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NCAA Hockey: 2015 West Regional Team Capsules

Matt Dewkett

The West Regional will take place at Scheel's Arena in Fargo, North Dakota on March 27th and 28th. Host North Dakota is the top seed in this bracket.

Here's a closer look at the four teams that will face off in Fargo

#1 North Dakota

Bid: At-large(NCHC Regular Season Champions)

Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

Record: 27-9-3 overall, 16-6-2 NCHC

Past NCAA Championships: 1959, 1963, 1980, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2000

Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (North Dakota '96)

Captains: Stephane Pattyn(C), Connor Gaarder(A), Michael Parks(A), Mark MacMillan(A)

Key Players: Drake Caggiula(16-17-33), Michael Parks(12-20-32), Jordan Schmaltz(4-23-27), Nick Schmaltz(5-21-26), Troy Stecher(2-9-11)

Starting Goaltender: Zane McIntyre 27-9-3 2.05 .929

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Jordan Schmaltz(5), Nick Schmaltz(10), Zane McIntyre(22), Michael Parks(28), Troy Stecher(31), Paul LaDue(46), Mark MacMillan(54), Tucker Poolman(63), Luke Johnson(83), Drake Caggiula(95)

Story of the Season: Last year, North Dakota had to wait out the final game of the conference tournaments to sneak into NCAA Tournament as the last team to receive an at-large bid. This year, North Dakota left nothing to chance. They avoided their traditional early season slump, starting the year 8-2-1, and had their traditional strong finish to the season to run away with the regular season title in college hockey’s toughest conference this year. There’s little doubt that they were one of, if not the, premier teams in college hockey this season, and playing on what will essentially be home ice, they’re a heavy favorite to return to the Frozen Four this year.

What to Expect: North Dakota is known for their fast, aggressive style of play. They love to take shots from the perimeter and then crash the net hard for tips and rebounds. They’re extremely tough working for pucks along the boards, especially senior forward Michael Parks. There’s not a lot of flashy offensive talent outside of freshman forward Nick Schmaltz, but they’re a team that runs four lines deep of forwards that are going to apply heavy pressure all over the ice.

The defense is among the deepest in college hockey. They’re a very mobile group that moves the puck up the ice effectively and provides solid protection for Zane McIntyre, who is one of the best goalies in the NCAA.

#2 Michigan Tech

Bid:  At-large

Location: Houghton, Michigan

Record: 29-9-2 overall, 21-5-2 WCHA

Past NCAA Championships: 1962, 1965, 1975

Head Coach: Mel Pearson (Michigan Tech ‘81)

Captains: Tanner Kero(C), Blake Pietila(C), Alex Petan(A), Cliff Watson(A)

Key Players: Tanner Kero(19-26-45), Alex Petan(15-24-39), Blake Pietila(14-16-30)

Starting Goalie: Jamie Phillips 28-8-2 1.71 .935

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Blake Pietila(45), Jamie Phillips(76)

Story of the Season: When head coach Mel Pearson signed a contract extension shortly before the start of this season, some fans around the country were a bit surprised, given his middling level of success to that point in Houghton. But Michigan Tech fans were thrilled, because they knew what a special group Pearson had assembled at Michigan Tech and their faith has been rewarded.

Michigan Tech had been perennial doormats for the past 20 or so years. But Pearson guided his team to a #1 national ranking earlier this season, and has them back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1981 with a team capable of making a deep run in the tournament.

What to Expect: The Huskies are a deep team, which makes them very versatile. Scorers like Hobey Baker finalist Tanner Kero and Alex Petan give Michigan Tech the option to run-and-gun, while the stingy play of goalie Jamie Phillips and a strong though unheralded defensive group can allow them to play a tight defensive game.

#3 St. Cloud State

Bid: At-Large

Location: St. Cloud, Minnesota

Record: 19-18-1 overall, 11-12-1 NCHC

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Bob Motzko (St. Cloud State ‘87)

Captains: Nick Oliver(C), Andrew Prochno(A), Tim Daly(A)

Key Players: Jonny Brodzinski(20-17-37), Joey Benik(16-22-38), Kalle Kossila(5-20-25)

Starting Goalie: Charlie Lindgren 18-17-1 2.26 .919

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Jonny Brodzinski(27)

Story of the Season: St. Cloud State played one of the toughest schedules in the country this year. As a result, they hovered around a .500 record all season and the biggest question heading into the final weeks of the season was not whether their Pairwise Ranking would be high enough to make the tournament field, but whether they would finish with a losing record, making them ineligible for the tournament.

But the Huskies got hot at the right time, winning some key games down the stretch to return to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season.

What to Expect: The Huskies had success the previous two seasons with high-flying offensive teams, but this year, with much less firepower, they’ve had to adopt a more defense-first strategy. The Huskies don’t forecheck very hard, instead opting to clog up the neutral zone and make it difficult for teams to score off the rush.

They really lack scoring depth, but Jonny Brodzinski and Joey Benik are two of the more dangerous goal scorers in the country and freshman Patrick Russell is a strong net presence with a heavy shot.

#4 Quinnipiac

Bid: At-large

Location: Hamden, Connecticut

Record: 23-11-4, 16-3-3 ECAC

Past NCAA Championships: None

Head Coach: Rand Pecknold (Connecticut College ‘90)

Captains: Matthew Peca(C), Danny Federico(C)

Key Players: Sam Anas(23-16-39), Matthew Peca(7-29-36), Connor Clifton(0-5-5)

Starting Goalie: Michael Garteig 22-9-3 2.00 .918

Top 100 NHL Prospects: Connor Clifton(75)

Story of the Season: The Bobcats suffered a tough loss to Harvard in the ECAC Hockey semifinals, but will make their third straight appearance in the national tournament. Rand Pecknold did a good job of molding a team that was hit hard by graduation and early departures to the pro ranks.

What to Expect: Leading scorer Sam Anas is expected to miss another two weeks with a knee injury which is a serious blow to any chance of Quinnipiac advancing past the first or second round. He's questionable to make it back for the Frozen Four if Quinnipiac advances that far.

Michael Garteig has performed well statistically, but there are still some concerns when it comes to his game, especially in clutch situations. He has a tendency to let in soft goals, but the Bobcats do a good job possessing the puck and making it as easy as possible for Garteig to have success.