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July News

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Top Select 16 Festival Defensemen
 
Minnkota's Andrew Downing, 6-0/170, is about as complete a 16-year-old defenseman as has come along in a while. He carries the puck end-to-end almost at will, and takes care of matters defensively, too. If  there had been a Festival MVP, he'd have won it. He's from Grand Rapids High School. This fall, he's moving up to the National Program.
 
Atl./S.E.'s Arthur Femenella, 6-4/199, is a large, rangy right-shot D from Annandale, N.J. He's a smooth skater with a long stride. Development-wise, he's behind a number of  players rated below him, but he's smart, and learns quickly. Enormous upside. This fall: The National Program.
 
Jared Newman, 6-1½/192, is a right-shot D who'll be moving up to major junior (Plymouth) from the Compuware Ambassadors. He has size, skates well, and can handle the puck. He'll take off occasionally, but basically stops at the blue line.
 
Central's Neil Komadoski, 6-0½/195, is a hard-nosed left-shot D from the St. Louis area (his dad played for the Blues) who played for the Toronto Young Nats midget program last season and is moving on to the National Program this fall. Has what it takes to be a team leader. His hits are solid.
 
New York left-shot D Matt Maglione, 6-0/170, had a stellar week. Not only was he the top-scoring defenseman in the tournament, but most of his points were biggies -- for example,  the last-minute goal vs Michigan that sent the game into overtime. He's a strong skater, with excellent agility and balance. His puckhandling skills allow him to dictate the play. Will be returning to the Syracuse Jr. Crunch. 
 
Central's Brett Lebda, 5-9/175, left shot, played last season for the Team Illinois Midgets. He's a highly-mobile offensive-type who carries the puck extremely well. Will be moving on to the National Program this fall.
Pacific's Joey Hope, 5-11/160, is, like Lebda, highly mobile and good with the puck. He, too, will be going on to the National Program -- but as a forward.
 
Minnkota's Joey Schuman, 5-11/173,  is a left-shot D out of  Bloomington-Jefferson who's agile, quick, and extremely athletic.
 
Ryan Lannon, 6-0/186, left-shot, is a heady defenseman with excellent passing skills. He's from Massachusetts, has played for St. Sebastian's and St. Paul's, and is now moving up to the National Program.
 
N.Y.'s Michael Komisarek, is big -- 6-3/236 -- and mean. Loves to hit. Has improved his skating and overall game over the last year. Could be ready to take his game to a higher level. Raw now, but the potential is there. Played for the Suffolk PAL Midgets last year, and will be moving on to the New England Jr. Coyotes this year.
 
Atl./S.E. right-shot D Matt Junkins, 5-11/205, is a stocky, bruising defenseman from Central Pennsylvania who further developed his game with the St. Thomas Stars of the Western Ontario Jr. B League. Will be going to the National Program in the fall.
 
Mid-Am's Mike Nagai, 5-9½/168, is an extremely quick, mobile D with a good, low, hard shot. He's a dual citizen from Ontario who played last season with the Mississauga Bantams. He's the son of Nick Nagai, who played at Bowling Green in the 70's.
  
Minnkota's Tony Tomaino, 5-8/155, is a left-shot D out of Duluth. He's quick, skilled, and sees the ice well.
 
Jon Hedberg, 5-11/214, is a stocky, physical defenseman from Duluth East who can skate with the puck -- and fire it.
 
Others who played well (or showed promise) included:
Jim McNamara, 6-0/152, (Michigan); Greg Poupard, 6-0/161, (Michigan); Connor Phippen, 6-0/140; (Rocky Mt.); Keith Ballard, 5-9/178, (Minnkota); Joe Campbell, 6-3/164, (Central); Mark Blatterfein, 6-1/207, (Atl./S.E.); Noah Welch, 6-2/174, (Mass.); Jim Hakewill, 6-1½/188, (Central); Chad Gromek, 5-10/231, (Rocky Mt.); Nick Marean, 5-11/200, (Central); Landon Bathe, 5-10½/192, (Pacific); and Jonathan Koop, 6-1½/195, (Rocky Mt.).
Top Select 16 Festival Goaltenders
 
Rocky Mountain's Nick Pannoni, 5-10/147, started the tournament with a complete-game shutout of Atlantic/S.E., then two days later held Central to one goal. On Thursday, after being asked to join the National Program in the morning (he accepted), Pannoni went out and gave up six first-half goals to Pacific. Pannoni is from the tiny town of Babb, Montana. In order to play hockey, he's been spending the school year across the border in Lethbridge, Alberta ever since he was ten.
 
Mark Spadaccini, 5-10/191, from Canton, N.Y., was named to the All-Tournament team because of his major role in getting New York to the gold medal game. In 139  minutes, Spadaccini stopped 45 of 50 shots, and posted a 1.65 GAA.
 
Pacific's Matt Hanson, 5-7/180, is actually from Peabody, Mass. and the St. Paul's School.
In 92 minutes of play, he kicked out 50 shots for a festival-leading .926 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA.
 
Jeff Ronkoske, 5-8/142, came up big for Central. In 115 minutes, he kicked out 48 shots and posted a 1.60 GAA.
 
Other goaltenders who impressed included:
Chris Elliott, 5-5½/144, (Mid-Am);  Nick Niedert, 5-6½/150, (Central); Bo Christini, 5-7½/177 (Atlantic/S.E.). 
 

It's Not Yesterday Anymore

When Massachusetts and New England met last Thursday at the 16 Festival's ninth-place game, it was a match of two teams that had both failed to win even a single game in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
 
It wasn't pretty, either.
 
At the between-halves break, we half-facetiously asked one observer, a Division I head coach, how he was enjoying the game. "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes," he said.

"That was a baaaad game," one of the participating coaches said afterward. "It really came down to which team was going to make the last mistake."

New England made a defensive mistake in the last minute of the game, allowing Massachusetts to escape Ann Arbor with one win.

In the tournament, Massachusetts scored 13 goals; New England, 15. Several teams had at least twice that many. Massachusetts' defense allowed 23 goals; New England gave up a tournament-worst 25 goals. .

