NCAA Tournament WEB

With the Kings currently up in Canada on their four-game road trip, men's college hockey in the states has reached its biggest stage - the start of the 2024 NCAA Division One Men's Ice Hockey Championship. It’s time to let the madness of March ensue. Selection Sunday took place this past weekend and 16 teams heard their school’s name called, leaving the rest of the postseason up to the one team that can win four consecutive games in this single elimination tournament. 

The Kings will see three of their prospects compete in the tournament as Jack Hughes (Boston University), Jared Wright (Denver University) and Kenny Connors (UMASS-Amherst) each earned a bid. With the first round set to take place on Thursday and Friday, the Kings will be assured to see at least one prospect through to the elite eight as Wright’s Pioneers will square off against Connors’ Minutemen. 

Beginning with second-seeded Boston University, Hughes and the Terriers earned the top seed in the Souix Falls, South Dakota region after posting a 26-9-2 record. Runners up in the Hockey East regular season and conference tournament, behind only the top-seeded Boston College Eagles, the Terriers enter the tournament with the second-best odds to win their sixth National championship title. Hughes enters the tournament coming off of his best statistical season. Now a junior, Hughes is in his first season at Boston University after having transferred from Northeastern University after two seasons with the Huskies. The 2022 second-round draft pick has notched 18 points (7-11=18) in 35 games this season and has been a constant on the Terriers' second line. Set to face off against the 27-10-2 RIT Tigers on Thursday at 2 PM on ESPNU, their opponent enters as winners of the Atlantic Conference and currently rides a seven-game winning streak. 

At the top of the Springfield, Massachusetts section of the bracket is forward Jared Wight and the third-seeded Denver Pioneers. One year removed from their 2022 National Championship, the Pioneers return with the third-best odds to hoist the trophy. Currently tied with the University of Michigan for the most championships in the NCAA with nine, Denver will look to take sole possession of the record if they can put together four wins over the next few weeks. The Pioneers head into Springfield having won the NCHC conference tournament, defeating the University of Nebraska Omaha 4-1. Wright, a 6-foot-2, 176-pound Minnesota native enters the tournament as a sophomore having doubled his point total from his previous season. Having notched 24 points (14-10=24) in 40 games this season, Wright’s 14 goals ranked fifth on Pioneers and was a six-goal uptick from his freshman season.

Wright and the Pioneers will be taking on his fellow 2022 LA Kings draft class member Kenny Connors and the UMASS Amherst Minutemen on Thursday at 11 AM on ESPN2. 

That third and final Kings prospect still alive in the 2023-24 collegiate season is the aforementioned Connors. Drawing the tough first-round matchup against Denver, Connors Minutemen enter Thursday’s tilt having placed fifth in the Hockey East Conference during the regular season with a 20-13-3 record. Connors put together a solid sophomore season, tallying 22 points (7-15=22) across 36 games, following up on an impressive freshman campaign that saw him represent Team USA at the World Junior Championships. Connor brings speed and tenacity to the ice and will need to do so on Thursday if he and the Minutemen want to pull the upset. 

As mentioned, first round matchups will take place Thursday and Friday, followed by the Elite Eight games being played over the weekend. Once the Frozen Four stage is set, the quartet of teams left standing will travel to St. Paul, Minnesota, with puck being dropped on April 11th to decide the National Championship matchup. Two nights later, a champion will be crowned on April 13th.

All games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks