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Frozen Four Bound

Rau (Minnesota), Matheson & McCoshen (Boston College) join Grimaldi (North Dakota) in pursuit of a National Championship in Philadelphia.

Monday, 03.31.2014 / 10:00 AM ET / News
By "Hockey Pat" McGrath  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Frozen Four Bound
Rau (Minnesota), Matheson & McCoshen (Boston College) join Grimaldi (North Dakota) in pursuit of a National Championship in Philadelphia.

The finals of the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Hockey Championships, better known as the “Frozen Four,” begin April 10 in Philadelphia. The event might want to rechristen itself as the “Florida Four” as four highly-acclaimed Panthers prospects have taken the Tournament by storm and led their teams through the qualifying round.

The Panthers quartet includes the University of North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi (2nd round, 2011), whose hat-trick against Wisconsin on Friday helped earn him MVP honors in the Midwest Regional. Grimaldi will be joined by fellow 2011 Panthers draft pick, Kyle Rau (3rd round, 2011), who scored a goal on Sunday evening to help his Minnesota Golden Gophers advance.

They will be joined in the city of brotherly love by two of Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon’s more recent selections, defensive teammates Michael Matheson (1st round, 2012) and Ian McCoshen (2nd round, 2013) of the Boston College Eagles. McCoshen netted the game-winning goal in the third period Sunday against Massachusetts-Lowell to help the Eagles punch their ticket.

With the exception of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks (with 5), no NHL team will be better represented in Philadelphia than the Panthers. Given the illustrious careers many recent NCAA alums have gone on to have in the NHL this bodes extremely well for the future of the club and the blueprint Tallon has put in place to help identify and acquire young talent and build a core of widely acclaimed prospects.

Tallon took over the Panthers prior to the 2010 draft and is responsible for drafting each of the Panthers prospects competing in Philadelphia along with current Panthers stars including Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau. Tallon was previously General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, where he was responsible for drafting the likes of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in addition to players he subsequently acquired for the Panthers, including Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Pirri and Dylan Olsen.

The Frozen Four begins with BC taking on Union College and UND taking on Minnesota in their respective semifinals Thursday. A championship matchup between BC and Minnesota could cause some friendly jawing in the Florida Panthers locker room as Bjugstad is a Minnesota alum, while Hayes played his college hockey at Boston College. Hayes has extra reason to cheer for his hometown squad as his younger brother Kevin is a star for this year’s Eagles. The younger Hayes, a senior on BC’s top line, has seven points in two tournament games (3-4-7).

McCoshen and Matheson have been a huge part of Boston College’s on ice success this season. Sunday’s game was no different as Matheson recorded an assist on BC’s first goal while McCoshen broke a 3-3 tie with his winner midway through the third period. And it is no surprise that Matheson and McCoshen were the defensive pairing on the ice for the Eagles as time expired. Matheson was named to the Northeastern Regional All-Tournament team for his efforts over the weekend.

Rau and the Golden Gophers punched their ticket on Sunday night with their 4-0 victory over St. Cloud State. Rau recorded a power play goal in the win, giving the center three points (2-1-3) through the tournament’s first two games.

Grimaldi and the University of North Dakota were idle yesterday as the team already advanced to the Frozen Four on Saturday in a thrilling 2-1 double overtime victory over Ferris State.

The Frozen Four will be a perfect opportunity for Panthers fans to catch a glimpse of the team’s bright future as the group of talented players will be battling it out on college hockey’s biggest stage.

Who will emerge victorious? Will it be Matheson, McCoshen and the Eagles? Rau and the Golden Gophers? Or Grimaldi and UND? Regardless of the outcome, Panthers fans have reason to celebrate.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 74 46 20 8 195 162 100
2 NYR 72 46 19 7 219 167 99
3 TBL 74 46 21 7 242 191 99
4 NYI 74 44 25 5 226 205 93
5 PIT 73 40 22 11 202 181 91
6 DET 72 39 21 12 208 195 90
7 WSH 73 39 24 10 212 180 88
8 OTT 72 37 24 11 212 190 85
9 BOS 73 36 25 12 193 190 84
10 FLA 73 33 26 14 180 201 80
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 73 31 31 11 164 186 73
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 72 26 36 10 165 199 62
15 TOR 74 27 41 6 193 237 60
16 BUF 73 20 46 7 138 245 47

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 70 12 32 5 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 72 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 68 13 24 -6 37
B. Boyes 71 12 23 9 35
A. Ekblad 72 11 24 8 35
J. Hayes 63 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 62 12 15 -4 27
B. Campbell 73 3 20 -1 23
B. Pirri 40 18 2 4 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 17 11 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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