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Storm alumni set to compete in Frozen Four

By Kendall Grayson, 04/06/22, 2:45PM PDT

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Eleven former Tri-City Storm players are set to compete for a collegiate national championship

KEARNEY, NE. – Eleven former Tri-City Storm players are set to compete for a collegiate national championship at the 2022 NCAA Frozen Four when the event gets underway tomorrow. The Frozen Four will be played at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, and is the culmination of the 2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey tournament. The sixteen-team tournament began on March 24th with thirty-one former Storm players competing for an NCAA National Championship. A complete list of Storm alumni in this year’s NCAA Frozen Four can be found below. The Denver Pioneers and Michigan Wolverines will play in the first National Semifinal matchup tomorrow at 4:00pm CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2. The Minnesota Golden Gophers and Minnesota State Mavericks will battle in the second National Semifinal game tomorrow at 7:30pm CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. The National Championship game will be held at 7:00pm CT on Saturday, April 9th, and will be broadcast on ESPN2. Player/staff biographies, and more information is also listed below. Official Tournament Bracket #StormAhead

 

2022 Frozen Four Teams and Storm Alumni

Denver Pioneers

#34 Carter Mazur (Forward, Freshman)

Michigan Wolverines

#6 Jack Summers (Defenseman, Senior)

#20 Keaton Pehrson (Defenseman, Junior)

#94 Mark Estapa (Forward, Freshman)

Bill Muckalt (Associate Head Coach)

Minnesota Golden Gophers

#6 Mike Koster (Defenseman, Sophomore)

#77 Rhett Pitlick (Forward, Freshman)

#89 Matthew Knies (Forward, Freshman)

Minnesota State Mavericks

#3 Jack McNeely (Defenseman, Senior)

#13 Brendan Furry (Forward, Junior)

#22 Steven Bellini (Defenseman, Freshman)

#27 Tony Malinowski (Defenseman, Sophomore)

 

Team and Alumni Information

 

Denver Pioneers (Denver, Colorado)

The Denver Pioneers returned to this year’s NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 after receiving an at-large bid to participate. This is Denver’s thirty-first tournament appearance in the school’s history. The Pioneers captured the NCAA National Championship in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 2004, 2005, and 2017. Denver was eliminated by the UMass Minutemen by a final score of 4-3 (OT) in the National Semifinal Round of the 2019 Frozen Four. Denver advanced to this year’s Frozen Four by notching wins over UMass Lowell and Minnesota Duluth in the West Regional at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado. This is Denver’s 18th Frozen Four appearance.

 

Carter Mazur, 19, of Jackson, Michigan, is currently in his freshman season with the Pioneers. He appeared in ninety-five games with the Storm from 2019-2021. He scored twenty-six goals and notched thirty-one assists during his Tri-City career. Mazur made his USHL debut during the 2018-2019 regular season as an affiliate list call-up. Mazur played his first game with Tri-City on November 10th, 2018, in the Storm’s 4-2 home win over the Sioux Falls Stampede. He netted his first career USHL goal on November 8th, 2019, in Tri-City’s 5-2 home win over the Des Moines Buccaneers. Mazer was selected to and participated in the 2021 BioSteel All-American Game. Mazur was selected as one of Tri-City’s Captains for the 2020-2021 season. He was also selected to and participated in the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship for the United States of America. Mazur was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s (NCHC) Rookie of the Year for the 2021-2022 season on March 17th, 2022. Mazur was selected 70th overall in the 3rd round of the 2021 NHL Draft by the Detroit Red Wings. He has appeared in thirty-nine games this season for the Pioneers and has scored fourteen goals. He has also recorded fourteen assists for Denver this year. Mazur was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s (NCHC) Freshman of the Year last month. He recorded an assist in Denver’s 3-2 win over UMass-Lowell in the Pioneers’ opening game of the tournament.

 

Michigan Wolverines (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

The Michigan Wolverines are seeking their first National Championship since 1998 at this year’s NCAA tournament. Michigan received an automatic bid into the tournament this year after capturing the BIG 10 Tournament Championship by a final score of 4-3 in a matchup against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, March 19th, 2022. The Wolverines won games over the American International College Yellow Jackets and Quinnipiac Bobcats at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania to advance to the Frozen Four. This is the seventh appearance in the Frozen Four for Michigan.

