U.S. Hockey Report
- USHL January Draft
- Here are the results of this week's USHL draft of high school, midget, and bantam players. Players are listed by team, and in the order in which they were selected by that team. Also, we have only listed players drafted this week, which is the obvious approach. However, the USHL has published their list, too, and it jumbles in players from protected teams, which, according to the e-mail we've received, has caused some confusion.
- We'll post the protected player list next week -- and the signed tenders as well.
- The next USHL draft is in May, and is open not only to the above group, but to Jr. A players -- from all leagues -- as well.
- Note: If there are misspellings of names, please e-mail corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Rochester Mustangs:
- Dan Knapp, D, '82, Hermantown HS (Minn.)
- Barrett Casto, F, '82, IMG Academy (Florida)
- Matt Kisskeys, D, '82, Centennial HS (Minn.)
- T.J. Renskers, D, '82, Hibbing HS (Minn.)
- Kyle Finch, D, '83, Chugiak HS (Alaska)
- Powell Gallagher, F, '82, Chugiak HS (Alaska)
- Dubuque Fighting Saints:
- Jeff Schultz, D, '82, Wayzata HS (Minn.)
- Mike Commisso, F, '83, Thunder Bay Midget AAA (Can.)
- John Kim, F, '83, Cranbrook Prep (Mich.)
- Jacob Heller, D, '85, Chicago Young Americans '85
- Greg Prbyhski, F, '82, Buffalo Saints Midget AAA
- Justin Fagan, D, '82, Berkshire School (Mass.)
- Fritz Sauter, D, '84, Oklahoma City Midget AAA
- Chicago Steel:
- Jeff Schneider, F, White Bear Lake HS (Minn.)
- Karl Sabin, F, Grand Forks Central HS (N.D)
- Bill Jenkins, D, '83, Edina HS (Minn.)
- Matt Zeman, Team Ohio Midget AAA
- Kevin Sheehan, F, '84, Chicago Chill Midget AAA
- Colin Fitzrandolph, F, '82, Phillips Exeter Academy (N.H.)
- Cedar Rapids RoughRiders:
- Nick Buffington, F, '83, Pike's Peak Midget AAA (Col.)
- Kraig Kuzma, F, Muskegon HS (Mich.)
- Max Buetow, G, '82, Vail Midget AAA (Col.)
- Brandon Roberts, F, Mankato HS (Minn.)
- Marvin Degon, D, '83, Cushing Academy (Mass.)
- Tri-City Storm:
- Justin Laverdiere, F, '83, Mount St. Charles HS (R.I.)
- Brian Phinney, D, '82, Hotchkiss School (Conn.)
- Dan Kronik, F, '84, Holy Angels HS (Minn.)
- Brock Anundson, F, '83, Lake of the Woods HS (Minn.)
- Wade Harstad, F, '84, Moorhead HS (Minn.)
- Tanner Paulseth, F , '82, Silver Bay HS (Minn.)
- Sioux City Musketeers:
- Jake Luthi, D, '82, Alaska Blue Devils Midget AAA
- J.D. Corbin, F, '85, HoneyBaked '85
- Ryan Stattner, F, '83, Alaska All-Stars Midget AAA
- Steve Rosenfeldt, D, '82, Moorhead HS (Minn.)
- Andy LeTourneau, F, '82, Duluth East HS (Minn.)
- Des Moines Buccaneers:
- Evan Salmela, D, '83, University School of Milwaukee
- Adam Burish, F, '83, Madison Edgewood HS (Wisc.)
- Matt Miskovich, F, '83, Grand Rapids HS (Minn.)
- Ian Ross, F, Hibbing HS (Minn.)
- Chris Collins, F, '84, Taft School (Conn.)
- Green Bay Gamblers:
- Andy Johnson, F, '82, Chaska HS (Minn.)
- Kelly Plude, F, '82, Elk River HS (Minn.)
- Mike Polansky, F, '83, Blake School (Minn.)
- Adam Ladd, F, '84, Pomfret School (Conn.)
- Matt Charbonneau, D, '83, St. Thomas Academy (Minn.)
- Lincoln Stars:
- Phillipe Lamoreaux, G, '84, Grand Forks HS (N.D)
- Luke Erickson, F, '82, Roseau HS (Minn.)
- Tyler Howells, F, '83, Holy Angels (Minn.)
- Dominic Hammer, D, '83, Crookston HS (Minn.)
- Zach Fitzgerald, D, '85, Duluth East HS (Minn.)
- David Backes, F, '83, Spring Lake Park HS (Minn.)
- Omaha Lancers:
- Yale Lewis, F, '82, Cushing Academy (Mass.)
- Bryan Baron, F, '83, Lake of the Woods HS (Minn.)
- Matt Byrnes, F, '82, Mount St. Charles HS (R.I.)
- Phil Youngclaus, D, '83, Cushing Academy (Mass.)
- Brandon Rogers, D, '82, Hotchkiss School (Conn.)
- Waterloo Black Hawks:
- Nick Toneys, D, '82, Tomah HS (Wisc.)
- Joel Hanson, F, '83, Elk River HS (Minn.)
- Tom Dickhudt, F, '84, Hill Murray HS (Minn.)
- Adam Setten, D, '82, Robbinsdale Armstrong HS (Minn.)
- John Toffey, F, '82, St. Sebastian's Country Day School (Mass.)
- Topeka Scarecrows:
- Garrett Smaagard, F, '82, Eden Prairie HS (Minn.)
- Brent Cummings, D, '83, Austin HS (Minn.)
- Eric Fabian, F, '83, Roseau HS (Minn.)
- Ryan Peterson, D, '82, Osseo HS (Minn.)
- J.P. Platischa, F, '84, Brainerd HS (Minn.)
- Sioux Falls Stampede:
- Mark Bucholz, D, '83, Moorhead HS (Minn.)
- Patrick Neundorfer, F, '83, University School of Cleveland
- Jeremy Smith, D, '84, Alaska All-Stars Midget AAA
- Will Parr, D, '82, Grand Rapids HS (Minn.)
- J.D. McCabe, D, '85, LaSalle HS (Penn.)
