Three former Penticton Vees are among 18 B.C. Hockey League graduates competing for the NCAA Division 1 hockey championship at the “Frozen Four” today and Saturday in Buffalo, NY.
The semifinal round goes today at the KeyBank Center with Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs taking on the Providence Friars at 2 p.m. PDT, and Massachusetts Minutemen facing the Denver Pioneers at 5:30 p.m. The championship game is on Saturday.
Forward Scott Conway, who won the BCHL scoring title in his lone season in Penticton in 2015-16, stars for Providence. He logged 29 points for the Friars this season.
Providence, national champions in 2015, got to the Frozen Four by beating Minnesota State 6-3 and Cornell 4-0 on the first weekend of the tournament.
Defenceman Jarod Hilderman is the lone BCHL graduate in the Minnesota-Duluth lineup. The Bulldogs, who are the defending national champions, are coached by Scott Sandelin, father of forward Ryan Sandelin, who played the last two seasons with the Vees and will attend Minnesota State University starting this fall.
The Bulldogs are making their third-straight appearance in the Frozen Four after they beat Bowling Green 2-1 in overtime and Quinnipiac 3-1 to advance to the final weekend of the tournament.
Denver has 10 BCHL grads on their roster, including former Vees defenceman Griffin Mendel. Leading scorer Liam Finlay (36 points) started his BCHL career with the Vees before being dealt to the Vernon Vipers.
The Pioneers beat Ohio State 2-0 and American International 3-0 on the opening weekend.
U-Mass does not have any Vees alumni in their lineup but do have two former BCHL players as well as standout defenceman Cale Makar, a Hobey Baker Award finalist as top player in NCAA Division 1 hockey, and the Hockey East Player of the Year.
Makar, a Brooks (Alberta) Bandits alumnus, was a first-round, fourth overall draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2017.
The Minutemen posted a pair of 4-0 wins over Harvard and Notre Dame on the first weekend of the tournament.
Today's semifinals will be broadcast on TSN2. The national championship game takes place on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST and will be broadcast on TSN.ca and on the TSN app.
Meanwhile, the Fred Page Cup BCHL championship series between the Vernon Vipers and Prince George Spruce Kings starts with Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven series Friday and Saturday in P.G.