Ferris State vs. Denver:
I chose: Denver
Result? 2-1 Ferris State
I thought Denver would come out firing but apparently Ferris State knew how to handle it. Ferris State wins only their second NCAA tourney game EVER. However, in the end, I think this game was at least a good one. The others? Not so much.
Union vs. Michigan State
I chose: MSU
Result? 3-1 Union
Union has played few challenging opponents. Michigan State has played barely well enough to get in. I guess it stands to reason then, since neither team is clear cut as a favorite, that you'd go with seeding, but I just do not believe that the ECACHL deserves as much respect as the East Coast media gives it. If Union had to play a team like Western Michigan in the opening round, I'm not so sure they win. That being said, in the last 5 years, the ECACHL is 5-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Tourney. And they are 0-5 in the second round. I'd say that's going to continue but...
UMass Lowell vs. Miami
I chose: Miami
Result? 4-3 UMass in OT
Miami gave up a Powerplay, shorthanded, and 2 5 on 5 goals. They looked absolutely PATHETIC for the first 45 minutes of the game. They keep trying to make pretty plays to score goals while UMass keeps trying to score goals merely by jumping on Miami mistakes and just throwing the puck on net. Knapp has looked pathetic. I cannot believe that Blasi is kept him in. Goal #1 was the only goal Knapp wasn't at least partially at fault for. Goal #2 was on a short handed breakaway that beat him 5 hole. 5 hole goals coming head on is just a sign of poor anticipation. It should be the hardest goal in hockey to get unless the goaltender is moving laterally. Goal #3 was plain and simple out of position crap goal bad goaltending. Yeah, it was 2 on 1 but it beat him short side when Knapp had plenty of time to get into position. He correctly anticipated the pass but he just did not cover the post.
Luckily for Miami, they ended up tying the game. They went to OT and then.... Knapp rears his ugly head again! Wetmore scores a goal that NEVER EVER EVER would have gone in had Knapp held the post. He ends up making the initial save off his right side and bounces back to Wetmore who taps it through Knapp and into the net. It was a squibbler and barely got in but it got in. That means, ladies and gentlemen, that 2 of UMass' 4 goals were WEAK, 1 was a fluke, and the other was perhaps somewhat unavoidable.
Tough for Miami to lose in the first round but.... any half-assed decent playoff team worth its salt would have beaten Miami anyways. Can't expect to suck for 45 minutes, be given a 5 minute major at the end of regulation and 1:26 of it in OT, fail to score on it, and still expect to win the game. Ok, ok, to be fair, Miami did a good job in the regulation side of the major powerplay and Doug Carr saved UMass' bacon but every other Miami Powerplay up til then was a Clinic in awful special teams.
Goon may disagree but I believe this marks the downturn of Miami. They've peaked. Sure, they'll get their share of talent, but I think this current squad has ended its stretch run of post season dominance. They'll have to regroup (or reload as it may) and see if they can catch another great run. They're not going to get anywhere with this current squad without some serious infusion of talent.
UMass and Union in the Final? SNOOOOOOOOORE!!!!!! I wonder where this Regional ranks in the list of "worst regionals in NCAA Tourney history?"
If UND being a #2 seed would have gotten them into this regional, they should have thrown the WCHA title game.
Michigan vs. Cornell
I predicted: Michigan
Result? 3-2 Cornell in OT
This game was pretty good... if you enjoyed special teams. We had one ejection (contact to the head major on Cornell) and a barrel full of minors. I'm not sure what Shafer had to say postgame but it probably won't be much because Cornell won. Had they lost though....
I'm not sure what to think about this game overall. Cornell plays a GOD AWFUL style of hockey (one of the major reasons why I despised the Wild under Risebrough/Lemaire). Sure, the trap works, but it makes for a pisspoor hockey game to watch... which I think everyone knew because either everyone sat on the Camera side of the arena or the arena was MAYBE 40% capacity. It just wasn't fun. Michigan, if you consider scoring chances, had the more dominant game but Cornell put the game away in OT.
Rarely do I root for Cinderella stories such as UMass or Ferris State but... I'll be rooting for them tomorrow because I don't believe the trap has any place in bigtime hockey and I wouldn't want boring hockey in Tampa.
So... let's hope no more surprises!
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