This Saturday, March 5th, The University of Oregon Ducks are traveling to Moscow, Idaho to take on the Idaho Vandals. Oregon is fighting for the second place position in the PNCLL DI, while Idaho is trying to create a winning season.
The Idaho Vandals are coming off a forceful win against the number one team in the PNCLL DII North, Gonzaga University. Junior, Colton Raichl, is a scoring machine from crease with 3.6 goals per game, while Junior captain, Patrick Tunison, is right there with him. As a team, the Vandals are winning a majority of their face-offs, which is helping their defense relax.
The University of Oregon has had somewhat of a disappointing season so far through their standards. They are 4-4, but they’ve also had a very difficult schedule. All four of their losses have been all due to top 20 opponents, and three of them are thanks to top 10 opponents. The Ducks four wins haven’t been very credible though, with the most impressive one against University of Washington who isn’t ranked. Senior captains Even Merritt and Benton Souers both are racking up a lot of points on offense, but their top scorer is Freshman attackman Jeff Snyder. Oregon needs this type of leadership by their underclassman in order to finish their season strong.
This is the first week in years that University of Oregon hasn’t been ranked in the national top 25 rankings, and they are definitely going to take that personal. The Ducks are going to win this one no question. This team will be fighting and doing anything they can to make a statement in order to prove that they actually deserve to be in the top 25.
Division I Projected Weekend MVP– Evan Merritt
This is going to be a HUGE weekend for both the PNCLL DII North and the PNCLL DII South. Top 25 opponents Gonzaga, Western Oregon and Montana State are all facing off against each other on different days in Spokane, Washington. If that doesn’t interest you, focus your attention to Caldwell, Idaho and Walla Walla, Washington. The University of Portland is playing the College of Idaho and Whitman all in one weekend road trip. All three of these teams are fighting for the chance to schedule a play-in game at the end of the season in order to make playoffs, but only one team will be able to. If the University of Portland wins out, they will clinch it.
There’s not much to say about Western Oregon. They are number 7 in the MCLA DII and are 10-0. The Wolves have beaten many top opponents, and they aren’t from luck. This team is built for success and will have no problem showing their dominance and going 2-0 this weekend. Gonzaga University is coming off a very disappointing win against Idaho, but I don’t think they will be able to match-up against Western Oregon.
Photo Credit: Robert White
The most exciting game will definitely be Gonzaga vs. Montana State. Montana State has just recently joined the top 25 club, but hasn’t had that many impressive wins. The most impressive things on their resume are their losses. They have played the Montana Grizzlies twice this season, and both times they have lost in overtime. This proves to me that Montana State has heart and plays until the finish. Even though both of those games were losses, they were barely losses and they were against a Division I opponent. Gonzaga is 3-1, and has proven to be somewhat of a bipolar team. They also played Montana State in the Fall and didn’t have a problem winning that game. If Gonzaga comes out to play they will win this game, but it could be a close one.
As for the PNCLL DII South, I project the University of Portland to win out and clinch the play-in game for the PNCLL DII playoffs. Even though they are last in the PNCLL DII South, they have the most impressive resume. They have had a tough schedule, but they have still managed to average a little over 14 points a game. Each team has impressive individual skill, but Chris Timm will be able to lead the Pilots to victory in both Caldwell, Idaho and Walla Walla, Washington.
Photo Credit: Robert White
Division II Projected Weekend MVP– Brandon Determan