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.
NCAA men's hockey schedule
(ESPN will have all the regional games available on the Internet, either on WatchESPN, ESPN3 or ESPN syndication)
Friday's games Friday (4 total)
1 p.m.: No. 1 seed in Midwest Regional, Minnesota (26-8-5) vs. No. 4 Yale (18-12-3 ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
3:30 p.m.: No. 1 in Northeast, Massachusetts-Lowell (26-10-2) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (22-12-7) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication
4:30 p.m.: No. 2 in Midwest, North Dakota (21-12-7) vs. No. 3 Niagara (23-9-5) ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
7 p.m.: No. 2 in Northeast, New Hampshire (19-11-7) vs. No. 3 Denver (20-13-5) ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
Saturday's games (6 total)
12:30 p.m.: No. 1 in Midwest, Notre Dame (25-12-3) vs. No. 4 St. Cloud State (23-15-1) ... FSN or ESPN3
3 p.m.: West final, Minnesota/Yale winner vs. North Dakota/Niagara winner ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
4 p.m.: No. 2 in Midwest, Miami (Ohio) (24-11-5) vs. No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato (24-13-3) ... FSN or ESPN3
4:30 p.m.: No. 1 in East, Quinnipiac (27-7-5) vs. No. 16 Canisius (19-18-5) ... ESPN3 or ESPN syndication
5:30 p.m.: Northeast final, UMass-Lowell/Wisconsin winner vs. New Hampshire/Denver winner ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
8 p.m.: No. 2 in East, Boston College (22-11-4) vs. No. 3 Union (New York) (21-12-5) ... ESNPU or WatchESPN
Sunday's games (2 total)
3 p.m.: Midwest final, Notre Dame/St. Cloud State vs. Miama/Minnesota State Mankato ... FSN or ESPN3
5:30 p.m.: East final, Quinipiac/Canisius winner vs. Boston College/Uniion winner ... ESPNU or WatchESPN
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.
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
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.
The WCHA's Final Five as been a tournament of upsets. Lower seeds have won all four games so far. And if the trend continues, Colorado College, which finished eight in the regular season, will beat Wisconsin in the title game tonight and get an automatic spot in the NCAA tournament.
Upsets have happened across the board in the four other Division I tournaments this week.
And that's a problem for St. Cloud State. The Huskies lost 4-1 to Wisconsin on Friday in the Final Five semifinals and now are tied for No. 11 in the PairWise Rankings, a mathematical formula which mimics how the NCAA seeds and fills out its 16-team tournament field.
No problem, you say? Actually, it is. The Huskies are "tied" for No. 11, but they lose the tiebreaker to both Niagara and Minnesota State, who have higher RPIs, a measurement of a team's strength of schedule.
So the Huskies are actually No. 13. They got themselves in that predicament by going 3-5-0 in nonconference games. (The Gophers were 8-0-0 in nonconference play, the only team in the country without a loss or tie outside its league. Minnesota State was 6-0-2.)
But there are 16 spots, right?
Yes, but two of them already will be taken by teams not in the PairWise's top 16.
The winner of the Wisconsin-Colorado College game will grab one. Wisconsin has the best RPI of teams tied for No. 17; ditto for CC among teams tied for No. 25.
The Atlantic Hockey champion also will be a team not among the PairWise's top 16. In fact, Canisus and Mercyhurst are not in the PairWise Rankings at all because their RPI is under .500.
What that means is the NCAA already can go 14 deep at most from the top of the PairWise Rankings. Remember St. Cloud State is No. 13.
If another team not in the PairWise's top 14 wins a tournament, the NCAA cutout drops to 13. And so on.
SCSU has to root for the favorites to win tournament games today and Sunday.
Here are the games the Huskies have to watch today:
Hockey East championship: UMass-Lowell, No. 3 with highest RPI, vs. Boston University, tied No. 17 with Wisconsin, but really No. 18, 6 p.m. in Boston ... Huskies need UMass-Lowell to win
ECAC championship: Union, No. 14, vs. Brown, No. 20 with highest RPI, 6 p.m. at Atlantic City, N.J. ... Huskies have to root for Union while at the same wondering if the Dutchmen could jump them in the PairWise with a win.