 

Jack Summers, 22, of Livonia, Michigan, is currently in his senior season with the Wolverines. Summers made his debut with the Storm during the 2016-2017 season and completed his USHL career with eighty-four games played. He scored his first career USHL goal on January 6th, 2017, in Tri-City’s 9-1 home win over the Des Moines Buccaneers at the Viaero Center. Summers scored one additional goal in his Storm career during the 2017-2018 season and finished his career with fourteen assists. He notched his first career collegiate goal on March 2nd, 2019, in Michigan’s 4-3 overtime loss to Wisconsin in the team’s final game of the regular season. He scored four goals and recorded six assists in thirty-six games played in the 2019-2020 season. Summers also blocked forty-nine shots and finished his sophomore season with a plus/minus rating of +7 and was also honored as an Academic All-Big Ten player. He received another Academic All-Big Ten honor during the 2020-2021 season, and netted the game-winning goal in Michigan’s 5-2 win over Minnesota on March 5th, 2021. Summers has skated in twenty-six games this season for Michigan and has recorded two assists.

 

Keaton Pehrson, 22, of Lakeville, Minnesota, is in his junior season with Michigan. He scored his first career USHL goal with the Storm on January 28th, 2018, in Tri-City’s 3-2 shootout victory on the road against the Omaha Lancers. Pehrson finished the 2017-2018 season with five goals and four assists. He netted a career-high eight goals and notched twenty-two assists during Tri-City’s 2018-2019 Anderson Cup Championship season. Pehrson appeared in all sixty-two regular season games, and in all six playoff games for the Storm that year. In total, Pehrson skated in one hundred and twenty career games with the Storm. He scored thirteen goals and recorded twenty-six assists. He scored his first career collegiate goal on February 7th,  2021 in Michigan’s 5-3 victory over Wisconsin. Pehrson has appeared in twenty-six games during the 2021-2022 season for the Wolverines. He has notched four assists this season. Pehrson skated in each of the Wolverines’ games at the Midwest Regional.

 

Mark Estapa, 20, of St. Clair, Michigan, is currently in his freshman season with the Wolverines. He appeared in ninety-one games with Tri-City from 2019-2021. He scored thirteen goals and notched twenty-three assists in his Storm career. Estapa made his USHL debut with the Storm on November 9th, 2018, in the team’s 1-0 road victory over the Omaha Lancers. He scored his first career USHL goal on December 27th, 2019, in the team’s 7-4 home win over the Sioux City Musketeers at the Viaero Center. The goal was featured on ESPN Sportscenter’s “Top 10 Plays” of the day. Estapa has appeared in thirty-three games during his freshman season with Michigan and has netted two goals. He has also recorded eight assists for the Wolverine’s offense. Estapa recorded an assist during Michigan’s 7-4 win over Quinnipiac in the Midwest Region Final.

 

Bill Muckalt, 47, of Surrey, British Columbia, is in his fifth season as Michigan’s Associate Head Coach, and was hired to the position in the summer of 2017. Muckalt was Tri-City’s Head Coach for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons. As the Head Coach of the Tri-City Storm, Muckalt helped the organization capture its first Clark Cup Championship in 2016. He finished his career with a record of 49-46-16-9 in 120 regular season games as Tri-City’s Head Coach. His 2015-2016 team amassed a streak of thirteen consecutive games without a regulation loss. The thirteen-game point streak for the Storm lasted from February 12th , 2016 to March 19th , 2016 and was the longest streak in organization history of recording at least one point in the standings in each game. This year’s Storm team tied the record on February 11th, 2022, after recording at least one point in the standings for thirteen consecutive games. Muckalt followed former Storm Head Coach Jim Hulton and preceded current Head Coach Anthony Noreen.

