You need drama? Oh, we had drama this weekend, because the NCAA regionals placed on a heckuva present en path to filling out the Frozen 4 bracket for Pittsburgh. Minnesota State, UMass, St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth are your contestants and Duluth is the one program that has gained the title earlier than (in actual fact, they’re the reigning back-to-back champs).
How the Bulldogs gained their regional was fairly the story: a five-overtime victory over NCHC rivals North Dakota that grew to become the longest recreation in NCAA historical past. It was an unbelievable contest that noticed North Dakota erase a 2-0 deficit within the last two minutes of regulation, adopted by Duluth seemingly ending the sport early within the first extra time solely to have Kobe Roth’s rating nullified on an offside evaluation. By the fourth OT, Bulldogs starter Zach Stejskal had cramped up so severely that he had to get replaced by backup goalie Ryan Fanti, who held the fort from there on out.
“It was definitely below some antagonistic circumstances,” mentioned Duluth coach Scott Sandelin. “It is not a simple factor for Ryan to do – you are sitting on the bench and you have not performed, you then go in and make three or 4 huge stops. They each get a variety of credit score for the win.”
Talking of the win, it got here off the stick of freshman Luke Mylymok, who did not play a lot within the early overtimes, leaving him and his linemates recent. Mylymok went five-hole on North Dakota’s Adam Scheel, resulting in a cathartic end to an unbelievable match.
“It is exhausting to understand what that recreation was,” mentioned Bulldogs junior Cole Koepke, a Tampa Bay Lightning choose. “That was a recreation we’ll keep in mind without end. Simply going up for faceoffs, we had been speaking to these (North Dakota) guys saying ‘that is an unbelievable recreation.’ It is actually unlucky that one workforce has to lose in that state of affairs.”
And whereas UMass and St. Cloud State have been to the Frozen 4 previously, this would be the first enterprise to the semifinal for Minnesota State, a workforce that dominated the Minnesota Golden Gophers of their regional last. The Mavericks – like the opposite three semifinalists – play exhausting, defensively-structured hockey and so they’re well-coached by Mike Hastings. In addition they have some fairly rad purple jerseys.
Together with the workforce outcomes, we even have some fairly vital gamers shifting on now that their particular person seasons are completed. Essentially the most outstanding is Cole Caufield, the electrical proper winger for the College of Wisconsin who has now formally signed with the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs’ first-round choose in 2019, Caufield will begin his professional profession with the AHL’s Laval Rocket as soon as his quarantine is accomplished.
It is going to be very enjoyable to see what Caufield can do on the AHL stage, given how nicely he creates offense. The AHL is a step up from the faculty recreation and Caufield is famously undersized, however while you assume the offensive recreation in addition to he can, I am positive the objectives are going to return fairly shortly.
Now, will we see Caufield in a Montreal jersey this yr? That is exhausting to say at this level. The Habs are fairly secure as a playoff workforce due to swoons by Calgary and Vancouver this yr, so they may throw the child into the fireplace in a while, simply to offer him a style. And who is aware of? If he will get sizzling straight away, then the Canadiens would have a little bit of a secret weapon heading into the playoffs.
If Caufield does want extra time to regulate to the larger, quicker professional recreation nonetheless, staying in Laval and getting vital reps remains to be an important plan.
One other high-profile participant to control is David Farrance, the Boston College defenseman who simply signed his rookie contract with Nashville. The Predators third-rounder had a incredible faculty profession with the Terriers and truly led the workforce in scoring this yr regardless of lacking 5 video games early on.
Farrance is an extremely cell and gifted offensive defenseman who will begin his professional profession on Nashville’s taxi squad. The Predators are at the moment in a four-way warmth for the ultimate playoff spot within the Central Division after stumbling exhausting out of the gate.
For me, Farrance is particularly intriguing proper now due to Ryan Ellis’ unknown future with Nashville. Ellis is at the moment harm, however there have been rumblings that the Predators may strive shifting the wonderful blueliner. Now, I am not saying that Farrance may fill an Ellis void straight away, however the presence of Farrance not less than offers GM David Poile room to consider all the longer term roster prospects he may entertain in Nashville.