Some Boston Bruins prospects ended their 2021-22 college hockey regular-season this past weekend and get ready for their upcoming conference tournament, while some already began their postseason conference tournaments. The college hockey version of “March Madness” will begin in full force this week and here is a look at some teams and prospects to keep an eye on in the latest Bruins Prospects Report.
Schmaltz Helps North Dakota to Regular Season Championship
For the third consecutive season, the University of North Dakota captured the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) regular-season championship with a 5-4 overtime win over Omaha Friday night. Boston prospect Jake Schmaltz helped to key the victory with his first two-goal game since Oct. 9 against Niagara University.
Schmaltz, selected in the seventh round in 2019, scored the first and fourth Fighting Hawks goals for the seventh and eighth goals of his freshman season. Scoring is nothing new as he had 13 goals and 32 points for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL in 2019-20, before scoring 19 goals and dishing out 34 assists in 2020-21. Despite being selected 192nd overall, his development is worth keeping an eye on as the 20-year-old has an impressive skill set.
Kuntar Helps BC Secure Home Ice Advantage in Opening Round Game
It has not been the season that Boston College is used to, but Friday night, they locked up home-ice advantage for their Opening Round game this week. Trevor Kuntar, who was selected 89th overall in the 2020 Entry Draft, scored his ninth goal to tie the game against the University of Massachusetts to help the Eagles get a 2-1 win over the defending National Champions to lock up the eighth-seed in the Hockey East Tournament. Saturday, the Eagles swept the weekend series with a 4-3 road win.
Kuntar is having a strong sophomore season for coach Jerry York, mainly playing on BC’s second line. Boston College hosts the University of New Hampshire Wednesday night at 7 o’clock in a Hockey East Opening Round game and with a 14-17-5 record, the Eagles will have to run the table in the Hockey East tournament to get an NCAA tournament berth.
Gallagher Leads BU to Opening Round Bye
There is no college team peaking more than Boston University as they look ahead to the Hockey East playoffs. Winners of 11 of their 14 games since Jan. 1, the Terriers locked up an Opening Round bye.
Freshman Ty Gallagher, a defenseman that the Bruins selected 217th overall in the seventh round in 2021, is having a strong rookie season for coach Albie O’Connell and the Terriers. In Friday’s 5-1 win over the University of Maine, he opened the scoring with a first-period power play goal for his fifth of the season and he also has 11 assists.
Boston University will be the fifth seed in the Hockey East Tournament and will travel to play the fourth-seeded University of Connecticut in a quarterfinal round game Saturday at the XL Center, the former home of the Hartford Whalers.
Callahan & Duran Playing Well in Providence
Providence College finished their Hockey East regular-season schedule on Feb. 26, but ahead of the Friars’ Opening Roundv game at home Wednesday night against the University of Vermont, they lost to the U.S. National Team Development Program U18s Friday night. Newly acquired Bruins prospect Michael Callahan helped Providence rally from a 4-1 deficit before losing, 5-4.
On Feb. 22, the Bruins acquired Callahan’s rights from the Arizona Coyotes in a minor trade and the Friars senior got ready for the tournament with a goal. For the season, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound defenseman has three goals and 11 assists this season. Callahan was selected 142nd overall by Arizona in 2018. Another Bruins prospect, Riley Duran, finished the regular season with nine goals and nine assists for Providence. Duran, selected 182nd in 2020 and recorded an assist against the U.S. Development Team, had a breakout freshman season after eight goals and 11 points in 47 games last season for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL.
Beecher Helps Michigan Sweep Michigan State
The University of Michigan swept in-state rival Michigan State in the Big Ten Quarterfinals, winning the first game 4-1, before rolling to an 8-0 rout in the second game to advance to the semifinals. Bruins prospect Johnny Beecher has struggled in this junior season for the Wolverines with four goals and six assists, but he chipped in during the rout of the Spartans in the second game.
Beecher recorded his first two-goal game of the season in the rout of Michigan State and that has to give him some confidence after being dropped down to the fourth line. As usual, Beecher has been strong on face-offs this season, winning 54.7(%)-percent of them. With the Bruins lacking center depth, his development is going to be key for the future.
The NCAA Basketball Tournament usually grabs the headlines this month, the NCAA Conference Hockey Tournaments, and then the NCAA Tournament is must-watch TV. Barring any major upsets over the next week, several Bruins prospects will be battling for a spot in the NCAA Frozen Four, which is being held this season at the TD Garden on April 7 and 9.
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.