That Frozen Four Feeling – NCAA Recap
Most underrated time of the year? That would be the NCAA Conference Championships and moving forward, the Frozen Four. It’s been an exciting NCAA season, with a little less star power, but a little more parody then recent seasons.
USCHO Top 20 (Week of March 12th)
St. Cloud State (32) – 24-7-6
Cornell (16) – 25-4-2
Notre Dame (1) – 24-9-2
Denver (1) – 20-9-8
Ohio State – 24-8-5
Minnesota State – 29-9-1
Northeastern – 23-8-5
Minnesota Duluth – 21-14-3
Providence – 22-10-4
Clarkson – 22-9-6
Michigan – 20-14-3
North Dakota – 16-12-10
Penn State – 18-14-5
Boston College – 20-13-3
Minnesota – 19-17-2
Northern Michigan – 25-14-3
Omaha – 17-17-2
Boston University – 19-13-4
Bowling Green – 23-12-6
Union – 21-15-2
Friday, March 16th – Princeton vs Cornell
Friday, March 16th – Harvard vs Clarkson
Cornell has been among the nation’s elite for most of the season, allowing just 45 goals in 31 games. That’s a 1.45 goals-per-game allowed rate, which is by far the best among all college hockey teams. As a club, Cornell has allowed 23 goals less than the nearest competition, and have done so by limiting shots. Their shots on goal allowed per game ranks 5th in the NCAA’s.
The other three teams that will be trying to take home the hardware in Lake Placid are seven seed Princeton, who defeated Union in the quarter finals, third seed Clarkson and fourth seed Harvard. Clarkson would feel much better about their Frozen Four chances with at least a win, and Harvard/Princeton will rely on winning their conference tournament for a birth.
The Pick: Cornell
Friday, March 16th – North Dakota vs St. Cloud State
Friday, March 16th – Minnesota Duluth vs. Denver
Perennially, the NCHC is among the best conferences in the NCAA’s and this season is no different. St. Cloud is the top team in the country by ranking, and all four semi-finalists rank inside the top 12 of the USCHO’s Top 20.
Whoever can differentiate themselves in the NCHC Tournament in Saint Paul will certainly help their case for seeding heading into the Frozen Four. It’s likely all four teams have done enough to get in to the tournament, but North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth would gladly welcome a semi-final upset to help their case.
As prospect lovers, this is a tournament worth keeping an eye on as it boasts top players such as Ryan Poehling (MTL), Henrik Borgstrom (FLA) and Troy Terry (ANA), among others. Not to mention one of the top undrafted free agents on the market this summer in St. Cloud defenseman Jimmy Schuldt.
The Pick: Denver
Hockey East Semi-Finals
Friday, March 16th – Boston University vs Boston College
Friday, March 16th – Providence vs Northeastern
This weekend in Boston will be one of the more intriguing final fours of all the conference tournaments, as the top four teams in Hockey East have reached the final weekend. Boston College had a rough start the season, but have turned things around with 18 of their 20 wins coming within conference play. Unfortunately, with Boston University and Northeastern both in the semi-finals as well, they won’t have a distinct home-ice advantage at TD Garden this weekend.
Boasting one of the best lines in all of college hockey with Adam Gaudette (VAN), Dylan Sikura (CHI) and Nolan Stevens (STL) all finishing among the Top 25 scorers in the country. As the fourth highest scoring team in the country and far and away the highest in Hockey East, the Huskies pack a potent offensive punch. BU and Providence have plenty of firepower as well and could play spoiler this weekend.
The Pick: Northeastern
Saturday, March 17th – Michigan Tech vs. Northern Michigan
Michigan Tech shook up the at-large picture, by ousting Minnesota State in overtime to reach the WCHA title game this past weekend. Minnesota State will still likely get a bid, but will be joined by either Michigan Tech or Northern Michigan as part of the Frozen Four tournament field. If Michigan Tech can play spoiler on Saturday, the field may get even more turned upside down. Northern Michigan rosters three of the top five point producers in the WCHA, but they will look to go head-to-head with a potent Michigan Tech team that have scored just one goal less on the season.
The Pick: Northern Michigan
Big Ten Championship
Saturday, March 17th – Ohio State vs. Notre Dame
In their first season in the Big Ten, Notre Dame has made waves going 17-6-1 in conference and finishing atop the standings by eight points. Although they slowed down coming into the conference tournament, the Fighting Irish are one of the best teams in the country.
Ohio State have been highly rated throughout the season as well, but have struggled against Notre Dame, with three of their total eight losses on the season coming to their in-conference rivals. Tanner Laczynski (PHI) and Mason Jobst will look to turn the fortunes around for the Buckeyes.
The Pick: Notre Dame (I mean it is St. Patrick’s Day after all)
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