Big Changes Coming to USHR
Over the next few weeks here at the U.S. Hockey Report we'll be busy putting the final touches on a new look to the site -- the first overhaul since we went from paper to electronic publishing five years ago.
Most of the changes will involve making navigation through the site easier.
Nowhere will this be more apparent than on the prep scoreboard page, which is being totally redesigned. Mainly, it will be, to use a bit of cyber jargon, "dynamic." This means that coaches (or their appointed representatives) will be able to enter in schedules, rosters, and box scores through the use of drop-down menus and upload it directly to the web site by simply clicking on a "send" button.
One goal of all this is to allow game results to be posted quicker. The other goal is to offer more information. For example, college coaches and scouts have long asked for rosters, so now we're doing it. We will also be adding the same information for girl's prep hockey. We will also be adding Div. II prep games. If everything goes well from there, we'll be looking to add Minnesota high school games, and, possibly, more leagues. This is all uncharted territory for us, so we'll be playing it by ear, and learning as we go.
Any ideas you have would be most appreciated. E-mail should go to email@example.com
Most of all, we ask for your patience. A lot of sites make minor cosmetic changes and then trumpet their "new look." We'll have a new look, too, but under the hood will be numerous real improvements.
During this changeover, we will, of course, be covering the major stories.
In tandem with the changes above, we're also looking for help.
We need someone to cover girl's prep hockey. We're looking for help covering Minnesota high school hockey. We could use someone in Michigan. We need someone to keep a close eye on the midget and bantam scene. The main requirement is objectivity and a solid grounding in the area to be covered -- plus the ability to tell the difference between a hockey player and the rear axle of a '55 Chevy! Writing skills are an obvious plus, but if the basic info is good, we can polish prose at this end.
We're also looking for an intern -- either someone in high school, boarding school, college (or the ranks of the technologically-gifted unemployed) -- to help maintain and add refinements to the new scoreboard page. Since this will involve tweaking things a bit, strong computer skills are a must. In return for quality work, we will gladly write letters of recommendation for future job opportunities. Former USHR scoreboard page reporters are now doing everything from covering sports at college papers and big city dailies to working as student manager at one of the country's top Div. I varsity hockey programs.
If anyone out there has any ideas for something they are uniquely qualified to offer, please share your thoughts with us.
Again, e-mail should go to firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Hockey Report
Best of Chicago Chill Autumn Invitational
Here are the players who jumped out at us at last weekend's Chicago Chill Midget AAA Tournament. There were 24 teams on hand and we were unable to see them all. Among the teams we focused in on, however, we found some good prospects, mostly at the younger age level, '87s primarily. Of course, we're always looking to see how younger players do when facing older kids, because the results speak volumes.
With that in mind, we should give the USHR Croix de Guerre to Eric Beeler, an '87 goaltender from Nashville, Tenn. playing for the Southern Ice Lightning. Beeler, who is 5"9, 160 lbs. and quick as a cat, let in a ton of goals but he also faced a ton of shots, up to 80 in one start. Beeler is raw, stays a little too deep in the net, but he's tremendously athletic, confident, and has a quick glove and quick feet. He was the tournament's diamond in the rough.
Now, a look at some of the teams:
6'0" '87 goaltender Aaron Rock was outstanding -- the best goalie in the tournament. He plays big, challenging the shooter, and is extremely confident and poised. A ton of potential here.
6'1", 175 lb. forward Dan Ryan, also an '87, has good size and very good speed. While his hands are limited, he plays with energy. Agility and strength along along the wall are other strong suits..
Sami Liimatainen is small for a defenseman at 5'8", 125 lbs. but he, too, is an '87, which means he should grow some. A great skater, Liimatainen makes good decisions, moves the puck well, and showed considerable smarts.
5'11" forward Dan Armijo, an '86, showed speed, tenacity, and a great work ethic.
6'5", 200 lb. defenseman Carl Wallen, also an '86, was intriguing. He's huge, but has very good feet for his size and above-average hands. When he grows into his body he could be something. .
6'1" forward Alex Tauchen, an '84 who can also play D, worked ceaselessly. A good Jr. A prospect.
The Chill are a good team, but they're also an older team than in recent years. Best prospect by far was 6'1" LD Zach Jones, the brother of North Dakota's Matt Jones. The Lisle, Ill. native was excellent, exhibiting top-flight skating skills, good hands, and the smarts to know when to jump up into the play. He's an '87.
They fly -- a fun team to watch. Players that stood out included:
5'9", 150 lb. forward Brad Cooper, an '84 forward who should actually be playing juniors. While he's small, he's also very skilled -- quick, agile, great hands, and a pure scorer's touch. Scored four goals in a 5-5 tie against Caesar's. .
'86 d-man Cody Lampl, who played so well at last summer's Select 16 Festival, continued his strong play here. He's lean, offensive, mobile, runs the power play, and, overall, is a strong Jr. A and future Div. I prospect.
5'11", 175 lb. '85 D Austin Miller, Lampl's partner, also played well. Average-sized, he moved the puck well and showed a heavy shot from the point. He finished his checks, and was extremely solid 1-on-1. We never saw him get beat.
They have some big-time players.
5'5", 145 lb. center Nathan Gerbe, who'll be playing with the NTDP next season (actually, he played with them a bit this season on a fill-in basis due to injuries) was electric. Easily the best player in the tournament. We've written about him and it's no hype -- he's the real thing.
5'11", 160 lb. wing Jimmy Fraser was outstanding, too, an excellent skater with good anticipation. Tough in corner and along the wall. A power forward type. NTDP prospect. Has big feet, which can indicate future growth spurts.
6'1", 180 lb. RD Mike Van Wagner, an '86 from up north in Traverse City, Mich., led the d-men, and may have been the best blueliner in the tournament. A strong skater who is physical when he needs to be, he is savvy, strong, and solid in all areas. Steadily improving, he's a player to follow.
This team is just loaded. Others on the HoneyBaked roster include top players like '86 goalie Jeff Lerg; '86 defensemen Brett Motherwell and Justin Johnston; and '86 forwards Jeff Prough and Dan Eves. '87 defenseman Ryan Turek was out with an injury. HoneyBaked won the tournament, going a perfect 6-0 and beating the Buffalo Saints, 5-1, in the final.
5'11", 165 lb. Jonathan Kearns, an '87, was extremely good, one of the top d-men at the tournament. A stay-at-home type, he's as solid as they come. Strong on his skates, and strong on the puck -- and he makes the simple plays every time.
