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College Hockey:
NCAA West Regional Preview

If this year’s East Regional is the place for streaking teams — Clarkson, Denver, Michigan et al. — the West Regional might be deemed the home of the recently-disappointed. The top two seeds, North Dakota and Michigan State, won their conference regular seasons but lost playoff tournaments.

Michigan State bowed out in the CCHA semifinals, while North Dakota took Denver to the wire before falling in the WCHA title game. For both schools, the question is now whether those losses will serve as motivation or discouragement.

Before either can take the ice, however, two Saturday first-round games will determine their opponents. Transplanted Hockey East tourney titlist Boston College takes on squeaker pick Northern Michigan — which probably only secured its berth with its semifinal win over the Spartans — and injury-depleted Colorado College meets St. Lawrence in a battle of CC’s efficient offense versus SLU’s ECAC-best defense (though it should be noted that the Saints can score too, having finished third in the ECAC in goals per game).

The CC-SLU winner takes on Michigan State in the early game Sunday, while UND versus either Northern Michigan or Boston College rounds out this season’s regional play in the late game. The winners advance to Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim for the 1999 NCAA championship, Apr. 1-3.

(Numbers preceding team names are West Regional seeds.)

First Round
No. 3 Colorado College (28-11-1) vs. St. Lawrence (23-12-3)
Saturday, 1 pm CT, Dane County Coliseum, Madison, Wis.

Colorado College Tigers

This is the time of the year a team wonders if it’s going to be good enough. While there would be little question about Colorado College if they were at full strength, some key injuries may be the only thing standing in their way this season.

Darren Clark and Toby Petersen are out for the season. Jon Austin and Dan Peters aren’t exactly at 100 percent. The depth is running a little thin for coach Don Lucia’s team, and don’t think he doesn’t realize what that could mean.

“You wonder where it’s finally going to catch up,” the sixth-year coach of the Tigers said. “The better teams you play, the more it catches up to you. All we can do is go with the players we have. I know they’re going to compete and play hard and play to the best of their ability, but I don’t think there’s any question that we’d be a lot better team if Toby Petersen and Darren Clark were in our lineup.”

CC absorbed a 3-2 overtime loss to Denver in the semifinals of the Final Five last weekend before handing Minnesota a 7-4 defeat in the consolation game. But the weekend wasn’t all lost, despite CC’s fourth consecutive third-place game appearance.

“The positive for me was we really only gave up, in regulation, three five-on-five goals in the two games,” Lucia said. “I was really happy about that. I think it was good that Jeff (Sanger) got a day off on Saturday and I’m hoping that he’s going to be real fresh because goaltending is huge this time of year.”

The Tigers, who are in the NCAA field for the fifth consecutive season (equaling a school best), have won seven of their last eight games and 13 of their last 16, so there is little question the Tigers will be able to compete.

But one of the question surrounds the team’s depth. With Brian Swanson and Justin Morrison on the same line because of the injuries, the Tigers suffered from a lack of scoring depth. Because of that, Morrison will probably move back to the line with Mark Cullen, and put Austin on the top right side.

But that says nothing about Morrison’s abilities. In being named to the WCHA Final Five all-tournament team last weekend, he scored four goals — a shorthanded goal Friday and a hat trick Saturday — and added an assist.

“Justin’s had a great year,” Lucia said. “From four or five goals as a freshman to 21 right now as a sophomore. He’s somebody that really has had to pick up the scoring in light of our key guys going down with injuries. There’s a lot of expectation on some of our freshmen up front.”

One of the motivations for Morrison and fellow Tiger and Los Angeles native Berk Nelson is to go home. To Anaheim.

“Out of any season we’ve played in our lives, it would be the biggest thing to us to actually play in front of friends and family that, the majority have never seen us play hockey before,” Morrison said at the Final Five.

Along with Morrison, Swanson and Austin, Lucia will be looking for Cullen and Jesse Heerema to have big weekends if the Tigers are going to succeed.

Lucia made no secret about his wish to stay in the West Regional, for a couple of reasons.

“I think for us, it’s easier to get to, for one,” he said. “I think our kids wanted to play on Olympic ice — we’re used to it, there’s a little more room. We play in Madison on a regular basis so we’re a little more familiar with it.”

The Tigers drew St. Lawrence in the first round, and Lucia is having a little trouble getting the feel for the Saints, not having seen them play in person this season. What he can discern, however, is that they are much like his team in that they like to move up and down the rink.

