being a reason
Bemidji State struggles in this year’s tournament.

No. 3 – Michigan
(CCHA)

Record: 25-17-1

How they got here: CCHA
Tournament Champions; t-11th in Final PairWise Rankings

Key Players: F –
Carl Hagelin (17-30-47), Louie Caporusso (20-21-41), Matt Rust (13-25-38),
Chris Brown (13-14-27); D – Steve Kampfer (3-19-22)

Why They’ll Win:  Michigan is playing like a team that is
possessed. They have won eight of
their last nine games against the likes of Northern Michigan, Miami and
Michigan State during the CCHA tournament. Bryan Hogan is out with an injury
but the team has not skipped a beat with Shawn Hunwick. Since being the main
man between the pipes, Hunwick is 7-1-0 with a .912 save percentage.  As good as Hunwick has been, the
defense has been even better. Michigan allowed only 40 shots last weekend against Miami and Northern
Michigan. 

Why They’ll Lose:  Experience in net could play be a huge
factor in determining how far the Wolverines go. Prior to this season, Hunwick
had made one appearance back in 2008 where he stopped two shots in 2:52 of
action against Nebraska-Omaha. The
experience for Hunwick during the CCHA tournament could prove to be extremely
valuable, but his overall lack of work could haunt Michigan. Chris Summers’
presence on the blue line will be missed as he is also out with an injury. The
captain of the Maize and Blue had 16 points in 38 games.

No. 4
Alabama-Huntsville (CHA)

Record: 12-17-3

How They Got Here: CHA
Tournament Champions

Key Players: F –
Andy Campbell (8-14-22), Andrew Coburn (7-15-22), Matti Jarvinen (5-8-13); D –
Brandon Roshko (2-10-12); G – Cameron Talbot (12-17-3, 2.62 GAA, .924 SV%, 1
Shutout)

Why they’ll win: Lot’s of luck and a showstopper of a
performance by Cameron Talbot in net is the only way this Charger team will
advance past the first round against the top-seeded RedHawks.

Why they’ll lose: The Chargers are simply outmatched.
Miami is the top team in the nation and Huntsville had troubles in it’s own
conference as they’re the only team to make the NCAAs with a sub-.500 record.
The lack of scoring isn’t too promising, either, as they don’t have a single
double-digit goal scorer on the roster.

- Compiled by Joseph Edwards, Matt Fazio and Sean Shapiro

- Video featuring Tim Rosenthal and Kevin Edelson

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Midwest Regional Preview

#1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (31-5-3)

How they got there: CCHA Champions

Five players to watch:

G Jordan Pearce Sr. G (30-5-3, 1.61 GAA, .934 SV%)
F Erik Condra Sr. F (13g, 25a, 38p)
F Calle Ridderwall So. F (17, 15, 32)
D Ian Cole So. D (6, 20, 26)
F Ben Ryan So. F (12, 15, 27)

What to watch for:

It can be argued that Notre Dame is one of the best teams in the nation. Their record shows that, but so does their scoring depth. The Fighting Irish don’t have a player with over a point per game but they do have nine players with at least 20 points on the year.

Jordan Pearce has been outstanding in net and he has been a big reason why the team has done as well as they have. He has the playoff experience to lead Notre Dame back to the Frozen Four and even the NCAA Championship game again.

When Notre Dame scores the first goal, it seems like a near lock that they will win. They are 16-2-2 in games they score first. The scary thing that shows just how good this team is, they are 15-3-1 when the opponent scores first. If they get a lead, it’s pretty much over. They are 19-0-2 with a lead after the first period and 15-0-1 with the lead after two periods.

Jeff Jackson’s squad has it all: A high-powered offense, a lockdown defense, and a stellar goaltender.