- Cody Blanshan, D, '84, Eastview HS (Minn.)
Two More Sons of Crim
Goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris and RW Brendan Bernakevitch will be coming to Harvard in the fall.
Grumet-Morris, who plays for the West Division-leading Danville Wings (NAHL) leads the league in both gaa (1.95) and save percentage (.932). A native of Evanston, Ill. who played for Team Illinois before going to the Wings, Grumet-Morris was named NAHL goaltender of the week for kicking out 68 of 70 shots in a pair of road wins at the Soo and Lansing.
Grumet-Morris, an '82 who stands 6'2", 180 lbs., is a butterfly goalie who uses his size to advantage, competes hard, and is very athletic. St. Cloud, Wisconsin, and Dartmouth were the three other schools in the hunt for Grumet-Morris' services.
His sister, Aviva Grumet-Morris, is the top-scoring defenseman on the Princeton women's team.
Bernakevitch, a 6'1", 215 lb. '82 who plays for the Surrey Eagles (BCHL) is a rugged, strong, grinding type of winger whose strength comes in handy along the wall and down low.
A rookie with Surrey, Bernakevitch has, in 34 games, a 17-17-34 line.
Bernakevitch made his final choice between Harvard and Wisconsin. He also visited Notre Dame.
In a piece (1/11) on Anthony D'Arpino, the sophomore defenseman at Boston College who left at Christmas break for the Lincoln Stars (USHL), we indicated that, unhappy with lack of playing time, he would be looking to transfer to another Div. I school next year. Not true! D'Arpino, who has to pay his own way at the Heights and is struggling with tuition costs, has indicated to the BC coaches that he'll be back in the fall.
In another piece (1/20), we referred to Michael Zbriger, Governor Dummer's high-scoring forward from Montreal, as being "Colby-bound." Not necessarily true. Colby is very interested in Zbriger but so are others, including Div. I schools. He's wide open right now.
Cushing Still on Top
The top five teams held steady in this week's USHR Prep Poll, but there was plenty of stirring among the bottom five.
Jackson Working Magic in the OHL
On the morning of November 3rd, the Guelph Storm, coached by Jeff Jackson, who led Lake Superior State to two NCAA titles in the early '90s before going on to found the U.S. National Program in Ann Arbor, were 16 games into the season with only six wins to show for it. Since then, they've gone on a 19-4-6-1 tear, and have closed to within four points of the Midwest-division leading Erie Otters.
Suddenly, Jackson, who stateside still holds the highest all-time winning percentage (.751) among NCAA coaches, is once again a hot property -- with a hot team.
"What Jackson has done is teach," an NHL scout who covers the league said. "He's taught the team the importance of paying attention to details, of doing all the little things right. If you do those things, winning will be the eventual by-product."
Jackson, he pointed out, has also resurrected the careers of several players who had gone from being top prospects to huge underachievers. "That's the sign of a good coach. Some of these guys had been written off."
Chief among them was Charlie Stephens, a #1 pick in the OHL draft several years ago who's never quite lived up to his potential. Under Jackson, the 6'4" center, a Washington Caps draft pick, is playing better than he's ever played. Another was 6'2" winger Colt King, described by our scout as "horrible" in his rookie season (2g, 2a in 53 games). King has turned it around this year, and was ranked in the first round of the recent NHL Central Scouting Service Mid-Season Rankings. Then there's 6'2" goaltender Craig Andersson, a Calgary Flames draft pick who struggled at times last year but is riding high this season with a 2.55 GAA and .919 save percentage.
Jackson, reached in Sault Ste. Marie, where he maintains his home now (on the U.S. side, of course) and where the Storm will be meeting the Soo Greyhounds tomorrow night, described Andersson as "the guts of the team."
"Last night," Jackson said, "we had our seventh game in 11 nights and we were leading Sudbury 2-0 when we just ran out of gas. The game ended up a tie, but we only got the point because of Andersson. He faced a ton of shots in the second and the third. He's as good as any goalie I've ever coached, and he's as good as or better than any goalie in the CHL right now."
Andersson, an '81 from Illinois who played for CYA and the Chicago Freeze (NAHL), is just one American thriving under Jackson in Guelph. Another is 5'11" RW Dustin Brown, an extremely smart and gifted rookie -- he's an '84 -- who last year was playing for Ithaca (N.Y.) High School as well as the Syracuse Stars Bantams. Brown, who's averaging nearly a point a game, is the sixth-leading rookie scorer in the league, and has the eye-popping puck skills that lead to highlight film goals.
"Brown," said Jackson, "is in the mold of a Tim Connolly. He just turned 16, so he's still learning that day-to-day consistency. He has great hands and great vision. He'll be a top draft in a few years."
Another American on the team is 5'9", 188 lb. rookie defenseman Frank Burgio, an '83 who played last year for the now-defunct Rochester Americans (NAHL). "Burgio surprised me," said Jackson. "He's a tenacious, in-your-face type of player who makes things happen defensively."
Jackson, who was fired last May 2 from his position as USA National Coach, seems happy these days. "I'm having a ball," he said. "I like it that I'm simply coaching. I don't have to worry about all the political stuff anymore. I have the time for everything the kids need me for. It's great."
With Jackson's success in the OHL, Bob Mancini, who worked with Jackson in Ann Arbor and was also let go last May 2, could be the next American to be tabbed for a job north of the border. Mancini, a six-year head coach in the CCHA before going to work with USA Hockey, now scouts for the Edmonton Oilers.
In the EJHL All-Star game, held at the Valley Forum in Lawrence, Mass. on Thursday night, the South topped the North, 10-6.
NAHL All-Stars Announced
The NAHL All-Star game will be held on Sat. Feb. 3 at 7:30pm (CST) in St. Louis. Here are the teams.
The coaches, in case you're wondering, were selected on the basis of their team’s winning percentage through Jan. 8. For the East the head coach will be Joe Shawhan (Soo), assisted by Todd Watson (Compuware). For the West, the head coach will be Josh Mervis (Danville), assisted by Mark Frankenfeld ( Texas).
