NCAA tournament packed with BCHL graduates

The Penticton Vees have 23 former players suiting up as the NCAA's men's ice hockey championship tournament starts Friday.

The Penticton Vees can market themselves as the official BCHL supplier to the NCAA’s ice hockey championships, sending 23 grads to the year-end tournament.

As a league, the BCHL has 64 alums gunning for a Frozen Four title.

Action starts this weekend with eight first round games.

The top-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers are led by the Reilly brothers — Mike, Ryan and Connor — all ex-Vees.

They face the Robert Morris Colonials on Saturday.

Chilliwack native Mac Roy is listed on the Colonial roster, though he hasn’t played since late December.

Other ex-BCHLers on the Robert Morris roster include Chase Golightly (Prince George), Jeff Jones (Merritt), Scott Jacklin (Trail), Rob Mann (Penticton) and Jimmy Geerin (Burnaby Express).

Each of the 16 teams in the tournament has at least one BCHL grad. The Quinnipiac Bobcats have seven to lead the way, including Abbotsford native Devon Toews, a member of last year’s BCHL champion Surrey Eagles. The Bobcats also have the Jones twins, ex-Vernon Vipers Kellen and Connor.

2011-12 BCHL scoring champ Paul de Jersey skates for Quinnipiac’s first-round opponent, the Providence Friars.

The Providence roster also includes Brandon Tanev, an ex-Surrey Eagle and brother of Vancouver Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev.

2012-13 BCHL scoring champ Mario Puskarich has had a fantastic freshmen season with the Vermont Catamounts.

His team includes three members of the BCHL champion Eagles — Brady Shaw, Mike Stenerson and goalie Mike Santaguida.

Another ex-Eagle, Adam Tambellini, skates for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux alongside a quartet of ex-Vees — Mark MacMillan, Wade Murphy, Brendan O’Donnell and Troy Stecher.

North Dakota faces Wisconsin in the first round.

No Chilliwack Chiefs are on any of the rosters.

Get more info online at ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/icehockey-men/d1 and general info at uscho.com.

Get BCHL info at bchl.ca