5 Penguins Prospects Have a Chance to Go to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh

Al DanielCorrespondent IIMarch 25, 2013

Bryan Rust and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the top seed in the Midwest Regional.
Bryan Rust and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the top seed in the Midwest Regional.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Consol Energy Center will host Pittsburgh’s first NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in two-and-a-half weeks and the local masses could see as many as three Penguins farmhands in action.

The only way there is not at least one Penguins prospect playing in front of his hopeful future fans come April 11 is if the Miami Redhawks win the Midwest Regional in Toledo, Ohio. The Midwest features a Pittsburgh farmhand on its other three participating teams.

Two of the other three regional sites, Grand Rapids, Mich. and Manchester, N.H., boast one Pittsburgh pick apiece. Those two along with three heading to Toledo this weekend can be labeled a key cog to their respective program's cause with hardly any hyperbole.

The most recent developments for all five tournament-bound Pens prospects, all of them forwards, are encapsulated as follows.


Kenny Agostino, Yale

Agostino, a hulking winger chosen in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL draft, enters the national dance on a two-game pointless skid, but so do the rest of the Bulldogs. Yale brooked a 5-0 shutout via Union in the ECAC semifinals and a 3-0 loss to in-state rival and national No. 1 seed Quinnipiac in the consolation game.

Agostino’s most recent point, though, was his team-best 37th on the year and a deciding assist as part of 3-0 victory over St. Lawrence in the conference quarterfinals.

This will be Agostino’s second NCAA tournament, having previously reached the East Regional final as a freshman in 2011, when Yale lost to the eventual national champions from Minnesota-Duluth. This time, it will be tested by the Minnesota Gophers, who hold the top seed in the West Regional.


Teddy Blueger, Minnesota State

If Blueger’s Mavericks advance to the Frozen Four, it will mean venturing into the same building where the host Penguins chose him with their second-round pick less than 10 months prior.

So far, Blueger has posted six goals and 13 assists for 19 points through 36 games as a freshman, although he has been frostbitten of late with no production in his last five outings.

He will try to rekindle his twig in the Midwest Regional when the Mavs battle Miami.


Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State

Hanowski enrolled at SCSU within months of being claimed in the third round of the 2009 draft. He has since totaled 111 points in his college career, including 29 this year as a senior.

Riding a three-game production streak since postseason play began, the captain logged his team’s only goal in the WCHA semifinal, which it lost to Wisconsin, 4-1. Despite missing five of the Huskies’ 39 games, Hanowski is second only to Jonny Brodzinski for the team lead with 16 strikes on the year.


Bryan Rust, Notre Dame

Just like Agostino, Rust is a junior embarking on his second career NCAA tournament, the first of which ended at the hands of Minnesota-Duluth.

Second on the team in each main category with 15 goals, 18 assists and 33 points, Rust came through in the second game of the CCHA quarterfinals to help the Irish punch out Bowling Green State University.

With a power-play goal to break the ice and a penalty shot conversion to break a 2-2 tie, he helped pace Notre Dame to a 4-3 win and a passport to Joe Louis Arena. There, it posted back-to-back 3-1 wins over Ohio State and Michigan to win the last CCHA playoff crown.

Rust and the Irish will test their momentum when they confront Hanowski and the Huskies in the first game of the Midwest Regional on Saturday afternoon.


Scott Wilson, UMass-Lowell

Another conference champion with an even greater clutch touch, Wilson tallied the primary assist on Derek Arnold’s deciding goal in a 1-0 victory over Boston University for the Hockey East pennant. The day prior, he scored the clincher in a come-from-behind, 2-1 semifinal triumph over Providence.

Overall, Wilson is tied with Riley Wetmore for the team lead with 15 goals and second only to Joseph Pendenza with 34 points. Lately, the surging sophomore has percolated a five-game production streak with a 4G, 3A, 7PTS scoring log, including the two aforementioned game-winning points and an assist on the equalizer that forced overtime en route to finishing an HEA quarterfinal sweep of Maine.

Wilson’s Riverhawks confront the WCHA champion Wisconsin Badgers in the Northeast Regional opener this Friday.