College Prospects Notebook: March 2012

By DJ Powers
Photo: Reilly Smith (DAL) in his second game as an NHL forward, battles for possession of the puck with Vancouver Canucks star Henrik Sedin. Smith is one of several NCAA prospects to have recently signed an NHL contract. (Photo courtesy of Bob Frid/Icon SMI)

Hockey's Future takes a look back at the final full month of the 2011-12 college hockey season. Unless otherwise noted, all stats are current as of March 31st.

Hobey Hat Trick announced

The nation's top three point producers in recent NHL signees Spencer Abbott (TOR) and Austin Smith (DAL), and Minnesota-Duluth center Jack Connolly comprise this year's top three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's top player.

Abbott, the Hockey East Player of the Year, finishes his collegiate career leading the nation in points (62), assists (41) and points per game (1.59) in 39 games for the University of Maine. The Hamilton, ONT native was also recently named the recipient of the Leonard Fowle Award as New England's Most Valuable Player as well as the Herb Gallagher Award as New England's Top Forward by the New England Hockey Writers Association.

Smith, the lone NHL-draftee among the three and ECAC Player of the Year, became Colgate University's first-ever player to be named a Hobey Hat Trick finalist after leading the nation in goal scoring with 36 and finishing third with 57 points in 39 games. The Dallas, TX native is the fifth player in the program's history to be named a Hobey Baker finalist, joining former Raiders David McIntyre (MIN) and current St. Louis Blues forward Andy McDonald.

Connolly, the WCHA's Player of the Year, finished second in the nation with 60 points (20 goals, 40 assists) in 41 games with Minnesota-Duluth. The Bulldogs team captain, who was also named a finalist for this year's Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, became Minnesota-Duluth's first ever two-time Hobey Baker Top Ten finalist after accomplishing the feat last season as well.

The Hobey Hat Trick was pared down from the ten original finalists that were announced earlier in the month. The other finalists were Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick (CBJ), Union College goaltender Troy Grosenick, Miami winger Reilly Smith (DAL), Boston College defenseman Brian Dumoulin (CAR), Air Force defenseman Tim Kirby, Michigan State defenseman Torey Krug (BOS) and Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz (ANA).

The winner of this year's Hobey Baker Award will be announced live on ESPNU on Friday, April 6th from MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, FLA during the Frozen Four weekend.

Off-season signings begin

At this time each year, NHL teams look to the collegiate ranks to stockpile their systems and this year was no different. To date, a number of drafted and undrafted (free agent) players have signed with NHL teams.

Among those that signed with the teams holding their NHL rights include Northeastern sophomore defenseman Anthony Bitetto (NSH), Boston University junior Alex Chiasson (DAL), Harvard senior center Alex Killorn (TB), North Dakota forward Brock Nelson (NYI), Michigan senior defenseman Greg Pateryn (MON), Colorado College winger Jaden Schwartz (STL), Miami forward Reilly Smith (DAL), and pair of Denver Pioneer forwards in junior Drew Shore (FLA) and sophomore Jason Zucker (MIN).

Among the free agents signing with NHL teams to date include Maine senior Brian Flynn (BUF), fifth-year Michigan senior netminder Shawn Hunwick (CBJ), Michigan State junior defenseman and CCHA Player and Best Offensive Defenseman of the Year Torey Krug (BOS), Yale senior winger and Ivy League Player of the Year Brian O'Neill (LA), Western Michigan junior defenseman Matt Tennyson (SJ), and a trio of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in sophomore winger J.T. Brown (TB), senior defenseman Brady Lamb (CGY), and senior center Travis Oleksuk (SJ).

NHL prospects shine in NCAA Tournament Regionals

This year's NCAA Tournament regionals featured many memorable performances by NHL-drafted players.

East Regional

The East Regional in Bridgeport, CT kicked off the NCAA tournament on March 23rd. In the opening semi-final game between Michigan State and Union College, senior Brett Perlini (ANA) chipped in an assist on the Spartans' lone goal in the team's 1-3 loss to the Dutchmen. Perlini finishes his final season at Michigan State ranking second on the team with 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists) playing in all 39 games.

