The NCAA Frozen Four will begin Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston, MA, when the University of Denver will face the University of Michigan. The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State University will complete the semifinal doubleheader on Saturday night to determine the final place of the national championship.
The recent rise of NCAA hockey has raised the level of frozen fours who have already been selected during past NHL entry drafts as a demonstration of NHL potential. This year’s semifinal matches will be highlighted by four standouts that lead to one of the best harvests of possibilities in NCAA history. The semifinals have a long list of players who have historically been in contention for the Hobby Baker Award, “Hockey Heisman”, and to be recognized as one of the top 10 finalists for this prestigious award this season.
Mattie Banners – University of Michigan / Seattle Cracken
Seattle Kraken elected Mattie Banners is second overall in the 2021 NHL entry draft. He was one of four Michigan players to pick in the top five. The 19-year-old Center led the loaded Wolverines roster with 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in the 2021-22 season. He finished with two goals in the regional final in Allentown, PA, with one goal and one assist to help secure his place in the Frozen Four.
Hockey writerProspects analyst Matthew Jetter called Beniars “the ultimate bilateral threat” in a pre-draft profile last year. He went so far as to say that the collegiate star “forechecks like a madman, plays a creative game in all three zones and has a hockey IQ that rivals the Greats.” Jetter compared him to the prestigious 200-foot NHL center and former Cellke trophy winners Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toussaint. After the end of the NCAA season, Beniars could play for the Kraken to end the 2021-22 season.
A native of Hingham, MA will play Frozen Four in his own backyard backyard. Beniars and fellow top-five pickers Luke Hughes, Wayne Power and Kent Johnson provide the irresistible talent that made the top pick Wolverines favorites in Boston this weekend. A title would add to their current NCAA record of nine national championships.
Bobby Brink – University of Denver / Philadelphia Flyers
Bobby Brink led the NCAA to 56 points (14 goals, 42 assists) in 39 games for the University of Denver in 2021-22. His NHL expectations have soared since he was named one of the “Hobby Hattrick” finalists in the outstanding season. He is still the only one of the four possibilities on the list in the race for the most prestigious personal award in college hockey, which will be announced on Friday night.
The Philadelphia Flyers selected the 34th Brink overall in 2019 ৷ On the contrary their confidence enabled them to pass Cole Cofield with their 14th overall pick that they were set in the Brink, a player with a comparative skill, later in the draft. Although Cofield has already made a commitment to the Montreal Canadians, the Flyers hope that Brink and their 2019 first-round election Cam York will be implemented as building blocks for their future and demonstrate the benefits of their intriguing draft strategy.
Related: Flyers Prospect Brink Dominating the NCAA
Charlie O’Connor Athletic He ranked Brink as the third prospect in the Philadelphia system in February, based on his belief that he could “surpass the combination of low-size and low-elite skating skills” with skill and aggressive creativity. Athletic, Top 20 Flyer Prospects: Cam York, Eger Jamula and Bobby Brink a cut above the rest, 2/22/22). Bill Meltzer also set a high penalty for the Denver standout, saying he has the potential to be a “small (clad) gyrox” because he has the ability to create cunning dramas like the former Flyers captain and current Florida Panthers forward.
Flyers will almost certainly sign an entry-level agreement (ELC) with Brink shortly after Frozen Four. He will play the rest of the 2021-22 season with the big club or the American Hockey League (AHL) Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The Pioneers would like to tie their semifinal opponent Michigan with their ninth national championship in the history of the program. Fourth-year head coach David Carly, the 32-year-old younger brother of former NHL defender Matt Carl, will be coaching his second Frozen Four.
Nathan Smith – Minnesota State University / Arizona Coyotes
The red-hot Minnesota State Mavericks will try to oust the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the all-time college powerhouse of the state of hockey, behind 23-year-old center Nathan Smith. The former third-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 2018 was second behind Brink in the NCAA with 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists) in 36 games in the 2021-22 season.
The Arizona Coyotes acquired Smith’s rights from the Jets before the March 21 trade deadline. The report states that Smith was unwilling to sign an entry-level agreement with Winnipeg. Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong spoke optimistically about the college star playing in the desert after the trade, calling him “a very efficient two-way center who relentlessly and fiercely competes every night.”
The state of Minnesota will enter the Frozen Four in search of their first national championship surrounded by three powerhouse programs that have come together for 22 of them. Despite lacking a multi-layered history compared to their opponents, they entered their matchup as the hottest team in the country in a 17-game winning streak with Minnesota.
Goaltender Dryden Mack will also provide the Mavericks with a reliable backstop. He is at the end of his second consecutive season as a finalist for both the Hobby Baker and Richter Awards as the country’s top goalkeeper.
Luke Hughes – University of Michigan / New Jersey Devils
First, the Vancouver Canucks selected Queen Hughes seventh overall in 2018. Then, in 2019, the New Jersey Devils selected Jack Hughes first overall. The Devils completed the Hughes trifle in 2021 by picking Luke through a fourth-overall pick. Michigan defeated the Blueliners. Fellows Power and Johnson joined the Beniers as the second Wolverine to be in the top 10 finalists for Hobey Baker this season.
Peter Barakchini, prospect analyst Hockey writer, Hughes was optimistic about his chances of becoming the “top pair, Pak-moving defender” on the NHL. His style of play is comparable to that of his brother Quinn, who has been the seventh-ranked NHL defender in scoring since the start of the 2019-20 season. Skilled Pak-movers on the back end have taken the NHL by storm in recent seasons, and Luke will see that trend continue when he joins the Devils. As one of the youngest players in college hockey this season, it will take more time to refine his defensive play before jumping to NHL level.
Ben Meyers of the University of Minnesota completed the hobby hat trick with Brink and McKay. Meyers went undefeated, but NHL teams now covet his rights just before he is eligible to sign the ELC. The Minnesota Wild is about to land the local star.
Denver vs. Michigan will begin Thursday at 5 p.m. (Eastern time) and Minnesota v. Minnesota State will follow at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time). The winner of the Hobey Baker Award will be announced on Friday after the semifinals and before the national championship.
Top prospects with other college players in Frozen Four will see NHL legends like Paul Caria and Johnny Goudreau recreate the path that led their team to national championship glory before jumping into the game’s highest level of competition. To be offered.
Colin Newby, a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey writer. He has been an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge since 2004 with Flyers goaltending statistics and a strange ability to confuse every Stanley Cup winner in his lifetime. The depth of his knowledge spans his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from the likes of fans like “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten travelers like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevich. Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.