NCAA West Regional Preview

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. | VAN ANDEL ARENA
FRIDAY-SATURDAY, MARCH 29-30

Friday: Minnesota vs. Yale, 2 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Friday:
North Dakota vs. Niagara, 5:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)
Saturday: Regional Final, 4 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

minnesotaNO. 1 SEED MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Record: 26-8-5 overall (16-7-5 WCHA, tied for first)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: Five (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002, 2003)
NCAA Appearance: 34th (most recent, 2012)
Head Coach: Don Lucia
Key Players: Erik Haula, F, Jr. (36 GP, 16-33—49); Kyle Rau, F, So. (39 GP, 15-24—39); Nate Schmidt, D, Jr. (39 GP, 8-23—31); Adam Wilcox, G, Fr. (25-7-5, 1.85 GAA, .922 save pct.)

What You Need To Know: If Minnesota gets an early lead, forget about it. The Gophers have given up just 19 first-period goals in 39 games while scoring 43 goals in the game’s first 20 minutes. They’re 19-1-4 when scoring first and 15-1-2 when leading after one period. Which leads us to …

Burning Question: Can the Gophers come out of the gate strong? Despite have just eight losses, it’s pretty apparent slow starts have been their Achilles heel—Minnesota allowed the first goal in seven of those eight defeats and in six of those contests the Gophers trailed by two or more goals. And in defeat, Minnesota has looked alarmingly lethargic; the loss to Colorado College in last weekend’s WCHA Final Five semifinal is a prime example. A similar effort will have the Gophers on the charter back to Minnesota Friday night.

Most Recent Minnesota Line Chart
Left Wing Center Right Wing Notes
11-Sam Warning
19-Erik Haula
24-Zach Budish
The Gophers have scored 40 power-play goals this season; its opponents have netted just 15 power-play tallies.
7-Kyle Rau
27-Nick Bjugstad
26-Christian Isackson
15-A.J. Michaelson
16-Nate Condon
12-Justin Holl
14-Tom Serratore
10-Travis Boyd
17-Seth Ambroz
Defense Defense Goalies
4-Seth Helgeson
10-Ben Marshall
32-Adam Wilcox
Wilcox’s cousin, Alex Stalock, played goal at UMD from 2006-09 and is currently the San Jose Sharks’ no. 2 goalie.
6-Jake Parenteau
29-Nate Schmidt
1-Mike Shibrowski
5-Mike Reilly
20-Mark Alt
31-Ryan Coyne

nodakNO. 2 SEED NORTH DAKOTA
Location: Grand Forks, N.D.
Record: 21-12-7 overall (14-7-7 WCHA, third)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: Seven (1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000)
NCAA Appearance: 28th (most recent, 2012)
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol
Key Players: Danny Kristo, F, Sr. (38 GP, 25-26—51); Corban Knight, F, Sr. (39 GP, 15-33—48); Dillon Simpson, D, Jr. (40 GP, 5-19—24): Clarke Saunders, G, Jr. (13-8-4, 2.26 GAA, .916 save pct.)

What You Need To Know: For a team with a fair amount of losses—something you can say about pretty much every team in the tournament field—North Dakota has lost back-to-back games just once this season. That was back on Nov. 24-30 when NoDak lost at Notre Dame and at Colorado College. North Dakota did have a five-game winless streak from Jan. 18-Feb. 1, losing and tying at Minnesota, losing and tying vs. St. Cloud State, and tying Wisconsin.

Burning Question: Who will be between the pipes for North Dakota? Junior Clarke Saunders made more starts (26) and had better overall numbers (2.26 GAA, .916 save pct.) than freshman Zane Gothberg, but Gothberg had more starts down the stretch (12 of the team’s last 19 games) and posted better statistics against conference foes (a 7-2-3 record, a 2.28 GAA, and a .923 save pct.) Saunders was shaky in his last outing, a 4-3 overtime loss to Colorado College at the WCHA Final Five last week.

