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NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament Predictions

BSD’s hockey beat tests its fortune telling abilities for the NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament.

Photo by Heather Weikel

For the second straight season, Penn State is going dancing. The Nittany Lions begin their second NCAA Tournament appearance Saturday at 7 p.m. when they face reigning National Champion Denver at PPL Center in Allentown, Pa.

Before the puck drops in the East and West Regionals Friday afternoon, we test our fortune telling prowess and predict who will emerge from the Midwest Regional and who will take home this year’s National Championship.

Predicting Penn State vs Denver

Chris — Leaving loyalties aside I would have no problem at all picking the returning National Champions, and NCHC Conference title-holder, Denver Pioneers to run the table and win its second-consecutive National Championship. But this is a prediction post so I’m going to go with the minor upset so that people don’t throw things at me when they see me at the Pegula Ice Arena next season. Penn State will find a way to beat Denver. While it is post-season hockey, and defense typically wins in this setting, I am predicting another scoring outburst in the first round. Similar to the 10-3 result in the first NCAA Tournament game and win in program history last season versus Union, the Lions will force Denver to chase them on the scoreboard. It will be 3-2 in favor of Guy Gadowsky’s squad after one period, 5-3 after two, and with a scoring burst in the opening minutes of the third period, Penn State will coast to a shocking 8-4 win versus one of the stingiest defenses in the country.

Prediction: Penn State 8, Denver 4

Colin — It’s hard to pick against the defending National Champions that are returning 95 percent of their roster. Denver’s top two lines are stacked, it’s defense corps may be second to none, and Tanner Jaillet is one of the top goalies in the country. But this is March, and anything can happen. Penn State can’t adjust their gameplan to accommodate the likes of Troy Terry and Henrik Borgström. The Nittany Lions need to be their usual aggressive selves to beat the Pioneers, because they are likely not winning a defensive duel against one of the best defenses in the nation. The Lions need to hope for a high-scoring game and for Peyton Jones to make all the saves he should make — and some he shouldn’t — to pull off the upset, which they will.

Prediction: Penn State 5, Denver 3

Predicting the Midwest

Chris — It would be hard not to pick Ohio State to hold off Princeton, and I don’t like hard things. So I’m going with the Buckeyes to win their first-round match-up. No offense to the Princeton Tigers, but they are the only team in the Midwest Regional that I don’t feel could win four straight games and take home the National Title. That makes it very hard to predict which team will win two-straight games to emerge from Allentown, and head to Minnesota for the Frozen Four. Since I have already ignored my Spidey-senses while picking the Lions in the first round over Denver, I will stay with that mindset and go full-homer: The Penn State hockey team will win the Midwest Regional in Allentown, and Guy Gadowsky’s team will go to the Frozen Four.

Midwest Regional Champion: Penn State

Colin — All due respect to Princeton and what they’ve done over the past month, but the Tigers won’t beat Ohio State in the other half of the Midwest Regional bracket, which gives us an all-Big Ten Midwest Regional final. Penn State took two out of four from the Buckeyes this season and recorded a shootout win in Columbus early in December. The two haven’t faced each other since Jan. 13 — a 5-1 win for the Buckeyes on Penn State ice. Sparks fly when these two face each other. On the nation’s biggest stage, that should be intensified. The Buckeyes haven’t faced the best version of the Nittany Lions this season, which should benefit Guy Gadowsky’s squad.

Midwest Regional Champion: Penn State

Who Will Win It All?

Chris — Notre Dame. Now I have to go to the men’s room and kneel in front of the toilet for a while, so you will have to excuse me. I’ll turn on the exhaust fan so that no one has to hear the light sobbing, which I understand can be disturbing coming from a man of my age.

Colin — St. Cloud State. Picking the Huskies is a bit easier than picking, say, Notre Dame. The No. 1 overall seed in the nation and runner-up to NCHC Champion Denver will be tested by either Minnesota State or Minnesota-Duluth in the West Regional, but should emerge victorious. The Huskies will likely top Penn State in the National Semifinals before taking on either Notre Dame or Northeastern in the National Championship.

So what do you say, BSD reader? Leave your predictions in the comment section.