WNY Hockey Prospects

2015 NCAA Tournament Preview: Northeast

The 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Tournament begins this weekend and as many people know, there will be quite a few Western New York Hockey Prospects who will be looking to help their team’s reach this year Frozen Four this April 9 & 11 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Here’s a preview of this weekends matchups.

Northeast Bracket – Manchester, N.H.

Friday March 27th
No. 3 Boston University vs. No. 13 Yale
2 P.M. on ESPNU

For Yale, just getting to this tournament was quite a feat. Heading in to the final weekend Yale had less than a 4% chance of making the Tournament after losing to rival Harvard in the ECAC Semifinals but things fell their way and Yale was the last team in. Although they’re lucky to be here, the Bulldogs certainly will not be bringing the “we’re just happy to be here” mentality to their game against Jack Eichel and No. 3 Boston University.

The Terriers have been one of the best teams in college hockey since the beginning of the season and that is largely due to the play of freshamn phenom Eichel who will likely win the Hobey Baker Award and is a lock as the #2 overall NHL draft pick come June.  Although Eichel is the backbone of this offense, the team has plenty of other options up front including 7 other players with 17 points or more. One of those Terriers players is Greece, NY native and USNTDP product Matt Lane.  Lane, a 5’10” 175 forward is the Western New York Hockey Prospects #15 overall rated player and has quietly become one of the best two way forwards over his three years with the Terriers and has been known to score some very timely goals.

Yale will be looking to make the most of a great second chance after an incredibly heart breaking double overtime loss to Harvard in Game 3 of the ECAC Semifinals.  Yale will rely heavily on the superb play of sophomore netminder Alex Lyon in their bid to upset Boston.  Lyon, who’s 7 shutouts, 1.58 goals against average and .939 save percentage were all 1st in the nation, will certainly have his hands full with the potent Terriers offense.  Yale also has two local connections in Junior forward Stu Wilson of Pittsford, NY and Senior forward Anthony Day of Buffalo, NY. Day, who missed all bu four games of the season due to an early season lower body injury came back in time for the matchup against Harvard and will likely be feeling that much better with an additional two weeks off.

Boston University has one of the highest scoring offenses in college hockey as well as the game’s best player in Eichel, who has a knack for showing up big in big situations.  Although it will be incredibly hard to contain Eichel and the rest of the Terriers offense, if there is any team that can do it, it would have to be Yale and their incredibly stingy defense backed by standout goaltender Alex Lyon.
 
Friday March 27th
No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 10 Minnesota
5:30 P.N. on ESPNU

This game could very well turn out to be the best game out of all the eight first round matchups and for good reason. Minnesota lost in the 2014 Championship game to Union last season and Minnesota-Duluth won the 2011 National Championship so both teams have a very recent history of success in addition to an increasingly heated rivalry.

Minnesota, has seven players with ten or more goals and three players with 40 or more points, including Junior defenseman Mike Reilly who leads the team in scoring with 6 goals and 36 assists for 42 points in 3 games. Reilly is a very highly coveted free agent and will likely see as many as ten teams make a very strong push for his services following the tournament.  For Sabres fans a name worth watching for Minnesota is sophomore forward Hudson Fasching, a player who was acquired from the LA Kings in the Brayden McNabb trade at last years deadline.  Fasching is a 6-foot-2 210 lb forward who has an nice offensive upside and could likely be in Rochester as early as next season but will likely stay in Minnesota for another season before turning pro.

Interstate rival Minnesota-Duluth will be looking to win its fourth straight game against the Golden Gophers this season and have a very good chance to do so. After finishing the season as the nations #6 ranked team, the Bulldogs bowed out of the NCHC Tournament in two games to the Denver Pioneers but there is reason to think things could be looking up for the Bulldog’s and that is due to the likely return of forward Alex Iafallo of Eden, NY, currently Western New York Hockey Prospects #11 overall rated player. Iafallo, who has missed the last six games due to a case of mononucleosis, still is the second leading scorer on the team with 8 goals and 17 assists for 25 points.  A 6-foot-1 180 lb forward Iafallo was one of the Bulldogs leading scorers last year as well and was named to the NCHC All Rookie team.  Iafallo has also participated in rookie development camps for both the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild.  The Bulldogs suffered through a 1-5 stretch after losing Iafallo but were 19-11-1 before his illness and will likely see an offense boost from his return.

 

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