A Bantam Powerhouse in PA
A week ago Sunday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Junior Knights Bantam AAA team (’97 birthdates) dismantled the Philadelphia Little Flyers AAA team by a score of 20-1.
“I knew we were in trouble as soon as I saw their team stretching outside the locker room,” Little Flyers head coach Brett Watson, a former captain at UMass-Amherst (and the son of former NHL defenseman Jim Watson), said. “They are men. They were huge. I have never seen a bantam team like that before. Not only were they big, but they were skilled. They could all make plays and score goals.”
When asked which players stood out the most, Watson said, “All of them. I was more focused on my guys and just getting through the game, but they all stood out, they are all good.”
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Junior Knights are 15-1 so far this season – they lost a tournament game to the Long Island Gulls, another strong team -- and are contenders for a national championship.
There is also some animosity toward the squad.
Head Coach Alex Vasko, a native Russian, has brought in eight imports -- four from Russia, three from Montreal, and one apiece from the Ukraine, Buffalo, and Connecticut. The remaining roster spots are filled up by the top local talent. Half a dozen players have been a part of the East Coast Selects organization. USA Hockey allows players from out of country to play in the US under two circumstances, either under a student visa or their parents’ work visa. The Junior Knights’ imports are all playing with student visas, said manager Scott Lewis, who also reports that assembling this team has been in the works for nearly a year.
No doubt a lot of work went into it, too. We’ve certainly seen imports on youth teams – notably, Honeybaked and Compuware -- but never on this scale. And here’s the thing: there’s no rule against it. USA Hockey limits the number of imports on junior teams (the maximum permitted can be found in the USHL, where four are allowed per team), but as for youth hockey, as far as USA Hockey is concerned, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights could consist entirely of imports and still compete for a title at USA Hockey Nationals.
“USA Hockey doesn’t really have a position on this because it hasn’t been brought to the national level before,” says Atlantic District ADM Manager Jim Hunt. “We’ve just never been faced with anything like this. I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to an import rule in youth hockey. But there’s no rule now -- and you can’t make a rule that’s retroactive. They will probably win the district and play in the national championship with half a team of imports.”
A lot of people would love to see the Junior Knights fall on their face simply because they have plucked top players from all over the world. They are the Miami Heat of youth hockey. However, one could also look at this situation from a global perspective, and come up with a different take. If playing against top players raises the bar, and forces all players to up their game, is this a situation that should even be addressed? Leaving aside hockey, these Junior Knights players from Europe are using this opportunity to come to the U.S. and learn our language and culture, something that, should they fail to become the next Alexander Ovechkin, will considerably help their job prospects should they return back home – or stay in North America, for that matter. The bottom line: it never hurts to be bilingual, and it is estimated that a Russian living in Russia who can speak English fluently will earn $10,000-$20,000 more than if they did not know the language. Some of these ’97 Junior Knights are likely to end up heading to major junior, but some may also end up playing in the USHL and possibly move on to college hockey, a chance they would not have without coming over here, attending high school, and becoming fluent in English.
We asked Hunt if, looked at in that perspective, what’s happening in Wilkes-Barre is really such a bad thing.
“I think it’s a fair argument that you have to listen to,” he said.
No matter what, the Junior Knights are pushing the envelope and, in so doing, are providing a peek at the future of hockey, or, at the very least, a new wrinkle in an ongoing trend.
For Europeans, the North American route – particularly the CHL -- is becoming a more attractive option for aspiring players than staying home. Look no further than the likely 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, Nail Yakupov, who came over to play for the Sarnia Sting (OHL) instead of staying in his native Russia. In the 2011 entry draft the #2 overall pick, Sweden’s Gabriel Landeskog, played for the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) and is now with the Colorado Avalanche. Vladislav Namestnikov (London Knights-OHL/Russia), Nicklas Jensen (Oshawa Generals-OHL/Denmark), and Rickard Rakell (Plymouth Whalers-OHL/Sweden) were other 1st rounder’s that decided to hone their skills in North America instead of playing in Europe. This is a trend that is likely to continue and you could say that, on the youth level, the Junior Knights are way ahead of the curve. And all their players have their amateur status intact.
Let’s hope that at least some of the Knights’ imports take the route that Dubuque Fighting Saints center Zemgus Girgensons, a sure-fire first rounder next June, has, and opt for the NCAA route. (Girgensons also once played for the East Coast Selects.)
Lewis, who is the point man for the Junior Knights, said, “Our goal is to set up a three-year- program that will take kids up through midgets and then move them along to the USHL and hopefully the NCAA.“
We can’t see these Junior Knights kids all moving on to midgets together. Some will be playing juniors next year.
Another source of the animosity toward the Junior Knights stems from those who feel the bantam team is another example of youth sports run amok, which, of course, it is. But that’s nothing new. And in this case, like many others, there are numerous complaints that the Junior Knights success stems from a “rich parent” fronting the money for the operation.
The reference is to Louis DeNaples, an emergency room doctor, head of a local trauma unit, and owner of the organization’s junior A and B franchises. DeNaples’ father was an owner of the Poconos’ largest casino, and it’s estimated that the extended family owns about 90 different businesses in the area. However, Lewis vehemently denies that any of DeNaples’ money is being spent improperly. “Each kid’s parents are paying for the kids to be here,” says Lewis, who is billeting two of the Montreal players himself. “He (DeNaples) is not paying for anything. Everybody can say what they want, but it’s just not true.”
“Every kid has a proper student visa, and the proper transfer agreements. And they are doing well in school.” Lewis adds.
Of course, it wouldn’t really matter if Mr. DeNaples – or any other parent, for that matter – were footing the bill to bring in players. This has been going on in youth hockey, to varying degrees, for a very long time. And there are absolutely no rules against it. On top of that, it doesn’t affect a player’s amateur status. It does, however, get under people’s skin.
We can certainly see how it might get under the skin of parents whose Scranton-born-and-bred children were unable to make the Junior Knights ’97 roster due to the infusion of imports. And we can also see that players on teams getting trounced 15-1 aren’t deriving a hell of a lot that’s positive from the experience (yes, ‘the bar’ can sometimes be too high). It will be interesting to see if this organization, which sits smack-dab in the heart of football country, is still a powerhouse in five years. We’re betting it isn’t.
But they sure are good now.
Here is a scouting report of the Junior Knights, all of whom were born in 1997:
Ivan Provorov, D/F--5’11”, 180 lbs. (Russia)-- The top player, does it all. A man-child with high-end skill -- physical, and fast. Played for the East Coast Selects over the summer where he was coached by Vince Malts, a former Vancouver Canucks draft pick and Philadelphia Revolution (EJHL) coach, who had this say about him: “He’s a bull. Can play defense, wing, or center and is equally effective at all positions. Has the ability to win games by himself. A player that will have NHL agents all over him shortly.” Was the MVP of the Mini-Chowder Cup this summer and apparently speaks English very well.
Denis Smirnov, F—5’4”, 130 lbs. (Russia)-- High skill level with the best hands and vision on the team. Very, very strong on the puck and does not shy away from physical confrontation.
Nikita Anistratenko, F—5’6”, 150 lbs. (Russia)-- Fastest skater. Physically strong and plays with an edge.
Nikita Pavlychev, F—6’2”, 165 lbs. (Russia)-- A true center with great vision and hands. Makes the players around him better. Has to grow into his body and is still a little awkward. Skating needs to improve, but if it does he could be a top-end talent.
Eugene Fadyeyev, F—5’8”, 155 lbs. (Ukraine)-- A power forward who is fast and physical. North-South player that does not fit the stereotype of a typical European.
Cody Petawabano, D—6’3”, 210 lbs. (Montreal)-- You read that correctly, 6’3, 210lbs! Extremely strong and a good skater. An absolute monster who has a big presence. If he improves in the mental side of the game he could turn into a big-time player. The son of former Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) player Rodney Petawabano.
Derek Hamelin, D—5’10”, 140 lbs. (Montreal)—Offensive defenseman. A skilled puck mover who has the ability to run a PP.
Jean-Sebastien Taillefer, D—5’9”, 165 lbs. (Montreal)—Strong, stay-at-home defenseman. Very responsible in his own end.
Alex Rowella, F—5’11”, 180 lbs. (Connecticut)—Played last season for the Westchester Express. A power forward who possesses a good shot and plays the game hard, gets in the dirty areas and is physical. A top prospect.
Nick Vilardo, G—5’5”, 140 lbs. (Buffalo)—Played last season for the Buffalo Regals. Spends the summers goaltending for the East Coast Selects where Malts had this to say about him: “He is absolutely nasty! Super focused with great technique. A big-time goalie who plays his best when the game is on the line. Right now I do not know if there is a better goalie in his age group. Size could be a factor down the road, but right now there is no one better.”
Louis DeNaples, F—5’6”, 130 lbs.—Home-grown product who is very skilled and scores a lot of goals. Great hockey sense. Flies under the radar a bit in that he does not have the flash that some of the previously mentioned players do.
Marcus Joseph, D—5’7”, 170 lbs.—Top local defenseman. Strong kid who is a very fluid skater. Has a soft set of hands and is poised under pressure.
… While We Are on the Subject of ‘97s
On Sunday, we took the opportunity to watch another top ‘97 team -- the Valley Junior Warriors, who are built to win the Mass district and also take a run at a national championship. The “Big Five” consists of Noah Hanifin (St. Sebastian’s), Casey Fitzgerald (Malden Catholic), Cam Askew (St. Sebastian’s), Colin White (Nobles), and Lincoln Griffin (Thayer). All five are from Massachusetts and are prime-time college/NTDP/pro prospects currently being recruited by the top programs in Hockey East (as well as a slew of agents). Fitzgerald and Griffin were the only ones present Sunday as the Warriors beat the Philadelphia Junior Flyers 5-3, thus proving they are more than a one-line team. Here is a look at their top players:
Noah Hanifin, D—6’3”, 180 lbs. —Gets a lot of ink – and deserves it. Is as close to a can’t-miss prospect as there is in his age group. Big, mobile, makes plays and can be physical. BU and BC have already made offers. We saw him this weekend both at the Tier I Midget Showcase and the Pro-Am Fall Classic playing for the Boston Advantage. Plenty of suitors, in the form of agents and college coaches, were zeroing in on him.
Casey Fitzgerald, D — 5’10”, 155 lbs. —Son of Tom and brother to Ryan Fitzgerald. Has a very high hockey IQ. Gifted offensively and loves to jump into the rush. Always wants the puck on his stick. Is a natural leader and this group looks to him to fill that role. Schools are showing interest; will likely end up at BC, BU, or UNH.
Cam Askew, F—6’3”, 175 lbs. —A really nice player who has all the tools already. His combination of size and skill is rarely found in a 14-year-old. Gets by on skill alone at this point and has not learned how to utilize his size; when he does he will be fun to watch. Similar to Kent’s Boo Nieves at the same age. Has already visited UMass-Amherst. Family has held season tickets at BU for a long time, so the Terriers may be involved before long as well. UNH has also expressed interest.
Colin White, F—6’0”, 155 lbs. —A really nice skater with an excellent release. Has a great first step and is difficult to defend against in 1x1 situations. Is rumored to be a better football player than hockey player. The gridiron is in the bloodlines as his father, Mark White, was an all-American at Georgia Tech -- and also an Olympic javelin thrower. White has already toured the BC campus.
Lincoln Griffin, F—5’10”, 160 lbs. —The grinder of the group. Plays in the tough ice. Works hard in all three zones. Is not a prolific goal scorer, but exhibits a very complete game. Father was a baseball player at Northeastern.
George Sennott, F—5’0”, 100 lbs. —A real pleasure to watch. Can’t say enough good things about his game. He is small, but will surely grow. The type of player who will be successful at the next level even if he tops out at 5’6”. A good skater who is really strong on the puck. Excellent vision and can really shoot. Makes plays every time he has the puck and never takes a shift off. Someone you want on your team. Attends Austin Prep. A great prospect in the mold of BC’s Steven Whitney.
Austin Goldstein, F—5’3”, 115 lbs. — A beautiful skater who has a top-notch skill set. Is not physically mature yet, but when he does mature he will be one to keep an eye on. Is very creative and can turn on a dime. Will be skating for Malden Catholic in the winter.
EJHL Moving Into New Territory
A group out of Connecticut, headed up by Eric Lind and Ryan Hughes, is in the process of purchasing the Capital District Selects from Jim Salfi and moving the franchise to Fairfield County.
The team, which is commanding a reported asking price of between $500-600K, will play in Norwalk, Conn., at the soon-to-be under construction SoNo Ice House, located in a former warehouse at 310 Wilson Ave. in Norwalk, Conn. Lind, who played at Avon Old Farms and UNH, grew up in Norwalk.
The group recently got zoning approval from the city, and expect to open the arena next summer.
There are still some hoops to jump through, however. The league had long wanted to put a franchise in the Fairfield County area, but Apple Core, citing its 75-mile protective zone, always fought it. So the league responded by changing the rules, recently voting to shrink the zone to 25 miles.
The move still needs to be voted on by EJHL owners. Out of 14 voters, 10 are needed for approval. Look for Apple Core to fight it.
Storm KO’s Beantown Final Day
Today’s final day of action at the Beantown Fall Classic in Exeter, NH has been scrubbed due to the early winter storm that swept through New England Saturday.
Power went out at the Rinks at Exeter at around 7:30 pm last night and never came back on. All Beantown games at every level, including this afternoon’s junior games, have been scrubbed.
Exeter wasn’t the only rink to be hit by the storm. The New England Sports Center in Marlborough, where a 110-team youth tournament was going on, also lost power, and the tournament was scrubbed.
The Foxboro Sports Center has also lost power and games scheduled there for today have been scrubbed.
BU Lands Top Center
6’2”, 180 lb. LC Wesley Myron of the Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL) has committed to Boston University for next fall.
Myron, a tall, lanky kid with the frame of an NHL-type center, is a strong skater who has shown a lot of finish in the BCHL. He was #3 on our list of Top Uncommitted NCAA Prospects (USHR News, 10/25/11), following only Seth Jones (US U-18) and Alex Kerfoot (Coquitlam – BCHL). Myron has the potential to be a top two line center for the Terriers, which, should Charlie Coyle opt to go pro (not a foregone conclusion), would fill a very immediate need.
An 8/16/92 birthdate and Victoria, BC native, Myron was also sought by UNH and St. Cloud State. Michigan was reportedly beginning to show interest too.
Myron, in his third year in the league, is currently seventh in league scoring, with an 8-15-23 line in 13 games played.
One of Myron’s teammates at Victoria is fellow Terrier recruit Mike Moran, who is 11th in league scoring with an 11-9-20 line in 14 games played. Moran, the nephew of BU assistant coach Mike Bavis, is a 2011 Taft graduate.