The gold-medal winning team at the 16 Festival was Minnkota. They played Mass. in the tournament's first game, scored 19 seconds in, led 7-0 at the break, and coasted to a 7-2 win.

After travelling the country last winter scouting young players, I knew that Massachusetts and New England were both weak at the '82 level. But it's still pretty startling to see the results on ice. I am among a number of observers who believe that only one player on the Massachusetts team could make the Minnkota team. That would be defenseman Ryan Lannon. .

This week at the 17's in St. Cloud, the dominant team has been, once again, Minnkota. They are 3-0 and have scored 23 goals while allowing only four. Luckily for New England and  Massachusetts, neither will have to face them in the round-robin portion of the tournament. New England is 2-0 thus far, but has only played Mass and Mid-Am, both sub-.500 teams. New England is getting big contributions from their name players: Brett Nowak, Todd Jackson, Jon DiSalvatore, and Freddy Meyer. Tonight, however, they play Michigan, a tough defensive team. Massachusetts is 1-2 so far and has a solid group of defensemen in Kevin Truelson, Steven Wood, P.J. Martin, Ken Smith, and Brett Peterson. With Rick DiPietro and Ryan MacNeil, they're strong in goal. Up front, however, they're extremely thin, once again possessing only one or two forwards who could crack Minnkota's lineup. Even so, they should have an easy time of it tonight with a dreadful Mid-Am team.

If they should stumble, though, they could wind up playing in the seventh or ninth-place game again. In some regions, that might be acceptable. For a hockey hotbed like Massachusetts, it's a pretty bad sign. Two years ago, when this group of 17's was two years younger, they came out to the 15 Festival here in St. Cloud and went home with a Gold Medal. What has happened in the two years since then? Why is the skill level of Minnesota's 16 and 17 year olds so vastly superior to Massachusetts'?  Why, as a group, have the Mass kids been unable to move forward in their development? Who, or what, is holding them back -- and why?

One thing I'm sure of is this: It's not the youth coaches, because the stall-out occurs at age 15 and afterwards.

Next week, the 15 Festival gets underway in Ann Arbor.  Massachusetts, boasting Ryan Whitney, Brian McConnell, Andrew Jewett, et al -- should do pretty well. It's the years after that are worrisome. Will other regions catch up to, then pass them?

If  what I've seen over the last 12 days is any indication, the answer is yes. And, as a native of the Bay State, I believe there are only two responses. We can stick our heads in the sand and say it's cyclical, just a temporary downturn. Or we can start asking if perhaps there are ways we can better aid the development of our young players. Right now, we're just not developing many high-skill players in the Bay State. And here's a good reference point: of the 82's entering the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, seven are from Minnesota, and only one (Lannon) is from Massachusetts. And higher-ups in Massachusetts hockey made a serious effort to discourage him from going!

Once -- and this was a little while back now -- I used to say that Mass players could make up in grit what they lack in skill, but that assumed a certain level of skill to begin with, a baseline. Now, I question the validity of  that assumption.   Because of  the huge population base in Eastern Massacusetts, there will always be great players coming out of the region. But it's a mistake to point to a top player -- Tom Poti, for example -- as an example of  Massachusetts' hockey health. Tom Poti would be just as great if he were from, say, Ohio. He's just flat-out got it.

A much better way to look at a region's hockey health is it's depth of talent. I'm talking about your normal, everyday athletes, players who owe much of their success to good coaches and strong programs. These are the third and fourth liners, and seventh defensemen. They're vitally important, and need to be nurtured. Equally important is having a large pool of good players pushing them from below, and so on right down the line.

Minnesota has that --  Massachusetts and New England don't.  It's been suggested out here that the 9th and 10th place finishes of the latter indicate that it's time the two regions merge, and thus allow room in the Festival for a part of the country where hockey is on the ascent to field their own team.

As a Massachusetts native, that's painful to consider. But if changes aren't made, it could happen. 

Lakeville or Bust?

It appears that the Nowak family has finally made a decision on their son Brett's plans for next season.  He will return for his senior year at Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. for the bulk of the year, rather than skate for the U.S. Under-18 team in Ann Arbor, Mich.  He will, however, join the U.S. team for the International Under-18 Tournament in Europe in April. 

The family can now turn their energy towards Brett's college decision.   There's no shortage of suitors for Nowak, who is one of the most sought after recruits in the country.  The physical centerman from New Haven, Conn. will choose from among Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, Michigan, and Yale.  Harvard and Michigan are the early leaders for his services.      

The 16 Forwards

The biggest obstacle to scouting the 1998 Select 16 Festival was the officiating. The referees and linesmen, like the players, were being evaluated. As a consequence, the games were called pretty much by the book. Several games turned on marginal penalty calls at key times, and there were a large number of 5-on-3's. In a number of games, less than half the contest -- sometimes significantly less -- was played at even strength. The only reason we're mentioning this -- actually, we're complaining -- is because even-strength situations are preferable for scouting purposes.
 
Anyway, now that that's out of the way,  let's look at the players. We'll start with the forwards.
Michigan LW Kris Vernarsky, 6-2/180, who last year was the only '82 in the National Program, is going to the OHL (Plymouth) this fall. Last week, Vernarsky coasted at times, but when the game was on the line, he scored key goals.
 
Mid-Am's R.J. Umberger, 6-0/174, is a superb center from the Pittsburgh Hornets who wins draws regularly, reads plays beautifully, and uses his size effectively. He's heading to the National Program this fall.
 
Central's David Steckel, 6-3½/175, is lanky and awkward, but when he fills out could be a force. He's smart, with tremendous reach and a head for the game. A Wisconsin native, he played last year with the Pettit Select Midgets. This fall: National Program.
 
Center Rob Globke, 6-1/181, a Compuware kid, has size and soft hands.
 
Pacific center Jeremy Jackson, 5-8½/155, put on an eye-popping offensive show, freezing goalies left and right. Finished with eight goals (two of which were shorthanded). An L.A. kid, Jackson is the flashiest west coast prospect since Scott Gomez.  This fall: National Program.
 