- East Division:
- Goaltender: Cam Ellsworth (Soo). Defensemen: Andy Greene (Compuware); Charlie Cook (Soo). Forwards: Jimmy Slater (Cleveland); Barry Pochmara (Soo); Bo Cheesman (Soo).
- RESERVES: Goaltender: Gerald Coleman (USA). Defensemen: Steve Burgess (Compuware), Joe Giambra (Cleveland), Aaron Kakepteum (Soo), and Sean Leahy (Soo). Forwards: Martin Antonelli (Capital Centre Pride), Justin Cross (Soo Indians), Dan Fritsche (Cleveland), Brady Leisenring (USA), Ryan Lessnau (Compuware), Patrick O’Sullivan (USA), Brett Sterling (USA), Tom Stone (Soo Indians), and Mike Walsh (Compuware).
- West Division:
- Goaltender: Jason Bacashihua (Chicago). Defensemen: Jon Awe ( Texas); Matt York ( Springfield Jr. Blues). Forward: Craig Piscopink (Chicago); Andrew Radzak (Chicago); Jason Guerriero (Texas).
- RESERVES: Goaltender: Brandon Crawford-West (Texas). Defensemen: Mark Adamek (St. Louis), Ethan Graham (St. Louis), Jon Jepson (Chicago) and Andy Wozniewski (Texas). Forwards: Mike Adamek (St Louis Sting), Ben Assenmacher (Springfield), Chris Conner (Chicago), Jason Deitsch (Texas), Todd Grant (Danville Wings), Rich Hansen (Texas), Eric Przepiorka (Chicago), Greg Rallo (Springfield) Keith Rowe (Danville) and Peter Szabo (Danville).
Alexander out in Cleveland
Cleveland Barons (NAHL) head coach/G.M. Tim Alexander is out, having "resigned" over the weekend.
Assistant coach Otis Plageman, like Alexander a former Bowling Green player, will be taking over as interim head coach. Marty Quarters, an assistant under Alexander for the last few years and. additionally, the head coach of the Barons midget team, will inherit the G.M. duties.
Alexander, who has been with the Barons since the franchise's beginning 7½ years ago, earned back-to-back NAHL Coach of the Year honors in 1994-95.
Cleveland, which finished well over .500 last season, was picked -- in a pre-season poll of league coaches -- to finish in first place this year. So far, they are 14-17-3 and stuck in third place.
While that may have been part of the reason Alexander was let go, the other was that team owner Tom Goebel, who runs Lakefront Bus Lines, the largest privately held bus line in the country, was reported to be dissatisfied with Alexander's effort at promoting his own players. Indeed, Michigan State-bound center Jimmy Slater, the hands-down best player in the league, is the only player on the 2000-01 Barons who has a college for the fall.
The Barons organization, which loses about $200,000 annually, prides itself on the fact that the bulk of its roster is from the Cleveland area, most having arrived with the junior club after having climbed up organization's ladder.
Mudryk a Huskie
Northeastern has a key recruit for the fall in 5'5", 170 lb. Olds Grizzlies left-shot center Jared Mudryk, an '83 who's the sixth-leading scorer in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Along with Jaron Herriman and Jason Guerriero, Mudryk, who has a 33-41-74 line in 45 games and is a Brian Gionta-type player but without Gionta's high-end speed, gives Northeastern three skill guys who'll make an impact up front come the fall.
Mudryk, the sole '83 among the AJHL's top 12 scorers, also had full scholarship offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota-Duluth and, if he played another year, Colorado College. Mudryk also received interest from Harvard and other Ivies.
In other college news, former Golden Gopher forward Doug Meyer, who is taking a year with the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) under the 4-2-4 rule, has made a verbal commitment to the Gopher's in-state rival, St. Cloud State, and will suit up for them in the fall. (The 4-2-4 rule enables players to transfer from a four-year school to a two-year school and, from there, back to a four-year school without having to sit out for a year. Of course, a certain number of courses must be satisfactorily completed.) Meyer, who's 6'2" and 200 lbs., is a 2/21/80 birthdate.
Back East, Exeter SnowDevils (EJHL) defenseman Jason Fortin has made a commitment to the University of Vermont. Fortin, a 6'2" RD from Marlborough, Conn., is a strong skater with good hands. He runs the SnowDevils powerplay, and has a 8-23-31 line in 43 games. Fortin formerly played at Avon Old Farms, NSA, and the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL).
Zappala Recovering from Brain Surgery
BB&N's high-scoring centerman Joe Zappala had brain surgery late last week. Zappala, a 6'0", 200 lb. senior from Medford, Mass., had hydrocipphyllis, a fluid on the brain that is blocked and unable to escape. Zappala underwent a frontal third ventriculostomy on Thursday. He hopes to be back in BB&N's lineup within three weeks.
Cushing Holds Onto Top Spot
Cushing's dreams of a perfect season went out the window with yesterday's 2-2 tie at Berkshire. But the Penguins (12-0-1) are still undefeated, and once again hold down the top spot in the USHR New England Prep Poll.
A Closer Look: U.S. Under-17
How did the U.S. Under-17 Team go 6-0 and capture the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge over the New Year's break?
It was simple. The U.S, coached by Moe Mantha, worked hard, finished their checks, moved the puck quickly and smartly, and played as a team. Breakdowns in their end were rare, and dumb penalties were even rarer. The offense was well-balanced, too, as evidenced by the fact that, in the tournament opener, a 10-3 demolishing of Russia, ten different players scored one goal apiece.
