Gabe Perreault one of many Rangers’ prospects in NCAA Tournament

Gabe Perreault scores
Gabe Perreault scores (Photo Credit: BC Athletics)

This past weekend saw four New York Rangers prospects in action during the Conference Championships looking to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile another saw his team’s season end after the all the results became official.

Let’s take a whirl around the college hockey landscape to check in on some future Blueshirts.

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Gabe Perreault on fire in return from injury

Gabe Perreault leading the rush
Gabe Perreault (Photo Credit: BC Athletics)

2023 1st Round pick Gabe Perreault returned to the lineup last Friday for the No. 1 ranked Boston College Eagles after missing five games with an “upper-body injury”. The Eagles skated against the UMass Minutemen at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts in the Semi-Finals of the Hockey East Championship.

The freshmen winger didn’t take long to show he was back and better than ever, giving BC their first lead of the game in what turned out to be the winning goal at the 4:41 mark of the second period. Perreault started the play from down near the slot, and passed the puck back to the point for a shot. He was there for the rebound to tuck his 16th goal of the season past the goaltender’s left skate.

The goal extended Perreault’s point streak to 17 games, and he was just getting started, earning a secondary assist on Boston’s fourth goal of the game. In the third period, Perreault would score his second of the game at the 5:04 mark, making things look easy after scoring five-hole on a breakaway.

The freshman added another assist as Cutter Gauthier scored on the power play to close the game at 8-1. He finished with two goals, and two assists for four points with two shots on goal and a +3 rating. Teammate Drew Fortescue (2023 3rd) had an even +/- rating while recording one blocked shot in the win.

On Saturday, Boston College skated against rival Boston University in the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue for just the third time in league history for the Hockey East Championship. The Eagles jumped out to an early lead with a power-play goal 5:46 into the first period. Perreault would earn his first point of the night on the Eagles’ second goal, which also came on the power play at 8:37 when he spotted Will Smith across the ice on the rush.

In the second period. Perreault found Cutter Gauthier and delivered a pass from one side of the slot to the other for a power-play goal and 3-1 lead at 18:46. In the third period, it was Perreault’s turn to score on the power play, as he had a wide open net off a feed from Cutter Gauthier at 11:32 for his 18th goal of the season to take a 5-1 lead.

It was a strong return for Perreault, who had three goals and four assists in a 24-hour span. He improved his season totals to 18 goals, 39 assists for 57 points in 32 games played. He also extended his scoring streak to four games, and his point streak to 18 games. Teammate, Drew Fortescue was +1 for the game, but received a roughing minor at 18:36 of the third period, and was sent off early with a misconduct.

Boston College earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning Hockey East. They will be the number one overall seed in the field of 16. During the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Selection Special on Sunday, it was announce that Boston College will be in the Providence Regional, and will play CCHA Champion Michigan Tech on Friday, March 29th.

Other Rangers’ College Prospects Update

Defenseman Victor Mancini (2022, 5th-Rd) and the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks defeated North Dakota 6-3 on Friday night to advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Finals. The junior had four shots on goal and was -1. It was the fourth straight victory for the Mavericks over the Fighting Hawks this season.

The somewhat Cinderella run came to an end for Omaha though, as they fell to Denver in the finals Saturday by a score of 4-1. Despite the loss, Omaha finished 11th in PairWise rankings to earn an at-large invitation for the NCAA tournament, where they will serve as host of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Regionals. The Mavericks are a No. 3 seed, and will face Brody Lamb (2021, 4th-Rd) and the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday, March 28th, with the winner likely having to play projected first overall draft pick Macklin Celebrini, and the Boston College Terriers.

Unfortunately, Omaha’s loss (combined with Quinnipiac’s loss in the ECAC semifinals) eliminated fellow Rangers prospect Noah Laba (2022, 4th-Rd) and the Colorado College Tigers. Laba finished his sophomore season with 20 goals and 17 assists for 37 points in 36 games. He had a faceoff record of 362-272, a 57% winning percentage. Laba collected several end-of-season conference awards, being named 2023-2024 Three Stars Award winner after being named First Star of the Game 7 times in NCHC play during the season.

Laba led the NCHC in scoring with 16 goals, 6 game-winning goals, and 3 short-handed goals in conference play this season to be named the 2023-2024 Defensive Forward of the Year. It will be interesting to see if Laba elects to sign an entry-level contract with the Rangers, or choose to return for his junior year and another shot at the NCAA tournament with Colorado College.

Defenseman Hank Kempf had two shots on goal with one block and a +1 rating on Friday as the Cornell Big Red defeated the Big Green from Dartmouth in the ECAC Semifinals. The junior added two assists with two shots on goal, one block, and a +1 rating Saturday in a 3-1 victory over St. Lawrence Saturday as Cornell won the Whitelaw Cup for the 13th time in program history, and first time since 2010 to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Kempf now has eight points on the season, which matches his total from his freshman campaign. Cornell was announced as a #3 seed in the Springfield Regional, and will take on #2 Maine on Thursday, March 28th.

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