New England RW Brady Leisenring, 5-10/172, is an explosive skater with strength and balance. Plays hard and has a nose for the net.  This fall: National Program.
Minnkota center Quinn Fylling, 5-9/159, is a hard-skating, hard-working, high-skill forward from Minot, North Dakota HS who's going to the National Program. Didn't have the big numbers last week, but made things happen.
 
Minnkota's Jon Waibel, 5-10/168, is a center from Lake of the Woods HS who was playing RW last week. Smooth-skater with excellent offensive skills. This fall: National Program.
 
Minnkota LW Cole Bassett, 5-10/164, played on the same line as Fylling. Fast, has a nose for the net. Played for Hill-Murray HS.  This fall: National Program.
 
LW Bryan Perez, 6-0½/189, is a Minnesota kid (Blaine HS)who was playing as an at-large player with Rocky Mountain. He's a power forward who'll bang in the corner and along the boards.  This fall: National Program.
 
Atlantic/S.E. RW Matt Herneisen, 5-10/165, played last season with the Toronto Marlies Bantams. He's an up and down the wing type with a hard, acccurate shot. Started tournament  slowly, but picked it up by mid-week.  This fall: National Program.
 
Minnkota's Bryan Peltier, 5-9/165, is from Forest Lake HS and can skate, set up the play, and finish. Was playing with an injured shoulder.  This fall: National Program.
 
LW Chad Hontvet, 6-1/198, from Warroad, Minnesota, has size, strength, and skating ability. A budding power forward.
 
RW Anthony Sedler, 5-11½/160, is a fast, extremely athletic L.A. kid who was playing for Rocky Mt. Doesn't really know the game that well, but his skills make him a high-potential player.
 
Atl./S.E. LW Dennis Packard, 6-3/190, is a big, rangy kid who can play along the wall and showed some surprising offensive skills. Played for Wyoming Seminary, a private school in Western Penn. last year.
 
Minnkota LW  Bobby John Byfuglien, 6-2/207,  had an injured wrist, but it didn't stop him form scoring and plastering a few players in the corner. Plays for Roseau High School.
 
Minnkota's  Ben Eaves, 5-7/159, is a fast, clever center iceman who came up with two big goals in the gold medal game. He's the son of Mike Eaves, and plays for Shattuck-St. Mary's.
 
Ross Carlson, 5-10/162, is a quick, gritty Duluth East winger who came up with key passes and goals.
 
We see him more as a  center iceman but Minnkota was playing Jacob Fleming, 5-7/155, on the wing. Fleming, who played for Osseo HS last year, is a pure playmaker.  This fall: National Program.
 
R.A. Mobile, 6-1/165, is a LW from the Team Illinois Bantams, and looked far better than the previous time we'd seen him. The biggest change: Mobile was consistently using his size to get himself into scoring position.
 
Mobile's center, Kris Bouchard, 6-0/186, is yet another top '82 bound for the National Program. Wasn't as productive as he was at last year's 15 Festival.
 
Michigan RW Steve Swistak, 6-0½/177, played on a line with Vernarsky and Globke last week. Last winter, he played for the Compuware Midgets.
 
New York LW Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, 6-0/172, has size, skating ability, and a good pair of hands. Plays for the Syracuse Junior Crunch. ditto
 
Rocky Mountain center Jon Booras, 5-9/160, played for Billings in the Frontier League last fall. Has a real head for the game. If he were faster and/or bigger, he'd be an even better prospect. 
 
Mid-Am RW Justine Biitner, 5-9/152, is, like Booras, a very smart player with good hands and a real feel for the game.
 
The next group of prospects would include Michigan RW Brian Nicklas, 6-0½/191: Pacific
RW Dan Hacker, 5-10/165; New England RW Conrad Barnes, 5-10/180; Pacific LW Chris Fournier, 5-4/143; Michigan center Trevor Johnson; Mid-Am center Ian Soldano, 6-2/185; Mid-Am RW Jeff Genovy, 6-0½/168; Michigan  LW  Mike Kinnie, 5-9/152; and New England center Tim Plant, 5-9/169.
 
On Thursday in this spot, we'll look at the Select 16 defensemen.

7/20/98                         Reasoner Signs with Blues

The waiting is over -- Boston College center Marty Reasoner has signed with the St. Louis Blues. His signing bonus is for $800,000, with an additional $100,000 if he completes his college degree. Reasoner would have been a senior this fall.

Reasoner, 21, is 6'1, 185 lbs, and was selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 1996 NHL Draft. The Honeoye Falls, NY native played his prep hockey at Deerfield Academy, where he had 112 points in two seasons. At BC,  Reasoner was 25-32-57 in 34 games this season, and finishes his career at the Heights with a 61-85-146 line.

Ontario, Florida players impress at Birch Run

The Rival AAA Tournament took place at Birch Run, Michigan over the weekend, and two teams in particular -- one from Ontario and one from Florida -- caught our attention.

The former, from the Soo, was coached by Steve Nolan (with an assist from older brother Ted). No, Ted's not this desperate -- yet. It's just that both he and his brother have sons on the team.

Team Nolan's three best prospects, in no particular order, are:

Left-shot center Tyler Randsom, an '83 from Thorold, Ont., who was the dominant forward on his team, the strongest in the tournament. Randsom has size, excellent hands, and can skate.

Patrick Jarret, an '84 defenseman from the Soo who is big and can skate and handle the puck.

The sole American on the team was Michigan '83 defenseman Tim Gleason, whom we wrote about last month when he went into the Michigan Select 15 tryouts as a mortal lock to make the team, but had a bad weekend and was cut. At Birch Run, Gleason was back in form, skating strongly, dictating play when he had the puck, and taking care of business in his own end. He also appears to have grown a bit since the last time we saw him.

The Florida Heat, 83's and '84's from Florida, are coached by J.P. LeBlanc, who played at BU in the early '60's and went on to play play parts of five NHL seasons with Detroit and Chicago. LeBlanc's top players are:

Panamanian-born left wing Ray Blackburn, an '84 who only moved up from roller hockey last fall.