Top ’96s from Ontario Eying NCAA Route
While we were doing our research on the top OHL draft prospects the other day we took the initiative to ask the coaches of the some of the top teams in Ontario not only who their best players were for the OHL, but also who among the province’s high-end ’96 birthdates are looking to go the NCAA route. While Michael Dal Colle, Jordan Addesi, and Brett Hargrove are the likely 1st round picks who at least might be considering the NCAA, there is a lot of talent right behind them and, according to their coaches, these are the ones setting their sights on college hockey.
Jake Evans, F (Mississauga Rebels) 6-0/165—100% certain to be playing college hockey. A very intelligent player whose superb vision makes him the top playmaker on the Rebels. Is an AP (affiliate player) for the St. Michaels Buzzers of the OJHL where he has a 2-2-4 line in only two games played. Could very well be the top NCAA prospect in Ontario.
Santino Centorame, D (Mississauga Rebels) 6-0/185—A dual citizen who would ideally like to play for the NTDP before heading to college. A very steady defenseman who does all the little things well. The more you watch him the more you appreciate his game.
CJ Garcia, D (Don Mills Flyers)—Could not get an accurate height/weight on Garcia, but we are told that he is the top defenseman on Don Mills and that he is a beautiful skater with a high skill level. Top NCAA programs are already on him. He is definitely interested in the college route.
Matthew Robson, G (Toronto Marlies) 6-0/155—Marlies #1 goalie. Athletic, moves well laterally. A strong student who has a sister who plays for the Brown women.
Danylo Znaczko, D (Toronto Marlies) 5-11/180—Solid, well put together. Physically strong, great skater and has excellent vision. Has been out with a separated shoulder and recently returned to the lineup. #2 or #3 defenseman on the Marlies. Father would like him to take the college route. We’ll have to see if the son feels the same way.
Connor Graham, F (Toronto Marlies) 5-11/165—Smart hockey player who really understands the game. Can score, make plays, and does everything well. Will likely grow to be 6-2 or 6-3. Strong academically; intends on playing college hockey.
Jeremiah Addison, F (Toronto Marlies) 5-11/160—Great shot, feisty, likes to play physically. Always around the puck. Good hands and can really score—a shooter who doesn’t miss many opportunities.
Darren Radish, F (Toronto Marlies) 5-10/170—A late bloomer who does everything well -- and with consistency. Has a lot of hockey sense and can play both forward or defense. Plays the point on the PP. Always on the ice when the Marlies need to protect a lead.
Jared Walsh, D (Toronto Marlies) 5-8/160—Many feel that Walsh will be looked over by the OHL because of his size, a huge mistake according to Ken Strong, his coach. A shifty and smart defenseman who plays with a lot of skill. Is an extremely good baseball player and has an interest in attending a New England prep school in order to play both sports.
Robert Demontis, F (Vaughn Kings) 5-7/145-- Exceptionally skilled, makes plays and has tremendous acceleration. On the smaller side, but plays big. Competes hard in all three zones. Described to us as a “coaches dream player.” A strong academic student.
Mark Stevens, F (Vaughn Kings) 6-0/175—Uncle is John Stevens, currently an assistant coach with the LA Kings. An athletic player who is really committed to the game; in excellent physical condition. Plays both center and wing. A really responsible player who has a nasty edge to his game and a nice touch around the net. Will be visiting Michigan State.
Cal Allen, F (Vaughn Kings) 5-10/165—A character player who has great speed and loves the physical side of the game. Has good vision and can really drive the puck to the net. A team-first guy who plays with a ton of passion.
Brett Seney, F (London Jr. Knights Gold) 5-7/140—Go-to guy offensively. Has great instincts and has always been a top goal scorer. Really high skill level -- and he plays much bigger than his size. He can really possess the puck. Schools have already expressed interest.
Yale Prep Showcase Schedule
Here’s the schedule for the Yale Prep Showcase, to be held Sun. Nov. 20 at Yale’s Ingalls Rink; New Haven, Conn.
9:00 am – Williston vs. South Kent
11:00 am – Northwood vs. Culver
1:00 pm – Milton vs. NMH
3:00 pm – Pomfret vs. Hill Academy
5:00 pm – Cushing vs. Gunnery
7:00 pm – Long Island Royals U-16 vs. Selects Academy
Prep All-Star Team Headed to Minnesota
Here is the roster for the Prep All-Star Team headed to the 2011 Bauer National Invitational Tournament in New Hope, Minn. Nov. 4-6.
David Cunningham (Belmont Hill)
Nick Stasack (Loomis)
Jonathan Ahern (Avon)
Alex Carle (KUA)
Will Goss (Exeter)
Griffin Martin (Avon)
Doyle Somerby (KUA)
Tyler Wood (Nobles)
Matt Beattie (Exeter)
Aaron Berisha (Salisbury)
Anthony DiFruscia (Salisbury)
Mike Doherty (Groton)
Nathan Ferriero (Governor’s)
Carl Hesler (Belmont Hill)
Tommy Kelley (St. Sebastian’s)
Alex Paolo (Williston-Northampton)
Nick Pierog (Canterbury)
Nick Roberto (KUA)
Dylan Shamburger (Avon)
Jay Sylvia (Williston-Northampton)
Randy Wood (Yale ’86 – and NY Islanders, Buffalo, Toronto, and Dallas)
Jeff Hamilton (Yale ’01 – and NY Islanders, Chicago, Carolina, and Toronto)
The Prep All-Stars will face off against the Norway U-18s in their first game, which is on Fri. Nov. 4 (8:15 PM CST). Next up in their bracket is the winner/loser of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s-Mass. High School All-Stars game. By the way, Norway is already out in Minnesota, playing games and practicing.
A number of players would have made the team but, mainly because of injury or athletic commitment to their fall teams, will not be making the trip. They are:
F Shane Eiserman (Cushing)
D Joe McNamara (Belmont Hill)
D Thomas Welsh (Salisbury)
F Marc Cibelli (Gunnery)
F Anthony Bird (Gunnery)
Complete roster with heights/weights/birthdates/grade in school, etc.
Mass. High School Team Headed to Minnesota
Click below for the roster for the Mass High School All-Star Team headed to the 2011 Bauer National Invitational Tournament in New Hope, Minn. Nov. 4-6.
Massachusetts High School Stars Roster
This team should be a step up from last year’s squad, as they have three already-committed Div. I players on the team in Ryan Fitzgerald (Malden Catholic/BC), Brendan Collier (Malden Catholic/BU), and Sam Kurker (St. John’s Prep/BU).
Their first game is a tough one: Shattuck-St. Mary’s, on Friday Nov. 4 (7:45 pm CST). The winner will face the winner – and the loser will face the loster -- of the New England Preps vs. Norway Under-18 tilt.
Massachusetts is also sending out a younger team to play in the tournament’s younger division. Here’s that roster:
Massachusetts Sophomore-Junior Stars
NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch List
NHL Central Scouting has released its Players to Watch List covering all Canadian Tier II junior leagues, and, in the U.S., the following: AJHL, EJHL, NAHL, Midget AAA, and New England prep schools, and Mass., Minnesota, and Wisconsin high schools.
The draft will be held June 22-23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA.
Players to Watch List
Top Prospects for ’12 OHL Draft
After speaking with coaches, scouts, and agents we have put together an early ‘consensus’ list of the top Ontario-born players for next spring’s OHL Draft. A few of these players could wind up playing NCAA and one, forward Michael Dal Colle, has visited Boston University. So we’ll see how that shakes out. Those players are marked with an asterisk.
We have excluded any Americans that we feel could be top round picks in May. It’s a little hard to say which Americans could actually get picked in the first round because of the NCAA picture. The following, however, are all top U.S. candidates:
Blake Clarke, F, Fargo Force (USHL)
Ryan MacInnis, F, St. Louis Amateur Blues U-16
Willie Nylander, F, Stockholm (Dual citizen)
Marcel Godbout, F, Shattuck-St. Mary’s U-16
Joshua Jacobs, D, Honeybaked Midget Minor – Michigan State
Nick Schmaltz, F, Chicago Mission Midget Minor – North Dakota
Here then, is an early look at how we see the OHL first round shaking out -- not including Americans, of course.
1A. Connor McDavid, F (Toronto Marlies) 5-10/155—If there is one player this year who stands a good chance of being granted ‘exceptional player’ status it is ’97-born Conner McDavid. Plays on a line with Joshua Ho-Sang and the two are a threat to score every shift. A phenomenal skater with exceptional vision; just makes play after play. A go-getter who is not afraid to mix it up in the corners. Every GTHL coach with whom we spoke has McDavid as the top player in the league. Will Hockey Canada grant him exceptional player status? (Note: ‘Exceptional Player’ status allows a player to be drafted a year prior to his normal draft year, has to be applied for, and has only been granted twice, to John Tavares in 2005, and to current Barrie Colts D Aaron Ekblad last spring.)
1B. Joshua Ho-Sang, F (Toronto Marlies) 5-10/150—Every so often you come across a really special talent—Josh Ho-Sang is that guy. Opted not to apply for exceptional player status last year, but if he had there is a strong chance that he would be playing in the OHL as a 15 year old. His skill set is on an entirely different level than others in his peer group. He has the “it” factor that is only seen in rare players. Led the Marlies to an OHL Cup championship as an under-ager last season; will certainly look to repeat this year. He is not perfect, though. The knock on him is that he tends to wait for pucks instead of having the tenacity to go get them himself. Also, if he is not scoring he is not a happy camper. He can get frustrated and taken out of a game mentally. Tries to do things himself. Nonetheless, he is an electric player who gets fans up out their seats. This clip gives you an idea as to what type of player/entertainer he is:
Ho-Sang in action
3. Rowland McKeown, D (Toronto Marlies) 6-2/172—Could be the best pure skater in the draft. Played bantam major last season for the Marlies, but at the end of the season was called up and helped the midget minor team capture the OHL Cup. Skilled defenseman who uses his speed effectively to create time and space for himself. Loves to join the rush and at times is like a fourth forward. Originally from Listowel, but moved to Etobicoke in order to suit up for the Marlies.
4. Robert Fabbri, F (Mississauga Rebels) 5-10/160—A player who can break a game open single-handedly. Possesses high-end offensive skills. Is very athletic and exciting to watch. Will pile on the points in the OHL, but size could become a factor when NHL scouts begin to evaluate his game.
5. Jared McCann, F (London Jr. Knights Gold) 6-0/175—Natural center who is excellent in the faceoff circle. Has a lot of skill and plays hard in all three zones. Has high-end speed and the ability to control the game. Has the puck on his stick a lot. Good all-around player who is regarded as the top prospect in the Alliance League.
6. Jacob Middleton, D (Huron-Perth Lakers) 6-3/185—A very polished defenseman who can do it all. Plays against opponents’ top lines and shuts them down while providing a lot of offense. Projects very well and is a safe pick at this point in the draft.
7. Eric Cornel, F (Upper Canada Cyclones) 6-2/165—A tall kid who has not even come close to filling out – he’s very thin. Has a lot of skill and could be a special player when he is 185-190 lbs. Produced over two points per game last season.
*8. Michael Dal Colle, F (Vaughn Kings) 6-2/180—Big, strong goal scorer who has drawn comparisons to Rick Nash. Brings some intangibles to the table as he is the captain of the Vaughn Kings. Considers himself a hybrid power forward/sniper, but admits that his footwork needs improvement. Has a sister who plays hockey at Niagara University. Plays for the same coach, David D’Ammizio, and shares the same advisor as BU forward Corey Trivino—and he has visited BU.
*9. Brett Hargrave , F (Mississauga Rebels) 6-4/195—Already shoots and passes like a pro. Is a power forward who is still learning how to use his size effectively. A bit of a project right now, but has very high upside and could turn out to be a top player in the draft. North Dakota has been inquiring.
10. Damian Bourne, F (Mississauga Rebels) 6-4/190- A true power forward who is ready to take his game to the next level. Already has NHL size and can play both a physical and a finesse game. No glaring weakness; a pro prospect.
11. Liam Herbst, G (Mississauga Rebels) 6-2/170—The top goalie available. Very athletic and really takes the shooter’s options away. Was hurt at the start of the season, but in one of his first games back he beat the Marlies 2-1 -- and was the best player in the game. If a team needs a goalie, Herbst is their guy.
12. Niki Petti, F (Southern Tier Admirals) 6-0/174—Pure skill, very explosive skater. Makes plays and scores in bunches. The knock on Petti is that he plays on the perimeter too much.
*13. Jordan Addesi, F (Vaughn Kings) 6-3/185—Big, strong man who likes the play physical, but also has a nice scoring touch around the net. Can really possess the puck down low and is difficult to defend against. Plays a similar style to Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic. Has expressed an interest in the NCAA route.
14. Jaden Lindo (Marlies) 6-1/180—Plays with high energy and hits everything that moves. North/South winger who gives you an honest effort every night; plays with a lot of consistency. Was an AP on the ’95 Marlies team that won the OHL Cup.
15. Chad Heffernan (Peterborough Jr. Petes) 6-1/180- Power forward. One of the toughest kids in the draft. Skilled around the net and can finish. A utility player who can be used in many different roles.
16. Jonathan Duchesne, D (Vaughn Kings) 6-1/200—Along with Ho-Sang, Duchesne played full time for the Marlies midget minor squad as an under-ager last season. Moved over to the Vaughn Kings this year. Has been regarded as one of, if not the top, ’96 defenseman in Ontario for quite some time. Plays with a nasty edge. Already a man, but has he peaked early?
17. Brook Hiddink, F (Elgin Middlesex Chiefs) 5-11/190—Led his midget minor league (AHMMPL) in scoring last season as an underager posting a 39-57-96 line in 73 games played. A scoring machine who is producing at a goal a game pace this season. Has also suited up for one game in the GOJHL for the St. Thomas Stars where he registered a goal and an assist. Very high hockey IQ.
18. Matt Schmalz, F (Southern Tier Admirals) 6-4/190—A bit of a project right now, but has all the tools to be an impact player at the next level and beyond.
19. Trevor Abbott, D (London Jr. Knights Gold) 6-0/180—An interesting prospect who has been rising up the charts in recent months. Just starting to come into his own and realize that he has the ability to be a top defenseman. Logs a lot of minutes. Heads-up guy who makes a good first pass. Not overly physical, but is efficient in the manner in which he separates players from the puck. Doesn’t get caught out of position very often and is tough to beat 1x1.
20. Kyle Locke, D (York Simcoe) 6-0/185—Responsible and plays with an edge. Moves the puck efficiently and actively engages in joining the rush. Well-rounded and able to play in any situation.
21. Dillon Deperna, D (Mississauga Rebels) 6-1/180—Great skater and has a heavy shot. Makes a good first pass and has the ability to run a power play. The top defenseman on arguably the top team in Ontario.
Ciocco Joins USHR
Former University of New Hampshire forward Josh Ciocco, who was captain of the Wildcats in his senior year of ’06-07, has joined the U.S. Hockey Report.
Ciocco, a 28-year-old native of Atco, NJ, has also been hired as an assistant coach on Paul Cannata's staff at Milton Academy, the defending prep school champions.
