The Blackhawks begin their quest to another Stanley Cup next week, but a pair of prospects have gotten a head start on snagging a ring.
Prospects Nick Schmaltz and Luke Johnson helped No. 3 North Dakota defeat No. 1 Quinnipiac, 5-1, in the Frozen Four championship on Saturday, capping off a career season for both players. It's North Dakota's eighth national title in school history, but first since 2000.
Schmaltz, the Blackhawks' first-round pick (No. 20 overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, registered 11 goals and 34 assists in 36 games as a sophomore this season for the Fighting Sioux, and recorded one goal and three assists during the tournament, including the game-winner with 56.8 seconds remaining in the semifinals against Denver on Thursday.
During Saturday's championship contest, he also set up a beautiful pass to teammate Drake Cagguila, who buried a goal early in the third period that extended North Dakota's lead to 3-1 and essentially put the game out of reach.
Johnson, a fifth-round pick (No. 134 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2013, tallied 11 goals and 10 assists in 43 games during his junior season, and was tied for the team-lead with five power-play goals. In the tournament, he scored two goals, including one that turned out to be the game-winner in the first round against Northeastern.
It's unclear whether Schmaltz and Johnson will come out of college to join the Blackhawks, but it wouldn't be surprising if they did.