Prospect Ramblings: Two Frozen Four top seeds fall (March 26)

Mark Allan

2016-03-26

 

The final eight NCAA men’s hockey squads, minus top bracket seeds St. Cloud State and Providence, are set to battle Sunday for Frozen Four glory after two days of intense competition.

The top overall-seeded Quinnipiac Bobcats play the Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks in the East final at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., the No. 3-seeded North Dakota Fighting Hawks face the Boston College Eagles in the Northeast final at the DCU Centre in Worcester, Mass., the North Dakota Fighting Hawks play the Michigan Wolverines in the Midwest final at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio and the Denver Pioneers meet the Ferris State Bulldogs in the West final at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The winners of Sunday’s quarter-finals advance to the Frozen Four semi-finals April 7 in Tampa, Fla.

March 26

Quinnipiac 4 RIT 0

Quinnipiac throttled RIT 4-0 Saturday to begin justifying its overall top seeding in the NCAA hockey championship tournament.

 

Quinnipiac blueliner Connor Clifton, only a fifth-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes from 2013, is leading all scorers in the current NCAA playoffs:

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Pint-sized captain Soren Jonzzon scored twice to help the Bobcats earn their 30th victory of the season, tying their previous best from 2012-13. Only a fifth-round draft pick by the Arizona Coyotes, Connor Clifton set up Jonzzon's goal and enhanced his stock by leading all NCAA playoff scorers with nine assists and 10 points.

Defenseman Devon Toews, a fourth-round choice of the New York Islanders and not related to the Chicago Blackhawks’ star, demonstrated his offensive promise with three helpers. Undrafted center Tim Clifton, who had 39 points in 35 points in his junior campaign, added two assists.

Travis St. Denis and freshman Scott Davidson each scored once.

Undrafted Canadian goalie Michael Garteig from Prince George, B.C., stopped 27 shots to become only the fourth goalie in NCAA Division I history to register his 19th career shutout. He will be an intriguing player to watch in the NHL entry draft in June.

Ferris State 5 St. Cloud State 4 (OT)

A goal by Jared Vanwormer a mere 18 seconds into overtime stunned the favored Huskies.

It was the second goal of the game for the Bulldogs’ assistant captain, who also assisted on a goal by linemate and fellow undrafted junior Gerald Mayhew. Soph Mitch Maloney and senior Kenny Babinski had the other Ferris goals.

Freshman Mikey Eyssimont scored twice with a man advantage while Joey Benik and Jacob Benson added singles for the Huskies, who needed two unanswered desperation third-period goals just to force an overtime for which they were apparently unprepared.

North Dakota 5 Michigan 2

In spite of 44 saves by Steve Racine, the Fighting Hawks subdued the Wolverines as a third-period winner by hard-working freshman Rhett Gardner began a run of three unanswered goals as favored North Dakota pulled away.

Assistant captain Drake Caggiula, junior Luke Johnson (Chicago Blackhawks), senior Coltyn Sanderson and junior defenseman Paul Ladue (Los Angeles Kings) also scored for the winners. Buffalo Sabres’ second-rounder J.T. Compher scored twice in a losing cause, both times assisted by Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect Tyler Motte. Sophomore netminder Cam Johnson made 25 saves for Michigan.

Denver 7 Boston U 2

Making the most of their 25 shots on goal, the Pioneers humbled the Terriers by building a 6-0 lead and employing a balanced attack led by two goals from blueliner and assistant captain Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche).

Blake Hillman, Dylan Gambrell, Matt Marcinew, Evan Janssen and Trevor Moore also scored for the winners, who got 19 saves by Tanner Jaillet. Shell-shocked goalies Sean Maguire (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Connor Lacouvee could muster only nine stops each for the Terriers, who got goals by Danny O’Regan and Mike Moran.

Massachusetts-Lowell 3 Yale 2 (OT)

After tying the score early in the third, junior center Joe Gambardella potted the winner at 1:37 of overtime.

Senior centerman Michael Fallon opened scoring for the victorious River Hawks, while junior winger Frankie Dichiara and two-way soph forward Ryan Hitchcock replied for the Bulldogs. Senior Kevin Boyle, who posted a 1.77 GAA and .935 save percentage this season, made 35 saves in victory. Twenty-eight stops by promising junior Alex Lyon (1.59 and .938) were not enough to avert defeat.

Boston College 3 Minnesota-Duluth 2

Outstanding Vancouver Canucks’ prospect Thatcher Demko outdueled promising sophomore Kasimir Kaskisuo for BU’s second win in as many days.

While second-round draft pick Demko made 28 saves for the win, his counterpart from Finland’s goaltender factory stopped 31 shots in vain.

Teddy Doherty scored in each of the first two periods to provide all the offense the Eagles needed, although Ryan Fitzgerald added a third-period goal that proved to be the decisive score. Austin Farley’s third-period power-play goal halted Demko’s shutout bid and Karson Kuhlman scored with 4:26 left, assisted by Farley, but that was as close as the Bulldogs could get.

March 25

Minnesota-Duluth 2 Providence 1 (2OT)

Overcoming the sensational netminding of Nick Ellis, the Bulldogs doggedly outlasted the national defending champion Friars 2-1. Karson Kuhlman scored 57 seconds into the second overtime.

Toronto Maple Leafs’ third-round pick Tony Cameranesi, who assisted on the opening goal, gave the 19-16-5 Bulldogs a lead early in the third period, although Steven McParland replied for 27-7 top-seeded Providence. Kaskisuo stopped 36 shots for the victory, although Ellis was the game’s biggest star.

The junior from Maryland had a 25-6-4 record, 1.82 GAA and .935 save percentage to answer the Friars’ prayers. A 9-1 record, 1.06 GAA and .957 save percentage were the best in college hockey since the start of February.

Already on the radar of NHL scouts, Ellis enhanced his draft fortunes even more with a brilliant 54-save performance in 80 minutes that ultimately could not prevent an NCAA champion from failing to defend its title for the 11th straight year.

Boston College 4 Harvard 1

Demko made 32 saves as the junior notched yet another college victory. The 27-7 Eagles got two goals from Minnesota Wild first-rounder Alex Tuch.

Michigan 3 Notre Dame 2 OT

The Wolverines’ CCM line of Tyler Motte (Chicago Blackhawks), J.T. Compher (Buffalo Sabres) and Kyle Conner (Winnipeg Jets) delivered on a bad-bounce goal by Motte at 8:19 of extra time.

North Dakota 6 Northeastern 2

Although the Huskies opened scoring, the Fighting Hawks proved their 30-6-4 record this season was no fluke by pulling away with the next five goals. Canucks’ prospect Brock Boeser contributed a goal and two assists as North Dakota decisively stopped Northeastern’s 13-game winning streak.

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