What a fun week of NCAA hockey! We had everything from overtime thrillers to upsets. If you weren’t able to catch a couple of games, you really missed out.
Unfortunately for me, I have to pay the piper and revisit my tournament picks and detail what went according to the plan and what went wrong.
Michigan State vs. Ohio State
What I predicted: “This was literally a coin flip for me. Ohio State has more fire power, but I like Sparty in this one based on their PK and underdog mentality.”
What actually happened: Michigan State 3 Ohio State 4 OT
Well, I was right that it was a coin flip between the two. Michigan State won the second period, but Ohio State won the war. Mason Jobst and Josh Healey each finished the night with two points, including Jobst’s overtime winner.
Wisconsin vs. Penn State
What I predicted: “Penn State wins this one. Big.”
What actually happened: Wisconsin 2 vs. Penn State 5
Hit this one on the head. Penn State’s offense lead by Luke Juha and Tommy Olczyk provide too much for Wisconsin’s netminder Matt Jurusik. Despite outshooting Penn State 37-29, Wisconsin’s offense couldn’t solve Eamon McAdam.
Less than 24 hours later UW’s head coach Mike Eaves was fired. During his 14 seasons as the Badgers’ bench boss, Eaves guided the team to a NCAA title in 2006 and finished runner-up in 2010 in seven tournament appearances.
Michigan State vs. Minnesota
What I predicted: “Michigan State’s upset against the Buckeyes would be great for the program, but they don’t have the goaltending or offense to compete with the Gophers.”
What actually happened: Ohio State 2 Minnesota 4
Well I was obviously wrong about Michigan State moving on, but the result was still the same. Minnesota peppered Buckeye netminder Christian Frey all game, but weren’t able to get one by him till the third period. Then the flood gates opened as the Gophers scored four goals in fifteen minutes.
Penn State vs. Michigan
What I predicted: “I expect this to be a high scoring affair, with Michigan getting the W. Penn State doesn’t have a player in the top 50, but did rank sixth in the NCAA in team offense with an average of 3.69 goals a game. Michigan, of course, is ranked number one with a staggering 4.82 goals per contest.”
What actually happened: Penn State 2 vs. Michigan 7
Well, it was a high scoring affair for one team! Freshman standout Kyle Connor had four goals and JT Compher had four helpers. I almost pity Notre Dame, who has to face the high powered Michigan offense in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Luck of the Irish indeed.
Michigan vs. Minnesota
What I predicted: “There will be no prisoners taken in this rivalry game. My head says Michigan, my heart says Minnesota. Minnesota takes it in a nail biter (Sorry, Justin).”
What actually happened: Michigan 5 Minnesota 3
Ugh. Minnesota entered the third period with a 3-2 lead, but couldn’t hold onto their lead against their hated rival. The Gophers are going to have a long offseason to think about this one as they failed to be selected to the NCAA tournament despite winning the Big Ten regular season title. Ouch.
And yes, Justin has already ribbed me a bit on Twitter for picking against his team.
RIT vs. Air Force
What I predicted: “RIT is going to be a tough challenge for the Falcons, but I think their youngsters are up to the challenge. Air Force wins in a low scoring affair.”
What actually happened: RIT 2 Air Force 1 OT
Well, I was right about a lot. It was a low scoring affair and RIT was a tough challenge for the young Falcons. As it turned out, the challenge was more than they could handle. Having said that, I really like the Air Force program. I foresee some really good things coming their way if they can retain their youngsters and improve their blue line.
Still, I went with the hot team and I got burned. #noregrets
Army West Point vs. Robert Morris
What I predicted: “I think The Army West Point team has been a great story, but I think the clock chimes midnight for this Cinderella.”
What actually happened: Army West Point 1 vs. Robert Morris 2 OT
I was right, but I was very, very close to being wrong. Hobey Baker finalist Zac Lynch ended up being the difference for the Colonials. Not surprising considering the guy has averaged a point a game over the course of his college career.
Air Force vs. Robert Morris
What I predicted: “Air Force wins this one and becomes the team no one wants to play in the NCAA tournament.”