“We know we’re going to have to play awfully well — everybody does this time of year,” Lucia said.

St. Lawrence Saints

With their chins solemnly resting on the butt of their sticks, the St. Lawrence players were forced to watch their crosstown rivals — the Golden Knights of Clarkson — hoist the Scotty Whitelaw Trophy high in the air last Saturday night in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The 3-2 loss in the final game was devastating enough, especially considering that the Skating Saints had held a precious 2-1 lead midway through the second period, but the sight of Clarkson celebrating was almost too much.

“The guys were pretty down after the loss to Clarkson,” said St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh, “It was a great hockey game and while we are obviously disappointed not to have won it, the entire experience at Lake Placid is something that is going to elevate our game. I don’t think you could ask for a better tournament championship in terms of the intensity and the crowd support, and I think both teams played outstanding hockey.”

The fact that the Saints were even on the Olympic Center ice during the ECAC awards presentation would have been mind-boggling to many prognosticators back in October — they were picked to finish ninth in the league. In many ways, Marsh’s players were overachievers this season, but one look down his lineup at Lake Placid showed a team that had effectively and efficiently used every single one of its strengths to form a legitimate top-10 team.

Their success no doubt begins with senior leadership from captains Bob Prier and John Poapst. In the championship contest, Prier battled with Clarkson’s Willie Mitchell all night long, while the day before Prior combined with Poapst and linemate Eric Anderson for four points in a 6-3 semifinal victory over RPI. In addition, the Saints boast one of the nation’s best netminders in Hobey Baker finalist Eric Heffler. And, of course, who could forget Brandon Dietrich, the 1998-99 ECAC Rookie of the Year, who finished with four assists in the biggest weekend of his young career.

Never flashy on either end of the ice, the Saints have enjoyed success this season by relying on a system which is dependent upon its aforementioned big guns as well as a gritty, tireless effort from each of four lines. The Saints pride themselves on keeping the defensive miscues to a minimum and that factor will be of ultra importance this weekend against offensively-potent Colorado College. Another factor for the Saints will be their reaction following the very emotional loss to Clarkson in the ECAC finals. Any championship defeat is difficult to swallow, but when it involves St. Lawrence’s North Country rival, it hurts that much more.

“This is a team which has shown a lot of resilience this season, and I don’t think we’ll have to get them pumped up about playing in the NCAA tournament,” Marsh said. “I was very proud of the way we played in the ECACs and it was a fantastic experience for us. As they have all season, everyone gave 110 percent in the finals, and now we have a little extra reward in that we get to keep playing.”

Saturday’s contest marks the first NCAA appearance for St. Lawrence, the tournament’s sixth seed, since 1992. The winner of the game between the Saints and Colorado College, will take on second seed Michigan State (28-5-7) for the right to advance to Anaheim, CA and the NCAA semifinals.

“Regardless of how things go in the NCAA tournament — and you know every game is going to be battle against very tough opponents — landing one of the 12 spots in the tournament says something about what you have accomplished in a season,” Marsh said. “It will be a great experience for everyone associated with the team, and it is something that will be important to the program in terms of its growth in future seasons.”

Picks

Becky Blaeser/Jayson Moy: Youth and inexperience are too much of a factor for the Saints against a seasoned Colorado College club. Even without some players, that will carry the Tigers through to beating an ECAC team for the third straight year in the tournament. Colorado College 4, St. Lawrence 3

Todd D. Milewski: Colorado College over St. Lawrence, 4-2

Scott Brown: The Saints are one of this season’s great stories, but the Tigers, a solid club to begin with, persistently overachieve in the NCAA tourney. Colorado College, 3-2

Dave Hendrickson: A little role reversal for CC coach Don Lucia. He considered Eastern brackets the easier route to the Final Four the last two years. This time, everyone wants into CC’s bracket. St. Lawrence, 3-0.

Paula C. Weston: I grew up spending summers on the St. Lawrence River. For sentimental reasons — and because CC is so beaten up — I’m going with St. Lawrence, 3-2

First Round
No. 4 Boston College (25-11-4) vs. No. 5 Northern Michigan (22-14-5)
Saturday, 4:30 pm CT, Dane County Coliseum, Madison, Wis.

