Looking for something other than the Divison I men’s basketball brackets on Sunday? There are nine Division I men’s hockey games, including three that will decide first-round playoff series in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Including one that will be final college playoff game in the 44-history of the DECC.
In the WCHA, Colorado College faces Minnesota Duluth; Minnesota is at North Dakota; and Minnesota State-Mankato is at St. Cloud State.
The WCHA scores from Saturday, with current PairWise Rankings, No. 1 Denver held off Michigan Tech 4-2 for a sweep; No. 3 Wisconsin continued on the offensive with a sweep of Alaska Anchorage 7-4; No.23 Minnesota defeated 5 North Dakota 4-2; No. 6 St. Cloud State edged Mankato 3-2; and No. 19 Colorado College rallied to beat No. 16 UMD 5-3. Four games decided by two goals or less. Playoff hockey.
UMD and CC, 7:07 p.m., DECC, live blog, Duluth News Tribune Web site. The PairWise Rankings are here.
Saturday’s UMD-CC game story from the Colorado Springs Gazette is here.
Oh, and "Who won the College Hockey America playoff title?" you ask. Who gained the first berth in the NCAA tournament? Oh boy, Huntsville (12-17-3) defeated Niagara (12-20-4) in the final Saturday 3-2 in overtime. In the third-place game, Bemidji State and Robert Morris tied 3-3
A look at Saturday night’s WCHA games:
In Grand Forks, N.D., Minnesota rallied with three third-period goals, including goals 48 seconds apart from Jacob Cepis and Seth Helgeson, and an empty-netter from Jordan Schroeder. North Dakota, leading 43-26 in shots, had its eight-game win streak end. Minnesota was 3-of-4 on power plays. Helgeson, a freshman defenseman, had his first career point.
"This gives us a lot of momentum into [Sunday’s] game," Helgeson told the Minneapols Star Tribune. "This win was huge, especially when we are down 2-1 and battle back and tie the score 2-2. It showed everyone we are here to play and we are not going to be intimidated in this building. That was what [the Sioux] saw on Friday night, but they are rethinking that after tonight’s win."
In St. Cloud, Minn., another third-period rally here, this one by the home team. Mankato seemed well on to its way to a road upset sweep, leading 2-0 after two. But David Eddy scored 52 seconds into the third for St. Cloud State, and star Garrett Roe followed with goals 21 seconds apart. Mankato had been 8-1-1 the last 10 games at the National Hockey Center.
Roe told the St. Cloud Times: “Let’s be honest here: [Friday] night I lost the game for us [referring to a faceoff he lost in SCSU’s defensive zone — leading to a tying goal with .3 seconds left in regulation for a game the Huskies dropped 5-4 in overtime]. That bit at me all day. Our team was more focused this time and, in the third period, the character and the heart of this team showed up. We kept fighting and battling and came through.”
In Madison, Wis., the game was 2-2 with 4:33 left in the second period before Wisconsin tore off the final five goals — including two by Aaron Bendickson 12 seconds apart in the third period. Wisconsin goalie Scott Gudmandson had 35 saves. Wisconsin goes to the WCHA Final Five as the No. 2 seed.
“I thought we did everything we needed to do to in order to win this hockey game except score,” Anchorage coach Dave Shyiak told the Wisconsin State Journal. “The difference in the game was their goaltender was a difference-maker. “We certainly had our chances, but their goaltender came up time and time again with some big saves.”
In Denver, Joe Colborne had a shorthanded game-winner in the second period for Denver. Michigan Tech was within 3-2 at 8:24 of the third period. The Pioneers go to the WCHA Final Five as the top seed and 16-2-2 the last 20 games. Michigan Tech produced 16 of the first 20 shots in a dominating first period.
"Sometimes you come out flat, and when you have as much talent as we do, guys don’t always remember you have to work hard to succeed," Denver goalie Marc Cheverie told the Denver Post. "It’s just the way it goes, and as a goalie, you always have to be ready for those times."