Detroit Red Wings prospects continue to shine on the big stage. With division tournaments coming to a close, a lot is still at stake for a lot of these young collegiate players. The start of the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner, and there will be many familiar faces in the race to the Frozen Four.
The NCAA Tournament begins today, March 23rd, and it’s time to get excited for what is to come. Here is a recap of the last two weeks of the collegiate postseason, and a look at what Red Wings prospects still have their postseason hopes alive.
University of Michigan
Kienan Draper and the Michigan Wolverines emerged triumphant against Ohio State University to advance to the Big Ten Championship game. Their win against the Buckeyes was dominant, and Michigan left it all on the ice to secure a 7-3 victory at home. T earn the title of Big Ten Champions, Michigan had to take down the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers have been at the top of the national polls throughout the season and gave Michigan a difficult opponent to fight against.
Once again, Draper was a healthy scratch for the games against Ohio State and Minnesota, however, we must acknowledge the successes of his team. Even from the sidelines, he has played a large role in developing the culture of a team that has had a winning record in the midst of coaching changes and many players departing for the NHL. Since he is a freshman, so there is lots of time for him to earn a consistent roster spot, and next season might be his time to shine.
The Wolverines emerged victorious on Saturday, March 18, against the Golden Gophers and got to raise the Big Ten Trophy for the second consecutive year. This would be the third Big Ten title for Michigan which is great for Draper.
Towering over the University of Vermont in a 7-3 victory, Ethan Phillips and the Boston University Terriers are ready to keep rolling. In that game, Phillips had one blocked shot and helped play a small role in the Terrier’s dominant defense. They shut down the Catamounts both offensively and defensively to secure the win. Phillips isn’t the kind of player who frequents the score sheet or is overly flashy, but he’s still playing his part in the team’s success.
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Last weekend, the Terriers took on the Providence Friars in the semifinal of the Hockey East Tournament. The game was an absolute nail-biter, heading to sudden-death overtime tied at one. Boston won the game and got to advance to the final round against Merrimack University. This was a huge game for Phillips and his teammates as they won the Hockey East Tournament in TD Garden, which was packed with Terriers fans.
Boston University will be advancing to the NCAA Tournament and will face Western Michigan University in the first round. Neither team is seeded heading into the tournament, but both have had great seasons so far. Keep an eye on Phillips and his teammates as they, hopefully, find a way to make it in the Frozen Four in Tampa.
Denver University and Miami University (Ohio)
The series between the Denver University Pioneers and Miami University Redhawks this past weekend went about as expected as Denver swept Miami in two games. Friday’s score was 6-2 followed by a 7-2 game the next day. The Pioneers had a combined total of 35 goals against the Redhawks in the 2022-23 season opposed to their six.
Redmond Savage had two strong games despite his team losing in dramatic fashion. While he had zeroes across the scoresheet, he went 12-23 in faceoffs in game one and 7-17 in game two. Upon the conclusion of his season, Savage entered the NCAA Transfer Portal and was on the hunt for a new team for the 2023-24 season. It seems that he has decided to transfer to Michigan State University and if that stays the case, he will be making a huge jump from the NCHC to the Big Ten.
Carter Mazur and Shai Buium both played huge roles in the Pioneers’ success in the back-to-back wins. Mazur had two assists, one in each game, and six total shots on goal. Buium had himself a night in the second game with a goal and an assist. Both players have been consistent and fun to watch all season, so seeing them have big games in the postseason is great.
Last weekend, Denver took on Colorado College in the semifinal round of the NCHC tournament. Unfortunately, they fell short of being NCHC champions as the Tigers took them down 1-0. However, this is not the end of the line for Denver as they will be competing in the NCAA Tournament with their first game coming up on March 23 against Cornell.
The Harvard University Crimson took down the Princeton Tigers two weekends ago in order to advance to the semifinal round of the ECAC Tournament. Harvard swept Princeton in two games, both 6-1 victories. They beat the Tigers both times in the regular season and continued that trend in their postseason trophy run.
