New York Rangers college prospects off to good start

Syndication: Westchester County Journal News
Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

This weekend launched the start of the 2023-2024 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey season, and many New York Rangers prospects got off on the right skate.

All in all, six prospects were in action, including 2023 first-round pick Gabriel Perreault. Let’s take a deeper dive on what they did, followed by what lies ahead.

Related: A look at the Rangers top college prospects

New York Rangers: Jaroslav Chmelar stands out

Jaroslav Chmelar
Jaroslav Chmelar warming up (Photo: Alan Selavka)

Hugo Ollas: Goalie, 2020 7th round (197th overall)

The day began with a matinee as the Merrimack College Warriors traveled to the Martire Family Arena in Fairfield, Connecticut for an exhibition against the Sacred Heart University Pioneers. 

Hugo Ollas started the game in net for the visitors, and stopped 11 of 12 shots through over 33 minutes of play, before conceding the net to Zachary Borgiel. Merrimack is known to utilize a goaltending split, so it appears that Ollas will be first in the rotation to begin the year. The Warriors were able to secure the win in overtime 3-2. They will travel to Arizona State University for official contests on October 13th and 14th. 

Jaroslav Chmelar: Forward, 2021 5th round (1444th overall)

Jaroslav Chmelar was in the lineup for the Providence Friars as they visited Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines. The Rangers’ prospect was slotted on the right wing of the third line along with Brady Berard (younger brother of Hartford Wolf Pack winger Brett Berard).

Chmelar picked up an assist on the Friars third goal of the game as he fed Liam Valente, who finished things off on an odd man rush to give the visitors a two goal lead. This ended up being the game winning goal, as Providence upset the hosts 4-2. This was Michigan’s first season-opening loss since 2018-2019. The Friars will have their home opener Friday, October 13th against Stonehill.

On Sunday, Chmelar continued his point streak by adding an assist on the first goal for the Friars. Later in the third period, Chmelar netted his first goal of the season to begin a rally for the visitors, who ultimately came up short, with the final being 5-4. Providence will be happy to have earned a split though on the weekend against a strong Michigan team.

Victor Mancini: Defense, 2022 5th round (159th overall)

In the Battle of the Mavericks, Victor Mancini started the game at right defense for the University of Nebraska Omaha, who wore their new white jerseys and helmets with a red bull on the front. Mancini was called for roughing early in the first period, though Minnesota State was unable to capitalize on the power play, going 0/5 on the night. This contest was a goaltending battle, as Simon Latkoczy and Seth Eisele made 38 saves combined to shutout Minnesota State in the evening. Senior forward Matt Miller broke the deadlock with 2:40 left in the third period to secure the victory for Omaha. With the win, the Spirit of the Maverick trophy will stay in Omaha. The regular season kicks off October 13th and 14th against the Niagara Purple Eagles at Baxter Arena.

Noah Laba: Center, 2022 4th round (111th overall) 

Colorado College Tigers will look to build off the momentum of a 6-3 exhibition win over Simon Fraser. New York Rangers prospect Noah Laba led the way, scoring twice. His second of the game coming shorthanded after splitting a pair of defenders. The Tigers will open the regular season against Union College Friday, October 13th at Robson Arena. 

Gabriel Perreault: Forward, (2023 1st round, 23rd pick)
Drew Fortescue: Defense, (2023 3rd round, 90th overall)

The main event of the night saw a top ten matchup, as Boston College Eagles were at the M&T Bank Arena in Hamden, CT to face defending champions Quinnipiac University Bobcats. Quinnipiac raised their championship banner in a ceremony in front of a sold out crowd prior to the start of the game. New York Rangers prospects Gabriel Perreault and Drew Fortescue were among the 14 NHL draft picks in the revamped Eagles lineup. Fortescue started the game on defense, lining up on the left side with partner captain Eamon Powell (Tampa Bay). Head Coach Greg Brown elected to keep the “USA Line” together, as former NTDP teammates Gabe Perreault, Will Smith, and Ryan Leonard formed the 2nd unit for Boston College. The Eagles gained the victory 2-1 in overtime, as Cutter Gauthier scored with 9.5 seconds remaining. Perrault didn’t factor into the scoresheet in his collegiate debut, finishing the game with two shots and one penalty (hooking). Boston College will begin a six-game home stand as they face the Long Island University Sharks on Friday, October 13th.

Overall, it was a good weekend for teams in Hockey East in non-conference action, headlined by a Boston College win over Quinnipiac. Boston University also won in overtime 3-2 over Bentley. UMass defeated American International 5-3, while UMass Lowell split their series against Alaska Anchorage. Northeastern won 7-0 over Stonehill in an official contest Saturday, before picking up a shootout win in an exhibition against Quinnipiac Sunday. UConn went 1-0-1 against Colgate over the weekend. These early results will help the conference in PairWise Rankings for the NCAA tournament. 

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