The West Region Boys hockey tournament begins today Thursday, February 17th at the VFW Arena in Bismarck.  At first glance at the regular-season standings, you would think this was going to be a two-team tournament. Screenshot Screenshot

Jamestown and Minot really separated themselves from the rest of the pack over the course of the second half of the regular season.  Both teams should be a lock to make the North Dakota State Boys Hockey Tournament next weekend in Fargo.

Bismarck Legacy has exceeded expectations for a first-year start-up program and with the help of some Bismarck High and Bismarck Century transfers, they will also be a tough out at this year's WDA.  Head coach Mario Lameroux will be in the conversation for coach of the year.

The Bismarck High Demons have had an injury-plagued season of Biblical proportions.  They have two of their best players out with season-ending injuries (Brady Korsmo and Gavin Radar).  Bismarck Demons fans, coaches, and players can't help but think "what might have been" if they could've kept this team together as just about everybody on the team has missed time this year.  They are the only team besides Minot to have beaten Jamestown this season.  They will get their Captain and leading scorer Hunter Acker back from what was thought to be a season-ending injury today.  Acker has missed the last 6 games for the Demons.

Bismarck Century started the season an unthinkable 1-9.  This is hard to fathom considering Bismarck Century has won the last two West Region Tournaments.  Bismarck Century lost a lot of firepower from last year's team and has had to rely on developing a lot of young players.  One of them is defenseman Max Vig who leads the Patriots in scoring and might be the best defenseman in the WDA in only his sophomore season.  The Patriots finished the season winning 6 of their last 10 games and have to feel pretty confident heading into the tournament.  West Region teams better not look past the Patriots or they could be in for a big surprise.

The Mandan Braves are another very young team with heavy graduation losses from last season.  They have good goaltending and do have victories this season over Bismarck High, Bismarck Century, and Williston.  They won their WDA play-in game over Dickinson and have a very tough draw facing Jamestown in the first game of the tournament today.

Here are this year's WDA first-round games. Screenshot Screenshot

First-round predictions?  It's tough not to take the Blue Jays over the Braves.  Minot should get by a scrappy Bottineau-Rugby team.  Bismarck High and Williston is truly a pick-em' game with both teams splitting their regular-season matchups by one goal.  Bismarck Legacy and Bismarck Century could be another one-goal game either way in my opinion.

Four teams will advance to the state tournament next weekend at Fargo's Scheels Arena.  Jamestown and Minot will more than likely be there.  After that, it's wide open.  You can catch today's Bismarck High game vs. Williston on Super Talk 1270 and the free Super Talk 1270 app.  Same with the Bismarck Legacy and Bismarck Century game tonight.


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