While there were no Lightning NCAA prospects in action on Sunday, the 2013 NCAA tournament field was set and involved four Tampa Bay draft picks:
Quinnipiac (Matt Peca) earned the top overall seed and will play 16-seed Canisius College in the East Region's first round. Of course, Canisius is the alma mater of current Lightning rookie, Cory Conacher.
Minnesota (Adam Wilcox) got the second overall seed and plays 15th-seeded Yale in the first round in the West.
Miami (Jimmy Mullin) is the 5-seed and will play 11-seed Minnesota State in the Midwest.
North Dakota (Brendan O'Donnell) is No. 8 in the tournament and will face off against 10-seed Niagara in the first round of the West. The winner will play the Minnesota-Yale winner.
Left out of the tournament is Luke Witkowski and Western Michigan, who had a fine season but were beat out of the CCHA tournament early by Michigan. Notre Dame and Canisius making the tournament knocked them out as an at-large. That means Witkowski is available to sign his pro contract with the Lightning, something Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman has said he interested in doing. Witkowski's defense partner, Danny DeKeyser, is the NCAA's top available free agent and is reportedly traveling to Toronto on Tuesday to meet with potential suitors. The Lightning were a supposed finalist for his services last year before he decided to go back to school. The Red Wings are considered the favorite to land DeKeyser, with the Ducks and Oilers also making strong pushes. Expect the Lightning to be involved also, but it's unclear if the signing of Andrej Sustr and the firing of Guy Boucher will affect things.
Witkowski could join the Syracuse Crunch upon his signing.
Michigan Wolverines 6 vs No. 3 Miami RedHawks 2
F Jimmy Mullin, MIA: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 37 GP, 6-8-14, -1, 14 PIM
Michigan continued their improbable run in the CCHA playoffs, scoring four times in the second period en route to a 6-2 win over the RedHawks. Michigan will play Notre Dame in Sunday’s championship game. Jimmy Mullin was minus-1 in the game, which came when he was in front of the opposing net on the power play as Michigan created a turnover and scored on the ensuing break. He showed some good stick work creating space in the offensive zone, but wasn’t able to hit the scoresheet. Miami will now await an at-large bid to the national tournament.
Brown Bears 4 @ No. 1 Quinnipiac Bobcats 0
F Matthew Peca, QU: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 34 GP, 10-12-22, +10, 32 PIM
Brown’s 5-9, undrafted goaltender Anthony Borelli stopped 29 shots and the Bears had four goals in the first two periods to upset top-ranked Quinnipiac in the ECAC semifinals. The Bobcats won the regular season conference title long ago with a remarkable campaign, but still chose not to touch their conference trophy as they had the tournament title in mind. It was not to be. They will play Yale in the Third Place Game on Saturday before their place in the national tournament is announced on Sunday.
Colorado College Tigers 2 vs No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers 0
WCHA Final 5 Semifinals
G Adam Wilcox, MIN: Loss, 18 saves on 20 shots
Season totals: 38 GP, 25-7-5, 1.85 GAA, .922 sv%, 3 SO
Colorado College got two goals against Adam Wilcox, and goaltender Joe Howe (undrafted) made them stand up to propel the Tigers to the WCHA Final 5 championship game against Wisconsin. The Badgers upset top-seeded St. Cloud State. On Friday, Wilcox was beat first by a wrist shot from the circles that appeared to be deflected on its way into the upper corner of the net above Wilcox’s blocker. The second goal was a sweeping shot from the low right circle that may have been hard to read as a defender got a stick on it at the time it was released. The puck found it’s way through Wilcox, who made several strong saves to keep the game close in the final period. Nevertheless, he took his seventh loss of the season in 37 decisions. Minnesota will get an at-large bid to the national tournament.
Colorado College Tigers 4 vs. No. 4 North Dakota 3 (OT)
WCHA Final 5 Quarterfinal
F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 0-1-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 2-8-10, E, 18 PIM
Brendan O’Donnell had an assist on UND’s first goal, but he and his teammates won’t be advancing in the WCHA Final 5 after their overtime loss on Thursday. O’Donnell’s assist came when he won a battle in the right wing corner, using his skate to knock a puck to Habs prospect Danny Kristo, who swung around the net and roofed a wrist shot into the net. North Dakota later battled back to force overtime, but a CC shot banked off a UND defenseman and into the net in overtime to send the Tigers on to face the top-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers and Lightning prospect Adam Wilcox in the semifinals on Friday. North Dakota will now wait for an at-large bid to the national tournament, to be announced on Sunday.
Cornell Big Red 2 @ No. 1 Quinnipiac Bobcats 3 (2OT)
Quinnipiac wins best-of-3 ECAC quarterfinals, 2-1
D/W Kirill Gotovets, COR: Did not play
Season totals: 22 GP, 0-0-0, +1, 12 PIM
F Matthew Peca, QU: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 7 SOG
Season totals: 33 GP, 10-12-22, +10, 32 PIM
The Bobcats escaped their quarterfinal match-up against Cornell, winning in double overtime to advance to the ECAC semifinals. Quinnipiac will play Brown next weekend. Gotovets and Cornell are done for the year. Kirill is expected to return to school for his senior season next year.
Michigan State Spartans 1 @ No. 3 Miami RedHawks 4
Miami wins Best-of-3 CCHA quarterfinals, 2-1
F Jimmy Mullin, MIA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 36 GP, 6-8-14, E, 14 PIM
Miami outshot MSU 35-19 en route to a 4-1 Game 3 win over the Spartans. Jimmy Mullin started the game on the RedHawks’ fourth line and registered one shot on goal. He had a goal in Game 2. Former Lightning prospect camper Austin Czarnik scored his 14th goal of the year in the win. (1)Miami advances to play (10)Michigan in the semifinals on Saturday. The Wolverines upset (3)Western Michigan. The winner will advance to Sunday’s final.
Michigan Tech Huskies 0 @ No. 4 North Dakota 6
UND wins best-of-3 WCHA quarterfinals, 2-1
F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 26 GP, 2-7-9, -1, 18 PIM
Brendan O’Donnell scored UND’s sixth goal, adding insult to injury for the upstart Huskies. North Dakota advances to the WCHA’s Final 5 next weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota.
*USCHO poll used