'83 center Rey Munoz, who makes things happen every time he sets foot on the ice.

Also deserving mention is '83 center Craig Sanders,  a smooth skater with good hands who is bound  headed to the Cranbrook School in Michigan; and '83 RW Chris DeMarco, a strong skater who is beginning to learn what to do with the puck. 

The Southeast Select '84's, coached by Rob Potter, had a few good players: They are:

Stephen Werner, a right-shot center from Chevy Chase, Maryland who has a strong stride, excellent instincts, and reads plays wells.

Kurt Carter, a right wing from Columbia, Maryland --  a smart player with size who knows exactly where to go on the ice. Needs to improve his skating.

Other good players on the team included center Justin Young, forward Kyle Laughlin (his dad is the Caps' Craig Laughlin),   and center Bubba Sixsmith.

The Atlantic Selects, from the Philadelphia area, had a good '84 defenseman in Michael Gershon.

Needed: One Coach

Last week, the Worcester Ice Cats (AHL) hired Steve Pleau as an assistant coach under Greg Gilbert. Pleau, who played his college hockey at UNH,   has spent the last year in Ann Arbor working as a graduate assistant for the U.S. National Team Development Program.

The hiring, by the way, has opened up a grad assistant's coaching slot in Ann Arbor. The job pays a monthly stipend, and takes care of  grad school costs. If   you know of a good candidate, please call  the National Program as soon as possible at (734) 327-9251.

Also, look this week for the National Program to name a new coach to fill Greg Cronin's spot. Cronin was recently hired as an assistant coach by the New York Islanders.

 

Four Year Molnar ?

St. Thomas Stars goaltender Aaron Molnar has a difficult decision to make.  It was not supposed to be this way.  Prior to the OHL Draft, Molnar indicated he would only play for a few OHL teams. The Peterborough Petes, who selected him seventh overall, were not one of them. 

Molnar is an A student, so any team would have to come up with a nice education and insurance  package to get him.  While almost all OHL teams have a sliding scale where a 1st round pick would receive slightly more than a second rounder and so on,  Peterborough is not one of them.  All Peterborough picks receive a $3,000 education package per year and a $25,000 insurance policy when they make the team.   Even though the Petes need help between the pipes, they're not willing to break tradition and give Molnar more than their other draft picks.  "I have nothing against Peterborough, but I need to take care of my future," explained the 17-year-old netminder.

With one more year of school remaining and his chances of playing major junior this season diminishing, he's warming to the idea of playing college hockey in the states.  Bowling Green, Harvard, Ohio State, Princeton, and Union have all made inquiries, but his current situation remains a secret to many in the hockey community. "Not many people [in Canada] know I may not going to Peterborough," he said.

As it stands now, Molnar will most likely return to St. Thomas in the fall -- unless, of course, Peterborough increases its offer, which appears unlikely.  We'll keep you posted on this developing story throughout the summer.             

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

Last summer Joey Grasso decided to leave Avon Old Farms to play for the Chicago Freeze in the NAHL.  After a few months in Chicago, he departed for the USHL's Rochester Mustangs before Christmas.  He ended the season playing in the Frontier League.  After that whirlwind tour of American junior leagues, Grasso will be returning to Avon in September.  

Movin' On Up

Choate defenseman James Pagnam has decided to leave the Wallingford, Conn. boarding school and will transfer to Westminster.  Pagnam wanted to attended a smaller school.  He's looking forward to playing for Westie's highly respected coach, former Colgate and Hartford Whalers star Tom Earl. Incidentally, Pagnam, originally tabbed as the first alternate, will suit up for Roger Grillo's New England entry at the Select-17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn. 

Berkshire School Lands a Gem

Berkshire Hockey received its biggest boost since defeating Avon Old Farms last winter when 14-year-old forward Gabe Gauthier, whom we've been hearing about since he was 12,  decided to forego the BCHL and come east to boarding school. Gauthier, an '84 birthdate, is 5'10" and 165 lbs. He's from Buena Park, California (near Anaheim) and in 82 games last season scored 295 points (138 goals,  157 assists) for the South Coast Sabres, a bantam team coached by Ron White, the father of Cushing forward Chris White.

Gauthier, who's been skating since he was four, opened eyes at the Global Showcase in Vancouver this spring. After notching six goals and four assists in two periods of a pee wee division game, he was moved up to bantams. There he scored four goals and four assists -- and  was moved up again, to the junior division.

The Powell River Kings, the Quesnel Millionaires, and the Langley Thunder all made offers for Gauthier following the showcase. The South Surrey Eagles wanted to wait a year and take him for the 1999-2000 season.

Instead, Berkshire has him. There, Gauthier will be coached by Larry Rocha, who's been working hard on rebuilding the school's program.

Beaney to Stay at Middlebury

This spring, Middlebury College head coach Billy Beaney considered leaving the college coaching ranks to work for the New York Islanders organization either as a head coach of their new minor league affiliate, the Lowell Lock Monsters (AHL), or as one of the assistants with the big club. Beaney is a brother-in-law (and former UNH teammate) of  Islanders director of scouting Gordie Clark.

The Islanders are currently in the process of hiring a handful of coaches, and will be delegating responsibilities in a manner of more akin to the system NFL teams employ. Essentially, coaches will be specialists, concentrating on different aspects of the game. One of the coaches the Islanders have hired recently is Greg Cronin, from the U.S. National Development Program. Cronin was an assistant and interim head coach at both Colorado College and Maine before joining the national program for its inaugural season. His areas of expertise are strength training and breaking down game tape.

Potter Joins Brown Staff

The new assistant at Brown is Chris Potter, who for the last two years has been an assistant at UConn. Potter, who's 27, played for two years in the ECHL after graduating from UConn in '93. He played his high school hockey in Rhode Island, for Bishop Hendricken.

Boulerice Charged

Plymouth Whalers forward Jesse Boulerice, a key player on the 1997 U.S. National Junior team that took home the silver medal from Switzerland, will be arraigned this week on charges of assault stemming from an on-ice incident in an April 17 OHL playoff game between  Plymouth and the Guelph Storm.

