Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Purple Eagles, Golden Knights and.... Skating Cheerleaders?!?!?!?

It's march madness time, hockey style.

I'm not going to make any predictions here or on the show seeing that two of my final four teams got eliminated in the second round (Pitt and Georgetown). I will say this, Michigan drew some teams that everybody is expecting them to beat, and anything aside from at least a frozen four appearance will be seen as a failure this year. Expectations have been growing all season long, the great start, the win in the College Hockey Showcase, the win in the GLI, beating Notre Dame, beating Miami, beating MSU at the Joe, winning the regular season and conference titles. This team has a target on its back right now and Niagara is hoping that they can hit it and knock off the maize and blue. Can they do it??

The Purple Eagles (how the hell does a team get a nickname like that?!?!?!) have the third highest rated offense in scoring, and they also have a really good goaltender in Juliano Pagilero who has a .929 save percentage according to Inside College Hockey. They finished second in the CHA before winning their conference tournament in a come from behind home win vs. Bemidji St in front of their home crowd. The best team they beat all season was Bowling Green, a team that gave Michigan all it could handle in a home and home right before the GLI. Niagara is no one to be trifled with, and Coach Berenson knows this, he went so far to say that he has reminded his players of the Holy Cross upset over Minnesota from the 2006 tournament, and he has told them that if they don't play hard they could end up the same way.

Playing hard seems to be the key for Michigan, the two teams have a big contrast in styles, Niagara thrives in a defensive, skating oriented, soviet style of play. Because of this they do not commit many penalties, Michigan has to be prepared to play a lot of five on five hockey, something coach has stressed all year. The thing the wolverines have to do is remember to bring their A game, because the Purple Eagles will definitely be bringing their's in Albany.

For the other two teams in the region, there's a contest between a local team known as Clarkson "Golden Knights" (another WTF name)and the St. Cloud St Huskies, the latter of whom we have an apparent history with because of a skating mascot and cheerleaders.

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