What actually happened: RIT 7 vs. Robert Morris 4
Sometimes, you are just flat out wrong. Dear RIT, I owe you an apology. I had no idea Robert Morris was going to take 11 penalties and give your 14th ranked power play that many chances. I should’ve known better considering Robert Morris is in the top 10 for penalty minutes in the NCAA.
I’m still not taking RIT over Quinnipiac in the first round of the NCAA tournament though. I don’t trust your 36th (81%) ranked PK against the Bobcats’ fifth ranked PP.
St. Lawrence vs. Harvard
What I predicted: “Harvard has too much firepower. Too much top end talent. Crimson win this one, but I think it is a lot closer of a game than most expect.”
What actually happened: St. Lawrence 1 vs. Harvard 2 OT
When you’re right, you’re right. This was a fun one, especially for Preds fans who watched Vesey score the game’s first goal and add a helper in OT. Vesey looks like the real deal, but will he sign in Nashville?
Dartmouth vs. Quinnipiac
What I predicted: The Bobcats torched the Big Green blue line in both of their contests earlier this season, outscoring the opposition a combined 13-7. I don’t expect that to change. Bobcats win big, setting up the match up everyone wanted to see.
What actually happened: Dartmouth 1 vs. Quinnipiac 3
Dartmouth gave it their all, but just couldn’t get anything going offensively against Quinnipiac. The Bobcats look like the real deal and are probably my pick to run the tables and win the NCAA tournament, despite them having a very hard road to the championship game.
Harvard vs. Quinnipiac
What I predicted: “Quinnipiac took both games against Harvard earlier this season (though one needed extra time to decide the victor) and I don’t expect that to change. Sorry Vesey, I am going Quinnipiac on this one. Please sign in Nashville anyways.”
What actually happened: Harvard 1 vs. Quinnipiac 4
The Bobcats’ power play proved the difference maker, converting three times in the first eight minutes of the second period. This is a game Harvard wants back. They may have a chance for a rematch in the NCAA semifinals, but they have to get through Boston College and the winner of the Providence, Minnesota-Duluth game first.
Northeastern vs. Boston College
What I predicted: “Boston College wins this one, but they’ll have to have a better effort than they did against Vermont, who gave them all they could handle in the quarterfinal series.”
What actually happened: Northeastern 5 vs. Boston College 4
BC did give a better effort, but it wasn’t enough against the scorching hot Northeastern team. If it wasn’t for the Providence, UMass Lowell game, I would contend this was the best game of the weekend. My prediction looked good when the Eagles scored 15 seconds into the contest, but the Huskies scored two goals including a last second one curtesy of Adam Gaudette to close out the first period.
The teams would trade chances in the second and third period, but Lincoln Griffin’s steal and goal sealed the deal for Northeastern, punching the Huskies’ first ticket to the Hockey East Championship since 1988. I didn’t choose the hot team, and I got froze out.
Providence vs. UMass Lowell
What I predicted: “Even though they have made it to the final weekend four times in the last five years, Providence has not competed in the championship game since 2001. I think Providence’s disappointing championship drought continues. I’m taking the better goalie and the River Hawks.”
What actually happened: Providence 1 vs. UMass Lowell 2 3OT
Drama. That’s what happened in this one. Not only did we see a triple overtime thriller, we saw one of the most controversial goals in NCAA history. Take a look and see for yourself. Personally, I wouldn’t count that a goal (rules as written) but I can see it argued both ways.
This was a herculean effort by both teams. Players were falling left and right all over the place in triple OT. Chances going back and forth as players struggled just to stay on their feet. This was a joy to watch and if you missed it, you really should see if you can find a re-run.
Boston College vs. UMass Lowell
What I predicted: “I am going with a UMass Lowell upset.”
What actually happened: Northeastern 3 vs. UMass Lowell 2
Wrong team, wrong upset! Congrats to Northeastern on a well-deserved title. They will move on to face a tough North Dakota team in the NCAA tournament. I don’t think ND will be very happy about this match up. Northeastern remains a red hot team. They are going to be handful.
