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American Developmental Roots Flood NCAA Men's Frozen Four Rosters

By USAHockey.com, 04/02/18, 2:30PM EDT

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Ninety-Nine of 108 players have developed game within the U.S. prior to college

The NCAA Men’s Frozen Four will have a distinct American presence again with 99 of the 108 players on the rosters of Ohio State University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota Duluth and University of Notre Dame having developed their game within the United States prior to attending college. 

The NCAA Men’s Frozen Four begins Thursday (April 5) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., with Minnesota Duluth taking on Ohio State followed by Michigan facing Notre Dame. Thursday’s semifinals will air live on ESPN2, while Saturday’s title game will be televised live on ESPN.

Eighty-four players competing in the tournament have roots in the United States Hockey League, including 16 alumni of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. The USHL is the only Tier I junior league in the United States and includes the two teams that make up USA Hockey’s NTDP.

Among the Frozen Four participants, 36 have represented the United States in international competition. Of those players, 22 have done so in International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship play and combined to win 27 IIHF medals.

There are 24 players with connections to USA Hockey’s Tier II North American Hockey League. Additionally, three players have a background in USA Hockey’s Tier III Eastern Hockey League

Collectively, 18 states will be represented by players in the Frozen Four, including California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Twenty-five players competing in the Frozen Four have been drafted by NHL teams, including 22 Americans. In addition, 19 players have skated in a CCM/USA Hockey's All-American Prospects Game, which features the best U.S.-born players eligible for that year's upcoming NHL Draft. 

For the complete player breakdown, click here.

PLAYER NOTES: Ten players have won the USHL Anderson Cup, awarded to the league’s regular season champion, including Michigan’s Luke Morgan (Cedar Rapids – 2016); Minnesota Duluth’s Karson Kuhlman (Dubuque – 2013), Peter Krieger (Waterloo – 2014), Nick Swaney (Waterloo – 2014); Notre Dame’s Cal Burke (Cedar Rapids – 2016), Jordan Gross (Green Bay – 2012), Matt Hellickson (Sioux City – 2017); and Ohio State’s Matt Miller (Youngstown – 2015), Tommy Parran (Youngstown – 2015) and John Wiitala (Waterloo – 2014) … Eight players helped their USHL teams win the Clark Cup, significant of the league’s playoff champion, including Michigan’s Jack Becker (Sioux Falls – 2015), Cooper Marody (Sioux Falls – 2015; Minnesota Duluth’s Karson Kuhlman (Dubuque – 2013); Notre Dame’s Cal Burke (Cedar Rapids – 2016), Tory Dello (Tri-City - 2016), Jordan Gross (Green Bay – 2012) and Ohio State’s Dakota Joshua (Sioux Falls – 2015), Matthew Weis (Green Bay – 2012) … Additionally, eight other players skated in the Clark Cup Finals, including Michigan’s Joseph Cecconi (Muskegon – 2015) and Colin Theisen (Dubuque – 2016); Minnesota Duluth’s  Peter Krieger (Waterloo – 2014) and Nick Swaney (Waterloo – 2014); Notre Dame’s Mike O’Leary (Dubuque – 2016) and Matt Hellickson (Sioux City – 2017); and Ohio State’s Mason Jobst (Muskegon – 2015) and John Wiitala (Waterloo – 2014)  In 2015-16, a trio of current Notre Dame players earned USHL awards, as Tory Dello (Tri-City) earned the USHL Curt Hammer Award; Cam Morrison (USHL Team) was named USHL Rookie of the Year; and Andrew Peeke (Green Bay) was tabbed the USHL Scholar-Athlete Award recipient …Two players helped their respective NAHL teams win regular-season titles, including Michigan’s Adam Winborg (Janesville – 2015) and Ohio State’s Wyatt Ege (Fairbanks – 2014) while Minnesota Duluth’s Billy Exel (Minnesota – 2015) joined Ege as Frozen Four players who helped their respective NAHL teams win the Robertson Cup, significant of the league’s playoff champion ... In 2015-16, Minnesota Duluth’s Hunter Shepard was named NAHL Goaltender of the Year … Notre Dame’s Luke Novak helped the Jersey Hitmen claim the 2016 USPHL Dineen Cup, significant of the league’s playoff champion … Three of the four Frozen Four Teams have an American-born player with developmental roots serving as a captain, including Michigan’s Tony Calderone (USHL/Sioux Falls), Minnesota Duluth’s Karson Kuhlman (USHL/Dubuque) and Ohio State’s Mason Jobst (USHL/Muskegon) … Two of the three 2018 Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists are American-born players with developmental roots in the U.S., including Harvard University’s Ryan Donato, who led the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team in scoring at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, and Northeastern University’s Adam Gaudette, who led the nation in scoring with 30 goals and 30 assists for 60 points in 38 games. The Hobey Baker Award will be announced Friday (April 6) and televised live on NHL Network at 6 p.m. ET.

STAFF NOTES: All four coaching staffs in the Frozen Four include individuals that have played or coached for U.S. national teams and USA Hockey-associated leagues … Ohio State University has three staff members with ties to USA Hockey and its junior leagues. Steve Miller, associate head coach, served as an assistant coach on the gold-medal winning 2017 U.S. National Junior Team before helping the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team to a bronze-medal on home ice in Buffalo, New York, this past January. In addition, JB Bittner, assistant coach, was as an assistant coach for the championship-winning 2016 U.S. Junior Select Team and spent three full seasons in the United States Hockey League, including one season as associate head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints (2016-17) and two seasons as an assistant coach with the Tri-City Storm (2013-15). Meanwhile, Layne LeBel, director of hockey operations, spent two seasons with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers (1999-01) … At the University of Michigan, head coach Mel Pearson served as an assistant coach for current University of Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson and the 1997 U.S. National Junior Team that earned a silver medal, its best-ever finish at that time. Additionally, Bill Muckalt, associate head coach, spent the last two seasons as general manager and head coach of the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League, leading the team to its first Clark Cup Championship in 2016 … Scott Sandelin, head coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth, is the only coach in the Frozen Four to have skated for the United States as he competed on U.S. squads that played in the 1989 Goodwill Games, the 1986 IIHF Men’s World Championship and the 1984 IIHF World Junior Championship. Additionally, Christian Koelling, director of hockey operations for Minnesota Duluth, is currently USA Hockey's Minnesota District Coach-in-Chief … The University of Notre Dame also has three staff members that have ties to U.S. national teams. Jeff Jackson, head coach at the University of Notre Dame, served as a head coach for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program from 1997-2000. He was also head coach for the silver-medal winning 1997 U.S. National Junior Team as well as an assistant coach for the 1998 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. Andy Slaggert, associate coach, was head coach of the championship-winning 2003 U.S. Under-18 Select Team and also served as head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team in 2004. In addition, Nick Siergiej, coordinator of hockey operations, served as video coordinator of the U.S. National Junior Team that claimed the bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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