The West Regional of the 2016 NCAA Hockey Tournament features a pair of lesser-known schools in the early game, and two, more traditional college hockey powers going head-to-head in the second game on Saturday.
Getting things started at the Xcel Energy Center is St. Cloud State, the top-ranked team at this regional, facing off against Ferris State, while the second game features last year’s 2015 Frozen Four runner-up, Boston University, taking on the University of Denver.
The West Regional begins on Saturday, Mar 26th and concludes on Sunday, Mar 27th. The winners will advance to the semi-finals of the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four on April 7th at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL.
Below is a preview of the West Regional for the 2016 NCAA Hockey Tournament.
Venue: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN
Championship game: March 27 at 5:00 PM EDT on ESPNU
#4 Ferris State University vs. #1 St. Cloud State University
TV: ESPNEWS at 3:00 PM EDT
This year marks the first time that St. Cloud State and Ferris State have met in the NCAA Tournament. But the Huskies and the Bulldogs have met several times during the regular season in years past, most recently meeting back on Oct. 12th, 2002.
St. Cloud State will be making their fourth consecutive and 12th overall NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Huskies are coming off wins over Denver and Minnesota-Duluth respectively to claim their first 2016 NCHC Frozen Faceoff championship. St. Cloud State possesses one of the nation’s most lethal offenses that currently ranks second nationally, averaging a whopping 4.28 goals per game.
One area that could pose a problem for Ferris State is the Huskies depth up front. Among St. Cloud State’s weapons is sophomore Judd Peterson (BUF). The Duluth, MN native has amassed 23 points (16 goals, seven assists) in 37 games to date. One area where Peterson has excelled this season has been in shorthanded situations as Peterson’s three shorthanded tallies are tied for the most of any player in the NCAA Tournament.
St. Cloud State’s offensive production isn’t limited to their forwards, however, as the Huskies have also gotten significant contributions from their defensemen, including freshman Will Borgen (BUF). The Moorhead, MN native has posted 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 36 games to date. His lone goal came earlier this month on Mar. 11th versus Western Michigan in the NCHC quarterfinals. Most recently, Borgen was named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team.
The backbone of St. Cloud State’s defense is workhorse junior Charlie Lindgren. The NCHC Goaltender of the Year and Mike Richter Award finalist sports a 30-8-1 record that includes five shutouts. Lindgren’s 30 wins leads the nation, while his 39 games played co-lead. He also ranks third in the NCAA with a .782 winning percentage.
After a one-year absence, Ferris State returns to the NCAA Tournament. This will be their fourth overall appearance. The Bulldogs are coming off of one-goal wins over Michigan Tech and Minnesota State-Mankato respectively to claim their first-ever WCHA Tournament championship.
A big reason behind the Bulldogs success this season can be attributed to the excellent play of freshman goaltender Darren Smith. The Barrie, ON native took over the starting job in January. Smith currently sports a 16-9-5 record that includes three shutouts in 31 games.
Ferris State possesses an outstanding, hard-hitting defensive corps led by senior Brandon Anselmini. The Guelph, ON native currently leads all Bulldogs rearguards with 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 36 games to date. Most recently, he was named to the All-WCHA Third Team.
Ferris State isn’t a high-scoring team, but two juniors that have made key offensive contributions this season are captain Kyle Schempp (NYI) and Gerald Mayhew.
Schempp, the Bulldogs’ lone NHL prospect, ranks fourth on the team with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 39 games. He has excelled on the power play this season where half of his goals have been scored.
Mayhew is one of Ferris State’s clutch scorers. He currently leads the team with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games. The All-WCHA Second Team selection also leads Ferris State with six power play goals and is second on the team with three game-winning tallies.