Men’s D-III NCAA tournament quarterfinal picks March 15: Huge battles loom as St. Norbert takes on Wis.-Stevens Point and Hobart faces Oswego

Roman Uchyn of St. Norbert (St. Norbert Athletics)
Roman Uchyn and St. Norbert will have a tough task in defending their national championship when they face Wisconsin-Stevens Point. (St. Norbert Athletics)

We are down to the final eight, and each of the quarterfinal matchups brings much intrigue and potential for creating an exciting Frozen Four on a campus location that will surely be an exciting host for the national championship. Last week saw a couple of upsets, so what will this week have in store for all the teams sitting on well-earned byes? Expect some more drama, great hockey, and some differences of opinion between my compatriot, Brian Lester, and myself on who moves on to play for the big prize.

In the first round, Tim was 2-2-0 (.500) record to Brian’s 3-1-0 (.750).

Saturday, March 9, 2019

No.7 Hobart at No. 5 Oswego
Tim: The Lakers have had a chance to recharge their batteries and get healthy before facing a very challenging opponent at home on Saturday. The two teams faced each other in November, with Oswego taking a 4-2 win that required an empty-net goal for insurance. Fast forward to Saturday night and it is like déjà vu. Oswego 4-2
Brian: Oswego has dominated the all-time series against Hobart, winning 35 of the 41 matchups, including five of the last seven. The Lakers and Statesmen played back in November, and Oswego won 4-2. The power play could prove key for Oswego, which owns the fifth-best power-play percentage (.267) in the nation. The Lakers are ninth in scoring defense, giving up just two goals per game. The Statesmen are looking for the upset here. Jonas Toupal leads the team with 12 goals and 14 assists. Zach Tyson has come through with six goals and 20 assists. The Lakers are the favorites, but anything can happen with a spot in the Frozen Four on the line. Oswego 4-2

Manhattanville at No. 2 Geneseo
Tim: Manhattanville has been rolling as the road team all through the playoffs, but now faces a team at home that has been truly dominant in front of their passionate home crowd. The Knights have firepower, defense, and goaltending in their favor and strike early to put the pressure on the Valiants. A fast start dictates the outcome. Geneseo 5-2
Brian: The Knights are in search of their third national semifinal trip in six years. The Valiants are coming off their first NCAA tournament victory since 2007. This is the sixth time these two teams have met, but the first since 2009. The Valiants actually lead the all-time series 3-1-1. The Knights are unbeaten at home this season and 61-16-8 at home over the last six seasons. They have outscored the opposition 69-14 at home this season. They are unbeaten in their last 22 games overall. Matt Lippa will try to lead Manhattanville to the upset. Lippa has scored 20 goals this season and has dished out 27 points. He has 117 points in his career. Manhattanville has its hands full against a red-hot Geneseo team. Geneseo 4-2

No. 11 University of New England at No. 4 Norwich
Tim: The Nor’easters proved they could win a defensive battle, although the wide-open game with Trinity showcased both their offensive stars and Ben Crutchfield’s ability to win a big game in goal. The Cadets have been awesome at home, and few teams are as hot as Norwich right now. Timely scoring and great goaltending from Tom Aubrun get it done. Norwich 3-1
Brian: A spot in the Frozen Four is on the line for these two teams. The Cadets come in on a 17-game unbeaten streak. It’s the third-longest streak behind Wis.-Stevens Point and Geneseo. Norwich is hoping to make the national semifinal round for the 13th time in program history and their first since 2017, when they won it all. New England is in search of its first Frozen Four appearance. The Nor’easters are in the tourney for just the second time and are coming off their first tourney win. These two teams have played 17 times already, with the Cadets prevailing 14 times. The Nor’easters, however, have won the last two meetings, including a 4-3 overtime win in 2016. Felix Brassard leads the Cadets with 10 goals and 17 assists. The Nor’easters are paced by Brady Fleurent, who has come through with 13 goals and 35 assists. His 48 points ranks him second in NCAA Division III. I’m thinking upset here. University of New England 3-2

No. 3 St. Norbert at No. 1 Wisconsin–Stevens Point
Tim: The Green Knights showed their heart and determination in defense of their national title when they rallied from behind in the third period to tie and beat Augsburg in overtime. Wisconsin–Stevens Point is unbeaten for a lot of reasons, so something has to give. While experience matters on the St. Norbert side, the roll that the Pointers are on will continue with the home ice advantage. Wisconsin–Stevens Point 3-2
Brian: The Pointers and Green Knights are squaring off in a matchup that could easily be for the national title. This will be the third time they are meeting in the NCAA tournament. The Green Knights won 3-1 in 2014, and the Pointers prevailed 5-1 in 2016. Wis.-Stevens Point has 15 players with 10 or more points, and a total of 16 players have scored three or more goals. Tanner Karty leads the way with 10 goals and 24 assists. The Green Knights have 12 players with 10 or more points. Roman Uchyn leads the way with 15 goals and 18 assists. Riley Christensen has come through with 14 goals and 19 assists. This is a game that could go either way, and the winner could very well go on to win the national title. Wis.-Stevens Point 3-2