The matchups are set and it’s time to play some win-or-go-home hockey. The semifinal round of the MIAC and NCHA tournaments are set for Saturday and it’s just a one-game setting. In the WIAC, the semifinalists will play a two-game series starting tonight.
Here are my picks on how the games will play out this weekend.
St. Thomas (12-10-3) vs. Gustavus (11-11-3)
The Tommies are back in the playoffs and seeking their 11th title in program history. The Gusties are back in the tournament for the first time since finishing as the runner-up in 2018. Gustavus features one of the best offensive players in the game in Caleb Anderson while the Tommies have leaned on a balanced attack led by John Peterson. These two teams played each other tough in the regular season, with one game ending in a tie. It will be a surprise if this game doesn’t follow that same tightly contested pattern.
Saint John’s (12-8-5) vs. St. Thomas (13-10-3)
Does it get any better than a rivalry game in the postseason. This one should live up to the hype and the Johnnies and Tommies vye for a spot in the title game. It’s the third time the last five seasons these two have met in the semifinals. The Johnnies are 2-0 in those meetings and the two teams split their regular-season series. Throw out the record and the history in this one, though. Anything is possible. Saint John’s, 3-2.
Concordia (13-10-2) vs. Augsburg (14-10-1)
Augsburg is looking to move one step closer to another MIAC tournament crown. But can the Auggies get back on track? They have dropped their last three games. Then again, the postseason is a new season and it’s hard to bet against a team that has been here before. The Cobbers split their regular-season series with Augsburg. They are rolling right now, riding a three-game winning streak and hungry for the program’s first title since 2000. Concordia, 2-1
St. Norbert (16-9-2) at Marian (18-8-1)
St. Norbert is the reigning champ and understands what it takes to get to the top again. Marian wants revenge after losing to the Green Knights the last two years in the semifinal round. Marian has confidence having beaten St. Norbert twice in the regular season and this could very well be the year of the Sabres. Only time will tell. Marian, 4-3
Trine (13-11-3) at Adrian (19-5-3)
Trine is looking to continue an historic run to the title. Adrian is eager to take aim at its first NCHA crown since 2015. The Bulldogs, winners of 11 in a row, are an offensive force, scoring more than 100 goals and will give the Thunder all it can handle. Trine will need to play the game of its life in this one to move on in the tourney. Adrian, 5-2
UW-River Falls (16-8-3) at UW-Stevens Point (16-6-3)
UW-Stevens Point is playing its best hockey and is unbeaten in its last 13 games. The Pointers are out to prove they are still the team to beat in the WIAC and the nation. But the Falcons are no pushover. Two of the three times these teams met in the regular season ended with a tie. Look for this series to be just as close and go right down to the wire. UW-Stevens-Point, 4-3 and 5-4
UW-Superior (16-8-3) at UW-Eau Claire (19-4-2)
UW-Eau Claire is as good as any team in the country when it’s on top of its game and it has the luxury of playing this series at home. The Blugolds won all three games against the Yellow Jackets in the regular season and it’s hard to imagine that trend changing in the playoffs. Of course, UW-Superior has proven it can play with anyone and it will be ready to put its best foot forward in this series. UW-Eau Claire, 4-2 and 3-2