We’re onto the third of the four NCAA men’s hockey regional brackets. We give our NCAA Midwest region preview. The games will be played in Allentown, Pa. and have some recent powerhouses and some new faces. Defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth is the top seed in the region.
College Hockey Tournament: NCAA Midwest Region Preview
Where: PPL Center, Allentown, Pa.
When: Saturday and Sunday
Record: 25-11-2 overall; 14-9-1 NCHC record (second in the conference and won conference tournament over St. Cloud State)
Player to watch: Scott Perunovich, defenceman (St. Louis Blues prospect) three goals and 25 assists for 28 points.
Synopsis: The Bulldogs are the defending national champions after beating Notre Dame. UMD also has seven players with 20-plus points in Justin Richards and Parker Mackay. The defence is also backed up by goalie Hunter Shepard, who has played in every game this season for the Bulldogs. Another appearance in the national title game would be the program’s third straight.
Record: 25-9-2 overall; 14-6-2 ECAC record (conference co-champion with Cornell in the regular season; lost in conference quarterfinals to Brown)
Player to watch: Chase Priskie, defenceman (Washington Capitals prospect) 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points.
Synopsis: Quinnipiac will have two weeks off going into the quarterfinals after being upset by Brown. The defence is experienced and can score points thanks to Priskie and Brandon Fortunato. Odeen Tufto may be undersized, but he leads the team in scoring. The Bobcats were last in the tournament in 2016, where they lost in the national title game to North Dakota.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 21-12-1 overall (Independent)
Player to watch: Johnny Walker, forward, 23 goals and 11 assists for 34 points.
Synopsis: The Sun Devils are making their inaugural appearance in their fourth year as a Division I program. Arizona State picked up a lot of key wins over tournament teams like Ohio State, Harvard, and American International. That earned them an at-large spot. Ottawa Senators draft pick Joey Daccord will have to step in net. ASU struggled after getting swept by Minnesota to end the season. Rust could be a factor as the Sun Devils haven’t played since March 2.
Bowling Green Falcons
Record: 25-10-5 overall; 16-8-4 WCHA record (third in the regular season; lost in conference semifinals to Northern Michigan)
Player to watch: Brandon Kruse, forward (Vegas Golden Knights prospect) nine goals and 31 assists for 40 points.
Synopsis: It’s the first trip to the big dance for the Falcons since 1990. Kruse, Max Johnson, and Connor Ford form a deadly sophomore trio for Bowling Green. The Falcons also are pretty sound on defence that has allowed only four goals in a single game twice. Alec Rauhauser anchors that stingy blue-line group. Bowling Green could frustrate Minnesota-Duluth.
Minnesota-Duluth and Quinnipiac are the two favourites to reach the regional finals. The Bulldogs have the tools to get back to another Frozen Four.
ST. PAUL, MN – APRIL 05: Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs defenseman Scott Perunovich (7) in action in the 1st period during the Frozen Four semifinal game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on April 5, 2018 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)