For our money, the best forward on the team, and quite likely the most complete player in the tournament was 5'10" Patrick Eaves, who is smart, determined, sees the ice extremely well, and plays hard at both ends. Eaves, the younger brother of BC's Ben and NTDP chief Mike Eaves, also controls the puck well in traffic, can snap off a quick, deadly accurate shot, and is a gamer who played the whole tournament with cracked ribs. In the semis, Eaves demoralized Team Ontario, which had thrown all they could at the U.S. but, early in the second, found themselves locked in a 0-0 tie. Eaves changed that. First, he snapped one off from the slot -- 1-0, U.S. Minutes later it was a wicked snap shot from his customary off wing -- 2-0, U.S. After the second goal, Ontario faded as quickly as a pastel drawing in the rain. In the final vs. Pacific, an Eaves pass set up the goal that put the US on the board a mere 14 seconds into the game. Midway through the period, Eaves was slashed on the hand and had to spend the rest of the period getting it iced down. He was back for the second and wasted no time. In the first minute of the second, off a forecheck, Eaves walked it out from behind the net and rammed it by Pacific goaltender Ryan Cyr for an unassisted goal -- and a big-time one at that. BC assistant coach Scott Paluch, one of about 10-12 Div. I guys who made the trip, allowed a smile to cross his face. Things can change, but right now there's a very good chance that Patrick, who finished the tournament with a 6-5-11 line will be joining his brother at the Heights in the fall of 2002.
The team's best pure goal scorer? That would be 5'6" LW Brett Sterling, of Pasadena, California and the L.A. Junior Kings organization. Everytime you looked up, there was Sterling, flying over the blue line with the puck on his stick, getting below the faceoff dots and just burying it. He's at his most dazzling in heavy traffic, and loves to walk it across the top of the crease, getting the goalie moving laterally before finishing. Sterling is fearless, too. If he can't do it with finesse, he simply crashes the net. He buried Team Western with four goals Tuesday night to propel the U.S. to the top seed in their pool. A pure goal scorer, plain and simple. Finished tournament with a 6-5-11, identical to Eaves.
R C Patrick O'Sullivan, who's one of only two 15-year-olds on the team (G Gerard Coleman is the other), had an excellent tournament. O'Sullivan, like Sterling, is also excellent in traffic. He's short, roughly 5'9", but is extremely hard to knock off the puck. He has a great nose for the net or the open man, and shoots from absolutely everywhere. He's also tough, hard-nosed, and determined (playing Tier II in Ontario as a 14 year old didn't hurt). Combine that with skill and you have a player. O'Sullivan finished with a 3-7-10 line.
5'9" RW Gabe Gauthier was added to this team for this tournament from the Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL). He's intelligent, an excellent passer (he head-manned a beautiful pass to Sterling for one of the latter's four vs. Western) and can bury it, too. Gauthier is not the dominant player for his age group that he was as a 14 and 15 year old (his size and lack of breakaway speed has caught up with him a bit), but he's still a very good player who'll draw a lot of Div. I attention. He has hands, vision, and a kind of quiet determination. Gauthier, from Buena Park, California, was on a line with fellow Californian Brett Sterling here. The two grew up playing youth hockey together in the L.A. area. Gauthier finished with a 3-5-8 line.
6'0" Greg Moore, a RW on the line with Eaves and O'Sullivan, had a strong tournament, too, coming on really strong in the playoffs. Like most power forwards, Moore needs someone to get him the puck. When he bores in off the wing under a head of steam he's scary. Has a bit of tunnel vision, but we've seen a bunch of top-flight power forwards of whom that can be said. A Lisbon, Maine native who played at St. Dom's, Moore may well be skating for the Black Bears in a couple of years. Moore finished with a 2-4-6 line.
6'0½" center Ryan Kesler is an all-round guy who who does everything well at both ends of the ice. Is not the fastest skater, best shooter, or best playmaker, but he has no weaknesses either. It all adds up to a nice package. Kesler, a Honeybaked product from Livonia, Michigan, doesn't dazzle, but he's very well-rounded. Finished with a 1-5-6 line.
6'½" RC Stephen Werner helped himself a great deal here. The Chevy Chase, Maryland native freely cuts and curls while holding the puck, forcing opposing defensemen to chase. Werner, who played with Washington Capitals Jr. B last year, has speed and a good first step. His agility and puck skills are excellent, too. Could really become a big-timer if he were more involved physically. Faded a bit in the second half of the tournament. Finished with a 2-2-4 line.
6'0" RW Tim Wallace, who came up with the game winner vs. Western and added an insurance goal in the semifinal win over Western, is athletic, physical, and can take out opponents with a clean, bone-crunching hit. That's his game. Wallace, while possessing excellent individual puck skills, could stand to improve his overall feel for the game at this level. Wallace, who's from Anchorage and the Alaska All-Stars organization, posted a 2-0-2 line.
6'0" LW Jim McKenzie. A hard-working guy who has good size and a decent skill level. Very involved in the forecheck. He's solidly built and hard to knock off the puck. McKenzie, who's from Woodbury, Minn. and played for Hill Murray HS last year, finished with a 1-2-3 line.
5'9½ Greg Goodnough. Needs to get back to what originally brought him to the attention of the National Program, i.e. rugged, physical play of the sort that just ground down opponents when he was playing for thge Syracuse Jr. Crunch in the Ontario Provincial League last year. Goodnough, who's from Mannsville, NY, has good skills, but that alone won't be his meal ticket. He has to hit more and create space. Finished with a 1-1-2 line.
6'2" LC Mark Schwamberger. Big, strong kid who was playing junior B hockey in Rochester, NY at this time last year needs to better utilize his size by playing with more intensity. He's a gentle giant. Scouts and recruiters will want to see him get meaner. Posted an 0-2-2 line.
6'1" Taylor Hustead. An Arizona native who was at Culver last year, Hustead has size, strength, decent skills, and good skating ability. Up here, he showed tantalizing glimpses of what he could become. Needs to add intensity. Finished with an 0-1-1 line.
On defense, James Wisniewski, who plays for the Plymouth Whalers (OHL); and Mark Stuart were outstanding, the ne plus ultra of the U.S.-born '84 defensemen. Both were on the ice a ton, practically every other shift for the whole six-games-in-six-nights grind. Real horses.
Wisniewski, who's 5'10", was a perfect add to the defense corps. If the Under-17 Team needed one thing for the tournament it was someone who could run the powerplay, and Wisniewski was the right man for the job. Besides that, he's intelligent, reads the ice well, and is tough as nails. His shot is hard and accurate, and his passes are crisp. Finished with a 2-5-7 line.
