|Harvard's Sean Malone (Photo: Getty Images)
Six Sabres prospects from four different schools had their tickets punched over the weekend for the 2015 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship.
Hudson Fasching earned an assist Saturday as Minnesota earned the Big Ten Hockey Championship with a 4-2 win over Michigan. Fasching showed good hands when he hit a streaking Kyle Rau with a return feed as the Gophers made it a 2-2 game midway through the second period. Fasching, who the night before recorded three shots on goal in a 3-0 semifinal victory over Ohio State, will take 12 goals and 26 points into Friday’s Northeast Region semifinal versus Minnesota-Duluth (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU).
Senior forward Christian Isackson (2010, seventh round) executed in a limited fourth-line role over the weekend as Minnesota marched to the Big Ten title. Isackson enters the 16-team tournament with three goals and seven points in 38 games.
After scoring an empty-net goal in Friday’s 5-2 semifinal win over Quinnipiac, Harvard’s Sean Malone (2013, sixth round) punched five shots on goal Saturday as the Crimson defeated Colgate 4-2 to capture the ECAC Hockey Championship. Malone has played in 20 games this season, securing eight goals, 18 points and 60 shots on goal. Harvard, who qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, will face Nebraska-Omaha in a Midwest Region semifinal on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3).
Judd Peterson (2012, seventh round) logged a minus-one rating Friday as St. Cloud State upset top-ranked North Dakota 3-1 to advance to the NCHC Championship game. Peterson notched two shots on goal from his third-line right-wing spot on Saturday as the Huskies’ luck ran out in a 3-2 loss to Miami. Despite the loss, the Huskies earned an at-large spot for the NCAA Tournament. They’ll open the festivities Friday afternoon against Michigan Tech (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3).
JT Compher (2013, second round) scored the game-winning goal Friday with a high glove-side laser as Michigan got past Michigan State 4-1 in the Big Ten Semifinals. Compher saw his season come to an end the following night with a minus-two rating as the Wolverines fell to the Golden Gophers in the conference championship. The Illinois product completes his sophomore campaign with 12 goals and 24 points in 34 games.
With the Michigan loss, Providence College of Hockey East grabbed the final at-large berth for the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore defenseman Anthony Florentino (2013, fifth round) will look to add to his 12 points (2+10) when the Friars take on Miami in the East Region semifinal on Friday (6:30 pm ET, ESPNU). Fifth-year senior Mark Adams (2009, fifth round) could also be called for blue line duty. Adams has produced three points (1+2) and a plus-eight rating this season, but has dressed just once in the last three games.
The 2015 Frozen Four will take place at Boston’s TD Garden on April 9 and 11.
Linus Ullmark (2012, sixth round) regrouped after a brief break to post three solid performances last week as MODO Hockey shot out to a 3-0 series lead on HC Vita Hasten in their best-of-seven SHL qualification series.
Ullmark earned the start on Monday, stopping all 19 shots sent his way in his first action since the final regular season game on March 5 as MODO opened the direct qualifier with a 2-0 victory.
The momentum would carry into his next start on Thursday as Ullmark posted a second consecutive shutout with 24 saves in a 3-0 triumph over the HC Vita Hasten.
The red-hot Ullmark returned to the cage on Sunday, making 22 saves and extending his post-season perfection to 171:55 before allowing a third period goal in MODO’s 4-1 win.
The late-season turnaround is an encouraging sign for Ullmark after finishing the regular season at or near the bottom of all major statistical categories for goaltenders while backstopping the league’s last-place club. With MODO fighting to maintain their spot in Sweden’s top league next season, the 21-year-old goaltender has logged a 3-0 record with a 0.33 GAA and .985 save%. MODO will look to complete the mission Wednesday when the teams take the ice for Game 4.
Gustav Possler (2013, fifth round) earned assists on both MODO goals Monday as the storied franchise kicked off the direct qualifier with a 2-0 win. Possler went without a point in the next two victories, so he’ll be looking to snap an 18-game goal drought that traces back to January 6 when MODO goes for the sweep on Wednesday.
With Ullmark and Possler contributing for the big club, Victor Olofsson (2014, seventh round) was tearing it up for MODO’s J20 squad in their playoff quarterfinal versus Timra IK. On Wednesday, Olofsson scored twice on four shots in an 8-4 doubling of Timra in the first game of their best-of-three quarterfinal series. He remained productive with three assists Friday as MODO J20 closed the series with a 7-4 win over Timra IK J20. MODO's semifinal opponent has yet to be determined.
Nick Baptiste (2013, third round) pumped home a pair of goals Sunday, one off a nifty individual effort while shorthanded and another off a power-play blast from between the circles, as Erie closed the regular season with a stunning 8-7 win at Niagara. Baptiste, who on Thursday scored an even-strength marker at the doorstep in a 7-4 victory at Windsor, finishes the schedule with 32 goals and 64 points in 53 contests with Erie and Sudbury. The Otters kick off the first round of the Western Conference playoffs Thursday versus Sarnia.
Jean Dupuy scored his 18th goal of the year and added an assist Saturday as Sault Ste. Marie clobbered Windsor 12-1 to clinch the league’s best record. In 54 games, Dupuy produced 18 goals, 46 points and a plus-40 rating. The Greyhounds are healthy once again just in time for the start of the playoffs, which begin Friday at home versus Saginaw.
Justin Bailey (2013, second round) notched two assists Saturday in his first game since February 21 as the Hounds dismantled the Spitfires. The big winger, who missed the previous month with hairline fractures in his ankle and heel, was kept off the scoresheet in Sunday’s 3-0 blanking of Kitchener. Bailey completes his third OHL season with 34 goals and 35 assists in 57 games.
Eric Cornel (2014, second round) was scratched Thursday due to strep throat as Peterborough closed the home schedule with a 4-2 win over Sudbury. He’d finish the week without a point in Friday and Sunday losses at Ottawa and Mississauga. Cornel posted 14 goals and 52 points in 66 games for Peterborough, who draw top-seeded Oshawa for an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series starting on Friday.
Kootenay center Sam Reinhart (2014, first round) notched three assists Wednesday as the ICE claimed a 6-3 victory at Lethbridge. After picking up another assist in a 2-1 loss to Calgary on Friday, Reinhart capped the regular season on Sunday with his 19th goal of the year and a helper in a 3-2 loss to the Hitmen. The final two games served as a playoff preview as the teams will face one another in an opening round series starting Friday.
Brycen Martin (2014, third round) did not play in the week’s two games due to an undisclosed injury as Saskatoon ended the year with a pair of losses to Medicine Hat. The third-year defenseman recorded seven goals and a career-high 37 points this season between the Blades and Swift Current.
Vaclav Karabacek (2014, second round) extended his goal drought to eight games Friday in a 3-1 loss at Chicoutimi, but buried a rebound at the doorstep for his 17th goal of the year Saturday as Baie-Comeau capped the regular season schedule with a 3-2 win over the Sagueneens. The Drakkar finish seventh overall in the QMJHL standings, setting up a first-round playoff series with 10th seed Saint John beginning on Friday.
Christopher Brown (2014, sixth round) went without a point last week as Tri-City earned 5-4 and 4-2 victories over Des Moines. Brown has five assists but has yet to score a goal in nine games since being dealt to the Storm. In 52 games this season, the Boston College commit has collected 13 goals and 37 points.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.