Fox Joins Green Bay
Salisbury School's hopes for a prep title have taken a hit, as forward T.J. Fox, a 6'1", 195 lb. senior from Oswego, NY, has left the Connecticut boarding school and joined the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL). Fox will be in uniform for tonight's New Year's Eve game against Tri-City at Green Bay's Resch Center. Green Bay is currently the lowest scoring team in the USHL, with 67 goals in 27 games....Michigan State freshman defenseman Evan Shaw, ex of St. Sebastian's and the NTDP, has, as you may have heard, left the Spartans, where he was pretty much buried in coach Rick Comley's doghouse. With fellow defenseman Duncan Keith also leaving Michigan State, the squad is down to five defenseman. On Saturday, the Spartans, who have struggled all year, looked awful in a 6-1 pasting at the hands of a shorthanded Boston University squad (Ryan Whitney and Brian McConnell are playing in the WJC) at the GLI. Every written report we've seen has Shaw going to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and, while it's true that he's leaning in that direction, it's not a sure thing yet. As a former private school kid who's mother is a school teacher, the big defenseman is getting pressure to keep his NCAA eligibility. Shaw, who practiced with St. Sebastian's yesterday, has his QMJHL rights owned by Cape Breton. In the USHL, the Cedar Rapids Roughriders put him on their protected list the week before Christmas... New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) 6'1", 192 lb. RD Andrew Thomas, a late '85 currently in the 11th grade, has been in for a visit at Harvard and will be visiting Yale tomorrow. UNH is also closely following the progress of the native of Bow, NH... 5'8" Taft forward Casey Ftorek is getting interest from Boston College and Harvard but he may take a page from ex-Taft and current Yale forward Christian Jensen's book and spend a year fine-tuning his game by playing junior hockey in Sweden... The story about Mississauga IceDogs (OHL) center Patrick O'Sullivan being sent home from the team for "indifferent defensive play" was a convenient smokescreen put out by the club in conjunction with his agent. Reportedly, O'Sullivan, currently in Nova Scotia at the WJC, was sent home after getting busted for stealing a hockey stick. If Mississauga finishes out of the playoffs again, look for O'Sullivan, a projected high first-round draft pick, to be joining the U.S. for the World Under-18 championships this April... Speaking of the NHL draft, 6'5, 200 lb. Dartmouth freshman Hugh Jessiman, a product of Greenwich, Conn. and the Div. II Brunswick School, pretty much solidified his chances of going in the first round of June's NHL draft with a four goal, one assist performance vs. UMasss-Lowell in the title game of the Auld Lang Syne Tournament at Hanover, NH Sunday night... 6'2",, 217 lb. RW Kevin Coughlin of the U.S. Under-18 team has committed to UMass-Lowell. Coughlin, who is in his first -- and only year -- with the NTDP has a 2-4-6 line in 30 games and has provided the team with a sturdy, physical presence. Coughlin, a South Boston native whose father played for Michigan State in the late '70s, will be reunited at Lowell with Chris Fontas, his former Cushing linemate. Fontas has missed most of the season with a broken jaw but is expected back for start of the Cushing Tournament tomorrow... In case you missed it over the Christmas rush, 5'11", 175 lb. RD Nate Hagemo of the U.S. Under-17 Team has committed to play for Mike Eaves at the University of Wisconsin beginning in the fall of 2004. Hagemo, a native of Edina, Minn. who played for Class AA state champion Holy Angels last season, also had interest from Minnesota, Colorado College, Denver, and North Dakota. While Hagemo, a 10/8/86 birthdate, is currently a sophomore in high school , he's accelerating his studies and hopes to be a junior by the end of January. Hagemo becomes the eighth NTDPer who will wear Badger red, joining D Tom Sawatske (currently a freshman there), F Matt Auffrey, F Jake Dowell, D Jeff Likens, F Robbie Earl, D Ryan Suter, and F Jack Skille (an '87 who hasn't even arrived in Ann Arbor yet).