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Kyle Aucoin, unfortunately, was a healthy scratch in both games. He played 24 games this season for a total of two points (both assists). He’s played fewer games in 2022-23 than in the 2021-22 season but has the same total points. While he may not be the most noticeable player, he stands out as a reliable defenseman.
On Friday, March 17, Harvard played in the semifinals of the ECAC Tournament against Cornell. The game went to overtime at 0-0, yet the Crimson came out of it with a win. In the final round, they faced Colgate University and lost 3-2, but the season still isn’t over for Aucoin and his teammates. They will face Ohio State University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 24, for a chance to keep their national title hopes alive.
Speaking of Harvard, Connor Gylander and the Colgate University Raiders shut them down in the ECAC Tournament finals. This was Colgate’s first time winning the ECAC title since 1990, and Gylander played a monumental part in their tournament run. On top of all that, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament as well as given a spot on the 2023 All-Tournament Team.
Before defeating Harvard, Colgate took down the #1 team in the ECAC, Quinnipiac, in double overtime. Once again, this game was a testament to the hard work that Gylander has put in this season. Quinnipiac is also heading to the NCAA Tournament, and they have consistently been ranked in the top five, if not the top 10, during the regular season. Being able to shut down teams with a strong offense like Harvard and Quinnipiac is a test for a goaltender like Gylander, who is still growing into a huge new role on his team.
Gylander is one of the most underrated Red Wings prospects and has had an absolutely stellar season. He’s stepped into the role of starting goaltender and has carried a ton of weight on his shoulders by playing 38 games compared to his 16 last year. He has a .911 save percentage, a 2.31 goals-against average, and two shutouts in the regular season – not too shabby. A seventh-round pick (191st overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft, Gylander has become a hopeful prospect as of late.
He and his teammates prepare to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this upcoming Friday- March 24th. Gylander will be facing some incredible offensive talent from the Wolverines with players like Adam Fantilli – a top-ranked prospect for the upcoming NHL Draft. By no means will this be an easy game for him, but hopefully, he will hold his own on the big stage and help the Raiders advance in the NCAA Tournament.
University of North Dakota
Currently ranked 18th in the national polls, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks took on seventh place St. Cloud State over the weekend in the NCHC Tournament. This semifinal matchup was a test for the two Red Wings prospects representing the University of North Dakota – Cooper Moore and Dylan James. When these teams met in the regular season, North Dakota had a 1-2-1 record. The final game ended in a shootout where St. Cloud emerged victorious, but it was counted as a tie per NCAA rules.
Throughout the 2022-23 season, Moore had three goals and 10 assists, and James had eight goals and eight assists. James was drafted 40th overall in 2022 and just wrapped up his freshman season at the University of North Dakota. Moore was drafted a few years earlier in the fifth round (128th overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft and is in his third year with the Fighting Hawks.
Unfortunately, this was the end of the postseason for North Dakota as they fell to St. Cloud 3-2 in overtime. It was a close game to the end, and the Fighting Hawks truly put up a good fight. Neither Moore nor James recorded any points in their season finale, but from the looks of it, they had a great season overall.
As I’ve said before, there is never a shortage of games to watch with so many talented Red Wings prospects playing across all leagues. The atmosphere created by collegiate playoff hockey is just as exciting as any professional-level playoffs but the young talent on the ice makes it very unique. All the Red Wings prospects playing in the NCAA Tournament
The first round of the NCAA Tournament begins this Thursday, March 23, and there will be six Red Wings prospects in the race to the Frozen Four with hopes of bringing home the national title. Hopefully, we will be able to witness one of them hoist the NCAA Trophy in a few weeks, but if not, all we can ask for is some good competitive games. Maybe we will even see Mazur and Buium become back-to-back national champions, which might signal Mazur’s departure from collegiate hockey. I’ll be wishing all six Red Wings prospects the best of luck in the NCAA Tournament.