It’s the third outlook of the NCAA men’s Division I hockey tournament and we look give an NCAA Northeast Region Preview. It’s been called the the region of death to borrow a term from soccer. Top contenders like top-seeded Cornell, Michigan and Boston-area programs Northeastern and Boston University occupy the region.
The bracket will take place in Worcester, Mass. and be an easy commute for the Hockey East schools and Cornell.
NCAA Northeast Region Preview
Where: DCU Center, Worcester, Mass.
When: March 24-25
Cornell University Big Red
Record: 25-5-2, 17-3-2 (won ECAC regular season title; lost to Princeton in ECAC semifinals
Player to watch: Matt Galajda, goalie, 21-4-2, .940 save percentage, 1.49 goals against average
Synopsis: Coach Mike Schafer’s teams have always been about stingy defence and good goaltending. Galajda is a Mike Richter Award nominee for college hockey’s best goalie. The Big Red does not make many mistakes on defence and win low-scoring affairs. Cornell isn’t always the prettiest team, but they are effective in getting wins. Pittsburgh Penguins pick Anthony Angello is expected to lead a balanced scoring attack. Cornell is a very young team as it has eight freshmen that see playing time and that youth could overwhelm them. The Big Red are looking to end a 48-year national championship drought.
Record: 20-14-3, 11-11-3-2 (3rd in Big Ten regular season; reached conference semifinals)
Player to watch: Cooper Marody, Edmonton Oilers prospect; 14 goals, 32 assists; 46 points
Synopsis: Longtime assistant Mel Pearson has taken over for the legendary Red Berenson and turned the Wolverines around after a slow start. The team figured it out and won the Great Lakes Invitational tournament. The Wolverines are very talented despite being picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten. Inconsistency issues cost Michigan early in the season and their defence has given up a lot of goals. The Wolverines have 10 NHL selections on their team, but most of them are very young. It’s been 20 years since Michigan won the national title in 1998.
Record: 23-9-5, 15-6-3 (2nd in Hockey East regular season; lost to Providence in conference semifinals)
Player to watch: Adam Gaudette, forward (Vancouver Canucks prospect); 30 goals and 30 assists for 60 points.
Synopsis: The Huskies have the best scoring line in the field with Dylan Sikura, Gaudette and Nolan Stevens. New Jersey Devils prospect and defenseman Jeremy Davies leads a potent power play while Montreal Canadiens draftee Cayden Primeau possess a 1.88 goals against average. The Beanpot champions have also beaten Boston University all three times they’ve played this season. Scoring depth will make Northeastern a tough team to eliminate.
Boston University Terriers
Record: 21-13-4, 12-8-1 (4th in Hockey East regular season; won tournament title)
Player to watch: Jordan Greenway, forward, (Minnesota Wild prospect); 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points
Synopsis: The Terriers and their 13 NHL picks are have improved after Greenway’s return from the U.S. Olympic team. Greenway is a big body that causes problems in front of the net. The talent is peaking at the right time for the Terriers. Boston is one of the best number four seeds in the tournament. Nashville Predators defenseman selection Dante Fabbro paces the defence with his strong passing. Brady Tkachuk is also a highly-regard prospect who will hear his name called early in the 2018 NHL draft. There’s also another son of an NHLer in Ty Amonte, who is the son of Tony Amonte. Boston University is seeking its first national title since 2009.
This will be the toughest regions to predict and there could be a rematch of the Beanpot final. The Huskies have the firepower and goaltending to get to the Frozen Four. The Huskies made their only trip to the Frozen Four in 1982. A Frozen Four trip would be another accomplishment for a Huskies’ team that finally won the Beanpot after 30 years. However, don’t be surprised if any of the four teams make it to Minnesota.
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