Would you look at that, it’s almost that time of year again, folks! The college hockey season is just about wrapped up, and a National Champion will be crowned this weekend. It’s Frozen Four time!
The tournament had been an exciting one so far, with some frankly pretty crazy games and a whole lot of scoring, and that might well be reason enough to tune in. The quality of play has been excellent so far, and Flyers fans have the nice little bonus of being able to check in with a couple of prospects as we get down to these final few teams left in the tournament. Two birds, one stone, things of that nature.
Likely the favorite coming into this tournament, the University of Minnesota has had a hugely successful season up until this point – in their 30 regular season games played this year, they’ve only lost eight of them (five in regulation). They have some big names driving that successful season – Logan Cooley, Jimmy Snuggerud, Matthew Knies – but the Flyers’ 2017 7th round pick Bryce Brodzinski has been a key contributor as well. A senior, he’s fifth in scoring on the team with 19 goals and 30 points. He’s had a somewhat underrated very good career with the Golden Gophers, and this might well be where it ends, and he’s looking to close it out on a high note.
To get there, though, they’ll first have to go through Boston University, and a pair of Flyers prospects. Jay O’Brien, a senior and alternate captain, has been putting together another nice little season for the Terriers, with seven goals and 31 points in 38 games played. It’s still a bit of an open question whether we’ll see him signed at the end of the year (the Flyers will receive a second round draft pick as compensation if they opt not to sign him), but we’re still hoping to see him close out his senior year well.
He’s also been joined this year by the Flyers’ most recent third round pick, in Devin Kaplan. After a bit of a slow start while he got acclimated to playing at the college level, Kaplan has been steadily picking up momentum as the season’s gone on. He’s sitting at 10 goals and 23 points on the season, and he’s working well within the Terriers’ system, turning into a pretty consistent contributor for them.
That’s all for the Flyers’ current prospects, but if you’re looking to get really into the weeds with draft eligible prospect watching, sticking around for the late game will give you that chance. The University of Michigan is loaded with top prospects, and they have a pair of really exciting players set to go in the first round of this year’s draft. Adam Fantilli, penciled in as the most likely second overall pick this year, has 29 goals and 64 points in 35 games played as an underage freshman to his name, and he’s also looking pretty good to come away with this year’s Hobey Baker award (assuming that the other two finalists, Cooley and Knies, both from Minnesota, split their votes). He’s absolutely electric out there, draws the eye in a way that few players can, and makes for appointment viewing.
And now to be overlooked, as has been the case for much of the season somehow, is Gavin Brindley. Brindley is small, speedy, a whole lot of fun to watch, and has 12 goals and 38 points to his name also as an underage freshman. His stock is rising, and he’s currently projected to go somewhere in the mid-first round, but for my (sentient blog) money, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go even a bit higher than that.
When and where to watch
As we alluded to above, the semifinals kick off this evening, first with Minnesota facing of against BU. It’s a real “we just hope both teams have fun” type of game for Flyers fans, that’s for sure, and you can catch that one at 5:00 PM on ESPN2 or streaming on ESPN+.
Then, we’ll close out the night with a rematch of last year’s Allentown Regional final with Quinnipiac and Michigan meeting once again. That one will get started at 8:30, also on ESPN2 and ESPN+.
The winners of those two games, finally, will play on Saturday to decide the National Champion. That game will be at 8:00 on, you guessed it, ESPN2 and ESPN+.
And there you have it! All you need to know heading into this year’s Frozen Four. Go forth and prospect watch, these games are bound to be wild.