NCAA conference playoffs opening weekend recap

By DJ Powers





NCAA CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS RECAP






With the opening round of the conference playoffs in the
books, some teams have already gone home and the first automatic bid to the
Frozen Four Tournament has been won. Many NHL prospects played significant
roles in helping their team’s cause. Here’s a look back at how each
conference’s playoffs went this weekend.

 

 

CHA

 

The top-seeded Bemidji
State
became the first
team to solidify their bid to the Frozen Four Tournament. On Sunday night, the
Beavers defeated second-seeded Alabama-Huntsville 3-0 to win their first ever
CHA title and the MacLeod Cup. BSU got an excellent two-point performance by
senior Brendan Cook and some
fabulous goaltending by CHA All-Rookie Team selection Matt Climie. Climie,
who hasn’t allowed a goal since the 7:54 mark of the first period of the
season finale versus Air Force back on March 5th, set a CHA record
for posting the first ever shutout win in the conference championship game. BSU
won despite not having the services of senior Andrew Murray (CBJ), who is out with a broken collarbone. Murray,
who rewrote the BSU D-I era record books this season, captured both CHA Player
of the Year and Student Athlete of the Year honors at the CHA Awards on
Thursday. Murray
was also one of two players unanimously selected to the CHA All-Conference
First Team.

 

CCHA

 

After exploding for ten goals in the first game, the top
seeded Michigan Wolverines needed overtime to win the second and deciding game
versus 12th-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday. Senior Milan Gajic (ATL) notched four points
(two goals, two assists), while senior defenseman Brandon Rogers (ANA) and freshman Chad Kolarik (PHX) each notched a pair of
goals to lead Michigan in the 10-1 thumping on Friday. Senior David Moss (CGY) assisted on defenseman
Eric Werner’s game-winner on
Saturday at the 2:05 mark of overtime to send the Wolverines to the CCHA Super
Six this weekend. Senior Morgan Cey was brilliant in goal for the Fighting Irish,
stopping 43 of 44 shots in the losing cause. In the series, 12 of Michigan’s 14 NHL
prospects appeared on the box scores. The Wolverines will have a first round
bye in the Super Six, which gets underway on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

 

Second-seeded Ohio State
got all they could handle and then some from 11th-seeded Ferris State
before sending the Bulldogs home in three games on Sunday night. After posting
a 4-2 win on Friday night, FSU evened the series on Saturday behind a
sensational 36-save shutout win by senior Mike
Brown
and sophomore Zac Pearson’s overtime tally at the
1:09 mark. The third and deciding game on Sunday was also won in overtime.
Freshman John Dingle tallied the
game-winner at the 4:05 mark of overtime to cap the Buckeyes’ three
unanswered goals. Sophomore Matt Beaudoin and 2005 NHL draft prospect Tom Fritsche
each tallied four points to help propel Ohio State
to the CCHA Super Six. Like Michigan,
OSU will also have a first round bye in the Super Six.

 

Third-seeded Northern Michigan needed three games to
defeat tenth-seeded Western Michigan. While
some had predicted that NMU would sweep WMU, the Broncos were not about to go
quietly. WMU took game one of the series 2-1 on goals by top scoring junior Brent Walton and freshman defenseman Nathan Ansell.
The Wildcats evened the series on Saturday behind two-point efforts by juniors Dirk Southern (ANA) and defenseman Nathan Oystrick
(ATL).  In the third and deciding
game on Sunday, NMU sent WMU packing with a 4-1 win led by the two-point effort
of sophomore Darin Olver
(NYR). Northern Michigan will meet
Alaska-Fairbanks in the opening round of the CCHA Super Six on Thursday at Joe
Louis Arena. The Wildcats have won two and tied one of the four meetings versus
the Nanooks this season.

