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NCAA Preview: St. Cloud

Even if St. Cloud and Maine isn't the sexiest match-up in terms of the two teams on the ice, I find it incredibly intriguing from a historical perspective. I know that the past has no bearing on what will happen this weekend, but more often than not, teams tend to live up to their roles in the tournament. Michigan usually steals a win or two. Michigan State falls short of their expectations. New Hampshire never wins the big one. Boston College gets lucky and wins the big one once every 50 years and looks down their nose at UNH because of it.

That said, on paper, St. Cloud looks like the stronger. But taking a step back, you've got one team that seems to lose in the tournament no matter how good their team is facing off against the team that seems to always be in the Frozen Four no matter who their team is.

By now, I'm sure every player on St. Cloud's team has heard about the Huskies 0-7 record in the tournament. Of course, the Huskies haven't been in this position very often. The Huskies were really only favored in one of the seven tournament games that they lost. The question is how this team will handle the pressure of having to be the first team to win an NCAA tournament game.

In that regard, I think playing Maine helps. The Black Bears struggled down the stretch. The only two games they've won since Valentine's Day were over bottom-feeder Merrimack. Maine was missing star goalie Ben Bishop though. Bishop has the ability to steal this game for Maine, but I think that Bobby Goepfert will be able to match his performance.

If the Huskies get past Maine and get the monkey off their back, the sky could be the limit for them. In the second round, they could potentially face a Clarkson team that they beat pretty easily twice at home. If they went as far as the Frozen Four, they'll be playing a defensive-minded team out of the Midwest regional, which I think is a nice match-up for St. Cloud.