Most Recent North Dakota Line Chart
Left Wing Center Right Wing Notes
21-Brendan O’Donnell
10-Corban Knight
7-Danny Kristo
Knight has scored 40-plus points in each of the last three seasons. He recorded 13 points as a freshman.
19-Rocco Grimaldi
27-Carter Rowney
15-Michael Parks
25-Mitch MacMillan
16-Mark MacMillan
13-Connor Gaarder
9-Drake Caggiula
28-Stephane Pattyn
17-Colten St. Clair
Defense Defense Goalies
2-Andrew MacWilliam
18-Dillon Simpson
33-Clarke Saunders
MacWilliam enters the NCAAs with 112 penalty minutes. NoDak’s five other blueliners have combined for 81 PIMs.
4-Derek Forbort
24-Jordan Schmaltz
31-Zane Gothberg
5-Nick Mattson
20-Joe Gleason
35-Tate Maris

niagaraNO. 3 SEED NIAGARA PURPLE EAGLES
Location: Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Record: 23-9-5 overall (20-5-2 Atlantic Hockey, first)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Fourth (most recent, 2008)
Head Coach: Dave Burkholder
Key Players: Ryan Murphy, F, Jr. (35 GP, 15-21—36); Giancarlo Iuorio, F, Sr. (26 GP, 21-13—34); Kevin Ryan, D, Jr. (37 GP, 1-23—24); Carsen Chubak, G, Jr. (23-6-5, 1.91 GAA, .938 save pct.)

What You Need To Know: Niagara makes its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance but first as an Atlantic Hockey member. The Purple Eagles earned automatic bids in 2004 and 2008 by winning the College Hockey America playoff championship and received an at-large bid as a CHA member back in 2000.

Burning Question: As evidenced by the note next to the team’s line chart, the Purple Eagles’ scoring punch is tied up in the top line of Murphy, Iuorio, and Zanette. If opponents are able to neutralize that trio, can someone else step to the fore—Niagara has four forwards with eight or nine goals—and produce some offense?

Most Recent Niagara Line Chart
Left Wing Center Right Wing Notes
11-Ryan Murphy
21-Giancarlo Iuorio
8-Marc Zanette
The Purps’ top line of Iuorio, Murphy, and Zanette have combined to score 40 percent of the team’s 115 goals.
15-Patrick Divjak
19-Hugo Turcotte
29-Ryan Rashid
14-Jeff Hannan
16-Chris Lochner
27-Isaac Kohls
22-Michael Benedict
26-Rocky Gruttadauria
10-Dan Kolenda
Defense Defense Goalies
25-Matt Dineen
17-Kevin Albers
1-Carsen Chubak
Chubak, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, made one start last season and played less than 40 minutes.
12-C.J. Chartrain
2-Kevin Ryan
30-Cody Campbell
5-Matt Williams
3-Jason Beattie
31-Chris Paulin

yaleNO. 4 SEED YALE BULLDOGS
Location: New Haven, Conn.
Record: 18-12-3 overall (12-9-1 ECAC Hockey, third)
Qualified: At-large bid
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: Sixth (most recent, 2011)
Head Coach: Keith Allain
Key Players: Kenny Agostino, F, Jr. (33 GP, 15-22—37); Andrew Miller, F, Sr. (33 GP, 16-19—35); Tommy Fallen, D, So. (33 GP, 7-15—22); Jeff Malcolm, G, Sr. (16-6-2, 2.42 GAA, .914 save pct.)

What You Need To Know: Yale was shut out by both Union and Quinnipiac in the semifinals and third-place game, respectively, at last weekend’s ECAC Hockey championship. It marked the first time the Bulldogs were blanked in consecutive games since Feb. 2-3, 2001, when they were whitewashed at Clarkson and St. Lawrence.

Burning Question: Can Yale figure out a way to outscore an offensively superior opponent or shut them down while generating just enough offense to get by? There’s really no fine line between winning and losing for the Bulldogs. They score in bunches when they’re successful (70 goals in their 18 wins, an average of 3.9 goals per game) and can’t buy a goal when they’re not (16 goals in their 12 losses, an average of 1.3 goals per game).

Most Recent Yale Line Chart
Left Wing Center Right Wing Notes
18-Kenny Agostino
20-Jesse Root
17-Andrew Miller
Yale’s goal differential of plus-2 (93 goals for, 91 goals against) is the lowest in the tournament field.
27-Charles Orzetti
6-Stu Wilson
28-Antoine Laganiere
8-Josh Balch
9-Carson Cooper
12-Cody Learned
11-Trent Ruffolo
15-Clinton Bourbonais
19-Anthony Day
Defense Defense Goalies
2-Gus Young
4-Rob O’Gara
33-Jeff Malcolm
The Bulldogs won 16 of the 25 games Malcolm started and two of the eight games Maricic and Wilson started.
22-Tommy Fallon
14-Ryan Obuchowski
31-Nick Maricic
21-Colin Dueck
10-Mitch Witek
29-Connor Wilson
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