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Four Sabres prospects headed to NCAA Tournament

by Kris Baker @SabresProspects /

Four Sabres prospects will see their seasons continue when the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament kicks off Friday.

Sean Malone (2016, sixth round) and Harvard advanced to the NCAA tournament as the top seed in the East Regional, where they'll face Sabres defensive prospect Anthony Florentino (2013, fifth round) and the Providence Friars, who advanced to the tournament with an at-large berth after being idle last week.

In Friday's ECAC Hockey Tournament semifinal, Malone netted his first career NCAA hat trick as Harvard dominated Quinnipiac 4-1.

Tweet from @SabresProspects: WATCH: Sean Malone gets his first-ever NCAA hat trick as Harvard moves on to the ECAC Championship with a 4-1 win over Quinnipiac #Sabres

Malone again made an impact in Saturday's final game, neatly setting up the game-winning goal with a backhand feed as the Crimson claimed the ECAC Hockey Tournament Championship with a 4-1 win over Cornell.

Tweet from @SabresProspects: WATCH: Sean Malone remains the hottest #Sabres prospect with an assist on the GWG as Harvard wins the ECAC crown 4-1 over Cornell.

Malone enters the NCAA Men's Division I Tournament as the team's leading scorer with 42 points (18+24) in 33 games.

Also part of the 16-team field is Big Ten Hockey champion Penn State. Freshman forward Brett Murray (2016, fourth round) did not play last week as the Nittany Lions disposed of Michigan, Minnesota and finally Wisconsin to capture their first conference title. Murray has one assist in 12 collegiate contests.

In Hockey East, Cal Petersen (2013, fifth round) made 36 saves as Notre Dame fell to Massachusetts-Lowell 5-1 in the first semifinal. Notre Dame's success this season saw them gain entry into the NCAA field, where Petersen will take a 21-11-5 record, 2.14 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage into a Northeast Regional matchup versus Minnesota.

In the second Hockey East semifinal, Christopher Brown (2014, sixth round) notched a pair of assists Friday as Boston College stunned Boston University 3-2. The Eagles were unable to make it into the NCAA Tournament, though, as they were dealt a 4-3 loss to Lowell in Saturday's title game. Brown ends the season with nine goals and 26 points in 34 games.

Boston College sophomore defenseman Casey Fitzgerald (2016, third round) produced a combined five shots on goal over the weekend as the Eagles wrapped up their season. Fitzgerald scored five goals and 22 points in 37 appearances.



London centerman Cliff Pu (2016, third round) picked up four points in four games last week, including a three-assist effort Friday as London cruised to 7-3 win over Flint. Pu ends the season with team-leading totals of 25 goals and 86 points in 63 appearances. London squares off with Windsor in the first round of the OHL's Western Conference playoffs beginning Friday.

Mississauga defenseman Austin Osmanski (2016, seventh round) supplied two shots on goal Thursday in the Steelheads' 4-1 victory at Niagara, and earned a helper the next night in a 4-2 win over Barrie. Osmanski earned a fighting major in Sunday's season finale, a 6-1 victory over Niagara, to finish the regular season with eight points (2+6) and 74 penalty minutes. The Steelheads open the Eastern Conference playoffs Friday versus either Sudbury or Ottawa.



Red Deer winger Brandon Hagel (2016, sixth round) stayed hot last week, posting two-goal, four-point efforts in three of the final four games of the regular season schedule. Hagel ended the year firing on all cylinders, securing 15 points in his last six contests to conclude the regular season with 31 goals and 71 points in 65 contests. The Rebels will meet Lethbridge in the first round of the playoffs beginning Saturday.

Tweet from @SabresProspects: Brandon Hagel's two goals last night bring him up to 27 on the year #Sabres

Giorgio Estephan (2015, sixth round) snatched his first-ever WHL hat trick Monday and added an assist as Lethbridge smoked Kootenay 8-1. Estephan logged a minus-3 in Friday's loss to Medicine Hat, but bounced back the next night with a trio of assists as the Hurricanes capped the regular season with an 8-7 loss to the Tigers. Estephan enters the Hurricanes' series versus Red Deer with 89 regular-season points (36+51), which tied for 12th in league scoring.

Tweet from @SabresProspects: WATCH: Lethbridge C Giorgio Estephan gets the humpday hat trick in a big win over Kootenay. Estephan now has 35-51-85 in 66 GP #Sabres

After going without a point in Friday's 3-1 triumph at Kamloops, Prince George defenseman Brendan Guhle (2015, second round) scored his 15th goal of the season Saturday as the Cougars fell to the Blazers 2-1 in a shootout. Guhle ends his regular season with 33 points and a plus-13 rating in 47 contests. The Cougars clinched their first-ever B.C. Division title, setting up a first-round playoff series against Portland.

Tweet from @SabresProspects: WATCH: Brendan Guhle gets his 15th of the year as Prince George makes history by capturing their first-ever WHL B.C. Division title. #Sabres

Devante Stephens (2015, fifth round) recorded his fifth fighting major of the year Friday in Kelowna's 7-0 blanking of Vancouver, and then connected with a wrist shot Saturday for his 13th goal of the year as the Rockets completed the sweep of the Giants 5-2. The mobile defender notched 35 points and a plus-27 rating in regular season play. Next up for the Rockets is a first-round playoff encounter with Kamloops.

Prince Albert defenseman Vojtech Budik (2016, fifth round) watched his season end from the press box after missing the final six games with an upper-body injury. Budik's second North American season concludes with one goal and 26 points in 56 appearances.



Vasily Glotov (2016, seventh round) scored his 15th goal of the year Wednesday as Cape Breton got past Acadie-Bathurst 6-4. Glotov was then kept off the scoresheet over the weekend as the Screaming Eagles wrapped up the schedule with wins at Halifax and Moncton, leaving him with an even 50 points through 64 games.



Victor Olofsson (2014, seventh round) picked up an assist Friday as Frolunda HC opened their SHL Quarterfinal series with Skelleftea AIK with a 3-0 victory. Olofsson added another helper Sunday as Frolunda fell to Skelleftea 4-1. The best-of-seven series is tied at one game apiece with Game 3 set for Tuesday.

Tweet from @SabresProspects: I like this short assist from Victor Olofsson today. Nifty small-area play at even-strength. #Sabres

Rasmus Asplund (2016, second round) was blanked Monday as Farjestad BK lost to Djurgardens IF 4-3 in Game 2 of the SHL Play-In series, and then earned a helper Wednesday as Farjestad closed out the best-of-three series with a 5-3 triumph.

With his club advancing, Asplund earned one assist Saturday as Farjestad dropped a 3-1 decision to HV 71 in Game 1 of their SHL quarterfinal. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series takes place on Monday.

Winger Gustav Possler (2013, fifth round) saw a puck bounce off his skate and into the net for the overtime winner Monday as Djurgardens IF edged Farjestad BK 4-3 in overtime in Game 2 of the SHL Play-In round. Possler was kept off the scoresheet Wednesday as Djurgardens saw their season end with a 5-3 defeat to Farjestad.

Jonas Johansson (2015, third round) made 33 saves Tuesday as Almtuna IS ended the season with a 5-2 loss to AIK in the round robin series that will decide which second division club will get a chance to play their way into the SHL next season. Johansson posted a 1-3 postseason record with a 2.04 GAA and .935 save percentage.


For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.

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