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 Northeast Regional, with Denver and Wisconsin

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under College hockey, Denver, Wisconsin Updated: March 28, 2013 - 7:08 AM

This regional matches up two WCHA teams with two Hockey East teams. My guess is that fans of the Wisconsin and Denver will support the other on Friday and make some noise.

Doubt the seeding matter much in these two games. Look like two toss-ups.

The lineup:

Northeast Regional
Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire

Friday's first semifinal, 3:30 p.m.

No. 1 Massachusetts-Lowell (26-10-2) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (22-12-7) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication


Friday's second semifinal, 7 p.m.

No. 2 New Hampshire (19-11-7) vs. No. 3 Denver (20-13-5) ... ESPNU or WatchESPN

Saturday's championship

Semifinal winners, 5:30 p.m. ESPNU or WatchESPN

 

Massachusetts-Lowell at a glance

Record: 26-10-2, 16-9-2 in conference to win Hockey East regular-season title for first time. Then beat Boston University 1-0 in Hockey East championship game this past Saturday to win conference tournament for first time.

NCAA history: Fifth trip but second in two years. Beat Miami 4-3 in first round last year, the lost 4-2 to No. 1 seed Union. ... Most recent appearance before last year was 1996. ... Won first game in last three NCAAs.

Vs. Wisconsin: 7-1-1 all-time against the Badgers. All meetins were between 1984-88. Met Wisconsin in first round of 1988 NCAA playing, losing 7-1 and tying 4-4. So Badgers won two-game, total-goal series 11-5.

Streaks: River Hawks have won five games in a row, 11 of past 12 and are 22-3-1 since early December.

Top scorers: Jr. F Joseph Pendenza, 13-23-36; so. F Scott Wilson, 15-19-34; jr. F Derek Arnold, 12-16-28. 

Top defensemen: Jr. Chad Ruhwedel, 7-15-22 (captain); fr. Christian Folin, 5-15-20 (plus-14).

Goalie: Fr. Connor Hellebuyck, 1.39 GAA, .949 save percentage, 18-2-0 with five shutouts. Named MVP of the Hockey East tournament, stopped 70 of 71 shots in last two games.

Coach: Norm Bazin, second year at UMass-Lowell. In first season, improved River Hawks win total from five to 24 -- largest turnaround ever by a rookie coach and was Hockey East coach of the year. Played for UMass-Lowell from 1990-94, later assistant at Colorado College for eight years.

Minnesotans on active roster: 0, closest is Jake Suter from Flambeau, Wis.

The quote: "The team that wins is the team that can make an important play at a crucial time,” coach Norm Bazin said according to a UMass-Lowell news release. “”It will be a fun game; it will be a challenging game. You've got to get to pucks first, both defensively and offensively. You've got to be hungry, win one-on-one battles. All of those are things that we do well.”

Intangibles: Verizon Center Arena is a short drive from Lowell, so River Hawks fans should fill up the building. ... Team has two trophies and confidence. ... Played in NCAAs last year, so players know what to expect. ... Maybe team of destiny with two firsts already, first Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles. First regional title next?

 

Wisconsin at a glance

Record: 22-12-7, 13-8-7 to tie for fourth place in WCHA, but won Final Five with three wins last week, including 3-2 over Colorado College in title game

NCAA history: Badgers have won six NCAA titles, startign from 1973, '77, '81, '83, '90 and 2006 ... This is 24th NCAA appearance, 40-20-2 all-time record. ... Lost to Boston College in 2010 Frozen Four in title game

Streaks: Have won six games in a row, 21-5-5 in last 31 games after a 1-7-2 start

Top scorers: Jr. F Michael Mersch, 23-13-36 (carried Badgers with scoring early in season); fr. F Nic Kerdiles, 10-22-32 (suspended first 10 games by NCAA); jr. F Mark Zengerle, 9-23-32; jr. F Tyler Barnes, 15-15-30 (seven goals in past eight games).

Top defensemen: So. Jack McCabe, 3-8-21 (captain of  gold-medal winning U.S. team in World Juniors); sr. John Ramage, 8-11-19.

Goalie: Soph. Joel Rumpel, 1.85 GAA, .933 save pct., 16-8-4 with four shutouts.

