Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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NCAA preview: The Midwest Regional with two Minnesota teams

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz Updated: March 27, 2013 - 11:52 AM

The Midwest Regional is in Toledo, Ohio.

 Midwest Regional
Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio

Saturday's first semifinal, 12:30 p.m.

No. 1 Notre Dame (25-12-3) vs. No. 4 St. Cloud State (23-15-1) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication ... and tape delay at noon Sunday on ESPNU

Saturday's second semifinal, 4 p.m.
No. 2 Miami (Ohio) (24-11-5) vs. No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato (24-13-3) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication

Sunday's championship

Semifinal winners, 3 p.m. ... ESPNU or WatchESPN

 

Notre Dame at a glance

Record: 25-12-3, second place in CCHA with 18-8-3-2 mark, last column is for shootout wins ... beat Michigan 3-1 in championship game of CCHA tournament for Mason Cup and automatic spot in NCAA tournament

NCAA history: Sixth postseason appearance, fifth since 2007. ... Lost to UMD 4-3 in 2011 Frozen Four semifinals at the X

Vs. St. Cloud State: 5-5-0 all-time; Irish swept Huskies 4-1, 4-3 in OT when they met last time Oct. 17-18, 1997 at National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. This will be first meeting in postseason.

Streaks: Have won six in a row, including four victories over Bowling Green in last series of regular season and first of CCHA playoff series. ... Unbeaten in nine games (7-0-2) ... Lost five games in a row in January

Top scorers: Three leading scorers are all juniors, C Anders Lee, 20-18-38 (first team all-CCHA, from Edina); RW Bryan Rust (15-18-33) and LW Jeff Costello, 11-19-30. ... Mario Lucia, Don's son and a freshman, is team's fifth leading scorer, 12-11-23.

Top defensemen: Soph. Robbie Russo, 5-16-21; jr. Kevin Lind, 2-3-5 (he's 6-3, 223 and plus-23); sr. Sam Calabrese, 1-19-20

Goalie: Steven Summerhays, 1.94 GAA, .922 save percentage, 21-11-2 with four shutouts. ... Of 66 goals he has given up, 26 have come on power plays

Coach: Jeff Jackson, eighth season at Notre Dame, three-time CCHA coach of the year ... won two NCAA titles at Lake Superior State in 1992 and '94. ... took Irish to NCAA final in 2008

Minnesotans on active roster: 4

The quote: "We're playing the WCHA regular season champion," Irish coach Jeff Jackson said, "so there's never any slouch teams in the tournament and you have to be prepared, regardless of who you draw."

Intangibles: Irish opened new arena, the Compton Family Ice Arena in October 2011. It seats 5,022, has 200x95 ice sheet and was big boost to program, energizing fans and players alike. ... Notre Dame spurned offer to join NCHC, opting for Hockey East instead next season. ... Irish on a roll with coach who knows how to win in postseason.

 

St. Cloud State at a glance

Record: 23-15-1 overall, 18-9-1 in WCHA to finish in a tie for first place with Gophers but Huskies got No. 1 seed in conference in playoffs on tiebreaker, most WCHA wins ... won a share of first MacNaughton Cup since joining WCHA in 1990-91

NCAA history: Ninth postseason appearance since 1989. ... Huskies were 0-8 until beating Northern Michigan 4-3 in 2 OTs in West Regional in 2010, their last time in NCAAs

Streaks: Huskies were 5-0-1 until losing 4-2 at home to Gophers on Feb. 8. ... Starting with that loss, have gone 6-5-0. Lost 4-1 to Wisconsin in Final Five semifinals. ... Got off to good start with five wins in a row starting in mid-October.

Top scorers: Sr. F Drew LeBlanc, 13-37-50 (leads nation with his 37 assists, fifth nationally in points, one of 10 Hobey Baker finalists, WCHA player of year); jr. F Nic Dowd, 14-25-39; fr. FJonny Brodzinski, 21-11-32 (most goals among rookies in Division I hockey); fr. F Kalle Kossila, 15-17-32; sr. F Ben Hanowski, 16-13-29.

Top defensemen: Jr. Nick Jensen, 4-26-30 (Defensive player of year in WCHA, also among top scorers); soph. Andrew Prochno, 5-21-26.

Goalie: Soph. Ryan Faragher, 22-13-1, 2.29 GAA, .914 save percentage ... "I have definitely changed a little bit," Faragher said, asked about his goalie style. "Before coming here [from Fort Frances, Ontario], I had not had a whole lot of goaltending instruction. I played off pure athleticism before. I try to stay calm in the net, making the first save and being able to set myself up to make the second save if I have to."

Coach: Bob Motzko, eighth season after leaving Gophers staff where he helped team win two national titles ... WCHA coach of the year in 2006 and '07, Huskies finished second in conference in 2007.

Minnesotans on active roster: 14

The quote: "This was truly team on which things had to come together quickly," Motzko said on one of his weekly radio shows. "And we have eight, nine guys in double digits with goals when Ben Hanowski and Drew LeBlanc were the only two bona fide [scorers] we had to start the season. Some great things have come together."

Intangibles: Poor 3-5-0 nonconference record had SCSU on bubble for NCAA spot after its Final Five loss. Huskies were 10th of 11 at-large team picked, but had to sweat a little hoping for favorable results in other conference tournaments. ...Least penalized team in nation, averaging 8.5 minutes in penalty box per game. ... Fourth-highest scoring team, averaging 3.36 goals and 18-1 when scoring four goals or more. ... Eight players with 20 points or more. Picked to finish sixth in WCHA in preseason media poll. ... Freshmen have 50 goals, 57 assists, so they have provided quite a spark.