Boston College Eagles

Boston College enters the NCAA tournament on a high note. After posting a so-so record of 15-11-4 from November through February — playing possum, perhaps? — the Eagles have now won six in a row, the last four of which gave them their second straight Hockey East title.

They accomplished the feat by first edging nationally fourth-ranked Maine, 3-2, and then knocking off second-ranked New Hampshire in overtime, 5-4.

“We’re tremendously excited about the accomplishment we just had, winning the Hockey East championship,” says coach Jerry York. “Especially because of the teams we had to play. Lowell was excellent as an opponent and did a lot of good things against us. Then we played the number-two seed, Maine, and the number-one, New Hampshire, so we had a difficult stretch of teams.

“We responded and played our best hockey of the year. We were solid in goal. Our special teams were excellent and we really played smart. We skated well and moved pucks. I felt very good about that.

“The momentum we have is tremendous.”

Most people were surprised at the selection committee’s decision to place the Eagles in the West Regional after they won the Hockey East tournament. BC would be a prime draw in nearby Worcester, where Friday’s slate of games doesn’t include gate-friendly New Hampshire and Clarkson.

Instead, the committee chose to emphasize avoiding second-round matchups between teams from the same conference. Since New Hampshire and Maine had earned the right to stay East with a considerably better regular season, BC became the odd team out.

“We were surprised by the decision,” says York. “We thought we’d stay in Worcester, but as we look at it this gives us the opportunity to get three Hockey East teams to the Final Four.

“That’s certainly a good thing. We’re going to find out which league is the best league in the country.”

While BC “Superfans” are already familiar with their team’s game-breakers, Western fans seeing the Eagles for the first time might be interested in the following introduction.

Up front, feisty Brian Gionta (25-32–57) is a human highlight film. He plays on a line with red-hot Blake Bellefeuille (24-22–46), the Hockey East tournament MVP, and the perfect complement, Andy Powers (13-12–25).

Jeff Farkas (31-24–55) is also on a roll. A third line of Chris Master (15-22-37), Kevin Caulfield and Tony Hutchins totals about 640 pounds and will cycle and grind in the corners, wearing opponents down for the top two lines’ knockout punches.

Defensively, BC is led by one of the best tandems in college hockey, All-American Mike Mottau (3-37–40) and Bobby Allen (9-23–32). In goal, Scott Clemmensen (2.97 GAA, .882 Sv%) was a frequent fan scapegoat during the inconsistent regular season, sometimes deservedly so and other times not. But he has come up big during the postseason, earning a berth on the all-tournament team.

BC’s first game comes against Northern Michigan, a team expected to bring a sizable contingent to Madison.

“We played Northern Michigan [last season] in Milwaukee [losing 3-2], and they’re very quick and very fast,” says York. “They’re an explosive team.”

If the Eagles weather NMU, they’ll face yet another major postseason challenge. Perhaps the most unfortunate thing for Boston College isn’t that it was sent West, but that it was placed in North Dakota’s bracket so that the Fighting Sioux’s WCHA rival, Colorado College, could be placed in the other Western pairing.

“We’ve had a chance to watch them on film all year long and they’re a very explosive team,” says York. “Clearly, they’ve been the top team in the country just about the entire season.

“We’re going to have to match their speed. We feel that with good goaltending and solid play, we can give them a good battle.”

Since fifth-ranked Boston College has already toppled UNH and Maine this postseason, facing national number-one North Dakota isn’t going to give the Eagles a case of the shakes.

“We’re looking up at them from number five and feel that there really isn’t a lot of difference,” says York. “If you’re one of the top 10 teams, you really can’t consider it a major upset for the [lower-ranked] team to win.”

Northern Michigan Wildcats

After beating Michigan State, 5-3, in the CCHA semifinals, the Wildcats lost 5-1 to Michigan.

And that is the way it is with Northern Michigan. As goes Dan Ragusett, so go the Wildcats. Ragusett is 16-10-5, with a 2.44 overall GAA and a .911 save percentage. In the postseason so far, the sophomore is 3-2-0, with a 2.81 GAA and a .908 save percentage. He’s given up 14 goals in five postseason games.

In the 5-1 loss to Michigan, Ragusett was fine in the first period, but shaky after allowing Dave Huntzicker’s bouncy goal from near the red line. As head coach Rick Comley said after the game, this was Ragusett’s first real tournament experience (Duane Hoey was the goalie of record for Northern in the CCHA tourney last year), and this was this Wildcat squad’s first-ever title game.

