Hockey World Blog

2016 NCAA Tournament – West Regional Preview

West Regional

Site: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Saturday’s schedule: No. 1 St. Cloud State (31-8-1) vs. No. 4 Ferris State (19-14-6), March 26, 3 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNews/WatchESPN; No. 2 Denver (23-9-6) vs. No. 3 Boston U. (21-12-5), March 26, 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNU/WatchESPN
Sunday’s Schedule: Semifinal winners, 5 p.m. Eastern time, ESPNU/WatchESPN
St. Cloud State

Record: 31-8-1 (17-6-1-1 NCHC, second)
How they qualified: NCHC Champs
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: None
Player to watch for: Charlie Lindgren (39 GP, 30-8-1, 2.05 GAA, .927 SV%)

Overview: Seeded No. 2 overall, the Huskies are shooting for nothing short of a Frozen Four birth and perhaps the title game. They have one of the best goalies in the nation in Lindgren, who is the only backstop in the nation with 30 wins. The drawback to that? He’s played 39 games and 2,282 minutes, only topped by Quinnipiac’s Michael Garteig. Does he have enough gas in the tank for four more games? St Cloud State has the second-best offensive and power play units in the country, meaning they have the ability to score in bunches which is a benefit in the tournament.

Ferris State

Record: 19-14-6 (13-11-4 WCHA, fourth)
How they qualified: WCHA Champions
Last appearance: 2014
Championships: None
Player to watch for: Gerald Mayhew (39 GP, 14-22–36)

Overview: The last time the Frozen Four was in Tampa (2012), the Bulldogs’ Cinderella story took them all the way to the national title game, where they ran into a hot Boston College squad. This team is different than that squad as well as the 2014 team that suffered a double-overtime loss to North Dakota. They played their way in by winning the schools first ever conference tournament title. They have 12 players from 2014 as well as one from the 2012 NCAA tournament teams with postseason experience They’re going to need goalie Darren Smith to play big and keep the Huskies offense at bay, especially on the power play.

Denver

Record: 23-9-6 (17-5-2-0 NCHC, third)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005
Player to watch for: Danton Heinen (38 GP, 19-23–42)

Overview: If the Pioneers can continue to play in the tournament like they did the second half of the season, they can make a deep run. Prior to losing to St. Cloud State in the NCHC semi’s, they were unbeaten in 18 of their last 19 (with the shootout loss to Western Michigan counting as a tie for NCAA purposes). Their 16th ranked offense and 13th ranked defense stats could be a little skewed by their sluggish start in the 2015 half of their schedule, but they do have promise in their top line of Heinen, Dylan Gambrell, Trevor Moore. They’ve been paired together at the beginning of the unbeaten streak and all have over 40 points. Outside of those three, they lack depth in scoring.

Boston University

Record: 21-12-5 (12-6-4 Hockey East, fourth)
How they qualified: At-Large
Last appearance: 2015
Championships: 1971, 1972, 1978, 1995, 2009
Player to watch for: Danny O’Regan (38 GP, 16-27–43)

Overview: If there’s anyone who needed a break last weekend to recharge and hit the reset button before the tournament, it’s the Terriers. Their defense and goaltending has been shaky this season, ranking 26th in goals allowed and 32nd on the penalty kill. BU allowed 13 goals in its four Hockey East tournament games, including eight then they were swept against UMass-Lowell. For the Terriers to advance in the tournament, they must have their top lines clicking and scoring. What works in their favor is they have seen Denver this season, winning in overtime 5-4 Oct. 31 at home.

Prediction: Ferris State over Denver

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