6'1, 170 lb. forward Zach Bearson, also an '87, has potential galore. He skates well, and hovers around the play looking for an opportunity. Similar to Fraser. Could play with a bit more confidence.
5'10', 155 lb. forward Remington Pettygrove, an '85 was excellent throughout. He's small and his hands are average, but he has speed, a ton of energy, and is fearless.
This is one big team, with nine players 6'2" or better. If they catch their opponents, all they have to do is sit on them, just squash 'em like a bug.
5'11", 155 RC Sean O'Conner, an '87, was tremendous, the team's leading scorer on the weekend, and a NTDP-level prospect. In a 5-5 game vs. Dallas, O'Conner scored four for Caesar's while Cooper, an '84, scored four for Dallas. O'Conner has a lot of skill, and a bit of a temper.
Mark Mitera, a 6'2", 187 pounder who's one of the top '87 born d-men in the country, wasn't quite as good here as he was at the Select 15 Festival, where we had him rated # 5 overall. Could have finished more of his checks. But he was good enough. Another NTDP level prospect.
5'10", 175 lb. forward Justin Mercier, an '87, had an excellent weekend. Average sized, but with above-average skills, Mercier does everything well. He kills penalties, plays well along the wall, battles all over the ice, and shows good hockey sense.
Tim Miller, a 5'11", 175 lb. forward, is also an '87 and similar in style of play to Mercier. He's not big, not fast, and not particularly strong, but he's always on the puck. It just follows him around. He's smart, plays an efficient game, and puts up points.
Nik Sellers, an '86 centerman is 5'9", 160 lbs. and can do things with puck at top speed most others on the ice can't. Great quickness.
Mike Suggs, an '85 LW is 6'0", 165 and a strong, powerful kid, a power forward type who protects the puck, goes to the net hard, and is great in the corners. Has an idea out there.
A very good team, solid up and down the lineup. Not particularly big, but not small either, mostly 5'11" to 6'1" guys up and down the lineup. A perfect 4-0 in round robin play, then beat TI in the semis before losing 5-1 to HoneyBaked in the finals. An older team, mostly '85s and '86s with one or two '84s.
5'11", 175 lb. Chris Smith, an '85, was solid, a Don Sweeney-type of player who's always on the puck, makes good decisions, and plays the body. Noticeable every time he steps on the ice.
Brian Roloff, an '86 forward who stands 5'10", 165 lbs, is a solid energy guy, a sparkplug who competes every shift.
6'0", 170 lb. right shot forward Matt Conover, an '84, has good speed and better than average size.
Chris Mueller, a 5'10", 165 lb forward, was also very good. An '86 who can just fly. Great wheels. Always on puck. Gives and goes. A good Div. I prospect.
Anthony Becker, a 6'0", 165 lb. left-shot forward and an '85, is similar to Mueller, but a year older and notch better when it comes to putting points on the board. Also has speed and good hands. The team's offensive leader. Very dangerous.
5'9" Buffalo goalie Elliott Bernardo, an '84, was very strong in the game we saw.
Best prospect was 6'2", 195 lb forward Brent Sarcone, an '84 from Franklin, Michigan. A big kid with a good reach, and good offensive ability. Excelled down low. Very good speed for size.
IMG Hockey Academy
Coached by Wil Nichol, for whom this was a homecoming of sorts. Last year, Nichol was an assistant to then-Chicago Steel (USHL) coach Steve Richmond. IMG, located in Florida, was quite respectable, going 2-2-0.
IMG's top gun is 5'10", 165 lb. '85 Jeff Hazelwood, who skates well and is difficult to knock off the puck. Strong, he plays tough, physically, and with a lot of energy. Far and away the best forward on the team, he played a ton. Was always on the ice. Has a good heavy shot.
6'0", 184 lb. defenseman Doug Robinson, an '85., also had a good weekend, A solid d-man, he's stocky and strong, played 1-on-1's well, blocked a ton of shots, and simply competed.
Coached by Brad Buetow. Went 0-4.
Scott Tittle, a 5'10", 165 lb. forward who's a late '85 can skate, plays physically, blocks shots and plays a good uptempo energy game. While the team struggled enormously, Tittle was an inspirational leader, working hard every shift, and getting his nose dirty.
Note: We apologize to worthy players on teams that may not have been seen.
Sweatt Impresses for TI '88
Team Illinois '88 forward Billy Sweatt, the younger brother of Chicago Steel (USHL) defenseman and Colorado College recruit Lee Sweatt, was extremely impressive during a two-game series at the Edge, down the road from the Chill Tourney. Sweatt, an '88 forward, absolutely flies. The best pure skater at July's Select 14 Festival, he has great hands to boot. Keep an eye on him.
Also keep an eye on defenseman Ryan Lowery, a smooth skater who is good with the puck and agile, too.
An intriguing young prospect is Ryan Schnell, who is 6'1", pretty huge for an '88. A forward, Schnell is on the slow side but has above-average hands and was a constant presence out there.
TI had a formidable opponent in the New Jersey Devils '88 and were smoked twice, 5-3 and 5-1. It's hard to say right now, but it looks like the two best bantam teams in the country may be HoneyBaked and New Jersey. The Devils, whom we wrote of extensively in the wake of their winning the Quebec City International Pee Wee tournament in February, got top performances from the players expected to step up for them. 5'5" RW Greg Squires, 5'9" center Chris Atkinson, and 5'8" forward Rich Falaska were all excellent, as was 5'8" RD Kevin Shattenkirk, who's an '89.
PC Gets Commitments from Two NAHLers for '04
Danville Wings forward Kevin Sheehan and Springfield (Ill.) Jr. Blues defenseman Andy Meyer, both rookies in the NAHL, have committed to Providence College for the fall of '04.
-- Sheehan, a 5'11", 175 right-shot center, was the leading scorer on the Jim Marchi-coached Chicago Chill Midget AAA squad last season. At Danville, he's gotten off to a slow start, scoring one goal and zero assists in his first nine league games.
A 1/9/84 DOB, Sheehan is from Evanston, Ill.
-- Meyer, a 6'1", 180 lb. left-shot D who played for the Lindsay Middlebrook-coached St. Louis Sting Midget AAA squad last season is an offensive defenseman with a good sense of the game. With the Jr. Blues, who are in last place in the NAHL West Division, Meyer, in seven league games, has a has a 0-1-1 line with a team-leading 18 pims.
