No. 8 Colorado College at No. 5 Denver: Here is USCHO’s look at the past week in the WCHA. The CC-Denver series is one of the spotlight playoff series by USCHO. Here is my feature on Rylan Schwartz and Alexander Krushelnyski along with preview capsules for the CC-DU series. Look for brief profiles on the remaining CC seniors over the next few days to appear on this blog. DU’s Ty Loney hopes to add to his family’s impressive trophy collection. His father Troy hoisted two Stanley Cups during his career.
The WCHA web media folks, which includes me, also voted for an All-WCHA team with CC’s Mike Boivin and Schwartz also making the second team. The only huge difference was UNO’s Ryan Walters was named Player of the Year while SCSU’s Drew LeBlanc made the second team. Here is the official WCHA list, which included beat writers, such as myself, school and league officials and coaches.
There are predictions aplenty: The USCHO guys think CC-DU goes three with one going with the Tigers and the other the Pioneers. Western College Hockey Blog has Chris Dilks and Andy Johnson from Bucky’s 5th Quarter weighing in. They both pick Denver in two or three as does College Hockey News. The Grand Forks Herald also weighs in; DU in three.
Here are links to articles about the rest of the series, including leaders for all squads in these capsules.
No. 12 Alaska-Anchorage at No. 1 St. Cloud State: Alaska-Anchorage faces a historic task if it hopes to pull of a bottom over top seed upset; the first since Michigan Tech over CC in 1994. No. 1 seed St. Cloud State has plenty of league award honorees, but Nick Oliver makes their job fun.
No. 11 Bemidji State at No. 2 Minnesota: Here is a Q&A with UM coach Don Lucia. WCHA Preseason Player of the Year and third-team forward Nick Bjugstad is hungry for his first major trophy. Note: Making the third team is not a slap in the face in this league. As a voter, I can tell you it was very challenging to pick the top forwards. If anyone should be upset, it is Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch, who had 22 goals and did not get recognized. Bemidji State plays a challenging tight defense all season, making them a tough opening foe for anybody, even the high-powered Gophers.
No. 10 Michigan Tech at No. 3 North Dakota: UND needs to avoid overlooking the Huskies, who they throttled by a two-game total of 10-2 in Houghton early this season. The MTU defense has gone from 3,71 goals allowed to 2.41 since and is a lot better than their seeding suggests. North Dakota’s seniors are going for their fourth Broadmoor Trophy in a row. North Dakota’s annual playoff beards are well underway.
No. 9 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 4 Wisconsin: Freshman Nic Kerdiles’ fresh legs at this point of the season can be traced back to an early NCAA 10-game suspension. That is in an interesting point, but would the Badgers rather have won the MacNaughton with a few more league points earlier this season? It’s irrelevant now, of course. Minnesota-Duluth is not an easy opening foe: the Bulldogs enter this series on a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1).
No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha at No. 6 Minnesota State: Both Maverick programs come in looking for some rare postseason success. MSU’s success is due in large part to a change in the team culture (it’s amazing how quickly things can change with a few early wins building confidence) and a good freshman class that goes beyond WCHA Rookie of the year Stephon Williams. Here is a capsule look at the series. Here is a good feature on Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings, who played for Air Force coach Frank Serratore.
The Central Collegiate Hockey Association announced the top three finalists for six major individual awards that will be presented at the CCHA Awards on Friday, March 22 at historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.
The possible NCHC future foes are bolded.
CCHA Player of the Year finalists include Miami sophomore forward Austin Czarnik, Ohio State senior goaltender Brady Hjelle and Notre Dame junior forward Anders Lee..
The three finalists for CCHA Coach of the Year are Enrico Blasi of Miami, Andy Murray of Western Michigan and Mark Osiecki of Ohio State.
Miami forward Riley Barber, Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand and Michigan defenseman Jacob Trouba are finalists for CCHA Rookie of the Year honors.
Miami freshman Matthew Caito, Western Michigan freshman Kenney Morrison and Trouba are the finalists for Best Offensive Defenseman.
CCHA Best Defensive Defenseman nominees include Western Michigan junior Dan DeKeyser, Bowling Green senior Bobby Shea and Miami senior Steven Spinell.
The finalists for CCHA Best Defensive Forward are Czarnik, Lee and Western Michigan senior Dane Walters.