A pleasant surprise at the Flood-Marr was the play of Andover Academy, which tied Deerfield and Salisbury and beat Milton and Nobles at the tournament to finish in third. Last year, the team was abysmal. This year, they have yet to lose a game. The difference? 6'2" junior goalie Cory Schneider and senior D 6'4" John Doherty have an added year of experience, which helps. But just as important has been the role of the team's youngsters. Freshmen forward Chris Cahill and freshmen d-men Hunter Thunell and Tom Dignard are all, for several years hence, legit DI prospects. All are also '87s, as is freshman goalie Matt Ward, who's backing up Schneider... Deerfield forward Brian Ciborowski, named tournament MVP, has asserted himself in all the Big Green games this season, and has seen his stock go up. Another DA senior forward, John Sales, has upped his game as well. Senior defenseman B.J. Mackasey, coming off an injury, had a solid tournament as well. Mackasey, the son of Blair Macakasey, chief scout for the Canadian Hockey Association and the man responsible for assembling Canada's National Junior Team, has been accepted at Princeton. Look for defenseman Chris Kelley to get his official acceptance at Harvard University shortly. He'll spend a year in the USHL before joining the Crimson in the fall of 2004... Hotchkiss got strong play from sophomore goaltender Zane Kalemba, a solid effort from the blueliners, and a good effort by the forwards to reach the title game... Nobles, a team that plays a three D/two forward alignment (makes lines charts look like hell), is a strong-skating team that will make noise in the Keller Division. For our money, junior defenseman Dan McGoff is the best '86 D in these parts (Lawrence's Topher Bevis and Thayer's Anthony Aiello are a couple more good ones.) ... Westminster had a rough go of it, winning only one game (over Milton) and finishing seventh in an eight-team field. However, they have one of the best prospects in the tournament in 14-year-old freshman forward Ben Smith, a 5'10", 178 lb. native of Avon, Conn. Smith, an '88 birthdate, has elite skills -- great hands, terrific instincts, and a good burst of speed. You'll be hearing a lot of him over the coming years...Salisbury had a disappointing weekend, only beating Milton (and barely at that) and finishing in sixth place. 6'1" senior forward T.J. Fox is getting college interest from Colgate, RPI, Union, Vermont, and likely a few others. .... The chowder was great as always -- so, too, was the vegetarian chili... Certainly, the new opt-in rule had a lot to do with it, but this year's Flood-Marr featured more NHL scouts than any prep tournament in a number of years. A lot of those scouts slid over to Saturday's Thayer-St. Sebastian's game, won by St. Seb's, 4-2, and saw 6'6", 225 lb. LC Brian Boyle notch a goal and an assist, stun Thayer D Greg Goldman with a heavy, clean hit and possibly play himself into the first round of the NHL draft -- that is, if he keeps playing like that, and were to opt in. '87 St. Seb's forward Chris Murphy -- a 5'9, 155 lb. sophomore from Arlington, Mass. -- has speed, hands, scoring ability, and is a player to watch. Junior Ted Brzek is always a gas to watch -- 5'5" but with speed to burn and a terrific competitive streak... The Avon Tournament didn't have the depth of the Flood-Marr. St. Paul's, which won it all again, has depth and some good experienced leadership in senior goalie Brad Shirley and senior defenseman and captain Bill LeClerc, a Yale recruit. Best prospect among the newcomers is big sophomore defenseman Mike Stuart, an '87 from Rome, NY, whom you may have already read of in these pages. Berkshire looked solid. 6'2", 185 lb. junior Robby Bellamy of Westfield, Mass. was terrific, hitting hard, and playing with passion and skill. Bellamy will draw a lot of Div. I attention -- is already, actually. His wing, Mike Cohen, a 5'9" senior from Buffalo, NY, is another Berkshire player to keep an eye on. The Bears have depth behind those two, so they'll score goals, but are average on the blueline. Avon lost a ton with the loss of goalie A.J. Bucchino, defenseman Casey Russell and forward Matt Burto to Des Moines (USHL), and defenseman Matt Lashoff to the NTDP. The Winged Beavers skill guy is small RW Sean Backman, a 5'8" sophomore from Greenwich, Conn.... Tabor had a hell of a time, mainly because they were five men short on account of two players (Lyle Gal and Dan Maturi) getting expelled from school for a drinking incident and several other similarly involved players sitting out the weekend. Diminutive sophomore forward Peter Lenes of Shelburne, Vermont was the one-man show on offense for the Seawolves. Back on the blueline, '87 sophomore Andrew Andricopoulos was good, not great, on the night we where there, but with his size, agility, and stick skills, he's a big-time prospect... Trinity-Pawling knocked off Avon to take third place, a bit of a surprise as T-P has had some lean yearrs lately. This group, though, played with a discipline that was clear from the get-go... The Lawrence-Groton Tournament had a big-time prospect in LW Chris Bourque, who, by the way, will be accelerating and entering BU in the fall of '04, just in time for the opening of the new ice palace on Comm Avenue. Cushing is talented, as always, but also young this year, and the Penguins, though they have skill on the blue line, lack a true mobile, puckhandling D to run the powerplay. There seems to be an overall shortage of such players this year, anyway... Of the youngsters on the blue line, 6'1" freshman Keith Yandle, an '86, impressed the most. Lawrence got nice performances from Patrick Kimall, a hard-nosed ball of energy who played for Belmont Hill last year; Topher Bevis, who has nice foot speed for a big guy; and sophomore goaltender Peter Vetri. The New England Jr. Coyotes looked awful in the game this typist saw, partly because several players were out with the flu, anbd the players who were there just never got on the beam. We'll see them again at the Tabor Tournament later this week. Culver was terrific, playing a solid, well-disckiplined brand of hockey. Most impressive were 5'8" goalie Shane Connelly of Chletenham, Penn. Connelly is already in his second season with the Culver varsity and plays with a ton of poise. So, too, does 6'0" defenseman Tom Zabkowicz, who was named tournament MVP, and saw his stock shoot up over the weekend.