The second semi-final game featured Miami facing off against UMass-Lowell. Senior Trent Vogelhuber posted a goal in the RedHawks' heartbreaking 3-4 overtime loss to the River Hawks. Vogelhuber, who recently signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, finished his senior campaign posting 14 points (four goals, ten assists) in 39 games. Freshman Scott Wilson (PIT) chipped in an assist in the win for UMass-Lowell.

In the East Regional final on March 24th, Union College defeated UMass-Lowell 4-2 to advance to the Frozen Four. Wilson was held pointless in the contest.

Midwest Regional

The other regional to get underway on March 23rd was the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, WI.

The first semi-final game saw Ferris State face off against Denver. Junior Drew Shore (FLA) netted the Pioneers' lone goal in the 1-2 loss to the Bulldogs. Shore finished the season leading Denver with 53 points (22 goals, 31 points) playing in all 42 games.

The second semi-final game featured Cornell taking on Michigan. Junior Kevin Lynch (CBJ) chipped in a goal in the Wolverines' 2-3 overtime loss to the Big Red. Lynch finished the season posting 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 39 games for Michigan. Senior Sean Collins, who recently signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets, chipped in a pair of assists for Cornell. Collins finished his final collegiate season ranked second on the team with 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 35 games.

In the regional final on March 24, Ferris State defeated Cornell 2-1 to advance to the Frozen Four. Sophomore defenseman Kirill Gotovets (TB) added an assist on the Big Red's lone tally. He finishes the season with eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 24 games.

West Regional

The West Regional in St. Paul, MN was one of two regionals that got underway on March 24th.

The first semi-final game saw Western Michigan facing off against North Dakota. Junior Corban Knight (FLA) netted the game-winner in North Dakota's 3-1 win over the Broncos. Freshman Michael Parks (PHI) and sophomore Brock Nelson (NYI) posted North Dakota's other goals. Knight finishes his junior campaign ranked third on the team with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 39 games. Parks finished second among all North Dakota rookies with 22 points (12 goals, ten assists) playing in all 42 games. Nelson, who won the WCHA's regular season goal-scoring title with 20 conference goals, finishes his stellar sophomore campaign leading the team with 47 points (28 goals, 19 assists) in 42 games.

Boston University and Minnesota faced off in the second semi-final game. Senior Jake Hansen (CBJ) netted two goals, including the game-winner, and freshman Kyle Rau (FLA) added a goal and three assists in the Golden Gophers' crushing 7-3 win over the Terriers. Nine NHL-drafted players figured in on the scoring for Minnesota. Junior Alex Chiasson, who recently signed with the Dallas Stars, chipped in two assists in the loss. Chiasson finished his final season at Boston University leading the team with 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 38 games.

In the regional final on March 25th, WCHA archrivals North Dakota and Minnesota faced off for a trip to the Frozen Four. The trio of sophomore Nate Condon (COL), freshman Travis Boyd (WSH) and senior Taylor Matson (VAN) each posted a goal and an assist to guide the Golden Gophers to a 5-2 win over their nemesis and advance to the Frozen Four. Matson scored the eventual game-winner. Like in the semi-final match versus Boston University, nine of Minnesota's NHL-drafted players got on the scoresheet. Junior Danny Kristo (MON) posted one of North Dakota's two goals in the losing cause. Kristo finishes his junior campaign second on the team with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) playing in all 42 games. Kristo was also one of three North Dakota players named to the All-Regional team, joining Nelson and senior defenseman Ben Blood (OTT). Blood finishes his final season leading all North Dakota defensemen with 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 42 games.

Northeast Regional

The final regional to get underway on March 24th was the Northeast Regional in Worcester, MA.

In the first semi-final game, junior Chris Kreider (NYR) netted both of Boston College's goals in the Eagles' 2-0 win over Air Force. Sophomore Kevin Hayes (CHI) and junior defenseman Patrick Wey (WSH) each chipped in an assist in the victory.