A native of Arnold, Missouri, Meyer is a 1/10/85 birthdate.
BC Lands Top Canadian D for '04
6'3", 215 lb. Brockville Braves (COJHL) defenseman Todd Perry has committed to Boston College and will arrive at the Heights in the fall of '04.
Perry, a late '86 (he turns 16 in mid-December), was selected in the first round of June's OHL draft -- he was the #9 pick overall -- by the Sarnia Sting. However, he chose not to go the major junior route and instead signed on with Brockville, where he plays with his older brother, Shane.
Perry, an 11th grader, is a major catch for Boston College. A solid defensive player with excellent size -- he's likely still growing -- Perry also plays with an edge. However, what really sets him apart from others his age is his high-end offensive skill. Perry is very good with the puck, and extremely poised. The youngster will rarely fire it off the glass, mainly because he has the stick skills to headman the puck, and make strong outlet passes. It's fair to expect him to be running the power play early in his career at BC.
Perry leads all Central Jr. A rookies in scoring with a 1-10-11 line in 16 games. He also has 44 pims.
Perry's style of play is similar to the Vancouver Canucks Ed Jovanovski. Like Jovanovski, he could be a first round NHL draft pick.
We wrote about Perry on Oct. 11. For more about him, please scroll down the page.
A Top BCHL Rookie for Northern Michigan
6'0", 165 lb. center Darin Olver of the Chilliwack Chiefs, the leading rookie scorer in the BCHL, has committed to Northern Michigan after visiting there over the weekend.
Olver, a 5/3/85 birthdate, has a 10-15-25 line in 15 games.
It was felt all along that Olver would pick Northern. Olver's father, John Olver, 43, a Burnaby, BC native who played at the University of Michigan for two years in the late '70s and is now coach/VP of hockey operations for the Idaho Steelheads (WCHL), is a close friend of new Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle. Other top schools tried to recruit Olver, but the young center wasn't going to set up any visits anywhere until he'd taken a good look around Marquette.
Apparently, he liked what he saw. .
Before going to Chilliwack, where Olver plays for former Michigan State forward Harvey Smyl, the younger Olver attended Eastview High School in Apple Valley, Minnesota for his 10th and 11th grade years.
Olver, whose family was living in Tacoma, Washington at the time he transferred to Eastview, was, along with goaltender Orlando Alamano, a California native, enrolled at the school in violation of Minnesota State High School League rules, which caused the Mike Gibbons-coached squad to forfeit the first 16 games Olver and Alamano played in 2000-01.Gibbons is a former University of Denver assistant, where he worked with current Gopher assistant Bob Motzko. Small world, eh?
Minnesota rules state that if a player changes schools without his family moving into the new school district with him, then there must be a change of guardianship. If that is not done the student-athlete is ineligible to play in interscholastic sports for the first 90 days of school. Olver and Alamano played without doing so, and, after the season, the team was forced to forfeit its first 16 games.
Last year, there was no such problem and Eastview, which a few years earlier didn't even have a hockey program, had an excellent season, winning the consolation championship of the state high school tournament. Olver was the seventh leading scorer in the state.
That's all history now. As for the present, Olver's stock is very high. He's skilled, and a good playmaker and finisher who plays an uptempo style. Some observers feel he's better than Jeff Tambellini, the Michigan freshman who played for Chilliwack last season. For college play, Olver will need to add strength and improve his play away from the puck.
Michigan State, Michigan, and Minnesota were other prominent programs reportedly interested in Olver.
Fletcher to St. Cloud State
5'10", 170 lb. LD Justin Fletcher of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) has committed to St. Cloud State.
A third-year player at Sioux City, Fletcher, a 3/30/83 birthdate, is an intense, gritty player who has a quick stick and can run the power play and kill penalties with aplomb.
At St. Cloud , Fletcher will join fellow defense recruits Chris Anderson (White Bear Lake HS) and Grant Clafton (River City Lancers).
The draw at St. Cloud State was new Huskie's assistant Fred Harbinson, who was an assistant coach for Sioux City during Fletcher's first two years in the USHL.
Fletcher is from Maryville, Ill. near St. Louis, and grew up playing in the St. Louis Jr. Blues organization.
Other schools interested in him were Quinnipiac, Clarkson, St. Lawrence, and Colorado College.
In related news, 5'10, 170 lb. Sioux City LW/LC Gary Houseman visited St. Cloud last weekend and will be visiting Harvard this weekend. An '83, Houseman was rookie of the year for the SJHL champion Kindersley Klippers last season where, in 64 games, he posted a 39-41-80 line. A Saskatoon native, Houseman was recruited to Sioux City by Harbinson. In seven games thus far, he has a 2-4-6 line with 15 pims.
Toffey Leaves Buckeyes
6'3", 200 lb. sophomore center John Toffey has left Ohio State and has returned home to his hometown of Barnstable, Mass.
Toffey suited up for the Walpole Stars (EJHL) last weekend and will play out the year for them. He's attending Cape Cod Community College and will transfer after the academic year under the 4-2-4 rule.
Toffey, who hadn't appeared in a game for the Buckeyes this year, played in 24 games for them last year, posting a 2-3-5 line, and getting selected by Tampa Bay in the 9th round of June's NHL draft.
The problem at Ohio State was that Toffey wanted to play both baseball and hockey -- and the seasons overlap. When Ohio State baseball coach Bob Dodd informed Toffey that he'd need to play three weeks with the baseball team in the fall in order to play baseball in the spring, the handwriting was on the wall. Toffey, however, didn't feel ready to drop either sport.
Toffey, a right-handed pitcher, was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 47th round of the 2001 major league baseball draft but chose to attend Ohio State instead of signing.
Toffey's baseball stock went up when he pitched last summer for the Bourne Braves in the prestigious Cape Cod League, the nation's top amateur summer league..
For next year, Toffey will have to pick either hockey or baseball -- or find a school that will allow him to continue with both.
Toffey starred in football, hockey, and baseball at St. Sebastian's School, helping the Arrows to a 29-1-1 record and the 2001 New England Prep School title.
Anderson Heads North
6'2", 205 lb. Tri-City Storm (USHL) defenseman Chad Anderson, a solid, stay-at-home D, has committed to the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves.
Anderson, who's the captain of the Storm, is in his third year playing for the Jim Hillman-coached Storm.
Anderson, a 6/16/82 birthdate, played his high school hockey at Chisago Lakes (Minn.) HS.
