It’s the semifinal round at the Frozen Four in Lake Placid and both games feature the talent and level of play to complete the required weekend two-game win streak and hoist the national championship trophy.
All efforts are focused on Friday and the need to win to play further on the weekend.
Last week’s quarterfinal round NCAA picks went 2-2-0 (.500) with misses on the highly-seeded Statesmen and Bulldogs. Picking the winner and exact score of the Geneseo-Williams game made me feel a little better, but now is the time to sweep the weekend picks.
The season record now stands at 74-39-10 (.642) and with just two games pitting East vs. West, I am going to make it interesting for Mr. Lester by picking my boys in the East in both games – got to give some props to the Beacons and Knights!
Here are my picks across the semifinal-round NCAA games on Friday:
Geneseo vs. Wisconsin-Stevens Point
If the game is only half as good as the storylines leading up to it, this one is destined to be a tournament classic. The Pointers are seeking just one rung higher than last year’s finish, while the Knights are on a mission for a fallen teammate. The big sheet creates room for a little more offense and that goes the way of the New York-based team – Geneseo 4, Wisconsin-Stevens Point 3
Massachusetts-Boston vs. St. Norbert
First time vs. long time in game two on Friday night and while the Green Knights have all the credentials, somebody forgot to tell the Beacons they are just “newbies” and should be happy to be here – UMB 3, St. Norbert 2 (OT)
Semifinal picks – Brian Lester
Stevens Point vs. Geneseo
Stevens Point has won three consecutive games and is eager to punch a ticket to the title game once again. The Pointers have been the national runner-up the last two years.
They have struck for 140 goals on the year while allowing 66 and Joe Kalisz leads the attack with 13 goals and 27 assists. Kyle Sharkey has come through with 18 goals and 17 assists and Lawrence Cornellier has tallied a team-best 22 goals to go along with 12 assists.
Max Milosek has been solid in goal this season, winning 17 times, including two by shutout. He owns a 2.08 GAA.
The Pointers have been clutch as of late, with three of their last five games being decided by one goal.
Geneseo is riding a five-game win streak and is in the final four for the second time in three years. The Knights have scored four or more goals four times during the stretch while giving up only five goals.
Stephen Collins leads the offense with 22 goals and 25 assists. Trevor Hills has tallied 22 goals as well to go along with 18 assists. The Knights have scored 121 goals in all and have given up 77 goals. Devin McDonald is 17-2-5 with a 2.35 GAA.
Both teams have been here before, but I’m giving the edge to Stevens Point in a tight battle.
Stevens Point, 5-4
St. Norbert vs. UMass Boston
The Green Knights have won four national titles and are in the final four for the 10th time in program history. They have won five of their last six and will look to win the title for the first time since 2014.
They have scored 128 goals on 178 assists and Erik Cooper leads the way with 12 goals and 21 assists. Four other players have scored at least 13 goals, including Riley Christensen, who has also tallied 13 assists. St. Norbert has allowed only 40 goals, with Tony Kujava fashioning a 15-1-1 record.
In its last five wins, St. Norbert has tallied at least four goals while not allowing more than a goal in any of those victories.
While St. Norbert is familiar with the final four, Mass.-Boston is in unchartered territory. The Beacons are in the national semifinals for the first time and come in on a five-game win streak.
Matt Lemire has come through with 14 goals and 29 assists to pace the offense while five other players have scored at least 10 goals. The Beacons have racked up 125 goals in all and have allowed 61. Billy Faust is 14-2-3 this season in goal.
Both of these teams are capable of scoring goals in bunches, but St. Norbert has the experience.
St. Norbert 5-3
The games will be great and we will have just one more pick to make for Saturday, but first things first. You have to win on Friday to play in the big game – drop the puck!