U.S. National Junior Team Almost Set
The U.S. National Junior Team, which begins WJC play in Halifax, Nova Scotia the day after Christmas, is almost set. Here's how things are shaping up:
Up front, ten -- and possibly 11 -- players are considered locks. They are: Dustin Brown (Guelph -- OHL); Patrick Eaves (BC); Dwight Helminen (Michigan); Chris Higgins (Yale); Ryan Kesler (Ohio State); Eric Nystrom (Michigan); Patrick O'Sullivan (Mississauga -- OHL); Zach Parise (North Dakota); Ryan Shannon (BC); and Brett Sterling (CC).
Barry Tallackson (Minnesota) would make it 11 -- if he heals from his injury in time.
IIHF play allows for 22 man rosters, so the U.S. will be going to Halifax with 13 forwards. That means the U.S., in the next two or three weeks, will need to add two more forwards -- three if Tallackson isn't ready.
The pool of candidates includes: Brian McConnell (BU), Greg Moore (Maine); Lee Falardeau (Michigan St.); Dave Spina (BC); Gino Guyer (Minnesota); Ryan Murphy (BC); Danny Fritsche (Sarnia -- OHL); Nate Thompson (Seattle -- WHL); Robbie Schremp (Mississauga -- OHL); Hugh Jessiman (Dartmouth); and Stephen Werner (UMass).
Size, or lack of it, is an issue on this team and, since they will not be playing on Olympic-sized sheets, look for the remaining two or three forward slots to be filled by good-sized kids who can play the pro-style game. McConnell, Falardeau, and Moore appear to be the front runners right now, though there's still time for that to change.
On defense, there are six locks: Tim Gleason (Windsor -- OHL); Matt Jones (North Dakota); Mark Stuart (CC); Ryan Suter (U.S. Under-18 Team); Ryan Whitney (BU); and James Wisniewski (Plymouth -- OHL).
The U.S. will be going with seven D, so they'll be adding one more. The pool of candidates includes Matt Carle (River City -- USHL); Matt Gens (St. Cloud State): Tom Gilbert (Wisconsin); Matt Greene (North Dakota); Bryan Miller (BU); Corey Potter (Michigan St.); Danny Richmond (Michigan); Evan Shaw (Michigan St.); Judd Stevens (Minnesota); and Eric Werner (Michigan).
It's hard to say who the front-runner is here. Probably Matt Carle, if a good transition type of D-man is called for, or perhaps Matt Greene, if the coaching staff is looking for a physical pro-style blueliner. Carle is in the USHL and has no college experience, so that could work against him. However, the Anchorage native has plenty of international experience from his two years in the NTDP.
The two goaltenders will be Jimmy Howard (Maine); and Bobby Goepfert (Providence).
IceDogs Coach Ludzik Sends O'Sullivan Home
Mississauga IceDogs (OHL) head coach Steve Ludzik has sent star 17-year-old center Patrick O'Sullivan home for failing to live up to his defensive responsibilities.
O'Sullivan, an American whose father lives in Sterling Height, Michigan and whose mother lives in Winston-Salem, NC, was the #1 overall pick in the May 2001 OHL Draft. Last season, he was named the OHL's Rookie of the Year after posting a 34-58-92 line in 68 games. A 2/1/85 birthdate, Sullivan,, 5'11", 185 lbs., is considered a high first-round draft choice for the June 2003 NHL draft. Right now, he's Mississauga's leading scorer with a 15-16-31 line in 24 games. That puts him three points ahead of Robbie Schremp, the rookie from Fulton, NY, who has a 4-24-28 line.
O'Sullivan is scheduled to play for the U.S. National Junior Team at the WJC starting Dec. 26 in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. Last spring, O'Sullivan, who played in the US National Team Development Program as an underage player in 2000-01, rejoined the program for the World Under-18 championship this past April. The U.S., of course, won the gold, knocking off Russia in the finale, with O'Sullivan playing strong defensively.
This year, O'Sullivan raced off to a fast start, logging a ton of points in the first ten or so games. However, his offensive production has tailed off a little in the ten games since, a span in which the club, which has a 7-13-5 record and is no longer the doormat of the OHL, has been in a 2-6-2 skid, going from two games under .500 to six under. Ludzik, formerly the head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning and a nine-year ex-NHLer with Chicago and Buffalo, had seen enough of what he referred to as indifferent play. Ludwig said the message he was sending was directly for O'Sullivan, and not the team. Ludwig also said he looks forward to having O'Sullivan back, though that's not ecxpected to be until January, after the World Juniors.
"It's not a long-term thing," Ludzik said. "I sent him home to think about what he, as a player, is supposed to be doing."
Ludzik has taken a tough approach with the IceDogs, stressing defense, which was non-existent as the club struggled through its first four years, annually finishing with by far the worst record in the league. Under previous owner/coach Don Cherry, O'Sullivan was pretty much allowed to do whatever he wanted on the ice.
When O'Sullivan was with the National Program his defensive play, while far from perfect, was infinitely better than it has been in Mississauga. He knows how to play both ways, but, as Ludzik's actions point out, he doesn't make a habit of it.