The Alaska-Anchorage connection at Tri-City comes from assistant coaches Reggie Simon and Tom Kowal, both former Seawolves.
Barons Fire IHL Legend
Cleveland Barons (NAHL) head coach Jock Callander has been fired.
After starting off the season with three straight wins at the Lansing Tournament, the Barons have gone on the skids, losing eight of their last nine league games, and dropping to the cellar of the league's eastern division.
Team owner Tom Goebel has replaced Callander -- on an interim basis -- with GM Barry Butler.
Callander, a 41-year-old native of Regina, Sask., is the IHL's all time leading scorer with 1,402 points over 16 seasons. Callander spent his last seven pro seasons with Cleveland, retiring after the '99-00 season. Callander, who was never drafted, played in 109 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins between 1987-92 and eight games with the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning in the '92-93 season.
When his playing career ended, Callander served the Houston Aeros (AHL) as an assistant coach for a year.
Kessel Makes Six
We reported below that there are five NTDP commitments for next season. That's our mistake, for there are actually six. Inadvertently left off the list was Phil Kessel, our #1 ranked player at the U.S. Select 15 Festival in August. Kessel was invited to play on next year's Under-17 team right after the festival.
Kessel, a 5'10", 160 lb. center from Verona, Wisc., just a few miles south of Madison, turned down USHL offers to stay home and play this season with the Madison Capitols Midget AAA squad. Last year, Kessel lead the Bob Suter-coached Madison Capitols bantams to the national title game, where they were shut down by the LA Jr. Kings, 3-0.
Kessel, the leading scorer at the 15 Festival, has the speed and stick skills that allow him to work the puck through traffic and consistently create scoring opportunities. A dangerous, elusive player who keeps opponents off-balance, Kessel is a high school freshman and a late '87 birthdate.
Kessel joins forwards Scott Birnstill, Bobby Ryan, Jack Skille, Nathan Gerbe and defenseman Jack Johnson as NTDP early commitments for next season.
Stafford to Fighting Sioux
6'2", 196 lb. Shattuck-St. Mary's senior forward Drew Stafford has committed to the University of North Dakota.
Stafford, our #2 ranked forward at June's U.S. Select 17 Festival (behind only BU recruit Brian McGuirk), combines skating and puck skills with size and strength. A power forward, he battles in all three zones, and can take the puck to the net. A good pro prospect, Stafford was on the Under-18 Select Team that in August went to the Four Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.
Stafford, the son of an English teacher at Shattuck, is a 10/30/85 birthdate. He has a 3-11-14 line in eight games at Shattuck this year. His 11 assists lead the team and his 14 points trail only '87-born phenom Sidney Crosby.
Stafford made his final choice from between North Dakota and Colorado College. He also took unofficial visits to Wisconsin (pre-Mike Eaves) and Minnesota.
Older Birnstill Impresses
N.Y. Apple Core (EJHL) 6'1", 175 lb. LD Steve Birnstill may have opened eyes at last weekend's Compuware Tournament, but Yale and Dartmouth have both been recruiting him hard for a while, with Yale head coach Tim Taylor making a house visit last week. Though Yale would appear to have the upper hand here, Birnstill will nonetheless be going on visits to Northeastern and UNH shortly. A decision should be arrived at by the end of the month.
Birnstill, an 11/6/85 birthdate from Commack, NY, which is pretty much the geographic center of Long Island, is a 12th grader who has size and moves well. He's good with the puck, makes nice break-out passes, and can join the rush and help out offensively. While not overly polished, he plays an intelligent game and makes smart decisions.
Young Birnstill On the Shelf
Steve Birnstill's younger brother, 6'2", 205 lb. Apple Core LC Scott Birnstill, has committed to the U.S. National Team Development Program for next year. For now, though, he's off skates, having reinjured his knee (miniscus) before getting into a single EJHL contest. Birnstill is expected back in the lineup sometime in December.
We ranked Birnstill, a 5/28/87 birthdate who played last season for LI Gulls Bantam squad, as the #3 forward at the this August's Select 15 Festival, trailing only Phil Kessel and Jack Skille. Birnstill, one of the leading scorers there, exhibited great size and overall tools. He has an excellent shot with a great release, strong passing skills, and can skate.
Birnstill visited Ann Arbor last weekend.
-- Also committed to the National Program for next year is 6'1", 185 lb. right-shot forward Bobby Ryan, who played last year with the LA Jr. Kings Bantams, but this year is playing for the HoneyBaked '87s. Ryan, who has great hands to go with his size, is lighting it up for HoneyBaked and was the best U.S. prospect -- possibly the best prospect overall -- at last weekend's Windsor, Ont. bantam tournament. Ryan is a big, strong winger with all the offensive tools -- and big-time potential.
Birnstill and Ryan now give the NTDP five commitments for next season. Earlier, Skille, along with forward Nathan Gerbe and defenseman Jack Johnson, committed.
Carle's Short List Shorter Still
Matt Carle's short list (see below) just got shorter, as the River City Lancers defenseman committed to the #2-ranked University of Denver Pioneers today.
Carle's Short List
6'0", 190 lb. LD Matt Carle, of the River City Lancers (USHL), has narrowed his college list to Minnesota, Denver, and Michigan State.
Schools left out in the cold include St. Cloud State, CC, Wisconsin, Maine, and Alaska-Anchorage.
Carle, a 9/25/84 DOB, is a native of Anchorage and played for the NTDP the past two seasons. Prior to that he played for the Alaska All-Stars midgets.
Carle skates and handles the puck extremely well, makes nice touch passes, is excellent in the transition game, and has a powerful shot. Over the first six games of the season, he has a 2-2-4 line with 12 pims.
-- Huge St. Sebastian's School LC Brian Boyle, a 6'6, 224 lb. native of Hingham, Mass., will make an official visit Dartmouth next week, and then Yale the week after. However, he's just coming off his official visit to BC, and the Eagles now appear to have the inside track -- unless BU ups the ante when Boyle takes his official visit there in a couple of weeks.
Boyle, projected to go in the second round of June's NHL draft, is a late '84 -- 12/18/84, to be precise.
New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (EJHL) forward Taylor Chace has, while wearing a body brace, been up and about in a wheelchair.
It's expected that he will leave Toronto Western Hospital and return to New Hampshire by the end of the week. Chace, a 16-year-old native of Hampton Falls, NH, will then begin the work of rehabilitation at the Northeast Rehab Hospital in Salem, NH, something his parents report that he's looking forward to.
