West picks: March 3

Three champions will be crowned in the West region this weekend. Below are my picks for the MIAC, NCHA, and WIAC title games. The winners of the MIAC and NCHA will clinch automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. The WIAC champ isn’t guaranteed a spot, but it’s hard to imagine Wisconsin-Stevens Point will be left out of the fold regardless of the outcome of its showdown with Wis.-Eau Claire.

Saturday, March 4

Augsburg (16-4-6) at St. Thomas (14-7-5)
The best defense in the league meets the best offense when the Tommies and Auggies square off Saturday night in the MIAC title game. Augsburg ranks first in the league in goals scored with 103 and St. Thomas has allowed just 62 goals.

Benjamin Myers is one of the MIAC’s best goalies, winning 11 games and giving up just 47 goals. He owns a 2.29 goals-against average. His challenge will be slowing down one of the top scorers in the conference in Nate Flynn. Flynn leads the league in points with 28 and is tied for third in goals with 15.

The Tommies have won three consecutive games and are 10-2 at home. Augsburg has lost just once in its last 10 games and has been impressive on the road, fashioning an 8-2-2 record. Something will have to give Saturday. St. Thomas 4-3

St. Norbert (20-5-1) at Adrian (19-5-2)
It’s no surprise that the Bulldogs and Green Knights are battling for the NCHA championship Saturday. They are the two best teams in the conference and in the country.

St. Norbert won both regular-season meetings against Adrian, both on the road, and you better believe the Bulldogs will be hungry for revenge.

The Bulldogs have been phenomenal offensively, with three players ranked among the top five in points. Cory Dunn leads the way with 34, while Kyle Brothers and Trevor Boyd have tallied 33 and 32 points, respectively. Boyd ranks second in the NCHA in goals scored (16) and Dunn is the conference leader in assists (26). Brothers is second in the NCHA in assists (25).

Adrian has tallied 118 goals while St. Norbert has come through with 100. The Green Knights are the best defensive team in the conference with 36 goals allowed. Goalie T.J. Black has anchored the defense, winning 15 games and giving up only 19 goals. Look for this one to go right down to the wire in what should be perhaps the most intense championship game of the weekend. Adrian 5-4

Wis.-Eau Claire (18-6-3) at Wis.-Stevens Point (20-4-3)
The reigning conference tourney champs and national champs are looking to hold off the Blugolds for the Commissioner’s Cup Saturday night in Stevens Point.

The Pointers and Blugolds are the two best offensive teams in the WIAC. Wis.-Stevens Point has racked up 120 goals and Wis.-Eau Claire has tallied 101 goals.

Lawrence Cornellier of the Pointers and Patrick Moore of the Blugolds are, arguably, the top two players in the league and the one who has the best game could determine the outcome. Cornellier has scored 23 goals and dished out 13 assists, while Moore has tallied 17 goals and 22 assists.

Wis.-Eau Claire will lean on Jay Deo in goal. Deo has racked up 612 saves on the season. Max Milosek is pretty solid as well, having tallied 493 saves. Opportunities will be few and far between for both teams with those two in goal. Wis.-Stevens Point has won its last seven games and beat Wis.-Eau Claire both times in the regular season. Wis.-Stevens Point 4-3



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