Blues’ Prospects Make Impact in the Frozen Four

By Chris DeGroat

In Boston, it’s huge. In Michigan, it’s huge. And, in Minnesota, it’s just as huge. It is the Frozen Four, a spectacular hockey tournament that doesn’t get the attention it deserves in the St. Louis area because there isn’t a Division I hockey team in the area for fans to follow.

Had you watched the championship game between Maine and Minnesota, you would have gotten to see a great game, where Minnesota scored with less than a minute to go in regulation before winning the game in overtime. You would have also gotten to see two players that could be wearing a Bluenote in a few years.

The Blues, with their last pick of the 1998 draft drafted one of the stars of the tournament, Minnesota forward John Pohl. Not only was Pohl named to the All-Tournament Team, he was also named a 1st Team All-American in his senior season, one which he lead the entire nation in scoring.

In the championship game, Pohl was Minnesota’s leading scorer. He scored the Gopher’s second goal of the game late in the 2nd period, a goal that gave Minnesota the lead. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Maine came out and scored a quick goal in the 3rd period and then added another at the 15:27 mark that put Maine ahead.

Then, with the goaltender pulled and a face-off in Maine’s zone, Minnesota scored the tying goal off a face-off win by Pohl. After Pohl’s win, the puck bounced off Minnesota’s other Blues’ prospect, Troy Riddle, and then bounced to Matt Koalska who put the puck in the net to send the game in overtime.

At the 16:58 of overtime the Gophers finished off Maine, capping off an amazing comeback. Grant Potulny scored the game-winning goal. Hobey Baker Award winner Jordan Leopold and Pohl both recorded assists on the goal. The assist was Pohl’s sixth point of the tournament, and his 79th point of the season.

*Quotes from NCAA website
“We were lucky. Adam bailed us out a lot. Matt Koalska came up huge. In between the third period and overtime, we just talked about staying fresh and staying on them and not turning the puck over,” said Pohl, who will be moving up to the professional level next season, having just completed his senior season.

Riddle, only a sophomore, also posted impressive numbers in the tournament with 4 points. He finished the season with 47 points in 44 games.

In the Eastern Region of the bracket, the Blues had one last prospect playing in the NCAA Tournament. New Hampshire forward Colin Hemingway, a junior, also had a great season with 66 points (4th in the nation) in 40 games along with 2 goals in his two tournament games.