In the second semi-final game, freshman Caleb Herbert (WSH) posted a goal in Minnesota-Duluth's 5-2 win over Maine. Herbert finishes his outstanding rookie campaign leading all Bulldogs freshmen with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) playing in all 41 games. Senior defenseman Will O'Neill added an assist on both of the Black Bears' goals in the losing cause. O'Neill, who recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets, finishes his final season leading all Maine defensemen with 33 points (three goals, 30 assists) playing in all 40 games.

In the regional final on March 25th, Wey and freshman sensation Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) each posted a goal and an assist in Boston College's 4-0 win over Minnesota-Duluth to advance to the Frozen Four. The Eagles' other Calgary Flames prospect, Bill Arnold, also chipped in a goal in the victory.

Handing out the hardware

It was a banner year for NHL-drafted collegians as a number of them took home some of the conferences' top honors.

Harvard junior defenseman Danny Biega (CAR) was named the ECAC's Best Defensive Defenseman. The Montreal, QC native led all ECAC rearguards with 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 22 conference games while developing into one of the nation's best defensive players as well. Biega was also one of three players who was a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League First team as well after leading all defensemen with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in ten Ivy League games.

Boston College junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin (CAR) became the first Eagle to be named Hockey East's Best Defensive Defenseman for the second year in a row after helping to guide Boston College to their 12th Hockey East Regular Season title. The Biddeford, ME native led all Hockey East rearguards with 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 27 conference games. Overall, Dumoulin has posted 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) playing in all 42 games to date. His plus-25 leads Boston College and ranks third nationally.

North Dakota senior goaltender Brad Eidsness (BUF) was named the WCHA's Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year. The Chestermere, AB native has already received his Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and in May, will have completed his Master's Degree as well. Eidness appeared in 15 games for North Dakota this season, posting an 8-3-1 record that includes one shutout, a .920 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average.

Cornell freshman Brian Ferlin (BOS) was named both the ECAC and Ivy League Rookie of the Year. He became the first Big Red player to accomplish the feat since Riley Nash (CAR) did it in 2008. Ferlin led all Ivy League rookies with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in ten Ivy League games this season. He finished tied for second in the ECAC in rookie scoring with 17 points (seven goals, ten assists) in 19 conference games and helped guide Cornell to their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2009. Ferlin finished his outstanding freshman campaign with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 26 games.

Michigan freshman Alex Guptill (DAL) was named the CCHA Rookie of the Year, helping to guide the Wolverines to their NCAA-leading 34th NCAA Tournament appearance. He led all CCHA rookies with 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 28 conference games. His 25 points also ranked tied for sixth overall in the CCHA as well. Guptill finished his impressive freshman season co-leading Michigan with 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 41 games.

Minnesota senior Kent Patterson (COL) won the WCHA's Goaltending title after backstopping the Golden Gophers to their 13th MacNaughton Cup title as WCHA Regular Season champions. The Plymouth, MN native currently leads the nation with 28 wins and co-leads with seven shutouts. In 28 WCHA games, Patterson led all conference netminders with 20 wins, a 2.06 goals against average and 1659:41 minutes played. Overall, he has posted a 28-13-1 record playing in all 42 games to date.

For the second consecutive year, Wisconsin junior defenseman Justin Schultz (ANA) was named the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Year. The Kelowna, BC native was just the third player to accomplish the feat and the first since former Minnesota Golden Gopher and current Buffalo Sabres rearguard Jordan Leopold did it in 2001 and 2002. Schultz finished his stellar junior campaign currently leading the nation in defenseman scoring with 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 37 games.

UMass-Lowell freshman Scott Wilson (PIT) was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Year after helping to guide the River Hawks to one of the nation's greatest turnarounds ever. The Oakville, ONT native led all Hockey East rookies in scoring with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 26 conference games. He was also the only freshman that averaged better than a point per game (1.08) in Hockey East play. Wilson capped his stellar rookie campaign finishing second on the UMass-Lowell squad with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) in 37 games.

