Men’s D-III playoff previews: MIAC, NCHA, WIAC

Mattias Soderqvist will have to be solid in net if Lawrence is to get past St. Scholastica in the NCHA playoffs (photo: Lawrence Athletics).

It’s postseason time in college hockey.

Augsburg enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed in the MIAC tournament and will play either Hamline or Concordia (Minn.) in a semifinal game on Saturday.

Adrian is the No. 1 seed in the NCHA tourney and Wisconsin-River Falls is the top seed in the WIAC tournament.

Below is a look at the playoff matchups in all three conferences.


Hamline (9-11-5) at Concordia (Minn.) (10-13-2)

The Pipers hit the road with the hopes of keeping their dream alive of repeating as conference tournament champions. They split with the Cobbers in the regular season, winning 6-4 and losing 7-3. Both games were at home.

Playing on the road won’t be new to the Pipers, who have played 15 games away from home. They are 2-7-4 in true road games and 1-0-1 on neutral ice. The Pipers feature two of the top scoring threats in the nation in Charlie Adams and Brandon Zurn. The dynamic duo has combined for nearly 40 goals and more than 50 assists. Adams has struck for 21 goals and 26 assists, while Zurn has tallied 18 goals and 28 assists. Justin Quale has played well in goal, fashioning a 7-6-2 record.

Concordia has lost five of eight, but will look to turn things around in the postseason. The Cobbers are in the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six years and the 11th time overall. They are playing at home in the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and are led by Jon Grebosky, who has come through with 11 goals and 14 assists. Jordie Bancroft has been stellar as well, racking up 12 goals and eight assists. He has tallied 20 or more points in each of his four seasons. Alex Reichle is 8-12-1 this season as the starting goaltender.

Augsburg (15-8-2) vs. Hamline (9-11-5) or Concordia (10-13-2)

The Auggies will host the Pipers or Cobbers in a semifinal game Saturday. They head into the tournament as the regular-season champions for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign.

Augsburg went 1-0-1 against Concordia, winning 4-3 before forcing a 3-3 tie. Concordia did win the shootout by a 2-1 score. The Auggies dominated Hamline, winning 8-2 and 2-0 in their two regular-season meetings.

Augsburg won the tourney crown that year and advanced all the way to the final four. Augsburg is 6-2-2 in its last 10 and Nate Flynn leads the offense with 15 goals and 13 assists. He is one five players who has scored eight or more goals this season. Jordyn Kaufer has been sensational in goal, fashioning a 14-5-1 record. He has recorded three shutouts.

St. John’s (12-9-4) at St. Thomas (13-7-5)

The rivalry between the Johnnies and Tommies will rise to another level in this matchup as a berth in the MIAC championship game will be on the line. The two teams played to a 2-2 tie in both of their games in the regular season.

St. John’s comes into the matchup with plenty of momentum after sweeping league champion Augsburg over the weekend. The Johnnies have won their last nine games and are facing the Tommies in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. St. John’s has been tremendous offensively as of late, outscoring opponents 43-21 over the last nine games. Huba Sekesi leads the offense with nine goals and 15 assists while goaltender Saxton Soley is 10-9-4.

The Tommies finished second in the league standings, marking the 50th time in program history they have either finished first or second in league play. St. Thomas is playing great hockey as well lately, going 5-1-3 in their last nine games. The Tommies are 6-3-1 on their home ice and are led by Connor McBride, who has come through with 13 goals and seven assists. Eight other players have scored at least five goals, while goaltender Joe Morris enters the tourney with a 12-6-4 record.


Lawrence (9-13-3) at St. Scholastica (14-8-3)

The Vikings lost both games to the Saints in the regular season and are coming off a 6-3 win over Lake Forest that propelled them into the postseason. The Vikings trailed 3-1 before rallying for the huge win. Lawrence is 9-7-2 in quarterfinal games but hasn’t beaten St. Scholastica since the 2013-14 season. Renato Engler is the leading scoring threat for Lawrence, having tallied nine goals and 16 assists. Nick Felan has risen to the occasion as well, tallying seven goals and 13 assists. Goaltender Mattias Soderqvist is 8-9-3 on the season.

St. Scholastica is in the NCHA tourney for the eighth time in the last nine years and is looking to get back on track after going winless in its last four games. Keegan Bruce has been playing well for the Saints, scoring a point in 14 of the last 16 games. He has tallied at least one point in the last five games and has 10 goals and 19 assists on the year. Dylan Nowakowski has recorded at least one point in 10 of his last 12 games has come up with 13 goals and 22 assists this year. Tyler Bruggeman is 12-7-3 on the year between the pipes.

