This weekend, the NCAA kicks off the Division I men’s hockey playoffs. Even though the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team isn’t in the NCAA playoffs this season, I will be headed to Fargo, ND, to cover the West Regional Championship.
Last week at the Frozen Faceoff, I told a friend, I feel a void (yes, UND has missed the NCAA tourney two years in a row). While our favorite team may not be there, let’s stop and enjoy the moment. It is what it is.
Moving forward, I do predict that next season, UND will again make the NCAA tourney. Moreover, I predict that Canisius College will be on the wrong side of two lopsided losses next October. Just two years ago, UND bounced SCSU in the first round of the NCHC playoffs. Look at them today.
This is what we know. There can be at best, two National Collegiate Hockey Conference teams in the Frozen Four. I will save you the conspiracy theory. There’s no black helicopter landing in Fargo.
Here are some of the themes and stats surrounding this regional. In the West Regional, we have St. Cloud State 30-5-3, Ohio State 20-10-5, Denver 22-11-5 and American International 22-16-1. The biggest question, can SCSU finally advance to the Frozen Four. Last season, the Huskies were unceremoniously bounced by the Air Force Academy Falcons.
With that in mind, this season, I am picking Ohio State University to advance from the West Regional. I look forward to hearing how wrong I am at the end of the weekend.
This afternoon, I took a look at the statistics and on paper, the Huskies should run American International right out of the building. Yes, see last season’s, Air Force team that shocked SCSU 4-1 in the first round of the West Regional.
Obviously, the games aren’t played on paper, but this could end up being a really onesided affair. However, with that said, no one will complain if I am able to pen the title “Yellow Jackets Sting Huskies”. If the Huskies have a weakness, it’s their goaltending.
The game between the Buckeyes and the Pioneers could end up being a goaltending battle. Both teams feature outstanding goalies. For DU, it doesn’t matter which one plays. Both are very capable.
Last weekend, Pioneers head coach David Carle said something that was very profound.
“The great part about going to the national tournament, we don’t have to play anyone from the NCHC in the first round,” Carle said. “We all play each other all year long, beat each other up. We played at a different pace in this league, and that’s why we all do so well in the first round. So we’re looking forward to playing someone out of our conference.”
Points Per Game
8 Patrick Newell St. Cloud State SR F 38 21-26-47 1.24
13 Blake Christensen American Int’l JR F 39 16-30-46 1.18
6 Blake Lizotte St. Cloud State SO F 36 14-27-41 1.14
19 Robby Jackson St. Cloud State SR F 36 19-21-40 1.11
30 Mason Jobst Ohio State SR F 35 17-19-36 1.03
57 Liam Finlay Denver JR F 38 15-20-35 0.92
63 Jimmy Schuldt St. Cloud State SR D 38 10-24-34 0.89
Jack Ahcan St. Cloud State JR D 38 6-28-34 0.89
66 Ryan Poehling (MTL) St. Cloud State JR F 35 8-23-31 0.89
4 Devin Cooley Denver SO 1169:27 36 1.85
12 Filip Larsson (DET) Denver FR 1097:10 38 2.08
16 Dávid Hrenák (LOS) St. Cloud State SO 1756:26 64 2.19
39 Sean Romeo Ohio State SR 975:49 42 2.58
43 Zackarias Skog American Int’l JR 1941:05 89 2.75
Goalie Save Percentage
3 Devin Cooley Denver SO 512 36 .934
4 Tommy Nappier Ohio State SO 495 35 .934
9 Filip Larsson (DET) Denver FR 498 38 .929
45 Dávid Hrenák (LOS) St. Cloud State SO 628 64 .908
55 Sean Romeo Ohio State SR 388 42 .902
65 Zackarias Skog American Int’l JR 765 89 .896
Scoring Offense: Games Goals G/GM
2 St. Cloud State 38 155 4.08
9 American Int’l 39 127 3.26
17 Ohio State 35 108 3.09
29 Denver 38 107 2.82
Scoring Defense: Games Goals G/GM Shutouts
9 Denver 38 79 2.08 6
11 St. Cloud State 38 83 2.18 6
14 Ohio State 35 81 2.31 7
37 American Int’l 39 115 2.95 5
Power Play: Totals SHA PCT
7 St. Cloud State 35/146 2 24.0
17 Ohio State 33/154 6 21.4
25 American Int’l 34/175 7 19.4
46 Denver 24/154 2 15.6
Penalty Kill: Totals SHF PCT
6 St. Cloud State 109/126 2 86.5
25 Denver 115/140 1 82.1
30 Ohio State 105/129 4 81.4
35 American Int’l 117/145 1 80.7
Links to the West Regional
Bid years in advance, UND plays role of host for 2019 NCAA West Regional (The Rink Live)
North Dakotans hope to make it four years in a row on NCAA title team (Grand Forks Herald)
Huskies All-American forward Ryan Poehling was back on the ice after a scary moment last weekend (The Rink Live)
Papa’s Looking A-Head (College Hockey News)
AIC’s Lang Named CHN Coach of the Year (College Hockey News)
West Regional preview: St. Cloud State, Denver, Ohio State, American International (USCHO.COM) Apparently, the writers at USCHO are also addressing the elephant in the room.
Why they will not advance to Buffalo: St. Cloud has bowed out in the first round of the NCAA tournament each of the last two years. Last time, it was as the No. 1 overall seed against the Atlantic Hockey champion.
For as good as St. Cloud State has been all season in putting together 30 wins, four of the Huskies’ five losses have happened since New Year’s.
Now would be a bad time to pick up No. 6, and SCSU isn’t taking any chances.
AIC hockey attempting to add to historic season in NCAA Tournament vs. No. 1 St. Cloud State (Mass Live)
“It’s a fine line. We can embrace being the underdog to a certain degree but we also want our guys to be confident in our ability. There’s a reason why we are here. We’re earned out way in and played out way in. We’re battle tested,” Lang said. “We deserve to be right where we are. It’ll be nice to hunt vs. being the hunted. … The longer this thing goes and the score stays tight, the pressure then shifts. We’ll have to weather some storms. We know that.”