Said Comley, “I believe in Danny Ragusett. I think he’s come a million miles. This was his first championship game, and I thought he struggled. But I believe in him.”

When Ragusett struggles, the ‘Cats struggle in front of him. Northern’s defense is shallow — not for talent, but for bodies. The Wildcats have four healthy defenders, and two of their best are either out or wounded. Sean Owens has been gone for half a season, and Sean Connolly (4-18–22, +17) dislocated his shoulder Friday, and left Saturday’s game early.

Last week Comley quipped that the Wildcats were down to 20 players, but that “you only suit 20.” Nineteen may be too few.

As uneven as Northern’s defense has been, those who are playing are more than competent. Doug and Kevin Schmidt (not related) and Mike Sandbeck — a forward playing D — are all on the plus side of things.

In overall play, the team is +139, after all.

Fronting the Wildcat attack is the amazing line of Buddy Smith (9-35–44), J.P. Vigier (21-18–39), and Roger Trudeau (19-14–33). Smith is the setup man, and Vigier has a nice touch with the puck. Ten of Vigier’s goals have come on the power play.

Other Wildcats who can score include rookie Chad Theuer (8-20–28), Fred Mattersdorfer (9-16–25), Bryan Phillips (13-9–22), Tyson Holly (14-7–21), and Brad Frattaroli (9-11–20). These may not seem like household names, but this is a team that grinds it out from top to bottom. Both Holly and Frattaroli can really step it up in big games.

The Wildcats have allowed almost as many opponent power-play goals as they’ve scored themselves, and the Northern man-advantage is average at best, converting 15.5 percent of the time.

To sum, this is a team with a great first line, a team that works hard but sometimes falls short of consistency.

What the banged-up NMU squad may lack in some areas, however, is made up for with enthusiasm to spare. No team in the country checks harder than the Northern Michigan Wildcats, and while the whole of college hockey may think Northern has no chance against Boston College, the Wildcats think much differently. After all, this was a team that was supposed to lose twice to Notre Dame in South Bend, and then supposed to give the Spartans an easy time of it in the CCHA tournament.

“We’re all very excited about returning to the NCAA Tournament after winning an exciting first-round CCHA playoff series at Notre Dame and then getting a very big win over Michigan State in the CCHA semifinals to advance to the CCHA Championship game,” says Comley.

Says Smith, “This is probably the most focused team that I’ve ever been a part of. We’re really determined to make a good showing against Boston College. Playing in the CCHA night in and night out will prepare us well for the tournament, and we feel we’re going on in a roll after we beat Michigan State, even though we lost to Michigan in the finals.”

And senior Rich Metro adds, “Getting to the NCAA tournament is something we’ve looked forward to since the start of the season. We just missed getting in last season, so it’s exciting to be part of the field this year. We’ve come a long way since our freshman year and it’ll be nice to represent the school and the CCHA in the national tournament, and a great way to cap off our senior season.”

Picks

Paula C. Weston: The Wildcats have worked way too hard to get where they are just to fold in the first round. All-CCHA Frozen Four!

…and then she woke up.

Northern Michigan is one hurting team, literally. Freshman defender Sean Connolly — he who tied the game for the Wildcats against the Spartans in the CCHA semis — left the title game with Michigan because of a shoulder he separated the night before. If he doesn’t play, the ‘Cats are down to 19 guys. Now, they are 19 of the hardest-working hockey players you’ll ever meet, but they haven’t seen speed like Boston College in the CCHA.

The Wildcats will check like no one’s business and work BC to the bone, but Boston College’s speed will probably do in Northern Michigan. If Dan Ragusett has a good game in net for Northern, this may be a close game. Otherwise, BC will roll. Boston College, 5-2

Dave Hendrickson: Eagles rule this one, 4-2

Scott Brown: Boston College has recovered handily from what could have been a very disappointing season. The Wildcats are tough, no question, but the Eagles are loaded with talent and on a roll. Boston College, 5-1

Todd D. Milewski: Boston College over Northern Michigan, 5-3

Becky Blaeser/Jayson Moy: Getting up for the playoffs is what it is all about. The Eagles have done that, and they aren’t about to come down yet. BC 5, NMU 1

Quarterfinal
No. 2 Michigan State (28-5-7) vs. Colorado College/St. Lawrence
Sunday, 2 pm CT, Dane County Coliseum, Madison, Wis.

Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans reached the NCAA tournament by way of their regular-season championship, decided as long ago as Feb. 20. Last weekend in CCHA tournament action, Michigan State lost its semifinal game 5-3 to Northern Michigan, after which Mike York said he felt the “same way last year when we lost against Ohio State.”

That 4-3 overtime loss — which knocked Michigan State out of last year’s NCAA tournament — remains fresh in the minds of Spartan players entering this year’s tournament, as though it were just days ago.

Says senior defenseman Chris Bogas, “Last year is always in our minds. It was a tough way to lose, especially when the expectations were so high. This year we are in a similar situation, but there is not as much pressure on us.”

Head coach Ron Mason echoes Bogas’ sentiments about the lack of pressure. “It’s not pressure, but we do want to get to Anaheim. That’s the goal that we had at the start of the season. For the last four weeks now, we really haven’t had a real major goal. Now we can refocus and we can challenge ourselves to get prepared to win that game that’s going to take us to the Final Four.”

Winning an NCAA game is a big deal to this team that was expected to go all the way last year. “Our class hasn’t won an NCAA game yet, and that’s important to us,” says Bogas. “It’s a tough thing to explain. At this time of year, every team is good and we have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

The Spartan “A” game includes a rock-solid defense that likes to protect an early lead. That’s the secret to Michigan State’s success — a patient game that makes offense happen from opponent mistakes.

This produces less-than-breathtaking results, of course, but it does produce wins. Michigan State’s nation-leading defense has kept opponents to one or no goals in a whopping 27 games this season (24-0-3). Northern Michigan’s five goals against the Spartans at Joe Louis Arena marked the first time in over a year that MSU gave up five goals to an opponent — since Mar. 7, 1998, a 5-1 loss to none other than Northern Michigan.

From the net out, the Spartan defense is solid, if a little banged up. In overall play this season, sophomore Joe Blackburn leads the CCHA with a 1.39 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. He’s also made fewer saves than any other CCHA goalie with significant time in net, just 610 in 31 games played.

The reason for that is the Spartan defense, which blocks anything it can. Mike Weaver is +23 in overall play and his partner Jeff Kozakowski is +25. Good defensive play is not, however limited to blueliners. Mike York (+35), Bryan Adams (+30), and Adam Hall (+22) dislike being on the ice when opponents score. York, in fact, has been on the ice just twice this season for five-on-five opponent goals.

There are only a couple of Spartans on the minus side of things, and the whole team is +203 in league play.

Now, you’re not going to see any flashy offense from this team, but you may see something pretty from York (22-29–51), who can make plays happen from nothing. Linemates Adams (21-13–34) and Hall (13-7–20) are often on the receiving end of the something that York creates.

Other Spartans to look for include Shawn Horcoff (12-23–38), Rustyn Dolyny (17-14–31), and defensemen Kozakowski (5-12–17), Weaver (1-6–7), and Brad Hodgins (3-14–17) on the power play.

The Spartans have scored 35 power-play goals while allowing just 13 this season. Michigan State has as many shorthanded goals as it’s allowed on while a man down. The Spartan PK, successful 92.7 percent of the time, is the best in the nation.

The Spartans haven’t lost back-to-back games since the 1996-97 season, and Horcoff thinks the loss to Northern Michigan may be just what Michigan State needed.

“I think it maybe could have helped us. It brings us down to earth and makes our team [to] realize what we are going to have to do to win this national championship. It’s not that big of a deal. Sure, it’s a playoff title, but our goal was to make it to the NCAA tournament and get a No.1 or No.2 seed. With our great season we were able to accomplish that, and I think our loss Friday night is really in the back of our minds now. We are just looking towards Sunday.”

Says Mason, “We’re excited to be in the tournament and to be playing right now. We don’t know a whole lot about either team. St. Lawrence is my alma mater….Don Lucia of Colorado College is a great coach and they’ve had a great season. Whoever comes out of that game will be a challenge for us.”

