Friday, March 29, 2013

Hockey Previews 2013: West

Yale comes into the tournament scuffling. They had a 5-game losing streak in February, then lost to Union and Quinnipiac in the conference tournament. Their best result all year is probably a 3-3 tie with BC. But KRACH still has them as the #13 team in the country so...? The Elis are top-heavy in their scoring, with Kenny Agostino, Andrew Miller, and Antoine Laganiere the only guys with 10+ goals, and only three more guys (including defenseman Tommy Fallen) with 10+ assists. Senior goalie Jeff Malcolm has been putting up a 2.42 GAA / 0.914 SV%, so nothing extraordinary there. Yale doesn't look like a tough out on paper, but a senior-heavy team shouldn't be overlooked.

Niagara finished 7 points ahead of runner-up Air Force in the Atlantic Hockey regular season before coming up short to underdog Canisius in the tournament, and a win against the Falcons is probably their most impressive result. Ryan Murphy (15-21--36) and Giancarlo Iuorio (21-13--34) are by far the offensive leaders, and Carsen Chubak (1.91 GAA/0.939 SV%) is the guy in net. The Purple Eagles didn't play a name-brand non-conference schedule, so this is a wildcard.

North Dakota wasn't a dominating machine at any point in its schedule, but showed flashes of brilliance, like a 6-1 demolition of Denver at Magness. The Fighting NoDaks feature a high-powered offense lead by seniors Danny Kristo (26-26--52) and Corban Knight (15-33--48). Clarke Saunders (2.26 GAA/0.916 SV%) and Zane Gothberg (2.46 GAA/0.920 SV%) have split time in net, with junior Saunders getting a few more games than the freshman.

Minnesota tied for the regular season WCHA title with St. Cloud State, along the way becoming the #1 team in the country in KRACH and #2 in the Pairwise. They came up short to Colorado College in the seminfinals of their final WCHA tournament, but have had a solid season throughout. Erik Haula (16-35--51) has a massive number of assists, while Nick Bjugstad (21-15--36) is the goals leader. Freshman Adam Wilcox (1.88 GAA/0.921 SV%) is the clear #1 netminder.

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