In that game, Guelph center Andrew Long, a Florida Panthers prospect, checked Boulerice into the boards behind the Guelph net, and a brief shoving match ensued. Afterward, as Long skated away, Boulerice hit him across the face with a two-handed baseball-type swing of his stick.

Long was instantly knocked unconscious, went into convulsions and was rushed to an Ann Arbor hospital with a broken nose, nasal cavity and cheekbone, and a blood spot on his brain. Twenty stitches were needed to close up his face. Today, Long is home in Ontario recuperating. A 1996 fifth round draft choice, he expects to be on the ice when the Florida Panthers begin their training camp in September.

The felony charges against Boulerice, also a fifth round draft choice in 1996 (Philadelphia Flyers), carry a jail sentence of up to ten years and a fine of up to $5,000.

The OHL, though he's not likely to be playing there next year anyway, has suspended Boulerice for a year. The AHL, which is quite likely where Boulerice will be playing, has declared him ineligible to play until November 15th.  

Names in the News

Forward Chris Snizek is leaving Mount St. Charles for prep hockey. He'll be playing at Choate as a repeat junior..... Defenseman Phil Youngclaus will be leaving the Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL) for Cushing Academy. He'll be a freshman..... Brothers Jeremiah and Zachary Klann are leaving the Rhode Island Sharks for the Hill School. Jeremiah will be a senior, while Zach, who's on the New England 16 team, will be a sophomore. Moving down from Rhode Island with them will be David Klann, their father, who's been hired to teach science at Hill. Both brothers have been home-schooled in recent years......Steve Stirling, former head coach at Babson and Providence College (he was also the Babson AD) has been hired as an assistant to Lowell Lock Monsters (AHL) head coach Frank Anzalone. The Lock Monsters will be hiring one more assistant -- look for him to be out of the college ranks, too.....Former Northeastern Huskie Chris Nilan interviewed recently for the Providence Bruins (AHL) job. Last season, Nilan, a former assistant coach with the N.J. Devils, was coaching the Chesapeake Icebreakers (ECHL)..... Goalie Michael Ayers, who graduated from Thayer this spring, will be heading to Trinity-Pawling as a PG. Mikel Beacham, who played for Lawrence Academy last winter and Canton (Mass.) High  School  in 1996-97, will be transferring to Thayer to compete for Ayers' old job..... Steve Nelson, who has spent the last three years as an assistant coach with Sioux City and Des Moines, has been hired as head coach of the North Iowa Huskies. He replaces P.K. O'Handley, now an assistant coach with the expansion Florida Everblades (ECHL)......A young right-shot center -- he's an '85 --  who could be an impact player before long is David Riley of Stamford, Connecticut.  Riley, who played bantam with the Mid-Fairfield Blues last winter, will be going to Cardigan Mountain this fall.   

7/11/98                   A New Junior Circuit for the Northeast

It's called the Interstate Junior Hockey League, and, having won Junior B status at USA Hockey's June meetings, the league will begin play this fall. League president Bob Rotondo has announced that each team will play a 30-game league schedule followed by playoffs. The six teams in the league will also play games against two New York-based leagues -- the Met and the Empire. The teams are:

Boston Junior Blackhawks (Saugus, Mass.) -- Coach/G.M.: Rich Salsman
Connecticut Whalers (Newington, Conn.) -- Coach/G.M.: Chris Kiene
Springfield Junior Pics (Springfield, Mass.) -- Coach: Kevin Kervic. G.M: Charlie Nielsen
Staten Island Chiefs (Staten Island, NY) -- Coach/G.M.: John Kelly
Team UMass Junior Minutemen (Amherst, Mass.) -- Coach: Arnie Askwith. G.M.: John Domian
West River Wolves (Hooksett, NH) -- Coach: Dennis Barrette. G.M.: Ron Brousseau

The league will have two showcases, one Oct. 16-18 in Hooksett, NH, and the other Jan 15-17 in Newington, Conn.

In related news, Dan McCarthy and Bob Serenson will be fielding an expansion entry in the Met League. They'll be called the Connecticut Wolves, and they'll begin play this fall out of Yale's Ingalls Rink. 

7/10/98                            Linnik Pops Up in Plymouth

The OHL's Plymouth Whalers have signed St. Thomas Stars 6'3" defenseman Max Linnik.  While all other CHL teams thought the Kiev, Ukraine native could only be obtained through the CHL Import Draft, the Whalers did their homework.  They discovered that Linnik's father has lived in New York for six years.  Thus he's not classified as an import by CHL standards, making him a free agent.  The St. Louis Blues second round pick is a tremendous pick up for the Whalers, and they did not have to use a draft pick to get him. 

Plymouth coach and GM Peter DeBoer has also signed his two 1982 draft picks, 1st round pick Kris Vernarsky, a center from the U.S. Under-18 Team, and 3rd rounder Jared Newman, a defenseman from the Compuware Ambassadors (NAHL).   

7/9/98                                    BU Gets Collins

St. John's of Shrewsbury star  Brian Collins will be going to Boston University. After a  July 2nd home visit, the 6'1", 185 lb. left-shot center says he knew "right away" that he wanted to be a Terrier. Look for him on Babcock Street in the fall of 1999.

7/7/98                                Jensen to Wisconsin

Des Moines Buccaneers RW Erik Jensen has committed to he University of Wisconsin for the 1999-2000 season. Jensen, a 6'2", 185 lb. Madison native was picked by the N.J. Devils in the seventh round of last month's NHL draft. In the fall, he'll be returning to Des Moines, where last year he had a 14-19-33 line in 52 games.

Other core returnees to Des Moines include forwards Pete Fregoe, Eric Maksimenko, and Noah Clarke; and defensemen Jim Jackson, Garrett Stafford, Bill Birrenkott, and Vincent Bachet.