Coach: Mike Eaves,11th season at Wisconsin. Led Badgers to NCAA title in 2006 when they beat Boston College 2-1 in Milwaukee.

Minnesotans on active roster: Six.

The quote: "I think that every team in this tournament can beat any other team," Eaves said. "We've seen that all year in our league and playing in our nonconference games. Any team in this 16-team tournament can win...The issue for us is maintaining what we have and keep rolling."

Intangibles: The Badgers are peaking at the right time. After averging 2.71 goals per game during the regular season, they are averaging 4.2 in five postseason games. Had to get in playoffs, one-and-done mode early because the only way they got into NCAAs was by the automatic bid which comes with winning the Final Five.

 

New Hampshire at a glance

Record: 19-11-7, finished in tie for third in Hockey East with 13-8-6 mark

NCAA history: This is 22nd NCAA trip and 11th in 12 years, missed 2012. .... Reached seven Frozen Fours, finished second in 1999 and 2003. ... 14-24 in NCAA games, including 0-2 vs. Denver. Lost to Pioneers 9-2 in first round in 1995 and 4-2 in seocnd round in 2005.

Vs. Denver: 4-9 all-time against Pioneers. But beat Denver 6-4 on road on Nov. 24. Fell behind 3-0 but rallied on hat tricks by Kevin Goumas and Grayson Downing.

Streaks: Inconsistent team, 3-3-4 in last 10 games. ... Have a power play goal in nine of last 10 games.

Top scorers: Jr. F Kevin Goumas, 10-32-42 (plus-18); soph. F Gryason Downing, 15-15-30; sr. F John Henrion, 14-10-24.

Top defensemen: Soph. Trevor van Riemsdyk, 7-24-31 (brother James for Toronto Maple Leafs); jr. D Erik Knodel, 10-10-20.

Goalie: Soph. Casey DeSmith, 2.24 GAA, .924 save pct., 18-9-7.

Coach: Dick Umlie, in 23rd season as Wildcats head coach. Has had 18 seasons with 20 wins at least.

Minnesotans on  roster: None, closest is sr. F Scott Pavelskiof Plover, Wis. (brother Joe plays for San Jose Sharks).

The quote: "Maybe we are flying under the radar a little bit," Umlie said, "but we are capable of winning this. I don't see any dominant teams."

Intangibles: The Wildcats like being close to home, in New Hampshire. Umlie has taken a lot of teams to the NCAAs, nothing will surprise him. And Wildcats play everybody close; eight of their 11 losses were by one goal and they have seven ties.

 

Denver at a glance

Record: 20-13-5, 14-9-5 in conference to tie for fourth place.

NCAA history: This is 24th appearance, including six in a row. Pioneers have won seven NCAA titles, including 2004 and '05, reached 14 Frozen Fours. ... Have a good 27-19 mark, but are only 1-5 in their last six games.

Streaks: Opened season 9-1-0, then ran into a wall and went 0-5-3. Finished 11-7-2.

Top scorers: Jr. F Nick Shore, 14-19-33; sr. F Chris Knowlton, 13-16-29; (two defensemen); sr. F Shaw Ostrow, 12-11-26.

Top defensemen: So. Joey LaLeggia, 11-18-29; jr. David Makowski, 9-18-27.

Goalie: So. Juho Olkinuora, 2.28 GAA, .929 save pct., 13-5-5 with three shutouts

Coach:  George Gwozdecky, 19th season. His teams won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and '05. National coach of the year in 1993 and 2005, four-time WCHA coach of the year.

Minnesotans on active roster: None, but one player from Iowa and one from Wisconsin.

The quote: "You don't want to end your season like that," Gwozdecky said in a Denver Post story, referring to DU's lost to Colorado College two games to one in a first-round WCHA playoff series. "Certainly everybody on our team sees this as redemption, a second chance."

Intangibles: Is there a hex on DU, five one and dones in last six appearances? ... Pioneers had a chance to rest and heal with no games last week, so should play with a lot of energy. ... Defensemen are also dangerous. They have 32 goals and 89 assists for 121 points -- the most of any blue line corps in the nation this season.

 

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