18-Min. Periods a Go -- For the Most Part
New England Div. I prep schools -- with the exception of the Keller Division -- will be ushering in 18-minute periods this season.
The nine-team Keller Div., which includes St. Paul's, Governor Dummer, Milton, St. Sebastian's, Thayer, Nobles, BB&N, Belmont Hill, and Lawrence Academy, is part of the Independent School League (ISL), which also includes the Div. II Eberhart Division, which consists of Brooks, Groton, Middlesex, Rivers, Roxbury Latin, St. George's, and St. Mark's.
The ISL is the only league in prep hockey with two divisions and, in turning down the proposal, the league's ADs felt that going to 18-minute periods now would create too much of a split between the two divisions. Keller Division coaches are sympathetic, but appear eager to work on keeping the issue of 18-minute periods alive for both Div. I and II, thus bringing uniformity to New England prep hockey.
While longer periods will be the norm this winter, it will be on a trial basis, with the ADs deciding in the spring whether or not to make it permanent in 2003-04.
For now, though, the norm across New England will consist of three 18-minute periods with two-minute minors and five-minute majors. These rules will be in effect for all non-Keller Div. regular season games as well as postseason competition. When a Keller Div. teams hosts a non-Keller Division team in interleague play, the home team will decide whether the game will be 45 or 54 minutes. However, when the situation is reversed and a Keller Division team plays an interleague game on the road, play will run for 54 minutes.
New England prep hockey -- both Div. I and II -- will also be adopting the 15-second rule, with 12-minute breaks between periods. NEPSIHA president Tim Pratt said, "We are making an effort to speed up the game and believe that we can play the longer periods in the same amount of time it took us to play fifteens before -- which was a major concern of the ADs."
Central Scouting's Preliminary Rankings Out
The NHL's Central Scouting Service has released its preliminary rankings for the 2003 NHL Draft. Follow the link below and then click on "Preliminary Rankings" in the left-hand column. There are two lists -- one for North America, and one for Europe. To view the lists you will need Adobe Reader 5.0 or higher, which most computers today run.
Boyle Bringing Size to BC's Front Line
Boston College, noted for their small, skilled forwards, will have their size index raised next season: 6'6", 222 LC Brian Boyle of St. Sebastian's has just committed to the Eagles.
Boyle, a Hingham, Mass. native about to begin his fourth season on the St. Sebastian's varsity, is a big center with a great wingspan and a terrific shot. Boyle will have a lot of eyes on him this season. Not only is he a senior on a team that has won the New England prep title two consecutive seasons, he's also a 12/18/84 birthdate, so is entering his draft year, though he'd have to opt-in. Right now, Boyle is projected to go in the second round. With his size -- and a big season -- he could move up.
Other schools Boyle visited, and gave serious consideration to, were BU, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale.
Boston College, which is averaging 4.7 goals per game to date, only loses one senior forward, A.J. Walker, after this season. Every other current forward is an underclassman. Add in Boyle, Adam Pineault (US Under-18), and Joe Rooney (Walpole Stars) and you're looking at a deep and powerful group of forwards.
Next year's Beanpot will feature at least seven players who wore the St. Sebastian's colors: Boyle (BC), Rooney (BC), Kenny Roche (BU), Sean Sullivan (BU), Mike Morris (NU), Noah Welch (Harvard), and Ryan Lannon (Harvard). Lannon played his 8th grade season for the Arrows, then went on to St. Pauls, the NTDP, and Cushing. St. Sebastian's head coach Steve Dagdigian is an ex-Beanpotter, having played for Harvard in the '70s.
Boyle is not only big, but he comes from a big family. He's the middle of 13 children ranging in age from five to 28 years of age.
Note: Boyle may not be the biggest college player in New England next year. That honor could go to 6'7", 247 lb. RD Arthur Femenella of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Femenella is taking an official visit to the University of Vermont this weekend. He, along with Sioux City teammate Sean Collins, also a right-shot D, will be at UVM's game against Yale tonight.
6'2", 185 lb. RD Paul Baier has committed to Brown University for the fall of '04.
Baier, who played the last two seasons at St. George's, a Div. II prep school in Newport, RI, is currently a repeat junior at Deerfield Academy. More than just big, Baier is also a smooth skater who can carry the puck and make a play. He's a pro-type defenseman who looked very good when we watched him over the summer, both at the National Hockey Training Center Prep/Junior camp in Gorham, Maine, and at the Beantown Classic in Malden, Mass.
Baier, a 2/2/85 birthdate, is originally from Toronto. However, his family now lives in N. Kingstown, RI. At. St. George's, Baier's coach was former Brown forward Ryan Mulhern.
Under-17 Star to Michigan
U.S. Under-17 leading scorer Chad Kolarik has committed to the University of Michigan.
Kolarik, who'll join the Wolverines in the fall of '04, nearly committed to Michigan a month or two ago, but his parents reportedly encouraged him to take his time and look around a bit. Given that window of opportunity, Boston College and Boston University went to work on recruiting Kolarik to their respective schools. For example, BC and BU were the only schools to send recruiters to the Four Nations Tournament in Switzerland Nov. 6-10, where Kolarik was, hands-down, the top American player. While the two Boston schools gave their best to get Kolarik back east, in the end the 16-year-old stuck with Michigan.