Black Bears Land Johnson
New England Jr. Coyotes (EJHL) forward Keith Johnson will be heading to the University of Maine.
Johnson's final choice was between Maine and BU. His older brother, Gregg Johnson, is a junior forward with the Terriers.
The younger Johnson is a 5'11", 175 lb. native of Windsor, Conn. A 10/21/84 birthdate, Johnson is a skilled right-shot center who sees the ice extremely well, is strong on his skates, works hard, and can both make a play or finish.
The Coyotes top 2003 recruits all have their tickets punched now, and only one is going to Providence College -- forward Colin McDonald, who was huge in Sunday's Coyotes-Walpole game, picking up four points. Taking roads less traveled are Mark McCutcheon (Cornell), Bryan Cirullo (Northeastern), and, of course, Keith Johnson.
Andricopoulos Highly Sought
6'1", 170 lb. RD Andrew Andricopoulos could be the second '87-born player to commit to a Div. I college, following Shattuck defenseman Jack Johnson (Michigan).
Andricopoulos visited Boston College two weeks ago. He'll visit Boston University next week. In addition, the University of Michigan is working on getting him out for a visit to Ann Arbor.
Andricopoulos is currently a 10th grader at the Tabor School in Marion, Mass., on the shore of Buzzard's Bay. Marion is also the hometown of Captain Benjamin S. Briggs, who was master of the Mary Celeste, a brigantine found floating off the Azores in 1872. Everything on the ship was intact, though not a single crewman, dead or alive, was anywhere to be found. This early Bermuda Triangle-type incident has been studied endlessly over the years, and it's still the biggest sea mystery going.
Anyway, back to the subject of the story. Andricopoulos, who played sparingly as a freshman at Tabor last seasaon, is a 10th grader from Groveland, Mass., which is a couple of miles south of Haverhill. Andricopoulos, a 4/1/87 birthdate helped lead the Middlesex (Mass.) Islanders to the championship of the 2001 Quebec City Pee Wee tournament. .
Andricopoulos has size, skating, and puckhandling ability, and a good hard shot. He's also intense and physical. He was one of only four '87s who appeared at the Beantown Classic in late August. Playing against top New England players who were up to four years older, Andricopoulos was a standout.
Vairo Picks His Staff
U.S. National Junior Team head coach Lou Vairo has picked Mike Hastings, Ron Rolston, and Geoff Sauer to be his assistants at this season's WJC, to be held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Hastings is in his eighth year as head coach of the River City Lancers (USHL). Rolston has been an assistant at Lake Superior State, Clarkson, and Harvard. He's beginning his first season at Boston College. Jeff Sauer retired this past spring after 31 years as a head coach, the first 11 years at CC, and the last 20 at Wisconsin, where he won two NCAA titles ('83, '90).
Hastings, Rolston, and Sauer were all on the coaching staff at the 2002 U.S. National Junior Evaluation camp, held Aug. 1-10 in Lake Placid.
Chace Making Progress
"We just want you all to know that Taylor is making progress," report Rick and Lisa Chace in an e-mail sent last night (Sat.) from Toronto.
"All of his lines, including his chest tube, have been removed. Today, he was able to get up to a chair for brief intervals with assistance. He is expected to receive a body brace on Tuesday (delays due to Canadian Thanksgiving) after which time he will hopefully start physical therapy. The biggest problems to date include varying amounts and quality of sensory function in the distal lower limbs and weakness in his legs, especially his feet.
"It's still early," wrote the Chaces, "and we have a long road ahead."
Right now, it's still yet to be determined when the injured New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) forward will be back in the U.S. and where he will be when the times come. We will let you know as soon as we get that information.
The Chaces wish to thank everyone for their support, writing, "Both friends and strangers have sent so many prayers and good wishes, which have been instrumental in keeping all of us going."
"We also want to remind you that there are other young men out there that need your support," they added, "so let's all show the Jr. Monarchs that we are behind them all the way."
Porter a Wolverine
U.S. National Team Development Program forward Kevin Porter has committed to the University of Michigan.
Porter, an exceptionally smooth player with strong skating and stick skills and excellent overall agility, is 5'11", 174 lbs. and a native of Detroit. Last year, he played with the Michigan Ice FDogs Midget AAA program.
In 11 games with the Under-17 team this year, Porter has posted a 4-3-7 line, which ties him for third on the team (behind Chad Kolarik and Matt Auffrey).
Porter is a 3/12/86 DOB, and is a right shot.
Hartwick Makes His Pick
6'3", 200 lb. LD Mike Hartwick of the Boston Bulldogs, the independent junior team run by former RPI coach Mike Addesa, has made his college pick... and it's Dartmouth.
A Bedford, NH native who graduated in June from Bishop Guertin HS, Hartwick was the New Hampshire Div. I co-player of the year last winter. He also played a split season with the Bulldogs; as a PG, will be playing the full schedule this year.
A big, strong kid, Hartwick has a bullet of a shot and a real physical presence to his game.
Hartwick will be Dartmouth's second recruited d-man for the fall of '03, joining 6'3" Grant Lewis of the Pittsburgh Forge, who committed just the other day. Defensemen graduating after the current season are Trevor Byrne, PJ Martin, and Pete Summerfelt.
UVM and Yale were also in the hunt for Hartwick.
Colleges Zeroing in on Perry
15-year-old Todd Perry has a bright future ahead of him. It just may be with an NCAA Div. I school instead of the OHL.
Over the summer, the 63, 210 lb. defenseman decided not to sign with the Sarnia Sting, the club that had taken him in the first round -- #9 overall -- in the OHL draft this past spring. Perry chose instead to play this season with his brother, Shane, on the Brockville Braves (Central Junior A Hockey League).
I dont think it had a lot to do with his brother. I just dont think his parents felt (Sarnia) was the right situation for him this year, said Braves head coach-GM Jeff Carter. Carter also coached the Perry brothers last season with the Char Lan Jr. B Rebels.
Sarnia GM Terry Doran expressed disappointment in late August when Perry did not report to Sarnias camp. According to Doran, Perry had told the team that he was committed to playing for the Sting in the OHL this season. He attended the mini-camp in June and was introduced at a team banquet.
The Sarnia Observer reported earlier, citing unnamed sources, that Perry had asked for a number of contractual items that violated the standard OHL players agreement including an open-ended education package to any university in North America, a cell phone, a laptop computer and mileage when attending any function of the team.
