March Madness is not exclusive to the basketball court as the NCAA men’s hockey tournament has provided plenty of drama as the Frozen Four is moving on to Pittsburgh. A top prospect of the Carolina Hurricanes may have gone back to juniors, but the production has not stopped. Finally, a late-round gem for the Chicago Blackhawks made quite the first impression over the weekend.
Frozen Four is Set
The best weekend for college fans has come and gone and it did not disappoint. Even though we lost two games, with Notre Dame and Michigan dropping after positive tests for COVID-19, the weekend was full of memorable action. The state of Minnesota has a 75% chance of winning the national championship, but the one school from the Land of 10,000 Lakes many expected to advance was knocked out.
The Minutemen were the first team to punch their ticket to the Frozen Four by winning the East Region after beating Lake Superior State and Bemidji State. This is their second straight trip to the Frozen Four after never making it before 2019. They head into Pittsburgh on a 12-game winning streak and have not lost since Jan. 18.
UMass has four players already drafted by NHL teams: Marc Del Gaizo (Nashville Predators), Zac Jones (New York Rangers), Matthew Kessel (St. Louis Blues) and Filip Lindberg (Minnesota Wild)
The Bulldogs are headed to their fourth straight Frozen Four and are looking to win their third straight NCAA title. They advanced to the Midwest Regional final thanks to a no-contest decision over Michigan. They needed five overtimes to beat the University of North Dakota on Saturday night/Sunday morning. After coughing up a 2-0 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation, Luke Mylymok ended the longest hockey game in NCAA history, men’s or women’s, to give Minnesota Duluth the victory.
There are eight NHL drafted prospects on the Bulldogs roster: Blake Biondi (Montreal Canadiens), Matt Cairns (Edmonton Oilers), Noah Cates (Philadelphia Flyers), Wyatt Kaiser (Blackhawks), Cole Koepke (Tampa Bay Lightning), Luke Loheit (Ottawa Senators), Quinn Olson (Boston Bruins) and Nick Swaney (Wild).
St. Cloud State
The Huskies were the first of two teams to advance to the Frozen Four on Sunday. They became the fourth team to beat both Boston University and Boston College in the same tournament. They have an experienced roster full of seniors and postseason experience. They looked dominating in their 4-1 Northeast Regional final victory over the BC. This came after losing leading scorer Easton Brodzinski, who had two goals versus BU, in the first period.
St. Cloud State boasts four NHL drafted prospects: Sam Hentges (Wild), David Hernak (Los Angeles Kings), Veeti Miettinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Nick Perbix (Lightning).
The Mavericks finally got over the hump. After going winless in their first six NCAA tournament appearances, they erased a late 3-1 deficit to beat Quinnipiac 4-3 in overtime to advance to the West Regional Final. They then dominated the heavily-favored Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-0, with goaltender Dryden McKay picking up his 10th shutout of the season. With a first name like that, it is no surprise he’s been great between the pipes.
There are two NHL drafted prospects playing for Minnesota State: Todd Burgess (Senators) and Nathan Smith (Winnipeg Jets)
These four squads will head to the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh for the National Semifinals on Thursday, April 8. Minnesota State will take on St. Cloud State in the first game, with Minnesota Duluth and UMass meeting in the second. The winners will play for the National Championship on Saturday, April. 10.
Seth Jarvis Continues to Impress
It doesn’t matter what league Jarvis is playing in this season. Whether it be the American Hockey League (AHL) or the Western Hockey League (WHL), he is finding the scoresheet on a regular basis.
On Sunday, he scored the game-winning goal in the Portland Winterhawks’ 7-4 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds.
While on the penalty kill, Jarvis showed off his speed to get past the defense, then used his awareness to protect the puck before snapping it past goaltender Thomas Milic. He finished the game with six shots on goal and a plus-5 rating.
Jarvis, selected 13th overall by the Hurricanes last October, now has two goals and four points in six WHL games. While he was waiting for the season to start, he played nine games with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL, where he scored seven goals and 11 points.
Josiah Slavin Scores in Pro Debut
The Blackhawks think they have a real steal in Slavin, who they drafted in the seventh round (193rd overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-3 forward made his professional debut for the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday night after completing his career at Colorado College. The younger brother of Hurricanes’ defenseman Jaccob Slavin took to the ice against the Wolves, Carolina’s AHL affiliate.
Early in the third period of a 5-4 loss, Slavin scored the IceHogs’ third power-play goal of the game for his first professional goal.
Slavin used a formula that will make him a very successful player going forward. He skated right to the front of the net and was quickly found the puck to swipe it home.
“I just want to get in as many games as I can,” Slavin said before skating in his first AHL tilt. “I want to try to be in the lineup every night and to work my way to that.”
With plays like this one, playing every night should not be a problem for Slavin from here on out.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.