Picks

Scott Brown: Between hockey and basketball, the Spartans make it two sports playing in their respective Final Fours. Michigan State, 4-1

Paula C. Weston: The Spartans have a bye for a reason, and this squad has never won an NCAA game. These boys are on a mission. Michigan State, 3-1

Becky Blaeser/Jayson Moy: Against SLU, the missing Tigers were missed, but the Tigers will have gotten by the pesky Saints. Against the Spartans, it may be a tougher task without those guns. MSU 4, CC 2

Dave Hendrickson: Michigan State, 2-1

Todd D. Milewski: Michigan State over Colorado College, 3-1

Quarterfinal
No. 1 North Dakota (32-5-2) vs. Boston College/Northern Michigan
Sunday, 5:30 pm CT, Dane County Coliseum, Madison, Wis.

North Dakota Fighting Sioux

The top-ranked team in the nation once again has the opportunity to show its ability to rebound from a setback this weekend. Of course, that’s not by choice.

Coach Dean Blais and the North Dakota Fighting Sioux fell short of goal No. 2 in their season-long quest last weekend, falling to Denver, 4-3, in the championship game of the WCHA Final Five. Disappointing as that may have been, Blais said his team is showing no ill effects this week in practice.

“I think we’re fine,” Blais said. “We certainly wanted to win that game on Saturday, but I didn’t think we deserved it. We got up 3-1 and couldn’t get the fourth one. The worst lead, sometimes, is that two-goal lead.”

Goal No. 1 this season for the Fighting Sioux was to win their third straight MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA regular-season champion. That they did with seeming ease, clinching the championship with a few weeks remaining in the season. But, in a model that has parallels in last season’s demise, they slipped a bit in the last few weeks, falling at Wisconsin and in the first of a best-of-three first round series against Minnesota State-Mankato.

Then, also like last season, the Sioux were on the short end of a one-goal decision in the championship game of the Final Five. Plus, last year, the team lost starting goaltender Karl Goehring to a groin injury in the week between the Final Five and the NCAA regional, and then lost to Michigan one game before the Frozen Four.

The good sign this season for the Sioux is that — knock on wood — there are no injuries to speak of. In fact, UND will have Lee Goren back after sitting out the Final Five with a leg laceration suffered against Mankato.

“This is about the first week we’ve been healthy in two months,” said Blais. “You can’t do without a guy like Lee, who’s scored 25 goals this year.”

But what contributed to North Dakota’s loss to Denver last weekend? Blais said it was a lack of intensity, something he noticed at the team meal some five hours before the game. He also said it may have had something to do with Michigan State’s loss to Northern Michigan, which assured them of the top spot in the West Regional.

“We’ve been chasing Michigan State all year to remain No. 1,” Blais said. “We kind of watch what they do and when Michigan State lost on Friday, our kids — they didn’t say anything to me — but I could get the feeling, ‘Hey, we have No. 1 no matter what now.’ We still wanted to win that doggone game on Saturday, but not enough.”

Apparently, though, the intensity is back in Grand Forks. Blais said after Wednesday’s practice that he felt it from the team’s eight seniors.

“I could feel the intensity in practice today that I haven’t felt in about a month,” Blais said. “So they know what it’s all about and it just filters right on down to the younger kids.”

Those younger kids may be an issue, however. Blais admitted that some of them were a little wide-eyed last weekend in their first tournament experience.

“They were a little bit nervous, some of the defensemen especially,” Blais said. “We have three freshmen defensemen playing regularly, who were a little bit caught off-guard, I would think. Not that we haven’t played in big games before, but, when you’re playing something as important as a championship, some players play up, some players play down.”

Will his players play up this weekend? “We’d better,” Blais said.

UND plays the winner of the Boston College-Northern Michigan matchup. “When Northern Michigan was in the (WCHA), you could always count on a real physical, well-disciplined game by Rick Comley’s team,” Blais said. “Boston College is probably the opposite with the talented, speed game, players that can get it down the ice pretty good. Northern Michigan is probably a little more defensive.”

Picks

Dave Hendrickson: Boston College makes it three Hockey East teams in Anaheim, 6-5. (If NMU beats BC, then North Dakota, 5-3.)

Scott Brown: Speed kills, and both teams have it in abundance. Who lives and who dies? Let’s see. North Dakota, 5-4 (OT)

Todd D. Milewski: North Dakota over Boston College, 6-3

Becky Blaeser/Jayson Moy: This could easily have been the matchup in last year’s finals at the FleetCenter. This time, BC goes home while the too-many-weaponed Sioux move on to sunny California. ND 6, BC 3

Paula C. Weston: This may be the best pairing in the tournament. Both teams are fast, but North Dakota is bigger, and has an edge defensively. North Dakota, 4-3


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