In addition to the conference honors, many NHL-drafted collegians also earned spots on All-Conference teams as well. Below is a rundown.

All-Rookie Team Selections

F Brian Ferlin (BOS) – Cornell, ECAC (also All-Ivy League Second Team selection)
F John Gaudreau (CGY) – Boston College, Hockey East
F Alex Guptill (DAL) – Michigan, CCHA
D Garrett Haar (WSH) – Western Michigan, CCHA
F Max McCormick (OTT) – Ohio State, CCHA
D Patrick McNally (VAN) – Harvard, ECAC
G Stephen Michalek (MIN) – Harvard, ECAC (also All Ivy-League Second Team selection)
F Matthew Peca (TB) – Quinnipiac, ECAC
F Kyle Rau (FLA) – Minnesota, WCHA
D Robbie Russo (NYI) – Notre Dame, CCHA
F Scott Wilson (PIT) – UMass-Lowell, Hockey East

All-Conference First Team Selections

D Danny Biega (CAR) – Harvard, ECAC (and All-Ivy League)
F Nick Bjugstad (FLA) – Minnesota, WCHA
G Joe Cannata (VAN) – Merrimack, Hockey East
D Adam Clendening (CHI) – Boston University, Hockey East
D Brian Dumoulin (CAR) – Boston College, Hockey East
F Alex Killorn (TB) – Harvard, ECAC (and All-Ivy League)
G Kent Patterson (COL) – Minnesota, WCHA
D Justin Schultz (ANA) – Wisconsin, WCHA
F Austin Smith (DAL) – Colgate, ECAC
F Reilly Smith (DAL) – Miami, CCHA
F T. J. Tynan (CBJ) – Notre Dame, CCHA

All-Conference Second Team Selections

D Nick D'Agostino (PIT) – Cornell, ECAC (all All-Ivy League)
F Justin Florek (BOS) – Northern Michigan, CCHA
F Chris Kreider (NYR) – Boston College, Hockey East
D Garrett Noonan (NSH) – Boston University, Hockey East
D Dennis Robertson (TOR) – Brown, ECAC (All-Ivy League Second Team selection only)
F Jaden Schwartz (STL) – Colorado College, WCHA
D Michael Sdao (OTT) – Princeton, ECAC (also All-Ivy League First Team selection)
F Drew Shore (FLA) – Denver, WCHA
F Christopher Wagner (ANA) – Colgate, ECAC
F Jason Zucker (MIN) – Denver, WCHA

All-Conference Third Team Selections (ECAC and WCHA only)

D Ben Blood (OTT) – North Dakota, WCHA
F Brian Ferlin (BOS) – Cornell, ECAC
D Nick Jensen (DET) – St. Cloud State, WCHA
G Paul Karpowich (STL) – Clarkson, ECAC
D Thomas Larkin (CBJ) – Colgate, ECAC
D Patrick McNally (VAN) – Harvard, ECAC
F Brock Nelson (NYI) – North Dakota, WCHA


Two of the University of Denver's NHL prospects made prominent showings in the WCHA Final Five semi-final game versus reigning National Champion Minnesota-Duluth on March 16th.

The first was freshman Zac Larraza (PHO), who posted his first collegiate career goal. The goal was the game-winner in the Pioneers' thrilling 4-3 double overtime win. Larraza finished his rookie campaign with five points (one goal, four assists) playing in 26 games.

The second was sophomore goaltender Sam Brittain (FLA), who set a new school record for most saves in a single game with 67. The previous record was 59, set by Pat Tierney on December 12th, 1983 versus North Dakota. Brittain finished his shortened sophomore campaign (due to recovering from off-season knee surgery) posting an 8-4-0 mark that included one shutout in 12 appearances.

Minnesota freshman Travis Boyd (WSH) posted his first collegiate career goal on March 25th versus North Dakota in the NCAA Tournament West Regional final. To date, Boyd has posted nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 34 games.