It's not just March Madness for basketball, the college hockey tournaments are underway as well.
The matchup of most interest to Capitals fans was the battle between Shane Gersich's North Dakota and Steven Spinner's Nebraska-Omaha in the NCHC quarterfinals. North Dakota emerged victorious with a 4-0 win on Friday and a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday. Gersich scored one goal while Spinner tallied one assist.
North Dakota will play St. Cloud State on Friday in the semifinal of the NCHC Frozen Faceoff.
Providence College also advanced in the Hockey East tournament after dispatching Maine in two games in the quarterfinals. Caps prospect Brian Pinho recorded one assist in the two games. Providence will play Northeastern in the semifinals on Friday.
The postseason came to an end for Chase Priskie's Quinnipiac as they were defeated in two games by Cornell.
Other prospect notes:
- Pinho earned two end of season Hockey East awards for his strong senior season as announced on Wednesday. He was named the winner of the Gladiator Custom Mouthguards Best Defensive Forward Award and also garnered Third Team All-Star honors.
- The Hershey Bears are dealing with a number of injuries as Riley Barber (upper-body), Mason Mitchell (upper-body) and Connor Hobbs (lower-body) have all been ruled out of all three of Hershey's games this weekend. Head coach Troy Mann said he considers Barber to be week-to-week.
- With injuries mounting the Bears recalled forward Hampus Gustafsson from the ECHL. He has spent most of the season with South Carolina, recording 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 29 games. In the 14 games he has with Hershey already this season, he managed two assists. Defenseman Kris Bindulis was also re-assigned from South Carolina to Hershey. He has 15 points in 34 games with the Stingrays and two penalty minutes to show for his six games with the Bears earlier in the season.
- Goalie Vitek Vanecek's start on Saturday marked the 100th professional game of his career. In his Hershey career, Vanecek has recorded a 28-18-9 record with a 2.67 GAA, .903 save percentage and seven shutouts. Goalie is a crowded position in the Capitals' organization with Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer with the NHL squad and Ilya Samsonov considered the future starter in Washington. Vanecek has done well in the AHL, but has not to this point shown he can compete for playing time at the NHL level.
- Speaking of Samsonov, his highly anticipated North American debut has been delayed as his KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, won its first-round playoff series over Avtomobilist in six games. The chances he would come to North America this spring were already remote given the fact that the Bears will almost certainly not make the playoffs which means he would not have as much opportunity to practice and play. Advancing to the second round in the KHL makes it even less likely we see him before summer/fall.
- The Capitals and South Carolina Stingrays extended their affiliation agreement through the 2019-20 season, it was announced on Thursday. Holtby, Grubauer and Jay Beagle all have played for South Carolina in the past.
- Goalie Adam Carlson seems to have earned the confidence of the coaches of his ECHL team. The Kansas City Mavericks had three games this past week and Carlson started all three of them stopping 74 of the 81 shots he faced (.914 save percentage). He was named the second star of the game on March 7 after leading the Mavericks to a 4-1 win over Colorado.
- Check out the highlights of Djurgardens IF win over Orebro in the SHL (sometimes the video says it can only play in Sweden, but I have watched it three times despite not being in Sweden). The first goal of the game was scored by forward prospect Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. He is someone who is generating a lot of excitement after a strong performance in the World Junior Tournament. He projects to be a bottom-six, penalty kill type of player, but his blistering speed always makes him a threat on the offensive end of the ice.
- Defensive prospect Dmitriy Zaitsev missed two games for the Moose Jaw Warriors after taking an illegal hit from Swift Current's Tanner Nagel. Nagel was assessed a three-game suspension for the hit, but Zaitsev's status remains in flux for now.