Stuart, a 6'0", 200 lb. wide-body from Rochester, Minn. who played last year for Rochester Lourdes HS, is a strong, strapping old-school D. He hits hard -- he's a brick wall out there -- and rarely skates the puck, preferring to pass it out of the zone. The team's anchor on the blue line. Will be an impact player at whatever NCAA school gets him. First-round NHL draft potential. Finished with a 1-4-5 line.
6'0½" Corey Potter, a Michigan native who played for the Honeybaked Bantams last winter, improved as the tournament went along, most noticeably in the fact that he concentrated on simply moving the puck, as opposed to skating with it. 0-0-0.
5'11" Matt Carle, a late '84, is a solid all-round D from Anchorage and the Alaska All-Stars. Very reliable. Handles the puck well. Very good on the transition. 0-0-0.
6'1" Evan Shaw is a Franklin, Mass. native who last year played for St. Sebastian's Country Day (how come no one calls the school that anymore?), is a stay-at-home d-man. Very good on the penalty kill and solid clearing out in front. 0-0-0.
6'0" Mike Nesdill, who was playing midget hockey in his native Arizona at this time last year, is an excellent skater who's coming along nicely. While not showing as much confidence with the puck as earlier in year, he's dramatically improved his defensive game. Once he puts the two pieces together, he'll be an important player at both ends of the ice. Has a blistering shot. 1-0-1.
5'11" Noah Babin is a Florida native who played for the Little Caesar's Midgets last season. A very good skater, Babin was a forward until just 13 months ago, so he's still learning the position. Perhaps as a result, he's tentative at times, like he's overthinking things. Needs to assert himself more, and use his skills. Scored the game-winning goal in the gold-medal game, which could give him a big boost going into the second half of the season. 1-0-1.
6'3" Michael Grenzy, a Buffalo, NY native who played for the Toronto Marlies Bantams at this time last year, is big, and still growing into his body. Needs to be more agile and quick-footed, which will simply come with time. With his size, he has excellent potential. 0-0-0.
Both goaltenders, Tim Roth and 15-year-old Gerald Coleman, came through, each posting a shutout here.
Coleman, who's 6'3" and one of only two 15-year-olds on the team, is a big, athletic, skinny kid with a huge upside. If he keeps working and keeps improving, he could be a first-round NHL pick a few years down the line. Got a little rattled when Team Western poured it on late in Tuesday night's game, but is generally calm, and poised for his age. Is from Chicago, where about half the good young goaltending prospects for his age seem to be coming from these days.
Roth, who's 5'10", is a N.J. native who played for the Lawrenceville School last year. He's a solid goaltender who stays square to the puck, and just lets it hit him. Good mobility post-to-post. Needs to work on handling puck cleaner. Is progressing nicely. Shut out Ontario in Wednesday's semi and got the nod in the gold-medal game.
This tournament, by the way, is an exceptionally well-run affair, with tremendous involvement from Canadian corporate sponsors right on down to local business. An army of local volunteers turned out, and, even though just about all the games were on local cable TV, fans turned out in big numbers. For the gold medal game, kids were let out of school early and businesses closed up shop. The result? A jam-packed arena -- and we mean to say that every square inch was used. As a matter of fact, this typist hasn't seen so many people jammed into a building since a Duluth East at Cloquet game back when they were still playing in the old barn. On top of that, the game was broadcast nationally on TSN, so folks from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island were able to enjoy it. It was great stuff, the U.S. kids worked hard for everything they got, and nothing was sweeter than seeing them at the end with gold medals around their necks and their own anthem -- not the Canadian's, Finn's, Russian's, or Czech's -- being played. Soul-stirring stuff.
Central Scouting Releases Mid-Term Rankings
The NHL's Central Scouting Service has released its annual mid-term rankings, which, as usual, are broken down into two lists, one for North America and one for Europe. However, we're so freakin' jingoistic here that we're going to skip over Spezza, Kovalchuk, et al and cut to the chase with the following: of the 270 North American skaters ranked, 92 (34%) are U.S. kids -- and thus eligible to play for the U.S. in international competition. Skaters, broken down into eight rounds (with 30 players in each round), are ranked separately from goalies.
The top-ranked U.S. player is 6'1½" Ohio State center R.J. Umberger, formerly with the NTDP and, before that, the Pittsburgh Hornets. Umberger is ranked #4 overall.... The top U.S. high school age player, ranked #6 overall, is 6'4" NTDP defenseman Ryan Whitney, formerly of Thayer Academy.... The top U.S. kid playing for a high school team is 6'3" Phillips Exeter winger Ed Caron, formerly of Bishop Guertin. Caron is ranked #39 overall.... The top-ranked kid playing for a U.S. junior team is 6'3" defenseman Paul Lynch of the Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL) and, before that, Brooks School. Lynch is ranked #46 overall.... The top-ranked USHL player, coming in at #51, is 5'11½" center John Snowden of the Lincoln Stars and, before that, the NTDP.... The top-ranked NAHL player is 5'11½" Jimmy Slater, a center with the Cleveland Barons, and, before that, the Honeybaked Bantams. Slater is ranked #76 overall.... The top-ranked U.S. goalie is Jason Bacashihua of the Chicago Freeze (NAHL) and, before that, the Honeybaked Midgets. There are 10 goalies ranked ahead of him, all major junior kids. As a matter of fact, he's the only goalie in the top half of the list who has had neither major junior or U.S. National Program experience.
Speaking of the National Program, 14 of the first 19 U.S. players ranked are either current or former NTDP players. Of current NTDP players only, 15 can be found on the list, mostly in the top rounds.... Twenty USHL kids were ranked, with a heavy concentration found in the rounds 3-6.... Twenty-three U.S. High School kids made the list, with over half found in rounds 6-8.... Six U.S. kids playing major junior made the list.... Four kids from the NAHL (two of whom are goalies) and three kids from the EJHL made the list.... In a whole different category are the college kids, of whom 20 U.S. kids were spread pretty evenly throughout the list.
Included on the list are numerous late '82s and '83s who would have to opt-in to be taken in the draft, which will be held in June in Sunrise, Florida. Must be nice this time of year.
