Chicago Blackhawks Prospects Help Teams Advance To Semifinals In Big Ten Tournament

Minnesota and Michigan took down Penn State and Notre Dame, respectively, and were able to move on to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament thanks to the help of a few Blackhawks' prospects.

Minnesota v Michigan State
Minnesota v Michigan State / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages
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While some college hockey teams were wrapping up their regular season over the weekend, the Big Ten opened up postseason play with the start of the best-of-three quarterfinal series for the Big Ten Tournament.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, where they hosted the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Gophers saw a lot of success against the Nittany Lions this year, where they posted a 3-1 record against their divisional foe during the regular season.

Success continued to follow Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament, as they were able to sweep Penn State by a final of 5-1 on Friday night and 3-2 on Saturday night.

Blackhawks' prospects Sam Rinzel and Oliver Moore both contributed to the wins during the weekend.

On Friday night, Rinzel opened the scoring for the Gophers in the first period with a rocket of a shot for his second goal of the season. Although it was an unassisted goal, Moore did a great job of fighting through two Penn State defenders on the play to help the Gophers maintain possession and giving Rinzel a chance to score.

Rinzel's play has been a positive development for both the Gophers and the Blackhawks this year, as the freshman defenseman has come on strong to finish the year. Since Jan. 8, Rinzel has tallied one goal and 15 assists in 16 games.

In 35 games this season, Rinzel has 27 points on two goals and 25 assists. He currently ranks fifth on the Gophers in points, and leads the team in assists and plus/minus with a +24 this year. Moore isn't far behind with 24 assists, which is second on the team.

Speaking of assists, Moore picked up one in Minnesota's 3-2 win on Saturday night. It came in the first period on the power play when Moore found an open Luke Mittelstadt, who then fired a great pass across the way to Jaxon Nelson and Nelson buried it, giving the Gophers a 2-0 lead early on.

Moore's play has also been a bright spot for Minnesota this year, as the freshman has 33 points on nine goals and 24 assists in 35 games. Moore ranks second on the Gophers in both points and assists.

After sweeping Penn State to open Big Ten Tournament play, Minnesota will await their next opponent who is yet to be determined. They will either hit the road to face Wisconsin or they will host Michigan in the single elimination semifinals on March 16-17.