With the 2022 Frozen Four tournament about to begin, there will be seven Montreal Canadiens prospects fighting for the honour of being crowned national champions in the NCAA.
The tournament will begin regional elimination games on Thursday, March 24 and 25, between the four highest-seeded teams in each division. With four seeds reduced to two after the initial regional games, the two remaining teams in each bracket would face off against each other on March 26 and 27 to determine who will head to the Frozen Four semifinals on April 7 in Boston.
Jordan Harris’ Final NCAA Championships
All eyes will be on Harris, as he and the Northeastern Huskies will look to upset the Western Michigan Broncos in their very first game of the tournament. If Northeastern is able to get by the Broncos in the first game, they would be met with another massive challenge in the next round, as they’d have to play the winner of the contest between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and defending champions University of Massachusetts Minutemen on March 27. However, one should never count out Northeastern, as they have the defence and elite goaltending from Buffalo Sabres prospect Devon Levi to create a few upsets.
*For more information on the full schedule, there’s a full bracket at the bottom of this article.
The captain opens up the scoring!
— Northeastern Men’s Hockey (@GoNUmhockey) January 18, 2022
Harris isn’t the only Montreal Canadiens prospect who could see their NCAA career come to an end, as Denver University’s Brett Stapley, a former 7th round pick of the Canadiens in 2018, could be playing his final games as well over the coming weekend. His Denver University Pioneers are set to do battle with the UMass Lowell River Hawks on March 24. Should they win their initial bout, Stapley could face fellow Canadiens prospect Blake Biondi in the next round, as the Pioneers would play the winner of the contest between Biondi’s Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and the Michigan Tech Huskies on March 26.
The NCAA senior is in the same situation as Harris, having played four seasons in the NCAA and being able to become a free agent as of August 15 of this year. Stapley has formed a dynamic duo this season with NCAA standout and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Bobby Brink, as the pair terrorized the NCHC division all season with their speed and creativity. After a respectable output of 40 points in 37 games this season, Stapley is another prospect to watch as the Canadiens look to evaluate which prospects with expiring rights deserve an entry-level contract.
PIONEER GOAL BY BRETT STAPLEY.
We Love EVERYTHING about this sequence.
4-1 Denver pic.twitter.com/yf5QiDNxQ9
— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) March 12, 2022
Some Montreal Canadiens prospects like Biondi, Sean Farrell and Rhett Pitlick will be getting their first taste of the NCAA National Championships Tournament, an invaluable time to gain experience and show the world what they can do in pressure situations. For sophomore Sean Farrell, this will be his first taste of the NCAA Tournament, as his Havard Crimson do battle with Minnesota State Mavericks on March 24. On top of an impressive showing for Team USA at the Olympics, Farrell, who is theoretically a sophomore while playing in his first season for Harvard, put up an impressive 26 points in 23 games.
This tournament will continue to help the skilled winger grow his game while exposing him to the NCAA Championships’ tougher and tighter defensive style. Farrell has shown an ability to rise about tight-checking from bigger and meaner opponents, and will take this experience in stride as Harvard tries to punch their ticket to Boston this weekend. Farrell is likely to return to the NCAA next season and cannot sign a contract of any sort with the Montreal Canadiens or Laval Rocket should his season end early, as it would disqualify him from NCAA play next season. Expect the young forward to take a bit of a break after the end of this season and regroup in the late spring; could a World Championship invite for Team USA be in the cards?
— Harvard Men's Hockey (@HarvardMHockey) March 18, 2022
Ty Smilanic Motivated To Go Deep
Ty Smilanic, who was recently acquired from the Florida Panthers in the trade that sent veteran defenceman Ben Chiarot to the Sunshine State, will be extra motivated to impress his new team. The Quinnipiac Bobcats will open up their tournament against the St. Cloud St Huskies; a confrontation that is sure to be a trench war on the ice. Smilanic will have the advantage of speed on his side. His high-tempo pacing and never-ending motor will be on full display on the national stage.
Although Smilanic hasn’t been able to really take off offensively, being buried in a roster filled with 22 and 23-year-olds, this is a perfect situation for him to rise to the top of his abilities and show the nation why he was the heart and soul of the USNDT when the Florida Panthers initially drafted him in 2020. Quinnipiac’s bracket doesn’t get much easier, as they would then face the winner of the game between Michigan State and American International. With Michigan State being heavy favourites, due to their cast of NCAA All-stars, which include six former 1st round picks like Owen Power, Matt Beniers and Luke Hughes, Quinnipiac will have their work cut out for them as they try to secure a spot in the Frozen Four.
— Les Canadiens JTF (@GoHabsGoHabsGo) March 17, 2022
Complete list of Montreal Canadiens prospects in the NCAA National Hockey Championships:
Quinnipiac: Ty Smilanic
Denver: Brett Stapley
Minnesota Duluth: Blake Biondi
Harvard: Sean Farrell
Minnesota: Rhett Pitlick
Northeastern: Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble
Full Schedule NCAA National Hockey Championships:
Here's the schedule for this year's NCAA National Hockey Championships.
— Montreal Hockey Now (@MTLhockeynow) March 23, 2022