Notre Dame, No. 8 with highest RPI, vs. Ohio State, tied for No. 25, but really No. 26, 1 p.m. in Detroit
Miami, tied for No. 3 but really No. 4, vs. Michigan, No. 29, 4:35 p.m. in Detroit
Huskies need Notre Dame and Miami to win
SIX FOR WCHA?
If St. Cloud State can get in as at at-large team, the WCHA, in its final year with the present teams, would have six teams in the NCAA tournament. The other four conferences would have 10.
Hooray for the WCHA, huh?
Already securely in are the Golden Gophers as the No. 2 seed in the overall field behind Quinnipiac.
The Gophers are No. 2 in the PairWise, hence their seed. No. 6 North Dakota, No. 10 Denver, which lost in the first round to CC, and Minnesota State Mankato, the team with the highest RPI among teams tied for No. 11, are also in.
The Gophers will be the top seed in whatever region they are assigned to, probably the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
North Dakota will probably be a second seed wherever it goes, DU and MSU third seeds.
This year’s 16-team field for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament will be revealed on ESPNU at 8 p.m. Sunday. Host Anish Shroff will be joined by hockey analysts Barry Melrose and Dave Starman to discuss the five automatic qualifiers and 11 at-large teams that will play in the four regionals which will air on ESPNU.
The show will also feature a special on Quinnipiac as the Bobcats look to secure a No. 1 seed and make only their second appearance in the NCAA championship since becoming a Division I team in 1998-99.
Usually this show is on a Sunday morning, but the CCHA tournament, because of a schedule conflict, has its championship game on Sunday afternoon.
LUCIA TO BE JUNIORS COACH?
A joint press conference featuring a special announcements from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, USA Hockey, Inc., and University of Minnesota has been scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the X. At least one usually reliable media source is saying Gophers coach Don Lucia will be named the heade coach of the U.S. team for the 2014 World Junior Championships.
The U.S. team, led by South St. Paul High School coach Phil Housley, won the gold medal in Russia this year. Lucia helped with the national evaluation camp last summer, which was used to help determine the roster. His son, Mario, played on the U.S. team and Grant Potulny, one of Lucia's assistants, was one of Housley's assistants.
So Lucia has a pretty good idea how the team was put together and why it succeeded.
HONORS FOR U WOMEN'S TEAM
Megan Bozek, Amanda Kessel and Noora Raty of the Gophers' No. 1-rated women's hockey team were named to the American Hockey Coaches Association's Division I all-american first team on Thursday night. Brad Frost, their coach, was picked coach of the year for 2012-13.
Bozek is second among defenseman in scoring this season and is a repeat first team pick. The senior from Buffalo Grove, Ill., own nearly every season and career scoring record for a Gophers defenseman.
Kessel leads the nation in scoring with 97 points. She was a second team honoree last season. The junior forward is the 24th player in NCAA history to reach the 200-career point mark and the ninth for do so in three seasons. If Kessel tallies three more points this season, she will become only the fourth player in NCAA history to record 100 points in a single season.
Räty leads the nation in goals-against average and save percentage. She was a first team all-american in 2010 and a second team in 2011. The Finnish native is only the second player in Minnesota history to receive three all-america honors during her career. This season she has broken NCAA records for career wins and shutouts and shutouts in a season.
Minnesota has now had 27 players in program history named to an All-American team. This is only the second time that the Maroon & Gold have had three players receive the honor in a season.
This is Frost's first National Coach of the Year honor and the fourth in program history (Laura Halldorson – 1998, 2002 and 2004). The Gophers are 39-0-0 and play in the Frozen Four this weekend.
What? No, North Dakota. What happened?
Colorado College happened. The Tigers upended UND 4-3 in overtime, spoiling the expected matchup of UND and the Gophers in Friday's 7 p.m. semifinal.