Between the two jobs, Ciocco, who will be moving to Boston shortly, will be in the rinks a lot, and will be adding to his already deep understanding of the North American talent pool. Ciocco will also help broaden the scope of USHR because he will free up this typist to cover things that there just wasn’t time for in the past.
We first noticed Ciocco as a player when he was a 15-year-old on a pretty good Atlantic District team at the 1998 Select 15 Festival. That fall, he entered the Berkshire School as a 9th grader. One day, totally out of the blue, this typist received an email arrived from Ciocco, whom I’d never even met or talked to. It was filled with player evaluations and rankings. Just his thoughts. More of the same followed. They were good too, highly detailed, and lengthy. I always like hearing what kids say about their peers, the kids they are competing against. It’s the third side of the triangle: coaches, scouts, and players. You want to hear what they all say, as they all have a slightly different – and highly valuable – perspective when it comes to evaluating players. I remember thinking, “When this kid finishes up as a player, he’ll be a scout, or a coach. Hell, if the Hockey Report is still around, I’ll hire him.”
Well, thirteen years later the Hockey Report is still around and Ciocco, after making his way west to the BCHL, then UNH, then a couple of years playing minor pro, then a stint as a player agent, is now working here.
The Top Uncommitteds
We have something new we’re going to try this year: a list of the top uncommitted players available for NCAA play next year. We approached this project by asking the question, “Who are the players – among high school seniors and older – who can most help a college team next year?” This means, for example, that a couple ‘91s or ‘92s might get ranked ahead of some ‘93s or ‘94s who, in the long run, might be better players, but perhaps are not quite 100% ready yet. Again, this list is all about next year. Please note also that we did not list any ‘95s, ‘96s, or ‘97s. Obviously, none of them are going to college next year. We may be doing separate lists for them later.
Also, this ranking includes players from all across North America, and includes some players in far-flung places whom we haven’t personally seen, but who have been recommended by well-situated operatives whose ability to evaluate players we trust highly. We welcome feedback because this list will be an ongoing project and will change significantly as the year moves along. We’ll be making adjustments, adding players, removing players, fine-tuning things as the year goes along. We hope you enjoy it.
“HM” means honorable mention.
We could see more Minnesota high school and New England players on the list once those leagues start playing real games. You never know who is going to emerge from the woods.
1. Seth Jones, D, ’94 (NTDP/USHL- 2-0-2-2) 6-4/190—Rare Talent who could be the top pick in the 2013 NHL draft. Denver is the favorite.
2. Alex Kerfoot, F, ’94 (Coquitlam/BCHL- 11-5-9-14) 5-9/155—Future All-American has narrowed his choice down to BC, Harvard, and Yale.
3. Wesley Myron, F, ’92 (Victoria/BCHL- 11-7-15-22) 6-2/190—Polished power forward will be taking his talents to BU, UNH, or St. Cloud.
4. Adam Tambellini, F, ’94 (Vernon/BCHL- 12-8-4-12) 6-2/171—Good combination of size and skill. The favorites are Michigan and North Dakota
5. Matt Benning, D, ’94 (Spruce Grove/AJHL- 12-2-6-8) 6-0/210—Regarded as the top prospect in Alberta.
6. Reese Wilcox, D, ’94 (Merritt/BCHL- 11-2-4-6) 6-2/185—Stay-at-home defenseman is the target of Ivy League schools.
7. Max Gardiner, F, ’92 (Dubuque/USHL- 7-0-2-2) 6-2/185—Former Gopher -- and 3rd round NHL pick (St. Louis) -- has all the tools to be a pro.
8. Jacob Fallon, F, ’92 (Indiana/USHL- 6-3-3-6) 5-11/185—Former Michigan Wolverine is ready to step in and be an immediate contributor.
9. Paul Geiger, D, ’92 (Stouffville/OJHL- 16-6-16-22) 6-3/194—Impressive statistics for a defenseman. Clearly very offensively gifted.
10. Alex Barron, D, ’92 (Indiana/USHL- 6-1-6-7) 6-1/184—College-ready defenseman has taken on a much larger role this season for Indiana.
11. Cody Bradley, F, ’94 (Indiana/USHL-6-2-5-7) 5-10/163—Most improved player in the USHL? CC, Minn-Duluth, UNH, and Ohio State are in the hunt.
12. Brandon Morley, F, ’94 (Surrey/BCHL- 8-3-8-11) 5-9/154—Former Merrimack recruit has the skill to be a top six forward at the next level.
13. Ben Hutton, D, ’93 (Kemptville/CCHL- 14-3-10-13) 6-3/195—Has a ton of hockey sense and is taking his game to another level. A lot of potential here.
14. Mark Cooper, F, ’92 (St. Mike’s/OJHL- 19-9-15-24) 6-1/176—Kitchener (OHL) tried to sign the skilled sniper this summer.
15. Matt Lane, F, ’94 (NTDP/USHL- 2-1-0-1) 5-10/172—Excellent skater who can make plays. Can he finish?
16. Kyle Baun, F, ’92 (Cornwall/CCHL- 4-2-4-6) 6-1/196—Power forward with scoring ability has visited Penn State, Niagara, and Holy Cross.
17. David Goodwin, F, ’92 (Green Bay/USHL- 7-3-4-7) 5-9/187—Offensive outburst at the start of the season has colleges taking note.
18. Drake Caggiula, F, ’94 (Stouffville/OJHL- 2-0-1-1) 5-11/181—Started the season in Des Moines (USHL), but returned to Stouffville (homesickness). Pure skill.
19. Mike McKee, D, ’93 (Lincoln/USHL- 6-1-4-5) 6-4/230— Was recently decommitted from Northeastern. Should not take long to find a new home.
20. John Draeger, D, ’93 (Shattuck-St. Mary’s) 6-2/186—Top defenseman on a very good Shattuck-St. Mary’s team.
21. Dalen Hedges, F, ’94 (Nepean/CCHL- 9-3-5-8) 5-7/165—Exciting player who produced nearly a point a game as a 16 year old last season.
22. Eric Schurhamer, D, ’94 (St. Thomas Academy) 5-10/180—Physically strong defenseman will be visiting Maine shortly.
23. Darcy Murphy, F, ’92 (Wellington/OJHL- 13-15-13-28) 5-9/174—Top scorer in the OJHL is demanding attention from colleges.
24. Austin Ortega, F, ’94 (Cedar Rapids/USHL- 7-4-1-5) 5-9/150—Dynamic forward is a DI prospect, but is he ready to play next year?
25. Shane Omdahl, F, ’92 (Bismarck/NAHL- 8-5-10-15) 5-11/192—Roseau HS product is putting up nearly two points a game
Jason Pucciarelli, G, ’93 (Newmarket/OJHL- GAA-2.36, .922%) 6-0/185
Matthew Wintjes, G, ’93 (Newmarket/OJHL- GAA-1.98, .010%) 5-10/165
Jean-Benoit Beaudry, F, ’94 (Ulysse Prep) 5-8/160
Ben Betker, D, ’94 (Westside/BCHL- 11-0-2-2) 6-4/185
Cory Kloss, D, ’91 (Brooks/AJHL- 18-2-11-13) 5-10/185
Ryan Rosenthal, F, ’93 (Kent School) 6-1/185
Dylan Smith, F, ’92 (Estevan/SJHL- 9-9-9-18) 6-1/181
KJ Tiefenwerth, F, ’92 (Jr. Bruins/EJHL- 13-10-13-23) 5-9/160
Joey Godin, F, ’92 (Ulysse Prep) 6-0/175
Darren Nowick, F, ’91 (Vernon/BCHL- 12-10-4-14) 5-11/185
Philip Nasca, F, ’92 (Kanata/CCHL- 11-4-5-9) 5-9/155
Vinny Scotti, F, ’92 (Jr. Bruins/EJHL- 13-6-16-22) 5-9/175
Nate Arentz, F, ’94 (Fargo/USHL- 6-1-2-3) 6-0/170
Linus Lundin, G, ’92 (Springfield/EJHL- GAA-2.60, .929%) 6-2/175
Darcy Returns to St. Botolph St.
6’0”, 187 lb. RC/RW Cam Darcy of the U.S. Under-18 Team has recommitted to Northeastern.
Darcy, who had originally committed to the Huskies in April of ’10, following a strong performance at the NTDP 40-man camp, decommitted from Northeastern over the summer, when former head coach Greg Cronin moved to the NHL.
Darcy subsequently looked at a number of schools, and, like any recruit starting the process, tried to figure out where he was most wanted and where he was most comfortable. Meanwhile, new Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan had let the former Dexter center and his family know he was still wanted at Northeastern. While beginning the process of “re-recruiting” Darcy, Northeastern had to stand by and remain patient while Darcy went through the process.
Things really got going about 3-4 weeks ago when the Darcy family, who live in South Boston, came in and met with Madigan. The meeting must have gone well because this past Sunday – two days ago – Madigan flew out to Ann Arbor, met with Darcy, and, last night, got a commitment. Darcy will suit up for Northeastern next fall.
Darcy represents the second player Madigan and his staff have re-recruited. Goaltender Jon Gillies had also considered decommitting after the coaching change, but, once Madigan and his staff were in place and both sides had taken the time to get to know each other, recommitted as well.
Northeastern has been getting after it hard. Just in the past two weeks they’ve brought in Youngstown RW Ryan Belonger (the fifth–leading returning scorer in the USHL this season), 6’3” Youngstown defenseman Michael Gunn (formerly committed to Michigan St.), and, for ’13, Lincoln’s Zach Aston-Reese, who Huskies assistant Jerry Keefe had originally recruited to Brown.
By the way, last week’s “decommitment” of Lincoln defenseman Mike McKee may have, at best, been kind of a mutual decision. It’s hard to know exactly how to word these things, and it often depends on who you talk to, but the new Northeastern staff definitely wasn’t as sold on McKee as the previous staff. You may have noticed that Gunn – equal in size and more polished and mobile than McKee -- committed to Northeastern, and then a week later McKee “decommitts.” Coincidence? We think not.
Hanifin First of the ’97s to Commit
6’2”, 181 lb. St. Sebastian’s School freshman LD Noah Hanifin will be taking his game to Boston College in the fall of ’15.
Readers of this publication are certainly familiar with Hanifin. A 1/25/97 birthdate, he played varsity at St. Sebastian’s last season as a 13-year-old, and, in 27 games, posted a 2-9-11 line. But that doesn’t tell half the story. What Hanifin showed was a rare combination of poise and skill that we haven’t seen in the Massachusetts prep ranks since Ryan Whitney was playing as an 8th grader at Thayer.
A Norwood native, Hanifin has size, strength, hands, a powerful shot, vision, and a very economical, efficient style of play. He’s also patient, smart, and plays the game with verve.
A Norwood, Mass. native, Hanifin attended the Lovell hockey camps (also in Norwood) while growing up, and the Lovells remember him showing up for skills sessions when he was eight or nine. They also remember the determination and passion he showed for the game, and the hours he has logged at the rink ever since.
Hanifin visited BC the week before Labor Day, and then Boston University about a month later. Those were the only two schools he considered.
“I’ve always been a BC fan,” Hanifin said. “And I got a really good feeling when I visited there. But I really liked BU, too. I liked the atmosphere. I hadn’t really thought about going to BU until I visited there, but I really liked the facilities, and the campus. It was a tough decision.”
Hanifin said it’s “definitely an honor” to be the first ’97 to commit to a Div. I college. “But," he added, "it also means I really have to work harder because kids will be catching up.”
To that end, Hanifin says he spent much of the summer working out. “My focus was on the gym. I was there a lot, working out, and getting stronger. I’m really looking forward to the season. We have a really great team at St. Sebastian’s and a really great coach in Mr. (Sean) McCann. It’s our goal to win New Englands.”
Hanifin said he also wanted to win Nationals with the ’97 Valley Junior Warrior teams. This fall, Hanifin has been playing not only with his ’97 team but, over Columbus Day weekend, he played in the Tier I Showcase with the Boston Advantage Midget Major squad – where he was the best player in the tournament – and also in the Pro-Am with the Advantage U16 Team. The Lovells, as you may know, run the Boston Advantage program in addition to Lovell Hockey. “I really want to say thank you to the Tim Lovell and to Neil Shea,” Hanifin said. “They’ve been a big part of my hockey life.”
While he plays lacrosse at St. Sebastian’s and town baseball in Norwood, hockey is all-consuming to Hanifin. “I basically play lacrosse and baseball to become a better athlete.”
Hanifin reports that his doctor has told him that he’ll probably top out at 6’4” – 6’5.” With a filled-out frame -- and he's already pretty solidly built for his age and height -- Hanifin has the earmarks of a high first round NHL draft pick.
Hanifin didn’t want to hear much about that, though. “It’s true my main goal is to play in the NHL, but right now I’m just focusing on what it takes to get better.”
Hanifin is part the vanguard of what is looking to be a resurgence in Mass Hockey. Over the past couple of years some excellent elite players have come out of the Bay State. At the '94 level, Teddy Doherty, Ryan Fitzgerald, Brendan Silk, Matt Grzelczyk and Cam Darcy jump to mind. At the '95 level, there is Shane Eiserman and Tyler Kelleher. At the '96 level, Jack Eichel is the man, and Liam Pecararo has a nice skill level. We have recently mentioned some of the other elite ‘97s in Mass hockey – St. Sebastian’s forward Cam Askew, who could commit to BU or UNH before long. His numbers in Empire League play this fall (on a weak team) compare very favorably to Eichel’s (on a strong team) last year – actually, they are a little better. Nobles F Colin White and Malden Catholic D Casey Fitzgerald are two other ‘97s who are being closely watched. In short, there is no longer a lot of hand-wringing over the state of Massachusetts hockey.
No doubt the fact that BC has stepped up and gotten a commitment from a ’97 will raise some eyebrows. But Hanifin deserves the honor, mainly because he is playing right now at the level of a lot of the top ‘94s and ‘95s. For example, we like him more – right now -- than any of the ’96 defensemen we saw in Rochester at the Select 15 Festival. He’s one of those rare players who we could see coming in and playing as an underager at the NTDP. They haven't taken an underager for years, and, in terms of social development, that's a good thing. However, Hanifin is a mature kid and could pull it off.
The bottom line on committing young kids is that it can be a real projection guess, with unforeseen consequences -- and that's why we have grave reservations about it. In Hanifin’s case, we don’t see this as an issue. He will be an impact Div. I defenseman, and there’s virtually zero chance that he will wash out. We don't think we're going out on a limb when we say that. He's a special one.
Northeastern, which saw a number of recruits decommit over the summer in the wake of former head coach Greg Cronin leaving for Toronto, has been hit with another as Lincoln Stars (USHL) 6’4”, 230 lb. LD Mike McKee has decommitted as well.
McKee was due to come in next fall.
