First-round picks (via Brian): March 10

Saturday, March 11

Salem State (15-9-3) at Norwich (23-1-3)
The No. 1 team in the nation begins its quest for a national title with a home game. The Cadets are in the NCAA tournament for the 17th time and aiming for their fourth championship in program history. Salem State is in the tourney for the 10th time and is seeking its fourth appearance in the final four in program history. Norwich has won its last 21 games. Salem State’s streak is not quite as unreal, with the Vikings winning their last four games. These two teams have met 48 times. Norwich has won 32 times. William Pelletier leads the Cadets with 16 goals and 24 assists and Cody Smith is one of the top scoring defensemen in the nation with two goals and 29 assists. Norwich’s goalie, Braeden Ostepchuk, is unbeaten in 14 games. The Vikings are led by Brandon Platt, who has tallied 12 goals and 10 assists. Jason Pucciarelli has won 14 times for Salem State and has a 2.61 goals-against average. Norwich appears too good on both ends of the ice to lose. Norwich 4-2

Hamilton (19-4-4) at Oswego (21-5-1)
Hamilton has won seven of eight, its only loss coming in overtime to Trinity in the NESCAC tournament. Brandon Willett and Jason Brochu have both scored 12 goals apiece. The goalie, Evan Buitenhuis, has racked up 21 wins, including two by shutout, to lead the way for the top defense in the conference. The Lakers have been dominant at home this season, losing only twice, and they enter the tourney having won five of their last six games. Kenny Neil is a scoring machine, cranking out 19 goals and dishing out 25 assists. The Lakers also have two solid goalies in David Jacobson and Matt Zawidski. The two have combined to win 21 games. Oswego 3-2

Plattsburgh (17-9-1) at Trinity (18-6-3)
The Cardinals lost their first two games of 2017 but have lost only once since then. They have just two players with double-digit goal totals — Cole Stallard leads the way with 12 — while their goalie, Brady Rouleau, has won 13 games while giving up 54 goals. Playing well on defense is a must for the Cardinals. The Bantams have won their last eight, including two in overtime, meaning the pressure of a tight game won’t impact their ability to thrive. They feature some of the top scorers in college hockey, with four players scoring 13 or more goals. Anthony Sabitsky leads the way with 16 goals and 15 assists. Sean Orlando leads the team in points, tallying 15 goals and 18 assists. Trinity 5-3

Endicott (23-3-2) at Hobart (20-4-4)
Endicott is playing in the tournament for the first time in program history. The Gulls have plenty of momentum, having won their last 11 games. Hobart is in the tournament for the third consecutive year and enters the postseason on a five-game win streak. The Gulls lead the country in scoring, punching in five goals per game, and they give up 1.93 goals per outing behind the play of Kevin Aldridge, who has won 20 games and gives up 1.99 goals per game. Tommy Besinger has struck for 17 goals and 31 assists to pace the offense. The Statesmen boast one of the top offenses in the nation, averaging four goals per game. They are equally as impressive on defense, giving up just 2.32 goals per outing. Nick Bingaman leads the attack with 18 goals and 10 assists, while Frank Oplinger has been solid in goal, winning 11 games and fashioning a 2.34 goals-against average. These two teams have never played each other. Experience counts for something in the postseason, though. Hobart 7-5

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