Here are some of the newcomers:

K.C. Caudill,  6'3", 175 lb., '79 birthdate --  Caudill, who played for the Soo Indians (NAHL) last season and Little Caesar's before that, will be going to Ferris State in the fall of 1999.  A left wing, Caudill has size (though he still needs to fill out), is effective along the boards, and goes to to the net hard.

Alex Sawruk,  6'0", 180 lbs., '80 birthdate --  A power forward and strong skater, Sawruk was a teammate of Caudill's at the Soo last season.

Kelly Miller,  5'9", 142 lbs., '79 birthdate --  Miller, a left-shot center from the Chicago Freeze (NAHL), and, before that, the Toledo Cherokee, is a  fast, high-energy forward with skill.

Nick Field,  5'10", 170 lbs., '79 birthdate --  Field, a right-shot center in his third season with the Cleveland Barons (NAHL), finished up as the 8th-leading scorer in the league.

Jared Reinholz,  6'0", 175 lbs., '79 birthdate --  Reinholz is a skilled center from Anoka (Minn.) High School.

Michael  Chin,  6'2", 200 lbs., '80 birthdate --  A right wing from Urbana, Ill. and Shattuck-St. Mary's who played last year with the U.S. National Team Development Program. In  48 games, Chin was 9-6-15 with 12 penalty minutes.

Matt Carney,  5'8", 165 lbs., '78 birthdate --  Will be taking a redshirt year from the University of New Hampshire to be the Bucs' #1 goaltender. Played behind Sean Matile and only saw 36 minutes of action last season. Before going to UNH, Carney played for Boston College High, then took a PG year at Exeter.

Josh Roach,  6'0", 175 lbs., '80 birthdate --  A left-shot forward from North Pole, Alaska (it's a suburb of Fairbanks). Last year, Roach played for the Soo Hawks Midget AAA.

Felipe Larranaga,  5'8", 165 lbs., '81 birthdate --  Also from Fairbanks and the Soo Hawks. Larranaga is a skilled left-shot D who can also play forward. He'll be going into the 12th grade in the fall.     

There are still a few spots to be filled -- specifically, one or two forwards, a defenseman, and another goalie. The leading contender in net is Chris Wells of the Central Penn Panthers. However, Wells, the  Bucs' first draft pick, struggled in the team's recent tryout camp.

7/5/98                KUA Goalie to Join Waterloo Black Hawks

Goaltender Mike Walsh, who would have been entering his senior year at Kimball Union Academy, willl instead be leaving the New Hampshire boarding school this fall for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. Walsh, of Downington, Pennsylvania, will be sharing goaltending duties with  Joe Exter, formerly of  Cushing Academy. Exter will play for Waterloo this year, and enroll at Merrimack in the fall of '99. However, because he appeared in 11 games with the Erie Otters of the OHL last year (0-4-0, 4.13 gaa, .860 save percentage,  305 min. played), Exter will still have to sit a year before becoming eligible for NCAA action.

Other players headed to Waterloo include right-shot D Craig Florkowski, an excellent skater who could really shine on the Olympic-sized sheet at Young Arena, and Chris Welch, a C/RW who works hard, is dangerous around the net, and likes to hit. Both Florkowski and Welch played last winter for the Niagara Scenic of the Toronto Metro League (which, by the way, is defunct, having merged last month with the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League).

Former Canterbury defenseman Tom Galvin, a native of Miller Place, N.Y., will be joining Waterloo, as will center Anthony Switek of the National Sports Academy, C/LW Derek Seal of the Dallas Junior Stars, and 6'2" LW Aaron Davis, who scored 65 points for the Chicago Freeze last season.

Two players who jumped out at the Black Hawks recent tryout camp were 6'0" LW/C Jim Murphy, a good skater and hard-nosed, two-way player out of St. Paul Johnson HS; and quick, 5'9" forward Rob Plester of the Osoyoos Heat of the Kootenay Jr. B League (that's in British Columbia, as you might have guessed).

Another player who made the Black Hawks off his tryout performance was Cullen Flaherty, and it's a comeback story. Flaherty, a former Duluth East defenseman, played in the USHL with North Iowa in the '96-97 season, had a mediocre campaign (he was out of shape),  and quit hockey last year. Now, at 20, the small defenseman -- he's 5'9"-- is working to regain his form and get a DI offer.

One of coach/GM Scott Pionk's tendered players, center Peter Fitzgerald of Edina HS, has decided to accept a baseball scholarship to Rollins College in Florida. Fitzgerald, perhaps the best Minnesota High School player to not get a DI hockey offer, is a shortstop.

Who'll Take Over the Huskies?

Last month, P.K O'Handley left the North Iowa Huskies (USHL) for an assistant's position with the Florida Everblades, an ECHL expansion team in Fort Meyers. Look for one of the following to take over at North Iowa: Steve Nelson, currently an assistant at Des Moines; Scott Koberinski, one of the Fargo-Moorhead co-coaches fired when Dave Christian was hired; and Pat Cullen, Jr., O'Handley's assistant at North Iowa.   

...and the Junior Coyotes?

When Gene Reilly joined Shawn Walsh's staff in Maine recently, the head coaching job of the Junior Coyotes opened up. Gary Dineen's top candidate for the job is Lincoln Flagg, who was an assistant to Dineen before Reilly came on board, and now heads up the Connecticut Clippers organization in Cromwell, Conn. If Flagg, who's also a deputy sheriff, can't take the job, Dineen will turn to his second choice, Jim Powers, who's currently working for a medical company in the Raleigh, N.C. area but wants to come back north. By the way, this will be the 25th season the Pics/Jr. Whalers/Jr. Coyotes organization has been in business.

In related news, Kurt Wiesel, former Whalers defenseman and brother to Montreal Canadiens farmhand Adam Wiesel, recently accepted a scholarship offer from RPI and will begin playing there in the fall. Wiesel, 6'2", 185 lbs., is from South Hadley, Mass. and has also played in the USHL and with the Walpole Stars. He'll turn 20 in October.   