Kolarik, in case you haven't seen him, is the best one-on-one player of his birth year playing in the U.S. Manute Bol could walk into the Ice Cube and pick out Kolarik -- a silky smooth skater with soft hands and an accurate shot -- as the Under-17's top prospect. However, in the two plus months since the Under-17 slate began, Kolarik has lifted his game to another level. His tools have always been top shelf, but under coach David Quinn and the rest of the Under-17 staff he's made great strides toward becoming an all-around player and major pro prospect. You can now see him working hard in all three zones, blocking shots, skating hard to the bench, etc. If he keeps it up, Michigan will have themselves a big-timer.
Kolarik, who is 5'10", 162 lbs. is a right-shot center who sometimes plays the wing. A native of Abington, Penn., and a 1/26/86 birthdate, he's the younger brother of Harvard forward Tyler Kolarik, a 2000 fifth-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kolarik currently leads the Under-17 team with a 14-11-25 line in 24 games played.
Last season, Kolarik played at Deerfield Academy. In 2000-01, he played for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers Bantams.
Kolarik has another year after this with the NTDP, and will then head off to Michigan in the fall of 2004. He'll join fellow NTDPers T.J. Hensick, Mike Brown and Matt Hunwick, who'll go there next year, and Kevin Porter (the second best U.S. player at the Four Nations Tournament), who will enter with Kolarik in the fall of '04. Future NTDP defenseman Jack Johnson -- now at Shattuck-St. Mary's -- has committed to the Wolverines for '05. Where we come from, that's not a peck, that's a bushel.
EJHL Defenseman Killed in Car Accident
Walpole Jr. Stars (EJHL) defenseman P.J. Shaughnessy died in a car crash early yesterday morning.
Shaughnessy, from Pembroke Mass, was in a Jeep that was traveling at over 80 mph on I-95 north of Walpole when it hit a guardrail and rolled over, throwing all four occupants from the vehicle. None were wearing seatbelts. Shaughnessy and a friend, Michael Brack, an 18-year-old from the South Shore, were killed. The two others in the car survived. It's unclear who was driving the vehicle.
Shaughnessy had spent the evening celebrating his 20th birthday with friends in Providence. At the crash site, the police found beer, liquor bottles, and marijuana.
Shaugnessy graduated from Tilton in June, where he was a member of that school's Div. II prep school championship squad, and an honor roll student. Before going to Tilton, Shaughnessy, along with his three friends in the car, attended Silver Lake Regional HS.
Walpole Stars head coach Jack Sweeney told his players of Shaughnessy's death yesterday afternoon. Walpole's games for this weekend have been cancelled.
Norwich Takes over in Cleveland
Craig Norwich has been hired as the new head coach of the Cleveland Barons (NAHL), taking over from Barry Butler, the team's GM.
Butler had been running the club since Jock Callander was fired last month.
Norwich, 46, was a high school star at Edina (Minn.) HS and a two-time All -American defenseman at Wisconsin. He played pro in the NHL, WHA, the minors, and Europe.
In the early 90s, Norwich was director of hockey and a coach at Shattuck-St. Mary's. After that, he ran the Vail Midget AAA program for a few years. In April 1999, he was hired as head coach of the Rochester Mustangs (USHL), but less than two months later was fired after a dispute with team owner Dan Nasshorn.
11/15/02 -- UPDATED
More Trouble for Friars
We've learned that Providence College freshman forward Nate Meyers had company on his wild night early last month.
We also learned that Meyers wasn't the first Friar to be arrested for his role in what is looking like a night of wilding. Last week, rather quietly it would appear, fellow freshman forward Jason Bloomingburg was charged with two counts of simple assault, and one count of malicious mischief. After his arraignment, he was released on $3,000 personal recognizance.
The events in question started on Sat. night Oct. 5 and carried over into the early morning hours of Sun. Oct. 6. Reportedly, Bloomingburg was walking with a crowd of people on that Saturday night when they started arguing with another group. According to police, Bloomingburg punched an 18-year-old man in the face.Five hours later -- early Sunday morning -- Bloomingburg was reported to have gotten into a second fight with a man in the same area. Once again, there was an argument, and, once again, Bloomingburg is reported to have punched his victim in the face. Bloomingburg also kicked the side mirror off the side of the victim's car.
The Bloomingburg incident happened an hour after Meyers attacked the two men waiting for the cab -- and it happened in the same general area, too. A spokesman for Providence College named -- get this -- Ed Caron, said there were brawls in the area that night involving twenty other students from nearby colleges who live in the area around the Providence campus.
Only two players have been charged, but there are credible reports that a third Friar hockey player was involved. Caron, however, wasn't naming him. From that, it's fair to assume this third player has not yet been charged -- and may never be. Caron did allow that Meyers and Bloomingburg have been suspended, though it's unclear as to whether the suspension has been served or not. Caron added that the school was conducting its own investigation.
