Blackhawks NCAA prospect update for 3/22: Tourney Time
Conference and national tournaments highlight this round of reports.
Checking in on the Chicago Blackhawks prospects currently playing in NCAA.
Frank Nazar, Michigan
Stats: 5 points (1 G, 4 A) in 10 GP
For the first time this season, we have actual hockey games from Nazar to discuss. He’s played in 10 since recovering from an injury earlier in the season, helping Michigan repeat as Big Ten champions. He hasn’t racked up a ton of points, but he has received some praise for his work on the defensive side of the ice:
Frank Nazar hasn’t been scoring a ton, but he’s certainly made an impact. Late in a shift here, but he still finds the energy to rebuff a Lohrei net drive with a stick check, then crush Jake Wise. This was five-on-five, but he’s also been putting in good work on the PK pic.twitter.com/tRv1ZwyiKo— Sam Stockton (@gulogulohockey) March 12, 2023
Any hockey is good hockey for Nazar at this stage of his career, so Michigan’s deep postseason run is a positive development for the long-term view of Nazar’s career.
Here was the lineup for Michigan’s final game of the Big Ten tournament, a 4-3 win over Minnesota:
Tonight's lines ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/UDbhpThU8j— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) March 18, 2023
Nazar and the rest of the Wolverines earned a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament and they’ll face Colgate in the first game on Friday night.
Ryan Greene, Boston
Stats: 31 points (9 G, 22 A) in 35 GP
Greene’s been providing steady, solid performances for the Terriers in his freshman season, having at least one point in 8 of the last 10 games. Last weekend, as Boston earned a spot in the NCAA tournament (more on that below), Greene had a pair of assists in the semifinal against Providence and another assist in the Hockey East championship against Merrimack.
Greene maintained his spot on Boston’s second line for that championship game:
Tonight's lineup.— BU Men's Hockey (@TerrierHockey) March 18, 2023
💻: https://t.co/IhMvA0Ntj4 (ESPN+)
💻: https://t.co/XwJi6zpT9R (int'l stream)
📻: https://t.co/rNKM3OoZFA pic.twitter.com/QavV1W1swV
Boston opens play in the NCAA tournament on Thursday afternoon against Western Michigan — a game that will be broadcast on ESPN 2, starting at 1 p.m. CT.
Aidan Thompson, Denver
Stats: 30 points (9 G, 21 A) in 31 GP
Thompson is another Blackhawks prospect headed to the NCAA tournament after Denver — ranked No. 4 in the most recent college hockey poll — received an at-large bid following its upset loss to Colorado College in the NCHC semifinals. Like Greene, Thompson’s been providing steady production for the Pioneers, with points in 9 of the last 12 games.
DU's projected lineup for the #FrozenFaceoff.— Denver Hockey (@DU_Hockey) March 17, 2023
Mike Benning is out with an illness.#GoPios #BeatCC pic.twitter.com/BB5fhDD4RC
It’s been a solid freshman season for Thompson at Denver, one that continues on Thursday afternoon against Cornell.
Dominic James, Minnesota-Duluth
Stats: 28 points (10 G, 18 A) in 35 GP
James’ sophomore season ended on March 12 when UMD lost to Dominic Basse (more on him later) and St. Cloud State in the opening round of the NCHC playoffs, falling 3-1 in the decisive third game of that best-of-3 series. James finished the season on fire, with 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in the final 9 games. Two of those games were multi-point nights for the sophomore: two assists against St. Cloud State on March 4 and then one goal and one assist against the same opponent on March 11.
Here’s the aforementioned goal:
Dominic James finds the back door on the rebound https://t.co/5PxsgtCHzn pic.twitter.com/QI5iNB6sHr— UMD Men's Hockey (@UMDMensHockey) March 12, 2023
James’ season totals above were a noticeable improvement from his freshman season at UMD, when James had 18 points (6 G, 12 A) in 39 games. He ended the season as UMD’s No. 1 center, too:
Line chart for Game 3 of the NCHC Quarterfinals, brought to you by @SuperiorChoice_ #BulldogCountry pic.twitter.com/L5UwOs2hqi— UMD Men's Hockey (@UMDMensHockey) March 12, 2023
Considering one of James’ teammates already signed with the Blackhawks, it’s safe to assume an NHL contract isn’t on the way right now for James, who’ll likely return to UMD for at least one more college hockey season before the option to turn pro is presented.
Jake Wise, Ohio State
Stats: 35 points (12 G, 23 A) in 38 GP
Although Ohio State lost in the Big Ten semifinals to Michigan, Wise and the No. 8 Buckeyes received a bid to the NCAA tournament and will open against Harvard on Friday afternoon. Wise continues to be one of the offensive leaders for Ohio State, second on the team in points and third on the team in goals and assists.
His nine power-play goals lead the team, with the last one coming in that 7-3 loss to Michigan — a three-point night (1 G, 2 A) for Wise:
🚨 Goal for Jake Wise - his ninth PPG of the year - in the second period. Assists to Treloar and McWard.#GoBucks @wisey871 @travistre19 @Mcward_Cole12 pic.twitter.com/aSUwngkdeN— Ohio State Men's Hockey (@OhioStateMHKY) March 12, 2023
This has been the best season of college hockey for the fifth-year senior, who turned 23 in February, making him older than most of his college opponents. The Blackhawks still retain his rights and turning pro seems like the next route for Wise, whenever Ohio State’s postseason run ends.
