There are some big time college hockey games this weekend, headlined by No. 6 Michigan hosting No. 9 Boston University in a *nice* top-ten battle in Ann Arbor. With the Blackhawks having as many college prospects as they do, we thought an off day on Friday would be a good time to look around and see how the kids are doing.
That isn’t the only matchup of ranked teams that will involve Blackhawks prospects this weekend, so let’s take a lap around the NCAA and see who’s playing where and how the Hawks’ prospects are doing so far.
Frank Nazar hasn’t skated yet for Michigan and Scott Powers of The Athletic reported on his podcast earlier this week that he’ll miss some time because of an unspecified injury. Nazar has dealt with shoulder issues in the past.
Aidan Thompson hasn’t skated yet for Denver, either. According to DU, that’s due to the lower-body injury he suffered during USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp in August; that injury may have cost Thompson a spot on the USA roster at the World Juniors. Denver, still the No. 1 team in the country, will play at No. 13 UMass tonight and tomorrow.
Wyatt Kaiser, Dominic James and No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth host Minnesota State this weekend. James, a sophomore the Blackhawks selected in the sixth-round this year, has one goal in two games. Kaiser has one assist and two blocked shots. He was selected in the third-round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Blackhawks and performed well with the US squad at the WJC.
Landon Slaggert and Ryder Rolston will lead No. 14 Notre Dame against Northern Michigan in their home opener tonight (game two is Sunday). The Irish started the season 0-1-1 in the Ice Breaker, losing to Denver and tying Air Force. In two games, Rolston leads Notre Dame with two goals and one assist. Slaggert has one helper thus far.
Drew Commesso and Ryan Greene won’t face Nazar in Ann Arbor this weekend, but the test Boston University faces won’t be easy. The Terriers won their first game of the season with Commesso allowing two goals against 24 shots. Greene leads BU with three points (two goals, one assist) and was credited with the game-winner.
Taige Harding, Connor Kelley and No. 15 Providence visit No. 7 Northeastern on Saturday for a one-game weekend. The Blackhawks selected both defensemen in the 2021 NHL Draft; Harding (third round) and Kelley (seventh round) didn’t start their college careers together, but Kelley transferred in from Minnesota-Duluth after one season. In two games to start their season, Harding has one goal and Kelley has three assists.
Dominic Basse is in his first season at No. 10 St. Cloud State after spending two seasons at Colorado College. He was a sixth-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2019 and his a large human (6-6, 185). Basse made 15 saves in a shutout of St. Thomas in his debut with St. Cloud. They’re playing at Wisconsin for the first time since 2013 this weekend, and Basse will likely start one of the two games (Friday or Saturday at the Kohl Center).
Jake Wise and No. 13 Ohio State travel to face No. 17 UConn (and top draft prospect Matthew Wood) tonight and tomorrow. In four games to start the season — all wins for the Buckeyes — Wise has two goals and one assist and has won 65.3 percent of his faceoffs (64 of 98). He’s taken 38 percent of Ohio State’s total faceoffs this season, so winning a big percentage has played a significant role in their hot start to the season. He’s a super senior (three years at Boston U. before transferring to Ohio State before last season) who was a third-round pick (No. 69 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2018.
Liam Gorman and Princeton don’t open their season until Oct. 29. The Blackhawks acquired his rights from Pittsburgh for a sixth-round pick during the 2022 NHL Draft.
Slava Demin and Merrimack are 1-1-0 and don’t play this weekend. The fifth-year defenseman hasn’t registered a point in two games to start the year; he’s playing for his third college program (three years at Denver, one at UMass-Amherst and now at Marrimack).
The Blackhawks acquired Demin’s rights in the deal that brought Malcolm Subban to Chicago in a Vegas salary dump; the Hawks also got the second-round pick that turned into Commesso in that deal. Chicago sent Martins Dzierkals to Vegas in that trade; ironically, the Blackhawks got him from Toronto in the trade that sent Robin Lehner to the Leafs. Almost three years later, Lehner is in Vegas (injured and paid), Subban is injured in the AHL with Buffalo, Dzierkals is still in Europe and the Blackhawks have high hopes for Commesso’s future.