Meyers was arraigned Thursday morning. It was not simple assault, as we had originally been told, but a felony assault. Meyers was released on $25,000 personal recognizance.
Providence was on the road tonight at UNH, where they lost, 3-0.
Bloomingburg, who turns 20 next week, is a Canton, Michigan native who played last season for the Texas Tornado (NAHL).
Curtale Suspended Again
Speaking of the Texas Tornado, head coach Tony Curtale has been suspended by the NAHL for one game as a result of a post-game tirade after a game against the Danville Wings last Saturday night, a game won by Texas, 3-2.
When the game was over, the Tornado coach, despite being on the winning side, reportedly chased the ref around the ice, and flipped off the crowd, who, seeing what was happening, were voicing their displeasure by throwing debris on the ice. Texas defenseman Matt Nickerson heaved a water bottle into the crowd. The visitors' locker room was damaged. And to top things off, there was a reported altercation at the hotel after the game involving Curtale.
Earlier, the game had started about as inauspiciously as possible -- the referee didn't show up and the Wings had to scramble to find a replacement. The best they could come up with on minutes notice was a local youngster who had never officiated a junior A game before. Needless to say, and through no fault of his own, he and the rest of the officiating crew -- all quite young -- were unprepared for Curtale and his squad. Thirty seconds into the game, Nickerson, a hulking 6'5", 210 lb. Texas defenseman, went after 5'8" UMass-Lowell recruit Jason Tejchma, provoking a line brawl. When Tejchma went to the penalty box, Nickerson got into another fight, this time with Danville forward Aaron Clarke. Nickerson, however, was allowed to stay in the game.
A Danville player was speared in the face in the third period, and had to be taken to the hospital.
Curtale, 40, was slapped with a lengthy suspension by the NAHL two seasons ago after an on-ice debacle involving -- you guessed it, the Danville Wings. The brevity of this suspension was reportedly due to the fact that it was Curtale's first run-in with officials this season.
Nickerson was not suspended.
Danville was fined for not having the video camera running, and for their players not going to the bench during an altercation.One player from each team was suspendded for leaving the bench to fight -- Brett Fox for Daville and Tom Train for Texas, each getting three games.
PC Forward Charged with Assault
Providence College freshman RW Nate Meyers, 20, has been charged with simple assault by the Providence, RI police for allegedly punching and kicking a man in an early morning off-campus incident last month.
A warrant for his arrest was issued last week and it is expected that Meyers, who has stayed in the Friars lineup, will turn himself in to the Providence police for arraignment this morning.
The incident, according to Providence police, happened in the early morning of October 6. Two men waiting for a cab just outside the the Providence campus were surrounded by a group of 8-10 men, one of whom said, "You don't ____ with Providence College hockey players."
The larger group then surrounded the two men, knocking them to the ground, and punching and kicking them. Neighbors, hearing the commotion, called the police. However, by the time the cops arrived, everyone had run.
Subsequently, one of the kids filed a complaint, with the other serving as witness. The police showed them pictures and they were able to pick out Meyers as a member of the group. An arrest warrant was then issued against Meyers for one count of simple assault. The injury was reported to be minor.Hospitilization was not required.
The police are saying it is not a hate crime.
As far as a motive for this incident is concerned, we can only speculate. We do know, however, that at around the time of the above-mentioned Oct. 6 incident, there were reports of a fight between hockey players from Providence College and neighboring Johnson & Wales College, a DIII school better known for its culinary programs.
In that fight, Providence senior forward Mike Lucci was beaten up. Lucci didn't return to the Friars lineup until several weeks later.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Wales, which until then had rented PC's Schneider Arena for its hockey program, bailed out of the arena and moved the team to the 146 Rink in N. Smithfield, RI.
Meyers, a 6'0", 210 lb. Maple Glen, Penn. native, led the USHL with 231 penalty minutes last season while with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
In seven games with Providence this season, Meyers has one goal and one assist. As for the Friars, they're 8-2 and #11 in the latest US College Hockey Online poll.
There has been a history of off-campus trouble between PC athletes and the community, most dramatically involving the basketball program, in which a fight a few years back led to several players being kicked off the Friars team. As for hockey, in 1998 goalie Boyd Ballard and defenseman Dave Gunderson, each highly intoxicated, resisted arrest from the police after pulling a branch off a city tree.
One to PC; Two to Michigan State
Three Cedar Rapids RoughRiders have made their commitments for next year, with Chase Watson heading to Providence College; and both Chris Snavely and Tyler Howells heading to Michigan State.
-- Watson, a 5'11", 187 lb. left-shot center from the Philadelphia area, is in his fourth year in the USHL. A playmaker and good faceoff man, Watson is strong at both ends of the ice. He's the son and nephew of, respectively, Jimmy and Joe Watson, Philadelphia Flyers defensemen during the Broad Street Bullies era. The younger Watson is a late '82 birthdate.
-- Snavely, who's heading to Michigan, is also from the Philadelphia area -- Lancaster, Penn., to be precise -- and he too is in his fourth USHL season, all with the RoughRiders. A 5'9", 175 lb. offensive defenseman, Snavely is an excellent distributor. He's another late '82 birthdate.
