By Larry Snyder
Four arenas across this country are coming to life with the sound of college sports. However, it is not the squeaking of sneakers on the hardwood court. The other sounds of March Madness come from sticks, pucks, and skates.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have six players on six different teams spread across the 16-team tournament. We start with Cornell Big Red sophomore Anthony Angello, a forward selected by the Pens in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-5, 206-pound center contributed 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points over 34 contests in 2016-2017.
Dane Birks, who came to the Penguins in 2013 in the sixth round, is a sophomore defenseman for Michigan Tech. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound member of the blue line crew recorded two goals and seven assists for nine points in 41 meetings this season for the Huskies.
Nikita Pavlychev is a freshman forward for the Penn State Nittany Lions, taken in the seventh round by Pittsburgh in 2015. The 6-foot-7, 212-pound center from Yaroslavl, Russia put up four goals and seven assists for a total of 11 points in 34 games of his first college season.
Another freshman, Kasper Björkqvist, plays for the Providence College Friars. Pittsburgh chose the 6-foot-1, 198-pound forward from Espoo, Finland in 2016’s second round of the draft. Over the course of 29 contests, he added three goals and six assists for nine points to box score.
Jeff Taylor is a senior defenseman for the Union College Dutchmen. The Pens claimed the 6-foot, 185-pound blue line crew member in the seventh round in 2014. He played in 36 matchups in his last campaign and had 32 points on nine goals and 23 assists.
We wrap up with junior Frederik Tiffels of the Western Michigan University Broncos. The Black and Gold tabbed the 6-foot-1, 206-pound left wing in 2015’s sixth round. The native of Cologne, Germany saw action in 36 games in 2016-2017 and provided seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points.
Joining the Black and Gold with half a dozen players in the tournament are the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. The only team with more are the Chicago Black Hawks with seven players in the field.
Here is how all four regions of the hockey Sweet 16 roll out this weekend (All Times EDT):
West Regional – Fri. March 24 and Sat. March 25 at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota
(1) Minnesota-Duluth (25-6-7) Vs. (4) Ohio State (21-11-6) at 3:00 p.m.
(2) Boston University (23-11-3) Vs. (3) North Dakota (21-15-3) at 6:30 p.m.
East Regional – Fri. March 24 and Sat. March 25 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island
(1) Harvard (26-5-2) Vs. (4) Providence (22-11-5) at 4:00 p.m.
(2) Western Michigan (22-12-5) Vs. (3) Air Force (26-9-5) at 7:30 p.m.
Midwest Regional – Sat. March 25 and Sun. March 26 at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio
(1) Denver (29-7-4) Vs. (4) Michigan Tech (23-14-7) at 1:00 p.m.
(2) Union (N.Y.) (25-9-3) Vs. (3) Penn State (24-11-2) at 4:30 p.m.
Northeast Regional – Sat. March 25 and Sun. March 26 at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire
(2) UMass-Lowell (26-10-3) Vs. (3) Cornell (21-8-5) at Noon
(1) Minnesota (23-11-3) Vs. (4) Notre Dame (21-11-5) at 3:30 p.m.
From The Clipboard: The 2017 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four achieves a milestone as the 70th annual NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The event visits the United Center in Chicago, Illinois for the first time. Fans can check out the National Semifinals Thursday, April 6 at 6 p.m. ET and 9:30 p.m. ET The National Championship is Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET.
The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks is the defending National Champion with their 5-1 victory Saturday, April 9, 2016, against the Quinnipiac University Bobcats. Last season’s Frozen Four was at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.