The “Gateway to the West” Will Decide One Team’s Gateway to Tampa

Story posted March 23, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Hayden Lewis

From the start of the offseason into early spring, collegiate hockey teams across the country have had Tampa Bay marked on maps inside team facilities.

The host site of the Frozen Four will most definitely be sunny a few weeks from now, but currently, the focus of the 16 remaining teams happens to be the regional tournaments they have to compete in.

Fargo, N.D., is the host city for the west region, a fitting host seeing that the nickname plastered next to Fargo is the “Gateway to the West."

Three college hockey titans hailing from “The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes” headline the region. Minnesota, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State are perennial powerhouses who love to prey on lesser opponents.

Canisius Golden Griffins

The David amongst the Goliaths is Canisius. The upstate New York college located in a city known for its chicken wings and wild nightlife will be far from home and facing the hardest opponent in the tournament.

Canisius is the most surprising team in the playing field this year in the tournament. At the midseason break at the end of the season, the Golden Griffins only had six wins, one of those being a shootout win. 

Head Coach Trevor Large and his team caught stride in the second half of the season and used the momentum they gained to roll through the Atlantic Hockey Conference tournament to punch its ticket to the tournament.

Keaton Mastrodonato and Ryan Miotto are the top two players on the team statistically and will be the wheels that carry the Golden Griffin wagon, or they will fail to be the spark that surges them past Minnesota.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota has been the best team in college hockey all season. One look at the roster that Bob Motzko has tells any college hockey fan everything they need to know about the Golden Gophers.

Logan Cooley, Jimmy Snuggerud and Matthew Knies are all on the Minnesota roster, and they make up three of the fourteen NHL draft picks on the roster.

The Gophers are the team to beat in Fargo and will face off against another team from Minnesota if they beat Canisius.

St. Cloud State Huskies

The Huskies have been quietly good all season long in the NCHC and out-of-conference play under Head Coach Brett Larson. This comes at really no surprise to anyone because St. Cloud has been good for the past decade only missing the tournament twice in the ten-year span.

Jami Krannilla headlines the deep roster as a solid two-way center, he even won the NCHC defensive forward of the year award for the conference.

Krannilla is not the only star on Larson’s team, but he is one of the biggest pieces for success amongst the Huskies roster.

Minnesota State Mavericks

Mike Hastings' team did not have one of its best seasons in the past few years, but they still found a way to win the CCHA regular season and postseason titles.

Just like St. Cloud, the Purple and Yellow have only missed the tournament twice in the past decade and are always knocking on the door of a national title.

David Silye is a big goal scorer for Hastings’ team and scored a huge one last year in the tournament against Minnesota to hammer the nail into the Golden Gophers' coffin.

A team with plenty of tournament experience and excellent coaching may just find its way to another Frozen Four.


Fargo is stacked full of talent across the board. Canisius may be the underdog amongst every other team, but anything can happen in playoff hockey.

As a college hockey fan, I can’t wait to see what happens in this region. I hope the same can be said for everyone else in the college hockey community because Fargo will be fun.

Hayden Lewis is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email

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Hayden Lewis

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Hayden Lewis is a Freshman from Penn State. He has spent his first year in CommRadio as a contributor to the sports department writing articles focused on the NHL and PLL. He is also doing Play-by-Play for women’s hockey as well. As a new member he is a shadow on the talk show Sin Bin and contributes his hockey knowledge to the show. Prior to coming to Penn State he attended Culver Academies in Culver Indiana where he played hockey and lacrosse. You can contact him @15haydenlewis on twitter, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)