Quartet of Panthers among this year's Frozen Four

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Eight Panther prospects entered, only four remain in the NCAA's version of the Thunderdome.

Florida Panthers prospects Kyle Rau, Rocco Grimaldi, Michael Matheson and Ian McCoshen are all on the cusp of NCAA glory, as this year's Frozen Four will get underway Thursday, April 10th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Championship game will be played Saturday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m. You can watch the final on ESPN.

In the first semifinal Matheson, McCoshen and the rest of the Boston College Eagles will take on feisty Union at 5 p.m. Rau's favored Minnesota Golden Gophers will take on Grimaldi's North Dakota Fighting Sioux at 8:30 p.m.Both games will be broadcast on ESPN2.

With the way the schedule is set up, the Panthers will have either one or three players participating in Sunday's final. Pretty exciting stuff for the organization and for us fans.

It will be interesting to see if any of the prospects are ready to turn pro after the tournament. My opinion is that all of them, especially McCoshen, who is just a freshman, would be better served by returning for another year at the collegiate level, although Rau and Grimaldi may be ready to step up to the American League. As smaller-sized players, another year of physical maturation may benefit those two before they advance.

Vermont's Connor Brickley signed an ATO with San Antonio after the Catamounts were eliminated last week by the Dutchmen. He collected an assist in his first AHL game, a 5-3 Rampage loss to the Lake Erie Monsters, on Tuesday.

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