Rangers prospect Drew Fortescue scores playoff goal in Hockey East Tournament

Syndication: Lansing State Journal
Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Eight New York Rangers’ prospects were in action this week as their NCAA teams competed in conference tournament play looking to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

Gabe Perreault (2023 1st), along with Will Vote remained out of the lineup for the Boston College Eagles during their first round matchup against the University of Connecticut Huskies.

“They’re still day-to-day,” head coach Greg Brown said. “There’s no date set yet. They’re not done for the season, so that’s good. We’re just not sure how soon they’ll be back.”

As for the game itself, Drew Fortescue (2023 3rd) scored his first goal since November 24th, and his first point since February 2nd. In the first period, with the Eagles already up 2-0, the freshman defender pinched in from the left point, and fired a puck into the UConn net for a 3-0 lead at the 8:00 mark for his fourth goal of the season.

Boston College survived a late comeback from Connecticut, which included two goals from Nashville Predators 2023 1st rounder Matthew Wood, to escape with a 5-4 win. The team will face Umass in the Semi-Finals of the Hockey East Championship on Saturday, March 23rd on TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

In other Hockey East action, sophomore winger Jaroslav Chmelar (2021 5th) and the Providence College Friars were eliminated from the Hockey East tournament Saturday following a 3-1 loss to UMass. The Czech native finished the season with 5 goals, and 10 assists for 15 points in 26 games played. After a fast start to the year where he was leading the team in scoring, Chmelar missed time due to wrist surgery, and had only a single assist in 10 games since returning. He is expected to return for his junior season with Providence next year.

Related: Rangers prioritizing future

Rangers NCAA Prospect Update

Hugo Ollas
Hugo Ollas taking warmups (Photo: Alan Selavka)

Merrimack College was on the road Wednesday night taking on Northeastern University in the opening round of the Hockey East tournament. Junior Hugo Ollas (2020 7th) was named as the starting goaltender for the Warriors. The Swedish netminder allowed three goals during the 4-0 loss as Merrimack’s season came to an end. For Ollas, he finished the season with a 7-12-0 record with a 2.84 goals against average and .908 save percentage.

In a somewhat surprising move, the Rangers announced Friday that they agreed to terms with Ollas on a two-year, entry-level contract. Through three seasons with Merrimack College, Ollas appeared in 64 games, compiling a 27-27 record, 2.48 goals against average, .914 save percentage, and six shutouts. Additionally, he will report to the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate after signing an amateur tryout. With the recent extensions of Jonathan Quick and Louis Domingue, it is expected that Ollas will spend next season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL in a tandem with Talyn Boyko.

Sophomore forward Brody Lamb (2021 4th) was held scoreless with one shot on goal and one blocked shot in a 2-1 loss as the Minnesota Golden Gophers were eliminated from the Big 10 Conference Championship by the Michigan Wolverines. Despite the loss, Minnesota will earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament as the team currently sits at eighth in the PairWise rankings with a 22-10-5 record on the season.

In the ECAC, a pair of Rangers prospects faced off against each other, as Hank Kempf (2021 7th) and the Cornell Big Red swept Zakary Karpa (2022 6th) and the Harvard Crimson. Kempf had five blocked shots with a holding minor in a 4-3 victory on Friday, and another blocked shot during Saturday’s 4-1 victory. Cornell will face Dartmouth College in the Semi-Finals of the ECAC Championship on Friday, March 22nd in Lake Placid, New York. Karpa finishes his junior year at Harvard with four goals and four assists for eight points in 31 games played.

Another pair of Rangers prospects found themselves on opposing sides of the ice in conference play this weekend as center Noah Laba (2022 4th) and the Colorado College Tigers battled defenseman Victor Mancini (2022 5th) and the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks in a best-of-three series of the NCHC Playoffs. Friday night, it was Laba who scored the tying goal in the final minute of regulation to force overtime after Omaha jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

Colorado would go on to dominate the overtime period with a 12-1 edge in shots before completing the comeback 4-3. For Laba, it was his 20th goal of the season, as he scored on his only shot of the game while going 13-8 on faceoffs. Mancini recorded three blocked shots in the first game of the series. Omaha would take game two on Saturday 3-1. Mancini had one blocked shot, while Laba was held scoreless with three shots on goal and a 13-9 mark from the faceoff dot.

During Sunday’s deciding third game of the series, Laba’s assist wasn’t enough for the Tigers to advance, as they fell 2-1 to the Mavericks. Laba had two shots on goal with one block while going 14-10 on faceoffs. Colorado College will be scoreboard watching this weekend, as the team still has a chance to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. They sit 14th in the PairWise rankings, and would need no team ranked below them to win the NCHC, Big 10, Hockey East, or ECAC Championship for an automatic bid. Victor Mancini recorded one shot on goal during Sunday’s game. Omaha will take on North Dakota on Friday as they earned their first trip to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff in program history.

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