Hopefully, many of you were able to catch some of the games of the NCAA national tournament last weekend. Regardless of the year or which teams are in the hunt, this tourney offers some of the best action that this sport has to offer. Top not athletes and legitimate NHL prospects go to battle for their team, their school, and the everlasting glory of a national championship victory. That action continues and concludes in Chicago this week for the NCAA Frozen Four. On April 6th, Harvard, Minnesota-Duluth, Denver, and Notre Dame will hit the ice at the United Center (home of the Blackhawks). Two of those squads will emerge to face off in the National Championship game on April 8th. If one were to say that we have some boys that are lucky enough to be playing in this event, "luck" would not be correct descriptor. Each of these players earned their right to dance on the biggest stage that college hockey has to offer. All three of these individuals have a strong reputation within our community at the South Campus as young men of the utmost work ethic, focus and commitment toward their development. We highly recommend that everyone get in front of the TV this Thursday to catch Harvard vs. Minnesota-Duluth at 6pm, followed by Denver vs. Notre Dame (both on ESPN2). And if you do so, these are a couple boys to watch...
Freshman forward, University of Minnesota-Duluth
It should not be of anyone's surprise that Joey is having a lot of success in his first season of collegiate hockey for the Bulldogs. He holds as strong of a track record as you'll find for any 20-year-old in the nation. A product of the Roseville youth program and later Hill-Murray high school, Joey's accolades include solid campaigns with the US National Team Development Program U17 and U18 team as well as a 3rd round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils. What is important to know is that none of Joey's accomplishments have happened by accident. This is a player of the utmost drive and dedication to his craft. Ever since a young age, Joey has put forth an incredible amount of time, effort and emotion into his game. Many of his friends know, or were a part of, the now legendary pond hockey games between him and his younger brother, Mikey (currently on the roster for Waterloo of the USHL, Mikey is also a MAP South member and UMD commit). Joey also logged a ridiculous amount of hours both on the ice and in the weight room over the past several years. 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 37 games was his point total for the year, and he added a couple clutch tallies in the big games last weekend. Because of his versatility and compete level, look for Joey to make an impact on the ice next weekend, one way or another.
Sophomore defenseman, Harvard University
Representing the Crimson, "Ollie" is a Woodbury native and Hill-Murray grad (teammates with Joey in 2012-13 and 2013-14). A player of great physical tools, Ollie has developed into a formidable defender at the college level in a short period of time. For many players finishing their high school careers, junior hockey is a great opportunity to refine your abilities and increase your knowledge of the game. Instead, Ollie opted to head straight to Harvard following his senior year with the Pioneers. This jump is not for the faint of heart and there are countless athletes who struggle mightily with the transition. But Ollie has persevered, and is putting the finishing touches on a solid sophomore year for his team. Only 6 points for the blue-liner this year is nothing incredible, but a plus-13 rating (greatly improved from a minus-2 last season) shows the maturation of his game as a defensive presence. Ollie has put a lot of hours into his development over the years. He was named one of our South Campus Players of the Year in 2014 due to his efforts on the ice and in the weight room. Keep an eye on Ollie to frequently matchup against some of the top forwards from UMD's roster on Thursday.
Senior forward, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Like his teammate Joey, "Osty" also carries a storied career path through different destinations. Growing up in Lakeville, Osty was a premiere talent at a young age who nurtured his abilities along the way. After two years at Ann Arbor with the USNTDP, it was on to Omaha in the USHL before donning the Bulldog jersey. Bringing a truly impressive impact on the ice, Osty always makes a point to play bigger than his size. His 78 career college points are nothing compared to the grit, aggressive play, and on-ice intelligence that he showcases night in and night out. Even if he didn't turn out to be the amazing college player that he is today, Osty would still have legendary status in our building. Having started at the youngest age possible in peewees, he continued with the program as he moved up the ranks. His impact on his peers and our community as a whole earned himself an opportunity to join our staff two-years ago, filling an invaluable role that he will return to this summer. Especially considering that the upcoming weekend in Chicago will be the dramatic conclusion to his college career, we could not be more proud to have been a part of his journey and continue to provide him with a place to call home during the summers.