Can the Bulldogs make it four wins over the Gophers this season? (photo prout)
After going 100% last year in the Frozen Four I figured I’d venture into the Friday first round of the NCAA playoffs with some predictions.
West Regional – Fargo North Dakota:
#3 St. Cloud State University (19-18-1) vs #2 Michigan Tech University (29-9-2) – No question about it, MTU has had an outstanding season. This is a solid squad from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. The one achilles heel could be the penalty kill that failed them last week vs Mankato. That plays into the Huskies hands. With one of the top power plays in college hockey St. Cloud has prospered when their power play is working. With Kalle Kossila back in the lineup the man-advantage works even better. Prediction: The SCSU Huskies have had 26 games vs teams in the NCAA tourney and are certainly battle tested. In key games this season (primarily vs Mankato) the MTU Huskies have faltered. Can they win the big one? I have to lean in the direction of SCSU with a two-goal EN win.
#1 North Dakota (27-9-3) vs #4 Quinnipiac (23-11-4) – North Dakota lost both games at the NCHC Frozen Faceoff and that is concerning. The Bobcats dropped their last game in the ECAC finals to Harvard. Both teams will be without the services of key offensive players. Mark Macmillan is out for the season with a fractured knee cap and QU’s Sam Anas is out with a knee injury. As such QU needs to tighten up defensively much like SCSU did vs UND in the Frozen Faceoff. The crowd in Fargo will be predominantly UND fans and they’ll be loud and nasty. Prediction: The home ice advantage, crowd and desire by UND to redeem themselves from last weekends results may be too much for Quinnipiac to overcome. This one should go in North Dakotas favor in a two goal game.
Northeast Regional – Manchester, NH
#1 Boston University (25-7-5) vs #4 Yale (18-9-5) – We’ve seen Yale in this position before and they went on to win the national title two years ago. This is a surprisingly solid squad that can clamp down defensively They aren’t going to blow you away with offensive statistics as their top scorer, Rob O’Gara only has 21 points. But, their strength is in goal with Alex Lyon touting a 1.58 GAA and .939 SV%. Boston University is an offensive juggernaut and has the top player in college hockey in Jack Eichel. This will be a test of a great offense vs a top defense led by great goaltending. Prediction: If the Boston University offense gets rolling in this one it’ll be lights out for the Bulldogs. I’m pulling for the Bulldogs but unfortunately it’s the Terriers year. This will be a three goal EN) win for Boston University.
#2 Minnesota-Duluth (20-15-3) vs University of Minnesota (23-12-3) – This will be a battle of two teams that are very familiar to each other. The Bulldogs were 3-1 vs the Gophers this season. The Bulldogs record in their last 10 games is not good – 3-5-2. However, part of it has been due to key players missing from the lineup. The Gophers have been all over the board this season. They’ve been plagued by inconsistency, inadequate offense at times and fairly average goaltending from Adam Wilcox. Mike Reilly and Kyle Rau are game breakers. The Bulldogs have not played for two weeks. Are they rested or rusty. Prediction: The results this season in head to head favor the Bulldogs. Most likely this will be a one-goal game and possibly an overtime affair. I’m leaning to the Bulldogs in a one-goal win.
Enjoy the games!