By PowerPlayCJ @powerplaywithcj on June 25, 2014
With Canadian Junior alumni making up the majority of the NHL it is easy to forget how many NHL players hit the books and the ice in the college hockey ranks. While it may not attract the numbers that NCAA Football or Basketball do, college hockey is immensely popular in certain parts of the country. The talent of the players is the biggest reason why so many fans tune in.
The Swedish sniper came on strong for the Detroit Red Wings this season, but earned his stripes as a Maine Black Bear. “Gus” is without question the best European to play college hockey in recent years.
The giant member of the Tampa Bay Lightning was a Black Bear for three seasons as he frustrated NCAA shooters the way he does NHL shooters today. Few goalies have the blend of size and athleticism that Bishop does and it was on full display during his tenure at Orono.
Before winning two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, the skilled forward suited up for the Vermont Catamounts. His time in the Green Mountains surely prepared him well as he is one of the league’s most underrated players.
The Sharks’ star really broke out this season playing on his second US Olympic Team and having a career high 41 goals and 79 points. Before suiting up for San Jose, Pavelski was a star for Mike Eaves’ Badgers, winning the 2006 NCAA championship.
The prototypical underdog, Martin St. Louis was actually a Cat-amount at the University of Vermont before becoming the superstar he is now. While he is best remembered for winning a Stanley Cup with the Lightning then forcing his way to New York to lead the Rangers to the Final, he was a winner in college too. St. Louis and former Vezina winner/fellow underdog Tim Thomas led UVM to the 1996 Frozen Four.
While Quick has become a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Los Angeles, he was a star in college at Umass-Amherst. His stellar play brought the Minutemen to new heights before he became a King in Hollywood.
Since joining the New York Rangers, Ryan McDonagh has established himself as one of the league’s elite defensemen. Before taking his talents to Broadway he honed his game in Madison, Wisconsin and was part of a Badgers team that went to the 2010 NCAA Championship Game.
Keith’s amount of Norris Trophies, Stanley Cups, and Olympic Gold Medals match his jersey number (2) and he is one of the league’s best defensemen. Before joining the Blackhawks Keith skated for the Spartans for a season and a half before leaving to become a member of the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL midway through his sophomore year.
“Phil the Thrill” arrived on campus at the University of Minnesota as a highly touted 17-year-old freshman. Kessel then proceeded to torch the NCAA’s best with 51 points in 38 games before leaving Don Lucia’s Gophers to join the Boston Bruins after being drafted as the 5th overall pick in 2006.
“Captain Serious” was 17-years-old during his entire freshman campaign at the University of North Dakota, but his age didn’t stop him from recording 39 points in 46 games for the Sioux. Toews would stay another year at Dakota before jumping to the Blackhawks where has become one of the best players in franchise history. Two Stanley Cups and two Olympic Gold Medals say all that needs to be said about #19.
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