Weekend picks: March 15

Only eight teams remain, and all are just 60 minutes, or more, away from a trip to the Frozen Four in Lake Placid. It is St. Patrick’s Day so surely players and coaches alike are hoping for a little “puck-luck” against both familiar and unfamiliar opponents. Last week Tim had one pick more than Brian, as went 3-1-0 in the first-round action while Brian went 2-2.

Saturday, Mar. 17

No. 11 Augsburg at No. 1 St. Norbert
Brian: The Green Knights are the top-ranked team in the nation and hungry for a title. They’ve beaten Augsburg in the last two NCAA tournament meetings and won both regular-season games against the Auggies this season. St. Norbert is led by Tanner Froese, who has 12 goals and 17 assists. This is a balanced team with 17 players tallying 10 or more points. The Green Knights have scored 114 goals in all, and T.J. Black has held opponents to a total of 37 goals while winning 24 games. The 11th-ranked Auggies are aiming for their first Frozen Four in 20 years and will need to match the Green Knights punch for punch on offense. They have scored 101 goals. Nate Flynn leads the team offensively with 12 goals and 16 assists. Nick Schmit has won 18 games. St. Norbert 4-2
Tim: Way back in early December, the Auggies traveled to St. Norbert and were outscored 7-1 in a pair of losses. Those losses were the final games in a five-game losing streak where Augsburg only lost four more games during the entire remainder of the season. The Green Knights and goalie T.J. Black are very experienced and have the pedigree in reaching the Frozen Four. Home ice means a lot in this one, and while the game is much closer than the final score, coach Tim Coghlin gets the boys back to Lake Placid for another national title run. St. Norbert 4-1

Colby at No. 3 Geneseo
Brian: Colby is the only team left that is not ranked. The Mules have won their last eight games and are 13-0 this season when scoring four or more goals. Kienan Scott and Phil Klitirinos are tied for the team lead in points with 26 apiece. Scott has scored 11 goals and Klitirinos has dished out 18 assists. Geneseo is coming off its first NCAA tournament road win in program history. The third-ranked Knights have won their last five games, and Conlan Keenan leads the way, coming through with 18 goals and 21 assists on the season. Tyson Empsey has punched in 21 goals to go along with 15 assists. Both teams are playing well right now. This should be a classic. Geneseo 3-2
Tim: There is no familiarity between these two teams other than the customary exchange of game films. There is a little bit of déjà vu here in that Colby has been getting terrific goaltending from Sean Lawrence, team defense has been great, and scoring, including special teams, has been very opportunistic. The Mules are looking in the mirror as Geneseo can lay claim to all those things from goalie Devin MacDonald on out. Ironically, both teams have seen great performances from their third and fourth lines, and that is likely the difference here for the Knights who find a way to get a puck across the goal line for a win by the slimmest of margins. Betting on OT here. Geneseo 2-1

No. 4 Wisconsin–Stevens Point at No. 2 Adrian
Brian: Two top five powers collide in this one. The second-ranked Bulldogs have won 16 of 17 and are led by Taylor McCloy, who has been flat out sensational, scoring 23 goals. He has 14 assists as well and is one of four players with 30-plus points. Kevin Entmaa has won 16 games in goal, the most in a season in school history. The Pointers are no pushover and come in ranked fourth in the country. Tanner Karty is rolling along this year, tallying 22 goals and 26 assists, and Max Milosek has won 16 games for the Pointers, saving 92 percent of the shots he has faced. The Pointers won both regular-season meetings. Adrian 5-4
Tim: Adrian hit a skid back in December/January with three straight losses that included dropping a pair at WSP. After that, they reeled off 16 straight wins until their overtime loss to St. Norbert in the NCHA championship game. WSP has been dwelling on their WIAC championship loss to Wisconsin–Eau Claire and will look to redeem themselves against Adrian. This one will be very physical, but look for Max Milosek to get it done in the crease and Tanner Karty to provide enough offense to get the Pointers the upset win and trip back to Lake Placid. Wisconsin–Stevens Point 2-1

No. 13 Nichols at No. 6 Salve Regina
Brian: After a bye last week, Salve Regina is ready for its quarterfinal round game against Nichols. The sixth-ranked Seahawks, in the tourney for the second time in three years, haven’t played hockey since Feb. 24, and that layoff could prove to be a good or bad thing. Jack Billings is having a phenomenal year, scoring 19 goals and dishing out 26 assists. He’ll need a big game for the Seahawks to advance. No. 13 Nichols defeated Fitchburg State, 3-1, to reach the quarterfinal round, and the Bison lead the all-time series against the Seahawks 21-14-4. The Bison, though, lost both games to the Seahawks this year. Scott Curthell comes in with 24 goals and 51 assists and will be one to watch for the Bison. Salve Regina 4-3
Tim: They say familiarity breeds contempt. If that is true, then the fourth meeting in Salve Regina’s last five games with the Bison will create a lot of drama, especially since it was the Bison who knocked off the Seahawks on Feb. 24 in the CCC semifinals on their way to the conference championship. Either team will be looking for their very first Frozen Four appearance, and no doubt the Seahawks are the most rested of any of the quarterfinal teams. Blake Wojtala has been known to play at his best when the stakes are highest, and this weekend is all or nothing. Either way, it will be a ground-breaking win for the CCC with one of their member teams making the Frozen Four. Jack Billings will figure prominently in the offense and probably helps sealing the deal with an empty-net goal to down the determined Bison. Salve Regina 3-1