By Jayson Hajdu
With Hockey East and the NCHC having concluded their regular-season schedules last weekend, all six NCAA Division I men’s hockey conference tournaments are now underway:
Atlantic Hockey will crown a new playoff champion for the first time since 2018 after three-time defending champ American International was eliminated by Holy Cross in the quarterfinals. The Crusaders will face No. 1 seed and regular-season champ RIT in one semifinal, with Canisius and Niagara squaring off in the other.
Top-seeded Minnesota, which had a first-round bye, will face a resurgent Michigan State squad in the Big Ten semifinals. The Spartans advanced after eliminating Notre Dame in three games, Michigan State’s first playoff series win since 2013. Michigan and Ohio State will clash in the other semifinal.
All four quarterfinal best-of-three series were decided via sweep last weekend. Top-seeded Minnesota State will host Ferris State in one semifinal, and Michigan Tech will host Northern Michigan in the other.
The road to the Whitelaw Cup began with last weekend’s single-elimination first round, leaving eight teams to battle it out in this weekend’s quarterfinals. Matchups include Quinnipiac vs. Yale, Harvard vs. Princeton, Cornell vs. Clarkson, and St. Lawrence vs. Colgate.
Hockey East kicks off this week’s action around the country with three first-round matchups tonight: New Hampshire at Providence, Vermont at Maine, and UMass at Boston College. The winners of those three tilts will advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round, where one matchup is already set: UConn vs. UMass Lowell.
The NCHC Tournament begins this weekend with a quartet of quarterfinal best-of-three series: Miami at top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Denver, North Dakota at Omaha, Colorado College at Western Michigan, and Minnesota Duluth at St. Cloud State.
Visit the links below for brackets and additional information:
2022-23 Conference Champions (reg. season):
Atlantic Hockey – RIT (first since 2010-11)
Big Ten – Minnesota (second in a row)
CCHA – Minnesota State (NCAA-record sixth straight outright title)
ECAC – Quinnipiac (third in a row)
Hockey East – Boston University (first since 2016-17)
NCHC – Denver (second in a row)
Bemidji Pioneer: Beavers’ Will Zmolek realizes pro dream with Philadelphia Flyers
Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune: BGSU’s Malmstrom signs with St. Louis Blues
College Hockey News: Sam Malinski, Cornell’s humble star
Daily Faceoff: NHL Draft Prospect Roundup: Adam Fantilli is absolutely ridiculous
Duluth News Tribune: Bulldogs confident returning to St. Cloud State for NCHC Quarterfinal series
EP Rinkside: The EP Rinkside 2023 NCAA Free Agency Guide
ESPN: Road to the men’s Frozen Four: conference tournaments at a glance
FloHockey: Players step up for Michigan Tech, Minnesota State
FloHockey: Top college free agents eligible to sign with NHL teams in 2023
Lansing State Journal: MSU hockey, having achieved something tangible, chases a bigger dream
New England Hockey Journal: How is UConn’s Matthew Wood looking for the 2023 NHL Draft?
New York Hockey Journal: 100 years later, Hobey Baker Rink still going strong for Princeton
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Blues defenseman Anton Malmstrom signed as a college free agent
The Rink Live: Two rematches from last weekend of regular season are among four conference series
The State News: Big Ten Tournament win is just what the MSU hockey program, fanbase needed
USCHO: Down to final four in conference postseason with semifinals on tap this weekend
USCHO: Minnesota Duluth preparing for playoff series with SCSU knowing ‘every game is life and death’
USCHO: Looking at which college hockey teams have best shot to make 2023 NCAA tournament
BCHL Podcast: Featuring College Hockey Inc. Senior Director of Athlete Relations Sean Hogan
Inside Atlantic Hockey: Featuring RIT head coach Wayne Wilson
The Broadway Hat Podcast: Featuring Colorado College freshman F Noah Laba
The CCHA Show: Featuring BGSU Senior Assoc. AD Jim Elsasser and MSU senior F Cade Borchardt
The Rink Live Weekend Rewind: The playoffs are upon us
THN American Pipeline: Previewing the NCAA playoff picture and Jets prospects
USCHO Spotlight: Previewing the Hockey East playoffs with NESN play-by-play broadcaster Tyler Murray
USCHO Weekend Review: Talking playoff upsets, Alaska holding serve, overachievers this season
Work in Sports: Making an impact in amateur sports with College Hockey Inc.’s Mike Snee
Big Ten Network: Luke Hughes “On the Ice”
New England Hockey Journal: Behind the scenes with Harvard University men’s hockey
Holy Cross generated nine goals in its three-game series win over American International in the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals last weekend, and sophomore F Liam McLinskey (Pearl River, N.Y.) scored more than half of them.
