( Photo credit: Harvard University )

By: Tim Dumas | Follow me on Twitter @TimDumas

The Stanley Cup playoffs don’t begin until Patriots Day, but three Boston Bruins draft choices have a shot at winning a championship before then. 

All three defensemen will play in the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament, which begins on Thursday and Friday at four locations: Manchester, N.H.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Fargo, N.D.; and Allentown, Penn. Two Bruins prospects will face off against each other in the opening round. 

When Harvard (24-7-2) plays Ohio State (20-15-3) on Friday in Bridgeport, Conn., at 2 p.m., a Bruins draftee will line up on either side. 

Harvard’s defensive corps includes a familiar name. Mason Langenbrunner is a 6-foot-3 freshman who has one goal this season for the Crimson. He was a fifth-round choice of the Bruins in 2020. 

His father, Jamie Langenbrunner, played 18 NHL seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with Dallas and 2003 with New Jersey when he led all players with 29 playoff points. He also captained the 2010 U.S. Olympic team and is currently in his eighth season with the Bruins, his first as Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel.

On the other side, Ohio State’s Mason Lohrei, who stands 6-foot-4, is second on the team with 26 assists and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season. Lohrei made the Big Ten All-Freshman team last year.  

( Photo courtesy: Ohio State University )

The Bruins took the sophomore in the second round (58th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft. 

He is considered one of the Bruins’ top defense prospects. 

“He’s going from a boy to a man. He carries himself just slightly differently now,” Jamie Langenbrunner told NHL.com last August. “I think watching him during the season, it’s just his poise with the puck, his ability to create and make plays. At 6-5 or whatever he is, to move like he does is pretty impressive.” 

Lohrei was named the United States Hockey League’s Defenseman of the Year in 2021 and has twice participated in Bruins’ development camp. 

The OSU-Harvard game will be broadcast on ESPNU. 

Hockey East champion Boston University (27-10) will play Western Michigan (23-14-1) on Thursday (2 p.m.) at SNHU Arena. The game is televised on ESPN2.

Ty Gallagher is a 6-foot sophomore for BU who has three goals and 18 assists. He is a +17 and is third on the team with 43 blocked shots. He had two shots on goal, and two blocked shots on Saturday night when the Terriers defeated Merrimack, 3-2 in overtime, for the Hockey East title at TD Garden. 

The seventh-round selection by the Bruins in 2021 was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team last season. Before playing for BU, Gallagher set the record for the National Team Development Program for goals by a defenseman (25) in his two seasons there. 

(Photo courtesy: Boston University)

The tournament’s top seed is Minnesota, which carries a 26-9-1 record into a Friday night (9) game against Canisius (20-18-3) on ESPN2. No. 2 seed Quinnipiac (30-4-3) plays Merrimack (23-13-1) in an all-New England matchup on Friday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNEWS. 

Defending champion Denver (30-9) will also play in Manchester against Cornell (20-10-2) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPNEWS) 

The NCAA Frozen Four will be played on April 6 and 8 in Tampa, Florida.