1. They could have played all night
All four first-round series were done in two games. However, with two games going into triple overtime, it was almost as if Michigan Tech and Ferris State each had to win in three.
According to USCHO’s list of longest games Michigan Tech’s 1-0 Game 1 victory over Alabama Huntsville was the seventh-longest in NCAA history. Tyler Heinonen finally beat goalie Carmine Guerriero, who had stopped the first 76 shots he faced, with 1:11 remaining in extra time. Overlooked somewhat was the twin shutouts put up by Tech’s Jamie Phillips, who stopped all 50 shots he faced in the series. Guerriero finished the weekend with 118 saves.
Meanwhile, Ferris State closed out Bemidji State with a 3-2 triple-OT win on Saturday, the 13th-longest college game. Kyle Schempp’s power-play goal at 6:40 won it and made the Bulldogs the lone road team to advance to the Final Five.
2. Significant seniors
Watching a post-game salute to the Minnesota State six seniors on Saturday night, following the Mavericks’ sweep of Lake Superior State, I couldn’t help but think the Final Five will be featuring quite the collection of four-year players.
To name a few Mavericks, Matt Leitner is approaching the program’s Division I-era scoring record and has 162 points for his career. Jean-Paul LaFontaine ranks fifth on that list, and Zach Palmquist is second on MSU’s D-I scoring list for defensemen. Palmquist and Chase Grant have played in more games (157) than anyone who has worn an MSU uniform.
Ferris State got to the final on the back of its great senior goaltender C.J. Motte, who has a school-record 66 victories, while defenseman Jason Binkley has played 155 career games, and forward Justin Buzzeo has played in 121.
Michigan Tech has the WCHA player of the year in senior Tanner Kero, who, along with Blake Pietila, has more than 100 career points. The two have played in 150 and 151 games, respectively. Defenseman Riley Sweeney has played in 154 games.
Much has been made of Bowling Green’s freshman class, but its six seniors include a 100-point scorer in Dan DeSalvo. He’s played in 152 games, while Adam Berkle has played in 157 and defenseman Mike Sullivan has played in 150.
3. And the rest
Final shout-outs to the WCHA teams that had their seasons end this week (and last):
Bemidji State: It was a nice run to grab home ice for the WCHA tournament for the first time, going on a late-season seven-game unbeaten streak to get to that spot. The future seems bright for the Beavers with their collection of freshmen and sophomores. Also, heck of a career for defenseman Matt Prapavessis.
Northern Michigan: It was a streaky season with lots of ups and downs, including the season-ending injury to goalie Mathias Dahlstrom and the week of leave given to coach Walt Kyle. The Wildcats are another youthful team that should return some significant talent next season.
Alabama-Huntsville: Big improvement from a year ago, and it sure helps to have a goalie like Guerriero leading the way. All-rookie forward and leading scorer Max McHugh is also a part of the foundation coach Mike Corbett is laying there.
Lake Superior State: Like with Huntsville, making the postseason after a year out was not insignificant. Freshman goalie Gordon Defiel looks like the real deal but there’s a lot of work to do offensively, especially with the underrated Stephen Perfetto graduating.
Alaska Anchorage: A big step forward last year and two steps back this year as they missed out on the playoffs. The Seawolves won once in their last 12 games and never did get a victory outside of Alaska. Lots of work for coach Matt Thomas. Goalie Olivier Mantha was a bright spot.
Alaska: If not for the NCAA sanctions handed down in November, we might very well be talking about the Nanooks playing in St. Paul this weekend. Alaska took fourth in the standings, closing the season on an eight-game unbeaten streak. Losing Colton Parayko early hurts for next year.