UMass Lowell also advanced to the NCAA tournament and will face Yale in the first round. I wouldn’t count them out from winning that first round match up either.
Denver vs. St. Cloud State
What I predicted: “I’m taking St. Cloud because of their experience and offense.”
What actually happened: Denver 2 vs. St. Cloud State 4
I said Saint Cloud had three experienced seniors that were going to give them an edge in this contest, and they did not disappoint. Kalle Kossila, Ethan Prow and Jimmy Murray combined for four points, including a helper on the game winner. Love it when players make you look good.
Other thing of note, these teams combined for a total of 29 shots, including only five in the third period. That’s the kind of hockey legendary NHL coach Jacque Lemaire would be proud of.
Minnesota-Duluth vs. North Dakota
What I predicted: “North Dakota is ranked number one by USCHO.com for a reason. They are the only team with 30 wins on the season and have the best goalie in the NCAA in sophomore standout Cam Johnson, who is only giving up 1.58 goals a game. Minnesota-Duluth boasts an excellent sophomore goalie of their own in Kasimir Kaskisuo, who has a 1.92 GAA and a .924 save percentage. I expect this game to be a goalie duel with North Dakota coming out on top.”
What actually happened: Minnesota-Duluth 4 vs. North Dakota 2
Hot hockey take: Minnesota based teams were 4-0 in Friday, March 18th games, sweeping the competition. How did these same teams fair in championship games on Saturday? If Minnesota had just held on against Michigan in the Big Ten, a Minnesota team would’ve finished at the top of the NCHC, the WCHA and the Big Ten. #stateofhockey
No one saw this upset coming. If you did, please buy some lottery numbers for me.
St. Cloud State vs. North Dakota
What I predicted: I’m going with my heart and taking the Huskies, but North Dakota will give them all they can handle.
What actually happened: Minnesota-Duluth 1 vs. St. Cloud State 3
Right team, wrong opponent. Both of these teams are moving on to the NCAA tourney. I’m going to go ahead and say that Minnesota-Duluth will probably not beat Providence, but I do expect St. Cloud State to beat Ferris State and advance to the quarter finals.
It’s not surprising the conference I knew the least about I picked everything wrong for, but let’s dissect what happened so I can be properly ridiculed.
Bowling Green vs. Minnesota State
What I predicted: “I don’t know a whole lot about either of these teams, but I do know Falcons’ netminder Chris Nell is a great player. He’s been a work horse for the Falcons, posting four shutouts and a .931 save percentage. I believe in Nell, who is only going to get better as his collegiate career progresses. I also believe the Falcons win this one.”
What actually happened: Bowling Green 1 vs. Minnesota State 2
Like Harvey Dent, I believed in Chris Nell and he let me down, giving up two goals on 21 shots. Bowling Green scored a late power play goal from Mitchell McLain, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their even strength troubles.
Ferris State vs. Michigan Tech
What I predicted: Michigan Tech finished the year as one of the hottest teams in the NCAA with only one regulation loss since January 8. They even beat Yale in the Desert Hockey Classic during that stretch. Michigan Tech doesn’t have any super stars, but they do have depth. I expect them to beat Ferris State handedly to advance to the WCHA final.
What actually happened: Ferris State 1 vs. Michigan Tech 0
Freshman netminder Darren smith earned a well-deserved shutout, making 30 saves on the night. Kenny Babinksi (who has an awesome name) scored the lone goal of the contest.
Bowling Green vs. Michigan Tech
What I predicted: While I may believe in Chris Nell, I don’t believe Bowling Green has enough up front to keep up with Michigan Tech’s offense. I think the Huskies’ top 10 power play becomes a factor in this one as Michigan State earns a bid to the NCAA tournament.
What actually happened: None of the above actually happened as Ferris State wins 2-1 against Minnesota State.
Ferris moves on to the NCAA tournament and will face cross state rival St. Cloud State.
Photo credit: Allyson K. Hall