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WNY natives, Sabres prospects prepare for NCAA men's hockey tourney

Western New York natives are part of two of the top four teams as the NCAA Men's Division I hockey tournament brackets were announced on Sunday afternoon.

Alex Iafallo at Minnesota-Duluth and Sean Malone at Harvard will open up the final postseasons of their collegiate hockey careers as part of the top overall teams in the country.

Iafallo (Eden) is the leading scorer for the No. 2 Bulldogs, who will open the tournament against Ohio State in the West Regional in Fargo, N.D. Iafallo, who has 45 points on 18 goals and 27 assists, leads the least of undrafted college free agents of interest to NHL teams.

His Bulldogs will face Ohio State which includes Amherst native Christian Lampasso. The junior fourth-liner has one goal and four assists in 25 games for the Buckeyes this year.

Meanwhile Malone (West Seneca) and his Harvard team are the third seed and will face Providence in East Regional in Providence, R.I. Malone was a sixth-round draft choice by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013 and the senior leads the Crimson with 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists) in 33 games.

Malone will faceoff against another Sabres draft choice, senior defenseman Anthony Florentino who was a fifth-round pick in 2013. Florentino has a career-high nine goals and 16 points in 29 games for the Friars.

Notre Dame is matched up against the No. 4 overall seed, Minnesota, in the Northeast Regional in Manchester, N.H. Goalie Cal Petersen (Sabres fifth-round pick in 2013) has a .928 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against average while going 21-11-5 for the Irish this season.

Williamsville native Dennis Gilbert (drafted by Chicago in the third round in 2015) has 22 assists for the Irish from the blue line.

In the Midwest Regional, Union faces Penn State. East Amherst native Nick DeSimone has nine goals and 10 assists for Union while Buffalo native, Andrew Sturtz has 21 goals for the Nittany Lions.

Air Force won the Atlantic Hockey title and the Falcons will play Western Michigan in the East Regional. Derby native Kyle Mackey had nine points for Air Force this season.

The Frozen Four will be held in the Chicago's United Center with the semifinals on April 6 and the championship on April 8.

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