WCHA picks: March 31 (NCAA Tournament)

Midwest Regional Final – No. 2 Miami v No. 4 St. Cloud State

Matthew: Although six WCHA teams qualified for this year’s NCAA tournament, St. Cloud State finds itself Sunday as the only team from the league still standing and carrying the WCHA flag in this competition. I was very impressed with what the Huskies were able to do Saturday in their 5-1 dismantling of Midwest Regional No. 1 seed Notre Dame, as SCSU looked excited for the opportunity at hand but also relaxed and got solid contributions from all over its lineup against the Fighting Irish. Miami will hand the Huskies an equally tough test in Sunday’s regional final, but I like St. Cloud in that matchup. The RedHawks boast the country’s second-most stingy defense in the country (1.68 goals per game), and MU freshman goaltender Ryan McKay looked great again Saturday in a 4-0 blanking of Minnesota State, but I think the Huskies’ offensive weapons will find a way past him often enough to punch SCSU’s ticket to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh. I’m taking the Huskies to advance.

Tyler: Saturday, you saw a St. Cloud State team that plain and simply wanted it more than Notre Dame. The Huskies executed their passes and got to the right spots for rebounds. The key was in the way SCSU skated much harder with twice the effort, forcing the flat-footed Irish into stick infraction penalties. Yesterday wasn’t about SCSU’s big guns piling up the points (top two centers Drew LeBlanc and Nic Dowd didn’t record a goal or assist), it was about the effort. If they play with that kind of will again today, the Huskies advance past the regionals for the first time. SCSU wins.