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Four Preds Prospects Make NCAA Tournament

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
The 2009 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament bracket was released on Sunday morning with four Preds prospects Ben Ryan, Taylor Stefishen, Ryan Thang, and Colin Wilson, all earned spots in this year's tournament.

Wilson led Boston University to the No. 1 seed in the Northeast Region and the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament. Thang and Ryan led Notre Dame to the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, the tournament's No. 2 overall seed. Stefishen and Ohio State earned the No. 4 seed in the Northeast Region and will face BU in the first round.

The release of the 2009 bracket ensures a new champion as the last three schools to win the title were left out of this year's tournament, including defending champion Boston College, 2007 champion Michigan State, and 2006 champion Wisconsin.

Boston University and Notre Dame both won their conference tournament titles on Saturday night to wrap up the top two seeds in the NCAA tournament. Wilson scored the game-winning goal with 8:15 remaining in regulation in BU's 3-2 come-from-behind win over Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals. Thang and Ryan combined for both of Notre Dame's game-winning goals on the weekend. Ryan netted the winner at the 19:00 mark of the third period of Friday night's semifinal and followed it up with the winner 2:05 into the third period on Saturday night's championship game. Thang recorded the primary assist on both goals.

Wilson and Stefishen, a pair of 2008 Preds draft picks, will meet in Round 1 of the tournament with the winner facing the North Dakota/New Hampshire winner in the Regional Final. Notre Dame faces Bemidji State, winner of the College Hockey America conference, in the first round. Northeastern and Cornell faceoff in the other regional game.

Denver earned the No. 1 seed in the West Region, with No. 2 seed Minnesota-Duluth, No. 3 seed Princeton, and No. 4 seed Miami, Ohio. Michigan claimed the final No. 1 seed, the top spot in the East Region, with No. 2 seed Yale, No. 3 seed Vermont, and No. 4 seed Air Force.

By the computer rankings, Wisconsin (with Blake Geoffrion) and Minnesota (with Ryan Flynn) were likely the last two teams eliminated from consideration, while Ohio State and Miami, Ohio – the only two at-large teams to earn regional No. 4 seeds – were likely the last two teams to earn a spot in the tournament.

Minnesota dropped the WCHA Final Five play-in game to Minnesota-Duluth, 2-1 on Thursday night. Wisconsin was shut out by Denver in the WCHA Semifinal game, but rallied to upset tournament No. 1 seed North Dakota in the consolation game, 4-1, as Geoffrion picked up an assist on Wisconsin's third goal. Geoffrion, Wisconsin's captain, finished his junior season with 28 points and a team-high 15 goals in 35 games played. Flynn, also a junior, finished his season with six goals and 19 points in 37 games.

2009 NCAA Tournament Schedule
Northeast Regional
At Verizon Wireless Arena -- Manchester, N.H.
Saturday, March 28
3 New Hampshire (19-12-5) vs. 2 North Dakota (24-14-4), 1 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
4 Ohio State (23-14-4) vs. 1 Boston University (31-6-4), 4:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2)

Sunday, March 29
Regional final: 4:30 p.m. CT (ESPNU)

East Regional
At Arena at Harbor Yard -- Bridgeport, Conn.
Friday, March 27
4 Air Force (27-10-2) vs. 1 Michigan (29-11-0), 2 p.m. CT (ESPNUHD)
3 Vermont (20-11-5) vs. 2 Yale (24-7-2), 5:30 p.m. CT (ESPNUHD)

Saturday, March 28
Regional final: 5:30 p.m. CT (ESPNUHD)

West Regional
At Mariucci Arena -- Minneapolis
Friday, March 27
4 Miami (Ohio) (20-12-5) vs. 1 Denver (23-11-5), 4:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2HD)
3 Princeton (22-11-1) vs. 2 Minnesota-Duluth (21-12-8), 8 p.m. CT (ESPNUHD)

Saturday, March 28
Regional final: 8 p.m. CT (ESPNUHD)

Midwest Regional
At Van Andel Arena -- Grand Rapids, Mich.
Saturday, March 28
3 Cornell (21-9-4) vs. 2 Northeastern (25-11-4), 3 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
4 Bemidji State (18-15-1) vs. 1 Notre Dame (31-5-3), 6:30 p.m. CT (ESPN Classic, time TBD)

Sunday, March 29
Regional final: 7 p.m. CT (ESPNU)

Frozen Four
At Verizon Center -- Washington, D.C.
Thursday, April 9
Northeast Regional winner vs. East Regional winner, 4 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2HD)
West Regional winner vs. Midwest Regional winner, 4 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. CT (ESPN2HD)

Saturday, April 11
National championship
6 p.m. CT (ESPNHD)

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