College Hockey Inc.
Notes: Conference titles, NCAA berths at stake
NCAA Tournament field to be unveiled Sunday night

Logan Cooley is the first Minnesota freshman since Phil Kessel in 2005-06 to score 50 points (Photo: Minnesota Athletics).

By Jayson Hajdu

It’s conference championship weekend in NCAA Division I men’s hockey.

The NCAA selection show (March 19 @ 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU/ESPN+) for the national tournament is just four days away, but there’s still plenty of business to be taken care of and hardware to be handed out.

Three conferences (ECAC, Hockey East, NCHC) will play their semifinals on Friday with the winners advancing to title games on Saturday. The other three conferences already have their championship matchups set for Saturday: Michigan vs. Minnesota in the Big Ten, Northern Michigan vs. Minnesota State in the CCHA, and Holy Cross vs. Canisius in Atlantic Hockey.

Here is a league-by-league breakdown of what remains:

ATLANTIC HOCKEY (championship)
Who: #4 seed Canisius vs. # 7 seed Holy Cross
When: Saturday, March 18 | 4:35 p.m. ET
Where: LECOM Harborcenter | Buffalo, N.Y.
Notably: Holy Cross defeated the league’s No. 1 (RIT) and No. 2 (American International) seeds for its first AHA title game berth since 2006.

BIG TEN (championship)
Who: #1 seed Minnesota vs. #2 seed Michigan
When: Saturday, March 18 | 7 p.m. CT
Where: 3M Arena at Mariucci | Minneapolis
Notably: The game will feature 26 NHL draft picks, including Hobey Baker Award finalists Logan Cooley (Minnesota), Adam Fantilli (Michigan) and Matthew Knies (Minnesota).

CCHA (championship)
Who: #1 seed Minnesota State vs. #4 seed Northern Michigan
When: Saturday, March 18 | 6:07 p.m. CT
Where: Mayo Clinic HSEC | Mankato, Minn.
Notably: NMU has won seven straight games, its longest winning streak since the 2017-18 season.

ECAC (semifinals)
Who: #1 seed Quinnipiac vs. #5 seed Colgate
When: Friday, March 17 | 4 p.m. ET
Where: 1980 Herb Brooks Arena | Lake Placid, N.Y.
Notably: Twenty-four points separated the two teams during the regular season.

Who: #2 seed Harvard vs. #3 seed Cornell
When: Friday, March 17 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: 1980 Herb Brooks Arena | Lake Placid, N.Y.
Notably: Harvard is the defending ECAC Tournament champion, while Cornell is seeking its first playoff title since 2010.

HOCKEY EAST (semifinals)
Who: #1 seed Boston University vs. #7 Providence
When: Friday, March 17 | 4 p.m. ET (NESN)
Where: TD Garden | Boston
Notably: Providence has played 14 overtime games this season, including last week’s Hockey East Tournament victories over New Hampshire and Northeastern.

Who: #2 seed Merrimack vs. #4 UMass Lowell
When: Friday, March 17 | 7:30 p.m. ET (NESN)
Where: TD Garden | Boston
Notably: Merrimack advanced with a 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Boston College, which had been the longest scoreless game in Hockey East Tournament history (88:20).

NCHC (semifinals)
Who: #1 Denver vs. #7 Colorado College
When: Friday, March 17 | 4 p.m. CT (CBSSN)
Where: Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul
Notably: CC is the first No. 7 seed ever to advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

Who: #4 seed St. Cloud State vs. #6 seed North Dakota
When: Friday, March 17 | 7:30 p.m. CT (CBSSN)
Where: Xcel Energy Center | St. Paul
Notably: North Dakota advanced with its first road playoff series win since 1995, defeating No. 3 seed Omaha in three games.

Daily Scoreboard | Weekly Schedule | TV Schedule | Stat Leaders

Must Read:

Boston Hockey Blog: Nick Zabaneh picking up goals, confidence at the perfect time for Terriers
College Hockey News: Zabaneh’s progress lights a spark under BU College Hockey News: Holy Cross turns a corner
Daily Faceoff: NHL Draft Prospect Roundup: Vancouver Canucks fans, get ready for Aidan McDonough
EP Rinkside: Matty Beniers is already one of the NHL’s best
ESPN: Road to the men’s Frozen Four: conference tournaments at a glance
FloHockey: Why Devon Levi should go down as one of college hockey’s greatest goalies
FloHockey: Yooper curse lifted, champs roar in Mankato
Grand Forks Herald: How UND evolved into a good defensive team
Maine Alumni Association: Jim Montgomery’s path to becoming head coach of the Boston Bruins
Minneapolis Star Tribune: NCAA men’s tournament field starting to take shape
New England Hockey Journal: 5 storylines to watch in college hockey conference championships
New York Hockey Journal: Ufko made the most at worlds for Team USA, then carried it over to UMass Rookie Watch: Johnson among best in Metropolitan Division
Sportsnet: What the Maple Leafs get in ‘underdog’ NCAA signing Ryan Tverberg
The Rink Live: Logan Cooley’s newfound control plays a role in his ascension to Hobey top-10 status
The Rink Live: Ups and downs at UMD have prepared Kaiser for jump to NHL, Chicago Blackhawks
USCHO: Northern Michigan, Minnesota State up for challenge Saturday
USCHO: Canisius, Holy Cross gearing up for winner-take-all title game with NCAA berth on line
USCHO: Heading to conference championships this weekend, are more upsets on horizon?
Vancouver Province: Aidan McDonough has a valuable confidant in Jack Rathbone

