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'CANES PROSPECTS PREPARE FOR FROZEN FOUR BATTLE

by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes
RALEIGH (April 3, 2001) -- Now that the NCAA basketball tournaments have ended the National Collegiate Athletic Association now turns its attention to hockey and the “Frozen Four.”

The 2001 Frozen Four pits Michigan against Boston College and Michigan State against North Dakota on April 5 at Albany’s Pepsi Arena. The winners of those games will meet for the National Championship on April 7. Each team carries a draft pick and prospect of the Carolina Hurricanes.

In hockey, the top two seeds from each region (East and West) receive byes to the tournament’s second round. Seeds three, four, five and six must win a first round match to advance and face one of the tournament’s top seeds in round two.

The North Dakota Fighting Sioux enter the Frozen Four after defeating the Colorado College Tigers 4-1 on March 24. The Sioux fell 6-5 in overtime to the St. Cloud State Huskies in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference championship before earning the East’s number two seed for the NCAA tournament.

The Sioux boast some of the nation’s top scorers including Hurricanes prospect, Ryan Bayda. Bayda, a sophomore forward and 2000 third-round pick has scored 24 goals and earned 34 assists in 44 games this season. His 58 points rank him tied for eighth in the NCAA.

The Fighting Sioux will face the Michigan State Spartans on Thursday. Michigan State, whose men’s basketball team made it to the Final Four in their national tournament, enters the Frozen Four as the West’s one-seed. The Spartans went 27-4-4 in 35 regular season match-ups and won their conference tournament.

The Spartans enjoyed a first-round bye and then defeated the Wisconsin Badgers to advance to the Frozen Four. Hurricanes prospects Brad Fast and Troy Ferguson earned the assists on Michigan State’s second goal in their 5-1 rout of the Badgers.

Fast, a sophomore defenseman, ranks sixth among Spartan scorers with four goals and 21 assists through 41 games this season. The Hurricanes drafted Fast in the third round with the 84th overall pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Ferguson was a ninth-round selection of the Hurricanes at the 2000 draft.

The Michigan Wolverines skated into the Frozen Four as the West’s third seed by defeating the sixth-seeded Mercyhurst Lakers 4-3 on March 24. The Wolverines then knocked off second-seeded St. Cloud on March 25 to move into the Frozen Four.

Michigan senior centerman and 1998 Hurricanes eighth-round draft pick Mark Kosick scored the Wolverines’ third goal against Mercyhurst. Kosick went on to score Michigan’s first goal and earn an assist in the Wolverines’ 4-3 win against St. Cloud. Kosick ranks fourth among all Michigan scorers with 31 points (14g, 17a) through 40 games this season.

Michigan will face the Boston College Eagles on Thursday. The Eagles won the Hockey East conference championship and entered the NCAA tournament as the East’s top seed.

Hurricanes prospect and Boston College freshman defenseman Justin Forrest did not score in the Eagles’ lone NCAA win on March 24 but ranks tied for 10th among all BC scorers with 21 points (6g, 15a) in 37 games.

Following a first-round bye, Boston College defeated the Maine Black Bears – Carolina forward Scott Pellerin’s alma mater – 3-1. The contest was scoreless through two periods until the teams combined for four goals in the final session.

So what can we expect from the Frozen Four? Pellerin, a former Hobey Baker Award winner and Hockey East Player of the Year offered his predictions.

“Well, I saw that my Black Bears got knocked out,” said Pellerin. “I think I’m going to have to stick with the East and go with B.C. I think it’s their time.”

Thursday's Frozen Four match-ups can be seen on espn2 at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The NCAA Championship Game will air on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday April 7.

Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin can be reached at kyleh@carolinahurricanes.com.

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