An 8/17/93 birthdate from Newmarket, Ont. who attended the Kent School for the past two years, McKee, who was bypassed in June’s NHL draft, is getting off to a strong start at Lincoln. In four games he has a 1-4-5 line (tied for the team lead in scoring) and a +4. He also has 15 pims, most coming in a game last Saturday night at Sioux City that featured a first-period line brawl.
Lincoln, by the way, won that game, 4-1, with former Deerfield forward Kevin Roy, a Brown recruit, figuring in all four goals (3g,1a). The Lac-Beauport, Quebec native had a natural hat trick in the third period, the final goal of which was an empty-netter.
Losing McKee may just be a blip on the screen as far as the Huskies staff is concerned. He’s not irreplaceable, à la forward John Gaudreau, now at BC. Very few players are. And, of course, a decommitment frees up scholarship money, thus representing an opportunity to go after another prospect – and there are plenty of uncommitted players out there. As far as Northeastern is concerned, they looked sharp in Saturday’s 4-0 win over UNH at Matthews Arena. UNH carried the play for the first five minutes of the game, but then the Wildcat defense and goaltending suffered a collective meltdown, allowing the Huskies to strike for three goals in a three-minute span. With the lead in hand, the Huskies played a textbook game, using excellent team defense – they blocked a ton of shots and kept frustrated UNH forwards from setting up down low – en route to the shutout.
East Coast College Cup Review (U19’s)
Boo Nieves, ’94 (Connecticut Jr. Wolfpack) 6-3/185, F—The Kent star is the top NHL draft prospect in New England. The first game we saw him play he was dominant. The ‘total package,’ he’s big, fast, creative, and makes players around him better. Sacrifices personal success for team success, a good trait, but one that also comes with a downside. We say that because the Syracuse native has the ability to take over games, and sometimes he needs to be selfish for the betterment of the team. He has not done this yet. The knock on Nieves is that he can sometimes slip into a lower compete level, something he did in the second game we saw. All eyes will be on him this season and scouts will want to see if he can play every game with high intensity, night in and night out.
Ryan Rosenthal, ’93 (Connecticut Jr. Wolfpack) 6-1/185, F—Has a really deadly shot, very effective on the PP, and is really dangerous rolling off the half wall. The only negative about him is that he plays on the perimeter a little too much. Nonetheless he should find a home at the DI level shortly. Will likely be paired with Nieves this season at Kent – and the two seniors will be one of the top duos in prep hockey.
Kevin Rooney, ’93 (Jr. Bobcats) 6-1/187, F—A workhorse who creates offense through energy. Could be a solid role player at the next level. Berkshire will lean on him for offense this season. He’ll be a senior.
Jake Wood, ’93 (Jr. Bobcats) 5-8/160, F—Energy player who creates a lot and can bury the puck. Will be a top producer at The Gunnery this season. Remains to be seen if the senior from Ontario can be a finisher at the DI level. We’ll find out though, because he’s headed to RPI.
Wiley Sherman, ’95 (Mid-Fairfield Blues) 6-5/190, D—Harvard recruit already has NHL size. Really played within himself here; has the ability to turn into a Hal Gill type of defenseman. A sure-fire pro prospect. Will be a sophomore at Hotchkiss.
Joe Depietto, ’93 (Mid-Fairfield Blues) 5-10/170, D—Smallish defenseman who can really zip the puck around on the PP. The type of player who, as a forward, you love to be on the ice with. One of those guys who could find a home at the DI level, but if not will be a great NESCAC player. Will be a senior at Choate.
Andrew Silard, ’93 (Mid-Fairfield Blues) 6-3/210, F—Only produced 11 points last season at Kent, but from the looks of things the senior from Greenwich, Conn. will be counted on for a lot more than that this season. A power forward who can protect the puck with the best of them, using his size to his advantage. Plays the game hard and is not someone you want bearing down on you. Could be a great complimentary player for Rosenthal and Nieves.
Alex Rauter, ’94 (Mid-Fairfield Blues) 6-1/175, F—A big-time scorer for the North Jersey Avalanche U16 team last season where he led the team in scoring with a 33-22-55 line in only 22 games played. His goal scoring prowess was on display this weekend—quick shot release. Should be a top scorer at Choate this year.
Tim Harrison, ’94 (Bay State Breakers) 6-1/170, F—Scored a really nice goal in the game we saw. Has a good all-around skill set. Will be a junior at Dexter.
Shayne Bailey, ’93 (Boston Advantage) 6-2/173, D—Late bloomer played a very solid defensive game. Logged a ton of minutes and did not make many mistakes. Keeps things simple and is someone to keep an eye on. Has DI potential and is only going to get better.
Jake McCarthy, ’96 (Boston Advantage) 6-1/181, D—Was playing against much older competition and still stood out. Tried to force things a little too much and did wander out of position a few times. Regardless, he created a lot of offense and will likely develop into a nice player.
Liam Pecararo, ’96 (Boston Advantage) 5-9/160, F—Will be a big-time player for the University of Maine. Has a lot of skill and can really turn it on when he wants. Would be surprised if he weren’t included in the NTDP final 40 camp roster. He and ’95 Ryan Cloonan have the ability to dominate whole shifts.
Kevin Guiltinan, ’95 (Hill Academy) 6-3/195, D—The London Knights (OHL) draft pick plays an old-time style of hockey — solid defensively, and mean. Kept things simple here, but was physically involved. Not someone you want to have catch you with your head down.
BCHL Top Five Uncommitted Prospects
1. Alex Kerfoot, ’94 F, 5-9/155, Coquitlam Express – Numero Uno. We wrote extensively about him last week (see USHR News of 10/10/11). Kerfoot, who has narrowed his choices to Harvard, Yale, and Boston College, is a rookie center. He’s also the top-scoring ’94 in the league. 9 gp: 5-9-14.
2. Reece Wilcox, ’94 LD, 6-2/185, Merritt Centennials – Big defensive d-man who can skate. 3/20/94 birthdate; Surrey, BC native. 9 gp: 2-1-3.
3. Adam Tambellini, late ’94 F, 6-2/171, Vernon Vipers -- Good size, good skills; good speed. Played midgets in Alberta last season. Brother of former Michigan and NHL forward Jeff Tambellini and son of Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini. 11/1/94 birthdate thus not eligible for NHL draft until 2013. 9 gp: 6-3-9.
4. Brandon Morley, ’94 F, 5-9/160, Surrey Eagles – Very fast and skilled. Makes a ton of plays with his older brother, Tyler. Brings to mind Boston College’s Joe and Steven Whitney. In second year in league. Both brothers had committed to Merrimack but then decommitted over the summer. 8 gp: 3-8-11.
5. Ben Betker, ’94 LD, 6-4/185, Westside Warriors – A rookie in the league, Betker played for the Kootenay Ice Midgets last year. A 9/29/94 so not eligible for NHL draft until 2013. Similar in style to Milton Academy’s Robby O’Gara. 10 gp: 0-2-2.
East Coast College Cup Review (U16's)
This past weekend we ventured down to Connecticut to take in the East Coast College Cup. With the amount of teams spread out in four divisions (U19, U18, U16, and 97’s) we had to pick our battles and decided to hone in on the U19’s and U16’s.
U16 Division Standouts:
Justin Bailey, ’95 (Long Island Royals) 6-3/182, F — We have written about Bailey before, and don’t want to repeat ourselves, but he really showed another gear here. Scored a goal in a 1-0 win against the Boston Advantage that was jaw-dropping. Picking up a pass while standing still at the Advantage blue line, Bailey exploded past the defender, made a nifty play on the goalie, and tucked it away. The speed with which he drove to the net would have left most DI defensemen helpless. This kid is an athlete. His big frame has room on which he can add weight, but it’s the pace at which he plays – and the intensity, too – that makes him a big-time pro and college prospect. Was the clear #1 forward at the U16 level. Will be a big catch for whichever college lands him.
Brendan Shane, ’96 (Toronto Nationals) 5-9/162, F — An American (Rochester, NY) playing in the GTHL. Was up against a weak opponent the first time we saw him, so his skills were really on display. Just a beautiful skater that gallops around the ice. Made plays and was the top forward in the game. In the second of his games we saw him against a much stronger LI Royals team (predominately all 95’s) and they kept him pretty quiet. Nonetheless, he is a DI prospect -- if he decides against the OHL route.
Kyle Fargesen, ’95 (Selects Hockey Academy) 5-8/155, F — Put himself on the map here. In a game against Academie Saint-Louis (Quebec City) he was scoring at will. A well-rounded player who has great hands and can make plays at top speed.
JJ Piccinich, ’96 (North Jersey Avalanche) 5-11/170, F — Wills offense. Every time the Avalanche scored a goal or made a nice play Piccinich was involved. Is not the prettiest player to watch, but he gets it done. A player who knows where to be and finds the open man. Extremely competitive; wins the battles for loose pucks.
Connor Wynne, ’95 (North Jersey Avalanche) 5-10/155, D — Offensive defenseman who plays a similar game to UNH recruit and former Avalanche alum Brett Pesce. Has a great stick and is very effective on the PP. A late ’95, he could turn out to be a very good player. An excellent college prospect.
Mitchell Lundholm, ’96 (Selects Hockey Academy) 6-4/195, F — Intriguing; has a ton of upside. Really long stride. Made a lot of plays this weekend. One to keep a close eye on. From Plymouth, Mass.
Bobby Wurster, ’96 (Conn. Jr. Bobcats) 6-3/165, D — Looks like he could develop into a really nice player. Has a lot of size; keeps things simple. Will be very interesting to see what kind of defenseman he becomes when he fills out. Will be at Choate this season.
Brandon Fortunato, ’96 (Long Island Royals) 5-7/135, D — Played his game. Puck is on his stick and off his stick very quickly. Just makes plays -- very intelligent. His size could hold him back in the immediate future, but his head for the game makes him special. When he adds weight and is strong enough to defend against bigger players, he is going to be incredibly effective. He just needs time to physically mature.
James Gobetz, ’96 (Long Island Royals) 6-1/175, D — Keeps getting better. Scored a highlight reel goal in the semi-finals against the Toronto Nationals in which he walked the blue line, eluded a defender, and uncorked a laser which ended up in the back of the net.
Vincent DeSousa, ’96 (Toronto Nationals) 6-2/184, D — A late ’96 who already has imposing size. Plays textbook defense and is not afraid to physically punish opponents. Could be drafted in the top two rounds of the OHL draft.
Phillip Koufis, ’96 (Toronto Nationals) 5-8/150, F — Would make an excellent college player should he choose that route. Is quick, tenacious, and skilled. Was Toronto’s top forward against the Royals.
Trey Bradley, ’96 (Toronto Nationals) 5-7/145, F — Son of former NHLer Brian Bradley and brother of current Indiana Ice (USHL) forward Cody Bradley. Really crafty and generates offense.
Charles Manley, ’96 (Selects Hockey Academy) 5-8/140, D — Has really light feet and is a fluid skater. Brother of former NTDP product Richard Manley. If he can get some of his brother’s height (6’5”) he will shoot up recruiters’ charts.
Robert Smits, ’95 (Selects Hockey Academy) 6-1/185, F — A power forward who has great presence in the faceoff circle. Protects the puck well and overpowers defenders. From Riga, Latvia.
Christopher Birdsall, ’96 (North Jersey Avalanche) 5-10/155, G — We were only able to see him play one game, but he was excellent -- stonewalled Selects Hockey Academy. Athletic and competitive. Reminiscent of BU alum John Curry.
Conner Collier, ’95 (New Jersey Devils) 5-11/185, D — Skilled and efficient. Nothing too flashy, but skates well and makes a great first pass. Solid defensively and is rarely is out of position. Tough to beat in 1x1 situations.
Bobby Hall, ’95 (Boston Advantage) 5-11/168, F — Has a lot of speed and is very shifty. Created the most offense for the Advantage this weekend. UMaine should keep an eye on him! (Sorry, all colleges should keep an eye on him.)
John Picking, ’95 (Boston Advantage) 5-9/170, F — Has good vision and a soft set of hands. Was very good on the PP, but was quiet 5x5. Would like to see him be more tenacious, create turnovers, and compete a little harder for loose pucks.
Joe Snively, ’96 (Selects Hockey Academy) 5-7/140, F — Very skilled and plays at a high tempo. Lightning quick, pounces on pucks—but not very fast goal line to goal line. Needs to get faster and add strength, but has the potential to be an electric college player. UNH, BC, and the Ivies are watching closely.
Daniel LaFontaine, ’95 (Long Island Royals) 5-10/150, F — Played the same type of game we saw at the Junior Bruins Shootout. Very intelligent hockey player; slick with the puck.
Aidan Salerno, ’95 (Long Island Royals) 6-2/185, D — The type of defenseman who brings a hard hat and lunch pail to work every day. Big, strong, and keeps it simple. Does not get beat 1x1 and more often than not will just go off the glass and out. The type of d-man every good team needs.
Michael Marnell, ’95 (Long Island Royals) 5-9/150, F — Really impressive stick skills. Made a play behind the net in the championship game in which he switched his high hand to his low hand on his stick while using the other hand to push off a defender—you do not see that much in a U16 game.
Beau Goehrum, ’96 (Toronto Nationals) 5-11/191, D — Stocky and strong. Makes hard, crisp passes.
Evan Smith, ’96 (Toronto Nationals) 5-11/175, F — Captain of the team. Good stick, makes plays, and is tough to knock off the puck. Not the strongest skater, though.
Joseph Fallon, ’95 (Long Island Royals) 5-8/164, F — A December ’95 birthdate. Created a lot of offense this weekend. Skates with a wide stance, but gets around very quickly. Has a low center of gravity and uses it to his advantage.
Michael Lee, ’96 (Conn. Jr. Bobcats) 5-11/175, D — A really nice skater. Needs to improve his decision making, as he tends to force plays that are not there. Plays for Hamden (Conn.) High School.
Owen Powers, ’95 (Conn. Jr. Bobcats) 6-1/165, F — Power forward who was on the puck all weekend. Battles hard in front of the net and in corners. A nice addition for Choate.
6’0”, 195 lb. New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) LD Thomas Parisi has committed to Providence College for next fall.
Parisi, a 7/15/93 birthdate from Commack, NY, played his youth hockey for the Long Island Gulls, and, for the past two seasons, has played juniors with the NY Bobcats (AJHL).
He’s received a lot of attention since his strong showing at the Beantown Summer Classic in August, and the Woodchuck Tournament a couple of weeks later. Parisi is a heady player who sees plays developing in front of him really well, and has the skills to turn them into scoring opportunities. He also has an excellent shot. With the Monarchs, he’s third on team scoring with eight points (one point behind forwards Brian Morgan and Cam Brown, both Maine recruits, who are tied for first).
Of Parisi’s eight points, two are PP goals and two are PP assists. The Monarchs’ power play has converted 25% of its chances. Needless to say, you can look for Parisi to be running the Friars’ power play down the line.
