March College Hockey prospects notebook

By DJ Powers

In the final 2006-07 edition of the notebook, we look back at some prospects accomplishments, the NCAA postseason, player departures and a look ahead to the upcoming Frozen Four in St. Louis next week.

Trio of NHL prospects turn in MVP performances at the Conference Championship Tournaments

Boston College sophomore center Brock Bradford (BOS), Notre Dame senior goaltender David Brown (PIT), and Minnesota sophomore Blake Wheeler (PHO) all gave excellent performances and took MVP honors while helping to lead their team to claim their respective conference postseason championships and with it the coveted NCAA Tournament automatic bids.

In his four Hockey East postseason games with Boston College, Bradford went on a scoring tear, posting nine (six goals, three assists) to help the Eagles win the Hockey East Championship. His six goals included two game-winners coming against Northeastern in the quarterfinals and New Hampshire in the Conference Championship game.

In his four CCHA postseason games with Notre Dame, Brown stopped a combined 85 of 88 shots to help guide Notre Dame to their first ever CCHA Mason Cup Championship and earning the CCHA Championship Tournament MVP honor. Among the wins that Brown posted was his sixth shutout of the season against Lake Superior State in the CCHA semi-finals.

In Minnesota’s five WCHA post-season games, Wheeler recorded six points (five goals, one assists) that also included his first career hat trick against Wisconsin in the WCHA Final Five semi-finals. However, it would be his Broadmoor Cup winning goal in overtime against North Dakota that will go down as not only one of the most memorable moments of the 2006-07 college hockey season but also as arguably the best goal of the season. The tally helped earn Wheeler the WCHA Final Five MVP honor and gave the Golden Gophers their second consecutive WCHA Championship and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Porter and Schneider give Most Outstanding Player performances in the NCAA Tournament Regionals

North Dakota senior center Chris Porter (CHI) and Boston College junior goaltender Cory Schneider (VAN) both turned in stellar performances, helping to not only guide their respective teams to a return trip to the Frozen Four next week in St. Louis but earned Most Outstanding Player honors as well.

Porter posted four points (three goals, one assist) including the game-winning goal in the West Regional final in overtime to give the Fighting Sioux a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. His two goals in the Regional semi-final versus Michigan both came on the power play.

Schneider stopped 61 of 62 combined shots in the two Northeast Regional games versus St. Lawrence and Miami. He posted his nation co-leading seventh shutout in Boston College’s 4-0 win over Miami in the Regional final.

Penguins prospect named to the "Hobey Hat Trick"

Notre Dame senior goaltender and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect David Brown was selected to the "Hobey Hat Trick", the final three players making the cut to win college hockey’s most prestigious individual award. Making up this year’s Hobey Hat Trick are Brown, North Dakota sophomore forward Ryan Duncan and Air Force junior center Eric Ehn.

The 2007 recipient will be announced on April 6 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis during the Frozen Four weekend.

Seven NHL prospects among those named as Frozen Four Skills Challenge Participants

Recently, the participants in the 2007 Frozen Four Skills Challenge were announced. Among those scheduled to be in St. Louis participating are seven NHL prospects. Below is the list of the East and West squad participants who are current NHL prospects.

Men’s East Squad: Mark McCutcheon (COL) – Cornell University
Mike Morris (SJ) – Northeastern University
Mike Sullivan (LA) – Clarkson University
Jason Smith (NJ) – Sacred Heart University.

Men’s West Squad: Marty Guerin (LA) – Miami University
T.J. Hensick (COL) – University of Michigan
David Brown (PIT) – University of Notre Dame

Handing out the hardware

Below is the list of prospects who were recognized for their individual achievements during the regular season by their conferences.

D Drew Bagnall (FLA): ECACHL Player of the Year, Best Defensive Defenseman
G David Brown (PIT): CCHA Player of the Year and Top Goaltender
D Tim Cook (OTT): CCHA’s Illitch Humanitarian Award
C Nathan Davis (CHI): CCHA Best Defensive Forward
C Tom Fritsche (CHI): CCHA’s Terry Flanagan Award
D Alex Goligoski (PIT): WCHA Defensive Player of the Year
D Matt Hunwick (BOS): CCHA Best Defensive Defenseman
D Jack Johnson (LA): CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman
RW David Jones (COL): Ivy League Player of the Year
D Mike Lundin (TB): Hockey East’s Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award
RW Andreas Nodl (PHI): WCHA Rookie of the Year
D Sean Sullivan (PHO): Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman

Early departures and free agent signings

With the 2006-07 season winding down comes the signings of collegians by various NHL teams and their minor league affiliates. The early departure of some of the top collegians has begun. Among the notables giving up the remainder of their collegiate eligibility to sign a pro contract include Minnesota-Duluth sophomores Mason Raymond (VAN) and Matt Niskanen (DAL), Michigan sophomore defenseman Jack Johnson (LA), Bowling Green junior center Jonathan Matsumoto (PHI), Vermont junior center Torrey Mitchell (SJ) and Wisconsin sophomore winger Jack Skille (CHI).

In addition to the early departures, the annual rush to sign undrafted collegiate free agents has also begun. This year, the hot commodity looks to be defensemen. Among the notable blueliners already snapped up are Notre Dame senior Noah Babin (CAR), Quinnipiac senior Reid Cashman (TOR), Holy Cross senior Jon Landry (CBJ), Wisconsin junior Joe Piskula (LA) and Minnesota State-Mankato junior Steve Wagner (STL). The top free-agent forwards signed include Denver junior Ryan Dingle (ANA), Alaska junior Kyle Greentree (PHI), Western Michigan freshman Mark Letestu (PIT), and RIT sophomore Steve Pinizzotto (WSH).

Capitals prospect named finalist for the 2007 Hockey Humanitarian Award

Wisconsin senior center Andrew Joudrey (WSH) has been named as a finalist the for 2007 Hockey Humanitarian Award. The award annually honors college hockey’s top citizen for their services to and excellence in the community.

Joudrey was recognized for his work with local youth programs and helped to raise money for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. Brownlee was recognized for his work with the Anthony Ford Foundation, which provides financial aid for underprivileged children wanting to play hockey and for his work throughout the year with local youth programs.

The winner of the award will be announced on April 6 during the 2007 Frozen Four weekend in St. Louis.

Two NHL prospects amongst finalists for Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award

Pittsburgh Penguins prospect David Brown (PIT) and Edmonton Oilers prospect Glenn Fisher are among the ten finalists for the inaugural Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) award, which has been around since 2001 and began with honoring college basketball players, has since expanded and this year includes Men’s Ice Hockey. Finalists for the award are all seniors and are selected based on excellence as student-athletes in four areas – classroom, character, community and competition. The winner, which will be determined by balloting of coaches, media and sponsors as well as by nationwide fan balloting, will be announced during the upcoming Frozen Four weekend in St. Louis.

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.