Like the conference tournaments, the first round was pretty wild at times but ended up business as usual. Penn State took a 2-1 lead on Quinnipiac late into the third period and really took play to the Bobcats at times, but Quinnipiac would equalize and then slog through two overtimes and change before finding the winner.
Minnesota Duluth and Clarkson saw the Golden Knights commit two major penalties leading to the Bulldogs spending over half of the second period on the power play. There was, unfortunately, not a lot of intrigue in the other game. Wisconsin took a 3-0 lead in the second half of the first period and Long Island’s early second-period goal to make it 3-1 was the only blip.
That leaves us with the same eight teams as last year and two repeat matchups.
#1 Ohio State vs. #8 Quinnipiac
One of two rematches from last year’s tournament, the Bobcats will again meet the Buckeyes, except this time they already have multiple overtimes under their belts. Last year Quinnipiac struggled through two overtimes before eventually falling to a superior Buckeyes squad. This year the teams are probably even farther apart.
Ohio State – Get one on Angers early. The only spot where the Buckeyes fall short is in net, with Logan Angers posting one of the best save percentages in the country.
Quinnipiac – Get enough shots to win. The real difference in the games against common opponents is how much Ohio State controlled the puck.
Ohio State 6-1
#2 Minnesota vs. #7 Minnesota Duluth
The season series between the two was close, but not really. Were it not for UMD’s success on the power play it would have been all blowouts.
Minnesota – Don’t get killed on special teams.
Minnesota Duluth – Close the gap 5 on 5. The Bulldogs were outscored 13-4 at even strength in the season series.
#3 Colgate vs. #6 Wisconsin
One of the more intriguing common opponents comparisons I’ve seen as neither were great against said opponents due to one of them being Ohio State and Colgate’s season struggles against Quinnipiac. Colgate handed Quinnipiac 5-1 in the ECAC tournament and is playing the best hockey of anyone right now though.
Colgate – Don’t let the good squad show up. We’ve already seen what happens when a team gets into penalty trouble with Clarkson’s two majors and Colgate is a lot rougher than the Golden Knights.
Wisconsin – Score first. Colgate has a habit of scoring early and Wisconsin is a much worse team playing from behind.
#4 Yale vs. #5 Northeastern
Yale had a habit of pulling out just enough to win in a lot of games here and it shows in the goal figures against common opponents. Like Northeastern they played great defense and got solid goaltending, the goals just didn’t come as much at the other end.
Yale – Convert their chances. I don’t think they’re going to get many against Northeastern.
Northeastern – The flip side, don’t get into a situation where shots are 30-12, but Yale has the lead.