“He has great edges and a phenomenal stick,” says Monarchs head coach Sean Tremblay. “Taking over the reins of our power play is no simple task but, following in the footsteps of a Brian Dumoulin (BC) and Trevor Van Riemsdyk (UNH), he has really done a great job.”
When Tremblay learned last April that UNH wanted former Monarch D Ryan Randall to come in this fall, he honed in on Sam Piazza (a BC recruit now taking a year in the USHL) and Parisi, who was also considering the USHL route.
Tremblay had just come back from coaching the Northern New England entry in the American Showcase in Pittsburgh (basically the old Chicago Showcase). When Northern New England faced off against the Team New York entry, Parisi just jumped out at him. “He was,” says Tremblay, “the best player on the ice.”
The following week, Parisi, who was impressed by the Monarchs’ long record of helping blueliners improve on defensive aspects of their game, decided to play for the Monarchs.
“He’s got a thick body, he’s strong, he has good feet, so the defensive part of his game will round out with experience and work,” Tremblay says. “And he’s one of the hardest-working kids we have.”
The other schools Parisi visited were Maine, UNH, and Quinnipiac.
Parisi was bypassed in last summer's NHL draft, but is getting looked at as an overager for the 2012 draft.
NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch
Here is NHL Central Scouting’s Player to Watch list for the June 2012 draft. This particular list only covers the USHL, NTDP, and the three Canadian Major Junior Leagues.
A few observations:
-- Going into the season, New Jersey native Nick Ebert of the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) was projected by many to be a high first round pick – some had him in the top 5 overall. Central is less enthralled, giving him a “B” ranking.
-- Of the seven U.S.-born players Central Scouting invited to the RDO Camp in Toronto in August, four were given A ratings (LC Alex Galchenyuk, LW Nick Kerdiles, RD Jordan Schmaltz, and RD Jacob Trouba), while three were given B ratings (RD Ebert, G Collin Olson, and RC Cam Darcy).
-- In the column for colleges you’ll notice that Darcy, who’s skating the right wing for the US U-18 Team, is listed as going to Northeastern. Darcy, as you will recall, decommitted from the Huskies over the summer, expressing an interest in playing for BC or BU. However, those two schools haven’t been forthcoming with scholarship offers, so there is a good chance that Darcy, a South Boston native, may well end up back at Northeastern. They’re talking. Also very much in the mix is Vermont. Out west, Minnesota, Denver, and North Dakota are reported to have interest, but it sure sounds to us like Darcy is a hometown kind of guy.
-- We haven’t added up the numbers, so don’t want to jump to conclusions, but our initial sense of things indicates that, given the number of ’94-born U.S. kids playing major junior, very few of them have found their way onto Central’s list.
Click below to open the list. It’s a PDF file.
Players to Watch List, 10/13/11
Scouting the NEFPHL
Salem, NH—After making the trip to Newington, Conn. last week, we headed back northward to watch their brethren league – the New England Fall Prep Hockey League -- at the Icenter. With the infusion of the Little Bruins and Ulysse Prep to the schedule the pace of the games was better than in Newington. The play was competitive and the players did not appear as if they were simply there for a Sunday skate. Ulysse Prep was really a pleasure to watch. The team is coached by Denis Chalifoux, Daniel Marois, and Steve Veilleux, all of whom have a wealth of professional experience with Marois having played over 300 NHL games. The team has number of Division I prospects that intend on going to college and are a must-see. (They will be back at the Icenter Oct. 30th.)
Here are the players in Salem who caught our eye:
Anthony Pellerin,’95, G (Ulysse Prep) 6-2/180—Could be a real gem. Big and fundamentally sound. Moves well laterally and makes saves look easy. Excellent rebound control, his pads seem to swallow pucks. Has all the makings of a big-time college goalie.
Raphael Maheux,’96, D (Ulysse Prep) 6-1/210—Looks mature beyond his years. Really polished for his age. A lot of potential.
Alex Fleurent-Bilodeau,’95, D (Ulysse Prep) 6-4/190—Skates well for his size and has a nice wingspan that he uses to his advantage. Defends well and keeps things simple.
Jeremy Auger, ’96, F (Ulysse Prep) 5-7/160—Diminutive playmaker who is really fun to watch. Plays a similar game to Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere. Makes plays and is strong on the puck, can really protect it.
Jen-Benoit Beaudry, ’94, F (Ulysse Prep) 5-8/160—Probably Ulysse Prep’s top player. Plays a complete game and really generates offense. Has great vision and looks pass more often than not. Has speed and tenacity. Creates a lot of turnovers.
Joey Godin, ’92, F (Ulysse Prep) 6-0/175—Has a really good stick, and scored a lot of goals here Sunday. Was paired with Beaudry and the two of them played well together. Poised with puck under pressure.
Michael Restuccia, ’93, F (Winchendon) 5-8/160—The program and website both state that Restuccia is a ’90, which would make him a 21-year-old senior(!). He’s actually a late ’93 --- 10/13/93, to be precise. He led Winchendon in points last year as a junior and he will do it again this year as a senior. He’s a really smart player with a nose for the net.
Tyler Wood, ’94, D (Nobles) 6-3/195—Son of former Eli – and NHLer -- Randy Wood has really progressed over the last couple of years. Has great size and takes care of business in his own end. Nothing flashy, just plays a good, solid, hard defensive game. Transferred over the summer from Governor’s to Nobles.
Nick Roberto, ’94, F (KUA) 5-9/165—A real sniper who played for Malden Catholic last year. Should score a lot of goals at KUA this season.
Michael Doherty, ’93, F (Groton) 5-11/165—Yale recruit can really scoot. Had 54 points in only 20 games last season and looks primed to improve on those numbers. Will make his case to lead prep hockey in scoring.
Shane Eiserman, ’95, F (Cushing) 6-1/180—Pro prospect who can play a quality physical or finesse game. Plays a similar game to BC’s Billy Arnold.
James Winkler, ’96, F (Berwick Academy) 6-1/165—Long reach/stick and can really handle the pill. Good size, and projects well. Needs to lengthen his stride a bit, but he could be a good one.
Terrence Goguen, ’93, D (Belmont Hill) 6-2/195—Simplifies the game, makes a good first pass. A strong meat-and-potatoes defenseman.
Ryan Bliss, ’96, D (St. Paul’s) 6-1/180—A lot of upside here. Has size, can skate, and loves to handle the puck. Joined the rush often and could be tapping into his potential. A Cornell recruit who’s likely to be invited to the NTDP final 40 camp in March.
Alex Carle, ’94, D (KUA) 5-10/177—Brother of Flyers defenseman and Hobey Baker winner Matt Carle. A fluid skater who has excellent gap control. Was the top d-man here.
Nathan Ferriero, ’94, F (Governors) 5-8/165—Has physically matured and looks to have put on muscle over the summer. His shot has really developed. Resembles his brothers Benn (Worcester Sharks/AHL) and Cody (Northeastern). Creative and elusive, will pile on the points this season.
Matt Beattie, ’92, F (Phillips Exeter) 6-3/180—A PG who posted a 22-20-42 line in 31 games for the New Jersey Renegades (Metropolitan Junior Hockey League) last season. Is generating DI interest.
Doyle Somerby, ’94, D (KUA) 6-4/225—Hard to miss. Has some potential, but is very raw right now.
Connor Brassard, ’95, D (Cushing) 6-1/170—Was here with the Little Bruins and looked very good. Was really involved offensively and showed a lot of confidence. Can handle the puck and makes good decisions under pressure. Will be effective on the Cushing power play this season.
Best of the Tier I Elite League Showcase
Hingham, Mass. -- The Boston Advantage hosted the Tier I Elite Hockey League’s Midget Major Showcase over Columbus Day weekend, with teams from the Atlantic Region squaring off against the Mid-East Region. Here’s who stood out:
The top player for Team Comcast was big 6’2”, 175 lb. Chase Hatcher, a ‘94. The son of longtime NHL veteran Derian Hatcher is currently playing for the London Knights (OHL), but has been scratched every game thus far. Spending the weekend with Team Comcast gave him the opportunity to get some games under his belt. A power forward with a nice set of hands, Hatcher scored some nice goals here. Certainly would have made a nice college prospect. Two other forwards with Team Comcast stood out: 5’11, 170 lb. Dylan Plitt, a very crafty and creative ’94, and Maine recruit Ryan Badger. The latter, a 5’10, 178 lb. ’94, did nothing to “wow” us, but he’s one of those honest hockey players that does a lot of little things that go unnoticed. Put another way, he’s a guy you want on the ice when you’re trying to conserve a lead in the last minute of a game.
The TPH Thunder (Marietta, Georgia) have some really nice players this year. ’94 goalie Tom Bay was excellent, stonewalling Team Comcast in a 4-1 TPH win. At 6’2”, 163 lbs. he has size and moves well laterally. His technique is sound and he takes up a lot of net. Also has good presence, looks the part. Zachery Yoder, a ’94, is a nice prospect. A 6’3”, 165 lb. defenseman, he can really skate. Keeps things simple, but is very capable running their PP. The top Thunder forwards are ’94 Joe Vuolo, a 6’0”, 172 lb. skilled playmaker and 6’0, 157 lb. Carter Penzien, a ’93 who can really skate and has good finishing abilities.
The Buffalo Junior Sabres have some firepower. They were the top team here, going 2-0-1 over the weekend. The top prospect is ’95 Kyle Eastman. At 6’1”, 185 lbs., he is a prototypical power forward with a good all-around skill level. ’95 Zachary Evancho is also a nice player. The 5’8, 150 lb. forward lacks size, but makes up for it with superior vision and a good skill set. Very dangerous on the power play. Another diminutive forward is ’95 Alex Gleason. A 5’8, 180 lb. sniper. Gleason can really bury the puck. His skating could hold him back at the next level as he is not a burner, and at 5’8” you have to be. On defense, ’94 Kyle Mackey looked good. Has size at 6’1”, 170 lbs. and skates very well. Makes good outlet passes and likes to be involved in the offense.
The Boston Advantage were led by Maine recruits Liam Pecararo, a '96, and Ryan Cloonan, a ’95. The two forwards have a nice feel for each other and are dangerous at all times. ’97 sensation Noah Hanifin was impressive. The youngest player here was also the best player -- all eyes are on the 6’3”, 180 lb. d-man. A pleasant surprise was 6’2”, 173 lb. defenseman Shayne Bailey, a ’93. Very sound defensively and seems to have a good mind for the game. He’ll come along well under coach Tim Lovell. ’95 John Picking was called up from the U16 team this weekend and definitely held his own. The 5’10”, 168 lb. forward can make plays and is one to keep an eye on.
The Pittsburgh Hornets have two intriguing players in ’94 forward Dalton Shiring and ’93 F/D Kevin Zugec. Shiring is massive at 6’3”, 193 lbs., but has to figure out how to use his size to his advantage. We have seen Zugec over the years and his size -- 6’4, 225 lbs. -- is hard to ignore. He could have a nice future in the game as his skill set is above average. 6’0”, 205 lb. Michael Gornall is the Hornets leading scorer. The ’94 forward is always around the puck -- very opportunistic.
The DC Capitals could have a real find in ’93 forward Austin Hefferin. Last season, Hefferin played for the Palm Beach Hawks (Metropolitan Hockey League) and put up some eye-popping numbers—37-48-84 in only 37 games played. At 6’0”, 190 lbs. he has decent size and a soft set of hands. He can really shoot the puck, too. Was playing the point on the power play here, and looked good doing it.
Bobcats Tournament Schedule
Here's the schedule for the Connecticut Bobcats Tournament -- well, that's what we've been calling it colloquially; it's officially known as the East Coast College Cup --- this weekend. Games will be held at Yale, Quinnipiac, Wesleyan, Trinity, Choate, and a couple of local rinks.
Connecticut Bobcats Tournament Schedule (Excel file)
Connecticut Bobcats Tournament Schedule, by age group (Excel file)
The first schedule listed is an overall composite. The second is by age group -- U14, U16, U18, and U19. Just click on the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet.
New England Pro-Am Standouts
At the New England Pro-Am Midget Fall Classic over the past weekend there was plenty of talent, but it was very much concentrated on a few top teams, after which there was a significant drop off. The usual suspects looked good here—Brendan Collier (BU) and Ryan Fitzgerald (BC) are the best duo in Massachusetts high school hockey since Reading’s Sean Collins and Steve Saviano back in the late ‘90s. They are a threat to score every shift, and will again make watching Malden Catholic must-see hockey. Andrew Doane (Brown), Adam Gilmour (Quinnipiac), John Baiocco (Yale) and stud ’97 Noah Hanifin also did not disappoint.
Here, then, are the top uncommitted players we saw:
Thomas Aldworth, ‘95 (Boston Jr. Bruins U16) 5’11”, 170 lbs., F—Will be a nice addition to the Cushing Penguins this season. Has an exceptional first step, just explodes out of the gate. Really good stick to go along with great offensive instincts. The Texas native had a strong showing this summer at the Select 16 Festival and is currently being courted by many top schools. Northeastern has offered a full scholarship, but word on the street is that they are not in his top 5, which consists of UNH, BU, Miami, Colorado College, and North Dakota. Could be a game breaker at the next level if he rounds out his game. Needs to compete harder away from the puck.
Thomas Defelice, ’95 (Boston Jr. Bruins U16) 5’9”, 165 lbs., F—Very slight, but elusive. Really slick set of hands. Enrolled at Cushing.
Patrick Krzesaj, ’95 (Boston Jr. Bruins U18) 6’2”, 200 lbs., D—Big, steady, defensive defenseman. Makes a good first pass and likes to keep it simple. Is physical and had some really hard open ice hits. A lot of presence on the ice. Good size and wide frame. Will be playing at Milton Academy this season.
Liam Coughlin, ‘94 (Boston Jr. Bruins U18) 6’3”, 180 lbs., F-- Very effective this weekend. Really nice combination of size and skill. A late '94, we see him as a prospect for the 2013 NHL draft. Should be the top player at Catholic Memorial this season.
Tommy Davis, ’93 (New Jersey Freeze) 6’1”, 190 lbs., D—Has really improved over the last couple of years. Skates well and keeps things simple. Long wingspan aids an effective poke check. A senior at Delbarton.
Corey Ronan, ’95 (Cape Cod Whalers) 5’8”, 160 lbs., F—Really liked him at the Junior Bruins Shootout, and he continued to impress here. Was playing center and was really creative in the middle of the ice. Plays a very similar game to that of former St. Sebastian’s and BC Eagle Joe Rooney. Will definitely be a good third line/energy player at the DI level, but has top six potential.
Chad Hardy, ’93 (Boston Jr. Bruins) 6’4”, 220 lbs., G—Is every bit of 6’4 and has really improved his coordination and lateral movement. Intimidating presence for shooters as he leaves few openings. Is a good goalie now, but is only going to get better. There is a lot to work with here. Is a senior at Cushing.
