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NHL-Best Nine B's Prospects Among NCAA Tourney Teams

by Eric Russo / Boston Bruins – The NCAA Division 1 Men’s Ice Hockey Championship bracket was released on Sunday, ahead of the 16-team tournament, which begins on Friday with regional action and ends April 9 with the National Championship in Tampa Bay.

The Bruins will have nine prospects among the remaining teams, including Matt Benning (Northeastern, 2012 6th round), Anders Bjork (Notre Dame, 2014 5th round), Ryan Donato (Harvard, 2014 2nd round), Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston College, 2013 4th round), Matt Grzelcyk (Boston University, 2012 3rd round), Danton Heinen (Denver, 2014 4th round), Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (Boston University, 2015 2nd round), Rob O’Gara (Yale, 2011 5th round), and Wiley Sherman (Harvard, 2013 5th round).

The nine prospect are the most of any NHL team. Minnesota, Chicago, and Buffalo are second with seven prospects each.

Here’s a rundown of the matchups:

East Regional (Times Union Center, Albany, N.Y.), March 26-27

(1) Quinnipiac vs. (4) Rochester Institute of Technology, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

(2) UMass-Lowell vs. (3) Yale, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN 3)


Rob O’Gara, senior defenseman

•2013 National Champion

•First-Team All-American (2015), First-Team All-ECAC (2015), First-Team All-Ivy League (2015), ECAC Defensive Defenseman Award (2015), John Poinier Award as Yale’s Best Defenseman (2014, 2015)

•2016 Semifinalist for Walter Brown Award as New England’s Best Hockey Player

•Seventh on the Bulldogs and first among defensemen with 12 points this season, and leads all Yale blue-liners with four goals

Northeast Regional (DCU Center, Worcester, Mass.), March 25-26

(1) Providence vs. (4) Minnesota-Duluth, Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN 3)

(2) Boston College vs. (3) Harvard, Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET (ESPNU)


Ryan Fitzgerald, junior forward

•North Reading native and former Malden Catholic standout

•Leads BC with 22 goals and 44 points this season

•Led the Eagles in goal-scoring (17) and game-winning goals (5) in 2015

•Has 97 career points and 52 career goals – is two away from cracking the list of the top-50 goal scorers in BC history


Ryan Donato, freshman forward

•Scituate native and son of former Bruin and current Crimson coach Ted Donato

•Ranks third on the Crimson this season in goals (13) and fourth in points (21)

• Played for Team USA at the 2016 World Junior Championship

Wiley Sherman, sophomore defenseman

• Did not play in the final two games of the ECAC tournament due to injury

•The 6-foot-7 Connecticut native leads all Crimson blue-liners with four goals this season

• Named George Percy Award winner as the Crimson’s top rookie in 2015

Midwest Regional (U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio), March 25-26

(1) North Dakota vs. (4) Northeastern, Friday, 2:00 p.m. ET (ESPNU)

(2) Michigan vs. (3) Notre Dame, Friday, 5:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)


Matt Benning, junior defenseman

•2016 Hockey East Champion

•Assistant captain of the Huskies

•Hockey East Honorable Mention All-Star (2015)


Anders Bjork, sophomore forward

•2016 Second-Team Hockey East All-Star

•Played for Team USA at the 2016 World Junior Championship

•Leads the Fighting Irish with 33 points this season and ranks third in goals (11)

West Regional (Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota), March 26-27

(1) St. Cloud State vs. (4) Ferris State, Saturday, 3:00 p.m. ET (ESPN 3)

(2) Denver vs. (3) Boston University, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET (ESPNU)


Danton Heinen, sophomore forward

•Leads Denver with 19 goals and is second with 42 points

•2015 NCHC Rookie of the Year after leading the conference in scoring (45 points)

•Named to 2015 All-NCHC Second Team


Matt Grzelcyk, senior defenseman

•Charlestown native and two-year captain of the Terriers

• Recorded 10 goals and 12 assists this season

•Hockey East First-Team All-Star in 2015 and 2016

•2016 Semifinalist for Walter Brown Award as New England’s Best Hockey Player

•2015 CCM First-Team All-American, All-Regional Team at NCAA Tournament, Hockey East All-Tournament Team

Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, freshman forward

•Named to 2016 Hockey East All-Rookie Team

•Third on the Terriers, and first among freshmen, with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists)

•Played for Team Sweden at the 2016 World Junior Championship

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