NCAA Midwest Region Tournament Preview

Here’s a closer look at the four teams in the NCAA Midwest Regional (Madison, Wisconsin):

Game 1: (1) North Dakota vs. (4) Princeton (Saturday, March 29, 3:00 p.m. ET)

North Dakota Team Profile
National Rankings: #3/#3
PairWise Ranking: #3
KRACH Strength of Schedule:1st of 59 teams
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 104-55-15, .641)
This Season: 26-10-4 Overall, 18-7-3 WCHA (2nd)
Team Offense: 3.00 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 1.77 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 18.8% (34 of 181)
Penalty Kill: 87.5% (154 of 176)
Last Season: 24-14-5 Overall (NCAA Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Players: Junior F T.J. Oshie (18-23-41, Hobey Baker finalist), Junior F Ryan Duncan (14-22-36), Sophomore F Chris VandeVelde (15-17-32), Sophomore D Chay Genoway (7-19-26), Senior D Taylor Chorney (3-21-24), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (25-10-4, 1.65 GAA, .934 SV, 6 SO, Hobey Baker finalist)
NCAA Championships: 7 (most recent, 2000)
NCAA Appearance: 23rd (most recent, 2007)

Princeton Team Profile
National Rankings: #13/#13
PairWise Ranking: #16
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 34th of 59 teams
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky (4th season at Princeton, 54-67-9, .488)
This Season: 21-13-0 Overall, 14-8-0 ECAC (2nd)
Team Offense: 3.26 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.65 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.2% (29 of 169)
Penalty Kill: 85.3% (122 of 143)
Last Season: 15-16-3, 10-10-2 ECAC (6th)
Key Players: Junior F Lee Jubinville (12-26-38, Hobey Baker finalist), Junior F Brett Wilson (15-20-35), Sophomore F Cam MacIntyre (12-18-30), Senior D Mike Moore (7-17-24), Sophomore G Zane Kalemba (19-10-0, 2.36 GAA, .918 SV, 5 SO)
NCAA Championships: None
NCAA Appearance: 2nd (most recent, 1998)

What to watch for: Does the WCHA rebound after a poor showing in the East and West regionals? Can the Tigers match up with UND’s mobile defenseman? Which goaltender makes more of the key saves?

Who will win: Both the Sioux and Tigers play their home games on NHL-sized rinks (85×200), and will require some adjustment to play on the larger surface (97×200) in Madison. Princeton will have a fair number of Denver and Wisconsin fans in its corner, but it won’t much matter. North Dakota has an advantage in all areas and the veteran leadership to advance to the Midwest Regional Final. UND 4-2.

For a complete preview of the UND/Princeton matchup, click here.

Game 2: (2) Denver vs. (3) Wisconsin (Saturday, March 29, 6:30 p.m. ET)

Denver Team Profile
National Rankings: #4/#5
PairWise Ranking: #6 (tied)
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 5th of 59 teams
Head Coach: George Gwozdecky (14th season at Denver, 323-204-41, .605)
This Season: 26-13-1 Overall, 16-11-1 WCHA (3rd)
Team Offense: 2.85 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.20 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 14.1% (28 of 199)
Penalty Kill: 89.1% (163 of 183)
Last Season: 21-15-4 Overall, 13-11-4 WCHA (4th)
Key Players: Freshman F Tyler Bozak (18-16-34), Sophomore F Rhett Rakhshani (14-14-28), Freshman F Kyle Ostrow (10-13-23), Junior D Patrick Mullen (4-18-22), Senior G Peter Mannino (25-13-1, 2.19 GAA, .920 SV, 6 SO)
NCAA Championships: 7 (most recent, 2005)
NCAA Appearance: 19th (most recent, 2005)

Wisconsin Team Profile
National Rankings: #17/-
PairWise Ranking: #12
KRACH Strength of Schedule: 4th of 59 teams
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (6th season at UW, 122-94-30 .557)
This Season: 15-16-7 Overall, 11-12-5 WCHA (6th)
Team Offense: 2.79 goals scored/game
Team Defense: 2.55 goals allowed/game
Power Play: 17.0% (30 of 176)
Penalty Kill: 81.2% (147 of 181)
Last Season: 19-18-4 Overall, 12-13-3 WCHA (6th)
Key Players: Freshman F Kyle Turris (11-22-33), Junior F Ben Street (13-16-29), Sophomore D Jamie McBain (3-18-21), Senior D Kyle Klubertanz (4-15-19), Junior G Shane Connelly (14-15-5, 2.44 GAA, .912 SV, 1 SO)
NCAA Championships: 6 (most recent, 2006)
NCAA Appearance: 22nd (most recent, 2006)

What to watch for: Which team will North Dakota fans rally behind? Or will the Sioux faithful simply cheer for multiple overtimes? There will be representatives in the Kohl Center this weekend ready to whisk Kyle Turris away for the pro career that awaits him.

Who will win: Denver is playing its best hockey of the season after a shaky second half. The Pioneers missed out on the NCAAs last season, and are driven to return to Denver for the Frozen Four. Wisconsin will keep it close in front of the home crowd, but not close enough. DU 3-1.

Midwest Regional Final: Denver and North Dakota will meet for the sixth time this season with everything on the line. Both goaltenders are capable of taking over the game, and whichever team dictates its style of play will advance to the Frozen Four. I have a feeling that this game goes to overtime, where UND’s scoring depth will become a factor. UND 3-2 (OT).

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.

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