Playoff picks

We’ve turned to some of our D-III columnists to give their picks for the winner.
Larry O’Connor – MIAC, MCHA, and NCHA columnist
Hamline’s stunning 3-2 overtime win over Wisconsin-Superior Wednesday set the stage for an enthralling quarterfinal weekend for the remaining D-III West teams.
The quarterfinal field is stacked with excellent teams, each one having a compelling backstory to accompany its ascension into the national picture. I see the potential for a number of things happening, namely a team from the DIII West region taking the crown.
And, no, it won’t be No. 1-ranked St. Norbert or No. 9 Hamline.
Rather, I predict No. 5 Adrian winning its first-ever title after only being in business for four years.
Here’s why:
The Bulldogs are deep upfront. With 121 points between them, Shawn Skelly (18 goals, 26 assists, 44 points), Eric Miller (18-25-43) and Zach Graham (14-20-34) form one of the most dynamic lines in D-III hockey.
Shut down those three and that leaves Brad Houston (13-20-33) and Mike Dahlinger (12-21-33), who are not too shabby around the net either.
On special teams, Adrian’s power play is a radioactive 44 of 143 for 30 percent, which is second to Bowdoin’s sterling 31 percent conversion rate. The Bulldogs’ penalty kill is a bullet proof 90 percent, which is tops in the nation.
As evidenced in the 5-0 blanking of Marian in the Harris Cup final, the Bulldogs have the ability to neutralize opposition offenses.
In Sabres’ Dakota Dubetz (15-34-49) and cohort Brendan Hull (22-21-43), the Bulldogs shutdown the nation’s third and eighth leading scorers respectively. Ron Fogarty’s team employed similar suffocating tactics in pivotal wins over then No. 5 Hamline, 4-1, Nov. 27; and then No. 8 Milwaukee School of Engineering, 3-1 and 3-1, Feb. 18-19.
The Bulldogs’ seniors Quinn Waller, Jeremy Klaver, Eric Roman and Bobby Hineman comprise one of D-III’s best defensive quintets
In goal, senior Brad Fogal is not flashy but solid. His numbers — 23-3-1 record, 2.10 goals-against, and .926 save-percentage — are comparable to D-III peers like St. Norbert’s B.J. O’Brien (19-2-1, 1.62 GAA., .930 save-pct.), Norwich’s Parker Carroll (13-0-2, 1.77 GAA, .900 save pct), and Oswego’s Paul Beckwith (18-2, 1.78 GAA, .935 save-pct.).
Adrian also did itself a favor, venturing east during the regular season, where the team went 2-1, beating Nichols and Buffalo State while losing to Manhattanville. The Bulldogs gained invaluable experience playing teams outside the D-III West region.
While compelling arguments can be made for No. 1-ranked St. Norbert, which grinds out wins at will; as well as for No. 2-ranked and SUNYAC powerhouse Oswego, who’s dominated during the regular season; the underdog – the Bulldog in this case — has it’s day.
As such, I see things shaking out down like this in the quarterfinals:
Adrian over Elmira,
St. Norbert over Hamline,
Oswego over Bowdoin, and;
Plattsburgh over Norwich
In the Semifinals:
Adrian over Oswego, and;
St. Norbert over Plattsburgh St.
In the Final:
Adrian over St. Norbert
Tim Costello, NESCAC/ECAC East correspondent
Bowdoin over Oswego
Elmira over Adrian
St. Norbert over Wis.-Superior
Norwich over Plattsburgh
Elmira over Bowdoin
Norwich over St. Norbert
Norwich over Elmira