It’s Championship season in Cawlidge Hawkey! With the regular season wrapping up, many of the NCAA’s member leagues are set to drop the puck on the Post Season this week. With the race to the Frozen Four now underway, here’s a quick breakdown of your team (or favourtie prospect’s team) can qualify.
The six Champions of each division earn an automatic birth into the Frozen Four. After that the next 10 teams are all Wild Card teams chosen based on season rankings. With this in mind let’s take a look at all six Conferences
FIRST ROUND (Mar 8-9)
(W4) Mercyhurst vs (W5) Niagara | (E3) Sacred Heart (Win) vs (E6) Holy Cross (withdraw) | (E4) Bently vs (E5) Air Force
QUARTERFINALS (Mar 12-14)
Qualified: (E1) AIC, (E2) Army, (W1) Robert Morris, (W2) Canisius & (W3) RIT
SEMIFINALS & FINALS (Mar 19-20)
The first COVID casualty took place in the Atlantic Hockey Conference with Holy Cross forced to withdraw from the tournament. Without diving too deep into the details, we with them all good health and feel for the Crusaders, especially their seniors who had their season cut short.
I will be joining the Winnipeg Jets fans in cheering for the Niagara Purple Eagles! Junior Defenseman Croix Evingson and his team face a tough test against Mercyhust with the winner set to face top seeded Robert Morris in the Quarterfinals.
QUARTERFINALS (Mar 14)
(4) Notre Dame vs (5) Penn State | (2) Minnesota vs (7) Michigan State | (3) Michigan vs (6) Ohio State
SEMIFINALS (Mar 15)
Qualified: (1) Wisconsin
FINALS (Mar 16)
This is easily the most intriguing Conference Playoffs in my opinion. The Cole Caufield factor/bias plays a heavy part in this, however the competition to win this Conference will be fierce. The Season Champion Badgers were led by top NCAA scorer Caufield, Linus Weissback (BUF) and Dylan Holloway (EDM) as they earned themselves a very valuable bye to the Semifinals.
Second ranked Minnesota has been a perennial contender and the Michigan Wolverines have been touted as a Frozen Four contender since the off season. For myself, my heart will always cheer for the Fighting Irish, but my fandom will be put to the test as they are set to face Wisconsin should they beat Penn State in the Quarterfinals.
Just because I can’t help myself, to my fellow Irish fans, Rutger McGroarty in 2022-23. Get ready!
EASTERN COLLEGE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (ECAC)
SEMIFINALS (Mar 18)
(1) Qunnipac vs (4) Colgate | (2) Clarkson vs (3) St Lawrence
FINALS (Mar 20)
The ECAC was a shell of itself this season with many teams withdrawing from the season. With that being said there was still some incredible hockey that needs to be highlights. Quinnipac ran away with this Conference led by the superb play of Odeen Tufto who should find himself as a finalist for the Hobby Baker.
Despite their dominating season, the Cleary Cup Champs should be careful not to get ahead of themselves. They face Colgate in the first round who come are coming into this who defeating Quinnipac in the final game of the season.
FIRST ROUND (Mar 10)
(6) Northeastern vs (11) Vermont | (7) UMass Lowell vs (10) New Hampshire | (8) Maine vs (9) Merrimack
QUARTERFINALS (Mar 14)
Qualified: (1) Boston College, (2) Boston University, (3) Massuchusetts, (4) UConn, (5) Providence
SEMIFINALS (Mar 17) & FINALS (Mar 20)
Hockey East kicks off their tournament on Wednesday with seed 6-11 facing off to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals. Seeding is a little unique in this Conference. Teams are seeded based on their newly developed Hockey East Power Index (HEPI).
Habs fans should be following this Conference closely. With three prospects in this division, Habs fans will be cheering for Northeastern as the Huskies are led by team Captain Jordan Harris as well as his partner (and fellow Habs draft picks) Jayden Struble. Recent 2nd Rounder Luke Tuch and his Boston University Terriers are another team to watch as they wait patiently to see who they will face.
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE HOCKEY CONFERENCE (NCHC)
QUARTERFINALS (Mar 12-13)
(1) North Dakota vs (8) Miami | (2) St Cloud State vs (7) Colorado College
(3) Minnesota Duluth vs (6) Western Michigan | (4) Omaha vs (5) Denver
SEMIFINALS (Mar 15) & FINALS (Mar 16)
Welcome to the All-Canadian Division Lite! There is a very heavy contingency of Canadian-team based prospects in the NCHC, starting at the top with the Senators farm team, North Dakota. The team has 4 (yes 4) highly touted prospects on this team. The team (and Conference) leading scorer Shane Pinto, Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven all play prominent roles on this team.
Let’s not forget the Sens also have Jonny Tychonick (OMA) and Luke Loheit (MIN-D) . The Bulldogs have a few prospect from Canadian teams like Matt Cairns at (EDM) and Blake Biondi (MTL). Speaking of the Oilers, their fans have to be thrilled with Carter Savoie (DEN) this season. Finally, Vetti Miettinen (SCS), the Leafs 6th round pick in the recent NHL Entry Draft had a monstrous Freshman season.
This will be a very competitive playoff, pushing for the title as the most competitive Conference in the NCAA. There will also be some bragging rights on the line in Canada with a ton of Canadian prospects going head to head.
WESTERN COLLEGIATE HOCKEY ASSOCIATION (WCHA)
QUARTERFINALS (Mar 12-14 Best of 3)
(1) Minnesota State vs (8) Ferris State | (2) Lake Superior State vs (7) Alabama Huntsville
(3) Bowling Green vs (6) Northern Michigan | (4) Bemidji State vs (5) Michigan Tech
SEMIFINALS (Mar 19) & FINALS (Mar 20)
The WCHA tournament will begin with a Best of 3 tournament in the Quarterfinals. Home ice advantage will be huge for this tournament as the higher seed will host all three games in order to reduce travel.
Jets and Senators fans alike will need to keep an eye on top seeded Minnesota State. Sophmore Nathan Smith (WPG) and Senior Todd Burgess (OTT) will try to lead the Mavericks to victory and birth in the Frozen Four.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Sports family! This week on Not Sauce for Work the boys talk Top Shop and Block Chain as well as some basketball, JJ Watt and Kellen Winslow.