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NCAA Hockey: 2015 Midwest Regional Team Capsules

Matt Christians

The Midwest Regional will take place March 28th and 29th at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

The top overall seed Minnesota State headlines the bracket, while and RIT will also be heading to Indiana.

Here's a look at the four teams in this regional:

#1 Minnesota State

Bid: WCHA Automatic Bid(WCHA Regular Season Champions)

Location: Mankato, Minnesota

Record: 29-7-3 overall, 21-4-3 in WCHA

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Mike Hastings (St. Cloud State, ‘93)

Captains: Chase Grant(C), Brett Stern(C). Zach Palmquist(A), Carter Foguth(A)

Key Players: Matt Leitner(9-32-41), Bryce Gervais(27-9-36), Zach Palmquist(8-21-29), Casey Nelson(7-26-33)

Starting Goalie: Stephon Williams 25-5-3 1.62 .926

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Teddy Blueger(38), CJ Franklin(58), Dylan Margonari(80)

Story of the Season: The Mavericks are back in the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season under head coach Mike Hastings after just one appearance in the program’s previous 16 years at the Division I level prior to Hastings’ arrival.

But after sneaking into the bottom half of the NCAA Tournament field the past two years, the Mavericks--led by a strong senior class--have been one of the best teams in the country, including earning the school’s first #1 national ranking and winning the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions for the first time. They come into the NCAA Tournament as the top overall seed, and hoping to earn the first Division I national tournament victory in school history.

What to Expect: The Mavericks play a very possession-oriented offensive game. The duo of Matt Leitner as the set-up man and Bryce Gervais as the finisher has been one of the most dangerous combinations in college hockey this year, but the real secret to Minnesota State’s success is their ability to attack the opposition with any of their four lines.

The Mavericks’ blue line lacks superstars--though senior Zach Palmquist logs a lot of icetime--but they block a very high percentage of shot attempts, which drastically limits the amount of shots that goalie Stephon Williams faces.

#2 Nebraska-Omaha

Bid: At-Large

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Record: 18-12-6 overall, 12-8-4 NCHC

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Dean Blais (Minnesota ‘73)

Captains: Dominic Zombo(C), Brian O’Rourke(C), James Polk(A)

Key Players: Jake Guentzel(12-23-35), Austin Ortega(19-15-34), Jake Randolph(4-19-23)

Starting Goalie: Ryan Massa 12-7-6 2.04 .934

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Luc Snuggerud(30), Jake Guentzel(35), Avery Peterson(93)

Story of the Season: It was thought that this might be a rebuilding year for an Omaha team that regularly dressed seven freshmen, but the influx of youth was a huge positive for the Mavericks. Their top seven scorers are all underclassmen.

The Mavericks were sensational in the first half of the season, but have mostly been a .500 team in 2015 and ended their regular season on a sour note after getting swept at home in the playoffs. They’ll have to hope the extra week off allows them to get back to the way they played in the first half.

What to Expect: The Mavericks have relied heavily on goalie Ryan Massa to make a lot of saves and hold them in games, and Massa has obliged with a tremendous senior season.

Omaha is excellent offensively in transition and on the rush, spacing the ice very well to create offensive openings. Jake Guentzel is a smart, tricky player that reads the ice well, and Austin Ortega is a speedy forward that is dangerous any time he touches the puck.

#3 Harvard

Bid: ECAC Autobid

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Record: 21-12-3, 11-8-3 ECAC

Past NCAA Championships: 1989

Head Coach: Ted Donato (Harvard ‘91)

Captains: Max Everson(C), Kyle Criscuolo(C)

Key Players: Jimmy Vesey(31-26-57), Kyle Criscuolo(17-30-47), Alex Kerfoot(8-21-29)

Starting Goalie: Stephen Michalek 21-12-3 2.29 .924

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Jimmy Vesey(8), Alex Kerfoot(32), Sean Malone(36), Patrick McNally(51), Stephen Michalek(84)

Story of the Season:The season was a tale of ups and downs for the Crimson. Harvard jumped out to a hot start that included big nonconference wins over Boston University, Boston College and UMass Lowell.

Injuries started to add up around the midway point and Ted Donato's team faltered, but it will enter the national tournament on a 7-1 run including capturing the ECAC Hockey Tournament in Lake Placid with wins over Quinnipiac and Colgate.It is Harvard's first NCAA appearance since 2006.

What to Expect: Harvard has a ton of offensive weapons, led by Jimmy Vesey, the nation's leading goal scorer with 31 in 36 games. Kyle Criscuolo and Alex Kerfoot have been great line mates for the Nashville Predators prospect.

The addition of a healthy Sean Malone and Colin Blackwell is significant for secondary offense as is the return of Patrick McNally on the blue line. When Steve Michalek is on his game, he's one of the top goaltenders in the country.

#4 RIT

Bid: Atlantic Hockey Autobid

Location: Rochester, New York

Record: 19-14-5, 14-9-5 Atlantic Hockey

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Wayne Wilson (Bowling Green ‘84)

Captains: Matt Garbowsky(C), Brad McGowan(A), Alexander Kuqali(A), Andrew Miller(A)

Key Players: Matt Garbowsky(26-27-53), Josh Mitchell(15-35-50), Brad McGowan(23-22-45)

Starting Goalie: Jordan Ruby 10-7-4 2.11 .923

Top 100 NHL Prospects: None

Story of the Season: Wayne Wilson's team is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since its magical run to the 2010 Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit. The Tigers came on strong in the second half after an up and down first semester.

After an overtime loss to Minnesota in the Mariucci Classic, RIT went 14-4-2 to close out the season as the Atlantic Hockey Tournament champions.

What to Expect: Hobey Baker Award finalist Matt Garbowsky receives much of the attention offensively. The St. George, Ontario native enters the national tournament with 26 goals and 27 assists in 38 games played. Senior Brad McGowan came up with some big goals in the AHA Tournament and Josh Mitchell is another Tiger producing at a pace over a point per game.

Senior Jordan Ruby has emerged as the team's number one goaltender and has really taken the crease by storm. He has a .923 save percentage and will have to be a game changer if RIT is going to survive and advance.