 

Fourth-seeded Nebraska-Omaha got a good fight out of
ninth-seeded Lake Superior
State
before sweeping them
in two games. Both games ended in a 4-3 score, but the Saturday game ended in
overtime. Sophomore sensation Scott
Parse
(LA) notched the game-winner at the 5:24 mark of overtime on Saturday
to send the Mavericks on to the CCHA Super Six. UNO sophomore goaltender Chris Holt (NYR) stopped a combined 54
of 60 shots to lead the Mavericks. LSSU standout sophomore Jeff Jakaitis, the busier of the two
goaltenders, stopped 70-78 shots combined in the losing cause. UNO will face Michigan State
in the opening round of the Super Six on Thursday in Detroit. The Mavericks split the only series
versus the Spartans back in October. UNO posted a 5-2 win at Michigan State
back on October 29th.

 

The eighth-seeded Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks
pulled off the upset of the weekend by sweeping the fifth-seeded Bowling Green
Falcons at Bowling
Green
in two games. Both games ended in 6-3
victories for UAF. Former BCHL standouts in freshmen Kyle Greentree and Ryan MacLeod, along with outstanding senior Curtis Fraser led the Nanooks’ sweep
with four points apiece. CCHA All-Rookie team selection Wylie Rogers was sensational in goal for UAF, stopping 62 of 68
combined shots. The Nanooks will face Northern Michigan in the opening round of the CCHA Super
Six on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena. The Nanooks went
1-2-1 in the four regular season meetings versus the Wildcats. UAF’s lone win came back on February 5th
at the Berry Center
in Marquette.

 

The sweep also signaled the end of the illustrious
collegiate career of senior goaltender Jordan
Sigalet
(BOS). Sigalet,
a potential candidate for the Hobey Baker award, set
numerous school records during his four years at Bowling Green.

 

The sixth-seeded Michigan State Spartans extended their
winning streak to five games after a hard-fought sweep over the seventh-seeded
Miami-Ohio RedHawks. Atlanta Thrashers prospects of
senior Jim Slater and junior Colton Fretter were instrumental in the Spartans
5-4 overtime victory on Saturday. Slater posted three points (one goal, two
assists), while Fretter notched two goals, including the series winner. The RedHawks got a valiant effort out of sophomore goaltender Brandon Crawford-West (PIT), who
stopped 63 of 70 combined shots in the losing cause. MSU will meet
Nebraska-Omaha in the opening round of the CCHA Super Six on Thursday in Detroit. The Spartans
split the only two regular season meetings versus the Mavericks, posting a 5-2
win back on October 30th at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.

 

ECACHL

 

Top-seeded Cornell posted a convincing two game sweep over
ninth-seeded Clarkson over the weekend. Sophomore David McKee broke Ken Dryden’s school record when he posted
his 14th career shutout in the Big Red’s 5-0 win on Friday.
The outstanding trio of sophomore Byron Bitz (BOS) and juniors Matt Moulson (PIT) and Shane Hynes (ANA) combined for 10
points (five goals, five assists) in the series. Cornell needed overtime in the
Saturday game to dispose of the Golden Knights. Freshman Topher Scott, one of the smallest players in the league at 5’5,
scored perhaps the biggest goal of his career thus far at the 12:00 mark of
overtime on Saturday to send the Big Red onto the conference semi-finals.
Cornell will meet Vermont on Friday in the
conference semi-finals that get underway on Friday at Pepsi Arena in Albany. The Big Red posted
a tie and a win in the two regular season meetings versus the Catamounts.

 

Second-seeded Harvard advanced to the ECAC conference
semi-finals for the fifth consecutive year after sweeping seventh-seeded St.
Lawrence in two games over the weekend. Outstanding rookie Jon Pelle notched three points (one goal,
two assists) while senior defenseman Noah
Welch
(PIT) chipped in two points to help the Crimson advance. Senior
goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris
(PHI), who continues to re-write the Harvard record books, became the
school’s all-time leader in career games played (111) and career minutes
played (6,582) this past weekend. He is on pace to set the school’s
career saves record and will likely do so this coming weekend. Harvard will
face Colgate in the semi-finals on Friday in Albany. The Crimson lost both regular season
meetings to the Raiders.