Give us a Fez, and a Tiny Convertible, too
The rosters for the Shriners/USHL Prospects/All-Star Game (seriously, that's what it's called) has been announced and can be found below. The game, which takes place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Tues. Jan 23, again features guest coaches: Jack Barzee, representing the NHL's Central Scouting Service, will be making a return appearance behind the Team World bench, while Lou Vairo, representing USA Hockey, will be behind the Team USA bench. (Team World, by the way, is two-thirds American.)
- Team World
- Goaltenders (2): Jure Penko (Green Bay); Beau Fritz (Lincoln).
- Defensemen (7): Keith Ballard (Omaha); Lubomir Velebny (Waterloo); Arthur Femenella (Sioux City); Andrew Alberts (Waterloo); Jamie Mattie (Sioux Falls); Joe Campbell (Des Moines); Tim Conboy (Rochester).
- Forwards (10): Andy Contois (Green Bay); Riley Riddell (Omaha); Brandon Bochenski (Lincoln); Yan Stastny (Omaha); David Klema (Des Moines); James Massen (Sioux Falls); David Moss (Cedar Rapids); Thomas Vanek (Sioux Falls); John Snowden (Lincoln); Preston Callandar (Lincoln).
- Alternates: G Bobby Goepfert (Cedar Rapids); D P.J. Atherton (Cedar Rapids).
- Team USA:
- Goaltenders (2): Mike Mantua (Des Moines); Marty Magers (Omaha).
- Defensemen (7): Matt Jones (Green Bay); Andy Schneider (Lincoln); Bryce Lampman (Omaha); Jason Krischuk (Omaha); Tim Judy (Sioux City); Eric Werner (Sioux Falls); Greg Zemple (Tri-City).
- Forwards (10): Chris Fournier (Lincoln); Ryan Connelly (Waterloo); Mike Doyle (Sioux Falls); Scott Polaski (Sioux City); Ryan Bennett (Des Moines); Dan Welch (Omaha); Doug Meyer (Des Moines); Corey McLean (Chicago); J.B. Bittner (Sioux Falls); Jon Foster (Dubuque).
- Alternates (2): G Kevin Ackley (Chicago); D Nick Fuher (Lincoln)
Tsiantar, McCarthy Commit
6'0", 175 lb. RW Nick Tsiantar of the Berkshire School has committed to Colorado College. Tsiantar, who's from Simi Valley, California, is a 6/22/83 birthdate.
6'4", 230 lb. defenseman Tom McCarthy of the Noble & Greenough School has committed to play for Rob Riley at West Point. McCarthy, who played a good, physical game in Nobles' 4-3 win over Lawrence Academy yesterday, is a 4/9/82 birthdate from Warwick, RI.
BC's D'Arpino Leaves for Lincoln
Boston College sophomore defenseman Anthony D'Arpino has left Boston College to return to the USHL with the Lincoln Stars. D'Arpino, who appeared in five games this season, was reported to be unhappy with his limited amount of playing time. He's hoping to transfer to another NCAA Div. I school in a year.
D'Arpino, a 6'0", 205 lb. native of Rhode Island, where he played at St. Ray's before heading to Avon Old Farms and then Lincoln, is the third Boston College player to leave school since the beginning of the academic year. Forwards Jeremy Wilson and Paul Kelly preceded him. D'Arpino was the only one of the three to appear in a game.
D'Arpino should be in uniform when the Stars host Cedar Rapids tomorrow night.
Prospects Set to Challenge HNIB
Promising a tournament that is "better, shorter, and cheaper" than Hockey Night in Boston, Bob Turow, who runs the annual Prospects Tournaments in Toronto, is finalizing plans for a pair of U.S. tournaments in the summer.
There will be two five-day camps. The first tournament will be for freshmen and sophomores; the second will be for juniors and seniors.
The tournaments, which will be held at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro, Mass., about 35 miles west of Boston, have a tentative start date of July 15. Plans call for six teams in each tournament. All players will train on-ice in the a.m., and all will play a game each night.
As for the selection process, kids will apply individually, but it's an invite-only tournament. In other words, if Turow doesn't know a player, he'll call on someone who does. "We want, literally, the best," he said.
In addition to all of the United States, Turow will also be inviting top players from Canada's eastern provinces -- Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.
Prospects will be running the U.S. tournaments in a partnership with International Hockey Training (IHT), which is run by Dan Poliziani, whom many of you may remember from Yale University in the late '70s and early '80s, where he played and later served as an assistant and then interim head coach ('93-94, when Tim Taylor was coaching the U.S. Olympic Team). Poliziano, who's been coaching in the Provincial League in recent years, was the coach of Ontario's Under-17 team at the recent World Under-17 Challenge in Nova Scotia. In addition, he's running the CHA's Mentor Coach program in the Burlington, Ont. area.
How will this tournament do in terms of attracting the top players? Probably extremely well. The feeling among most scouts and recruiters is that Hockey Night in Boston, which runs from July into late August, has become so watered down that, with the possible exception of the all-star games on the final three days, it's just not worth the time anymore.
Unranked Salisbury Shoots Down Taft
Unranked Salisbury School, down 2-0, playing on the road, and outshot by approximately 25-10 over the first two periods this afternoon, defeated #2-ranked Taft 3-2 in overtime this afternoon.
Salisbury's Bowdoin-bound senior goaltender David Sandals, who came up big in a 2-1 loss to Deerfield on Saturday, had the hot hand again today, keeping his team in the game for two periods, and giving his teammates the chance to come back to tie it in regulation and win it in OT.
In the third period, Salisbury took control of the game from Taft, which was playing without senior center Ryan Shannon, who is out with mono. First, senior forward Joe Versino scored off a bang-bang play to make it a one-goal game, then freshman defenseman Mike Gershon scored off a slapshot from the point to send it into OT.
Taft, recently bedeviled with the game -- or season -- on the line, was tagged with the loss when Salisbury senior forward Kevin Hathway scored off a faceoff scramble with 2:33 remaining in OT.
Taft, which lost to Avon on Saturday, also 3-2 in OT, is now 4-2-1 on the season and hosts undefeated Westminster on Wednesday.