 

Minnesota Golden Gophers (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have advanced to the Frozen Four for the fourth time in school history (2005, 2013, 2014, 2022) after winning the Northeast Regional. The Golden Gophers received an at-large bid into the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Minnesota advanced to the Frozen Four in this year’s tournament after recording wins over the UMass Minutemen and the Western Michigan Broncos. The Golden Gophers downed the Minutemen in overtime by a final score of 4-3 and posted a 3-0 shutout victory over the Broncos to capture the regional title. Minnesota will be in search of a fifth national championship in school history at this year’s Frozen Four.

 

Mike Koster, 20, of Chaska, Minnesota, is currently in his sophomore season with the Golden Gophers. He appeared in seventy-three games for Tri-City from 2018-2020. He netted seven goals and recorded twenty-seven assists. Koster made his debut with the Storm during the 2017-2018 season and netted his first career USHL goal on March 18th, 2018, in Tri-City’s 5-2 road victory over the Chicago Steel. Koster was a member of Tri-City’s 2018-2019 Anderson Cup Championship team. He scored three goals and recorded nine assists last season with the Golden Gophers. Koster scored his first career collegiate goal on December 9th, 2020, in Minnesota’s 4-0 road victory over Michigan. He was named to the Big Ten’s All-Tournament team following the 2021 Big Ten tournament. He has skated in thirty-five games during the 2021-2022 season and has scored three goals. Koster has also provided the Golden Gophers’ offense with eleven assists this season. Koster was selected 146th overall in the 5th Round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He skated in each of the Golden Gophers’ games at the Northeast Regional at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.

 

Rhett Pitlick, 21, of Plymouth, Minnesota, is currently in his freshman season with the Golden Gophers. He appeared in twenty-six games with the Storm during the 2020-2021 season. He scored six goals and recorded fourteen assists. Pitlick completed his USHL career with Tri-City after beginning with the Omaha Lancers and Muskegon Lumberjacks. He made his USHL debut with the Omaha Lancers on March 1st, 2019, in the team’s 2-1 home victory over the Lincoln Stars. He scored his first career USHL goal in the same game. Pitlick has skated in twenty-nine career games with Minnesota, and has scored five goals. He has also provided the Golden Gophers’ offense with thirteen assists this season. He skated in each of the team’s games at the Northeast Regional at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. Pitlick notched an assist during Minnesota’s 4-3 overtime victory over UMass in the team’s opening game of the regional. Pitlick was selected 131st overall in the 5th Round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens.

 

Matthew Knies, 19, of Phoenix, Arizona, is currently in his freshman season at Minnesota. He appeared in ninety games with the Storm from 2018-2021. He skated in two games as an affiliate list call-up during Tri-City’s 2018-2019 Anderson Cup Championship season. Knies made his USHL debut on November 23rd, 2018, in the Storm’s 3-0 shutout victory over the Omaha Lancers at the Viaero Center. Knies was selected to and participated in the 2021 BioSteel All-American Game. He scored thirty-one goals and notched fifty-six assists during his Storm career. He competed in the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship prior to its cancellation in December of 2021. He also became one of the first two Olympians in Tri-City’s history when he represented the United States of America at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He has appeared in thirty-two games this season for the Golden Gophers. Knies has netted fourteen goals and recorded eighteen assists. He was the Storm’s highest-drafted player at the 2021 NHL Draft. He scored a goal in each of the Golden Gophers’ wins at the Northeast Regional. He also notched one assist in team’s 4-3 (OT) victory over the UMass Minutemen. Knies was selected 57th overall in the 2nd round of the 2021 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 

Minnesota State Mavericks (Mankato, Minnesota)

The Minnesota State Mavericks have the most former Storm players on any team in this year’s tournament with four on the active roster. The Mavericks also led all teams in the 2021 NCAA Tournament with four former Storm players on the roster. The Mavericks received an automatic bid into the tournament after capturing the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s (CCHA) Tournament Championship on March 19th, 2022. Minnesota State defeated the Bemidji State Beavers by a final score of 2-1 (OT) to win the event. This is Minnesota State’s first appearance in the Frozen Four in the school’s history. The Mavericks advanced to this year’s Frozen Four by capturing the East Regional title at the MVP Arena in Albany, New York. Minnesota State defeated the Harvard Crimson by a final score of 4-3, and also defeated Notre Dame by a final score of 1-0 to advance to the 2022 Frozen Four.

