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Red Wings Draftees Looking To End Lengthy Drought With Pioneers

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Shai Buium, Detroit Red Wings prospect
Denver Pioneers defenseman Shai Buium is among three Red Wings prospects playing for the NCAA title. (photo courtesy DenverPioneers.com)

The last time a Detroit Red Wings draft pick won an NCAA title, he played a hero’s role.

Trailing 1-0 to Boston College entering the third period, Justin Abdelkader took charge for the Michigan State Spartans. Abdelkader won a faceoff to set up Tim Kennedy’s tying goal. Then with 19 seconds left in regulation time, he scored the game winner in what would be a 3-1 MSU victory.

Abdelkader, selected 42nd overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft, would go on to play 739 games for the Red Wings between 2008-20.

None of left-winger Carter Mazur (70th overall, 2021) or defensemen Shai Buium (36th overall, 2021) or Antti Tuomisto (35th overall, 2019) factored on the scoresheet as the Denver Pioneers were recording a 3-2 overtime victory over the Michigan Wolverines in Thursday’s semifinal. Still, it was hard not to notice the impact that the pesky Mazur was making on the game.

NCAA Champions Among Red Wings Draft Picks

Player (Position) School (Year) Draft Year (Selection)
Dave Arundel (D) Wisconsin (1974) 1972 (150)
George Lyle (F)-x Michigan Tech (1975) 1973 (123)
John Taft (D)-x Wisconsin (1973, 1977) 1974 (81)
Reed Larson (D)-x Minnesota (1976) 1976 (22)
Rick Zombo (D)-x North Dakota (1982) 1981 (149)
Bill Shibicky (F) Michigan State (1986) 1984 (175)
Chris Luongo (D)-x Michigan State (1986) 1985 (92)
Ian Kidd (D)-y North Dakota (1987) 1986-s (25)
Mike LaMoine (D) North Dakota (1987) 1987-s (5)
Joe Murphy (F)-x Michigan State (1986) 1986 (1)
Brian McCormack (D) Harvard (1989) 1988 (166)
Gary Shuchuk (F)-x Wisconsin (1990) 1988-s (150)
Dallas Drake (F)-x Northern Michigan (1991) 1989 (116)
Joe Frederick (F) Northern Michigan (1991) 1989 (242)
John Hendry (F) Lake Superior State (1992) 1990 (234)
Jon Coleman (D) Boston (1995) 1993 (48)
Kevin Hilton (F) Michigan (1996) 1993 (74)
Justin Abdelkader (F)-x Michigan State (2007) 2005 (42)

s-Supplemental Draft
x-Played For Red Wings
y-Played in NHL

“I’ve heard from our management group that he’s had a real big year,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I’ve been able to see him a little bit. I saw him last summer at the world juniors. Then I watched him (Thursday).

“He was certainly one guy that was noticeable out there for sure by how hard he plays and it seems like he has a good skill set.”

Buium A Mobile Puck Mover

At 6-foot-3 at 220 pounds, Buium is a behemoth with silky mitts and high-end hockey IQ, who glides across ice and quickly transitions the puck from defense to offense.

“I was roommates with him in the summer, so I know a lot about him,” Mazur said of Buium. “The way he plays is spectacular for how big he is. He’s so mobile on the blueline. He is just a player that can change the game in any way really.

“He’s physical and uses his skating ability at 6-3, 220, which is kind of absurd to me. He’s just a good player overall and a great friend, someone that I can call one of my best friends for sure.”

Tuomisto A Defensive Dynamo

A big scorer in the Finnish junior ranks, Tuomisto has adjusted his game at Denver. He’s tasked with putting the clamps down on the other team’s top performers.

“He shuts it down defensively,” Mazur said. “He’s someone that’s always out there making the right play, a great player to have on our back end.”

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Off the ice, Tuomisto also is playing a key role, keeping the atmopshere light-hearted in the Pioneers dressing room.

“He’s a different kind of guy,” Mazur said. “He keeps it light. Being from Finland, it’s kind of different talking to him. He has that accent and everything but he’s also one of the key players for our team.

“He’s a sense of humor guy. He’s not really a big talker but when he’s talking, you’re usually laughing.”

Future Of Red Wings Looks Bright

Buium and Tuomisto are part of a deep crop of Detroit defensive prospects. There’s Donovan Sebrango and Jared McIsaac already in the pros with AHL Grand Rapids. Albert Johansson, Simon Edvinsson and William Wallinder are honing their skills in Sweden, while Eemil Viro plays in Finland.

Mazur is quickly emerging as a top forward prospect, an area where the cupboard isn’t nearly as well-stocked as it is on the back end.

NCAA Champions Who’ve Played For Red Wings

Player (Position) School (Year)
John MacMillan (F) Denver (1958, 1960)
Doug Volmar (F) Michigan State (1966)
Tom Miller (F) Denver (1968, 1969)
Dave Silk (F) Boston (1978)
Mike Ramsey (D) Minnesota (1979)
Bruce Eakin (F) Wisconsin (1981)
Chris Chelios (D) Wisconsin (1983)
Tim Friday (D) RPI (1985)
Adam Oates (F) RPI (1985)
Kevin Miller (F) Michigan State (1986)
Bob Essensa (G) Michigan State (1986)
Chris Tancill (F) Wisconsin (1988)
Josh Langfeld (F) Michigan (1998)
Doug Janik (D) Maine (1998)
Mike Commodore (D) North Dakota (2000)
Thomas Vanek (F) Minnesota (2003)
Jake Walman (D) Providence (2015)
Troy Stecher (D) North Dakota (2016)

“In due time all these guys have the opportunity to show what they are once they decide it’s the right time for them to turn pro,” Blashill said.

For the time being, they’re focused on bringing an NCAA title to Denver. The Pioneers face off with Minnesota State in the Frozen Four final on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

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