Rangers keep key college prospects after trade deadline madness

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

The NHL Trade Deadline is in the rearview mirror, and the New York Rangers kept to their word about not mortgaging the future for rentals. That means promising prospects playing in the college ranks like Gabe Perreault and Noah Laba remain under the organization’s control.

Last week saw plenty of action for these young players, so let’s dive into the latest update.

Related: Rangers approach to the trade deadline

New York Rangers college prospects update

Victor Mancini

An unlikely hero emerged amongst the New York Rangers prospects last Friday night, as it was Junior defenseman Victor Mancini who scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks during their 3-2 victory over the number three ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The 2022 fifth-round pick pinched in from the point to the open slot in the second period and ripped a shot for his fourth goal of the season.

The man nicknamed “Moose” finished the game with a +2 rating and two blocked shots. He would add another two blocked shots with and a +2 rating on Saturday during a 4-1 victory to complete a weekend sweep. It was also the first time in program history that Omaha swept North Dakota in a weekend series, and the team climbed into a tie for 11th in the PairWise rankings as a result. Should Omaha earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Frozen Four, or earn an automatic bid by winning the NCHC Championship, they would be placed in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Regionals as hosts.

Mancini came into the season with zero goals in 70 games, so his offensive breakout is a welcome addition to his overall game, and one which is likely to lead to an entry-level contract. The Mavericks are one of the hottest teams in NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey currently, having won four straight games while being unbeaten in their last seven. They completed the regular season with a record of 20-10-4 to finish fifth in NCHC and will take on fourth ranked Colorado College Tigers in a best-of-three series beginning on Friday, March 15th.

Noah Laba

Noah Laba, Colorado College
Noah Laba in action (Colorado College / credit: Casey B. Gibson)

As for center Noah Laba and the Colorado College Tigers, the team finished fourth in NCHC standings following a split against Denver Pioneers. New York’s 2022 fourth-round pick took a tripping minor just 29 seconds into Friday night’s game with his team already down 1-0. After Colorado College killed the penalty, Laba charged out of the box and took a pass from teammate Drew Montgomery. Laba found himself on a breakaway, where he would score to tie the game 1-1 at the 2:38 mark.

Laba would score again in the second period, this time shorthanded to bring the score to 3-1 in front of an announced attendance of 3,912 at Robson Arena which has a capacity of 3,407. In addition to his two goals, the sophomore was impressive from the faceoff circle, going 15-6 on draws. At one point, Laba was a perfect 11-0. He finished the game with three shots on goal and a +3 rating.

On Saturday, Laba was held without a shot on goal and a -1 rating with one assist while going 11-9 on faceoffs during a 4-3 loss. He finished the regular season with 19 goals, and 16 assists for 35 points in 33 games played to lead his team in scoring. The Tigers had a 20-11-3 record in the regular season. As the fourth seed in the NCHC playoffs, Colorado College will have home ice for the first time in history when they take on Omaha in a best-of-three series beginning on Friday, March 15th.

Brody Lamb

Sophomore forward Brody Lamb had an assist in each of Minnesota’s victories over Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten Conference tournament. The 4th Round Pick of the Rangers in 2021 improved his to 12-14-26 in 36 games played on the season. The Golden Gophers will take on the Michigan Wolverines on March 16th.

Jaroslav Chmelar

2021 fifth-round selection Jaroslav Chmelar was held scoreless during Providence College’s 4-2 loss to Boston University on Thursday. He finished the game with three shots on goal and a boarding minor. The Czech native had two shots on goal Saturday in a 3-3 tie against Northeastern. His stat line is 5-10-15 in 25 games, numbers which were greatly reduced after missing time due to wrist surgery. Providence completed the regular season with an 18-10-4 record and are the fourth seed in Hockey East. The team will host UMass on Saturday, March 16th in a game which has major implications for the NCAA tournament as the two teams are currently 14th and 15th respectively in PairWise rankings.

Hockey East Updates: Gabe Perreault still injured

In other Hockey East action, it was junior netminder Hugo Ollas who started in goal for the Merrimack College Warriors on Senior Day against defenseman Drew Fortescue and the number one ranked Boston College Eagles. 2023 first-round pick Gabe Perreault remained out of the lineup Saturday, though is expected to return next weekend. Fortescue finished with three blocked shots during the 6-4 win for Boston College, who will be the number one seed and host the lowest remaining seed on Saturday, March 16th. As for Ollas, he drops to a 7-11-0 record with a 2.83 goals against average and .909 save percentage. Merrimack is the 10th seed in Hockey East and will face Northeastern on Wednesday, March 13th.

Harvard captain Zakary Karpa was scoreless during the Crimson’s 1-0 victory over Princeton in the ECAC playoffs. The junior had one blocked shot while going 7-7 on faceoffs. After the results of Saturday’s games, Harvard will take on Hank Kempf and the Cornell Big Red in a Best-of-Three Series beginning Friday, March 15th.

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