Landon Slaggert, Notre Dame
Stats: 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in 35 GP
A disappointing season overall for Notre Dame ended in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament, with Michigan State besting the Fighting Irish in the best-of-3 series. After a brief offensive spurt in early February with 5 points (4 G, 1 A) in four games, Slaggert went without a point in the final four games of his junior season, falling well behind his 26 points (12 G, 14 A) as a sophomore in 2021-22.
Despite those struggles, though, Slaggert did remain in the top-six for Notre Dame’s season finale:
Rolling with the same lines as before.— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) March 5, 2023
💻 FS2#GoIrish pic.twitter.com/jMOI0wsVLY
Slaggert also picked up a postseason honor:
For his contributions both on and off the ice, @slaggs_9 is a recipient of this year's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.#GoIrish pic.twitter.com/nUq86kxT7R— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) March 14, 2023
Given the way this season went for Slaggert, he’s likely headed back to South Bend for his senior season.
Ryder Rolston, Notre Dame
Stats: 20 points (7 G, 13 A) in 27 GP
The only news to report on Rolston is that he signed with the Blackhawks earlier in March. He did not play in any games since the last update due to a broken collarbone suffered in late January. He could be joining the IceHogs for game action in the next few weeks, though.
Taige Harding, Providence
Stats: 17 points (4 G, 13 A) in 37 GP
The postseason success for Greene above came at the expense of the next two players on the list, as Harding and Kelley had their hockey seasons ended with Providence’s loss to Boston.
Harding had a quieter stretch on the scoresheet to end the season, with a pair of assists against Northeastern on March 11 as his only points over the final eight games of the season. But he was still skating on Providence’s top four as the season completed:
Lineup for tonight's Hockey East Semifinal! Puck drop coming up in just under 15 minutes ‼️ pic.twitter.com/PkLeeJX7EF— PC Men's Hockey (@FriarsHockey) March 17, 2023
After playing in just 15 games last season, Harding saw an expanded role on the Providence blue line while skating in all 38 of the Friars’ games this season. He’s another prospect who’ll likely return to college for another season next fall.
Connor Kelley, Providence
Stats: 6 points (0 G, 6 A) in 22 GP
Kelley was in and out of the lineup over the final few months of the season, again absent from the D pairings detailed above in the Friars’ season finale. He’s probably destined for another season at Providence after transferring there following two college seasons at Minnesota-Duluth.
Wyatt Kaiser, Minnesota-Duluth
Stats: 23 points (5 G, 18 A) in 35 GP
Kaiser finished strong for the Bulldogs, who did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, allowing Kaiser to sign with the Blackhawks one week ago and make his NHL debut a few games later. Here’s one of the goals from the tail end of his college career:
Slick goal by Wyatt Kaiser#Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/EH8iqLr3pR— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) March 12, 2023
With the way the Blackhawks have been rotating youngsters on the blue line this season, Kaiser could be back in the lineup on Thursday night when Chicago faces the Washington Capitals.
Dominic Basse, St. Cloud State
Stats: .911 save percentage, 2.30 goals-against average, 3 shutouts in 19 games
Basse’s had a pretty good season with the Huskies, who won the NCHC playoffs to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, opening against Minnesota State on Thursday.
But Basse did have a couple of rough outings in the last month. He played just 8:40 against Omaha on Feb. 25 while allowing two goals on five shots and was pulled, although coach Brett Larson later said he was that was less on Basse and more on the team’s overall lackluster start. In Basse’s his most recent action — March 11 against Minnesota-Duluth — he surrendered 4 goals on 22 shots against during a 5-1 loss.
Basse did not play as St. Cloud State won its semifinal and final in the NCHC playoffs, with Larson saying the decision is basically a toss-up between Basee and Jaxon Castor:
It'll be Jaxon Castor in goal for the Huskies. Coach Brett Larson said the decision between Castor and Dominic Basse is often so close it feels like a coin flip. Castor played really well in his last outing against Duluth.— Reid Glenn (@Red__Glenn) March 18, 2023
We’ll see which side of the coin is called upon for that Thursday game against Minnesota State.
Drew Commesso, Boston
Stats: .912 save percentage, 2.51 goals-against average, 22-7 record
Commesso’s strong season has continued into the postseason, guiding the Terriers to a spot in the NCAA tournament after winning the Hockey East tournament. Here’s a quick sample of Commesso’s recent work:
WHAT A STOP BY DREW COMMESSO!— BU Men's Hockey (@TerrierHockey) March 18, 2023
Watch on ESPN+: https://t.co/IhMvA0Ntj4@hockey_east | @espn #SCTop10 | @NESN pic.twitter.com/AiEiuG4ban
In two games last weekend, Commesso stopped 60 of 63 shots (.952 save percentage) to help the Terriers claim that conference title while earning some individual honors:
#HockeyEast All-Tournament Team:— Joshua Kummins (@JoshuaKummins) March 19, 2023
G - Drew Commesso (BU)
D - Lane Hutson (BU)
D - Christian Felton (MC)
F - Matt Copponi (MC)
F - Devin Kaplan (BU)
F - Dylan Peterson (BU)
Commesso was especially good in the semifinal game against Providence, when Boston was outshot 38-25 by the Friars. But Commesso’s stellar play in net kept the Terriers in the game and allowed them to advance with an overtime win — sounds familiar, doesn’t it?