The college hockey season has gotten into the fun part of the year, and the NCAA have released the brackets for the tournament -
West Regional (Fargo, ND) March 24-25
#1 Minnesota Duluth(2) vs. #4 Ohio State(15)
#2 Boston University(7) vs. #3 North Dakota(10)
East Regional (Providence, RI) March 24-25
#1 Harvard(3) vs. #4 Providence(14)
#2 Western Michigan(6) vs. #3 Air Force(12)
Midwest Regional (Cincinnati, OH) March 25-26
#1 Denver(1) vs. #4 Michigan Tech(16)
#2 Union(8) vs. #3 Penn State(9)
Northeast Regional (Manchester, NH) March 25-26
#1 Minnesota(4) vs. #4 Notre Dame(13)
#2 UMass Lowell(5) vs. #3 Cornell(11)
The winners from each regional tourney meet in the Frozen Four tournament, to be held at the United Center in Chicago, April 6-8.
There will be at least three Buffalo Sabres prospects in the tourney this year - Calvin Petersen (G) - Notre Dame, Sean Malone (F) - Harvard and Anthony Florentino (D) - Providence. All three have had stellar seasons this year, hitting personal bests in multiple categories. Freshman forward Brett Murray did not play in Penn State’s march to the Big Ten hockey tournament - the Nittany Lions have links with the Sabres through alum Terry Pegula, who funded their new arena.
Cal Petersen [2013 Draft, 5th Rd, #129] is a highly-touted prospect, and at 22 is in his junior year at the Fighting Irish. He’s had an excellent season this year, culminating in a nomination for the 2017 Mike Richter Award as college hockey's most outstanding goaltender of the season.
This season he had career totals in wins (21), goals-against-average GAA (2.14) and save percentage (.928), with the Irish ending up 21-11-5.
In his college career so far - he has played in 107 games, (87 consecutive starts), overall 44-38-15 record with GAA 2.28 and .925 SV pct. He will have his task cut out this weekend as Notre Dame take on Minnesota.
Sean Malone [2013 Draft, 6th Rd, #159] is a 21-year-old senior at Harvard, and is enjoying an excellent year with 18 goals and 42 points racked up in just 33 games played. The Crimson are ranked third in the country and will take on Providence in the first game of the regionals on Friday, coincidentally against Florentino.
In his four years at Harvard, center Malone has picked up 99 points (42G, 57A) in 112 games. He has been described as a responsible, two-way player and is expected to contend for a lower-line center position with his work ethic, primarily getting points by getting to the net.
Antony Florentino [2013 Draft, 5th Rd, #143] is also 22, and in his senior year at Providence College. He also had a career season, getting 9 goals and 7 assists in 29 games played, for a career total of 22 goals and 32 assists for 54 points in 130 career games, including the 2015 National Championship with the Friars.
The defenseman has a strong and accurate point shot, and can be relied on to make a decent outlet pass from the blue line. He projects to a middle-pairing in the NHL, with his combative and physical nature working as a plus for him.
Both Malone and Florentino will become free agents if the Sabres do not offer them entry-level contracts at the end of this season.
Brett Murray [2016 Draft, 4th Rd, #99] joined Penn State for the spring semester, playing just twelve games in his freshman season, with one assist. The left winger played 27 games for the Youngstown Phantoms earlier in the season, picking up 20 pts (7G, 13A). He skated on the Lions’ third line, but didn’t feature in the conference tournament.