-- Howells, a RW on Watson's line, is a 5'8", 170 pounder who helped lead Holy Angels to the Minnesota State High Schol championship last spring. A left shot playing the off wing, the Eden Prairie native -- a late '83 -- is a strong skater who can put up points. He leads Cedar Rapids in scoring with an 8-8-16 linie in 16 games.
Crosby, Johnson Wow Scouts at Minnesota Elite Tournament
New Hope, Minn. -- On Sunday, Jacob Hipp scored with one second remaining in OT to give Shattuck-St. Mary's a 3-2 win over Minnesota White in the championship of the 2002 High School Elite National Invitational Tournament here.
The buzz of the tournament surrounded Shattuck's two '87s, forward Sidney Crosby and defenseman Jack Johnson, both 10th graders. One NHL scout in attendance pronounced the pair as good as -- if not better -- than any other 15 year olds he'd ever seen. Both players exhibited tremendous poise and, despite their age, just jumped out at you. We've written about Johnson, a Michigan recruit for 2005, before, particularly at the 15 Festival, where he was a force throughout. Crosby, a native of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is probably the most talked-about '87 in North America -- and not without good reason, either. Shattuck's leading scorer, with 51 points in 19 games, Crosby is incredibly slick with the puck, can really skate, and is powerful. He has really good vision, and a great knack for getting into openings. He's listed as 5'10"/175 and he is, in short, the real deal.
Other standouts for Shattuck were senior Drew Stafford, a skilled 6'2" late '85 power forward who's heading to North Dakota next fall; senior Matt Ford, a late '84 who makes things happen every time he steps on the ice; 6'4" senior defenseman Matt Smaby, who has size galore, and junior Tyler Eaves (Murray Eaves' son), an '86 forward who doesn't score much but plays a solid all-round game. Senior goaltender Mike Mayhew, an '84, came up with some key saves late.
For Minnesota White, one of two teams chosen out of Minnesota's fall league, standouts included White Bear Lake defenseman Luke Beaverson, a big, strong, raw kid; defenseman Chris Anderson of White Bear Lake, a big senior heading to St. Cloud State next fall; forward Sean Garrity of N. St. Paul HS, an '85 who has speed, good skills, and good size; forward Nate Dey, also of N. St. Paul HS, an '84 who has size, poise, decent hands, and skates well. White Bear Lake forward Lance Melark, who was just plain solid. In net, White Bear Lake's Jon Anderson played well.
The upshot? White Bear Lake should make some noise this season.
Other Minnesota kids who looked good included Rob Page, an '85 D-man from Blake, who played smartly and exhibited good all-around skills; Greg Battani, a small '86 defenseman from Benilde, who is mobile, explosive, and has good hands; Jesse Polk, an '84 forward from Hastings; Kevin Huck, an '84 forward from Holy Angels who just makes things happen; Ian Schaser, a shifty '85 who plays for Benilde; Brandon Harrington, a finesse forward who plays for Rochester Lourdes.; forward Scott Thauwald, an '84 and a senior from Rochester Mayo who showed himself to be one of the top power forwards in the state; and Brad Peterson, an '85 who plays for Bloomington Jefferson. While not flashy, Peterson showed himself to be a disciplined, hard-working, consistently solid player.
For the out-of-state teams, we were impressed by Pittsburgh Hornets C/LW Jace Buzek, who worked his tail off, and showed good skill and good hands; Michigan Ice Dogs center Justin King, an '86 from Livonia who had a couple of really nice assists when we were watching; and Patrick Galivan, an '86 RW from Team Illinois who skates well, showing good jump and speed, and decent hands.
Team Wisconsin had some nice players, too, notably forwards Mitch Kerns and Dan Sturges; and defenseman Josh Engel. Missing was '87 forward Jack Skille, who was competing with the U.S. Under-17 Team at the Four Nations Tournament in Switzerland.
Former Mass High School Star Dies in British Columbia Car Accident
Jim McGonagle, 19, who led Austin Prep to the Mass Super 8 two years ago before taking a PG year at Bridgton Academy last season, died Thursday night of injuries sustained in a single-car accident earlier last week.
McGonagle, a backup goaltender with the Williams Lake Timberwolves (BCHL), went over an embankment near 150 Mile House, BC last Tuesday night. The 6'2", 20 lb. McGonagle, a native of the Boston suburb of Wilmington, Mass, was thrown from his car and suffered severe head injuries. He was arilifted to a Kamloops Hospital, where he died two days later.
The accident is under investigation. Canadian Press reports indicate that there was black ice on the highway and that McGonagle wasn't wearing a seat belt. The Williams Lake police said in a release that they had "reason to believe that alcohol was a contributing factor."
McGonagle, very popular among his teammates, was projected to be next season's starting goalie.
-- In more sad news, Gerard "Gerry" Grassie, the father of New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs assistant coach Chris Grassie, died over the weekend. The elder Grassie was a long-time youth hockey supporter who served as president of the New Hampshire Seacoast Spartans, a highly respected New England organization, for over 25 years. The Spartans helped develop players such as Brandon Rogers, Freddy Meyer, John LaLiberte, and Tony Hutchins. The elder Grassie, who developed an anuerism late last Wednesday and fell into a coma, died at 4 pm on Saturday.
