The NCAA Hockey Tournament is down to the Frozen Four, which just happens to be at the TD Garden in Boston on April 7 & 9. Three Boston Bruins prospects entered the tournament with a vision of playing for a championship at the home of the team that drafted them. Unfortunately, just one of the prospects survived to advance to Boston, while two suffered heartbreak and were eliminated.
In this edition of The Hockey Writers Bruins Prospects Report, we will take a look at how some of the Black and Gold’s prospects fared with their college team in 2021-22.
Beecher and Michigan Heading to Boston
University of Michigan junior center Johnny Beecher and his teammates won the Allentown Regional in Pennsylvania after they beat American International College, 5-3, in the first game Friday, then eliminated Quinnipiac College, 7-4, in the final Sunday night. The Wolverines are the overall No. 1 seed and will play the University of Denver in the semifinals in Boston.
Beecher was selected 30th overall in the first round of the 2019 Entry Draft, but has been hampered by injuries during his career with the Wolverines. He has six goals with nine assists this season and has been strong on faceoffs, winning over 50(%)-percent and he has been a key penalty-killer. He won 13 of his 20 faceoffs against AIC, then nine of 17 against Quinnipiac. Following the Frozen Four, Beecher will have a decision to either sign his entry-level contract with the Bruins or return to Michigan for his senior season.
Schmaltz & Olson Come up Short in NCAA Tournament
Jake Schmaltz and his University North Dakota teammates were upset in their first NCAA Tournament game, losing 2-1 in overtime to Notre Dame. Schmaltz failed to register a point in the game but won seven of his 12 faceoffs for the Fighting Hawks, who finished the season as National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season champions.
Schmaltz had a strong freshman season for North Dakota after two impressive seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL where he scored 32 goals and had 53 assists. Schmaltz, who was selected 192nd overall in the seventh round of the 2019 Entry Draft and centered the second line for the Fighting Hawks, finished fourth in scoring for North Dakota with eight goals and 16 assists.
Quinn Olson was looking to advance to his second straight Frozen Four with his Minnesota-Duluth teammates, but they came up one game short Saturday night. Tied 1-1 with Denver, the Pioneers broke the tie with a bad bounce goal to escape and advance to Boston. Minnesota-Duluth goalie Ryan Fanti, who entered the game with three consecutive shutouts, had a shot that bounced off the backboard hit him in the leg, and go into the net.
Olson finished fourth on the Bulldogs in scoring this season with six goals and 19 assists in his junior season. Selected 92nd in 2019, Olson is a big strong forward that has seen his skating game improve.
Lohrei Had Season Cut Short
One of the Bruins’ top prospects, Mason Lohrei, had his freshman season cut short at Ohio State with a lower-body injury. The 58th pick in the second round of the 2020 Draft missed the Buckeyes’ final five games of the season, including all three Big Ten Tournaments games against Penn State, which Ohio State lost the best-of-three-series in three games and dashed their hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Lohrei had a strong rookie season for the Buckeyes’ scoring four goals and dishing out a team-high 25 assists and finished as a finalist for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award. His 25 assists were 10th most in a single season by a defenseman in Ohio State history. The future is bright for the offensive-minded blueliner.
Prospect Quick Hitters
- Boston University freshman Ty Gallagher finished his first season with five goals and 11 assists for the Terriers. The seventh-round pick in the 2021 Draft finished with 73 shots on the net and was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.
- Riley Duran finished his freshman season at Providence College with 10 goals and 19 points, good enough to finish sixth in scoring for the Friars. The 182nd overall pick in 2020 also landed 69 shots on the net.
- Trevor Kunter had a strong sophomore season at Boston College and finished with nine goals and 11 assists. The 89th overall pick in 2020 was tied for the team lead with 106 shots on the net.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.