Red Wings NCAA Prospects Report: Skating Into the Frozen Four

The Hockey Writers

It’s officially the last week of college hockey for the 2022-23 season, which is always a very bittersweet time of year. As the season comes to a close, the national title is ready to be awarded to a well-deserving team. This year, it all comes down to Boston University, Quinnipiac University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota.

Detroit Red Wings NCAA Prospects Report
Detroit Red Wings NCAA Prospects Report (The Hockey Writers)

That being said, let’s get into which Red Wings prospects will be soaking up the sun in Florida for the Frozen Four, as well as which prospects have a different story to tell!

Heading Down to Florida

The NCAA Frozen Four will be taking place in Tampa, Florida, this year at Amalie Arena. Two Red Wings prospects still have their hopes of a national championship alive, and it all comes down to what happens on Thursday. Whoever wins their games Thursday will move on to the national championship game this Saturday (April 8). Here’s the scoop on just who is ready to leave it all out on the ice this week

University of Michigan – Kienan Draper

Kienan Draper and the Michigan Wolverines are ready to compete in their second consecutive Frozen Four. Last year, the Wolverines advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, only to lose to Carter Mazur and the Denver Pioneers in a very close game. This is Draper’s first experience in an NCAA Tournament, and hopefully, he can soak it all in and use what he’s learned in his future seasons.

To put it simply, Draper has not seen a ton of ice time in his freshman season at the University of Michigan. He played in 23 games this season and ended with a grand total of one goal and 24 penalty minutes. Prior to starting his collegiate career, he was playing in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Chilliwack Chiefs. His 2021-22 season there was phenomenal, as he had 23 goals and 27 assists through 53 regular season games.

Related: Red Wings NCAA Prospects Report: Postseason Weeks 2-3 Recap

Latest News & Highlights

Although the odds are high that he will once again be watching from the sidelines, there is still a lot for Draper to be excited about. The Wolverines will take on No. 2 Quinnipiac this Thursday, April 6, at 8:30 PM, a repeat of their Frozen Four matchup from last year. In the 2022 Frozen Four, Michigan beat Quinnipiac 7-4 to advance to the championship game. This will be Michigan’s 27th Frozen Four appearance, as they are looking to bring home the ninth NCAA title in the team’s history.

Boston University – Ethan Phillips

Boston University emerged victorious after defeating Western Michigan in a 5-1 game on March 23. Seemingly out of the blue, Ethan Phillips showed up to that game and left his mark on the score sheet. From his beautiful secondary assist on Lane Hutson’s goal that brought the Terriers to a 1-0 lead to an empty net goal, he had the best game of his season, hands down.

The Terriers would go on to defeat Cornell a few days later in the second game of the Manchester Regionals in a dominant 2-1 game. Much to my surprise, Phillips lit the lamp once again to pull his team to a 2-0 lead for his fourth goal of the season. This was the first time that he had scored in back-to-back games all season, and it was a huge goal for the team, as it sent them to the next round of the tournament.

In the Frozen Four, Phillips and the Terriers will be taking on No. 1 Minnesota today (April 6) at 5 PM. This is easily the biggest game of the season for Boston University, as Minnesota has been steamrolling its way through the NCAA Tournament. These two teams have not played each other this season, so there’s no baseline comparison to be made, but one can only hope that it is not another blowout at the hands of the Golden Gophers. If this is the end of the Terriers’ season, that will be a wrap on Phillips’s senior season — leaving him to decide if he would like to use his fifth year of NCAA eligibility or if it’s time to seek out another path.

Postseason Moves for Other Prospects

Outside of those still rolling in the NCAA Tournament, there have been some collegiate Red Wings prospects on the move or wrapping up their seasons in big ways. Here are some updates on those prospects that have come up over the last two weeks.

Colgate University – Carter Gylander

What a season for Carter Gylander. Although he and his teammates fell in what can only be described as a barnburner loss to the University of Michigan, his season is still one to be proud of. Prior to that fateful game, the Raiders won their first ECAC title since 1990, and he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

In this game against the Wolverines, Gylander faced 41 shots and allowed eight goals. The mighty Michigan offense was no match for Colgate’s defense, which put him in a tricky situation where he was just facing shot after shot. Throughout the season, his team had relied on him and his presence in net very heavily, a strategy that can only get you so far. Gylander was then pulled after allowing eight unanswered goals but was put back in towards the end of the game, allowing 11 goals to the Wolverines.

As of now, it’s assumed that he will be back at Colgate for his senior season, as he has not signed a professional contract or entered the NCAA transfer portal. Of course, there are still a few months for this verdict to change, but I personally think that this is unlikely. This was his first year carrying a full load of playing time, and he came such a long way in his development. Finishing out his collegiate career gives him the chance to get one more full season of time to develop under his belt before considering a jump to professional hockey, so I think that’s most likely.

Denver University – Carter Mazur

The Denver Pioneers were eliminated from playoff contention by Cornell in a 2-0 game in the Manchester Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. This was somewhat of a surprising ending for the reigning NCAA Champions. In two seasons at the collegiate level, Mazur totaled 36 goals and 39 assists for a total of 75 points. In both years, he was the team leader in scoring, as well as one of the top scorers in the whole league.

The time had come for Mazur to make a very important decision; did he want to come back for a third year of collegiate hockey or make the jump and go pro? With the Pioneer’s hunt for a back-to-back NCAA Championship title getting snuffed out, the decision may have been slightly easier to make.

On his 21st birthday just the other week, Mazur signed his entry-level contract with the Red Wings. It was a very special moment for him, as he finally was able to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a Red Wing. Following that, he made his professional debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. As of April 6, he has played in three games and tallied his first professional point. From here, the door is wide open to compete for a spot on the Red Wings roster for the 2023-24 season, and it’ll be very exciting to see what he can accomplish at the professional level.

University of North Dakota – Cooper Moore

Just this past week, Cooper Moore of the University of North Dakota entered the NCAA transfer portal. It seems as if he will be transferring to Quinnipiac University this upcoming season. He is entering his senior year of college and has been a solid defensive asset for the Fighting Eagles up until this point. Moore was drafted by the Red Wings back in the 2019 NHL Draft in the fifth round (128th overall) and had been teammates with current NHL players Trevor Zegras and Spencer Knight earlier in his career.

Transferring is a huge move for him, as Quinnipiac has been competing for the national title for the last few seasons and has come close each time. Choosing to transfer to Quinnipiac for his senior season is seemingly him wanting a chance to genuinely compete for a national title before his collegiate career is over. In the last five years, North Dakota has made it to the NCAA Tournament twice compared to Quinnipiac’s four appearances. Both teams were in the NCAA Tournament this past season, but neither made it to the Frozen Four.

All in all, college hockey has no shortage of Red Wings prospects that are doing big things. From Frozen Four smackdowns to making huge career moves, there’s been a lot of action in the world of NCAA hockey. Hopefully, by now, you have developed more of an appreciation for collegiate hockey and the prospects within it if you did not already have one. Now, it’s time to see how the last few days of the season unfold and if there will be a familiar face raising the NCAA Trophy Saturday night.

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