 

Jack McNeely, 25, of Lakeville, Minnesota, is in his senior season with the Mavericks and serves as one of the team’s Alternate Captains. McNeely wore the “C” as a Captain of the Tri-City Storm during the 2016-2017 season. He appeared in four games with Tri-City during the 2014-2015 season, fifty-nine games during the 2015-2016 season, and seventeen games during the 2016-2017 season. McNeely was a member of Tri-City’s 2015-2016 Clark Cup Championship team. He also appeared in thirty-eight games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks during the 2016-2017 season following his time with Tri-City. McNeely skated in one hundred and eighteen career USHL games. He scored one goal and recorded nineteen assists. His first career USHL goal was scored on December 30th, 2016, in Muskegon’s 3-1 home win over the United States National Team Development Program (NTDP/Team USA). McNeely has appeared in one hundred and seventy-two career NCAA games. He has scored eight goals and notched forty-three assists in his five-year career. He scored his first career collegiate goal on November 16th, 2018, in Minnesota State’s 7-1 victory over Ferris State. McNeely has appeared in forty games with the Mavericks this season. He has scored two goals and recorded fourteen assists. McNeely skated in each of Minnesota State’s two games at the East Regional.

 

Brendan Furry, 23, of Toledo, Ohio, is currently in his junior season with the Mavericks. Furry skated in thirty-six games with Tri-City during the Storm’s 2018-2019 Anderson Cup Championship season. He scored thirteen goals and recorded twenty-six assists. Furry also provided the Tri-City offense with four goals in six games played during the 2019 Clark Cup Playoffs. Prior to joining the Storm during the 2018-2019 regular season, Furry served as the Captain for the Omaha Lancers. Furry skated in one hundred and eleven USHL games in his career. He scored thirty-eight goals and notched fifty-nine assists. He netted his first two career goals in Omaha’s 5-1 road victory over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders on October 14th, 2017. He scored his first career collegiate goal on January 24th, 2021, in Minnesota State’s 4-1 win over Ferris State. Furry also scored a goal in four consecutive games for the Mavericks from February 19th, 2021, to February 27th, 2021. He has skated in forty-two games during the 2021-2022 season for Minnesota Mankato. He has scored twelve goals and notched thirty-one assists. Furry scored a goal in the team’s 4-3 victory over Harvard in the opening game of the tournament. He also recorded an assist on the game-winning goal in Minnesota State’s 1-0 shutout of Notre Dame in the final game of the East Regional.

 

Steven Bellini, 21, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is currently in his freshman season with the Mavericks. He appeared in twenty-nine career games with Tri-City during the 2021-2022 season. He recorded four assists in his Storm career. . Bellini made his USHL debut with the Storm on November 7th, 2020, in the team’s 5-1 road victory over the Sioux City Musketeers. He notched his first career point in the USHL on December 15th, 2020, in Tri-City’s 4-2 road loss to the Des Moines Buccaneers. He appeared in all three of the Storm’s postseason games during the 2021 Clark Cup Playoffs. Bellini has skated in eight games during the 2021-2022 season with Minnesota State.

 

Tony Malinowski, 22, of Clarkston, Michigan, is a junior at Minnesota State this season. Malinowski skated in six games with the Tri-City Storm during the 2017-2018 regular season. He recorded his only point with the team on an assist in the Storm’s Home Opener at the Viaero Center for the 2017-2018 season. His assist was notched on October 13th, 2017, in Tri-City’s 3-1 win over the Sioux City Musketeers. Malinowski also skated for the Des Moines Buccaneers during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. He appeared in eighty-eight career USHL games, scoring two goals and recording fifteen assists. His first career USHL goal was scored on April 13th, 2018, in Des Moines’ 6-3 road loss to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. His first career collegiate goal was scored on March 6th, 2021, in Minnesota State’s 3-2 win over Michigan Tech. He has skated in fifteen games this season for the Mavericks. Malinowski has recorded one assist for the Minnesota State offense this year.