The Colorado Avalanche, the worst team in the NHL just five years ago, dethroned the two-time champion Tampa Bay Lightning this summer to claim the Stanley Cup.
And players with roots in New England colleges helped lead the way for the Avalanche, particularly Cale Makar (Massachusetts), Devon Toews (Quinnipiac), Josh Manson (Northeastern) and Alex Newhook (Boston College).
Makar was the driving force behind Colorado’s championship. He led all blueliners during the NHL postseason with eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points, including seven points in the final, which also helped him earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. That came on the heels of his claiming the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman — all at age 23.
"Having Cale at UMass for two years was so enjoyable for everyone in our program and our university," said UMass head coach Greg Carvel. "Watching him instantly succeed at the highest level of the sport has been equally pleasing, yet not the least bit surprising.”