Wells Joins Bronco Staff

Chris Wells, after four seasons at Colgate, has moved west to take an assistant's job at Western Michigan. He takes the place of  Bill Watson, who resigned (should we put that in quotes?) and is now reportedly out of hockey and living and working in Duluth. It was there, of course, at Minnesota-Duluth, that Watson had his greatest triumphs, winning the Hobey Baker Award in 1985.

Up at Lake Superior State, volunteer assistant Alan Dunbar was moved up to full assistant in the wake of Dave Berard returning to Providence College after a two-year absence.

There's an opening at UMass, where Bob Deraney has resigned after four years. Deraney is currently looking at other jobs in hockey, including scouting.

Taffe, Welch Shine at Model Camp 

The Minnesota Model Camp, which started June 21 at Mariucci Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota, wrapped up Wednesday. Hastings HS linemates 6'2", 155 lb. center Jeff Taffe and 5'11", 195 lb. right wing Dan Welch, who'll be skating for the Gophers at Mariucci starting in the fall of '99, drew  rave reviews from the college and USHL observers in attendance.

"It looks like they've been playing together for 15 years," one said, before adding, "and now that I think about it, they probably have."

But it wasn't all the Welch and Taffe show. Here are some other players who shined:

Ben Tharp, 5-11/150; Birthdate: 1/2/81 --  Left-shot D is   highly skilled. Can move the puck, and dictate play. Not big, but uses his body well to shield the puck. Likes to rush the puck. Plays with Welch and Taffe for Hastings High team that has to be odds-on favorite to win the 1999 State High School Tournament. Reportedly bound for the U also.
John Conboy, 6-1/195; Birthdate: 3/27/80 -- Left-shot D really stood out. Plays for small Silver Bay HS so was a bit of an unknown to some. Excellent skater; excellent athlete -- a three-sport kid. Has size. Rarely makes a mistake defensively. Could go DI right out of high school.
Rico Fattici, 5-10/170; Birthdate: 3/3/81 -- A smooth-skating left-shot D out of Hibbing HS. Covers a lot of ice. Has a good head for the game.
 
Cole Bassett, 5-10/165; Birthdate: 7/23/82 -- Hill Murray  forward can fly. Great accleration. Makes things happen. Very strong on the puck. Has grit, vision, works hard, and will bang along the boards. Will be playing for US Under-18 Team in the fall. Could work on finishing off scoring chances.
 
Kurt Sauer, 6-4/210; Birthdate: 1/16/81 -- Big, strong left D from St. Cloud Apollo has committed to the University of North Dakota.
 
Matt DeMarchi, 6-2/175; Birthdate: 5/4/81 -- Lanky left-shot D from the North Iowa Huskies (USHL) was drafted by Erie (OHL). Will be going to their camp.
 
Andrew Downing, 6-1/170; Birthdate: 6/7/82 -- Left-shot  D from Grand Rapids HS could actually be closer to 6'2." Very smooth, poised. Rises to the level of competition. Will be going to US Under-18 Team in the fall. A player to watch.
 
Brandon Polich, 5-7/130; Birthdate: 5/20/82 -- Totino Grace forward is small, but opened eyes with his play. Can really move the puck. He's the son of Mike Polich, a Golden Gophers center in the early 70's.
 
Ryan LaMere, 5-10/162; Birthdate: 12/22/80 -- Holy Angels left D. Nifty player, has very good hands.  May be committing to St. Cloud State.
 
Jon Waibel, 5-11/160; Birthdate: 5/19/82 ; and Keith Ballard, 5-10/170, Birthdate: 11/26/82 -- Teammates at tiny Lake of the Woods HS in Baudette. Linemates at the Model Camp. Great fun to watch. Very high energy level. Great skills.
Tony Tomaino, 5-9/160; Birthdate: 4/15/82 -- Opened eyes at the camp. Duluth Marshall left-shot D is on the small size, but he has a nice wide skating base. A skilled, smart, tough player.
Brian Skrypek, 6-2/180; Birthdate: 2/11/81 -- Left-shot D from Roseville. Has good size. Good speed north-south. Likes to rush the puck.  Hard shot. Steps up on people nicely.
Troy Riddle, 5-9/158; Birthdate: 8/24/81 -- Benilde-St. Margaret's forward had six goals in one three-game stretch. Great speed, and he has a knack around the net. 
 
Joe Cullen, 6-0/175; Birthdate: 2/14/81 -- Moorhead HS left wing is smart, skates well, and has good hands. Protects the puck well.
 
Josh Singer, 6-0/200; Birthdate: 11/22/80 -- Hill Murray left-shot D has size and skill. Got beat to outside sometimes, but knows what to do with the puck -- doesn't turn it over.
 
Nic Serre, 5-11/166; Birthdate: 2/5/81 -- Duluth East forward can skate. Very nifty with puck. Heady player. Rolls off picks easily. Very dangerous down low.
 
Beau Geisler, 5-11/180; Birthdate: 1/14/81 -- Left-shot D from Greenway. Good skater. Moves puck quickly.
 
Shawn Roed, 5-8/171; Birthdate: 1/22/81 -- US Under-18 Team left wing can flat-out fly.
 
Matt Froelich, 6-4/19; Birthdate: 8/28/80 -- Apple Valley left shot forward intrigues because of his size. Has to work on speed, though, and win more of the 1-on-1 battles along the boards. Lazy at times. Sees ice well.
 
Jeff Yurecko, 6-2/200; Birthdate: 8/24/80 -- Edina right-shot forward is another intriguing player. He's big. He's physical. But can he skate well enough for the next level? 
 
Steve Suihkonon, 5-10/180; Birthdate: 11/7/80 --  Hibbing left-shot D is a good skater who makes all the easy plays. Won't jump out at you, but won't hurt you either. He's the brother of Alaska-Anchorage forward Ted Suihkonon.
 
Dave Iannazzo, 5-7/161; Birthdate: 4/9/81 -- Small Maple Grove HS forward is fast, and very quick. Hustles, goes to the net hard. Excellent hand-eye coordination. Played on a poor team, but really stood out.
 
Josh Miskovich, 5-10/160; Birthdate: 3/1/80 -- Greenway forward is a hard-working player who goes to the net hard. Will be playing in the USHL next season.
 
