NCAA Hockey Tournament: East Regional
With 16 teams getting a coveted invitation to the 2019 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament, the stakes are high once playoff play really swings into full gear.
Dunkin Donuts Arena in Providence will be the site of the 2019 East Regional and there will be two representatives from Hockey East, one from the Eastern College Athletic Conference and one from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Minnesota State acquired the number one seed, Northeastern grabbed the second spot, Cornell sits pretty at third while the hosts from Providence locked up the fourth place.
With each game bringing a different brand of hockey, let’s take a look at the teams and their respected matchups:
Providence Friars (22-11-6) vs Minnesota State Mavericks (32-7-2)
The Friars were able to do just enough to make the tournament, even though they lost in three games to Boston College in the first round of the Hockey East Tournament. Regardless, the Friars have a knack for clicking tournament time comes.
The Providence offense is ranked 12th in the nation, averaging 3.15 goals per game with forwards Josh Wilkins and Kasper Björkqvist tied for the team lead in goals with 16. Wilkins leads the Friars with 40 points and Jack Dugan isn’t very far behind with 37.
Netminder Hayden Hawkey has had himself a strong season with 22 wins, seven of which were shutouts, a save percentage of 1.92 and a save percentage of .918.
For Minnesota State, they have been on a massive tear since the beginning of the season and are really looking towards avenging a first-round exit in 2018.
The WCHA regular season and tournament champions come into the East Region with the fifth best offense in the country, averaging 3.49 goals per clip and have only lost twice since the turn of the new year.
Forwards Marc Michaelis and Parker Tuomie are the most explosive players on the team, with Michaelis leading the Mavericks with 19 goals and points with 41. Then Tuomie leads in assists with 25 and is second in points and goals with 39 and 14, respectively.
Freshman goalie Dryden McKay has seen most of the action in 2018-2019 with 24 wins, 54 goals-allowed, a goals-allowed average of 1.66 and save percentage of .931.
This game has the potential to have a strong play in the three categories of offense, defense, and goaltending. Both offenses can score, the defenses are strong and both goaltenders have goals-against averages below two.
However, Minnesota State has just been mauling its opponents as of late with smothering defense and brick-wall goaltending. Providence will keep the game interesting but the Mavericks will advance to the regional final.
Prediction: Minnesota State 3-1.
Cornell (20-10-4) vs Northeastern (27-10-1)
Cornell had a bid for the NCAA Tournament virtually lined before the ECAC Tournament but was unable to capture the tournament crown after finishing in a tie for first with Quinnipiac during the regular season.
The Big Red have an offensive attack that averages a mere 2.97 goals per contest and Morgan Barron is the points and goals leader with 33 and 14, respectively. Mitch Vanderlaan is second in points with 29 and Yanni Kaldis leads Cornell in assists with 23.
Sophomore goalie Matthew Galajda has had a solid season but a knee injury in the ECAC title game against Clarkson will most likely keep him out of the game. His status remains at doubtful. Austin McGrath will most likely step in Galajda’s place with Nate McDonald ready just in case.
Northeastern is a team that has been on fire as of late, winning six straight alongside 12 of its 15 games dating back to the beginning of February.
The Huskies were able to defeat Boston College in the Hockey East Tournament Championship and seem to have a whole lot of momentum going into the NCAA Tournament.
Junior defenseman Jeremy Davies leads Northeastern in points with 35 and in assists with 27. Sophomore Zach Solow leads in the goal category with 15 and Brandon Hawkins is in second with 12, along with Tyler Madden.
Cayden Primeau has been a steady force between the pipes for the Huskies all season, accounting for 25 of the team’s 27 wins. The sophomore goalie has a goals-against average of 2.00 and a save percentage of .936.
This game has the potential to be one of the best regional games in the entire tournament with Northeastern’s offense going up against Cornell’s stingy defense.
The potential loss of Matthew Galajda could really come back to haunt the Big Red in this game. Austin McGrath will have extremely large shoes to fill and Northeastern will really exploit those weaknesses Cornell has.
Prediction: Northeastern 4-2.
Christopher Hess is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.