NCAA alumni behind the bench and on the ice will be battling for the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning as they meet in the Stanley Cup Final beginning Monday night.
Nine former college players have suited up for the two teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, headlined by rookie and 2021 Hobey Baker Award winner Cole Caufield for Montreal.
Caufield, one of four NCAA alumni on the Canadiens, hopes to become the first player to win the Hobey and the Stanley Cup in the same season. He joins the Hobey’s first winner – Neal Broten – as the second winner of the award to also play in the Stanley Cup Final in the same season.
Caufield’s nine playoff points (four goals, five assists) are the most ever for a player coming off a season of NCAA hockey. His four goals are just one shy of Chris Kreider’s five in 2012.
The former Badger is joined in the Montreal lineup by Jeff Petry (Michigan State), Jon Merrill (Michigan) and Jake Evans (Notre Dame).
Alternate captains Alex Killorn (Harvard) and Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin) lead the group of five NCAA alumni playing for the Lightning. Killorn stands third in the NHL in playoff points (17) and second in goals (8) entering the Final. McDonagh’s +11 rating in the postseason leads all players in the Final.
Killorn and McDonagh are joined in the Lightning lineup by Blake Coleman (Miami), Ross Colton (Vermont) and Curtis McElhinney (Colorado College). All but Colton won the Stanley Cup last season with Tampa Bay.
The college connections continue behind the benches, where both head coaches are NCAA alumni. Montreal’s Dominic Ducharme played at Vermont, while Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper was a varsity lacrosse and club hockey player at Hofstra. Cooper’s staff includes Jeff Halpern (Princeton) and Derek Lalonde (SUNY Cortland).
Wisconsin (Caufield and McDonagh) and Vermont (Colton and Ducharme) are the two schools assured of a Stanley Cup champion.