Must Hear:

Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring Holy Cross head coach Bill Riga
Inside Hockey East: Featuring Boston University head coach Jay Pandolfo
THN American Pipeline: NHL moves affect NCAA players, Bruins prospects, and more
CHN Insiders: Featuring American International head coach Eric Lang
Huskies Hockey Insider: SCSU’s Kyler Kupka discusses a cool outdoor ice setup his dad built
USCHO Weekend Review: Looking at the weekend’s playoffs, plus where things stand in the PairWise

Hobey Hopefuls:

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Committee unveiled the 10 finalists for this year’s award on Wednesday, as chosen by a vote of Division I men’s head coaches and online fan balloting:

  • Logan Cooley, Fr., F, Minnesota
  • Adam Fantilli, Fr., F, Michigan
  • Sean Farrell, Jr., F, Harvard
  • Collin Graf, So., F, Quinnipiac
  • Lane Hutson, Fr., D, Boston University
  • Matthew Knies, So., F, Minnesota
  • Devon Levi, Jr., G, Northeastern
  • Yaniv Perets, So., G, Quinnipiac
  • Blake Pietila, Sr., G, Michigan Tech
  • Jason Polin, Sr., F, Western Michigan

The three “Hobey Hat Trick” finalists will be announced April 1, with the winner to be unveiled April 9 during the NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop:

Last week in this space, we spotlighted Holy Cross sophomore F Liam McLinskey (Pearl River, N.Y.), who registered five goals in three games during the Atlantic Hockey quarterfinals.

McLinskey wasn’t finished. He lit the lamp four more times in three games last weekend as the Crusaders knocked off top-seeded RIT in the conference semifinals. That’s nine tallies in six playoff games – including three GWG – for the Quinnipiac transfer, who suddenly ranks sixth in the national goal-scoring race.

To the Max:

Alaska Anchorage sophomore F Max Helgeson fired a hat trick in last Friday’s 7-7 overtime tie with Lindenwood. It was the first UAA hat trick since Brett Cameron scored all four goals in a 4-4 overtime tie with Bemidji State on Dec. 6, 2014.

But there’s a twist: Helgeson spent the 2021-22 season with Lindenwood.

No, wait – not that twist. An even better one: the UAA team stick boy the night Cameron scored his hat trick back in 2014? None other than Helgeson, an Anchorage native who had turned 14 just one day earlier.

Helgeson finished his first season with the Seawolves as the team leader in points (22) and goals (11).

Devine Intervention:

On the same night Helgeson was delivering his hat trick for UAA, Denver sophomore F Jack Devine (Glencoe, Ill.) erupted for four goals in the Pioneers’ 6-2 win over Miami in Game 1 of the NCHC Quarterfinals.

Three of Devine’s tallies came with the man advantage, making him the first Pioneer with three PPG in a game since Dwight Mathiasen during the 1983-84 season.

Devine’s four-goal performance was the fifth in NCAA Division I men’s hockey this season and the second by a Pioneer (Tristan Broz, 1/14/23 vs. Miami).

Any Time, Any Place:

When Colorado and Denver meet in the NCHC Semifinals on Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, it will be the fourth different venue – and second NHL arena – to host that rivalry this season. The two teams have previously played at CC’s Ed Robson Arena, DU’s Magness Arena, and Ball Arena in Denver, home of the Colorado Avalanche.

You Can Quote Me On That:

“He gives you confidence. And obviously if I feel it, the players feel it too. Moments aren’t too big for him. He’s kind of come into his own now.”

-- Northern Michigan head coach Grant Potulny on NMU freshman G Beni Halasz (Budapest, Hungary), who is 3-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .964 save percentage during the CCHA Tournament. (source: Northern Michigan Athletics YouTube).

NHL Note of the Week:

Dallas C Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin, 2005-06) and Vegas C Phil Kessel (Minnesota, 2005-06) are both closing in on 1,000 career NHL points. Pavelski has 985 career points while Kessel has 983. They are bidding to become the 12th and 13th NCAA alumni – and the only active ones – to reach the 1,000-point milestone in the NHL.

Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:

Arizona State sophomore F Josh Doan (Scottsdale, Ariz.) scored both the first and last goals at ASU’s brand-new Mullet Arena this season … Quinnipiac sophomore G and Hobey Baker Award finalist Yaniv Perets (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que.) set an ECAC record last Friday against Yale when he registered his 20th career shutout. Perets reached 20 shutouts in his 68th career game, faster than any NCAA DI men’s goalie in history … Minnesota F Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.), also a Hobey Baker Award finalist, is the first Gopher freshman with 50 points since Phil Kessel had 51 in 2005-06. Cooley, who has 18 goals and 32 assists in 34 games, ranks fourth in the national scoring race … Speaking of freshmen, Ohio State F Stephen Halliday (Ajax, Ontario) has 40 points in 38 tilts, making him the first OSU rookie with 40 points since Tom Fritsche had 45 in 2004-05 … Michigan State’s 18 wins this season were the program’s most since winning 19 in 2011-12.

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Did you know? 92% of NCAA Division I men’s hockey players earn their degree!