Blackhawks

NCAA men's hockey players react to Frozen Four experience at United Center

NCAA men's hockey players react to Frozen Four experience at United Center

For the first time ever, Chicago hosted the NCAA Men's Frozen Four tournament and it was a huge success.

The championship game between Denver and Minnesota Duluth drew a record-setting crowd of 19,783, which was the largest attendance in a college hockey championship game in a National Hockey League arena — only 2010 had a higher number at Ford Field in Detroit.

The overall attendance across the two days was 39,409, and among them were Hall of Famer Mark Messier, who's nephew Luke Esposito plays for Harvard, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former Blackhawks defenseman and USA 1980 Olympic gold medalist Jack O'Callahan.

Blackhawks legend Tony Esposito was also honored by performing the ceremonial puck drop before the national championship game. It was a terrific event.

Now let's hear from the players about their experience, some of whom were in awe of skating on the United Center ice, home of the six-time champion Blackhawks.

Evan Ritt, Denver senior forward:

"Coming in this locker room, it's unbelievable. They've been treating us unbelievable, it's been great. Did you see the banners up there? So cool. They're all old school.

"I mean, look right here (pointing to picture frames inside Blackhawks locker room), you got all the most famous NHL players of all time here, it's unbelievable. It's cool to be a part of history. The Blackhawks logo right there (in the center of the locker room), it's really special. Really fortunate. I never would have thought as a kid growing up that I would've made it to this point. It feels really cool."

Tanner Jaillet, Denver junior goaltender:

"It's awesome. Obviously the Blackhawks, pretty awesome franchise. So much history in this building. It was awesome to go out there and be able to pull one out for our program."

Alex Iafallo, Minnesota Duluth senior forward:

"It was really cool, watching NHL games it's a dream come true, especially playing Saturday, it's going to be awesome. A lot of Bulldog fans out there. We owe it to those guys."

Dennis Gilbert, Notre Dame sophomore defenseman and Blackhawks prospect:

"Yeah you can tell it's a very passionate fan base. Hats off to the Blackhawks, they're a class act. They did a heck of a job this weekend putting this on, for all four teams, it's been spectacular. They're definitely deserving to get it back in years to come, I think."

Blake Hillman, Denver sophomore defenseman and Blackhawks prospect:

"It's awesome. I can't say enough. The Pioneer fans, like you said this is the largest crowd we've had outside of Denver, and I don't even know what to say. I'm speechless."

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

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USA Today

What changes should Blackhawks make to power play?

In the month of October, no team scored fewer goals than the Blackhawks (25). Since the calendar flipped to November, no team has scored more goals than the Blackhawks (38).

Oh, how things can change in a month.

But the interesting part about the offensive turnaround is the fact the Blackhawks are doing it without having much power play success.

The Blackhawks have had 65 power-play opportunities this season and have converted on only nine of those attempts. That's a 13.8 percent success rate, which ranks 28th in the NHL.

Head coach Jeremy Colliton changed things up at the beginning of the month by dividing the units to spread the wealth rather than overload the first unit, the latter of which worked so well from December and on last season. 

It's time to go back to overloading the first unit.

Erik Gustafsson, who has three goals in his last four games, is finally looking like himself again after a 16-game goal drought to start the season. Patrick Kane is on a 10-game point streak. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome have combined for 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in the last 10 games. And Jonathan Toews has nine points (three goals, six assists) in November after having only two points (one goal, one assist) in October.

There's a newfound confidence within the group, especially the top players, and reuniting the five of them could translate into power play success. 

And while we're on the subject: It's also time to put Kirby Dach on one of the two power play units.

He has seven points in a five-game point streak and four goals during that span. He's noticeably getting more and more comfortable each game and it's reached the point where giving him more responsibility wouldn't be overwhelming for the 18-year-old, who's ready for more ice time.

The Blackhawks' power play is the one area of their game that hasn't been consistent this season. If they can get it back to the level it was at during the second half of last season, it's scary to think what the ceiling of this team could be because it doesn't look like their 5-on-5 game or elite goaltending will drop off anytime soon.

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Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

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USA Today

Blackhawks receive Joseph Cramarossa from the Penguins in minor league trade

The Blackhawks have acquired forward Joseph Cramarossa from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Graham Knott in a minor league trade. Cramarossa will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 27-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in nine games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this AHL season. Cramarossa was the alternate captain during the 2018-19 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, playing 56 regular-season games, scoring four goals.

Cramarossa was initially drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2011 NHL Draft, making his NHL debut on the Ducks in 2016. He played with the Ducks until he was traded to the Vancouver in 2017, playing in 10 games for the Canucks. He signed with Calgary as a free agent in September 2017 before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2018. Throughout seven seasons in the AHL (2013-2019) playing for the Norfolk Admirals, San Diego Gulls, Stockton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Cramarossa recorded 72 points (32G, 40A) in 294 regular-season games.

Graham Knott is a 22-year-old forward selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft. Knott had eight goals in 126 career games with the IceHogs. The Blackhawks have now traded their top draft selections from 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009. Only Dach (2019), Boqvist (2018) and DeBrincat (2016) remain from this decade.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.