Concordia (Wis.) (11-11-3) at Marian (17-5-3)

Concordia lost both games to Marian in the regular season, but will look for revenge as it makes its fifth playoff appearance in school history. The Falcons set a school record for wins in a season. Concordia coach Jason Wise is familiar with Marian as he coached the Sabres for eight seasons. He is in his fourth year at Concordia and is the winningest coach of both programs. Braden Crone is the top scoring threat for the Falcons, racking up 10 goals and 11 assists. Jack Romanuik has started 14 games in goal and owns a 7-5-2 record.

Marian is the hottest team in hockey, having won its last 12, and the Sabres will look to keep that momentum rolling as it takes aim at a conference title. Marian is hosting a playoff game for the first time since the 2003-04 season and is 9-2-1 at home. Derek Thorogood and Devin Stuermer are among the top scoring threats in the country. Thorogood has tallied nine goals and 24 assists while Stuermer has come through with 17 goals and 15 assists. Mike Baldwin has been steady at the goaltender position, fashioning a 12-2-3 record. He is one of 15 goalies in the country to have three or more shutouts.

Adrian (21-3-1) enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and will open a two-game semifinal series Friday night. The Bulldogs will face the lowest remaining seed in the semifinal round. They have won eight regular-season conference titles and have won their last four games. Connor Armour leads the team in points as he has tallied seven goals and 30 assists. Mathew Thompson has come through with 16 goals and 20 assists. Kevin Entmaa is having an impressive freshman season as a goaltender as he is 12-0. He is the only unbeaten goaltender in college hockey.

St. Norbert (21-2-2) heads into the tournament this weekend as the No. 2 seed and will play the highest remaining seed in the tournament starting on Friday night. It is riding a nine-game unbeaten streak. The Green Knights, who earned a share of the conference crown, are led by NCHA Player of the Year Erik Cooper who is the ninth different player in program history to earn the honor. Cooper has scored 11 goals and has dished out 17 assists this year. He takes a 17-game scoring streak into the postseason. Goaltender Tony Kujava is 12-1-1 on the year.


Wisconsin-Stevens Point (19-5-1) at Wisconsin-Eau Claire (15-5-5)

The Pointers’ quest to return to the national tournament begins with a semifinal series against the rival Blugolds. The regular-season meetings were tight, with both games being decided by a goal. Eau Claire won both meetings. The series begins Friday night at Eau Claire.

Stevens Point has fared well on the road this season, going 10-3 away from home and has one of the best offenses in the country, having scored 127 goals. Joe Kalisz leads the way offensively with 13 goals and 26 assists. Lawrence Cornellier has come up with 19 goals and 11 assists while Max Milosek has seen the majority of time in goal, putting together a 14-4-1 record. He has recorded a pair of shutouts.

Eau Claire, which earned a share of the regular-season crown, The Blugolds have won their last two games and own a 7-2-2 record at home this season. Adam Knochenmus has led the way offensively, striking for 21 goals to go along with 16 assists. The Blugolds have scored 100 goals in all while Jay Deo and Tyler Green have both handled the goaltending responsibilities. Green has made 17 starts and is 10-4-3 on the season.

Wisconsin-Stout (10-12-5) at Wisconsin-River Falls (15-6-4)

The Blue Devils will look to take down the reigning conference tourney champs as their semifinal series kicks off Friday.

Stout held off Superior in a playoff series last weekend to earn a spot in the semifinal round. The Blue Devils have only one win in their last 11 games and playing on the road against the Falcons won’t be easy. Stout is 5-7-2 on the road this season. Jake Useldinger is the top scoring threat for Stout, coming through with 10 goals and 13 assists.

River Falls swept the regular-season series against Stout, winning 4-3 and 4-0, and want to continue that dominance in the playoffs. The Falcons lead the all-time series 73-21-1. Tanner Milliron has been an integral part of the Falcons’ success, going 13-6-4 in goal in the regular season. He has recorded four shutouts. Kyle Gattelaro has scored nine goals and dished out 10 assists to pace the Falcons. Joe Drapluk has tallied seven goals and nine assists. The Falcons have scored 72 goals in all and have only lost twice to the Blue Devils in their last 17 meetings.