 

Third-seeded Colgate had little trouble with sixth-seeded
Brown to complete a two-game sweep this past weekend. The Raiders outscored the
Bears 7-1 in the series. Power play efficiency was a key factor in the Raiders
sweep, as they went 4-for-13 on the man advantage. Senior Adam Mitchell and junior Kyle
Wilson
(MIN) each notched two points in Colgate’s 4-1 win on Friday.
Senior Anthony Masotto
notched three points (one goal, two assists) in leading the Raiders to complete
the sweep. Senior Steve Silverthorn continues to be stellar in goal, as he
stopped 29 of 30 combined shots for the Raiders. Colgate will face Harvard in
the conference semi-finals on Friday in Albany.
The Raiders beat the Crimson in both regular season meetings. The most recent
came back on January 7th at the Bright
Center in Cambridge.

 

Fourth-seeded Vermont had
their hands full with fifth-seeded Dartmouth.
The Big Green took the Catamounts to three games before they were sent home on
Sunday. All three matches were decided by one goal. Vermont’s outstanding
top line of senior Scott Mifsud, junior Jeff
Corey
and freshman Torrey Mitchell (SJ) combined for six points
(two goals, four assists) in the series. The Big Green’s outstanding top
line of senior Lee Stempniak
(STL), junior Mike Ouellette and
freshman Nick Johnson (PIT) combined
for nine points (four goals, five assists) in the series. Freshman sensation Joe Fallon, a strong candidate for
ECACHL Rookie of the Year, stopped 74 of 79 combined shots in the series to
lead the Catamounts to the next round. Vermont
will meet top-seeded Cornell in the conference semi-finals on Friday in Albany. The Catamounts
posted a tie and loss to the Big Red in the two regular season meetings.

 

HOCKEY EAST

 

Top-seeded
Boston College

got a good fight out of eighth-seeded UMass on Friday
before completing the sweep on Saturday to advance to the conference
semi-finals. It took overtime and the game-winning goal by diminutive junior Stephen Gionta
for the Eagles to beat the Minutemen on Friday. Freshman sensation Cory Schneider (VAN) returned in goal
for Boston College on Saturday to notch his tenth
win of the season and keep his near-perfect record intact. Senior Ryan Shannon, junior Patrick Eaves (OTT) and sophomore Joe Rooney all tallied three points
apiece to lead the Eagles to a 5-1 win on Saturday. Boston
College will meet Maine
in the conference semi-finals, which get underway on Friday at the FleetCenter in Boston.
The Eagles posted two wins and a tie versus Black Bears in the teams’
three regular season meetings.

 

Second-seeded Boston University
needed three games to put away seventh-seeded Providence on Sunday. Senior Chris Chaput
and freshman Jon Rheault
each notched two goals for the Friars to hand the Terriers a 4-1 loss at Agganis Arena on Friday. Freshman Tyler Sims was excellent in goal for Providence, making 51 saves for the win. BU
would post back-to-back 2-0 shutout wins to end Providence’s season on Saturday and Sunday.
Sophomore goaltender John Curry
continues to be the main story for Boston
University
. He was
perfect in stopping all 42 shots combined in the final two games of the series.
Freshman Chris Bourque (WSH) and
outstanding junior John Laliberte (VAN) each notched game-winners in the games
on Saturday and Sunday. Boston University will meet New Hampshire in the conference semi-finals
on Friday at the FleetCenter. The Terriers posted two
losses and a tie versus the Wildcats in their three regular season meetings.

 

Third-seeded New
Hampshire
had little difficulty putting away
sixth-seeded Northeastern in the two-game sweep that concluded last Friday. The
Wildcats outscored the Huskies 10-1 in the series. The Wildcats’
high-powered line combination of senior Sean
Collins
(COL), sophomore Brett
Hemingway
(COL) and senior Preston Callander exploded for 13 points (five goals, eight
assists) combined in the series. Freshman Kevin
Regan
(BOS) went the distance, stopping 23 of 24 shots in Thursday’s
6-1 win. Junior Jeff Pietrasiak
(PHX) notched his second shutout of the season in leading the Wildcats to a 4-0
victory on Friday. New Hampshire will meet Boston University
in the conference semi-finals on Friday in Boston. The Wildcats went (1-1-1) in their
three regular season meetings versus the Terriers.

