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Tampa Bay Lightning prospect playoff update: Cole Koepke wins NCHC title; national playoffs start tonight

The regional champions will be crowned and the CHL playoffs continue.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs are the NCHC champions for the fifth time, and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Cole Koepke wins the title with them! Out of all the college hockey prospects, Koepke is the only one to come away with a conference championship.

All of the college prospects aside from Ty Taylor (New Hampshire) and Ryan Lohin (U Mass-Lowell) have advanced to the NCAA national playoffs for a chance to play in the Frozen Four finals in Buffalo.

Ontario Hockey League

#10 - Alexei Lipanov (F)
Kitchener Rangers

Eliminated 4-0 in Round 1 by the Guelph Storm
Game 1 - Loss - 4-2 - 0G, 0A, -1
Game 2 - Loss - 7-0 - 0G, 0A, -1
Game 3 - Loss - 6-3 - 0G, 1A
Game 4 - Loss - 5-1 - 0G, 0A, -1

Alexey Lipanov’s time in the OHL has come to an end after the Kitchener Rangers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Guelph Storm. It was a rough series for the Rangers, as they only had the lead in the series for less than one minute of game play.

Lipanov managed just one assists in the four games. Since he’s signed to an entry level contract, he’s available to join the Crunch to work, practice, and maybe even play for the team for the remainder of the season.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

All games should be available on QMJHL Live

#9 - Gabriel Fortier (F)
Baie-Comeau Drakkar

Round 1 vs Moncton WIldcats tied 2-2

Game 1 - Win - 2-1 OT - 0G, 0A, +1
Game 2 - Loss - 5-2 - 0G, 0A, -3
Game 3 - Win - 4-3 OT - No Points
Game 4 - Loss - 3-2 - 0G, 1A
Game 5 - Away: Fri. March 29th @ 6:00PM
Game 6 - Home: Mon. April 1st @ 7:30PM
Game 7 - Home: Tues. April 2nd @ 7:30PM

The Drakkar finished the season as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, with a sizable gap between them and Moncton, but have come close to being swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Three games were decided by one goal, two of them in overtime. and the Drakkars biggest loss was by three goals. Moncton has come across as the better team in this series, and if the games continue to be this close they could play spoiler in the next few games. Baie-Comeau has one advantage, in that any series clinching games will be played on home ice.

#41 - Radim Salda (D) / #23 - Jimmy Huntington (F)
Rimouski Oceanic

Win Round 1 series vs Chicoutimi Sagueens 4-0

Game 1 - Win - 4-3 OT - 0G, 1A, -1 / 2G, 1A
Game 2 - Win - 3-2 4OT - 0G, 0A, +1 / No Points
Game 3 - Win - 4-3 - 0G, 0A, -2 / 1G, 2A, +2
Game 4 - Win - 6-3 - 0G, 0A, +3 / 1G, 0A, +1

Another close series - until game four - but this one goes in our favour as the Oceanic swept the Sagueens. One overtime game, one quadruple overtime game and two regulation wins have Rimouski playing in round two, and they may even have the top seed in round two as first overall Halifax Mooseheads have fallen behind in their series.

Jimmy Huntington’s play with Alexis Lafrenière has the two of them leading the team and near the top of the QMJHL in playoff scoring.


Ryan Lohin (F)
U. Mass-Lowell River Hawks

Season over

#20 - Ryan Zuhlsdorf (D) / #26 - Sammy Walker (F)
U. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Season Over

#19 - Cole Guttman (F)
U. Denver PIoneers

Denver finished third in the NCHC playoffs, after falling in the semi-finals to the UMD Bulldogs 3-0. In the third place game, they defeated Colorado College 6-1 and qualified for the NCAA national playoffs.

NCAA Quarter-finals vs Ohio State
March 29th @ 4:00PM

NCAA Semi-finals vs St. Cloud State/American International
March 30th @ 9:00PM

The Pioneers have a tough road to get to the Frozen Four in Buffalo. They’ll have to defeat Big10 regular season champions Ohio State, then either the NCHC regular season champions St. Cloud State or the Atlantic Hockey conference champions American International.

#14 - Nicklaus Perbix (D)
St. Cloud State Huskies

St. Cloud State lost the NCHC finals to the UMD Bulldogs 3-2 after defeating Colorado College 5-2 in the semi-finals.

Now they face American International in the first round of the national playoffs, and their next opponent could be fellow prospect Cole Guttman and the Denver Pioneers.

NCAA Quarter-finals vs American International
March 29th @ 7:30PM
NCAA Semi-finals vs Denver/Ohio State
March 30th @ 9:00PM

Alex Green (D)
Cornell Big Red

Cornell defeated Brown 6-0 in the ECAC semi-finals, but lost to Clarkson 3-2 in the finals. Now they will play in the national championship as the #4 seed in the East region against Hockey East champion Northeastern.

Quarter-finals vs Northeastern
March 30th @ 4:30PM

Semi-finals vs Minnesota State/Providence
March 31st @ 4:00PM

Cole Koepke (F)
U. Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs

The Bulldogs defeated the Denver Pioneers 3-0 in the semi-finals and went to double overtime against St. Cloud State and won 3-2.

Koepke scored twice in the semi-final game, including the game winning goal.

Now the NCAA playoffs begin, with UMD looking for their seventh Frozen Four appearance, and third national title. Game one is against WCHA runner-up Bowling Green, a tough opponent but they shouldn’t be too much trouble for the Bulldogs.

Quarter-finals vs Bowling Green
March 30th @ 4:00PM

Semi-finals vs Arizona State/Quinnipac
March 31st @ 6:30PM

Ty Taylor (G)
U. New Hampshire Wildcats

Season over.

A big weekend for everyone, and if any of our prospects make it to the Frozen Four, I’ll be there in Buffalo to get a firsthand look at them and hopefully not be a jinx for Lightning prospects like I was back at the 2017 Memorial Cup.