Adam Kaiser, 5-11/150; Birthdate: 11/11/80 -- Holy Angels forward is smart with the puck. Knows the game.
 
Shawn Vinz, 5-11/165;  Birthdate: 5/5/82 -- Lanky forward from Rochester John Marshall. Protects the puck well. Snapped off a few goals.
 
Billy Hengen, 5-9/166; Birthdate: 4/9/81 --  A pure scorer. Plays for Holy Angels.
 
David Klema, 6-0/170; Birthdate: 4/3/82 -- Roseau HS centerman is a smart player who thinks the game, has patience with the puck, and is effective in traffic down low.
 
Jesse Baisimo, 5-8/162; Birthdate: 9/12/81 -- Small right-shot D from Johnson HS is an excellent skater -- and skillful with the puck, too.
 
Max Bull, 5-10/165; Birthdate: 7/22/81 -- Shattuck-St. Mary's forward has speed, smarts, and a good feel for the game.
 
Now, you may be wondering why we haven't mentioned Pat Finnegan. Well, the talented 5'10", 183 lb. Duluth East defenseman, who's bypassing his senior year to turn major junior with the Windsor Spitfires (OHL), looked bored. As one observer put it, "It was too easy for him. He had nothing to prove by being there."

7/1/98                                     A Surprise Cut

Tim Gleason, ranked by most observers as the top '83 defenseman in Michigan (maybe the nation), didn't make the cut when the Michigan Select 15 Team was named after last week's evaluation camp. Even those who went to bat for his being included on the team admitted that Gleason was lackluster  in camp. Gleason, a left shot, is 5'10", 160 lbs. and played for the Honeybaked 82's last winter. He will be an alternate.

Here's the team:

'83 Forwards: Chris Conner (Little Caesar's); Martin Guerin (West Michigan Warriors); Dwight Helminen (Compuware); Brad Heraghty (Compuware); Michael Johnson (West Michigan Warriors); Bobby Kukulka (Belle Tire); Nick Lang (Compuware); Jason Moul (Little Caesar's); Christopher Shea (Compuware); Jason Tejchma (West Michigan Warriors); Michael Walsh (Compuware); Ryan Wright (Little Caesar's).

'83 Defense: Scott Donaghe (Ideal Sales); Robert Lehtinen (American Legion); Jon Saunders (West Michigan Warriors); Derek Smith (Compuware); Kelly Sullivan (Compuware); Eric Werner (Compuware).

'83 Goaltenders: Joe Juntilla (C.L. Rotary); Bobby Pruchnik (Little Caesar's).
 
Notes: Martin Guerin, one of the 12 forwards, is normally  a defenseman. Jon Saunders is the nephew of  ESPN anchor (and former Western Michigan defenseman) John Saunders.
Eric Werner is the son of Frank Werner,   former Michigan forward.

7/1/98                           Big Apple on the Mississippi

The Dubuque Fighting Saints concluded their tryout camp in Bloomington, Minnesota on Sunday, and one thing is certain: the team will  have a distinct New York accent. Actually, it already does, since general manager/coach Brian Gallagher is a Brooklyn native, but now four members of last year's Apple Core team will be heading to Dubuque this fall:  defensemen David Sell (Glendale, NY)  and Ken Scuderi (Bethpage, NY), forward Rich Hansen, and goaltender Chris Gartman. Also, forward Jason Guerriero (Manorville, NY), who played last winter with the Syracuse Junior Crunch, will be joining the Fighting Saints. Other additions to the Dubuque roster this fall will include forwards Mike Miskovich of Grand Rapids, Minn. HS, Neal Price of the Toledo Cherokee, and speedy Californian Micah Wouters, who played in the AFHL for the Bismark Bobcats last winter.

Coming on as an assistant coach will be Tom McDermott, who's moving up from the  Bridgewater Bandits (EJHL).

7/1/98                            Former Panther Impresses 

The biggest surprise of the recently-concluded Sioux City Musketeers tryout camp was the play of Brendan McCartin. An '81 birthdate who formerly played for the Central Penn Panthers Jr. B, McCartin is a hard-working winger with playmaking ability. Over the last year, McCartin, who's from Camp Hill, PA (that's right outside Harrisburg), has added four inches -- he's now 6'1", 170 lbs.   He'll be one of at least five 81's on Sioux City's roster next year. The others are goaltender Michael Betz of the Pittsburgh Hornets; defenseman David Hale from the Pike's Peak Miners; and a pair from the Chicago Young Americans -- defenseman Jimmy Scatchell and forward Jeff VanDyke.

7/1/98                   Belmont Hill's Loss; Northwood's Gain

Right wing Sean Terry, who would have been Belmont Hill's top returning scorer,  is transferring to the Northwood School for his last two years of prep school. With the Terry family relocating to New Jersey on a permanent basis, Northwood, unlike Belmont Hill, offers  the convenience of being a boarding school. At Northwood, Terry, 5'11", 170 lbs., will be playing for Tom Fleming. (While at Belmont Hill, Terry played football for Kevin Fleming, Tom's brother.)

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Around the Rinks

Westminster sophomore F Taggart Corriveau is opening eyes in the early going
Westminster sophomore F Taggart Corriveau is opening eyes in the early going (Photo courtesy of Dave Arnold Photography)
 
6'3" sophomore D Griffin Luce,  a Michigan recruit, making life difficult for Milton's Clay Berger
6'3" sophomore D Griffin Luce, a Michigan recruit, making life difficult for Milton's Clay Berger (Photo courtesy of Dave Arnold Photography)
 
KUA's Joey Dudek battles Deerfield's Trevor Yates in front
KUA's Joey Dudek battles Deerfield's Trevor Yates in front (Photo courtesy of Dave Arnold Photography)
 
Salisbury senior F Derek Barach was named MVP of the Flood-Marr Tournament
Salisbury senior F Derek Barach was named MVP of the Flood-Marr Tournament (Photo courtesy of Dave Arnold Photography)
 

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