Carter downplayed that and felt there wasnt much to the rumors. He said that compensation was not the issue. It had more to do with Perrys parents feeling their son was better off playing a year of Tier II. Carter also cited the distance of playing out in western Ontario as factors that entered the decision.
Also figuring into the decision may have been the heavy interest hes received from a number of US colleges. Carter said a number of recruiters had been through to see him play, including those for Boston University, Boston College, Michigan State, Clarkson, and Ohio State. At least one head coach has made the trip north --- BC's Jerry York.
Perry has adapted quickly to Tier II. Hes already one of my top four defenseman, said Carter. Hes a big strong kid and hes adjusting quickly to the systems and the speed.
The underage defenseman has 3 assists in 10 games but has made himself a physical presence on the ice, racking up 24 penalty minutes.
Little Big Man
5'6", 145 lb. forward Nathan Gerbe, an '87 from Oxford, Michigan who has recently been on a leave of absence from the HoneyBaked Midgets while suiting up for the injury-plagued U.S. Under-17 Team, will return to HoneyBaked after this weekend's Compuware Classic.
In six games to date with the National Program, Gerbe has a 3-0-3 line-- and his goals have been timely, too. On Fri. Sept. 27, he scored the game-winner in a shootout win over the Springfield (Ill.) Jr. Blues. Then, the next night, against the Texas Tornado, Gerbe scored the game-winner on a breakaway with less than a minute remaining in OT.
Both games were at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, where Gerbe has become a favorite among the small coterie of fans -- mostly parents and girlfriends -- that make up the home crowd at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube.
"He's done very well," said Under-17 head coach David Quinn today. "He's very competitive, quick, and skilled, so his size is not really an issue. He's been a great addition. He plays with passion and competitiveness."
Gerbe is returning to HoneyBaked because Todd McIllrath is returning from an injury. Other Under-17 forwards injured this fall include Nathan Davis (shoulder), and Kevin Swallow (wrist).
Next fall, Gerbe will be a full-fledged member of the Under-17 Team. Two others have committed to the U-17s for next season: defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Jack Skille.
Hurley a Bear
6'3", 200 lb. LD Sean Hurley of Rutland, Vt. and the Northfield-Mt. Hermon School has committed to Brown University.
Hurley, a 7/25/83 birthdate and a senior at NMH, has size, hands, and good offensive upside.
Prior to coming to NMH -- he's in his second season there -- Hurley played for Rutland HS.
Vermont and Dartmouth also worked hard recruiting Hurley, but the Bears came out on top.
10/9/02: Taylor Chace update below.
A Big D for The Big Green
6'3", 180 lb. RD Grant Lewis of the Pittsburgh Forge (NAHL) has committed to Dartmouth.
Lewis, a tall, rangy kid who has made huge leaps over the last 6-8 months, started this season with the Pittsburgh Hornets Midget AAA squad (coached by Joe Gaul, the father of the Dartmouth forward). In August, the Forge lost veteran blueliners Chris Wey (to Sioux Falls) and Kyle Larman (to Lansing). At that point, Lewis began practicing with the junior team, and in mid-September was brought up for good. He's paired on the Forge blue line with Dylan Reese, who committed to Harvard this week. Both attend the same high school, Upper St. Clair HS. A 1/20/85 birthdate, Lewis is Pittsburgh's youngest player. He is eligible for June's NHL draft without having to opt-in..
Lewis' college choices came down to Dartmouth and Cornell.
Other Div. I prospects on the Forge include 6'1" RW Andy Brandt, who'll be taking his official visit to Wisconsin next week; 6'1" LC Mike Handza, who recently visited Brown; former Apple Core LW Jim Gehring, a fast Philadelphian; and 6'2" RW John Dingle, a Cleveland native UVM is very interested in.
The Truth About Koskie
The Fox announcers during last night's telecast of game #1 of the American League Championship Series between the Minnesota Twins and California Angels made frequent reference to Minnesota third baseman Corey Koskie's background as a hockey goaltender. In the early innings, announcer Thom Brennaman even claimed that Koskie had played the position "at the highest level of junior hockey in Canada."
It ain't true.
Koskie, who grew up on a farm in Anola, Manitoba., about 50 miles north of the U.S. border, was indeed a goalie... for his high school hockey team. In Canada, as most of you know, only the least talented players play in high school, which is more recreational in nature. The serious hockey players, of course, are playing in midgets, Tier II, major junior etc.
What is noteworthy about Koskie is the fact that his high school did not offer baseball -- he simply played on a club team in the summer. His #1 sport in high school was volleyball, and Koskie was good enough at the sport to win a volleyball scholarship to the University of Manitoba, which he took advantage of, at least for one year. That is, until the baseball coach at Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa heard that Koskie had some potential and took a look at him in a tryout.
The coach must have liked what he saw. The following season, Koskie was playing juco baseball in Iowa.
In 1994 Koskie was drafted in the 26th round of the major league baseball draft. Last season, he became the first third baseman in AL history to hit 25 home runs, steal over 25 bases, and knock in over 100 runs.
He was never really a goalie, no matter what the Fox guys want you to believe..
To the Friends of Taylor Chace
The following is a letter written this afternoon by Rick and Lisa Chace, the parents of New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs forward Taylor Chace.
Dear Friends of Taylor Chace:
We would like to thank all of Taylor's teammates, friends, the EJHL, USA Hockey, and all hockey acquaintances for your calls of concern. We also want you to know what has happened. Taylor's accident occurred on Sunday evening, October 6th, at approximately 8:00 pm. The NH Jr. Monarchs played the Uxbridge Jr. Bruins in Cannington, Ontario. Taylor was skating at top speed down the right wing, and as he took a shot on goal, he was hit by a defender. As Taylor was trying to regain his footing, he went full speed into the boards, backwards.
He was transported to a local hospital in Lindsay, Ontario, where it was revealed that he had broken his back. He was then, around 3:00 am, med-flighted to Toronto Western Hospital, a large spine center. He underwent six hours of emergency surgery by two of the best neurospinal surgeons in Canada. He is in stable condition. We are told that there is evidence of spinal cord injury, and only time will tell the amount of recovery he will attain.
We ask you for your prayers. Taylor is strong, fit, and determined. He has dedicated his life to hockey. He loves life, and he has said repeatedly from his hospital bed, "At least I'm alive."
