PITTSBURGH -- Two summers ago, Antoine Laganiere had an internship with a bank.
Sometime soon, he almost certainly will have an internship of sorts with a National Hockey League team.
A 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward from Yale, Laganiere will have a pretty secure safety net should the whole professional hockey thing not work out -- an Ivy League economics degree. But as his role, production and body have all grown over the past three years, so have his National Hockey League prospects.
Laganiere's Bulldogs (20-12-3) advanced to the Frozen Four for the first time since 1952 and will play UMass Lowell (28-10-2) in the first of two national semifinals at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at Consol Energy Center. Quinnipiac (29-7-5) and St. Cloud State (25-15-1) follow at 8 p.m.
The two, though, are forever linked.
Drafted a year apart by Pittsburgh in 2009 and '10, about all else Hanowski and Agostino had in common through March 27 was they remained property of the Penguins. The two forwards played for college teams in different conferences 1,300 miles apart; their paths never crossed during their collegiate careers.
"From what I've heard," Agostino said of Hanowski on Wednesday, "he's a great hockey player, and I'm sure he's a great kid. But I don't really know him."
They start each fall at 59 -- NCAA Division I teams, that is.
Sixteen go on to postseason play.
The winner of each of the four regionals advances to the Frozen Four. This year it will be Massachusetts-Lowell, Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State and Yale participating at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center on April 11 and 13.
The only sure thing at this year's Frozen Four, set for the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on April 11 and 13, is that the winner will be a first-time champion.
None of the four participants -- Quinnipiac, Massachusetts-Lowell, St. Cloud State, and Yale -- has ever won it all. Quinnipiac and UMass-Lowell were No. 1 seeds in their respective regionals; St. Cloud and Yale No. 4 seeds in theirs. Only Yale has been to the Frozen Four -- and that was way back in 1952.
Not since 1988 has a team (Lake Superior State) won it all in its first Frozen Four; three teams have the opportunity to rewrite that record in Pittsburgh.
The St. Cloud State men's hockey team is going to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history.
Freshman Joey Benik and junior Cory Thorson each scored twice and sophomore goaltender Ryan Faragher made 20 saves as the Huskies cruised to a 4-1 win against Miami (Ohio) in the NCAA Midwest Regional championship game in Toledo, Ohio.
St. Cloud State (25-15-1) will play the winner of the East Regional championship (Union College or Quinnipiac) on April 11 in Pittsburgh.
Yale, the last team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, became the first team to earn a berth in this year's Frozen Four by scoring four times in the third period to beat North Dakota 4-1 on Saturday in the final of the NCAA West Regional in Grand Rapids, Mich.
It's the first trip to the championship round since 1952 for Yale, which didn't qualify for the tournament until Michigan lost to Notre Dame in the CCHA tournament final on Sunday.
Jesse Root, whose overtime goal on Friday eliminated top-seeded Minnesota, broke a 1-1 tie with 4:56 left in regulation with a power-play goal. He worked his way into the left circle and whipped a shot from the faceoff dot that beat goaltender Clarke Saunders.
Freshman Stu Wilson added an insurance goal when he knocked in a rebound with 2:21 remaining, and Kenny Agostino hit the empty net with a minute to play.
The top-seeded team in the NCAA West Regional is gone.
Jesse Root scored 9 seconds into overtime to give fourth-seeded Yale a 3-2 victory against Minnesota in the first regional semifinal Friday in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Kenny Agostino -- one of the players traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Calgary Flames in the Jarome Iginla deal -- intercepted Minnesota defenseman Ben Marshall's pass behind the net and fed Root, who beat Adam Wilcox for his 10th goal of the season. It was the fastest overtime goal in NCAA Tournament history.
College hockey's version of the Sweet 16 gets under way Friday night when the NCAA Tournament begins. The winners of the four regionals will reconvene at the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh on April 11, with the two winners squaring off for the championship two nights later.
NHL.com looks at one player from each team to keep an eye on as the tournament unfolds.
East Regional (Providence, R.I.O
Matthew Peca -- Sophomore, C, Quinnipiac
34 GP, 11 G -14 A - 25 Pts.
Tampa Bay Lighting / 2011, 7th Round
At 5-foot-9, Peca can hardly be described as intimidating, but there's little that gets him off of his game. His feet are always moving at a high rate -- with or without the puck -- making him dangerous every time he's on the ice. He's become a go-to player for the Bobcats, and was a major piece of their 21-game unbeaten streak this season. His ability to score, create plays and come up big in clutch situations (he has four game-winners this season) are big a reason why Quinnipiac earned the top seed in the East Regional.
Boston College will look to defend its title when the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship opens this weekend.
Five teams received automatic bids for winning their respective league tournaments: Canisius from the Atlantic Hockey Association, Notre Dame from the CCHA, Union College from the ECAC, UMass-Lowell from Hockey East, and Wisconsin from the WCHA.
Another 11 teams received the at-large invitation based on the final PairWise rankings.
The winner of each regional advances to Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh for the 2013 Frozen Four, with the semifinals set for April 11, and the championship game at 7 p.m. ET on April 13.