The thrills and angst of tournament time in college hockey
Sabres prospect Devon Levi and Northeastern need to win this weekend to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive - a pair of current Sabres shared what that experience is like
A lot of Sabres fans eyes will be on the big club this weekend, and perhaps in future weekends, keeping tabs on a handful of the college hockey prospects taking part in their conference tournaments. None will be watched closer than Northeastern goalie Devon Levi.
Northeastern sits in a perilous position in the Pairwise rankings, the mathematic methodology the NCAA uses to determine who goes to the NCAA tournament, sitting at 18 before they face Providence in the Hockey East quarterfinals. Only 16 teams make the NCAA tournament which means the Huskies will need to go deep in, if not win, the Hockey East tournament title. Winning the conference tournament gets a team an automatic bid to the ice dance.
In Levi’s case, he returned to Northeastern this season because he wanted to run it back with his teammates and make amends for what they felt was a disappointing finish, bowing out in the first round 2-1 against Western Michigan, the No. 1 seed in their region. Being the big man on campus is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you can’t fault any player for wanting to go back. But the Huskies are in a must-win situation the rest of the way and that kind of pressure is something else.
“It’s totally different (than the regular season),” Sabres defenseman Jacob Bryson said. “It’s tough because if you lose those games, you’re done for the year, but you’ve got to prepare for them like you would any game during the year. Any team can win in those games. There’s no bad team when it comes to making the tournament or the semis or quarters or whatever it is for your league. It’s tough, it’s just like any playoff game in the NHL or AHL or wherever you are.”
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