Rick, head coach Sean Tremblay, and I are here with him now. Although it is customary to send flowers, in this case a note would be more appreciated by Taylor. His short term address is: Taylor Chace -- 9B, Toronto Western Hospital, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 2S8, or e-mail a note to email@example.com.
We will be certain to keep the hockey community updated as to Taylor's progress.
Thank you again for your care and concern.
The Chace Family
Update Wed. 10/9: Sean Tremblay reported early this afternoon that Chace, from the hip, is able to lift his legs up. In addition, he has feeling in the legs, at least to the touch. Tremblay says, "I think he'll definitely walk again. I really believe it." Tremblay is returning to New Hampshire tonight to help his team through this. Chace's parents, of course, are still in Toronto, where Taylor is expected to stay at Toronto Western Hospital for another six days. Rehab options are being worked on.
A feature film on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team is in the works. This is not a documentary but a full-fledged feature that, we hope, turns out better than "The Miracle on Ice" (1981), which featured Karl Malden playing Herb Brooks. Malden was OK, but the rest of the movie was pretty forgettable.
At any rate, if you're a male between 19-24 and want to take a crack at being Jim Craig, Jack O'Callahan, Mike Eruzione, Dave Silk, Ralph Cox, et al., go to the C.P. Casting web site ASAP. Auditions are tomorrow, Wed. Oct. 9, and Thurs. Oct. 10 between 11 am-4 pm at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.
There will be auditions in LA, New York City, and Minnesota later on.
If, by chance, you get the gig, you will be required to begin working in Canada starting in December for six weeks. Those will be the hockey scenes. The rest of the filming will commence in February and run for 10 weeks.
According to its release, C.P. Casting, a Boston agency which has dug up talent for films such as Good Will Hunting and The Firm, is looking for people with "good hockey skills, and better acting skills."
Top Young Prospect Partially Paralyzed
New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) RW Taylor Chace is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of a hit taken Sunday night in a game against the Uxbridge (Ont.) Jr. Bruins at a tournament in Cannington, Ontario.
The hit came at about the ten minute mark of the first period. Chace, who's 6'0", 180 lbs. and physically strong, came down the right boards at top speed, cut to the net and was hit while attempting to get off a shot. Off balance, Chace slid backwards toward the boards behind the goal line, hitting the wall back-first.
Chace was placed on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital where a Catscan revealed he had broken his back. The L1 vertebra was where the damage was concentrated.
Afterward, Chace was transferred to the Toronto Western Hospital, where yesterday (Mon.) afternoon, he underwent 6½ hours of surgery.
His parents, along with Monarch's head coach Sean Tremblay, are in Toronto with Chace. The youngest player on the Monarchs -- he's an '86 birthdate and a 10th grader -- Chase graduated from the Cardigan Mountain School last spring. A native of Hampton Falls, NH, Chace was one of the top prospects in his age group in New England, and a sure-fire Div. I prospect.
The short-term prognosis regarding Chace's chances of walking are poor. However, because the spinal cord wasn't severed, doctors expressed guarded hope that someday he'll be able to walk again. There is no way of predicting when -- or even if -- that could happen.
We will pass on updates as they become available.
McCafferty Out for Season
Belmont Hill School LD Brian McCafferty, another top young '86, tore his ACL in Saturday's varsity football game against Milton, and will miss the upcoming hockey season.
The healing time is estimated at six months.
McCafferty, who's 6'0", 185 lbs, is a 10th grader from Lexington, Mass.
Two for Harvard
6'0", 187 lb. RD Dylan Reese of Upper St. Clair, Penn. and the Pittsburgh Forge (NAHL) has committed to Harvard.
Reese picked Harvard over Yale and Michigan State.
Reese, a 8/29/84 birthdate, was superb at the NAHL season-opening tournament early last month in Lansing, Mich, where he not only led all D-men in scoring, but all players with a 1-7-8 line in three games. A premier offensive defenseman who uses his speed in rushing the puck, Reese is a player who'll likely be running the Crimson powerplay before long.
The Harvard staff has had their eyes on Reese for a long time, and finally got their man.
This year, in 11 games, Reese has a 1-10-11 line.
-- Also committing to Harvard is 6'2", 193 lb. forward Ryan Maki of the U.S. Under-18 Team.
Maki, a right shot playing the off wing, is a good, physical up-and-down-the-wing type. A 4/23/85 birthdate, Maki is from Shelby Township, Michigan. This is his second season in the NTDP. Prior to being invited to Ann Arbor, he played a season for the Alvinston Flyers of the Ontario-based Great Lakes Jr. C league. Before that, he played for the HoneyBaked bantams.
Maki was also offered by Michigan Tech.
McGoff a Terrier
5'10", 170 lb. Dan McGoff, a right-shot D from Charlestown, Mass. and the Noble & Greenough School, has committed to Boston University.
McGoff, a 3/12/86 birthdate, will matriculate at BU in the fall of 2004.
His final choice came to down to BC and BU.
McGoff is one of the top '86 defensemen men in the country. We rated him #3 among d-men at July's Select 16 Festival in Rochester, NY, noting that he was "an excellent skater who can carry the puck. Good low center of gravity. Hard to knock off puck. Not big or small, but strong. He can move guys bigger than he from out in front of the net. Combines physical play with skill."
After the tournament, McGoff was named to the Select 17 team that in August went to the Four Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic, where they won the gold medal.
Cirullo a Huskie
6'0½", 180 lb. LD Bryan Cirullo of the New England Jr. Coyotes (EJHL) has accepted a full scholarship from Northeastern University.
A native of Farmington, Conn., Cirullo, a 2/19/85 birthdate, is in his fourth season with the Coyotes.
Cirullo took an official visit to Yale, and was scheduled to go to Maine for a visit in a couple of weeks. Cornell was also hoping to get him in for a visit.
However, as Cirullo said, "I liked the Boston atmosphere... playing in the Beanpot was also a big part of my decision. As was coach Crowder."
Cirullo is a smooth-skating, highly mobile defenseman who has good puck-handling skills and the potential to run the power play for the Huskies.
In March 2001, he was invited to the NTDP, but chose to stay home and play for the Coyotes.
Cirullo's father, Mike, was a college baseball player at Brown Univeristy.
Cook's Choice: The Champions of the West
6'5", 204 lb. RD Tim Cook of the River City Lancers (USHL) will attend the University of Michigan next fall.