 

Fourth-seeded Maine
had remarkably little trouble sweeping fifth-seeded UMass-Lowell
last weekend. The Black Bears outscored the RiverHawks
13-3 in the series. Success on the power play was a crucial factor in Maine’s sweep. The
Black Bears were 6-for-15 with the man advantage in the series. Junior Jimmy Howard (DET) was stellar in goal
for Maine,
stopping 47 of 49 combined shots in the series. Freshman Rob Bellamy (PHI) and junior Greg
Moore
(NYR) each notched a goal and an assist apiece in the series to help
the Black Bears to the series victory. Maine
will face Boston College
in the conference semi-finals on Friday at the FleetCenter
in Boston. Maine posted a tie and two losses in the three regular
season meetings versus Boston
College
.

 

WCHA

 

Top-seeded Denver swept
tenth-seeded Michigan Tech in two games, but it was anything but an easy sweep
for Denver. The
Pioneers exploded for seven goals in Friday’s game before fighting for
the 1-0 victory on Saturday. WCHA Rookie of the Year candidate Paul Stastny,
along with fellow freshman Ryan Dingle
and sophomore Ryan Helgason
all notched three points apiece to lead Denver in Friday’s win. Sophomore
Adrian Veideman
scored the game’s lone goal at the 18:02 mark of the third period in
Saturday’s game. Sophomore Glenn
Fisher
(EDM) stopped 11 of 12 shots in the 7-1 win on Friday, while
freshman Peter Mannino
recorded his fourth shutout win of the season on Saturday. MTU senior
goaltender Cam Ellsworth was
sensational in his final collegiate game, stopping 45 of 46 shots in the
Huskies’ heartbreaking 1-0 loss on Saturday. Denver
will meet the winner of the WCHA Final Five’s play-in game between Wisconsin and North Dakota
on Friday at the Xcel
Energy Center
in St. Paul.

 

Second-seeded Colorado College
didn’t have too much trouble disposing of ninth-seeded St. Cloud State
in two games. The Tigers outscored the Huskies 12-4 in the series. Potential Hobey Baker and WCHA Player of the Year candidate, junior Brett Sterling (ATL) notched five
points (two goals, three assists) in the series. Sterling became the first NCAA player this
season to reach the 30-goal mark. Seniors Scott
Polaski
(PHX) and defenseman Mark Stuart (BOS) each notched three points to help lead Colorado College. The Tigers continue to get
outstanding performances out of their goaltending tandem. Senior Curtis McElhinney
(CGY) posted his 18th win of the season on Friday, while sophomore Matt Zaba
(LA) posted his tenth win of the season on Saturday. Colorado
College will meet Minnesota
in the WCHA Final Five semi-finals on Friday in St. Paul. The Tigers posted three wins and a
loss versus the Golden Gophers in their four regular season meetings.

 

Third-seeded Minnesota
swept eighth-seeded Minnesota State-Mankato to extend their unbeaten streak to
seven games and earn a trip to the WCHA Final Five. The Gophers achieved a
remarkable feat by getting at least one point from all ten of their NHL
prospects in the series. Sophomore Danny
Irmen
(MIN) led the way with four points (three
goals, one assist). Senior Barry Tallackson (NJ) and sophomore defenseman Michael Vannelli
(ATL) each tallied three points in the series. Senior Justin Johnson continues to be stellar in goal for Minnesota, filling in
for the injured sophomore Kellen Briggs.
Johnson stopped 50 of 55 combined shots in the series to help lead the Golden
Gophers. Minnesota will face Colorado College
in the WCHA Final Five semis on Friday at the Xcel Energy
Center in St. Paul. The Gophers didn’t fare so
well in the four regular season meetings with the Tigers, posting three losses
and a win. The lone win, a 7-2 victory, came back on December 4th at
World Arena in Colorado Springs.

