The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 20, 2014

Coaches expect Final Five to mirror season

MSU, Bowling Green rivalry started in November


“I thought Minnesota State had an unbelievable second half of the year,” Daniels said. “That race benefited us greatly, and I think (MSU) benefited greatly. There was zero margin for error.”

Ferris State swept Bemidji State in the first round of the playoffs, winning 8-0 in the opener but taking the second game in double-overtime 3-2. The Mavericks defeated Northern Michigan 3-2 and 5-4 in overtime.

Located just 60 miles away in Big Rapids., Mich., Ferris State might have the home-ice advantage. The university has made a push to sell ticket packages and arranged five buses to transport fans to Grand Rapids.

“What that crowd is remains to be seen,” Daniels said.

Bowling Green advanced with 2-1 and 5-2 victories over Michigan Tech. Anchorage pulled off the only first-round upset on the road, defeating rival Alaska in Fairbanks two games to one. The Seawolves lost the first game of the series, and all three games were decided by one goal.

Now it’s single-elimination, and the coaches expect more close games.

The Mavericks and the Falcons, another former CCHA team, played four times in a three-week stretch in November, and the teams split both weekends with three games going to overtime. Bergeron said the players got “a little crusty with each other” by the final game, “which was good.”

“For two teams that didn’t have a history of a rivalry, we developed one real quickly,” Bergeron said.

Of Bowling Green, Hastings said: “They’re one of the more aggressive teams in college hockey, not just the WCHA.”

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