Maryland is the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship, and for good reason. The Terps went 15-0 to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. On Sunday, they will have a chance to pick another box and advance to the Final Four in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Standing in their way is a familiar and talented opponent, the Virginia Cavaliers. Two-time defending national champion Virginia State is 12-3 on the season.
If Maryland wants to stay alive this season, it needs to beat the Cavaliers, who beat the Terps in the 2021 national championship game and eliminated them in the 2019 quarterfinals.
“We’re really excited to be out there, and one of the things we’ve been preaching all week is that they can’t be more excited than us,” senior defenseman Brett Macal said. “We’ve got to be able to control the chaos, clear the ball well, stop on the defensive end, get into our offense and have done well all year.”
The two teams met in the regular season — Maryland easily won the championship — but all bets were off in May.
“Our leadership has been outstanding and [we] Continuing to send a message to our players… we all know that at this time of the year our first loss will be our last,” added Makar.
Date time: Sunday, May 22, 2:30pm
Place: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
stream media: Watch ESPN
What happened last time?
Tepps and the Cavaliers meet on March 19 during the regular season at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
In a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation at the time, Maryland didn’t let up on Virginia’s fire. Graduated attacker Keegan Khan scored with just 8 seconds remaining, and the Terps continued to lead 12-6 at halftime. The second half was about the same, with Maryland winning 23-12.
Seven Tepps scored at least two goals, with Khan leading with four of his seven shots. Fifth-year midfielder Anthony De Maio had a team-high four assists. Markal and graduate defender Matt Rahill also scored.
Junior scrimmage specialist Luke Wellman was brilliant at the scrimmage, winning 24 of 36 chances and turning it into an offense by assisting Khan’s opening goal.
Despite the loss, Virginia’s two most prolific attackers still had a full day. Sophomore Connor Shellenberger and graduate student Matt Moore both had three goals and two assists. Freshman goalie Matt Nunes, however, had a poor run, scoring 20 goals.
What has happened since then?
Maryland continues to dominate opponents at a historic pace. The Terps swept the Big Ten, winning by an average of nearly 10 goals per regular-season meeting. They then went on to have two wins in the Big Ten Tournament, and in addition to the regular-season title, they also won the conference championship.
After being named the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Maryland went strong and beat Vermont in the first round. The final score was 21-5, the largest win margin in NCAA tournament history. Five Terps scored at least five points on the day, led by fifth-year attacker and Tewaaraton Award finalist Logan Wisnauskas, who had four goals and two assists.
The Cavaliers’ first loss of 2022 came against Maryland, and they’ve suffered two since—but both to solid teams. They lost four at eventual SoCon champion Richmond and nine at Duke. Virginia also had impressive victories against ACC rivals Notre Dame and North Carolina.
Virginia must travel to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, heading to Providence for the No. 8 seed Brown. In front of a raucous crowd, the Wahoos found themselves tied at halftime, but pulled away in the second half and outscored the Bears by seven points, 17-10.
In that game, Shellenberger and junior attacker Peyton Cormier scored nine goals. Nunes had 16 saves in his first career playoff game. Virginia also has a +12 advantage on Earth.
Three things to see
1. Slow down Shellenberger. In addition to four goals against Brown, Shellenberger had four assists for a total of eight points. In just five career NCAA tournament games, the sophomore had 32 points, 18 goals and 14 assists.Every Hockey Reference, Shellenberger shot 60 percent from the field in May, 15 percent more than any other month. He’s also a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, and if he or Wisnauskas have a big day, they can set themselves apart from the crowd.
“First and foremost, he’s a dynamic dodger,” Maryland junior goalie Logan McNerney said of Shellenberger. “He can attack from above. He’s a good passer [and] He is an excellent shooter. “
2. Terps hit the road again. The last time Maryland had to travel abroad for a game was against Michigan on April 2. Now, the Terps will have to travel to Columbus, Ohio, for Sunday’s quarterfinals. Originally, head coach John Tillman was expected to play at another quarterfinal venue in Hempstead, New York, but the NCAA has other plans.
“I think we were going to Long Island and then last Sunday they told us to go to Ohio. So we’re going to appreciate the opportunity we had,” he said. “What an amazing thing about our family and fans, they go everywhere. Terp Nation, wherever we go, they’ll be there.”
3. Who will advance to the semi-finals? Playing late in the season means high stakes in every game. One team will book tickets to the Final Four in East Hartford and the other will end their season. Since 2000, either Maryland or Virginia has made the Final Four all but four times. The Tepps have reached the Final Four eight times since John Tillman took over Maryland in 2011. Virginia has only made it three times in that span, but has won the championship each time.
The winner of Sunday’s game will face the winner of the Princeton-Yale in the national semifinals.