Brian’s NCAA quarters picks: March 16

Saturday, March 18

Norwich (24-1-3) vs. Hamilton (20-4-4)
Norwich defeated Salem State last weekend, stretching its unbeaten streak to 22 games. The Cadets are seeking their first NCAA championship since 2010 and are up against a Hamilton team that is playing in the tournament for the first time. The Continentals are in the midst of their best season ever and are coming off an opening-round win over Oswego State. The Cadets and Continentals haven’t played since 2010, when Norwich skated to a 7-1 win. The Cadets have an unbeaten goalie in Braden Ostepchuk, who is 15-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average. The Continentals will counter with a pretty good goalie of their own in Evan Buitenhuis, who is 17-4-4 with a 1.66 goals-against average. Ultimately, I think the experience of having been there before matters. Norwich 4-2

Trinity (19-6-3) vs. Endicott (24-3-2)
Trinity is hoping to move one step closer to its first national title since 2015. The Bantams have the potential to move on to their third Frozen Four in program history, especially with one of the top offenses in the country. The Bantams are averaging 4.18 goals per game, with Sean Orlando scoring a team-best 17 goals. The Bantams are also solid defensively, allowing only 1.82 goals per game. They have held opponents scoreless on the power play 89 percent of the time this season. Endicott, though, will prove to be a tough test as the Gulls have the nation’s best offense, cranking out nearly five goals per game. Tom Besinger has been phenomenal, scoring 18 goals to go along with 31 assists. Cam Bleck has scored a team-high 21 goals. The two programs have never met. While the Gulls are playing on the road, they will be tough to stop. Endicott 5-3

Adrian (19-6-2) at Wisconsin-Stevens Point (21-4-3)
Adrian and Wis.-Stevens Point are no strangers, having played three times in the regular season. Each team won a game. The other matchup ended in a tie. The Bulldogs are making their fifth consecutive trip to the tournament and seventh overall in the 10-year history of the program. Their offense is one of the best in hockey, with three 30-point scorers in Cory Dunn (8-26), Kyle Brothers (8-25), and Trevor Boyd (16-16). Their goalie isn’t bad either. Kevin Entmaa has 14 wins and a 2.14 goals-against average. The Pointers are the reigning national champs and have won eight consecutive games. They are led by Lawrence Cornellier, who has struck for 24 goals and 18 assists. Jacob Barber (17-21) and Kyle Sharkey (8-23) are solid scoring threats as well. Max Milosek has won 18 games. He has a goals-against average of 2.19. Home ice can be the difference in the postseason. It should in this instance. Wis.-Stevens Point 5-4

Augsburg (17-4-6) at St. Norbert (21-5-1)
Augsburg is in the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. St. Norbert is in the tourney for the 17th time and is seeking redemption after losing in the national title game a year ago. The Auggies are the MIAC tourney champs and are in the midst of their fourth consecutive season with 12 or more wins. They have lost only once in their last 12 games. Nate Flynn leads the attack with 15 goals and 14 assists. Augsburg has scored 106 goals in all. Goalie Nick Schmit has won 10 games and has given up 26 goals. The Green Knights have won four national championships and have won seven of their last eight games. They have scored 103 goals, with Tanner Froese leading the team with 13 on the season. Noah Nelson is the team leader in points, having scored eight goals and dishing out 19 assists. T.J. Black has won 16 games and has given up only 21 goals. This could easily turn into a high scoring battle. St. Norbert 4-3

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