NCAA Hockey Regional Preview

Now that conference tournaments are out of the way, the time for NCAA playoff hockey has arrived. On Sunday, the Wolverines received their seeding from the NCAA selection committee and will now prepare for their Midwestern regional in Grand Rapids, Mich. Here is a brief rundown on the regional and what you can expect to see.

The following is a quick breakdown of the Midwestern regional being played in Grand Rapids. The seeding is as follows:

No. 1 - Colorado College
N0. 2 - Michigan
No. 3 - Wisconsin
No. 4 - Colgate


Colorado College


Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Nickname: Tigers
Colors: Black and Gold
Head Coach: Scott Owens – 6th Season (151-75-18)
Conference: WCHA
Record: 29-8-3 (19-7-2)
Team Breakdown:

Offense:

The Colorado College offense is one of the most potent in the nation. Marty Sertich was honored as the top player in the WCHA at the post season awards banquet, and teammate Brett Sterling is just as dangerous when controlling the puck. The pair of forwards both totaled 61 points to lead the nation. As a team, the Tigers were the fourth best offense in the nation with an average of 3.70 goals per game.

Defense:

On the defensive side of the ice, the Tigers are led by goalie Curtis McElhinney and defender Mark Stuart. Curtis McElhinney recorded first team All-WCHA honors with a save percentage of .934%. Mark Stuart was selected as the top defender in the WCHA despite only receiving second team honors. As a team, the Tigers were the sixth best team in the nation with a goal's against average of 2.17 per game.

Special Teams:

Colorado College is one of the best in the nation in regards to special teams. At 23.6%, the Tigers power play is the third most effective in the nation. Brett Sterling is particularly effective on the power play where he scored 17 goals over the course of the season. Their penalty kill percentage of 86.0% gives them the 11th ranked killing unit in the nation.


Michigan


Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
Nickname: Wolverines
Colors: Maize and Blue
Head Coach: Red Berenson – 21st Season (563-262-58)
Conference: CCHA
Record: 30-7-3 (23-3-2)
Team Breakdown:

Offense:

A powerful offense is what carried the Wolverines for the majority of the year. T.J. Hensick and Jeff Tambellini each totaled 52 points on the year for the Wolverines, who recorded the nation's top offense with an average of 4.28 goals per game. Michigan also gets significant contributions from Milan Gajic (20 goals), and Chad Kolarik (18 goals). Andrew Ebbett is another name to remember with 29 assists for the Wolverines.

Defense:

On defense the Wolverines are led by a pair of alternate captains. Goalie Al Montoya and defender Brandon Rogers lead a defense that ranks 15th in the nation giving up 2.45 goals per game. Montoya's save percentage of .895% is way down from last year, but the goalie still collected 29 wins in 39 games. He has been hot as of late allowing less than two goals a game in the past 6 games. Matt Hunwick is an enforcer in the back to keep an eye on as well. Hunwick was selected to second team All-CCHA honors this season.

Special Teams:

Michigan has one of the best special team units in the nation. The Wolverine power play scores on 22.6% of their power play opportunities which ranks at sixth in the nation. Chad Kolarik is the most dangerous power play scorer with 11 goals. On the penalty kill, the Wolverines rank 16th in the country killing 84.8% of opponent's power plays. Michigan is the most penalized team in the Midwestern regional averaging 21.50 penalty minutes per game, and will need to stay out of the penalty box if they want to increase their odds at making the Frozen Four in Columbus.


Wisconsin


Location: Madison, Wis.
Nickname: Badgers
Colors: Cardinal and White
Head Coach: Mike Eaves – 3rd Season (58-49-16)
Conference: WCHA
Record: 23-13-4 (16-9-3)
Team Breakdown:

Offense:

The Wisconsin Badgers are a young team this year, but don't mistake their youth for weakness. Freshman Joe Pavelski leads the team in scoring with 16 goals and 29 assists through 40 games. Sophomore Robbie Earl led the team in goals with 20 through 40 games and he sits right behind Pavelski in the scoring column. The top 7 scorers for the Badgers all have enough eligibility to return next season if they desire. Despite being so young, the badgers still averaged 3.15 goals per game. Good enough for 19th in the nation.

Defense:

Unlike both Colorado College and Michigan, Wisconsin can boast a defense that is statistically ranked higher than their offense. The Badger defense ranks sixth, allowing 2.17 goals per game. The defense is led by goalie Bernd Bruckler. Bruckler is a very dependable goalie with a .916 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average. In front of him on the blue line, Kyle Klubertanz is a very skilled offensive defender and can help generate offense. Tom Gilbert is the top defender in plus/minus rating and is another defender to keep an eye on.

Special Teams:

The Wisconsin power play is rated as the 16th best at a 19.8% scoring rate. Their penalty kill team is much more successful, getting the job done 86.9% of the time. Wisconsin is also one of the best shorthanded teams in the nation when it comes to scoring goals. Adam Burish's four shorthanded goals are tied for tops in the nation.


Colgate


Location: Hamilton, N.Y.
Nickname: Raiders
Colors: Maroon, Gray, and White
Head Coach: Don Vaughan – 12th Season (204-182-36)
Conference: ECAC
Record: 25-10-3 (14-5-3)
Team Breakdown:

Offense:

The Colgate offense is led by freshman center Tyler Burton. Burton led the Raiders in both goals (19) and points (34) in his rookie season. The offense averages 2.54 goals per game and usually needs to rely on a very strong game from the defense in order to expect to win.

Defense:

Colgate is the team that gets to boast the strongest statistical defense in the Midwestern regional. Allowing only 1.89 goals per game, the defense has carried Colgate for most of the season. Goalie Steve Silverthorn is the force behind the Colgate defense and allows a meager 1.77 goals per game. His .925% save percentage is one of the top in the nation.

Special Teams:

The Colgate power play scores on 19.2% of their opportunities, which ranks as 19th in the NCAA. The Colgate penalty kill is successful 85.9% of the time, good for 13th in the NCAA.


What to Expect


In the first game, look for Colgate to try and slow the game down as much as possible by avoiding penalties. Special teams is where Colorado College holds their largest advantage over Colgate, and the offensive fire power from Sertich and Sterling should e too much for the Raiders to overcome.

In the second game, Michigan needs to stay out of the penalty box and take advantage of their power play opportunities to win the game. Michigan is 17-0-0 when scoring multiple power play goals in a game and that will be a determining factor.

In a Michigan vs. Colorado College final, the pressure will be on the Wolverine defense and special teams to win the game. The offense will score, but Sertich and Sterling need to be stopped if the Wolverines want a chance to head to Columbus. Look for the Wolverines to try and use a more phsyical style of play to slow down the dynamic duo at Colorado College. If they can do that succesfully, there is a very good chance Michigan will survive this regional.

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