Fitzgerald and Heinen lead Black and Gold wannabes into Frozen Four
Boston College junior and Bruins prospect Ryan Fitzgerald leads the Eagles with 46 points heading into this weekend’s Frozen Four. (Photo credit: John Quackenbos – Boston College)
TAMPA – Then there were two.
The 2016 NCAA Tournament featured 16 teams with 95 total current NHL draft picks. The Bruins led the league with nine before this weekend’s Frozen Four. Those prospects included two for Boston University (defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, two for Harvard (defenseman Wiley Sherman and forward Ryan Donato), one for Boston College (forward Ryan Fitzgerald), Denver (forward Danton Heinen), Northeastern (defenseman Matt Benning), Notre Dame (defenseman Anders Bjork) and Yale (defenseman Rob O’Gara).
Bruins GM Don Sweeney recently signed both Grzelcyk and O’Gara to entry-level contracts.
With BC and Denver moving onto the 2016 Frozen Four, only B’s picks Fitzgerald and Heinen will be center stage for college hockey’s premier weekend at the Lightning’s Amalie Arena. Quinnipiac goes up against BC in the first semifinal Thursday; Denver vs. North Dakota in the second. The winners play Saturday night on ESPN for the national title.
“It speaks highly of our prospects,” Sweeney told the Bruins’ official website about the college path to the NHL. “It’s exciting for guys to be playing at this time of the year, it speaks volumes of their team success and their individual success.”
No shortage of success for Heinen and Fitzgerald. Rumors have Heinen, a sophomore, leaving college after his last college game this week – for good reason.
At 6-1, 186, the Langley, British Columbia native – drafted 116th overall in 2014 by the Bruins — is among the NCAA leaders the second half of the season. Through 40 games, Heinen has 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists), good for 10th in the nation in scoring. He comes to Tampa after tearing up the West Regional with six points in those two games, a 7-2 Pioneers’ win over Boston University and a 6-3 win over Ferris State.
“He focused on results early and wasn’t doing the necessary work to get into the spaces to put himself in position to get success,” Denver coach Jim Montgomery said about his prized winger. “I think that’s been the biggest difference in the second half. He’s the complete player with the puck and his vision and ability to make plays because of his elite hands separates him from the average college player.”
Fitzgerald, at 5-10, 177, from nearby North Reading, Mass. is a junior and the son of former Bruin Tom Fitzgerald. Drafted at 120th overall in 2013, he heads up 12 total NHL picks playing for Jerry York’s Eagles. Tied for the Hockey East lead in goals and third in the conference in points, his overall 23-23-46 in 39 games ties him for 14th in the country. Fitzgerald posted a 1-1-2 in BC’s 4-1 win over Harvard and 3-2 over Minnesota-Duluth during the Northeast Regional.
York has a history of keeping mid-level picks for four years. Look for Fitzgerald to return to BC for his senior year.