The 2019 NCAA hockey tournament is down to the Frozen Four and 18 former BCHLers, representing nine BCHL clubs, are still alive and competing for a national championship.
The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs will take on the Providence Friars in the first semifinal on Thursday at 2 p.m. PDT at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Semifinal number two sees the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Denver Pioneers going head to head at 5:30 p.m PDT.
The Bulldogs are the defending national champions after defeating Notre Dame 2-1 in last year’s final and are making their third-straight appearance in the Frozen Four after they beat Bowling Green 2-1 in overtime and Quinnipiac by a score of 3-1 to advance to the final weekend of the tournament. Minnesota-Duluth have a score-by-committee approach with seven players at over 20 points on the year, led by Parker Mackay (30 points), Justin Richards (29) and St. Louis Blues draft pick Scott Perunovich (29). Former Penticton Vees defenceman Jarod Hilderman is the lone BCHL representative on the Minnesota-Duluth roster.
Of note: Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin is the father of Penticton Vees forward Ryan Sandelin. Other NHL draft picks on their roster include: Dylan Samberg (Winnipeg, 2017), Cole Koepke (Tampa Bay, 2018), Noah Cates (Philadelphia, 2017), Nick Swaney (Minnesota, 2017), Mikey Anderson (Los Angeles, 2017) and Riley Tufte (Dallas, 2016).
This will be the fifth Frozen Four appearance for Providence and the first since they won their first and only national championship in 2015 when they defeated Boston University 4-3 in the finals. There are five BCHL alums on the Friars roster, including two of the team’s top scorers in Merritt Centennials alum and Minnesota Wild draft pick Brandon Duhaime (33 points) and former Penticton Vees forward Scott Conway (29 points). Chilliwack Chiefs grad and 2016 Edmonton Oilers draft pick Vincent Desharnais had a breakout season for Providence in his senior year as he was named an assistant captain and won the award for Hockey East’s Best Defensive Defenceman. The other two BCHL grads on the roster are former West Kelowna Warrior Kyle Koopman and Chilliwack alum Vimal Sukumaran. The Friars got to the Frozen Four by beating Minnesota State 6-3 and Cornell 4-0 on the first weekend of the tournament.
Of note: Other NHL draft picks on the Friars roster include: Ben Mirageas (New York Islanders, 2017), Jay O’Brien (Philadelphia, 2018), Jack Dugan (Vegas, 2017), Jacob Bryson (Buffalo, 2017) Kasper Björkqvist (Pittsburgh, 2016), Michael Callahan (Arizona, 2018) and Hayden Hawkey (Montreal, 2014).
UMass is making their first ever appearance in the Frozen Four after they had a pair of 4-0 wins over Harvard and Notre Dame on the first weekend of the tournament. The Minutemen are led by Hobey Baker finalist and Hockey East Player of the Year Cale Makar. The sophomore defenceman and former AJHL standout was drafted fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2017 and won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2018. Former Powell River Kings standout Jacob Pritchard is the team’s second-leading scorer with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 39 games in his first season since transferring to UMass from St. Lawrence. Fellow senior and Kings alum Kurt Keats is the only other former BCHLer on the roster.
Of note: Other NHL draft picks on the Minutemen roster include: Mario Ferraro (San Jose, 2017) and John Leonard (San Jose, 2018).
The Pioneers lead the way with 10 BCHL grads on their roster. This is the third time in the last four years Denver has made it to the Frozen Four and their first since winning their eighth national championship in 2017, which is second only to Michigan’s nine titles. Like UMass, they have yet to surrender a goal during the tournament as they beat Ohio State 2-0 and American International 3-0 on the opening weekend. The Pioneers are led offensively by a pair of former BCHL players – leading scorer Liam Finlay (36 points) and senior forward Jarid Lukosevicius (29 points), who scored a hat trick in the championship game in 2017. The other players representing the BCHL on the Denver roster include Vernon Vipers alum and Montreal Canadiens 2018 draft pick Brett Stapley, former Wenatchee Wild defenceman and Vegas Golden Knights 2018 fourth-rounder Slava Demin, Wenatchee alum Devin Cooley, Penticton Vees alum Griffin Mendel, Merritt Centennials alum Tyler Ward, former Chilliwack Chief Kohen Olischefski, Langley Rivermen alum Ryan Barrow and Cowichan Valley Capitals grad Michael Corson.
Of note: Other NHL draft picks on the Denver roster include: Ian Mitchell (Chicago, 2017), Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay, 2017), Emilio Pettersen (Calgary, 2018) and Filip Larsson (Detroit, 2016).
Thursday’s semifinals will be broadcast on TSN2. The national championship game takes place on Saturday at 5p.m. PST and will be broadcast on TSN.ca and on the TSN app.