The funeral service will be tomorrow morning (Wed. Nov. 13).
Three for the Brown Bears
The undefeated Brown Bears, sitting on top of the ECAC with a 3-0 record, have commitments from three players:
-- 5'9", 175 lb. Sean Dersch, a left-shot center from Edmonton and the Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), is a tenacious, hard-working type with good all-around skills. A 6/6/84 birthdate, Dersch will arrive at Brown next fall. In 24 games this season, Dersch has a 7-20-27 line. Bowling Green was also interested in the Edmonton native, who is in his second year with Sherwood Park.
-- 6'0", 185 lb. Texas Tornado (NAHL) RD Dylan Row will also be arriving at Brown next fall. Row, a Winnipeg native and a 4/14/83 birthdate who played at Shattuck-St. Mary's a couple of years ago before moving on to Salmon Arm (BCHL) and then Texas, is seen as someone who can, in time, fill the shoes of Paul Esdale, who graduates after this season. Row has offensive skills, though his numbers -- 0-4-4 in 20 games -- are a little less than eye-popping.
-- Finally, we come to Chicago Steel (USHL) goaltender Adam D'Alba, who is agile, quick and helped lead Team Central Team to the gold medal at this past summer's Select 17 Festival. D'Alba won't arrive at Brown until the fall of '04, after Yan Danis -- he of the 0.67 GAA -- graduates.
D'Alba, a 9/23/85 DOB, is in his second year with the Steel and is splitting time 50/50 with BC recruit Joe Pearce. D'Alba, a Team Illinois product, visited Brown over the weekend and committed on the spot.
Mass. Midget Mess
Dorchester, Mass. -- With the clock winding down to 48 seconds and the Eastern Mass Senators holding a 5-2 lead over the Greater Boston League Junior Bruins in today's Mass Midget AAA championship game, all hell broke loose in the form of a melee involving every single player on the ice. When the dust cleared and the six state police squad cars and one paddy wagon -- we're not exaggerating -- on the scene had finally departed, the Senators had their tickets punched for a return trip to the U.S. National Tournament in Washington, DC in April.
However, when April arrives there's a good chance the Mike Bonish-coached team will be missing the services of the six players tossed from today's game.
What we saw can only be described as an ambush, as the GBL Jr. Bruins, frustrated over losing, struck quickly with a three-pronged mugging of their opponents. Behind the Senator's net, EMass defenseman Jake Henry (Winchester HS) was attacked by Pierce Norton (Thayer Academy). Henry tried to protect himself and get away, but was sucker-punched by Norton in the process. While that was going on, Brett Bevis (Lawrence Academy), the Senator's top D-man, was in a similar situation about twenty feet away. Meanwhile, over by the Senators' bench, the Bruins' Kevin Farren (BC High), who had spent the whole third period trying to instigate something, was whaling away on the Senator's Chris Reilly (Winchendon School). Three other players from both teams -- goalies included -- were also fighting. This was a bad scene -- just totally unneccesary. Referee Gene Binda, the son of longtime Mass. referee Gino Binda, and the linesmen had their hands full trying to bring order to this midget-level reenactment of the worst aspects of 70's-style NHL hockey. .
Several Junior Bruins players resisted officials who skated them away from the hot spots, shaking and pushing them off in order to perpetuate the fighting.
Three GBL players -- Farren, Norton, and Ryan Driscoll (an '87 from Thayer Academy) -- capped things off by one-by-one taunting the EMass Senators bench. If you've ever seen the video of former Bruin John Wensink offering to take on the whole Minnesota North Stars bench during a late '70s game at the Boston Garden, you'll know what we're talking about. (The Bruins, by the way, replay that footage of Wensink every night on the video scoreboard at the Fleet Center, a practice that appears to be showing unintended results.)
At any rate, it's fair to say the Senators will be appealing this shortly. And if ever a team has a chance to win such an appeal, this is it. Reportedly, Bonish and GBL Jr. Bruins GM Pat Bohan met quietly with Binda after the game, whereupon Binda told Bonish of the avenue of appeal open to him. It was also reported that Junior Bruins coach John Flaherty was not present.
As for the game, it was a good one until the gong-show end. In the first period, the Senators came out strong, notching three goals -- by Shawn Reardon (Chemsford HS), Ryan Kelly (Billerica HS), and Chris Genovese (GDA) -- in the first five minutes. UMass-Lowell recruit Todd Fletcher, also a Chelmsford HS forward, added a goal later in the period to make it 4-0 at the first intermission. Genovese scored his second goal of the game to put the EMass Senators up 5-0 after two. In the third, the GBL Bruins came out hard and took it to the Senators, with Cushing's Bryan Ewing scoring off a nice feed from Brian O'Hanley (BC High), and then Driscoll getting a nice look and finding Norton out front to make it 5-2. That was as close as they'd get, but their minor comeback would have allowed them to at least skate off the ice with their heads high, For some reason, though, they lost it. (By no means was this a penalty-filled game. Prior to the melee, each team had picked up six penalties apiece.)
