NCAA Hockey Tournament 2012, Midwest Region Preview: Goaltending Key To Earning Tampa Trip

While the Northeast Region has talented individuals with four of the 10 Hobey Baker nominees, the Midwest Region has its share of top goaltenders. Between Michigan's Shawn Hunwick (who coincidentally is also a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award), Cornell's Andy Iles, Ferris State's Taylor Nelson and C.J. Motte and Denver's three-headed monster of Sam Brittain, Juho Olkinuora and Adam Murray.

THE GAMES

No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (24-12-4) vs. No. 4 Cornell Big Red (18-8-7)
Friday, March 23, 9 p.m. ET | TV: ESPNU
More Coverage: Wolverines blog Maize n Brew, SB Nation Detroit

No. 2 Ferris State Bulldogs (23-11-5) vs. No. 3 Denver Pioneers (25-13-4)
Friday, March 23, 5:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN3.com, Altitude
More Coverage: SB Nation Denver

HOW THEY GOT HERE

All four teams received at-large bids. Michigan finished second in both the CCHA regular season and tournament, where they lost to Western Michigan. Denver finished third in the WCHA behind Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth during the regular season and were the runners-up to North Dakota in the conference tournament. Ferris State won the CCHA regular season over the Wolverines but was upset by Bowling Green in the first round of the CCHA conference tournament. Finally, Cornell was the second-best ECAC team in the regular season and won the third-place game in the conference tournament.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Michigan: No. 31, G Shawn Hunwick; No. 24, D Jon Merrill (New Jersey); No. 10, F Chris Brown (Phoenix Coyotes); and No. 7, F Phil Di Giuseppe (2012 NHL Draft Eligible)
  • Denver: No. 1, G Sam Brittain (Florida); No. 15, F Drew Shore (Florida); No. 18, F Luke Salazzar; and No. 21, D Joey LaLeggia
  • Ferris State: No. 29, G Taylor Nelson; No. 11, F Jordie Johnston; No. 4, D Chad Billins; and No. 28, F Kyle Bonis
  • Cornell: No. 33, G Andy Iles; No. 16, F Greg Miller; No. 12, F Sean Collins; and No. 6, D Nick D'Agostino

TEAM PREVIEWS

For more on the road to the Frozen Four in Tampa, stick with our 2012 NCAA hockey tournament StoryStream.


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