 

LEBLANC'S COMEBACK

You can tell of how found Huskies coach Bob Motzko is of Drew LeBlanc when he starts talking about, like he did recently on a WCHA teleconference call before the Final Five.

"In a time of sports when you lose players early and it devastates your program," Motzko said, "he decided to come back and play as a  fifth year senior. He is a special young man, with his heart in the program. He felt he had some unfinished business."

LeBlanc missed almost all of last season with a broken leg, but got a fifth year of eligibility.

Motzko said lately the coaches and even his father, Guy, have been asking Drew, a math education major, to rest more. He is student teaching at St. Cloud Apollo and standing on his feet all day.

"We've been telling him to skip and he won't," Motzko said. "His dad was on him. He felt he was wearing down a little bit."

He is not missing practices either.

"For him to come back and have the year he had, it is not a surprise," Motzko said. "He is one of those guys who is dedicated. ... He is going to be in the game his entire life."

LeBlanc is from Hermantown, Minn.

 

Miami  at a glance

Record: 24-11-5 overall, 17-7-4-4 (last column for shootout wins) in conference, which was good enough to win CCHA regular-season title, but lost 6-2 to Michigan in semifinals of conference tournament

NCAA history: The RedHawks are making their 11th NCAA appearance, including their eighth in a row. That's the second longest current streak, trailing only North Dakota's 11 consecutive trips. ... RedHawks 7-10-0 in NCAA tournament games, including losses in the first round the past two seasons.

Vs. Minnesota State Mankato: 1-0-1; beat Mavericks 4-2 on Dec. 30, 1996 in Mankato, tied them 3-3 on same date in 2004 in consolation game of a tournament at Ohio State. MSU Mankato won shootout 3-1. ... This is first postseason meeting.

Streaks: Miami was 7-1-0 going into the Hockey City Classic, the outdoor doubleheader in Chicago the Gophers played in. The RedHawks lost 2-1 that day to Notre Dame. ... Have eight 20-win seasons in a row.

Top scorers: Soph. F Austin Czarnik, 14-24-38 (one of 10 Hobey Baker finalists, CCHA player of year); fr. F Riley Barber, 15-23-38 (CCHA rookie of year); sr. F Curtis McKenzie, 10-13-23.

Top defensemen: Sr. Steve Spinell, 1-11-12 (captain); fr. Matthew Caito, 5-16-21.

Goalies: Two goalies rotate. Ryan McKay, 1.37 GAA, .948 save percentage, 12-6-2 and Jay Williams, 1.94, .924, 12-5-3. McKay has started last seven games, but got pulled after giving up four goals in last game, a loss to the Wolverines.

Coach: Enrico Blasi was CCHA coach of the year for the fifth time this season.

Minnesotans on active roster: 4

The quote: Miami coach Enrico Blasi on whether his team will overlook Minnesota State because it has only played in one NCAA tournament before. "You would’ve said that about Bemidji State a few years ago, and they made it to the Frozen Four,” Blasi is quoted as saying in the Oxford Middletown Journal. “I don’t buy any of that. Throw it out the window. Minnesota State made the tournament, and they earned it no different than we earned it. Let’s play the game.”

Intangibles: RedHawks are joining the new NCHC along with six WCHA teams and Western Michigan of CCHA. So many WCHA fans will get to know Miami much better soon. ... Blasi's teams have been knocking on the door to win that first NCAA title, but it hasn't happened. Maybe this year?

 

Minnesota State Mankato  at a glance

Record: 24-13-3, 16-11-1 in WCHA to tie for fourth place

NCAA history: It's brief. One appearance before in 2003, losing to Cornell 5-2 in East Regional in Providence, R.I. ... But Mavericks did appear in 12 Division III or II national tournaments before making the jump to Division I and were Division II champions in 1980.

Streaks: Went 11-1-0 in one stretch during the middle of the season. ... Lost to Wisconsin 7-2 in Final Five quarterfinals.

Top scorers: So. Matt Leitner, 17-30-47 (first in nation in power-play points witth 28, second leading scorer in country among sophomores); sr. F Eriah Hayes, 20-16-36 (second in nation in power-play goals with 13); so. F Jean-Paul Lafontaine, 9-26-35 (nephew of NHL Hall of Famer Paul Lafontaine)

Top defensemen: Soph, Zach Palmquist, 7-18-25; sr. Tyler Elbrecht, 1-7-8 (he's 6-4, 210).

Goalies: Fr. Stephon Williams, 21-11-2, 1.96 GAA, .925 save percentage (rookie of year in WCHA).

Coach: First-year coach Mike Hastings was named the WCHA coach of the year. He came to Mankato after three seasons as associate head coach at Nebraska Omaha. He was a Gophers assistant for one year before that. And before becoming a college coach, Hastings coached the Omaha Lancers of the USHL for 14 seasons, compiling a record of 529-210-56

Minnesotans on  roster: 6

The quote: “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Rico [Blasi] and Miami’s program and what they’ve stood for over the last few years,” Mavs coach Mike Hastings is quoted as saying by the Oxford Middletown Journal. “I think the ability of Miami to defend speaks for itself. The numbers between the posts are exceptional.”

Intangibles: The Mavericks are a dangerous team. Hastings is a bundle of energy and a great motivator. MSU has scored 47 goals in the third period, which is the fourth most of anybody in the country. And the power-play is clicking at 23.4 percent, again the fourth best. ... The Mavericks' 44 power-play goals top all  the other 59 Division I teams.

 

 

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