Men’s D-III West weekend picks Feb. 21: Conference tournament action heats up as Augsburg, St. Norbert, Wis.-Stevens Point look for wins

Hunter Vorva anchors Marian in net. (Larry Radloff/Larry Radloff,
Hunter Vorva anchors Marian in net and will need to be on top of his game for Marian to upset St. Norbert. (Larry Radloff/Larry Radloff,

Thursday, Feb. 21

Saint Mary’s at Concordia
The Cardinals are playing their best hockey right now. The Cobbers are hungry to bounce back after losing their final two games of the regular season to Augsburg. Saint Mary’s and Concordia split during the regular season. The Cardinals have won their last two and have the players capable of stepping up at any given time. Tommy Stang leads the team with 12 goals. Tyson Liverance has come through with six goals and 10 assists. Concordia features some of the best offensive players in the game. Tyler Bossert is the MIAC leader in points (38). Aaron Herdt and Mario Bianchi have scored 17 and 14 goals, respectively. A spot in the semifinals is on the line. Expect a close one. Saint Mary’s 5-4

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 22-23

Wisconsin-River Falls at No. 1 Wisconsin-Stevens Point
The Falcons face the daunting task of taking on the only unbeaten team in the nation. Wis.-River Falls has scored 70 goals while allowing 70. The Falcons have the top scorer in the league in Eddie Matsushima, who has come through with 14 goals and 16 assists. Wis.-Stevens Point leads the league in goals scored (104) and goals allowed (37). The Pointers are led by Tanner Karty, who has scored 10 goals and dished out 19 assists. They also have the top goalie in the league in Connor Ryckman, who sports a 1.44 goals-against average. The Pointers have the edge in this two-game series. Wis.-Stevens Point 5-2, 4-1

Wisconsin-Superior at No. 6 Wisconsin-Eau Claire
The Yellowjackets rank last in the WIAC in goals scored (65) and allowed (65), but are hoping for the upset. Troy York leads the team with 13 goals and six assists. The Blugolds have been one of the better teams in the nation all season and are looking to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive in a league that does not have an automatic bid. Wis.-Eau Claire has scored 82 goals on the year while giving up just 47. Lucas Kohls leads the way with nine goals and 14 assists. The two teams split in the regular season. Expect a close series. Wis.-Eau Claire 3-1, 4-2

Saturday, Feb. 23

No. 8 Augsburg versus Saint Mary’s/Concordia
The Auggies are looking to win a fourth consecutive MIAC tournament title. They are the top seed and have been flat out dominant offensively, outscoring opponents 96-55. Alex Rodriguez ranks second in the MIAC in points (33), including 18 off goals. Nick Schmit has been phenomenal in goal, sporting a 2.09 goals-against average. He has 497 saves. The Auggies have won their last three and have been tough to beat at home, fashioning a 10-1-2 record. Whether Augsburg ends up playing Saint Mary’s or Concordia, they have the confidence they can beat either one. Augsburg 5-2

St. Thomas at Saint John’s
It doesn’t get any better than a rivalry game in the postseason. The Tommies are led by Brett Gravelle, who has tallied a point in the last three games. St. Thomas is 12-3-4 when Gravelle puts his name on the stat sheet. Gravelle has 29 points in all, scoring 18 goals and dishing out 11 assists. The Johnnies have won their last three and have had success against the Tommies this season, playing them to a 2-2 tie the first time around before winning the finale, 4-1. They are led by Brady Heppner, who has scored a goal in four consecutive games. This is one of those games that could go either way. Saint John’s 3-2

Lake Forest at No. 10 Adrian
This is a matchup featuring two of the better goalies in the country in the Foresters’ George Argiropoulos and the Bulldogs’ Kevin Entmaa. Both are giving up a little over two goals per game on the year. Lake Forest blanked Adrian in their first meeting of the season. Adrian avenged the loss in the second meeting. The winning team scored six goals in each game. Joe Sardina leads the Foresters with 10 goals. Bron Loiselle has dished out 15 assists. Cory Dunn is the NCHA leader in points (30), and Bryan Yim leads the league in goals (14). A close battle is expected, with a spot in the Harris Cup final on the line. Adrian 5-2

Marian at No. 3 St. Norbert
The Sabres beat the Green Knights once this season and hope to do it again in what would be a big-time upset. Marian has won five of its last six, and Nick Monfils is having a tremendous season with seven goals and 10 assists. Jake Howie has come through with seven goals and eight assists. The Green Knights have won their last 11 games and have yet to lose at home this season. Peter Bates is one of the best offensive threats in the league. He has tallied 30 points, including 20 off assists. Peyton Frantti has scored 13 goals and dished out 11 assists. Marian certainly has a shot, but St. Norbert is just too good at home. St. Norbert 4-2