2014 NCAA Hockey Tournament: West Regional Preview

The final region in the 2014 NCAA Tournament is in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where a team by the same name is the heavy favorite to get to Philadelphia.

NCAA Hockey Tournament 2014 Radial Bracket West Region

Regional Semifinal 1
(1) Minnesota vs. (4) Robert Morris

You might be inclined to think that the 2nd-most prolific goal scorer in the nation might be on Minnesota.

Nope.

How about Boston College, what with the whole Gaudreau-Hayes-Arnold line and all?

Again, no.

So where then?

Robert Morris University. See: Wydo, Cody, and his 30 goals.

Wydo’s offensive excellence this season has helped the Colonials towards being a decent scoring team this season, but defensively, and especially on the penalty kill, to paraphrase Mystery Science Theater 3000, they stink on toast.

That’s why the Golden Gophers will likely end up with a walkover in the first round. It is the first team in the field against the last, after all, but the Minnesota offense (and defense, for that matter) are just too good. The Colonials are more than just Cody Wydo, but Minnesota isn’t the top overall seed for nothing. For them to lose in what is in essence a home game to a so-so team would be a monumental upset.

Regional Semifinal 2
(2) Notre Dame vs. (3) St. Cloud State

Steven Summerhays, Notre Dame goalie, has had a great year and is amongst the best netminders in the country. That goes a long way in the postseason, when the old adage (often turning out true) dictates that defense wins championships. With him, the Irish have it.

As Boston College so horribly found out, Notre Dame will grind you down to their pace. That’s the way it has to be, as they’re an alright offensive team but not a great one. St. Cloud State, on the other hand, is a great offensive team and average to maybe a little below-average defensively.

Your abridged read of the game is this: whichever team controls the pace is probably going to win this one. Evidence would suggest Notre Dame could be that team, but who knows. Notre Dame is going to go as far as Summerhays takes them; if it’s a slugfest, advantage St. Cloud State, but if not, obviously advantage Irish. You could have probably put that together for yourself but the simplest explanation is usually the best.

Likeliest Regional Final (By Seeds, Anyway)
(1) Minnesota vs. (2) Notre Dame

Well there’s just no way I’m picking Notre Dame. Call it Boston College bias. It’s rare that I exhibit it in such fashion, but every now and then I am entitled to do so.

Minnesota is a very, very good team, anyway, so it works.

The short and sweet version: Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find this region to be all that interesting. Minnesota is the odds-on favorite to get to Philly. Notre Dame and St. Cloud State have a puncher’s chance, but aren’t as good as the team they might be facing in the regional final. Robert Morris has a few talented players but is ultimately just happy to be here.

Tags: Boston College Eagles Frozen Four Hockey Ncaa Tournament