Friday March 24 3:00pm Boston University Terriers vs North Dakota Fighting Sioux (Hawks)
This is a classic NCAA men’s hockey match-up. 2 monster programs with a combined 13 Championships between them. It’s a shame they have to meet in the opening round, not only is it the opening round, its also the 1st game to kick off the 2017 Tournament. Both teams have had their struggles this season. North Dakota (21-15-3) is coming off a National Championship last year over Quinnipiac, and struggled with the departure of last year’s Senior class, and multiple talented underclassmen. Coach Brad Berry and his staff have overcome that challenge and had the Sioux (Hawks) in the NCHC Conference Finals, where they lost 4-3 to Minnesota-Duluth. It was a game ND would’ve, could’ve, should’ve win. Boston University (23-11-3) has a young team with 10 Freshman, 7 of whom participated in the IIHF World Jr’s this winter, and 7 Sophomores. Sometimes it shows. BU made it to the Hockey East Semi’s where they lost to BC. It was a rather lackluster performance until the final 4 minutes when BU almost tied up the game scoring 2 goals in those final minutes, but coming up a goal short.
North Dakota has 4 30+ point scorers So. Shane Gersich (37), Fr. Tyson Jost (35), So. Brock Boeser (33), & Jr. Tucker Poolman (30). 2 20+ players in Jr. Austin Poganski (25) & So. Rhett Gardner (20). ND can score, there’s no question about this team’s offensive capabilities. And although the have talented, steady, big defensemen led by Sr. Captain Gage Ausmus, the D has struggled at times this season. These boys are all big, Jr. Poolman is 6′-4″, Ausmus, Fr. Casey Johnson, & So. Danys Chartrand are all 6′-2″, & Fr. Colton Poolman is 6′-1″, as is So. Christian Wolanin. Hell even 3 of their 4 goalies are over 6′! The majority of action has gone to Jr. Cam Johnson. The 22nd ranked goalie overall, has a .904 SV%, 2.47 GAA, & 4 shutouts. Overall the Sioux O is ranked 14th w/ 3.18 goals per game while the D is ranked 18th allowing 2.56 goals a game.
BU on the other hand is just behind ND for offensive rank, @ 15th, but is 9th in defense. BU does have an unheralded defense due to such offensive talent, but Sr. Captain Doyle Somerby, at 6′-5″ is no slouch. The Jr. trio of Brandon Hickey, Brien Diffley, & John MacLeod are all solid 6’+ stay at home defenders. So. Charlie McAvoy leds this defensive unit in all aspects of the game. Freshman duo Chad Krys & Dante Fabbro are year lower versions of McAvoy in a lot of ways. When this unit is on they are as good as it gets. The backstop here is generally Fr. Jake Oettinger. He’s had a really good season. 20 wins, 2,09 GAA, .927 SV% (11th overall), & tied with Cam Johnson w/ 4 shutouts. Oettinger was ranked 9th nationally. Offensively the terriers were well rounded, led by NCAA Rookie of the Year Clayton Keller’s 42 points, they also got 34 from Patrick Harper (a very nice surprise), 32 from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, 31 from Bobo Carpenter, & 30 from Jordan Greenway. All 5 were Freshman & Sophomores. McAvoy had 20 points also from the point.
Predicted Winner Boston University
Friday March 24 6:30pm Ohio State Buckeyes vs Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs
Ohio State (21-11-6) had a fantastic season yet seemed to back into the tournament with Wisconsin’s loss to PSU in the Big 10 Final. They had an impressive road win over Denver to open the season. They were consistently in the rankings & pairwise, as well as in the hunt for the Big 10 regular season title until late. This is the 1st Buckeye appearance in the Big Dance under coach Steve Rohlick and 1st since 2009. Minnesota-Duluth (25-6-7) is fresh off winning the NCHC Tournament over North Dakota. The Bulldogs were one of the top teams in the nation from the start to this point. They’ve leaped frogged with Conference rival Denver for the top ranking all year. UMD is built solid from top to bottom.
The Buckeyes are a well powered offensive machine. They are ranked 2nd in the nation averaging 3.97 goals a game. They have a 55 point scorer in Mason Jobst. 2 41 point getters in Nick Schilkey & David Gust. As well as 34 from Dakota Joshua & 31 from both Matthew Weis & Tanner Laczynski. Josh Healey has 25 points but he’s suspended for the next 2 games should OSU advance. The Buckeyes have 8 other players with double digits for points. The defense is led by Healey, and his absence will hurt OSU, but they still have talent in Drew Brevig, Sasha Larocque, Janik Möser, and Tommy Parran. OSU is ranked 29th on D and will certainly need a solid effort in the defensive zone. In goal its been a tandem of Christian Frey & Matt Tomkins, but its been Tomkins as of late. Tomkins is ranked 26th overall for goalkeepers, 12-4-3 record, .909SV%, & a 2.48 GAA. Frey is 9-7-3, .910 SV% & 3.07 GAA. If the Buckeyes can keep pace with UMD goalies, they have a chance.
The Bulldogs have it all. Great coach in Scott Sandelin (17th year, 1 NCAA title 2010-11), prolific offense (7th overall 3.42 goals a game), solid defense (10th overall 2.29 GAA), & a fantastic goalie in Hunter Miska (19th overall). Offensively Sr. Alex Iafallo leds UMD with 45pts, followed by Sophomores Adam Johnson’s 36 & Neal Pionk’s 32, Fr. Joey Anderson has 30. While Seniors Dominic Toninato & Kyle Osterberg have 27 & 23. Jr. Karson Kuhlman has 22 points. The Bulldogs have 8 double digit point getters as well. 4 solid lines can and will be rolled out. The defense has 4 stalwart seniors Dan Molenaar, Brenden Kotyk, Wllie Raskob, & Carson Soucy. Plus Fr. Will Campion & Nick Wolff. They have 32 point scorer Neal Pionk too on D, but I’m hoping he’s suspended for running North Dakota goalie Cam Johnson in the NCHC Final. It was blatant & egregious. Miska in goal is really solid, 13th in SV% @ .917, a 2.23 GAA, and thats a beast of a conference he’s in too.
Predicted Winner Minnesota-Duluth
Regional Winner UMD