2023 NCAA Hockey Conference Tournament Preview – HockeyStickMan
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2023 NCAA Hockey Conference Tournament Preview

2023 NCAA Hockey Conference Tournament Preview

The road the the Men's Frozen Four begins in earnest this weekend, with all six men's conference tournaments set to wrap up on Saturday evening.  Though college basketball gets most of the shine this time of year, NCAA hockey has been on the rise and is definitely worthy of some attention from hockey fans.  With each conference champ getting an auto-bid into the NCAA tournament, there is lots to play for.

College hockey is a completely different beast than pro hockey, and that's why we love it.  Student sections, classic arenas, and kids just playing hockey for the love of the game are all part of what makes it great.  Both my brothers played D1 hockey at Dartmouth, which helped grow our affection for NCAA hockey.  Add the fact that more NHLers than ever are now coming through the NCAA pathway, and college hockey is definitely worthy of your attention. 

Today, we service dozens of D1 teams (both men's and women's) and love getting the chance to check out their barns when we do a pick up.  Hopefully the teams we work with will all be making deep runs, and we won't have to grab anything from them until this summer!

Hockey East Tournament
This year's Hockey East tournament is sure to be a doozy, with Providence joining 3 top 20 teams in the semi finals.  They will take on #5 Boston U in a rematch of the 2015 National Championship game, while #20 Lowell will take on #14 Merrimack, who eeked past Boston College in 1-0 Double OT thriller.

The Garden will surely be rocking with all four New England teams likely to be well represented in the crowd.

A player to watch here is Habs 2nd rounder Lane Hutson, who led all NCAA d-men in points for BU this year.  The Hobey Baker finalist was named Hockey East Rookie of the Year, and will be looking to add some team hardware to his trophy cabinet next.

  

Semi Final #1 March 17th, 4:00 ET: 
Providence College vs #5 Boston University

Semi Final #2 March 17th, 7:30 ET:
#20 UMass-Lowell vs #14 Merrimack

Final March 18th, 7:00 ET

📺 NESN
📍TD Garden, Boston

Atlantic Hockey Tournament
The Atlantic Hockey conference was one of the NCAA's weakest this year, with no teams currently ranked in the top 20.  There is lots of quality throughout the division though, and we're sure there will be plenty of fireworks on Saturday.

The finals are locked in, with Holy Cross set to square off against Canisius after shocking regular season champs RIT in the semis last weekend.  Canisius went 2-1-1 against Holy Cross this season, and will be hoping that the home crowd in Buffalo will be enough to carry them to their first Atlantic Hockey Tournament Championship since 2013.

Jack Ricketts from Holy Cross and Keaton Mastrodonato from Canisius are a couple of players to keep an eye out for after the upperclassmen forwards were named the the Second and Third Team All-Atlantic, respectively.  Mastrodonato was a Hobey Baker award finalist each of the past two seasons, and the Canisius captain will be leveraging his experience to try to guide the Golden Griffins to the championship.

Semi Final #1: 
Holy Cross 5-1 RIT

Semi Final #2:
Canisius 4-2 Niagara

Final March 18th, 6:05 ET

📺 FloHockey
📍LECOM HarborCenter, Buffalo

ECAC Hockey Tournament
Played at iconic Herb Brooks Arena, the ECAC tournament is always a great event.  This year, #2 Quinnipiac will be the favorite as they look to avenge back-to-back defeats in the Whitelaw Cup finals.  The competition will be stiff though, with Colgate joining Ivy Leaguers #5 Harvard and #10 Cornell to round out the Final Four.

Whoever emerges from the ECAC will be hoping to be the conference's first national champion since Union College won in 2014; a team that featured 3 future NHLers, including Shayne Gostisbehere.

Three Hobey Baker Award Finalists will be hitting the ice in Lake Placid: Harvard's Olympian Sean Farrell (4th round, Montreal), along with Collin Graf & goalie Yaniv Perets from Quinnipiac.  Perets was the conference's player of the year last season, and will want to add to his 9 shutouts so far this season.