Chris Calnan, ’94 (Cape Cod Whalers) 6’2”, 190 lbs., F—Has a lot of potential and can really fire the puck. Has the tools, but has not put it all together just yet. Could develop into a power forward with goal scoring ability. One to keep an eye on. Should be a big contributor at Nobles this winter.
-- Three already-committed players really made an impression here and are taking their games to a whole new level. They are:
Shane Eiserman, ‘95 (Boston Jr. Bruins U18) 6’2”, 190 lbs., F—We have written about Eiserman often in the past few months, but every time we see him he impresses even more. Does it all. Can play a skill game or a physical game. Excellent shot release with pinpoint accuracy. Protects the puck well and can really drive to the net with authority. Great speed and is difficult to play against. Is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2014, but he has top three round potential. UNH recruit will be an immediate contributor at Cushing and will quickly help make Rob Gagnon forget about losing Robbie Baillargeon to the USHL.
Rob O’Gara, ’93 (Boston Jr. Bruins U18) 6’4”, 200 lbs., D—Top player in the tournament. The Boston Bruins draft pick just keeps getting better. Already the best defenseman in prep hockey and has not even come close reaching his full potential. Skill set has really improved over the summer and he really asserted himself offensively here. If Milton Academy has any chance of defending their title O’Gara is going to have to be good, scratch that---O’Gara is going to have to be great! The Yale recruit will log a ton of minutes this season. There is something special about his game. He could have the same type of impact on prep hockey this year as Tom Poti (Cushing) did back in the mid-‘90s.
Drew Melanson, ‘95 (New Jersey Freeze) 5’10”, 150 lbs., F—RPI recruit can really fly. His speed is incredibly difficult to defend against. Really puts defenders on their heels. We watched him play a very good Cape Cod Whalers team and he was a standout. If he adds a little more finish to his game he could turn into a real steal for the Engineers. Will be a junior at Delbarton.
Correction 10/14/11: Tommy Davis, of the New Jersey Freeze and Delbarton, mentioned above as being uncommitted, is actually committed, to Princeton, for the fall of '13.
The Top Uncommitted Prospect in the BCHL
5’9”, 155 lb. Coquitlam Express center Alex Kerfoot, the top-scoring ’94 in the BCHL, has narrowed his college choices to Harvard, Yale, and Boston College.
Currently, the West Vancouver, BC native has a 3-8-11 line in seven games played, which puts the rookie in the #12 spot in the league scoring race.
Jon Calvano, his coach says, that Kerfoot’s strength is “his creativity and his ability to be elusive.”
Asked about weaknesses, he said, “There is no glaring weakness to his game.”
“He is,” Calvano added, “a player NHL teams should be looking at for next summer’s draft.”
And they will be.
There was talk about Kerfoot, who had signed an affiliate card with Coquitlam, playing in the BCHL last year as a 16-year-old, but it was decided that another full year in midgets, where Calvano had coached him with the Giants the year before, would be better for his development.
And he lit it up. Playing for the Vancouver Northwest Giants Midgets, Kerfoot posted a 36-72-108 line in 38 games, setting a BC major midget league scoring record. In the Telus Cup. Canada’s national midget tournament, the Giants finished fourth. Kerfoot notched 26 points in seven games played and was named tournament MVP.
The Seattle Thunderbirds hold his WHL rights, but he has his mind set on college. Kerfoot was a teammate in his first year of midgets with BC freshman forward Destry Straight.
The forward’s father, Greg Kerfoot, is a successful businessman who also heads up the ownership group of the Vancouver Whitecaps (Major League Soccer).
He will be making his official college visits at the end of the month. It's expected he will make his decision shortly after then.
There's a slew of US kids in the top 20 of BCHL scorers, a handful -- i.e. Mario Lucia and the Reillys -- as the result of the midsummer Minnesota migration. At any rate, Connor Reilly (Minnesota) is second in the league, Lucia (Notre Dame) is fifth, Joey Benik (St. Cloud) is 8th, Mike Zalewski (RPI) is 10th, Connor Dempsey (Dartmouth) is 12th, Darrin Nowick (uncommitted) is 17th, Ryan Reilly (Minnesota) is 18th, and Mike Reilly (Minnesota) is 20th. Mike Reilly is also the league's leading scoring d-man.
Two former prep school goalies are in the top ten leaders in that category. Mitch Gillam (formerly at Berkshire) and Steven Racine (erstwhile Taft netminder).
Ivy Freshman Can’t Get Through Clearinghouse
Brown recruit Greg Tang, a BB&N graduate, can’t get through the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Tang’s ‘sin’ was taking a semester abroad in Sweden in ’06-07 and then repeating his sophomore year the following year, which meant that one of his core courses wasn’t taken in consecutive years.
“I’m well over the total number of core courses,” Tang says, “but they weren’t in a row. And they (the NCAA) won’t make an exception.”
Tang, who played a year of juniors last season,” says “I can’t believe it and I can’t believe that they (the NCAA) didn’t bring it up until the second week of September.”
Tang has applied for a waiver with the NCAA, but, he said, the waiting “just sucks.” Tang is not allowed to take part in any team-related activities until – and unless – the issue is resolved.
A Cambridge, Mass. native, Tang should hear from the NCAA as soon as next week.
The Clearinghouse, of course, is designed to keep under-achieving students from playing NCAA sports. Basketball has been beset by diploma mills that take kids whose SAT scores are below the NCAA minimum, and drill them in test-taking (or find proxy test-takers) while passing them through through courses that require essentially zero work. Boosters and advisors often pick up the tab.
Meanwhile, a top student at a rigorous New England prep school, admitted to an Ivy college, is stymied by the rules.
Swedish Goalie Opening Eyes in EJHL
6’2”, 175 lb. Springfield Pics (EJHL) goaltender Linus Lundin, a ’92 from Stockholm, Sweden, has been on a bit of a roll.
On Saturday, the Pics beat the South Shore Kings 5-1 as Lundin kicked out 44 of 45 shots. He was finally beaten on a power play goal late in the third period.
Yesterday, again against South Shore, Lundin faced 43 shots, stonewalling the Kings in the first period (15 shots; 15 saves) before the Kings, eager to avenge the previous night’s loss, busted through for five goals over the final 40 minutes.
Pics coach Pat Tabb said, “I thought he played even better in that game than the game we won. We lost, but for the first ten minutes he kept us in it. From start to finish that was his best game. He faced so many tough shots.”
South Shore coach Scott Harlow agreed that the kid put on a show over the weekend. “He was unbelievable,” Harlow said.
Lundin has had other impressive games, like a 5-0 shutout of the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs on Sept. 25. And on Oct. 2, he stopped 40 of 41 at Bay State.
In seven games, he has a 2.72 gaa and a .931 save percentage.
Tabb, who discovered Lundin playing on a team of Florida kids at the Predraft Chowder Cup, said, “He’s a big goalie. He’s 6’2” and extremely lanky. He’s toned, so he has muscle to go with the fact that he’s really lanky and athletic, so he doesn’t wear down during games. He’s been a horse.”
Lundin is a butterfly goalie but, with his height and athleticism, can cover post-to-post. He also doesn’t give up much up top.
“He’s very sound technically,” Tabb says. “He’s on his angles at all times. He limits his movement because he’s always in position.”
Tabb says Lundin is college eligible. “I’m beginning to get calls on him,” he says. “And that will pick up. He’s an unbelievable kid. He knows the English language very well. He’s a pleasure. Everything is new to him, but nothing fazes him.”
Tabb says that over the last five games Lundin has found his groove, and has become very consistent.
Bay State goalie Kyle MacDonald, a late ’91 from Hanover, Mass., fractured his C4 vertebrae in a game at the Valley Junior Warriors on Sept. 25 and is out for the season. Bay State was able to get 6’2” Ben Halford, a ’93 who played last season at Albany Academy, in a trade with South Shore. Halford has a 2.00 gaa and a .922 save percentage in his two games for Bay State.
It’s been a long, strange trip – and a cautionary tale if there ever was one -- but it’s coming to an end, or at least a new beginning.
Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) forward K.J. Tiefenwerth has decommitted from Boston College, and is looking at other schools.
This story starts in August of 2007 – four years and two months ago – when Tiefenwerth went out to the Select 15 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn. and put on a show in front of the usual complement of coaches, one of whom was Boston College head coach Jerry York.
Less than three weeks later – we’re still in August – Tiefenwerth visited the Heights and the BC staff told him he was their guy. Quite emphatically, too, in the form of a full scholarship. The 15-year-old was bowled over and committed on the spot. He canceled visits to Boston University and UNH that had been set up for the following two days. He was a BC guy. Full in.
Seven months later, in March 2008, Tiefenwerth was invited to the NTDP 40-man tryout in Ann Arbor. He didn’t do well. Other players had caught up to – and surpassed – Tiefenwerth physically. He appeared overmatched.
Before he even arrived at Avon Old Farms that fall of ’08, the Eagles’ staff had cooled on him. As time went by, they tried to freeze him out, telling him pointedly that, while his scholarship would be honored, he would never play at Boston College. The BC staff had realized Tiefenwerth would never be a top six forward, but he was also neither fast enough nor big enough to take a role on the second or third lines either. Plus, there was the scholarship money. BC realized they had made a mistake. But Tiefenwerth, who was originally expected to arrive at the Heights in ’10 or ’11, never decommitted. He was going to go to BC, where his education would be paid for, whether or not the coaches even listed him on the roster.
After helping Avon Old Farms win a prep title in 2010, Tiefenwerth joined the Junior Bruins, where he is now in his second season. For a long time people have been wondering just what Tiefenwerth was going to do. Would he actually show up at BC even though he wasn’t wanted there, and hadn’t been wanted for a long time?
The truth of the matter on Tiefenwerth is that, although he may not have turned out to be the elite-level player BC (and others) thought he would become, he’s not chopped liver either. When Avon Old Farms won the New England prep title 2010, Tiefenwerth’s line, which included Mike Pereira (UMass) and Quinn Smith (BC) were on the ice for all four goals in a 4-1 win over NMH. Last year, Tiefenwerth was a top 10 scorer in the EJ last year, with 57 points in 44 games played.
A spot exists for him somewhere, but this is -- and has been for quite a while -- an unusual situation. Generally, when a college team cools on a kid they committed to early, they stop calling and hope the kid gives up and looks to other schools. That’s what BC hoped Tiefenwerth would do, but he didn’t, which made the Long Island native a rarity. Another thing colleges do with their ‘mistakes’ is keep them in juniors until they age out, then bring them in and hope they can help in a lesser role than originally envisioned. BC didn't want to do that with Tiefenwerth.
At least one Hockey East school thought about offering Tiefenwerth, but saw a greater advantage in the Eagles having to eat the money. Were they serious? Hard to say, but nothing is said totally in jest. And the league doesn't lack for competitiveness.
Offers are coming in now, and Tiefenwerth, a good student (but a bit below Ivy level), will be playing Div. I college hockey at a school where he’s wanted.
His coach on the Junior Bruins, Peter Masters, says, “K.J. is a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s gone. He’s a super kid. He’s the captain of our team. He’s always been a leading scorer. He’s excellent in the locker room for us. If you ask anyone on our team who you’d want as a linemate, K.J. would be the first choice. I am sure in the end when all this sorts itself out he will find the right home with the right fit.”
And that’s where the K.J. Tiefenwerth story stands today, all these years after that happy day at the Heights.
When people say committing 15-year-olds is a bad thing for college hockey, here’s Exhibit A.
Update: Tiefenwerth had four goals in the Junior Bruins 6-5 OT win over the Jersey Hitmen on Saturday night. Three of his goals came in the third period, including a shorthanded unassisted tally that gave the Junior Bruins the lead with 1:40 to go in regulation. (The Hitmen tied it up with 36 seconds left to send it into OT, whereupon the Junior Bruins took all of eight seconds to put an end to it on a Matt Lemire goal.)
Tier I U-18 Showcase Schedule
The Boston Advantage are hosting a Tier I Elite League U-18 Showcase this weekend – Saturday through Monday – at the Pilgrim Skating Arena in Hingham, Mass.
Eight teams will be on hand – the Boston Advantage, TPH Thunder, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, Buffalo Jr. Sabres, Team Comcast, Ohio Blue Jackets, DC Capitals, and Pittsburgh Hornets.
Each team will play four games – one on Saturday, two on Sunday, and one on Monday.
Navy Hockey Aiming High
With the elevation of Penn State to Div. I status and the attendant realignment that occurred this summer, a lot of college hockey fans have wondered if Navy, which ices a thriving club program, will someday be joining the ranks of Div. I teams.
The answer: there’s a very good chance. As of right now, the school has a standing offer to join Atlantic Hockey, which would bring the three service academies together in one league We can see Navy facing off against Air Force on the eve of their football game, and then facing off against Army on the eve of those two schools’ gridiron grudge match in early December.
Right now, the club program is in a somewhat similar position to that of Penn State before the Nittany Lions took the plunge. The Naval Academy has a track record in hockey – for 42 consecutive years they’ve had a squad – and the support of the administration and fans.
They also have a new arena, McMullen Arena, a gift of the late John McMullen, the former owner of the New Jersey Devils. The arena, which seats 500 and has room to expand to 3,000, is part of a spiffy on-campus athletic complex.
Navy, which hosted the NCAA Frozen Four in Washington, DC in 2010, currently competes in the ACHA Div. I level of the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association. Navy’s AD, Chet Gladchuk, does indeed get alumni pressure to elevate the program to Div. I. However, the former AD at Boston College knows exactly what is required to compete at the Div. I level, and is not going to be rushed. In other words, there will be no move until he’s sure Navy has their ducks in a row. That means funding, and college hockey is not a cheap sport.
In the meantime, Navy club hockey keeps the tradition alive. And for the right players, it’s a very good option, a chance to use hockey to open doors.
“We run our program like a Div. I program right now,” says head coach Mike Fox. “I’m always looking for players that enable us to be competitive, to get to the next level.”
“We’re narrowing the gap. We have great young talent. If we just keep going and continue to win things will fall in place in time. There are people who never thought we’d be where we are right now.”
If you go to the Navy Hockey web site, you see players from all over the country, from Maine to California. In the Northeast, Fox is targeting prep, high school, and junior players who might also be interested in NESCAC schools, or who may be thinking of taking a year in juniors in order to try to reach whatever goals they have. Obviously, candidates for the Naval Academy have to be strong academically, but it’s a school that, for a certain type of kid, can be a good fit. The service academies take care of their own; you pretty much have a high-paying job for life, if you wish. And loyalty to the program is very high.
Navy has a game this Sunday vs. the Northeastern club team at Matthews Arena in Boston. Faceoff is 3:30 pm. It’s a big game for the Midshipmen, especially for their recruiting efforts as they will be bringing in a good number of candidates from New England prep, high school, and junior programs to show what Navy hockey is all about. Congressman Stephen Lynch (9th District, Mass.) and Senator Scott Brown are both expected to be in attendance.
