Seven former Wings eye Frozen Four

Mar 24, 2022

Seven players who donned the Wings sweater over the past eleven seasons are playing for their respective teams in the NCAA men’s college hockey tournament, which will conclude with the Frozen Four on April 7 and 9 at TD Garden in Boston, MA.

According to ESPN, regional play begins March 24 and 25, with regional finals scheduled for March 26 and 27. All games will be broadcast on ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNews and will be available for streaming on the ESPN app.

Up first on Thursday, March 24 is No. 1 Minnesota State versus No. 4 Harvard, happening at 11 a.m. CST in Albany, NY and broadcast on ESPNU. Fans can cheer on Andy Caroll (2016-17) and Nathan Smith (2016-17), who both play for Minnesota State.

Since joining the Mavericks in the 2018-19 season, Caroll has appeared in 127 games. The defenseman has nine goals and 30 assists on his collegiate score card. He had six goals and 34 assists in 55 games played as a Wing.

Smith only appeared in four games as a Wing, scoring a goal and adding an assist. At the collegiate level, he’s appeared in 97 games in three years with Minnesota, notching 36 goals and 65 assists. The forward was also selected to represent Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics, where he had a goal and an assist in four games.

If they advance, their regional final will be held on March 26.

Also on Thursday, March 24, No. 2 Minnesota Duluth will face No. 3 Michigan Tech at 2 p.m. CST in Loveland, CO. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Former Wings defenseman¬†Trevor Russell (2019-2021) spent two seasons in Aberdeen before heading to Michigan Tech. In his 105 games as a Wing, Russell notched one goal and 42 assists, plus had a goal and six assists during the Wings’ 2020-21 playoff run. Russell has appeared in 17 games so far this season as a Huskie.

Also on Thursday in Loveland, CO, No. 1 Denver will play No. 4 UMass-Lowell at 8 p.m. CST with the game broadcasted on ESPNU. Fans can watch former Wings goaltender Henry Welsch (2018-20), currently in his second season with UMass-Lowell.

Welsch appeared in two games in his inaugural season in Aberdeen, and 32 games in his second year, overall ending with a 23-6-4 record. In his two seasons at UMass-Lowell, Welsch has appeared in 18 games, holding a 7-9-1 record.

The regional final will happen on March 26.

The final game to watch features a team that has three former Wings on its roster. On Friday, March 25, No. 2 Quinnipiac will face No. 3 St. Cloud State at 7 p.m. CST in Allentown, PA, with the game broadcast on ESPNews.

St. Cloud State is the current home of Kevin Fitzgerald (2015-17), Joe Molenaar (2017-18) and Thomas Rocco (2018-19).

Fitzgerald played two seasons in Aberdeen. The forward recorded 37 goals and 47 assists in 111 games played as a Wing. Since joining the Huskies in 2017, he has appeared in 162 games over five seasons, racking up 46 goals and adding 56 assists. He’s also worn the “A” on his sweater for the past two seasons.

Molenaar was a late edition to the Wings’ roster and appeared in eight regular season games and five playoff games, grabbing a goal in the process. After two seasons in the USHL, he has appeared in 45 games in two seasons at St. Cloud, grabbing six goals and six assists.

Rocco played in 56 games during the 2018-19 national championship season, scoring 13 goals and adding 29 assists in the regular season, plus a goal and eight assists during the playoff run. In three seasons at St. Cloud State, Rocco has played in 24 games and has two collegiate assists.

The regional final takes place on March 27.

The national semifinals for the Frozen Four will take place at TD Garden in Boston on April 7 at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., CST and will be broadcast on ESPN2. The National Championship game is slated for April 9 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.