Wow, what a way to start off the Road to Tampa. The first four games were very well played by all the teams. We had perennial powers making opening statements and one instant classic, resulting in a double OT thriller. Not to mention, a huge upset in the first four games. It really had it all today!
Let's dive right into some analysis and recap of the first four games of the 2016 NCAA Division 1 Men's Hockey Championship! Also, I have second round previews for the Midwest and Northeast regions!
No. 1 North Dakota 6 - No. 4 Northeastern 2 - North Dakota did not waste any time with Northeastern today. The Fighting Hawks of North Dakota had a great start to this game, scoring three goals in the first period. We knew that North Dakota was comfortable playing in Cincinnati, because they had been there before.
Nolan Stevens for Northeastern provided a little hope with his goal, 3:07 into the first period. Stevens' goal was followed by 5 unanswered goals for the Fighting Hawks. Simonson, Poolman and Johnson (PP) were the three goals for North Dakota in the first period. Chyzyk and Boeser added goals in the second period for the 5-1 lead.
The bleeding was put on temporary hold for a brief moment in the third period when Matt Benning scored for Northeastern making it 5-2. Drake Caggiula played the final trump card for North Dakota with his goal at the 12:15 mark of the third period. A 6-2 final, and the North Dakota fans that made the 800 mile trip celebrated.
The Fighting Hawks came out and made a statement. Yes, they did give up an early goal but the response was more than any fan of the team could have asked for. Northeastern was one of the hottest teams coming into the tournament and North Dakota made it look like child's play. It's a great sign if you picked North Dakota to go as far as I did, all the way!
No. 2 Michigan 3 - No. 3 Notre Dame 2 OT - The second game in Cincinnati featured two future Big Ten foes, and was much closer than the first game. Michigan came in with a high powered offense and they were held in check for most of the game. Credit Notre Dame's defense for coming up with a plan to stop Michigan and almost executing the plan to perfection.
Both team found the back of the net in the first period. Justin Selman scored for Michigan just over the half way point. He was nicely assisted by Kile and Downing.
The answer was provided Anders Bjork, just over five minutes later. The unassisted goal knotted the game at 1-1. It would stay that way until just 24 seconds into the 2nd period, when Thomas DiPauli scored for the Fighting Irish to make it 2-1. Bjork picked up the assist on the goal for his second point of the game.
Michigan struck back in the third period with a goal from Zach Werenski. The Columbus Blue Jackets draftee scored just a little bit before the half way mark. Thus, leaving the 2-2 and forcing the game into OT.
Tyler Motte would be the hero for Michigan today, as he scored 8:19 into the overtime period. It was the first points of the day for Michigan's top line. Motte, a Chicago Blackhawks draftee, benefited from a nice pass as he crashed the front of the net to put home the goal.
No. 1 North Dakota vs. No. 2 Michigan - Second Round Preview - There are going to be some offensive fireworks in this one!
North Dakota showed us today why they have been in the top spot of the rankings for most of the season. The ability to score many goals against a good team like Northeastern is not an easy task. They will need a similar effort tomorrow against Michigan. It will be a pro-Michigan crowd, so scoring an early goal or two would greatly help the cause.
Michigan has to be thinking about how to get their top line more points tomorrow against North Dakota. Motte, Compher, and Conner are going to have to play better if Michigan wants to win. They will also need to feed off the crowd, especially if they fall behind early. This should be a close game but you just never know.
I picked North Dakota. I like their talent and depth, not to say Michigan does not have either but North Dakota has more. I feel like sometimes when the games are high scoring Michigan tends to fall asleep on defense. If Michigan's goalie, Steve Racine is hung out to dry, this could be another blow out. Game Time: Saturday, March 26th 6 PM - ESPN2
No. 1 Providence 1 - No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 2 2 OT - I tried to tell you guys this was one of the games to watch! Holy Cow! What a game! It was everything we knew it was going to be low scoring, defensive, and physical. It was the only game I missed all day, but I have to admit I was pulling for the upset.
It was a very physical game, both teams were hitting and making it difficult for the offenses to get on track. The biggest hit of the game cost Providence, Conor MacPhee, he was given a 10 minute game misconduct and 5 minute major for a hit to the head. It was a heavy hit, and I believe that the officials got it right.
There was not much to talk about scoring until the third period. Tony Cameranesi scored an unassisted goal 3:18 into the period for Minnesota Duluth. He was quickly answered, about four minutes later, by Steven McParland's goal for Providence. The McParland goal would force overtime for the second time today.
Minnesota Duluth's overtime hero, in the 2nd OT, was Karson Kuhlman. The goal was scored just 24 second in the period. A huge upset win for Duluth. The loss was Providence's second multiple OT loss in a row. If you remember their last game was the triple OT thriller loss against the UMass Lowell Riverhawks.
No. 2 Boston College 4 - No. 3 Harvard 1 - The second game in Worchester was very similar to the first game in Cincinnati. You have a perennial power, Boston College, playing a non perennial power, Harvard, and it was a bit one sided.
By the end of the first period, Boston College had jumped out to a 2-0 lead. They were able to do this with goals from Alex Tuch and Austin Cangelosi. Tuch's goal went to an official review but it was deemed a goal by replay. It was a very close call, there was some contact by the Tuch on the Harvard goalie but not enough to overturn the call. Good goal.
Things started to look like they were getting out of hand when Boston College scored their third goal, 1:58 into the second period. Alex Tuch got his second goal on the night and the Eagles were soaring.
Harvard's lone strike in the game came midway through the second period, on a goal by Seb Lloyd. Lloyd's goal made it 3-1 and gave the Crimson some hope entering the 3rd period.
Harvard's best chance for a comeback was when they went on the power play late in the third. Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston College) took a hooking penalty at 15:42. The Crimson emptied their net for the 6 on 4 advantage. Things did not go as planned, Austin Cangelosi put the puck in the empty net for his second goal of the night. Final score 4-1.
No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 4 Minnesota Duluth - Second Round Preview - This is going to look much like the preview for Minnesota Duluth's first game. I am going to tell you again how you do not want to play Minnesota Duluth because they are a hot team right now.
Boston College needs to come out fast. They cannot let Duluth's defense slow them down or they are playing right into their hands. The Eagles are not as physical as Providence but they will not shy away from hitting. They also need to get the crowd involved early. If they do not come out fast and get the home crowd into the game, things will get tough for the Eagles.
Minnesota Duluth just needs to keep playing their game. Be physical, get after it on defense and slow the game down. They did a great job of this against Providence and who's to say they cannot do the same against Boston College. If they can keep the crowd out of this game and slow the pace to a grinding halt. An upset of the Eagles is definitely not out of the question!
I did pick Boston College in this game. Game Time: Saturday, March 26th 9PM ESPNU
The NCHC 2-0 with wins by North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth
The Big Ten's only team Michigan advanced
The Hockey East was 1-3 on day, Boston College was the only team to advance so far. (2 losses in OT - Notre Dame and Providence)
The ECAC lone team today Harvard lost, they have Quinnipiac and Yale playing tomorrow.
The game between Providence and Minnesota Duluth was the longest in Midwest Region history.
I hope you guys are ready for a full slate of games tomorrow! There are more first round matchups and two second round matches. By the end of tomorrow, two teams will have punched their tickets to Tampa! Have a great night! Please Tip Your Bartenders!