NCHC Frozen Faceoff: March 22-23, 2019

NCHC Tournament Semifinals – March 22nd @ Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul
Colorado College Tigers 2 vs #1 St. Cloud State Huskies 5
#5 Denver Pioneers 0 vs #4 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 3
St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Duluth advance to tournament finals

NCHC Tournament Finals – March 23rd @ Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul
Colorado College Tigers 1 vs #5 Denver Pioneers 6 (consolation)
#4 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs 3 vs #1 St. Cloud State Huskies 2 (2OT) (championship)
Minnesota-Duluth are the 2019 NCHC Conference Champions

D Nick Perbix, STC: 2 GP, 0-0-0, +2, 4 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 38 GP, 5-15-20, +25, 16 PIM

F Cole Koepke, UMD: 2 GP, 2-0-2, +2, 0 PIM, 9 SOG
Season Totals: 38 GP, 7-10-17, +9, 14 PIM

F Cole Guttman, DEN: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 17/33 FO
Season Totals: 38 GP, 12-11-22, +14, 18 PIM

The 2019 NCHC Frozen Faceoff featured Lightning prospects on three of the four represented teams, all ranked in the Top-5 by the USCHO.

On Friday night, the top-ranked Huskies cruised to a berth in Saturday’s finals handily dispensing with the Tigers after St. Cloud reeled off four-straight goals. Kings prospect David Hrenak (LAK, 2018 5th round pick) made 31-saves, allowing just a pair of power plays, and Patrick Newell (undrafted) leading the way for the Huskies with a goal and an assist.

In the other semifinal match, UMD goalie Hunter Shepard (undrafted) pitched a 25-save shutout to blank Denver while Bolt prospect Cole Koepke scored twice for the Bulldogs to lead Minnesota-Duluth in the finals berth against St. Cloud State. The two teams played a scoreless first 40 minutes before Koepke wristed the first goal of the game just 42 seconds into 3rd period. Koepke and Louie Roehl (undrafted) both scored empty netters in the last two minutes of the game to put the UMD victory on ice. Koepke also led the game with five shots on goal. Denver netminder and Red Wings prospect Filip Larsson (DET, 2016 6th round pick) allowed just one goal on 31 shots in defeat, but it was one goal too many.

The Pioneers rediscovered their offense Saturday night in the consolation game against cross-state rival Colorado College. Blackhawks prospect Ian Mitchell (CHI, 2017 2nd round pick) and Liam Finlay (undrafted) both scored twice and Devin Cooley (undrafted) allowed just one goal on 22 shots as Denver claimed 3rd place in the conference tourney.

In the finals Saturday night, UMD bested the #1 St. Cloud squad in a dramatic double OT thriller when Wild prospect Nick Swaney (MIN, 2017 7th round pick) fired home the game-winner for the Bulldogs. Both teams scored even-strength in the first, and the both teams added special teams markers in the 3rd – a power play goal by the Huskies and shortie by the Bulldogs – to force the extra sessions. Shepard made 37 saves to give UMD its second conference championship in three years, while Hrenak made 27 saves in defeat.

All three of the teams will certainly earn a berth in the NCAA tournament when the tournament selections will be televised on ESPNU Sunday night, March 24.

*USCHO poll used for rankings