When action resumed after the brawl -- and we're not sure why it resumed -- the Senators added an empty net goal to make it 6-2.
Note: For those of you not from Massachusetts, the GBL Junior Bruins are not be confused with the Junior Bruins organization owned by the Masters family. Those Bruins feature an EJHL team as well as full-season and short-season midget AAA squads.
Note #2: South Boston won the Mass. Tier II Midget Tournament in a cakewalk, outscoring their opponents 24-5. Leading the way for South Boston was goaltender Dan Beauregard (Thayer), and defensemen Arthur Fritch (St. Sebastian's) and Anthony Aiello (Thayer). South Boston got goals from 15 different players over the tournament's four games. Steven Owens (Catholic Memorial), Chris McEvoy (BC High), and Bryan McGrath (BC High) all had strong weekends.
Apple Core Takes Valley Jr. Warrior Tournament
Lawrence, Mass. -- New York Apple Core, behind a C.J. Tozzo goal with 2:35 remaining in the second half, took the title game of the 2002 Valley Junior Warrior Classic. On the winning goal, Tozzo jammed home a rebound of his own shot past Junior Bruins goaltender Nevin Hamilton.
After a scoreless first half, the Junior Bruins' Matt Byrnes converted a nice cross-ice pass from Jarrett Scarpaci and Luke Jones. A little less than five minutes later, Apple Core's Garrett Vassal slipped home a rebound of his own shot to put pull Henry Lazar's club into a 1-1 tie.
The Jr. Bruins outshot Apple Core, 29-26. Apple Core goaltender Allen Barton, who finished with 28 saves, was named tournament MVP.
In the morning semis, Apple Core beat the Boston Harbor Wolves, 5-1; and the Junior Bruins knocked off the New Hampshire Monarchs, 4-3 in double overtime, Byrnes notching the game winner for the Bruins.
Note: Big New Hampshire Monarchs defenseman John Doherty, a UNH recruit and top pro prospect, has left the Monarchs to play for Phillips Andover, where he is currently a senior. Doherty had intended to play the whole season with the Monarchs, but school pressure has plunked him back down in the prep ranks. Doherty did not dress for the Monarchs in this weekend's tournament. Between Joe Pearce leaving for the USHL, Taylor Chace's tragedy, and now the departure of Doherty, the Monarchs are not the team head coach/GM Sean Tremblay pictured in mid-summer. However, they're still good enough to take the EJHL crown come March.
Shake Down the Thunder
U.S. Under-17 Team LW Todd McIlrath has committed to Notre Dame for the fall of 2004.
McIlrath, a 5'9", 160 lb. left shot who came out of the HoneyBaked organization, is a native of Northville, Michigan. He's a skilled player, with good hands and a head for the game. In the summer of 2001, he put on a show at the Select 15 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn. where he lead all scorers with a 5-5-10 line. And there were some top forwards there, e.g. Robbie Schremp, Chad Kolarik, Adam Pineault, Chris Bourque, and others.
In 13 games this season, McIlrath, a 2/27/86 birthdate, has a 1-4-5 line with eight pims.
An excellent student, Notre Dame is the school McIlrath wished to attend all along. Other interested schools were Harvard, Yale, and Colorado College.
McIlrath, drafted by the Saginaw Spirit in the sixth round of May's OHL draft, played for the HoneyBaked team that won the world championship at Quebec City in 2000.
Arizonan Heading to the UP
U.S. Under-18 Team LW Dusty Collins has committed to Northern Michigan University.
Collins, who is from Gilbert, Arizona, a suburb just east of Phoenix, is a 6'3", 194 lb. power forward who's grown into his frame while with the NTDP, becoming bigger, stronger, and faster. He has a strong shot and has developed his toughness, manifested in the number of 1-on-1 battles in which he comes out with the puck.
Collins' final picks were between Northern and UNO. When Collins, a 2/28/85 birthdate, finishes his playing career, he hopes to become a pilot -- his father works for Southwest Airlines -- and UNO's aviation program was extremely tempting to the forward. Northern, actually, wasn't even on Collins' list until Walt Kyle got there. Kyle's NHL experience helped Collins, for whom snow is still somewhat of a novelty, make the decision to play his college hockey on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Collins, who's received a rush of attention this fall from numerous schools -- UMD, Providence, Ohio State, St. Cloud, North Dakota, Michigan, Michigan Tech, and UNH -- is in Sweden right now competing in the Four Nations Tournament. The team will be back on Monday.
In 15 games played, Collins has a 2-5-7 line with 11 pims. He's the seventh-leading scorer on the squad.
Collins will be the second Under-18 team player to commit to Northern. Earlier in the fall, defenseman Bobby Selden, who's from Negaunee, just out side of Marquette, committed to NMU. Both will matriculate in the fall of '03.
Prior to going to Ann Arbor, Collins spent his 10th grade season playing for the Phoenix Polar Bears of the Western States Jr. B League.Before that, he played for the Desert Youth Hockey Association Firebirds. Going way, way back, he was on the Desert Youth Mite A Squad that went 49-0-1 and featured other familiar names like Dave Spina (BC), Taylor Hustead (Miami-Ohio), Mike Nesdill (Lincoln Stars), Brad Flaishans (Texas), Tyler Howells (Cedar Rapids), Shane Lovdahl (Cedar Rapids), and Brian Esner (Texas).
