The field is now set for the quarterfinal round, which means there will be two representatives from each region in the Frozen Four, but as always the question is who? My first-round picks did not give enough credit to the two newcomers that posted big road wins, so I finished at 2-2-0 (.500) which brings the season total to 91-43-9 (.668). There are just seven games remaining in the season and each round is that much more of a challenge.
Here are the picks for the quarterfinal round, with hopefully a couple of differences from my western counterpart in our head-to-head battle for NCAA tournament supremacy.
Saturday, March 18
Hamilton at Norwich
The battle is shaping up to be a great one, with both teams having great team speed and skills. While Norwich has been dominant at home all season, nothing is a greater equalizer than a hot goalie and that is one thing Hamilton’s Evan Buitenhuis brings to the contest. Expect this one to be a track meet and decided ultimately in overtime on a special teams play. Hamilton 2-1
Endicott at Trinity
The “old guns vs. new guns” matchup is on tap in Hartford on Saturday with an experienced and tournament-savvy Trinity squad hoping to take down the talented group of young players assembled by Endicott. The real game within the game may be the goalie duel between Kevin Aldridge for the Gulls and Alex Morin for Trinity. No doubt this is a one-goal game and I have finally come to the last resort of using a coin toss to pick the outcome here. And the coin-toss winner is … Trinity 3-2
Augsburg at St. Norbert
The Green Knights are 13-2-0 overall on home ice this season and 4-0-0 at home against non-league opponents. Enter Augsburg from the MIAC, a non-league opponent, and you have the recipe for another trip to the Frozen Four. Ccoach Coughlin’s team always seems to find their game at the right time of the season. It is a nail-biter that ultimately gets decided in overtime. St. Norbert 2-1
Adrian at Wisconsin-Stevens Point
The two teams faced each other way back in early in the season,and after an opening 6-3 loss to the Bulldogs, the Pointers took to home ice, where Wis.-Stevens Point went 1-0-1 in the two-game series. The defending national champions are on a mission to repeat and will not be complacent against a team whose only loss in the last eight games is to St. Norbert in the NCHA title game by a single goal. Expect this one to have some scoring, but only be decided by a goal in the home team’s favor. Wis.-Stevens Point 4-3
A trip to Utica and the Frozen Four is on the line this weekend. Whether a familiar foe or not, it is all about effort, passion and discipline this weekend in the continued pursuit of a national title. “Drop the puck!”