March 11, 2011

The Playoffs Begin

Tonight, we watch the Sioux take the first step towards the NCAA's as they take on Michigan Tech at the Engelstad.

First, I'd like to congratulate Matt Frattin on earning the WCHA Player of the Year. His troubles a year ago have been well documented and his comeback from those troubles are nothing more then spectacular. Putting his team first, Matt was able to climb back on the horse and prove how valuable of a player he can be. A player that will most likely be a Hobey Baker finalist, he's a truly dynamic player and will help the Sioux go deep, in my opinion.

Now, onto this weekend. I'm a believer in the fact that the playoffs give teams chances to start over. Chances to prove the doubters wrong. Every team is 0-0 at this point. Every team can, in theory make the WCHA Final Five.

Yes, even Tech.

How can Tech, the team that got dismantled by the Sioux last weekend, rise up?

I don't know.

My point is, while Tech can IN THEORY go to the Final Five, I don't see it happening. UND should take care of business pretty easily this weekend.

Now, onto the other series that are happening.

Denver vs. Minnesota State
Denver hasn't been playing very good hockey lately, while Mankato might be playing fantastic hockey without the wins to show for it. These two teams meet in Denver, and while it'll go to 3 games, Denver will be in St. Paul next weekend. Denver in 3

Nebraska-Omaha vs. Bemidji State
One of the WCHA newcomers will be at the Final Five. That's pretty cool. One of these newcomers had a great season, while the other team was humbled. Bemidji learned pretty quick how tough a full season can be in the WCHA, while Nebraska-Omaha proved us all wrong with a great year. The question is, can Bemidji repeat its success it had this year against the Red Mavs? I don't think so. Nebraska-Omaha in 2

Minnesota-Duluth vs. St. Cloud State
Some coach earlier in the season mentioned that St. Cloud is the best 11th place team he had ever seen. Seems pretty accurate. Last weekend St. Cloud was in the fight for home ice. This team has suddenly decided to show up. Duluth on the other hand is in free-fall mode. Again. A team that was challenging the Sioux for first place has suddenly found itself down in the pairwise. I think that while St. Cloud has enough firepower to get the job done, Duluth will be making a trip to St. Paul. Duluth in 3

Minnesota vs. Alaska-Anchorage
The Gophers have been on fire lately as well, currently on an unbeaten streak of 7. Gopher fans are ready to declare their team the NCAA champions. Yet if they don't sweep UAA this weekend, they are probably going to have to run the table at the Final Five to make the NCAA's. And that's assuming UAA doesn't pull a massive upset. And that is what I'm calling. No, it's not because I'm a huge hater of the Gophers. It's simple factors. UAA is overachieving this season. Doing well with what they have. The Gophers, they are the ones with the target on their backs. All the pressure in the world. UAA will be loose, limber, and stun the Gophers on Sunday, ending the Gophers season. UAA in 3

Colorado College vs. Wisconsin
In another rematch from last weekend, CC and Wisconsin simply swap venues and continue. Neither team is bad, neither team is good. They split last weekend, and while Wisconsin seemed to be carrying the play (I watched both games) I put a lot of that on being in the Kohl Center. CC should be able to beat 'Sconni and end their season. CC in 3

There you have it folks. On Sunday, we can see how wrong I was.

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