Stampede's Briggs Chooses Gophers
Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) goaltender Kellen Briggs has committed to the University of Minnesota.
Briggs is a 5'11", 190 lb. native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he played for former University of Minnesota coach Brad Buetow's Vail Midget AAA program. He's in his third season with the Stampede.
Briggs, who is currently among USHL leaders with a 3.16 gaa and .914 save percentage in 20 games, is a 6/28/83 birthdate. He's a good student of the game, a technically sound goaltender who squares up to the puck well, and has gotten steadily better in each of his three seasons in the USHL. This year, according to Stampede coach/GM Tony Gasparini, he's "single-handedly won games for us."
The U, in Travis Weber and Justin Johnson, currently has two sophomore goalies. Weber has gotten two-thirds of the team's starts so far this season.
Briggs already has a connection to the Gophers, as current Minnesota assistant Bob Motzko recruited him to Sioux Falls during the latter's final season there (2000-01).
Top AJHL Goalie Chooses Badgers
Mike Brodeur, the top goalie in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, has committed to Wisconsin.
A 6'1", 175 lb. '83 birthdate playing with the Camrose Kodiaks, Brodeur leads the AJHL with a 20-7-1 record, a 2.42 gaa and a .929 save percentage.
Brodeur also drew interest from Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado College, and others.
Brodeur will fill the void left when senior Scott Kabotoff departs after this season, and will compete for playing time with sophomore Bernd Bruckler next season.
Brodeur is the fourth Kodiak to be heading to a Div. I school next September. The others are forwards Matt McKnight (Minnesota-Duluth) and Justin Perry (Findlay), and defenseman Dan Glover (Cornell).
2005 World Junior Championship Awarded to Grand Forks
Grand Forks, ND has been named host city of the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship, edging out Columbus, Ohio and Omaha, Nebraska for the honor.
The University of North Dakota will be hosting the event, with the primary games being played at the elaborate 11,800 seat Ralph Englestad Arena, which has two sheets of ice. In addition, another arena -- also named the Ralph Englestad Arena, and also a two-sheeter -- is being constructed in Thief River Falls, Minn., a one hour drive away. This arena will hold 3,800.
Grand Forks and Thief River falls have two years to prepare, as the tournament will get underway the day after Christmas 2004 and end the first week of January 2005.
Since the WJC started in 1977, the tournament has been held in the U.S. three times. In 1982, it was held in the Twin Cities; in 1989, Anchorage, Alaska; and in 1996, Boston. In Boston, a major city, the attendance was lousy. Grand Forks, though, is closer to the Canadian border, being 2 1/2 hours from Winnipeg, so it should do OK -- the WJC was held in Winnipeg in 1999 and drew extremely well.
The 2003 WJC gets underway Thursday in Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. In 2004, the tournament will be held in Finland.
Lindsay to Step Down After Season
Dedham, Mass. -- Before this afternoon's championship game at the Flood-Marr Tournament, Deerfield coach Jim Lindsay told his players that he would stepping down after the season, and handing over the team to Brendan Creagh, his assistant for the last five seasons.
Deerfield then went out, played a hard-nosed first period -- "one of the best periods I've ever seen a Deerfield team play," Lindsay said, and knocked off Hotchkiss, 2-1, to take the 38th annual Flood-Marr Tournament.
The win was the eighth Flood-Marr championship in Lindsay's 15-year tenure, a tournament record. All eight championships have come since 1990, including five in the last six seasons.
Lindsay, 50, will be staying on at Deerfield, where he works in the admissions office.
Lindsay, asked why he was stepping down, simply said that "after 15 years it was just time," and added that "Brendan will do a great job."
Creagh, 32, a former defenseman, played four years of high school hockey at Hanover (NH) High School, and followed that up with a PG year at Phillips Andover Academy. He played college hockey at the University of Vermont from 1989-93, where he played in the John LeClair -- Aaron Miller era. Creagh also played four years of minor league hockey, primarily in the ECHL.
As a side note, Lindsay's son, Matt, who graduated from Williams College on 2001, has already picked up the coaching torch from his father. The younger Lindsay is currently an assistant on Mark Taylor's staff at Hobart College.
We will have more later tonight -- in the USHR prep section -- on both the Flood-Marr and Lawrenceville tournaments. In the latter, Taft edged Canterbury, 2-0, with the final goal being an empty-netter.
