NCHC playoff matchups
Colorado College at UND
Records: Colorado College (No. 7 seed, 6-22-6 overall, 6-13-5 NCHC); North Dakota (No. 2 seed, 10-11-3, 15-9).
Regular season series: UND swept Colorado College 5-3 and 3-2 in January.
The breakdown: Offense has been a struggle for the Tigers this season, and it probably won’t come easy against a puck-possession UND team that has been getting outstanding goaltending from Zane Gothberg. The Tigers generate a lot of their offense from the back end, so UND will have to be aware of that. If UND stays out of the penalty box and/or does a strong job killing penalties, it should win this series.
The pick: UND in three.
Miami at St. Cloud State
Records: Miami (No. 8 seed, 12-19-3 overall, 6-17-1 NCHC); St. Cloud State (No. 1 seed, 21-8-5, 15-6-3).
Regular season series: Miami and St. Cloud State split both meetings between the teams. They split in St. Cloud in November and again in Oxford, Ohio, in late February.
The breakdown: Miami forward Blake Coleman has been on a tear since returning from injury, scoring 8 goals in 6 games. The problem is that nobody else has been scoring for the RedHawks. It has been 216:29 since anyone other than Coleman has scored. The Huskies, meanwhile, are 9-2-1 in their last 11 games and enter this series with a ton of momentum.
The pick: St. Cloud State sweep.
Denver at Neb. Omaha
Records: Denver (No. 6 seed, 16-14-6 overall, 10-11-3 NCHC); Nebraska Omaha (No. 3 seed, 16-16-2, 13-9-2).
Regular season series: Omaha went 3-1 against Denver this season, sweeping the Pioneers in Denver in November and splitting a series in Omaha in mid-February.
The breakdown: Omaha is 1-9 in its last 10 playoff games dating back to the 2009-10 season. It has not advanced to the league tournament since 2005. But this team has set its sights on doing that. Denver, meanwhile, is on the road in the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03, when it lost to UND in Grand Forks in three..
The pick: Omaha in three.
Western Mich. at Duluth
Records: Western Michigan (No. 5 seed, 17-14-5 overall, 11-11-2 NCHC); Minnesota Duluth (No. 4 seed, 16-14-4, 11-11-2).
Regular season series: Duluth won three of the four meetings in the regular season, sweeping the Broncos in Kalamazoo on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 and splitting in Duluth in December.
The breakdown: Western Michigan will have to play without forward Josh Pitt, who received an automatic one-game suspension for getting three major penalties this season. The Bulldogs are explosive up front but questions linger defensively. The Broncos aren’t the most potent team but can slow down opponents.
The pick: Western Michigan in three.