Semi Final #1 March 17th, 4:02 ET:
#2 Quinnipiac vs Colgate

Semi Final #2 March 17th, 7:32 ET:
#5 Harvard vs #10 Cornell

Final March 18th, 6:05 ET

📺 ESPN+
📍Herb Brooks Arena, Lake Placid

NCHC Hockey Tournament

Defending national champs the #3 Denver Pioneers remain the team to beat in the NCHC, though there is plenty of stiff competition as always.  To advance to the finals against #7 St Cloud or #17 NoDak, Denver will have to get by Colorado College, who eliminated #9 Western Michigan in the Quarter Finals.

St Cloud State is the only team in the field without a National Championship, while Denver's win last year tied them with Michigan for the most all-time with 9.  Though they'd feel reasonably confident that their season will be enough for an at-large bid into the National Tournament, there is no doubt that the Huskies would love to lift the NCHC Tournament cup for the first time since 2016.

Denver goalie Magnus Chrona (5th round, Tampa Bay) & St Cloud forward Jami Krannila were both named finalists for NCHC player of the year, but WMU's Jason Polin is noticeably absent from the finals weekend after leading the nation with an NCHC record 29 goals.

Semi Final #1 March 17th, 4:00 CT:
#3 Denver vs Colorado College

Semi Final #2 March 17th, 7:30 CT:
#7 St Cloud State vs #17 North Dakota

Final March 18th, 7:30 CT

📺 CBS Sports
📍XCEL Energy Center, St Paul

CCHA Hockey Tournament
In the CCHA, it will be Northern Michigan travelling to Mankato to play #12 Minnesota State in the finals.  NMU knocked off #13 Michigan Tech in the semis, who are led by CCHA player of the year & Hobey Baker nominee Blake Pietila.

Minnesota State made it all the way to the National Finals last season, and if their 7-2 drubbing of Ferris St is any indication, they are raring to get back there this year.  Northern Michigan are heading into the finals on a 7 game winning streak, and are hoping they are hot at the right time after going 1-3 against Minnesota St this season.

Leading scorers Andre Ghantous from NMU and David Silye from Mankato are two players to keep an eye on in the finals, though it was Minnesota St defenceman Jake Livingstone who was the leading point getter in the semis with a goal and 3 assists.

Semi Final #1: 
Northern Michigan 4-0 #13 Michigan Tech

Semi Final #2:
#12 Minnesota State 7-2 Ferris State

Final March 18th, 6:07 CT

📺 FloHockey
📍
Mayo Clinic Event Center, Mankato

BIG 10 Hockey Tournament
Finally, the Big 10!  This year, the conference has been the best in college hockey, with all 4 semi-finalists being ranked in the top 20.  While the NCHC championship is happening St Paul, the Big 10 championship will be taking part just a few minutes down the road in Minneapolis.

#1 Minnesota has made a strong claim as the best team in college hockey this year, and handled business last weekend against #19 MSU.  They will play host to #4 Michigan, who knocked off their fierce rivals, #8 Ohio St in the semis.

Three Hobey Baker award finalists will be taking the ice on Saturday.  Though Minnesota has two nominees in Logan Cooley (3rd overall, Arizona) & Matthew Knies (2nd round, Toronto), it is Michigan freshman Adam Fantilli who looks like the favorite to take home the award.  Either way, this sure to be a great game with plenty of future NHL talent on the ice.

Semi Final #1: 
#4 Michigan 7-3 #8 Ohio State

Semi Final #2:
#1 Minnesota 5-1 #19 Michigan State

Final March 18th, 8:00 ET

📺 Big 10 Network
📍3M Arena, Minneapolis

Regionals
March 23-26

📺 ESPN U | ESPN2
📍Scheels Arena, Fargo | SNHU Arena, Manchester | PPL Center, Allentown | Total Mortgage Arena, Bridgeport

Frozen Four
April 6 & 8

📺 ESPN2
📍Amalie Arena, Tampa

Many games are also available in Canada on TSN+

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