#2 Northeastern Huskies (25-11-4)

How They Got There: At-Large Bid

Five players to watch:

39 Brad Thiessen Jr. G (25-11-4, 2.09 GAA, .932 SV%)
19 Wade MacLeod So. F (14, 21, 35)
3 Ryan Ginand Sr. F (20, 12, 32)
10 Steve Quailer Fr. F (10, 15, 25)
5 Louis Liotti Sr. D (3, 9, 12)

What to watch for:

Northeastern lost the Hockey East regular season title on the final day of the regular season, and was ousted from the playoffs, in the semifinals, by UMass Lowell. They are a team that is predicated on defense, relying on Hockey East Player of The Year, Brad Thiessen and a strong defensive core led by Defenseman of the Year Louis Liotti and Defensive forward of the year Joe Vitale.

Thiessen, a Hobey Baker Finalist, deserves special mention. He played every single minute for the Huskies this season and was one of two college goaltenders to make more than 1000 saves. He leads the nation in minutes played and is in the top ten in the country in goals against, save percentage and shutouts.

While defense has been the teams strong suit, the offense has been the weak point for the Huskies. Though they are 18-1-1 in games when they score three goals or more, they have only managed to score three goals in five of the 12 games since the Beanpot.

#3 Cornell 21-9-4

How they got there: At-Large Bid

Five players to watch:

30 Ben Scrivens Jr. G (21-9-4 1.77 GAA, .933 SV%)
14 Riley Nash So. F (13, 21, 34)
15 Colin Greening Jr. F (14, 15, 29)
24 Brendon Nash Jr. D (2, 15, 17)
20 Evan Barlow Sr. F (12, 13, 25)

What to watch for:

Cornell was defeated 5-0 in the ECAC Finals by fellow tournament participant Yale. Much like all of the teams in this bracket, the Big Red rely on defense and good goaltending to win games. Tyler Mugford, the ECAC Defensive Forward of the Year and second team ECAC selection Brendon Nash lead a solid defensive effort. Kier Ross an All ECAC Rookie Team selection chips in as well from the defense.

Riley Nash, an ECAC First Team selection as well as a draft pick of the Edminton Oilers leads the Big Red up front with 34 points. Evan Barlow and Colin Greening add to the potent offense with 11 powerplay goals and nine game winners between them.

Cornell was undefeated in games at neutral sites this season until they dropped the ECAC Championship game, but they still boast a 2-1-1 record in neutral games. That could be a boon as the Huskies and Big Red will likely be playing in front of few fans with rooting interest so far from their respective campuses.

#4 Bemidji State Beavers (18-15-1)

How they got there: CHA Champions

Five players to watch:

F Matt Read So. F (13, 22, 35)
F Tyler Scofield Sr. F (18, 14, 32)
F Matt Francis Sr. F (12, 12, 24)
G Matt Dalton So. G (17-10-1, 2.24 GAA, .918 SV%)
D Brad Hunt Fr. D (9, 22, 31)

What to watch for:

Size doesn’t matter for Bemidji State. They are a very small team in stature, but that hasn’t stopped Matt Read and Tyler Scofield from knifing through opponents. Scofield is the teams leading goal scorer and he stands at only 5-8, 150 pounds.

The Beavers have done well in the CHA but they are 6-10-0 against non-conference foes. Bemidji State played a tough non-conference schedule to make up for the weakness of the CHA and they have wins against Massachusetts and St. Cloud State. They also lost in overtime to North Dakota.

If Bemidji is going to have a chance at pulling the upset against Notre Dame, they will have to have stellar goaltending from Matt Dalton. He has shown that he is capable of playing big in big games. He stopped 24 of 26 shots in a win against Massachusetts.

BSU is going to need that important first goal. If Notre Dame jumps out early, it could be over quickly for the Beavers and their tournament run will come to an end.

Compiled by Matthew Fazio and Peter A. Martin

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Midwest Regional Preview

For the first time in the history of the 16 team field tournament, which dates back to 2003, six teams from one conference made the NCAA. Three of those teams from the WCHA are featured in the Midwest regional, taking place in Madison, Wisconsin.

