NCAA Midwest Region Preview

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Henrik Borgstrom
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 8: Denver Pioneers forward Henrik Borgström (5) steals the puck from Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs center Dominic Toninato (19) during the first period of the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship on April 8, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois at the United Center. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Last but certainly not least is the NCAA Midwest Region preview. Ohio State is the top seed and has a great defense. Penn State is a third-seeded road team, but will have a home-ice advantage by playing in Allentown, Pa. Cinderella Princeton will look to continue its magical playoff run from the No. 7 seed to the ECAC playoff title.

NCAA Midwest Region Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes

Record: 24-9-5; 14-8-2 (Big Ten 2nd place; lost to Notre Dame in Big Ten title game)

Player to watch: Tanner Laczynski, forward (Philadelphia Flyers prospect) 15 goals; 28 assists; 43 points

Synopsis: Ohio State gives up only 2.11 goals a game and has experienced scorers in Laczynski and Mason Jobst. There is the pressure of being a top seed and they will have to face last year’s champion or a conference opponent that has beaten them before.

Denver Pioneers

Record: 22-9-8, 16-7-6 (2nd in NCHC regular season and won playoff title)

Player to watch: Troy Terry, forward (Anaheim Ducks prospect) 13 goals; 31 assists; 44 points.

Synopsis: The defending national champions were the pick by many to repeat. Denver boasts the trio of Terry, Dylan Gambrell and Henrik Borgstrom as well as Mike Richter Award winner Tanner Jaillet. The Pioneers can win games in multiple manners. However, they’ve lost five games in which they have held a three-goal lead.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Record: 18-14-5, 9-11-5-2 (4th in Big Ten; lost in semifinals)

Player to watch: Dennis Smirnov, forward (Colorado Avalanche prospect) 15 goals; 12 assists; 27 points

Synopsis: Penn State loves playing fast-paced and dictating the tempo. They average over 40 shots a game and love peppering opposing goalies. The Lions score 3.70 goals a game and will want to turn the game into a track meet, but have to fix their defence if they want to advance.

Princeton Tigers

Record: 19-12-4, 10-10-2 (7th in ECAC; won playoff title over Clarkson)

Player to watch: Ryan Kuffner, forward, 29 goals; 23 assists; 52 points

Synopsis: Coach Ron Fogarty has won at all levels like he did at Division III Adrian College. The Tigers are playing the best hockey of anyone in the country. Goalie Ryan Ferland has been fantastic as of late to win the conference tournament’s most outstanding player honours.

Prediction

Princeton can give Ohio State a matchup problem because of their contrasting styles. Denver has the experience and many ways to win games. The Pioneers look to be the favourite to make it back to St. Paul to repeat.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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