NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament Preview
The field is set and the road to the Frozen Four is about to get underway for college hockey’s top teams.
Quartets playing in Allentown, Loveland, Worcester and Albany will battle out to make it out of their individual brackets and get to the national championship in Boston.
This region features last year’s runner up in St. Cloud State, as well as the first-round-pick-filled Michigan squad.
The Big Ten Champions in Michigan will take on an American International team that was solid all year, but struggled against tournament teams like Massachusetts and Quinnipiac.
Despite being a team that relies mostly on underclassmen the Wolverines are on a roll lately and clearly are more talented than American International.
St. Cloud State will battle it out with a Quinnipiac squad that hovered around the top 10 in the nation for most of the regular season.
However, St. Cloud State had the top power play in the nation at over 31% and scored about 3.52 goals per game, which ranked seventh in the nation.
This should be one of the most competitive regions especially when it comes to the second round of the tournament
Denver University will have one of the best home ice advantages playing at a neutral site in their home state.
The No. 1-seeded Pioneers played well down the stretch with Flyers prospect Bobby Brink leading the way. Brink led the nation in points this season with 55.
Denver will take on UMass Lowell in its first-round matchup.
The other first round matchup in Loveland features Minnesota Duluth and Michigan Tech.
The Bulldogs just defeated Denver in the semi-final of the NCHC tournament in shutout fashion. They went on to defeat another No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament in Western Michigan for the NCHC championship.
Michigan Tech is a team that has been surprising people all year with their stout team defense. They rank fourth in the nation in goals against only allowing 1.95 goals per game.
It should be interesting to see if Denver can live up to their No. 1 seed in this region or if one of the other squads can make a run and get to the Frozen Four.
Probably the most competitive quartet features Western Michigan versus Northeastern and Minnesota against Massachusetts.
Western Michigan features the country’s leading goal scorer in Ethen Frank. His goal scoring prowess put the Broncos in the top five for goals per game in the country with about 3.65.
Northeastern is a strong defensive team with a penalty kill over 89% and an overall defense allowing less than two goals per game.
This matchup is a tried-and-true, offensive-versus-defensive matchup and it should be fun to watch the chess match take place between the two coaches.
Minnesota battled with one of the most talented teams in Michigan all season long and stood toe to toe with the Wolverines.
Despite losing the Big Ten championship at home, the Golden Gophers are one of the best all-around teams in the country. They also feature a team with a lot of upperclassmen with NCAA Tournament experience.
UMass is the defending national champion and this season’s beanpot winners. It will be extra motivated to try and play in its home state for the national championship.
Minnesota State leads the way in this region being the most consistent team in all of college hockey.
It faces off against a Harvard team that was able to beat Quinnipiac twice, but had no other notable wins. It plays a gritty game that teams hate to play against.
Notre Dame is a well-coached and respected team but had a lackluster showing in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Fighting Irish lost a game to Wisconsin in their first-round series of the Big Ten Tournament and then were easily handled by Michigan in Round 2.
North Dakota had a strong conference record for playing in one of the best conferences in college hockey. The team has played well against top teams all year and is a strong all-around team.
Overall, it should be an exciting NCAA Tournament and it's anybody’s game to make it to the Frozen Four.
Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Second Year / Broadcast Journalism