 

Fourth-seeded Wisconsin
got all they could handle from seventh-seeded Alaska-Anchorage in arguably the
most hotly contested series in the WCHA playoffs. The Badgers needed three
games to put away the feisty Seawolves. All three
games in the series were decided by one goal. WCHA Rookie of the Year candidate
Joe Pavelski
(SJ) was superb in the series. He posted six points (four goals, two assists)
to lead Wisconsin
to the series victory. Sophomore Brian
Elliott
(OTT) posted his sixth win of the season in relief of senior Bernd Bruckler
(PHI) on Friday. Bruckler came back and posted his 17th
win of the season on Sunday. Alaska-Anchorage freshman Nathan Lawson was outstanding in goal stopping 44 of 45 shots in
the Seawolves’ lone series win on Saturday. Wisconsin will meet North Dakota
in the play-in game of the WCHA Final Five on Thursday at the Xcel Energy
Center in St. Paul. The Badgers went 2-1-1 versus the
Fighting Sioux in the teams’ four regular season meetings.

 

Fifth-seeded North
Dakota
, who had some scoring issues earlier in the
season, had none of it in their two-game sweep of sixth-seeded Minnesota-Duluth.
The Fighting Sioux busted out for 14 goals in the series and outscored the
Bulldogs 14-3. UND’s top line combination of
freshman Rastislav Spirko and
seniors Colby Genoway
and Rory McMahon exploded for 18
points (eight goals, ten assists) to lead the Fighting Sioux. Freshman Travis Zajac
(NJ) continues to be amongst UND’s scoring
leaders, notching three points in the series to eclipse the 30-point mark on
the season. North Dakota will meet Wisconsin in the WCHA Final Five play-in game on Thursday
in St. Paul.
The Fighting Sioux went 1-2-1 versus the Badgers in the teams’ four
regular season meetings. UND’s lone win, a 4-2
victory, came back on February 26th at Ralph Engelstad
Arena in Grand Forks.

 

ATLANTIC HOCKEY

 

The Atlantic Hockey Conference had single game
quarterfinals series this past Saturday.  After defeating American International in
the conference play-in game last Wednesday, eighth-seeded Army fell to
top-seeded Quinnipiac on Saturday 2-0. Senior Jamie Holden stopped all 22 shots to post his second shutout win of
the season for the Bobcats. Quinnipiac will face Bentley in the conference
semi-finals on Friday at the Northford Ice Pavilion
in Hamden. CT.
The Bobcats swept the Falcons in all three regular season meetings. Two of the
three Bobcats wins were shutouts.

 

Second-seeded Canisius had their
turbulent season come to an end at the hands of seventh-seeded Bentley.
Diminutive freshman Paul Scalisi notched a goal and an assist to lead the
Falcons to the 4-2 upset victory. Bentley will face Quinnipiac on Friday in the
conference semi-finals in Hamden.
The Bobcats in all three regular season meetings swept the Falcons.

 

Third-seeded Mercyhurst posted a
decisive 7-4 win over sixth-seeded UConn on Saturday.
Top scoring senior David Wrigley notched
four points (one goal, three assists) to lead the Lakers. Mercyhurst
will face Holy Cross in the conference semi-finals on Friday at the Northford Ice Pavilion in Hamden. The Lakers posted two wins and a loss
in the three regular season meetings with the Crusaders.

 

Fourth-seeded Holy Cross posted a 4-2 win over
fifth-seeded Sacred Heart on Saturday to move on to the conference semi-finals.
Junior Andrew Weber posted his first
career hat trick to lead the Crusaders. Holy Cross will meet Mercyhurst in the conference semi-finals on Friday in Hamden. The Crusaders
posted a win and two losses in their three regular season meetings with the
Lakers.

 

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