Hockey playoff preview: Minnesota State vs. Minnesota Duluth
In perhaps one of the most stacked regions in recent memory featuring three schools from Minnesota, the Minnesota State Mavericks will be taking on the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs in the No. 2 versus No. 3 matchup in the West regionals.
The Mavericks and Bulldogs were paired up with No. 1 overall seed St. Cloud State and AHC Tournament Champion Air Force in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Minnesota State had a shocking exit in the second round of the WCHA Tournament losing to Michigan Tech in three games. Duluth was defeated by North Dakota in the third-place game of the NCHC Tournament by the score of 4-1.
The Mavericks will travel to Sioux Falls with a record of 29-9-1 and the boys from Duluth will enter with a record of 21-16-3.
MSU’s offense has been dangerous the entire season and they look to keep that same intensity by averaging just under four goals per contest. Their defense has also been suffocating as they surrender just over two goals per game.
Senior forward and Winnipeg Jets draft pick C.J. Suess has been the most prolific scorer for the Maverick offense scoring 22 goals and sophomore forward Marc Michaelis has scored 18 times alongside 21 assists.
Forwards Zeb Knutson and Parker Tuomie have 28 assists a piece and the duo of Daniel Brickley and Jake Jaremko have 49 combined assists.
There is no mistaking that this team shares the puck and they have been extremely successful as a result of that attribute.
In net, Connor LaCouvee has seen action in 30 games after transferring from Boston University. The senior net-minder has saved 555 shots, allowed 51 goals, allowed an average of 1.76 goals per contest and holds a save percentage of .916.
For Minnesota Duluth, they are looking to knock off an old foe from the same state and make a statement in the tournament.
On offense, the Maroon and Gold average a hair over three goals per contest. The Bulldogs also average about two and a half goals given up per contest which is why a majority of their games throughout the season have been extremely close and contested.
Dallas Stars draft pick and freshman forward Riley Tufte is the leading scorer for Duluth, tallying 16 goals this season while also being an imposing figure on the ice.
Tufte stands at six feet five inches tall and is a major threat to opposing teams and makes his presence felt.
Freshman defenseman Scott Perunovich is the leading point scorer for the Bulldogs, tallying 11 goals and 24 assists for a total of 35 points. Perunovich was also selected by College Hockey News as their Rookie of the Year for the 2017-2018 season.
Junior forward Peter Krieger also made his mark on the stat sheet by scoring 11 goals and accumulating 19 assists.
In net, UMD freshman goalie Hunter Shepard has made some serious strides as the season progressed.
This season, Shepard has seen action in 37 games, allowing 71 goals, making 868 saves, giving up an average of 1.98 goals per game, and holding a save percentage of .924.
The winner of this matchup will more than likely face St. Cloud State in the regional final and this is easily one of the more enticing matchups of the tournament.
The game will be televised Friday night at 7:30 p.m on ESPN3, and this is a game with state bragging rights on the line. This is surely a game you won’t want to miss.
Christopher Hess is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.