UMass Showcase Schedule
This Sat.-Sun. Oct. 8-9, the Connecticut Junior Bobcats are hosting a U-18 and U-16 Jamboree at UMass-Amherst.
NHL scouts will be pleased to see that the Connecticut Jr. Wolfpack U-18 Team will be playing on both days (5:20 pm on Sat.; 9:10 am on Sun.), and Kent School senior -- and Michigan recruit -- Boo Nieves is confirmed to be playing in both games.
UMass Showcase Schedule
Berisha Shines at Fall Prep League
Newington, Conn. – We spent Sunday checking out the action at the Western New England Fall Prep League and were impressed with the strides the league has taken in a short period of time. Rosters were readily available, and players wore jerseys that coincided with the numbers in the program. The pace of the hockey leaves something to be desired, however, with the games resembling an intense game of shinny. Having said that, half of the players probably had a soccer or football game the day before. The rest were just happy to be on the ice before the season starts. Nonetheless, there were a handful of Division I prospects that deserve some recognition.
The show here was Salisbury junior forward Aaron Berisha. Berisha, a ’95 birthdate and a fourth round pick of the Belleville Bulls (OHL), played last season with the Toronto Marlboros Bantam AAA team that featured top prospects Nick Ritchie (Peterborough Petes - OHL), Jordan Subban (Belleville Bulls - OHL), and ’96 phenom Josh Ho-Sang (Toronto Marlboros Bantam AAA). The Marlies went on to win the coveted OHL cup, with Berisha being named tournament MVP after scoring the game-winning goal in the championship game. A complete player with a very high compete level, Berisha wins the 1x1 battles and is excellent in the faceoff circle. At 5’10”, 175 lbs., he’s not particularly big, but he skates well and has exceptionally good stick skills. He makes plays every time the puck is on his stick, and is very dangerous on the PP. Berisha is the epitome of a hockey player, someone you want on your team. He’s a blue chip recruit that will be at the top of NCAA scouts’ lists. Here are a couple of clips of Berisha in action:
Berisha at Belleville Orientation Camp
Another player that was very impressive in Newington was ’96 forward Laythe Jadallah who will suit up for The Gunnery this season. Jadallah, who played last year in the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes organization, was one of our top rated forwards at the Select 15 Festival this summer. He has good size at 6’0”, 170 lbs., skates very well, and has good offensive instincts. He has a lot of tools to work with and could become a very good player. Also from The Gunnery and equally impressive was big, 6’2”, 175 lb. junior left-shot defenseman Dakota Ford. Defensemen that are big, physical, solid defensively, can skate and make a good first pass are not easy to come by, but Ford, a Potsdam, NY native, fits that bill.
Those were the players that we feel deserve the most attention from Division I recruiters. Listed below are a number of other players that caught our eye, mostly coming from The Gunnery.
Jarrid Privitera ’94, F (The Gunnery) — 5’6”, 155 lbs. — Senior forward looks to have put on a lot of muscle over the summer. Strong skater who can fly when he gets going. Protects the puck well and plays with an edge. Already committed to BU, where his brother, Alexx, is currently a freshman. Will be a good energy player for the Terriers.
Jacob Hand ’94, F (Salisbury) — 6’2”, 190 lbs. — A repeat junior from Ontario, where he played for the Oakville midgets last year. Skates well and has a soft set of hands for a big guy. At times looked slow, but the games were not being played with much urgency. Very curious to see how he does in the regular season. Could develop into a power forward at the next level. An interesting prospect that deserves a long look. Was a 12th round draft pick of the Oshawa Generals in the 2010 OHL draft, and played a couple of games for the Mississauga Chargers of the OJHL last season.
Mason Krueger ’94, F (Avon) — 6’0, 193 lbs. — Good wheels and has a lot of jump. Makes plays in traffic. Was a top scorer for the New England Huskies of the Empire League last season.
Marc Cibelli ’94, F (The Gunnery) — 5’8, 155 lbs. — Small and crafty. Always around the puck, makes good plays and has a good release on his shot. A pest who competes hard in 1x1 situations. Is very quick, but not fast. If he improves his skating he could become a Division 1 prospect.
Andrew Graham ’93, F (The Gunnery) — 5’10”, 175 lbs. — Was good here today playing with the aforementioned Cibelli and Gunnery junior-to-be Anthony Bird, comprising the top line we saw. Graham is very smooth with the puck and has the ability to elude defenders in tight. Their line scored a lot of goals.
Matthew Williams ’94, D (The Gunnery) — 5’8”, 170 lbs. — Great stick; has the ability to run a PP. Makes good, crisp passes. Is small and stocky, but has good feet and plays physically in his own end.
Quinn Pompi ’94, D (Berkshire) — 6’1”, 185 lbs. — Played for the Junior Flyers U16 AAA team last season. Has size and mobility. Showed some good offensive instincts. It will be interesting to see how he does during the regular season, under more pressure.
Brian Helderman ’93, D (Berkshire) — 6’0”, 180 lbs.— Makes good decisions and was very noticeable. Big body that moves well. A senior, he will have an increased role for Berkshire this season.
Mitchell Allen ’95, F (Kent) — 6’3”, 160 lbs. — A wild card and a project -- very raw. Has great size and always seems to be around the puck. Tall and skinny; could be a much different player when he grows into his body. Certainly not there right now, but there is something intriguing about his game. Played last year for the CP Dynamo (Albany, NY).
Tord Thoreson ’92, D (Kent)—5’9, 165 lbs.—From Norway, an interesting PG who has played for the Norwegian U-20 National Team. An effortless skater who likes to jump into the offense. Will be an immediate contributor this season.
Two players that we regrettably missed were both from Salisbury: ’95 defenseman Thomas Welsh and ’95 forward Anthony DiFruscia. Welsh is a 6’0, 195 lb. Penn State recruit for the fall of 2013. DiFruscia, like Berisha, is from Ontario and is a high OHL draft pick, going in the second round to the Niagara Icedogs. The 5’10, 180 lb. junior played last season for the Welland Tigers and had a 50-52-102 – and over a hundred penalty minutes -- in only 59 games. He’s been offered by Penn State and RPI but is talking to a lot of schools. He doesn’t have as much flash and dash as Berisha. He’s more of an up-and-down-the-wing power forward. A good honest player with a high skill level, and a good student, he has Ivies inquiring.
Salisbury is also bringing in a 5’9”, 155 lb. ’95 goalie from Ontario in Justin Nichols, who will be a junior. Nichols, a third round pick of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in June’s OHL draft, played for the St. Catharines Falcons minor midget squad last winter. He’s similar in style to former Salisbury goalie Andy Iles and we hear Cornell has interest – Princeton, too.
Moore Hired at Colby
As expected, Stan Moore has been named interim head coach at Colby College, replacing Jim Tortorella, who, in late summer, was named associate head coach at UNH.
Moore, whose wife, Barbara, is a dean at Colby, has over 25 years experience as a Div. I coach at Providence, Colgate, Union, and Brown.
He has held head positions at Union (’96-98) and was the interim head coach at Colgate for the 2003-04 season, while Don Vaughan served as interim AD at the school.
This will be Moore’s second time around as an interim head coach.
“I kind of liken it to borrowing my dad’s car for the prom,” Moore told a reporter. “I returned it in good shape and with a full tank of gas.”
Moore’s dad, by the way, was the late Stan Moore, a legend in the North Country for his 33 years (1960-93) behind the bench at Massena High School. And yes, Stan played for his dad, graduating in 1974. And he probably did borrow his dad’s car for the prom.
USHL Fall Classic Review
Sorry for the delay! This typist got buried under sheaves of notes -- and a busy travel schedule. Here, though, at last, are some thoughts from the USHL Fall Classic in pungent Sioux City, Iowa. We’ve touched here and there on players that, for one reason or another, caught our eye. Our notes are by no means meant to be complete, so, if a player is not mentioned, it could mean he played poorly but it could also mean he was a healthy scratch or it could mean… absolutely nothing. After all, over 300 players suited up for the tournament, so… you get the point. It’s also true we tended to overlook the older committed players and concentrate more on the ‘93s, ‘94s, and ‘95s. We’ve listed the players on each team we feel NHL scouts will be looking over for the upcoming draft, a list we’ve limited to ‘94s, i.e., first-time eligible players.
Interesting time in Iowa. Not only did the Missouri River flood in June, but the water hasn’t receded much and parts of Interstate 29 around Omaha are still shut down. Hard times in the heartland. During the USHL Fall Classic, the local paper ran a story about pig rustlers operating in Iowa and southern Minnesota. These aren’t hungry hobos down on their luck, looking for a pig to roast over a fire down by the railyards. These are big-time rustlers. Hundreds of pigs at a time are disappearing from barns deep in the countryside, whisked away in the dead of night while unsuspecting farmers sleep. It’s big news out here. The local sheriff told a reporter that the pigs “all look alike.” Uh huh. We see the problem. To that end, we heard that Iowa pig farmers are thinking of tattooing their pigs. But we passed a tattoo parlor in Sioux City, and didn’t see any farmers leading their pigs inside.
Sorry for the digression. USHR readers know there ain’t nothin’ quite so low down as a pig rustler, and this typist would gladly have holstered up and joined the search, but didn’t, seeing as there were players to search for at the USHL Fall Classic. And it’s not a bad year, either. First off, there were five potential first-rounders for next June’s draft on display: Dubuque’s 6’1”, 195 LC Zemgus Girgensons and 6’2”, 180 lb. LD Mike Matheson; the US Under-18 Team’s 6’2”, 194 lb. RD Jacob Trouba and 6’1”, 209 lb. LW Stefan Matteau; and Sioux City’s 6’2”, 189 lb. RD Jordan Schmaltz.
Let’s look at the teams:
NHL scouts got a limited look at the two Dubuque star prospects as Matheson was taken out of the lineup after the first period of his team’s second game, due to a possible concussion-related headache. And Girgensons was rightly suspended for his team’s third game after taking a charge at a kid along the wall in the final minute of the game against a Tri-City team that, over the first two periods, was only able to muster a total of three shots against Dubuque. The defending champions are good, very good indeed. For now, we’ll say they’re the team to beat in this league.
It will certainly be interesting to see how many points Girgensons, a manchild with soft hands, finishes the season with. Last year, he posted a 21-28-49 line in 51 games playing on a line with current BC recruit John Gaudreau (72 points) and Vinny Saponari (64 points). During the fall classic, Dubuque head coach Jim Montgomery was doing a little mixing and matching. On the PP, he had Girgensons with Max Gardiner and Shane Sooth up front and Matheson running it from the point – a pretty potent mix.
As for Matheson, in addition to his skating and offensive dimension, showed a real physical edge to his game that was a little unexpected.
We were extremely impressed with the play of 6’3”, 190 lb. ’95-born LD Mike Downing. We know that there’s an excellent group of ’95 D in Ann Arbor – Savage, Butcher, Santini, Hamilton, et al – but Downing, a Michigan recruit for the fall of ’13, could easily turn out to be as good as any of them. In the Fall Classic, he looked like a vet – really poised, and not the least bit fazed by the tempo. To these eyes, Downing is a potential first round NHL draft pick in 2013.
5’11”, 190 lb. ’93 RD Matt Caito, a Miami recruit for next fall, is making the jump from Salisbury to the USHL, and looked better than we expected. Very assured.
Up front, 2010 second round NHL draft pick Max Gardiner, who was expecting to play last season in Des Moines, but wound up being summoned to the University of Minnesota in the summer only to get very little playing time as a freshman with the Gophers, has returned to the league and should have a big season, bringing to Dubuque a lot of what Saponari did last season. The big winger is transferring, and will have a nice pick of schools.
6’4”, 193 lb. late ’92 LW Kevin Morris, formerly at Salisbury and the son of Manchester Monarchs (AHL) head coach Mark Morris, looked good. More agile than we expected, and he showed a little bit of touch around the net. It’s taken him a while to grow into his body, but he’ll wind up helping a Div. I school.
We liked 6’1”, 195 LW John Doherty, a ’93 in his second year with Dubuque. Just an all-around solid player. He’ll play a bigger role with this club.
5’10”, 180 lb. ’94 LD Teddy Doherty, a BC ’12 recruit making the jump from Shattuck-St. Mary’s, has really nice hands. Needs to get physically stronger. He could be a key component by the second half of the season.
Maine recruit Matt Morris was excellent in net. All that time working with Grant Standbrook last winter – and winning the Clark Cup -- has put him in a nice position. Looked very confident and poised out there.
’12 NHL Draft: Girgensons, Matheson.
’13 NHL Draft: Michael Downing
A really solid team, with 13 returnees from the team that bowed to Dubuque in the finals. It’s also a team with 17 players with Div. I commitments. Green Bay is pretty close to Dubuque, if not better. There really is not much to separate the two, and we expect to see them in the Clark Cup final again.
Of the newcomers, 6’0”, 195 lb. RW Alex Kile, a power forward from Honeybaked, was impressive. He jumped right out at us. Kile, from Troy, Michigan, is a University of Michigan recruit for fall ’13.
5’10”, 165 lb. LD Dakota Mermis, who played for the U.S. Under-17 Team last season, looks like he will be playing a key role on the blue line. Probably a smart move for his development to get himself here.
We liked Gustav Olofsson, a 6’1” late ’94 – and a Colorado College recruit for the fall of ’14 -- from Sweden who played last winter for the Colorado Thunderbirds Midget Minor squad. He’s a smooth skater with size. He was with the team for the weekend as an affiliate player, but should be back with them full-time next year.
Ditto for Kent School senior Ryan Rosenthal. He too was playing the weekend with the Gamblers and looked good – we saw him use his speed nicely on a breakaway goal. Rosenthal, one of the top uncommitted New England prep school players, should have a big year for Kent.
’12 NHL Draft: Kile
’13 NHL Draft: Olofsson
The Black Hawks will be tough. They have a lot of skill up front. Their forwards move the puck quicker and more efficiently than any team in the league. They also have Miami recruit Jay Williams in net.
6’0”, 182 lb. LC AJ Michaelson, a Minnesota recruit who played last season for Apple Valley HS, was very good. In one game we watched he scored a really nice unassisted shorthanded goal, coming down the wing and just roofing a beauty.
5’10”, 180 lb. RC Tony Cameranesi, a Minnesota-Duluth recruit who was drafted by Toronto in June, didn’t do as much we expected.
5’6”, 150 lb. Taylor Cammarata, a ’95 who played on Shattuck’s U-16s last season, will be a star in this league before long. Pure skill. Cammarata hasn’t picked a college yet – and he will be a top college player wherever he winds up. Fun to watch.
6’3”, 205 lb. LD Ian McCoshen is only a ’95 but already has a year of USHL experience under his belt. McCoshen, who is uncommitted, looks primed for a breakout year this season.
Ryan Papa is pretty small at 5’6”, 170 lbs. But the ’94 from the Chicago Young Americans pretty much always had the puck on his stick. Had a terrific weekend, and really put himself on the map. He’s uncommitted.
