No matter how Thursday night’s Frozen Four matchup between the University of Denver and Notre Dame shakes out, the Colorado Avalanche will have one prospect playing for a national championship this weekend.
Pioneers defenseman Will Butcher figures to log some major minutes, and will likely draw several shifts against the top line for the Fighting Irish. On that line is Cam Morrison.
Morrison was selected by the Avalanche in the second round (40th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. A freshman at Notre Dame, he has scored 11 goals and 23 points in 39 games this season. A hulking winger, he stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 212 pounds. A smart, two-way player, the 18-year-old power forward has gotten better as the season wore on. Morrison found the back of the net twice in his team’s win over UMass-Lowell in the Northeast Regional.
The captain of the Pioneers, Butcher is a Hobey Baker finalist. He was selected by the Avalanche in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. This season, the senior has scored seven goals and 36 points in 41 games, while also boasting an impressive plus-25 rating. The 22-year-old is a very smart two-way defender who excels at moving the puck out of the zone. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, he is giving up some size to Morrison.
Butcher has been to the Frozen Four before, he and the Pioneers lost to North Dakota during the national semifinals last year. Now, they have a chance for redemption.
After the season, Butcher will likely turn pro. Whether or not that is with the Avalanche is up in anybody’s guess. If the Avs do not sign hom by Aug. 15, he can become an unrestricted free agent.
Morrison will likely remain in South Bend next season. In fact, he is scheduled to be joined by another Avalanche prospect in Boulder native Nate Clurman. Clurman is currently playing for Culver Academy, a military prep school. He also skated in two contests for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm this season.
Puck drop between the Pioneers and the Fighting Irish is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT. The victor will move on to face the winner of the matchup between Minnesota-Duluth and Harvard in Saturday’s final.