(Photo Credit: UM Photography, D.Marshke)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21

While the Boston Bruins slide closer towards the final stretch of the shortened NHL regular season and the eventual playoffs that follow, a few Bruins prospects have already indulged in the NCAA tournament. The Bruins have a handful of kids continuing to play with their college and build their development at a much more amateur level. Now, they’ll get a taste of their own playoff hockey. The tournament kicks off on Friday, March 26th.

#2-seeded Michigan, who went 15-10-1 this season, is set to face off against #3-seeded Minnesota-Duluth on Friday afternoon. This game will feature three of the Bruins prospects, but two who will actually be playing. John Beecher, a sophomore forward at Michigan, was drafted by the Bruins 30th overall in the 2019 draft but sustained a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery back in February. Before the surgery, Beecher had eight points in 16 games.

The other two players in this game that will be facing off against each other are Michigan forward Jack Becker, and Minnesota Duluth forward Quinn Olson, who are part of the Bruins prospects pipeline. Both will be looking to advance to the Fargo Regional Championship with a victory in this game. Becker was a seventh-round pick by the Bruins in the 2015 draft, and he collected nine points in 23 games with the Wolverines this season. Olson was a third-round pick for the Bruins in the 2019 draft, and he has collected 25 points through two seasons of his college career.

It’s a shame that Beecher suffered an injury as he did at a time. He is arguably the Bruins most anticipated and highly-regarded prospects of today, along with Providence Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman. Young guys like Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jack Ahcan already made their NHL debuts between the last two seasons. The left-handed forward showed flashes of brilliance at the Bruins training camp before this season, as did the others. It’ll be exciting to see him come back, hopefully in time to impress at training camps prior to the 2021-22 season.

As for other Bruins prospects on teams participating in the NCAA Div 1 Tournament, Trevor Kuntar of the Boston College Eagles is one to watch. Kuntar was drafted by the Bruins in the third round of last year’s draft, and in his freshman year at Boston College, he’s playing for one of the nation’s best college hockey teams. He collected five goals and eight points in 14 games with the Eagles this season. Coming into the tournament as the #1 seed for the Albany Region, Boston College is set to take on Notre Dame in the first round Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins have a lot to look forward to here. Not only is this an exciting time for college hockey athletes, but it’s a chance for the Bruins to see their prospects perform under the big stage and pressure of college hockey’s biggest prize at stake. The Bruins will be able to get a grand look at these guys competing at the NHL level, most likely at the beginning of next season when training camps begin, and it’s more than likely that a handful of them will find themselves with a spot on the Providence Bruins unless they opt to return to school.