Men’s D-III West: Tournament previews see top squads Wisconsin-Stevens Point and St. Norbert on course for crowns

2018 St Norbert - Salve Regina-Championship; Copyright 2018 Angelo Lisuzzo (Angelo Lisuzzo)
T.J. Black in the 2018 national championship game. Copyright 2018 Angelo Lisuzzo (Angelo Lisuzzo)

It’s the time of the year where only the best live to play another day. All three conferences in the West Region will have their championship games set after this weekend.

The MIAC playoffs begin Thursday with a showdown between fourth-seeded Concordia and fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s. Augsburg gets the winner of the matchup, while Saint John’s plays host to St. Thomas in the other semifinal game.

Over the in WIAC, unbeaten Wisconsin-Stevens Point gets set to host Wisconsin-River Falls in a WIAC semifinal series. The other semifinal series pits Wisconsin-Eau Claire against Wisconsin-Superior.

The Harris Cup playoffs in the NCHA are down to the final four teams. Adrian gets Lake Forest and Marian faces the daunting task of playing the reigning national champion in St. Norbert.

Here’s a look at what you need to know about these playoffs.

The five teams ranked in the latest USCHO poll are all still playing hockey. Wis.-Stevens Point is the lone unbeaten squad in the nation and the favorite to win the WIAC. St. Norbert is No. 3 in the nation and the top seed in the NCHA tourney. Wis.-Eau Claire checks in at No. 6, MIAC favorite Augsburg is eighth, and Adrian is 10th.

The second through fifth seeds in the MIAC tourney are separated by a total of eight points. Saint John’s has 32 points, St. Thomas and Concordia both have 31, and Saint Mary’s has 24 points. Augsburg won the league title with 41 points.

Augsburg is looking for a fourth consecutive tournament title. The Auggies have one of the best scoring threats in the game in Alex Rodriguez (18 goals, 15 assists) and are unbeaten in their last six games. Rodriguez is one of three players on the team with at least 10 goals.

Saint John’s is seeking its first conference tournament title since 2013, the same year that it also won the regular-season crown and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament. The Johnnies last played the rival Tommies in the postseason in 2016, winning 2-1 in overtime.

St. Thomas played in nine games decided by one goal this season. The Tommies are seeking their first appearance in the MIAC title game since 2017. They are 5-2-3 on the road this year and feature the top goal scorer in the league in Brett Gravelle, who has tallied 18 goals.

Concordia has one of the top playmakers in the nation in Tyler Bossert, who ranks sixth in the nation in points per game (1.65). He has come through with 10 goals and 28 assists. The Cobbers are in the conference tournament for the seventh consecutive year.

Saint Mary’s will have to step into a road warrior role if it is going to win the MIAC tournament. The Cardinals haven’t been the best road team this season, going just 2-7-3 away from home, and look to turn their fortunes around Thursday night.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point just completed its first perfect regular season in program history. The Pointers feature a balanced attack where 15 players have tallied 10 or more points, and 16 players have scored three or more goals. Tanner Karty leads the way with nine goals and 19 assists. Karty has put together five consecutive multi-point games.

Wisconsin-River Falls has the points leader in the WIAC in Eddie Matsushima, who has come through with 14 goals and 16 assists. Cayden Cahill ranks second in points with seven goals and 12 assists. Zach Quinn has started 15 games in goal, winning five times, and owns a 2.42 goals-against average.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire has scored 80 goals on the season while giving up only 38. Jake Bresser leads the team in points with 20, including 16 off assists. Lucas Kohls leads the Blugolds in goals with nine. He’s dished out 13 assists as well. Wis.-Eau Claire has lost just once in its last 12 games.

Wisconsin-Superior has won its last two games. The Yellowjackets closed out the regular season with a win over Wis.-Eau Claire. Troy York leads Wis.-Superior with 13 goals. He’s the only player on the team with 10 or more goals. York has dished out eight assists as well. The Yellowjackets have scored 65 goals this season.

Adrian is seeking its 20th win of the year and its first Harris Cup crown since 2016. The Bulldogs are 11-3 at home and have scored 97 goals on the year. Bryan Yim leads the team in goals (14), and Cory Dunn is the team leader in assists (25). Kevin Entmaa has 15 wins.

Lake Forest finished second to Adrian in the South Division and is 4-4-4 on the road this year. Bron Loiselle and Joe Sardina are tied for the team lead in points (20). Loiselle has tallied five goals and 15 assists. Sardina has come through with 10 goals and 10 assists. George Argiropoulos has won eight games.

St. Norbert is seeking its third consecutive Harris Cup title. The Green Knights have won their last 11 games and haven’t given up more than a goal in each of their last four games. They are 14-0-2 at home and have come through with 117 goals off 212 assists. Six players have scored at least 10 goals. Riley Christensen leads the team in points, tallying 12 goals and 18 assists.

Marian is playing in the semifinal round of the Harris Cup for the fourth consecutive year. The Sabres are 6-3-3 away from home and have a win over St. Norbert this season. Clay Cross, Jake Howie, and Nick Monfils have seven goals apiece. They are tied for the team lead in that category. Hunter Vorva has won 13 games and sports a 1.75 GAA.