NCAA Hockey Tournament - Midwest Region

Story posted March 26, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Kyle Cannillo

College hockey’s most anticipated time of year has finally arrived. The NCAA tournament kicks off this weekend with some of the most intriguing matchups we have ever seen. This 16-team tournament is known for its wacky upsets and highly skilled talent. In this article, we will focus on specifically the midwest region hosted in Allentown PA. 

No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 15 Bowling Green

The defending national champions picked up right where they left off the previous year. For a large portion of the year, the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs were just as dominant as the year before. They are one of the most well rounded teams in the tournament ranking eleventh in goals per game and sixth in goal against per game.

While the Bulldogs stats don't jump off the page, they are well balance all throughout their lineup. Minnesota-Duluth is lead by a pair of young sophomore defenseman who are solid on both sides of the puck. Scott Perunovich leads the team in scoring with 28 points in 35 games while his teammate Mikey Anderson has recorded 24 points in 36 games.

What might be more impressive is what junior goaltender Hunter Shepard has been able to do. He has started each and every one of the Bulldogs 38 games this season and has shown no signs of slowing down. He has allowed just 1.87 goals per game and had a .918 save percentage.
The Bulldogs defeated NCHC foes St. Cloud State to win what many are calling the hardest conference in college hockey.

Bowling Green on the flip side is quite frankly lucky to have reached this far. Not only have they had some eye scratching loses, but they have been relatively inconsistent for most of the year. Splits vs Robert Morris, Ferris State, Bemidji State, and Alaska are not a good sign for a team facing the defending national champions.

Unlike Minnesota Duluth, Bowling Green’s production is relatively top heavy. They are lead by a pair of sophomore forwards who are both averaging at least a point per game. Max Johnson has totaled 43 points in 40 games while Brandon Kruse has 40 points in 40 games.

Statistically Bowling Green has been impressive. They are fifth in the NCAA in goals for and fourth in the NCAA with goals against. With that schedule, however, it will be interesting to see if they can hang with a championship caliber team such as the Bulldogs.

Prediction: Minnesota Duluth 

No. 7 Quinnipiac vs. No. 11 Arizona State

Welcome to the show Arizona State Sun Devils! That's right, college hockey has a new tournament team and nobody can say they saw this coming. The Sun Devils, just three years into their division one program, have risen to the top and are now in the big dance.

The task is not going to be easy for them however. Being that they are fairly new, they are still not affiliated with a conference. Because of that, they face criticism from the public which claims they have not faced strong enough competition. They obviously have not played any conference tournament games and because of that there match vs Quinnipiac will be there first in a whole 28 days. They are coming off getting swept by Minnesota in the last week of the regular season.

They are lead by goal scoring machine Johnny Walker who leads the NCAA in goals per game. He has 23 goals in just 31 games, including a huge overtime game winner in Happy Valley vs Penn State to propel them to this strong season.

The Quinnipiac Bobcats have been a powerhouse for most of the year but quite frankly have struggled of late raising some concern. In the ECAC quarterfinals the Bobcats were swept by Brown University. Quinnipiac has some top end talent specifically at defense and goaltending.
The two senior defenseman Chase Priskie and Brandon Fortunato lead the way with over a point per game pace. Quinnipiac’s goaltender has been flat out spectacular. Andrew Shortridge, the Hobey Baker snub, has only allowed 1.51 goals per game and a monster .941 save percentage.

Prediction: Quinnipiac is in win now mode. They will defeat Arizona State.

Prediction: Minnesota Duluth vs Quinnipiac. The Bulldogs are built to win another championship. They will escape out of this region and head to the Frozen Four.

 

 

Kyle Cannillo is a broadcast journalism major at Penn State University. To contact him please email kcannillo1@gmail.com.