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Conference Tourneys

I've got a lot of catching up to do. We'll start with the conference tourneys from this past weekend.

I was one of the few people in attendance at the Joe last Friday to see the CCHA semifinals.

The first game between Miami and Northern Michigan was a very good one. The Wildcats came out flying and looked hot, but Charlie Effinger really made the difference for Miami. Northern jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period. In the second, Wildcat defenseman Nathan Oystick got a point blank chance and Effinger made a beautiful save to keep it 2-0. One shift later, Miami goes down and scores a goal. Effinger made another beautiful save on a 2 on 1 to keep the score 2-1. If he lets either of those in, Northern is probably able to steal the win.

On a side note, Northern's powerplay was absolutely brutal against the Red Hawks. Miami lined up four guys along the blueline and Northern refused to dump the puck into the zone. As a result, the Wildcats couldn't get the puck into the Miami zone. It was painful to watch.

The second game was just as ugly. Michigan scored the first goal of the game, and then it was pretty much all Michigan State the rest of the way. The Spartans controlled the neutral zone and kept Michigan from being able to generate any offense. Michigan looked sluggish most of the game. Despite that, they still had chances to tie late in the third period when Matt Hunwick blasted a shot off the post.

This is discussion for the offseason, but any talk about Andrew Cogliano going pro is ridiculous. What does he have to offer to an NHL team or AHL team for that matter other than the ability to skate really fast? I've now seen him play 5 times, and he's looked less than impressive in 4 of those games. He'd really benefit from some extra time in college.

Michigan outplayed Northern pretty badly in the consolation game, but Bill Zaniboni stood on his head and gave Northern a chance to win. Michigan prevailed 3-2 though.

Michigan State won a tough defensive battle against Miami in the final. Jeff Lerg is playing great in goal. Michigan State is playing great into the tournament.

In St. Paul, St. Cloud won the play-in game pretty easily after they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, despite being outshot and outplayed by Duluth.

North Dakota came from behind to win the first semifinal match-up. They were really able to use their speed against Wisconsin. I think North Dakota is playing just as well as anyone right now.

The St. Cloud/Minnesota semifinal was the game of the weekend. I had made fun of St. Cloud's inability to score goals this season, but apparently they were just saving all those goals for a special occasion. That was a gutty performance by St. Cloud to give up those late goals and still be able to come back and win in overtime. The Gophers showed that goaltending could be a huge concern in the NCAA tournament. That's probably the only thing that could hold them back from winning the NCAA tournament.

The Saturday results weren't surprising. The Gophers, who were tired from the night before, came out flat in the third place game and lost to the Badgers, while St. Cloud, who was playing their 6th game in 9 days, didn't have the energy to overcome North Dakota.