’12 Draft: Michaelson, Vince Hinostroza (injured; DNP)
’13 Draft: McCoshen, Cammarata
We didn’t get to see this team as much as we would have liked.
Fargo’s top returning scorer is late ’93 defenseman Brian Cooper, who had an 11-22-33 line in 51 games last year. Cooper, a 5’10” Alaskan and a UNO recruit who we expect to see on the U.S. National Junior Team in his freshman year with the Mavericks, is the key to Fargo’s attack. A smart player – in all three zones.
5’9”, 170 lb. LC Gabe Guertler, a ’95 Floridian who played for TI’s midget minor team last winter, is the future star up front for the Force. Guertler, our #1 forward at this past summer’s Select 16 Festival, committed to Minnesota last week.
Fargo has the only ’96 in the league in 6’1”, 197 lb. Blake Clarke, a Missouri native who played last winter for the Chicago Mission Midget Minor team. Clarke, our #2 forward (behind only John Eichel) at this past summer’s Select 15 Festival, may not be ready for the USHL right now, but could be by the second half of the season. At any rate, he’s a player we could be watching for years to come. He’s already committed to Minnesota-Duluth.
5’8”, 165 lb. Austin Farley, a late ’93 who used to be with the Chicago Mission midget minor squad, is in his second year in the league, and could bust through with some good numbers. He’s uncommitted.
Tanner Lane, Fargo’s top forward, was injured and didn’t play in the tournament. He should be ready for the start of the season.
On the blue line, 6’2”, 210 lb. RD Justin Wade, a Notre Dame recruit, is among the top ’94 blue liners. He’s in his second year in the league and should really take charge. A defensive defenseman, he’s very athletic, and very sound in his approach to the game. Plays within himself.
We were intrigued by 6’4”, 180 lb. LD Neal Goff a late ‘93 from Stillwater HS (coached by Phil Housley). He’s a bit of a twig, but a smooth skater who, as he fills out some, could become a pro prospect.
’12 Draft: Cooper, Wade, Goff.
’13 Draft: Guertler
’14 Draft: Clarke
Erratum: Goff is a 9/15/93 birthdate, which would have actually made him eligible for last summer's draft, albeit as the youngest player.
5’6”, 170 lb. Robert Polesello is the key to Indiana’s attack, and could compete for the league scoring title. He’s a lot of fun to watch, shifty, and very dangerous down low. He sees it, and has the hands to make it happen. Very clever, very high skill, tough to defend against. BU fans will like him.
6’2”, 195 lb. Sean Kuraly, a Miami recruit and San Jose pick in his second year with Indiana, was really good. A very complete player who does a little bit of everything. Has size. Good hands. Excellent release. Kuraly was on a line centered by 5’11”, 161 lb. Robbie Baillargeon – who was fine; give him a little time -- and with Daniil Tarasov on the right side. Tarasov, who won’t be taking the college route, had 75 points last season and is the league’s leading returning scorer. He could finish up as the league’s top scorer this season.
Indiana is really strong up front. Among other newcomers, 5’10”, 175 lb. Tyler Pham, a Denver recruit from the Colorado Thunderbirds, looks like he’ll become a fine player. He’s not shy, he plays hard, and he’s highly aware.
Northeastern recruit Jon Gillies was excellent. He may be 6’5”, 215 lbs. and just a ’94, but he moves very, very well for a kid of that age and size. A lot of poise too.
’12 Draft: Gillies, Polesello, Baillargeon
The show here is 6’2”, 189 lb. RD Jordan Schmaltz, a late ’93 who, as we mentioned above, is a likely first round draft pick next summer. A North Dakota recruit from Verona, Wisconsin, Schmaltz has size, soft hands and is an extremely graceful skater who, when the puck is on his stick, can dictate the tempo of the game. In the game against the U.S. Under-18 Team however, the U.S. kids did a good job taking away his ability to wheel and deal from the point, and forced him to turn it over a couple of times. Schmaltz is Sioux City’s leading returning scorer. Last year, he had a 13-31-44 line in 53 games. We saw him clang one off the post, pinch in and, when the puck came out to the slot, be in position to rip home the rebound. One thing he doesn’t do, however, is play a physical game.
Former Choate Wild Boar Kyle Criscuolo, a Harvard recruit for next fall, became an instant favorite with the locals, scoring three goals vs. Cedar Rapids in the first half of the host’s first game of the tourney. Criscuolo, a 5’8”, 160 lb. LW from Long Island, who is really more of a playmaker, was moving his feet and moving the puck.
We liked 6’0” LC Jackson Leef, from Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Texas Tornado (NAHL). Smart player – uncommitted too.
Sioux City has a huge older import in 6’4”, 215 RW Pontus Johannson, a ’91 from Uppsala, Sweden. Johannson doesn’t play the most subtle game we’ve seen. He’s pretty north-south, but he can just go through guys.
6’2”, 195 lb. late ’93 defenseman Cliff Watson, who we hadn’t seen in a year, has taken another step and should be ready for the league. An Appleton, Wisconsin native he’s committed to Ohio State.
Matt Skoff looked awful in net when we were watching, but it’s early. A ’91, he’s in his third year with the league, so he’s a proven hand.
’12 NHL Draft: Schmaltz, Watson
Cedar Rapids doesn’t have any top prospects for next summer’s NHL Draft. They have a few good veterans, though, starting with 5’11” LD Nolan Zajac, who is the key to the RoughRiders attack, much like Cooper at Fargo. A Denver recruit, he moves the puck well, and plays solidly in his own end.
We thought 5’11” Riley Bourbonnais, a ’93 LW from the Berkshire School, did a fine job, and adapted quickly to the pace. We thought 5’11” ’94 Ian Brady, a UNO recruit, was very noticeable. We really liked 5’7”, 160 lb. RW Austin Ortega, who played last year for the Colorado Thunderbirds. He’s uncomitted, by the way. We also liked late ’93 LW Landon Smith, a Denver recruit from the Colorado Thunderbirds who had some nice looks. 5’9” 148 lb. ’95 birth year forward Andrew Oglevie, from Fullerton, California and Culver Military, was a little hard to pick out from the crowd – and we looked for him. He has plenty of time, though.
6’3” goaltender Matt McNeely, a Minnesota-Duluth recruit who played last year with the NTDP was very shaky vs. Sioux City.
’12 Draft: Brady
6’0”, 185 lb. Czech Republic RC Adam Chlapik looks like he’ll have a breakthrough year. A ’94 who played for the LA Jr. Kings before coming to Omaha last year, Chlapik was around the puck a lot, putting shots on net, making plays. He had Jonathan Liau, a Princeton recruit formerlyat St. Paul’s School on his left side, and Liau, too, was very good here. Looks like he’s upped his game.
5’9”, 135 lb. LW Matt Gaudreau, John Gaudreau’s little brother and a ’94 from Team Comcast who is committed to BC, is pretty damn tenacious. He certainly doesn’t give up much in his battles for the puck.
5’7”, 165 lb. LC Jimmy Murray, who played at Fargo last year, made a lot of things happen when he was on the ice. He’s uncommitted.
Best defenseman on the team was 6’2”, 190 lb. ’92 Kenny Morrison, who played for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL). He has offensive upside. Look for a college to snap him up before long.
’12 Draft: Chlapik
Didn’t get a really good feel for this team. Duluth recrut Cal Decowski and Ohio State recruit Kevin Irwin are the top returning scorers.
A player we thought was pretty interesting was late ’92 Justin Hussar, a 6’2”, 200 lb. LW who is from Buffalo, NY and played in Topeka (NAHL) last winter. He’s a Merrimack recruit and could turn out to be one of those kids who comes in under the radar. He’ll put up points.
6’0”, 180 lb. LR Ray Pigozzi looks like he could have a breakthrough year. He had 18 points last season. He could triple that this year.
We saw ’94 d-man Cal Hofford playing for Hill Academy, coached by his father, just a couple weeks ago, and weren’t expecting to see him suited up for Des Moines. But he was here for the weekend as an affiliate player, and did a good job. He’s a good puck-moving D. Small, but with a good stick and head for the game. Will be back next year.
’12 Draft: Pigozzi
The heart and soul of this team is 5’11”, 160 lb. ’94 RW Jordan Masters. The UNH recruit, in his second year in the league, should have a breakthrough year, points-wise. Great work ethic. Can make plays happen just through will. Great in the dirty areas, but has skill too.
We really liked late ’94 Ryan Lomberg, a Maine recruit who played for Hill Academy last season. The 5’10”, 178 lb. Lomberg is a pure center who is around the puck a lot. Very aware.
6’1”, 1777 lb. Michigan State recruit Matt DeBlouw didn’t do much for us, but he is somebody who the Lumberjacks are counting on. Ditto for fellow Spartan recruit Joe Cox.
6’2”, 185 lb. left-shot Nick Seeler leads the blueliners. A ’93 committed to UNO, Seeler played for Eden Prairie last season, and was a Minnesota Wild 5th round draft pick.
’12 Draft: Masters
’13 Draft: Lomberg
5’11”, 188 lb. Late ’93 LC Justin Selman, a Michigan recruit who played in Des Moines last season, was their top forward. Consistently noticeable. We also really liked Princeton recruit Kyle Rankin, who was playing the left side on Selman’s line. We hadn’t seen Rankin, a 6’1”, 192 lb. import from the Kanata Stallions, before. Had several assists in the game we watched him in.
5’11” 188 lb. LW Bryan Moore, a ’94 from North Carolina in his second year in the league, could become a big contributor this season.
We thought ’93 goalie Stephon Williams, in his second year with the Stamped, was very solid. Committed to Mankato.
’12 Draft: Selman
’93 RW Dominik Shine is their top returning forward. A good, solid, all-purpose forward.
We liked 5’11”, 165 lb. Luke Johnson, a late ’94 RC who played for Grand Forks Central, is the son of St. Cloud State assistant – and former North Dakota forward – Steve Johnson. The younger Johnson is very skilled, a nifty player.
6’0”, 185 lb. ’94 forward Zach Aston-Reese, who recently decomitted from Brown, was very good. Look for him to get a lot of attention in the coming months. Reese is in his second year with Lincoln.
Also very noticeable was ’93 LW Kevin Roy, formerly of Deerfield. He’s a Brown recruit from Quebec.
We thought uncommitted ’92 goalie Charles Williams played very well. Williams, who played for the Owatonna Express (NAHL) last year is a Canton, Mich. native who played for Des Moines two seasons ago.
’12 Draft: Aston-Reese
’13 Draft: Johnson
The Phantoms goaltending was very shaky. BU recruit Matthew O’Connor, who’s 6’5”, 180 lbs., filled up the net, but didn’t move well at all. He’s a ’92 so it’s hard to see him gaining a lot of agility. While he appears to be a long way from being ready for Hockey East action, Boston University does have a strong record of coming up with top goaltenders, so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It is, after all, preseason, and he’s adjusting to a new league. It would be a lot to ask the ’94 from North Carolina, Sean Romeo, to step in and shoulder a lot of the load.
If Youngstown can figure out its goaltending, they could be OK. Up front, LW Mike Ambrosia has really stepped it up. 6’2” LW J.T. Stenglein, a ’93, is uncommitted and really showed something, scoring an unassisted goal with 27 seconds left when he just ripped one under the crossbar vs. Cedar Rapids. 6’1” ’94 center Richard Zehnal could have a breakthrough year. ’94 center Austin Cangelosi will put up points. So will Miami recruit Alex Gacek.
6’1”, 195. lb. defenseman Daniel Renouf, a ’94, is making the jump from Hill Academy. He’s a Maine recruit for next fall, and played well in all three zones. He’s one who could steadily improve as the season moves along.
We liked RPI recruit Chris Bradley, a 6’1”, 190 lb. ’93 defenseman from Williamsville, NY. Solid. Nothing flashy.
’12 Draft: Zehnal, Renouf
Coming off a trainwreck of a season, and it will be a long road back.
They have a few players, like 5’9” LC Theo DiPauli, an uncommitted ’93, and the two kids who are comiited to Colorado College – 6’2” ’94 LD Jaccob Slavin and 6’1” ’94 LC Christian Heil.
’12 Draft: Slavin
We had a hard time getting a line on this team. In the game in which we watched them closely they were outshot 20-3 over the first two periods by Dubuque. They woke up a bit in the third, but it’s pretty hard to comment on a team when they never have the puck on their stick.
Could be a long season.
That said, we really liked their goalie, 6’3”, 180 lb. Phoenix Copley (sounds like his parents either love geography or wanted him to be an actor). But he followed his star and became a goalie, a ’92 who last year played for Corpus Christi IceRays. (By the way, did you know that Corpus Christi had 2079 penalty minutes last year? How absurd is that?)
’12 Draft: No one
U.S. U-18 TEAM:
We’ve always thought it totally bizarre that the USHL includes the NTDP as a full-fledged league member when they play by a totally separate set of rules. They are included in the league standings, yet they don’t compete in the playoffs. They can pluck players like Riley Barber off of Dubuque’s roster without paying them a single penny in compensation… yet they require their players to sign a contract holding them responsible to the tune of $50,000 if they leave the program for another team. It’s just all a little too bizarre.
But that’s all a story for another day.
And the story of the team, which is impressive, is on the blue line, which is scary good. 6’3”, 200 lbs. late ’94 RD Seth Jones could become an NHL star. He has size, athleticism that is off the chart, poise with the puck, skating ability… the whole package. Looking ahead 21 months to the 2013 draft, the early consensus is that Jones – or Halifax forward Nathan MacKinnon – will go #1 overall.
The biggest surprise for us was the play up front of 6’1”, 209 lb. LW Stefan Matteau who this observer thought was clearly the #1 forward for the US Team. A power forward, he was very tough to contain. He’s really picked his game up a notch over a year ago and it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it throughout the year. If he does, he could very well be a first round pick in June. We thought 5’11”, 193 lb. RC Riley Barber and 6’1”, 196 lb. LC Nick Kerdiles were also outstanding up front. On the blue line we’ve already mentioned Trouba and Jones, but 6’0”, 196 lb. LD Patrick Sieloff and 6’2”, 203 lb. LD Brady Skjei were also outstanding. They were the big four back there. 5’9”, 170 lb. LD Matt Grzelcyk, a #5, would be a #1 or #2 on any other team in this league.
’12 Draft: Trouba, Matteau, Sieloff, Skjei, Kerdiles, Barber, Darcy, Silk, Shore, Koules, Rutledge.
Box Scores of the Month
The votes are in and here are our Box Scores of the Month for September:
The South Shore Kings topped the Capital District Selects 17-1 in an EJHL game on Sat. Sept. 17. South Shore scored just four seconds after the opening faceoff – appears to have been pretty demoralizing.
South Shore 17, Cap District 1
-- On the final day of the USHL Fall Classic Green Bay topped Muskegon, 4-1. The two teams combined for 169 penalty minutes, 147 of which came in the third period.