NCAA East Region Tournament Preview

Here’s a closer look at the four teams in the NCAA East Regional (Albany, New York):

Game 1: (2) St. Cloud State vs. (3) Clarkson (Friday, March 28, 4:00 p.m. ET)

St. Cloud Team Profile
National Rankings: #8/#8
PairWise Ranking: #8
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 9th of 59 teams
Head Coach: Bob Motzko (3rd season at SCSU, 63-42-16, .587)
This Season: 19-15-5 Overall, 12-12-4 WCHA (4th)
Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.36 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.2% (46 of 198)
Penalty Kill: 87.1% (121 of 139)
Last Season: 22-11-7 Overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 14-7-7 WCHA (2nd)
Key Players: Sophomore F Ryan Lasch (25-28-53, Hobey Baker Finalist), Freshman F Garrett Roe (18-26-44), Sophomore F Andreas Nodl (18-26-44), Senior D Aaron Brocklehurst (4-18-22), Sophomore G Jase Weslosky (16-12-2, 2.12 GAA, .931 SV, 3 SO)
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: 7th (Most recent, 2007)

Clarkson Team Profile
National Rankings: #11/#10
PairWise Ranking: #9 (tied)
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 31st of 59 teams
Head Coach: George Roll (5th season at Clarkson, 95-79-20, .541)
This Season: 25-8-5 Overall, 13-5-4 ECAC (1st)
Team Offense: 2.86 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.43 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.0% (24 of 171)
Penalty Kill: 83.8% (155 of 185)
Last Season: 25-9-5 Overall (NCAA East Regional Semifinalist), 13-5-4 ECAC (2nd)
Key Players: Sophomore F Matt Beca (10-24-34), Junior F Steve Zalewski (21-12-33), Senior D Grant Clitsome (5-16-21), Senior G David Leggio (21-11-4, 2.24 GAA, .918 SV, 5 SO)
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: 20th (Most recent, 2007)

What to watch for: These two teams appeared at the same regional last season (in Rochester, NY) but did not meet. St. Cloud State lost to Maine 4-1, while Clarkson fell to Massachusetts, 1-0 in overtime. If the Huskies win this game, it will be their first NCAA tournament victory in school history, and with a loss, the Clarkson Golden Knights would finish with an identical record as last season.

Who will win: It’s time for St. Cloud to put one in the win column. The Huskies have skill up front and a devastating power play, and that translates to victory. SCSU 4-2.

Game 2: (1) Michigan vs. (4) Niagara (Friday, March 28, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Michigan Team Profile
National Rankings: #1/#1
PairWise Ranking: #1
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 12th of 59 teams
Head Coach: “Red“ Berenson (24th season at Michigan, 642-297-68, .671)
This Season: 31-5-4 Overall, 20-4-4 CCHA (1st)
Team Offense: 3.98 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.08 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 20.4% (43 of 211)
Penalty Kill: 86.2% (187 of 217)
Last Season: 26-14-1 Overall (NCAA West Regional Semifinalist), 18-9-1 CCHA
Key Players: Senior F Kevin Porter (28-28-56, Hobey Baker Finalist), Senior F Chad Kolarik (28-20-48), Freshman F Max Pacioretty (14-20-34), Junior D Mark Mitera (2-20-22), Junior G Billy Sauer (28-4-3, 1.97 GAA, .924 SV, 3 SO)
NCAA Championships: 9 (most recent, 1998)
NCAA Appearance: 30th (most recent, 2007)

Niagara Team Profile
National Rankings: #19/-
PairWise Ranking: #22 (tied)
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 49th of 59 teams
Head Coach: Dave Burkholder (7th season at Niagara, 128-106-22, .543)
This Season: 22-10-4 Overall, 12-6-2 CHA (2nd)
Team Offense: 3.53 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.58 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 23.3% (41 of 176)
Penalty Kill: 80.9% (127 of 157)
Last Season: 18-13-6 Overall, 9-5-6 CHA
Key Players: Junior F Vinco Rocco (14-31-45), Senior F Matt Caruana (16-22-38), Junior F Ted Cook (19-12-31), Sophomore D Tyler Gotto (2-21-23), Junior G Juliano Pagliero (17-6-4, 2.26 GAA, .929 SV, 4 SO)
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: 3rd (most recent, 2004)

What to watch for: Are the Wolverines ripe for an upset after experiencing success (GLI Championship, CCHA regular season title, CCHA post-season title) all year long? Can the Purple Eagles keep this game close?

Who will win: Michigan is too deep and too talented. The Purple Eagles upset New Hampshire in its first ever NCAA appearance (2000), but ran into juggernaut North Dakota to end that Cinderella story.  Niagara will fall to another powerhouse this time around. Michigan 5-1.

East Regional Final: A Michigan/St. Cloud matchup is intriguing. The Huskies are a team that can skate with the Wolverines, and if Michigan gets in penalty trouble, look out. I see the Wolverines prevailing in a close one. Michigan 4-3.

Thank you for reading. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Check back throughout the weekend for more previews, predictions, analysis, and reaction from the NCAA tournament.

Leave a Reply