Scouting the rest of the Midwest
CINCINNATI — In the second NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal, the No. 7 Union Dutchmen will take on the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions. The Nittany Lions will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions earned their way into the game by winning the Big Ten tournament as the fourth seed. At one point ranked No. 1 in the NCAA after opening the season 16-2-1, the Nittany Lions struggled through a five-game winless streak and were swept by Michigan to close out the regular season.
In the Big Ten Tournament, Penn State knocked off the Wolverines, 4-1, before defeating Minnesota in double overtime, 4-3. In the championship game, the Nittany Lions again needed a second overtime before freshman Liam Folkes got loose, skated in a breakaway and beat Jack Berry of Wisconsin at 6:43.
Freshman Denis Smirnov leads the team in game-winning goals (4), assists (28) and points (45). Sophomore Andrew Sturtz leads the team in goals (21) and is third in points (34).
Senior David Goodwin has also been strong all season for the Nittany Lions with 11 goals and 36 points.
Freshman Peyton Jones has seen action in 34 games this season and has amassed a record of 22-9-2. His goals against average is 2.51 and his save percentage is .907.
The Dutchmen opened their season with a split with Michigan as part of a six-game run of nonconference games to start the season. Through 11 games, the Dutchmen improved to 8-2-1.
After a loss to Clarkson, the Dutchmen rattled off a six-game winning streak that included a sweep of Vermont.
Union shot up the polls to No. 4, their highest ranking of the year, only to lose to Cornell before beating Colgate. They lost again, this time to Harvard, before winning four of their last five to close out the regular season.
The Dutchmen swept Princeton to win their first-round of the ECAC Tournament, but fell in the semifinals to Cornell. They are now 25-9-3 on the season.
Senior Mike Vecchione leads the team in goals (29), game-winning goals (7), shorthanded goals (4), empty net goals (5) and points (62). Junior Spencer Foo leads the team in assists (36) and is second in points (60).
Senior Alex Sakellaropoulos has been the main man in goal this season, seeing action in 29 games. He has posted a record of 22-5-2 overall, with a 2.42 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
The second semi final is slated to start at 4:30 p.m. at U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday.
The winner of the Midwest is set to faceoff against the winner of the Northeast Regional in the Frozen Four. Minnesota is the top seed in the region and will face Notre Dame. In the other semifinal, Massachusetts-Lowell will face Cornell.