Hockey Preview: Fargo Regional

Story posted March 21, 2017 in Sports, CommRadio by Joe Esquivel-Murphy

The collegiate hockey season has come to a close and the bracket has been set up. Sixteen teams are in the tournament with a chance of playing in the Frozen Four in Chicago.

The West regional in Fargo is intriguing as the defending champion North Dakota Fighting Hawks are playing in that region. They are not a top seed in the region, but the regional placement does bode well for another title run.

North Dakota arguably contains the best history of all the teams in the Fargo regional as their eight national titles are second to only the nine of Michigan. While this year for the Fighting Hawks was not as good as it was last year, it was still good enough for them to make the tournament as a number three seed.

North Dakota enters the tournament with the second lowest winning percentage in the tournament, only ahead of Boston College. The 21 win season would be good for most teams, but it is a dramatic drop off from 34 just one year earlier.

The Fighting Hawks are definitely capable of scoring goals as they average over three a game for the season, led by sophomore forward Shane Gersich with 21. They are quite capable of winning a game against the two seed Boston University, but a repeat does not look likely as Minnesota-Duluth looks to be waiting for them in the regional final.

Minnesota-Duluth is one of the nation’s top teams as the PairWise rates them as the second best team in the country. The Bulldogs have won 25 games and enter the tournament having won their past five games.

The offense has been the driving factor in the winning streak as Minnesota Duluth have scored 25 goals during that span, including scoring four against fellow regional team North Dakota in their last game. They have scored 130 goals so far this season and are quite capable of scoring goals in bunches.

While the offensive attack is well-rounded with five players scoring at least 10 goals this season, goalie Hunter Miska is the key to the Bulldogs’ success. If he is able to keep the puck out of the net, this Minnesota-Duluth team is going to be hard to beat and can most likely punch its ticket to Chicago.

The Ohio State Buckeyes were one of the last few teams to make the tournament, but they have proved themselves to be a tournament team. They have two wins against Minnesota, scoring an absurd 13 goals in the wins.

Sophomore forward Mason Jobst leads the charge for the Buckeyes as he has accounted for 55 points this season. He is one of seven Buckeyes that have recorded at least 25 points this season and Ohio State will need the offense to come alive for them to succeed in the tournament.

The Buckeyes average four goals a game and will probably need to produce more than that in order to upset the top-seeded Bulldogs in the opening game. If the Ohio State offense falters, it could be a long night for Buckeye fans.

Boston University enter the Fargo Regional as the seventh ranked team in the PairWise, but seemed to get an unfair draw having to play in the home arena of their opponent. That might not phase the Terriers as they have won eight of their 15 games away from home this season and have 23 wins so far.

Their offense is hot and cold as they are capable of scoring plenty of goals with a 7-0 rout of Sacred Heart, but that was after top-ranked Denver stifled them to one goal. Consistent offensive play is needed from the Terriers if they expect to advance far in this tournament.

North Dakota will pull off the round one upset and will face top-seeded Minnesota-Duluth in the regional final. The Fighting Hawks will fall to the Bulldogs, ending a chance for them to repeat.

 

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email jje5139@psu.edu.