Correction, 1/9/01: We misdiagnosed Taft center Ryan Shannon in last night's report. Shannon, who was taken home after the Avon game on Saturday with what turned out to be a severe sinus infection, missed yesterday's game. However, antibiotics have KO'd the infection, and he'll be back in the lineup for tomorrow's game vs. Westminster.
Cushing Still on Top
The first USHR Prep Poll of 2001 is up and Cushing is still #1. Moreover, the New Year's tournaments and the first week of regular season play caused no movement in the 1-7 slots.
Leneveu Makes His Pick
Goaltender Dave Leneveu, a 17 year old with the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL), has committed to Cornell.
Leneveu also had Harvard University in his final mix. The Calgary Hitmen, who drafted Leneveu in the 10th round of the May 1999 WHL bantam draft, also made a big push for him at the end.
Leneveu, who's from Fernie, BC and played for the AWHL champions Fernie Ghostriders last season, is a 5/23/83 birthdate. This season, in 27 games for Nanaimo, which leads its division, he has a 2.82 gaa and .898 save percentage.
At Cornell, Leneveu will compete for playing time with Chris Gartman, who'll be a junior next fall, and Matt Underhill, who'll be a senior. Ian Burt graduates in the spring.
Show Me You Care
Most everybody in the college hockey world believed that the hunt to land U.S. National Team Development center Dave Spina would come down to either Denver or BU.
However, it was Boston College that came out on top. What may have cinched it for the Eagles was a visit the whole team made on Saturday Dec. 9 to see him and his U.S. Under-18 teammates play Bowdoin College. On that evening, the Eagles were on their way from Chestnut Hill to Orono for a Sunday night game vs. Maine. And since the Under-18 Team was playing a game at Bowdoin College, just a few miles off the interstate, the Eagles stopped in, and saw not only Spina, but also fellow Eagle recruit Ryan Murphy. In addition, BC freshman defensemen Joe Schuman and J.D. Forrest got a rare chance to look at their former team. Who didn't get to see the game that night? B.C. assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh, who, coincidentally, is a Bowdoin grad. Since NCAA rules prohibit three coaches from the same school watching a potential recruit together, Cavanaugh had to drive up later.
Right around Christmas, Spina, a 5'9", 165 lb. RC from Mesa, Arizona with excellent puck skills and a nose for the net, made his verbal commitment to the Eagles.
Boston College has also received verbal commitments from Andrew Alberts and Ben McManama.
Alberts is a 6'4", 215 lb. defensive defenseman in his second season with the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) who not only has size but a nasty streak, too. In 27 games, Alberts has a 1-1-2 line with 47 penalty minutes. He's a 6/30/81 birthdate and a 1999 graduate of Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota.
McManama is a prep school forward from Massachusetts, where he plays for Noble & Greenough. A 6'1", 180 lb. RW, McManama is an all-around player who has size, good north-south skating ability, and can score. A 6/4/82 birthdate, he's from Medfield, Mass. and is the son of Dr. George McManama, the former Harvard player and, later, Milton Academy coach.
U.S. Under-17's Strike Gold
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia -- In one of the most stirring victories the U.S. has achieved in international competition in quite some time, a gutsy National Under-17 Team won the gold medal at the 2001 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge today by knocking off Team Pacific, 5-4, in front of over 3,200 fans at jam-packed New Glasgow Stadium as well as a nationwide TV audience watching on TSN, Canada's equivalent to ESPN.
Both teams entered the game with perfect 5-0 records, though Pacific had beaten the U.S. in a pre-tourney exhibition. While extremely tense, the game was also a battle of attrition as both teams, which had their off day on the first day of the tournament (Dec. 29), were playing their sixth game in six days. Errors -- both of commission and omission -- were plentiful, and by the time the third period came around, about as common as a Tim Horton's donut shop. Fans didn't care, however, for the game's most thrilling moments came off those very breakdowns.
As for the game itself, the U.S. struck first when Patrick O'Sullivan, an '85 birthdate, shocked the partisan Canadian crowd by streaking down the right side and snapping off a wrister from just above the right face off dot that beat Pacific goaltender Ryan Cyr just 14 seconds into the game. That was it for the scoring in the first period.
The U.S. struck again in the first minute of the second (they'd also do it in the third) when a banged-up Patrick Eaves, who was suffering from a sore shoulder, rib, and hand (he'd had to leave the game midway through the first for medical attention), walked out from behind the net and jammed the puck past a surprised Cyr at the 55 second mark to put the U.S. up, 2-0.
The two-goal lead didn't last long, however, for Pacific's Jeff Tambellini, the son of former NHLer Steve Tambellini, scored off a rebound of his own shot at the 4:05 mark, cutting the U.S. lead to one.
Less than two minutes later, U.S. right wing Gabe Gauthier, who, along with Plymouth Whalers defenseman James Wisniewski, was one of only two players added to the Under-17 team from outside the NTDP, fired a bullet from below the right faceoff circle that beat Cyr, his teammate on the Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL), for a power play goal at the 5:50 mark.
The second period ended with the U.S. holding onto a slim 3-2 lead.
In the third, the U.S. would once again open the period with a bang, this time when big RW Greg Moore fired home the rebound of his own shot to give the U.S. a 4-2 lead just 22 seconds in. However, seconds later, Pacific got it back, and the game would hang right there, remaining a one-goal battle until, with 3:39 remaining in regulation, U.S. defenseman Noah Babin fired home a shot from the left point that would prove to be the game winner. For Babin, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, it was his first goal of both the tournament and the season and couldn't have come at a better time as Pacific once again came up with a quick counterstrike when LW Adam Taylor of the Kootenay Ice (WHL) cut the U.S. lead to one goal by banging home a passout from behind the net to make it a 5-4 game. And that's where it would end. With 1:11 remaining, Pacific coach Terry Perkins pulled Cyr for the extra attacker, but to no avail -- time ran out without his team being able to get a good shot on U.S. goaltender Tim Roth.
At the final buzzer, the U.S. kids' sticks flew up into the air and, with the celebration, years of frustration began to melt away.
