NCAA skaters ready to make NHL impact

Updated: May 23, 2012, 4:41 PM ET
By Craig Custance

Somewhere between his six-hour personal communication class and job helping his Uncle Scott in a hockey shooting clinic, Nick Bjugstad finds time to watch NHL playoff hockey. He heads to the home of a group of University of Minnesota hockey teammates, located in Dinkytown, Minn., a community on the north side of campus.

Nine Gophers hockey players live in that house, but the crowd grows bigger as they watch the New York Rangers and Chris Kreider make their postseason run. Kreider's amazing attempt to try to win an NCAA national championship and a Stanley Cup in the same spring has been one of the most surprising stories during the NHL's playoffs. Kreider has five goals in 16 games and the Rangers probably aren't still playing if he didn't join the team after leading Boston College to the NCAA title.

For the guys who just played him in the Frozen Four, it's even more remarkable. Bjugstad and his teammates lost to BC and Kreider in early April, and now it's a bit surreal watching him skate against the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise during this playoff run.

"We all watch it and go, 'Wow, we played that kid a couple months ago and now he's playing for the Rangers,'" Bjugstad said during a phone conversation Tuesday.