The NCAA basketball tournament is just getting underway. While people across the country are driven to distraction by brackets and single-elimination games, don’t forget that there are some tremendously important college hockey conference tournament matchups on Friday and Saturday. Bids to the NCAA tournament are on the line, as well as bragging rights.
There are several dozen Black Hawks alumni who could score a big goal or deliver a significant play. We’ve selected five former Waterloo skaters who could have a particularly notable impact on their schools’ hopes for a conference championship.
#5 – Jack Drury Fr. Forward
Harvard has been playing well at the right time, winning five of their last six games, including a two-game sweep of Dartmouth in the ECAC quarterfinals. To earn the series-clinching win last weekend, the Crimson needed to recover from a two-goal first period deficit, and Drury started the rally with a power play tally. The goal bumped him to nine, with 24 total points, during his freshman season. That ties him as Harvard’s fourth-leading scorer, and Drury is +11 for the year for good measure. Friday, the Crimson meet Clarkson in the semifinals after splitting the two-game regular season series. The winner will face the winner of Cornell versus Brown in Saturday’s conference championship game.
#4 – Nick Swaney So. Forward
It’s been a relatively low-scoring season for the Bulldogs, but no one has put the puck in the net more than Swaney. His 14 goals lead the Minnesota-Duluth roster and represent more than 12 percent of the team total. With one more point, he will surpass the total from his freshman season (22). Swaney scored the game-winner in overtime during a 2-1 Game One victory over Omaha in the quarterfinals. Former Black Hawks teammate Mikey Anderson had one of the two assists. If the Bulldogs are able to upend the Denver Pioneers on Friday, they’ll get a crack at either Colorado College or regular season NCHC champ St. Cloud State.
#3 – Bobby Trivigno Fr. Forward
The Minutemen entered the Hockey East tournament field as the favorite after earning an 18-6-0 record in conference. UMass can anticipate a bid to the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens on Friday and Saturday, but the weekend offers a test run in an environment similar to an NCAA regional. For Trivigno, it’s an opportunity to keep a great sequence going. The freshman has points in five consecutive games and five goals in that time. The late-season splurge has pushed Trivigno to 27 points in 35 NCAA appearances. He had one assist in two games against in-state rival and semifinal opponent Boston College when the Minutemen met the Eagles in the regular season.
#2 – David Cotton Jr. Forward
Boston College Eagles
UMass may have the luxury of being able to take a laissez-faire attitude toward this weekend. Their opponents from Chestnut Hill do not. After seemingly endless seasons of winning records, the Eagles are 13-21-3 this year. They only advance to the NCAA Tournament field by winning the Hockey East Tournament. Almost by definition, that means David Cotton will need to have a strong weekend. With 21 goals, the junior is far-and-away BC’s leading offensive threat. The team’s next-highest goal scorer has eight. Last weekend, the Eagles slipped past Providence with a goal and an assist from Cotton in a three-game series; BC may need more from their top scorer to keep the season going.
#1 – Alex Limoges So. Forward
Penn State Nittany Lions
Speaking of leading scorers, Alex Limoges doesn’t just lead the Nittany Lions; his 50 points tie for the NCAA lead. With 23 goals, he is tied for second nationwide in that metric. +23? Second in the Big Ten, behind only teammate Paul DeNaples. Yet based on RPI, Penn State is a bubble team. So are their conference championship game opponents, Notre Dame. The only game on the Big Ten schedule this weekend is Saturday in South Bend. Penn State was just there during the first weekend of March and split a pair of one-goal games against the Fighting Irish. Limoges had a goal and an assist in those two contests. Saturday’s championship game is also a chance to come full circle from the stunning finish to the 2017/18 campaign: during the Big Ten quarterfinals, the Irish scored with 31 seconds to go, eliminating the Nittany Lions in a 3-2 heartbreaker.
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