Club hockey heads to regionals as 6th seed

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schwichtenberg
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Schwichtenberg

Marquette club hockey (30-7-1) begins its quest for a second National tournament appearance with the Pacific Regional Tournament this weekend in Bensenville, Ill. The top four teams automatically qualify for the National Division III Hockey Tournament in Alabama.

The first matchup for Marquette will be a rematch against Robert Morris-White. The Golden Eagles split their home series with the Eagles in early November, losing 5-2 and winning 3-2 the following day.

Coach Will Jurgensen explained the team will need to find ways to slow down Robert Morris’s forwards and counter when they have chances.

“They have two very solid lines of forwards who like to push it up the ice with a lot of speed, and those guys have some very good shots,” Jurgensen said. “Their weakness might just be on the back-end in defense, but they make up for that in size and physicality so we’re going to have to push the attack wide and try and generate a lot of shots. We need to be able to cut down their speed through the neutral zone and hit them with quick fore-checks.”

After Friday’s matchups, the teams will be reseeded and the winners of Saturday’s matchups will qualify for the National tournament. The top two seeds, No. 1 Colorado State and No. 2 Arkansas, automatically qualified for the National tournament. Because of the automatic bids, they will be exempt from the regional tournament.

The other two teams will come out of the pool of No. 3 Metro State, No. 4 Northern Colorado, No. 5 Northern Arizona, No. 6 Marquette, No. 7 Robert Morris-White, No. 8 Iowa State, No. 9 Missouri State and No. 10 Nebraska.

Jurgensen mentioned he slowed down Wednesday’s practice to give his team a little bit of a break before the difficult tournament.

“We won’t be conditioning as much as we typically do, and Wednesday (focused) a lot more on our systems (power play, penalty killing) and some 5-on-5 situations,” Jurgensen said. “For the most part we are keeping things light, but maintaining high tempos to keep our speed and sharpness up.”

Luckily for the Golden Eagles, the team is healthy coming into the tournament. Jurgensen said that sophomore Matt Poli got a cut on his elbow that needed treatment, but it was the only injury from the conference tournament.

“He had to get two staples in his elbow after Saturday’s game against Nebraska, and ended up pulling one out before the game on Sunday because it had come loose, but he battled through the injury in both games,” Jurgensen said. “Unfortunately, it became infected so he took Monday off. He will be back in the lineup for Friday’s game though.”

Marquette has a combined 2-2-0 record against the teams in the regional tournament. If Marquette wins two games in the tournament, the team will have 16 days off before playing in the ACHA Division III National tournament in Pelham, Ala., March 10-14.