After the the game, U.S. head coach Moe Mantha praised his charges, citing their poise and discipline as keys to the win. "They didn't take any retaliation penalties and they kept to the system," Mantha said. "They really worked so hard for it," he added. "What they did will give them memories that will last them a long, long time." Mantha, a 12-year NHL veteran who played for the 1992 U.S. Olympic team, admitted that he got the shivers when the U.S. National anthem was played after the game. "Oh, yes, my knees were shaking," he said.
After the game, a representative of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto came down to get the stick Babin used on his game-winner to place in the museum's growing international exhibit.
Eaves, who was immense in both last night's 3-0 semifinal win over Team Ontario as well as today's win, was named the U.S. player of the game. For Team Pacific, the award went to Alex Leavitt, a small, crafty center with the Notre Dame Hounds who'll be playing for the University of Wisconsin in the fall.
We'll have a lot more on this tournament, and will be catching up on a lot of other stuff over the days ahead, so please stay tuned.
- Copyright © 2001 U.S. Hockey Report
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The USHL has announced that the Dubuque Fighting Saints, relocating to Tulsa, Oklahoma this fall, will be known as the Tulsa Crude, in homage to the city's role in the U.S. oil boom of the last century. The team's colors will be black and gold, like that team in Pittsburgh.
The Crude will play at the 6,000 seat Pavilion Ice Arena on the county fairgrounds, which is currently undergoing a $7 million renovation. The relocation of the Fighting Saints also moves the team, just like that, from the smallest USHL market to the largest. The greater Tulsa area has a population of 750,000.
Joining Fighting Saints president/GM/head coach Brian Gallagher in the new ownership group will be Monte Miron, who was the first Oklahoma high school graduate to play college hockey. Miron was a defenseman at Clarkson from 1971-74 and was drafted by Toronto in the 7th round of the 1972 NHL draft. Miron will head up the business side of the Tulsa organization.
Dubuque, currently in its 21st year in the USHL, has struggled on the ice and at the gate in recent years, averaging just 733 fans per home date last year, way below the league average. The glory years for Dubuque were the first five for the franchise as, from 1980-85 the Fighting Saints, coached by Jack Barzee, won three Clark Cups in five years.
Standing Tall in the Shadows
With all the Class AA high school teams to keep an eye on in Minnesota, not a lot of scouts or college recruiters get out to see Class A teams. At Centennial HS, 6'0" sophomore LW Phil Todd, an '84, has been making a splash. One scout who has seen Todd a couple of times said the winger, a big, physical presence who can rock opponents, could step in and play Jr. A next year. Todd, a little bit of a project skating-wise, recalls Gopher recruit Barry Tallackson in his sophomore year at St. Paul Johnson -- except not as many people know about him.
In a game last week against Totino-Grace, Todd scored all four of his team's goals in a 5-4 loss. He would have had five except for the fact that one was disallowed.
Todd, who didn't make it past the first cutdown at the Minnesota Select 16 tryouts last spring, is among the top Minnesota high school scorers with a 24-19-43 line in 16 games.
Minnesota High School Notes: It appears to be a 50/50 proposition as to whether Eden Prairie forward Garrett Smaagaard will take a year in the USHL -- his rights are held by the Topeka ScareCrows -- or go directly to the University of Minnesota. Smaagaard, a 6'0" right shot forward who committed to the Gophers in the fall, tore his ACL in the state high school football championship and has missed the entire hockey season. Eden Prairie -- 13-6 overall and ranked #17 in the state --- has missed Smaagaard. So, too, has his teammate, 6'2" RW Mike Erickson, a fellow Gopher recruit who was expected by many to be a dominant player in high school play this season. Erickson, who many pro scouts saw as having the potential to go in the top couple of rounds this June, has tailed off in his senior season and now looks more like a mid-round draft. Erickson has a 9-13-22 line in 11 games. Des Moines used one of their tenders for next season on him.
Bochenski a Hot Property
Lincoln Stars (USHL) center Brandon Bochenski scored a shorthanded goal, an even-strength goal, and added an assist in Lincoln's 3-1 win over Sioux City Saturday night. With 37 goals in 34 games, Bochenski is averaging better than a goal per game.
Who, you're probably wondering, was the last USHL player to finish the season with better than a goal per game (and, for that matter, the last player to reach the 50-goal mark)? The answer: former North Dakota Star and current Islanders LW Jason Blake, who finished the 1993-94 season with a 50-50-100 line for Waterloo.
Bochenski, 6'1", 180 lbs. and a right shot is a 4/4/82 birthdate. Last year he played for Blaine HS in Minnesota and lit it up. However, he's a poor skater and that scared off Div. I guys.
They're no longer scared, and Bochenski is the hottest property among the players still available. For the record, he took an official visit to Wisconsin in mid-January, and has three visits left -- Minnesota this week, then Colorado College and North Dakota in early February.
Bochenski, despite his skating, is excellent without the puck, and he has the first step and quickness to get open. His hands are quick, and he shoots it hard, too. The bottom line: Bochenski is a pure scorer who makes it look easy. He has the knack.
Note: Currently Bochenski is at 1.08 goals per game. His closest pursuer in the goal-scoring department is James Massen of Sioux Falls, who has 26 goals. Following him are Lincoln's Preston Callander, both with 22; and Omaha's Riley Riddell with 21.
Apple Core Rules in Adirondacks
New York Apple Core (EJHL) beat Little Caesar's 9-1 in the championship game of the Northwood Tournament yesterday. Apple Core, which would up outscoring their opponents 36-6 in five games, defeated host Northwood in the semis, 4-1. Apple Core goaltender John Yaros was named tourney MVP. Named to the all-tourney team were forwards A.J. Palkovich, Chris Uber, and Ruslan Khasanchin of Apple Core; forward Greg Mauldin of the Boston Jr. Bruins, and defenseman Tony Tyrell of Little Caesar's.
USHR Prep Poll: Picture Getting Clearer
With four weeks left in the regular season, Cushing heads up a group of four schools that, combined, have three losses amongst them. Two, of course, are undefeated.