The action gets underway on Thursday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the 2012 NCAA Men's College Hockey Championship and just as Boston College, Minnesota, Ferris State, and Union College prepare to vie for the title, fans can get ready for the tournament as well.
Get started below with this quick overview of the top talent to watch for as their teams hit the ice for Thursday's semifinal matchups:
Chris Kreider A 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward who led Boston College in scoring with 43 points (22g, 2a) this season. He is a former first-round (19th overall) draft choice of the Rangers in 2009, who is considered to be New York’s top offensive prospect.
Brian Dumoulin Defenseman who is nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. A native of Biddeford, ME, he is a former Carolina Hurricanes draft pick who projects as a shutdown defenseman at the NHL level.
Patrick Wey Former Washington Capitals draft pick whose development has been slowed by a series of nagging injuries. Although his stature, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, gives him above-average NHL size, his greatest assist is his smooth skating and puck-moving abilities.
Nick Bjugstad 19-year-old center who led the Golden Gophers with 25 goals this season. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing less than 200 pounds, Bjugstad still needs to put on size and strength to play in the NHL, but is expected to be a top-six forward for the Florida Panthers, who drafted him in the first round (19th overall) in 2010.
Zach Budish Arguably the biggest, strongest and hardest to contain Minnesota forward. Property of the NHL’s Nashville Predators. A right wing who had 35 points (12g, 23a) in 42 games this season, after injuries last season limited him to just seven games.
Erik Haula A native of Pori, Finland who led Minnesota in scoring with 48 points (20g, 28a) in 42 games this season. A Minnesota Wild draft pick who has excellent character, speed and playmaking abilities, whose only apparent weakness is that he’s just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds.
Troy Grosenick Goaltender who is nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. This season, he posted a 22-5-3 record, along with an incredible 1.64 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts.
Kelly Zajac Led Union with 34 assists and was second on the Dutchmen with 42 points this season. Undrafted forward who is the younger brother of the New Jersey Devils’ Travis Zajac and Albany Devils’ Darcy Zajac, whose younger brother, Nolan, plays junior hockey for the United States Hockey League’s Omaha Lancers.
Shayne Gostisbehere A speedy freshman blueliner who racked up 22 points (5g, 17a) in 40 games this season. A native of Margate, FL, he is the only player on any of the Frozen Four teams to be born in Florida.
Jordie Johnston 24-year-old senior who led the Bulldogs with 20 goals in 41 games this season. Undrafted forward who joined Ferris State at the start of the 2008-09 season, following three seasons with the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Taylor Nelson Goalie who greatly improved from last season, recording a 2.10 goals-against average this season after registering a 3.10 goals-against average last year. Finished this season with a 20-6-3 record.
Garrett Thompson The only one of Ferris State’s top eight scorers to be over 6-foot tall. 21-year old sophomore compiled 22 points (10g, 12a) in 39 games this season.