FOND DU LAC, Wis. - After 220 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) games, only six teams remain in the pursuit of the Harris Cup and the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
THE HARRIS CUP FIELD:
Adrian College and St. Norbert each claimed a share of the regular season title after each finished 17-2-1 with Adrian holding the tie breaker to earn the No. 1 seed for the tournament. The Sabres finished third overall, second in the south, at 15-4-1 with the best regular season conference finish since the 2003-04 season when MU finished 14-2-0 in MCHA play and feel to Minnesota Crookston in the championship game. St. Scholastica earned the four seed and will also host the opening round after going 12-7-1. Concordia Wisconsin and Lawrence round out the field with the Falcons traveling to Marian for the opening round and LU heading to St. Scholastica.
AGAINST THE FIELD:
Marian went a combined 5-4-1 against the other five teams in the field with a 1-2-1 record against the top seeded Bulldogs and Green Knights. The biggest victory against the field for the Sabres came in the opening weekend when MU defeated SNC 4-2 in their home opener for the program's first victory against the Green Knights. The only team Marian was able to sweep during the regular season was Concordia Wisconsin with finals of 4-1 at home, and 4-2 on the road.
PLAYOFF HOCKEY RETURNS TO FONDY:
The Sabres will host their first home playoff game since the before mentioned 2003-04 season where MU fell in the championship game. Marian played well on the Olympic sheet of ice at Blue Line this season holding a 9-2-1 record with the two losses coming at the hands of Adrian and SNC.
LOOKING AT THE SABRES:
Marian finished the regular season with the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games. The Sabres featured two scorers who had 30-point seasons, one of the nation's best defensemen, and one of the country's best goaltenders. Derek Thorogood (9-24--33) and Devin Stuermer (17-15--32) led the offense with Thorogood ranking eigth in the nation with a 0.96 assists per game average, while Stuermer led the NCHA with goals and ranks 11th in the country with a 1.39 points per game average. In his first NCAA season Gianni Mangone (10-12--22) proved to be a reliable source of offense ranking fourth in the nation for defenseman scoring at 0.96 points per game. In net, Mike Baldwin finished the regular season with a 12-2-3 record with the nation's third best goals-against average at 1.45 and the country's 11th best save percentage at .937. Baldwin was also one of 15 goalies in the nation to have three or more shutouts.
Marian was led by one of the best defensive cores in the nation ranking fourth in the country, second in the NCHA, with a 1.72 goals per game average. The offense also carried their part ranking 13th in the country at 3.64 goals per game leading to a ranking of ninth in scoring margin at +1.92. The special teams units of Marian combined to rank 15th in the nation (91/168) with the power play ranking 12th (21/88), and the penalty kill at 13th (70/80).
UP NEXT FOR MARIAN:
With a win Wednesday, Marian would travel to St. Norbert for a two-game series Feb. 26-27 with a one period mini-game if necessary.