Top suitors for Cook were Cornell, Harvard, Michigan State and, of course, the Wolverines. Interestingly, Michigan was the only one of the above schools the Montclair, NJ native never took an official visit to. However, he had taken an unofficial visit there last season, and knew then that was his #1 choice. His former teammate at Hotchkiss, Brandon Rogers, is a sophomore defenseman for the Wolverines.
The Michigan staff was ready to pull the trigger after Cook's dominating performance at the Buc Bowl three weeks ago. Last year, Cook, an '84 and a rookie with the Lancers, was rotated in and out of the lineup, and the Michigan staff kept missing him. Over the summer, Cook trained in Vancouver, and is playing with new-found strength, which has played into his early success this season.
Cook played at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn. for two years. In March 2000, after his first year there, he was invited to join the NTDP but elected to return to Hotchkiss for his 10th grade year. Last season, he made the move to Omaha.
Cook skates well, handles the puck well, and makes intelligent, simple plays. At the Buc Bowl, he showed a real edge to his play, and was right in the middle of scuffles. Even at his current height/weight, he's lanky, and could put on another 20 lbs. While he skates well with the puck, he doesn't tee it up much, preferring move it to an open guy, or just get it in on net.
Notini Makes His Mark
Last weekend, the Junior Bruins Shootout took place in Marlboro, MA, with the host team taking the medal with a 3-2 win over the Cape Cod Whalers.
The tournament MVP was Jr. B's LW Josh Notini, a hard-working ball of energy who., though only 5'9", 150 lbs., hits with a passion, and puts up points.
With the exception of the Cape Cod Whalers, the EJHL teams were, as expected, the class of the tournament.
Apple Core, the Monarchs, the Junior Bruins, Walpole, and Capital District all loook strong. We don't see a clear-cut favorite.
The Coyotes didn't play in the tournament (they start the season this weekend), but they can be included in the above group.
Lowell, the Valley Jr. Warriors, and perhaps the much-improved Harbor Wolves make up a second tier.
The Green Mountain Glades, Bridgewater, and Bay State will all be fighting to stay out of the basement.
For more thoughts on players:
2002 Junior Bruins Shootout.
Howe a Gopher
5'11", 175 lb. River City Lancers (USHL) LW Mike Howe has committed to the University of Minnesota.
Howe, who starred at St. Cloud Apollo HS, where he was an 11th grader last season, also considered Notre Dame.
A speedster, Howe also has good hands and scoring ability. We recently noted that he could pace himself on the ice better, using his speed much like a good pitcher uses his changeup.
Howe becomes the 7th commitment the Gophers have for next season. The rest of the class of '07 consists of four forwards (Ryan Potulny, Danny Irmen, Ben Gordon, and Brent Borgen) and two defensemen (Jake Taylor, Mike Vanelli).
He will also become the second ex-Apollonian at the U, joining current freshman Chris Harrington.
He's a 9/5/84 birthdate.
Tragedy in Hockey Family
Our condolences go out to the family of Debbie Fetzer, who died suddenly and unexpectedly of a massive heart attack at home in Chicago on Sept. 22. She was 49, and in good health.
She leaves her husband, Brian Fetzer, and five children including Matt Fetzer, 19, a freshman defenseman at UMass-Amherst who played previously for Sioux City (USHL) and the Chicago Young Americans Midget AAA program; Charley Fetzer, 17, also a defenseman for CYA; and Danny Fetzer, 9, who plays for the St. Jude squirts travel team. Debbie Fetzer also left two daughters, Molly, 21, who rows Div. I crew at Indiana, and Kacky, 13.
"We look upon our family and friends to help us through this," wrote the children's father, "along with the love and strength and faith Debbie gave us. Our hockey friends are some of our greatest friends."
Venard Out for Season
The Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) have lost second-year defenseman Dan Venard for the entire 2002-03 season.
Venard, who will undergo surgery next Tuesday, totally tore his ACL in Saturday's opening night loss to the Chicago Steel, which was played in front of 5,788 fans at Green Bay's brand-new Resch Center. In a single second, Green Bay's vaunted defense, which includes Jake Taylor, Noah Babin, Jonathan Ralph, Wes O'Neill, Brandon Longley, and Kyle Klubertanz, became a little less formidable.
Venard, a 6'0", 170 lb. native of Vernon Hills, Ill., is a 10/5/85 birthdate. Before going to Green Bay last season, Venard played in the Chicago Young Americans Midget AAA program.
Pouliot Reneges at Lowell; Heading to UNH
5'10", 170 lb. RC Brian Pouliot of the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL), has reneged on his commitment to UMass-Lowell and will instead be playing for the University of New Hampshire at this time next year.
Pouliot, a 9/7/84 birthdate from Hooksett, NH, has speed, stickhandling skills, and a knack around the net. He committed to UMass-Lowell June 4th, shortly after making visits to two other Hockey East schools -- Providence and BC. The scholarship offered by Lowell was a generous one.
Pouliot's switch of schools has led to acrimony between UMass-Lowell's Blaise MacDonald and UNH's Dick Umile.
MacDonald, choosing his words with great care, admitted that it was a "touchy" subject and referred to a league agreement among Hockey East coaches stipulating that once a player has verbally committed to a Hockey East school, other coaches in the league are prohibited from talking to him.
"This incident," he said. "will allow us to look at our policies and agreement and hopefully make them hard and fast."
Speaking from the UNH side, Umile said, "We're just thrilled to have a New Hampshire kid of his ability coming here. The opportunity to play in front of a home state crowd played a key role in his final decision."
"Things like this happen. They've happened before. Kids make decisions they later find they're not happy with.
"Obviously, Blaise was not thrilled."
Asked if he was feeling any heat coming from MacDonald, Umile said, "I won't go into detail on that. Blaise and his staff handled the situation well, and professionally."
UMass-Lowell assistant coach Kenny Rausch was the point man for MacDonald in the initial recruitment of Pouliot.
Pouliot's coach with the Monarchs, Sean Tremblay, said, "This is something I didn't want to happen. It's been awkward."
Tremblay said that Pouliot came into his office ten days ago and told him he was reconsidering his decision. Last season, Tremblay said, he had told Pouliot that there was absolutely no reason to commit early, and encouraged his star forward to be patient and take his five visits.
"I'm disappointed by the whole thing," said Tremblay, who was impressed by UMass-Lowell's work. Tremblay didn't want to see Pouliot renege on his verbal, and told him so, but allowed that he also didn't want to see his player unhappy for the next four years due to a decision that was perhaps made before he was one hundred percent ready.
"Brian," he said, "is a good kid, and he's eaten up by this."