A Pair of Defensemen for Hockey East Schools
6'4", 215 lb. RD John Doherty of the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) and 6'1", 175 lb. LD Steve Birnstill of New York Apple Core (EJHL) will be heading to Hockey East schools next fall. Doherty will play for UNH, while Birnstill has chosen Northeastern.
-- Doherty, a prototypical pro-style defenseman -- smooth skater with tremendous size -- is in his first year with the Monarchs, coached by Sean Tremblay, and has been closely followed there all fall. UNH head coach Dick Umile watched Doherty in the championship game of the Jr. Monarchs tournament on Sunday October 20th. Eight days later, on the 28th, Doherty took his visit to UNH. He returned on Durham this past Saturday night for the UNH-BU game and afterward gave his commitment to the staff.
Doherty, a 3/25/84 birthdate from Lynnfield, Mass., previously played at Phillips Andover Academy, where he is currently a senior.
The other schools recruiting Doherty were Cornell and Boston University.
With Kevin Truelson and Garrett Stafford graduating, next year's UNH d-men will consist of eight players -- current juniors Mike Lubesnick, Mick Mounsey, and Tim Horst; current sophs Tyson Teplitsky and Robbie Barker; current freshmen Michael Hutchins and Brian Yandle; and Doherty.
-- Birnstill, who plays at Apple Core for coach Henry Lazar, is a good-sized blueliner who moves well. He plays a smart game, is good with the puck, makes nice break-out passes, and can join the rush. His stock has gone up this fall, and he's still young, being a late '85 -- 11/6/85, to be precise.
Other schools recruiting the 12th grader from Commack, Long Island were Yale, Dartmouth, and UNH.
Northeastern graduates zero defensemen after this season. Birnstill and fellow recruit Bryan Cirullo of the New England Jr. Coyotes (EJHL) will compete for playing time with current junior Brian Sullivan; current sophomores Jon Awe, Jack Celata, Donny Grover, Tim Judy, and Bryan Nathe; and current freshman Chuck Tomes.
Note: You can see Doherty and Birnstill go head-to-head when the Monarchs and Apple Core meet up in a Saturday morning (11/9) tilt at the Valley Junior Warriors Tournament. But you have to get up early. It's an 8:20 a.m. start and is at Merrimack College.
A Pair of Forwards for WCHA Schools
Two forwards committed to WCHA Schools over the weekend, with 6'2", 186 lb. RW Matt Auffrey of the U.S. Under-17 Team headed to Wisconsin in the fall of '04; and 5'10", 170 lb. LC/LW Gary Houseman of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) headed to St. Cloud State in the fall of '03.
-- Auffrey, a 1/3/86 birthdate from Evans Mills, NY, just north of Watertown, visited Wisconsin over the weekend and committed to Mike Eaves' program on Sunday. Auffrey, a power forward with a nice hard, accurate shot, is the sixth NTDPer to make his way to Wisconsin since Eaves took over from Jeff Sauer in the spring. In Madison, Auffrey will join forwards Jake Dowell and Robbie Earl, and defensemen Jeff Likens and Ryan Suter. Defenseman Tom Sawatske, who played for Eaves on the Under-18 last year, is a current Badger freshman.
Auffrey, in 19 games with the Under-17 team, has a 4-4-8 line with 24 pims. He's also played two games with the older team (vs. Clarkson and St. Lawrence).
Last season, Auffrey played with the Syaracuse Jr. Crunch (OPJHL) where he was the right wing on Robbie Schremp's line and, in 49 games, had a 27-31-58 line.
In May, the Kitchener Rangers drafted Auffrey in the third round of the OHL draft.
Update: Auffrey's short list consisted of Boston College, Michigan, Cornell, and, of course, Wisconsin.
-- Houseman, who visited St. Cloud the third weekend in October and Harvard University the fourth weekend of the month, committed to the Huskies on Friday. A first-year player in the USHL, Houseman, a native of Saskatoon, was the rookie of the year with the SJHL champion Kindersely Klippers last season, posting a 39-41-80 line in 64 games.
Houseman, an '83, was recruited to Sioux City by Fred Harbinson, who left Sioux City to take an assistant's position at St. Cloud State this season. In 11 games, Houseman has a 4-4-8 line with 13 pims.
We're Getting There
Welcome to the new U.S. Hockey Report! We're adding several new features to the site including scoring leaders, team-by-team game results, and a new streamlined format for team schedules, rosters, the USHR Weekly Poll, and the soon-to-be launched girls prep section. We will also be adding rosters and box scores from top Minnesota high school programs.
Additionally, we've added a new subscriber page which will allow new members to purchase a subscription plan online and immediately receive a username and password. We've also added the new USHR Site Search. With this tool subscribers may look up player names, schools, tournaments names, etc. from current and archived files.
We'll be working on implementing these changes over the next couple of weeks. Please bear with us.