An important piece of the Philadelphia Flyers’ future will be on display early Thursday evening in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals.
Hello, Bobby Brink.
Brink, a diminutive right winger who leads the nation with 56 points this season, and his University of Denver teammates will have a difficult task as they face tournament-favorite Michigan in Boston’s TD Garden at 5 p.m.
In Thursday’s other national semifinal at 8:30 p.m., Minnesota meets Minnesota State. Minnesota features center Ben Meyers, a college free agent who is on the Philadelphia Flyers’ radar.
The first game will be televised on ESPN2, while the nightcap will be shown on ESPNU. The winners meet in Saturday’s 8 p.m. title game (ESPN2).
Minnesota’s lineup also includes 6-foot, 205-pound winger Bryce Brodzinski (12 goals, 13 assists in 38 games), a junior who was drafted by the Flyers in the seventh round (196th overall) in 2019 and has progressed nicely. In high school, he was won the Mr. Hockey Award as Minnesota’s top player.
Players can sign once their college season ends.
Michigan is loaded as it features four of the five players drafted in 2021: defenseman Owen Power (Buffalo), forward Matty Beniers (Seattle), defenseman Luke Hughes (New Jersey), and forward Kent Johnson (Columbus).
But Denver, sparked by the 5-foot-9, 166-pound Brink, is a formidable opponent. It led the nation by averaging 4.3 goals per game this season. The top line of Brink, center Cole Guttman (Tampa Bay draftee) and left winger Carter Savoie (Edmonton) provide lots of firepower.
The Pioneers also feature defenseman Mike Benning (Florida), who has 14 goals and 34 points.
Brink (14 goals, 42 assists), a junior who was selected by the Flyers in the second round (34th overall) of the 2019 draft, is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. The award is given to the nation’s top collegiate player.
There were some questions about Brink’s skating ability when he was drafted. Not anymore.
“He’s actually got some deceptive speed,” said Brent Flahr, a Flyers assistant general manager. “He’s strong on his skates and really slippery. His best asset, aside from his skills, is his hockey sense and his ability to find small (open) areas.”
As for Minnesota, the Gophers have great speed and experience throughout the lineup, and they are led by Meyers (41 points in 33 games), left winger Matthew Knies (Toronto), and defenseman Brock Faber (Los Angeles).