In the Midwest, the featured teams are the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, a team that loves to play a grinding style of defense, the Denver Pioneers, a team that just recently won the WCHA tournament, a Wisconsin Badger team that some say doesn’t belong in the tournament because of a losing record and a Princeton team that got into the tournament for the first time since 1998.

Overall, this could be the most interesting bracket, in part due to the host team, Wisconsin, who even with a losing record, got the third seed in the tournament as an at-large team. So who will come out victorious? Here are some predictions, beginning with the first round match-ups.

#1 North Dakota vs. #4 Princeton

The Fighting Sioux of North Dakota feature two Hobey Baker finalists, the most out of any team (T.J. Oshie and J.P. Lamoureux). Oshie led the team in scoring with 41 points, while Lamoureux’s 1.65 goals-against-average was the lowest in the country.

Those two players aren’t the only ones who are making an impact for Dave Hakstol’s club. Last year’s Hobey winner, Ryan Duncan, provided a +18 rating and tallied 36 points, while Chris VandeVelde improved his goal total by 12 in his sophomore season.

While the offense is solid, the defense is the main aspect of this team. Lamoureux’s great goaltending has been in part due to that feared defense, led by Robbie Bina, Taylor Chorney, Chay Genoway and Joe Finley. Derrick LaPoint, Jake Marto, Zach Jones and Kyle Radke have also made numerous contributions to the leading defense in the nation.

With Princeton, you really don’t know what to expect. They can outscore you one game and play a stifling defense the next. Lee Jubinville, Brett Wilson and Cam McIntyre provide most of the offense for the Tigers, while Mike Moore is a good two way defenseman. Combined, the four currently have a plus/minus total of +43.

Consistency is the name of the game if the Tigers are to advance to this round. The goaltending of Zane Kalemba was probably the most consistent performance for the Tigers in their run in the ECAC tournament. Kalemba had three shutouts in the tournament en route to becoming the most outstanding player.

While head coach Guy Gadowsky is seeing his first NCAA game, it will probably be the last game of the season for the Tigers. Expect North Dakota to come out victorious by the slimmest of margins in a defensive struggle.

Prediction: North Dakota 2 – Princeton 1

#2 Denver vs. #3 Wisconsin

Some thought Denver head coach George Gwozdecky and the Pioneers would’ve had a tough time in the WCHA tournament. However, Gwozdecky and his team proved them wrong by defeating Minnesota in the WCHA championship game en route to an automatic qualifying bid.

Though Brock Trotter left near the end of the season to sign a professional contract, freshman Tyler Bozak has been coming up strong as of late. After not registering a point from February 23rd to March 7th, Bozak has tallied five points in the team’s last five games. Rhett Rakhshani and Kyle Ostrow have also provided some offensive moments for the Pioneers.

Goaltending was an issue the previous two seasons for Denver. In fact, the last few games of the 2005-06 and the 2006-07 seasons the goaltending was inconsistent, which led to the team missing the NCAA tournament. However, senior Peter Mannino had one heck of a season between the pipes. Mannino’s six shutouts tied Lamoureux and Mark Dekanich of Colgate for the most in the country.

On the other side, the Wisconsin Badgers are a team that limped in to the tournament. With Notre Dame losing and Princeton winning their conferences, the Badgers leaped over Minnesota State, who was the last team out, and Notre Dame to finish 12th in the pairwise rankings.

Kyle Turris led the team in scoring in his freshman season; however, he will have to step up his play for Wisconsin to defeat Denver.

The offense for the Badgers is struggling and the defense is shaky at times. Shane Connelly has provided a spark at times in net, but, he will have to be consistent in order for Wisconsin to win this game.

Head Coach Mike Eaves and the Badgers backed into the postseason. Their year began on campus with pre-season workouts and will end on campus against Denver.

Prediction: Denver 4 – Wisconsin 1

As for Denver, they will move on and face the Fighting Sioux in the regional final. The Pioneers run will end in Madison as Dave Hakstol’s club will defeat Denver and move on to their fourth consecutive Frozen Four.

Regional Final Prediction: North Dakota 3 – Denver 2

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