The Tigers won the special teams battle -- and thus, the game. Sophomore defenseman Peter Stoykewych, of Winnipeg, got the game-winner about five minutes into overtime. It was his second goal of the season.
Senior Rylan Schwartz had a power-play goal and Alexander Krushelnyski a shorty for CC, which is now almost .500 at 17-18-5 and needs to win the Final Five to make the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have reached the title game three times but not won.
CC's penalty-killer held the team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux to 0-for-6 on the power play. And goalie Joe Howe of Plymouth did the rest, stopping 29 of 32 shots.
The Colorado Springs Gazette story is here.
The game drew 17,038 -- many if not most wearing UND green.
CC was the eighth seed for the first round of the WCHA playoffs but upset Denver two games to one. For the Final Five, when teams were re-seeded, CC was the sixth seed among six teams.
But St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko said one unexpected team always seems to arise in the postseason and his pick this year was CC because of the Tigers' scoring ability.
CLOSE SERIES IN CC
The Gophers took three of four available points when they played the Tigers in Colorado Springs on Dec. 7-8. They won the first game 4-2. Tom Serratore's goal in the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Zach Budish added an empty-netter, so it was really a one-goal game.
The second night, the Gophers took a 4-1 lead into the third period but had to settle for a tie. Krushelnyski scored a shorthanded goal at 4:04 and then scored again two minutes later to make it 4-3.
Then senior Rylan Schwartz, with goalie Josh Thorimbert pulled for an extra attacker, tied the score with 24 seconds left.
The Gophers had a slight advantage in shots both nights, 31-22 and 29-27.
"We played Josh Thorimbert pretty much all the time at the beginnng of the seaosn," Owens said in a pre-tournament teleconference. "He was a returning all-WCHA. Then Joe started taking over. He really complete, he really battles, he give us a complete 60 minutes with a minimum of soft goals ... And our penalty kill has been better of late.
"Joe sees tge puck well and has ton of confidence. He has been the backstop of the team the last two months."
* Owens said CC's two unsung heroes have been senior forward William Rapuzzi, the team captain, and defenseman Eamonn McDermott.
"[Rapuzzi] is a warrior and great leader, he does lot of things well ... Eamonn McDermott -- he's a guy who is the glue back there for the blue line. He plays lot of quality minutes, and has played very well for us."
Rapuzzi, of Anchorage, Alaska, is third on CC in points with 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points. McDermott had 19 assists and 22 points.
* Owens was a CC assistant coach from 1991-95. And when Gophers coach Don Lucia took over the program there in the 1993-94, he made Owens his associate head coach for two seasons before Owens left.
So the two are friends.
Owens returned to CC as head coach in 1999-2000 and he has been there since.
LUCIA: CC SIMILAR TO US
Lucia said the Tigers are similar to the Gophers because they like to get up and down the ice quickly.
He said it is a great opportunity for the Gophers to get a chance to play in the Final Five with the great atmosphere there. "Next weekend teams will play in front of 3[,000] or 4000 people in some cases" at the regionals, Lucia said.
No matter what happens in the Final Five, the Gophers will be the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and probably be assigned to the West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
|Sports (275)||Gophers game day (73)|
|Gophers postgame (167)||NCAA (2)|
|Bemidji State (36)||Frozen Four (49)|
|Gophers awards and honors (89)||Gophers post season (50)|
|Gophers roster moves (114)||MS-Mankato (40)|
|North Dakota (69)||St. Cloud State (47)|
|UMD (37)||WCHA news (346)|
|College hockey (428)||Coaching (40)|
|Lynx (255)||Gophers (430)|
|Men's hockey (458)||Pregame (50)|
|Volleyball (3)||WCHA (4)|
|Women's hockey (28)||Wrestling (2)|
|Alaska Anchorage (12)||Colorado College (7)|
|Denver (19)||Michigan Tech (7)|
|Nebraska Omaha (12)||Wisconsin (27)|