NCAA Tournament Kicks Off Today, 3 Kings Prospects In Pursuit of National Title

Seasons are wrapping up across the hockey world. For the Kings, just 11 of the 82 regular season games remain before what hopes to be a playoff run toward Lord Stanley’s Cup.

As for the multiple Kings prospects, who one day hope to be making a Stanley Cup run in the silver, black and white threads, their postseasons are about to begin. The Division 1 NCAA Tournament is set to begin later today when three Kings-owned players begin their quest for a national championship in Tampa Bay come April 8th. On three legitimate national championship-contending teams, Alex Laferriere (Harvard University), newly acquired goalie prospect Erik Portillo (University of Michigan) and Jared Wright (Denver University) all have reason to believe a trophy could be in their future. ]

Alex Laferriere (Harvard University)
Drafted 2020 — 3rd round, 83rd overall
Harvard vs. Ohio State (Friday @ 11 AM on ESPNU)

It’s been a productive and head-turning junior year for the Kings third-round draft pick in 2020. Named to the Second Team All-ECAC, Laferriere enters the win-or-go-home tournament as the Harvard Crimson’s leading goalscorer and second leading point-getter. Laferriere posted a balanced 21 goals and 21 assists (21-21-42) in 33 games this season, good for the seventh most points-per-game (1.29) in all of college hockey this year. Laferriere helped Harvard to a runner-up finish in the ECAC Tournament and was tied for the tournament lead in scoring with six points (5-1-6) in the four games. Most notably, Laferriere netted the game’s only goal against Cornell in the ECAC semifinals with an overtime 1-0 win. Laferriere has won three ECAC Hockey Player of the Week awards this season.

Laferriere and the Harvard Crimson enter the NCAA Tournament as #7 seed out of 16 with a 24-7-2 record and will take on the 20-15-3 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Erik Portillo (University of Michigan)
Drafted 2019 — 3rd round, 67th overall via BUF
#3 Michigan vs. Colgate (Friday @ 5:30 PM on ESPNU)

The newly acquired Erik Portillo enters the NCAA Tournament with momentum by his side. Portillo, who was acquired by the Kings on March 1st for the a 2023 3rd round pick, is coming into the dance streaking. Portillo and the Michigan Wolverines have won four straight games, including defeating the #1 ranked team in the nation, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, in the BIG TEN Championship by a score of 4-3. Portillo has started all but three games for the Wolverines and holds a record of 23-10-2 with a .907 SV% and a 3.08 GAA. In his collegiate career, Portillo has put together a 58-21-3 record across three years and has held a save percentage above .900 in each season.

Portillo and the third-seeded Wolverines will take on a red-hot, unranked 19-15-5 Colgate team that has won five straight games and earned a bid into the NCAA Tournament by winning the ECAC Tournament Championship. The Wolverines currently hold the second-best odds to hoist the national championship trophy.

Jared Wright (University of Denver)
Drafted 2022 — 6th round, 169th overall
#4 Denver vs. Cornell (Thursday @ 2:30 PM on ESPNews)

Freshman Jared Wright enters the tournament with the top-seeded Denver Pioneers in the Manchester Region. The Pioneers have their eyes on a second consecutive championship and a record-breaking 10th National Championship (currently tied with Michigan, 9). As for Wright, the freshman from Minnesota notched 12 points (8-4-12) in 33 games. The 6’2”, 176 Lbs. right wing brings a combination of size and skill to the Pioneers and has carved out a bottom-six role this season as a first-year player. Wright returned from injury to particiate in the semifinals of his conference tournament and should be good to go for the big dance.

Wright and the Pioneers hold the #4 overall seed in tournament and will face off against Cornell University, who hold a record of 20-10-2. Cornell is 4-0-1 in their last five games. The Pioneers currently hold the fourth best odds to hoist the national championship trophy. Wright’s pursuit of a national championship begings in Manchester, New Hampshire, former home of the Kings American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs.

Photo via Denver Athletics

As noted yesterday, several Kings players will see their alma maters participate in the tournament. Jared Wright shares support from Trevor Moore and Todd McLellan, while Matt Roy and Pheonix Copley will be cheering on Michigan Tech and Blake Lizotte will be pulling for St. Cloud State. Several of those programs will kick off their tournaments this afternoon, while others get underway tomorrow. More on what the Kings said about their following of college hockey HERE, in yesterday’s practice report.

Full coverage of the NCAA Tournament is available on ESPN+, as well as the ESPN family of networks. A full game listing is available HERE.

More to follow this afternoon, Insiders!

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