The Quinnipiac transfer, who played all of two games with the Bobcats in 2021-22, scored the lone goal in a 3-1 loss in Game 1, then erupted for a pair of goals in each of the next two games, both 4-3 victories for the Crusaders that eliminated the three-time defending AHA tournament champions.
“In the big games, you need your best players to step up and produce and do what they do well,” Holy Cross head coach Bill Riga told College Hockey Inc. “In this case, he filled the net in the big moments while continuing to kill penalties and be a 200-foot player.”
That McLinskey was even in this position may have seemed unlikely one year ago. Unable to crack the lineup for a Quinnipiac juggernaut that won 32 games, McLinskey sought a new home and found one with the Crusaders. He has produced a team-leading 17 goals in 36 contests.
“He was just given a limited opportunity give how good and deep Quinnipiac was,” said Riga. “So when he was available in the portal, it was top priority to get him here with us. We had a need for offensive production and knew he would be a difference-maker.”
Bowling Green graduate F Taylor Schneider (Lakeville, Minn.) made school and NCAA history in Saturday’s season-ending 2-1 overtime loss to Ferris State in the CCHA Quarterfinals.
The game was the 182nd of Schneider’s collegiate career, which not only set a BGSU program record but also set a new NCAA Division I men’s hockey standard for most games played with a single team.
Schneider finished his career with 107 points (44 goals, 63 assists). He scored a career-high 11 goals and posted 24 points in 2022-23.
A pair of CCHA defensemen inked free-agent, entry-level NHL contracts this week.
Bowling Green junior Anton Malmstrom (Österhaninge, Sweden) signed a two-year pact with St. Louis on Monday, and Bemidji State senior Will Zmolek (Rochester, Minn.) – the son of former NHL defenseman Doug Zmolek – agreed to a one-year deal with Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Both will report to their respective AHL affiliates.
You Can Quote Me On That:
“They came to play tonight, there’s no question about it. I think you’ve seen that from those two guys all year. They enjoy playing in big games. They’ve scored big goals for us all year long. It was fun to watch.”
-- Boston University head coach Jay Pandolfo on brothers Lane and Quinn Hutson, who each scored twice in BU’s Hockey East-clinching 6-4 win over Providence last Friday. (source: Boston University Athletics YouTube).
NHL Note of the Week:
Colorado C Andrew Cogliano (Michigan, 2005-07) played in his 1,200th NHL game last night in a 6-0 Avalanche win over the Sharks, becoming the 21st NCAA alum all-time to reach that milestone. From the 2005 NHL Entry Draft class, only Los Angeles F Anze Kopitar (1,275) and San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic (1,225) have appeared in more games than Cogliano.
Cogliano spent two seasons at Michigan under legendary head coach Red Berenson, where he played with the likes of future NHLers Jack Johnson, Kevin Porter and Steve Kampfer.
HCA Monthly Awards:
Player of the Month – Keaton Mastrodonato, Canisius
Rookie of the Month – Logan Cooley, Minnesota
Goaltender of the Month – Yaniv Perets, Quinnipiac
Click HERE for details.
Fries at the Bottom of the Bag:
Minnesota Duluth F Ben Steeves (Bedford, N.H.) potted his 20th goal of the season in Saturday’s regular-season finale against St. Cloud State, becoming the first UMD freshman to reach that plateau since Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull in 1984-85 … Colgate junior F Alex Young (Calgary, Alberta) had his point streak snapped at 18 games Friday against Dartmouth … The nation’s longest-active point streak now belongs to Minnesota freshman F Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.), who has reached the scoresheet in 11 straight. Cooley leads the top-ranked Gophers with 48 points in 33 games, tying him for fourth in the national scoring race … Fifteen players from around the country have already signed professional contracts this week. Track all NCAA pro signings with College Hockey Inc.’s Pro Signings tracker.
College Hockey Inc. Resources:
- College Hockey Inc. Media Center
- College Hockey National Pronunciation Guide
- NHL Matchup Tool
- NCAA Alums in the NHL This Season
- Former Collegians in NHL Front Offices
- College Players With 1,000 NHL Games
- College Players 1,000 Career NHL points
- NHL Draft Picks Playing in the NCAA
- 2023 Pro Signings Tracker
Did you know? 92% of NCAA Division I men’s hockey players earn their degree!