Hillman Fired in Tri-City
Tri-City Storm (USHL) head coach and GM Jim Hillman was fired today.
The team was 8-13-3, though just 1-6-3 in the last ten games.
This was Hillman's third year with the club, which came into the league as an expansion franchise in 2000-01.
Hillman, 31, coached the club for 141 games and posted a 62-64-15 record.
The club will be run until the end of the season by assistant Regg Simon, who was given the position of interim head coach.Current assistant Tom Kowal will be in charge of recruiting.
Holy Angels on Probation
Holy Angels, the defending Class AA champion and currently No. 1 rated team in Class AA in Minnesota was reportedly on probation last season for violation of Minnesota State High School League bylaws and head coach Greg Trebil paid a $500 fine to the MSHSL according to a story Tuesday in the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.
In one of the most thorough investigations ever conducted by the MSHSL, the Richfield, Minn.-based Catholic school acknowledged in a letter dated in December of 2000 that Trebil played a role in captain practices and discouraged players from playing football. Captain practices in Minnesota are informal workouts supervised by team captains before the official starting date of full practices. Coaches are not allowed to attend captain practices. Trebil was placed on probation on Dec. 11, 2001.
The story also reported that an investigator hired by the MSHL also looked into recruiting allegations but none were found although the investigator found that Trebil pressured the school's administration into admitting one or more transfer players to play hockey.
Here are some other excerpts from the story:
-- Trebil apparently told athletic director Gary Rufsvold that he needs transfer students to maintain a Class AA program but he would coach a Class A program. Holy Angels has an enrollment of 585 in grades 10 through 12 and that would place it in Class A, but the school opts up to Class AA.
-- The investigator also interviewed other Holy Angels staff members and students, along with coaches, administrators, parents, and youth hockey associations, including Eagan, Eastview, Prior Lake, and Tartan.
-- Trebil, who has been the coach since 1996-97, and before that was a long-time coach of Bloomington-Jefferson bantam teams, said in the story: "All I know is that what I do, I've tried to do within the rules. That's all I can speak to."
The possibility of violations were first reported to the school's administration by staff members who were not affiliated with hockey. It should be noted that since the discovery of the allegations, the MSHSL has done no further investigations of the Holy Angels hockey program.
Holy Angels won the Class AA title last year after defeating fellow Catholic school Hill Murray in the championship game. The Stars are 3-0-1 this season and ranked No.1 in the Class AA metro and state poll.
G-Z Makes His Pick
6'1", 200 lb. LW Grant Goeckner-Zoeller of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) will be playing for Princeton University next season.
A 5/20/83 birthdate from the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, Goeckner-Zoeller, before coming to the USHL, played on the LA Jr. Kings with, among others, CC's Brett Sterling. He's a good playmaker, smart, and hard to knock off his skates, which makes him good down low and in the corners. He's worked hard on the defensive part of his game while in the USHL and it's paying dividends.
Last season, Goeckner-Zoeller was traded from Topeka to Rochester. This year, he's the second leading scorer on Sioux City -- three points behind Brandon Polich -- with a 10-12-22 line in 24 games played.
By the way, Goeckner-Zoeller's teammate at Sioux City, defenseman Sean Collins, will be visiting Ohio State in early January. Colorado College and Ferris State are also interested in the 6'1" native of Troy, Michigan.
McGuirk's Big Day
We missed Saturday's Milton at Gov. Dummer game, choosing the Cushing-Exeter tilt instead. In so doing, we missed Brian McGuirk's five-goal performance in leading GDA to a 7-3 win.
McGuirk, a 6'0", 185 lb. junior who'll be heading to Boston Univeristy in the fall of '04, scored once early in the the second period, which ended with the two teams locked in a 3-3 tie (despite the fact that GDA would wind up outshooting their guests 45-9 over the course of the game.)
In the third, McGuirk went to town, scoring four straight times against Milton goaltender David Scardella during a span of 7:33 as his team pulled away from a punchless Milton squad. Of McGuirk's five goals, two came on the power play.
While we weren't there, the Newburyport (Mass.) Daily News was, and have granted us permission to help ourselves to their account. Let's pick it up with the first of McGuirk's goals, which came at 6:24 of the third period when the Danvers, Mass. native "took a nice feed from Alex Berry and deked Scardella for the goal. Moments later McGuirk outhustled a Milton defenseman to a loose puck and again faked Scardella for his second of the period. With just under three minutes to play in the game Marc Borden crossed Milton's blueline and left a drop pass for McGuirk who one-timed a shot, beating Scardella to the glove side. With 1:03 left to go and GDA on the power play, McGuirk closed out the scoring by cleaning up a rebound from Chris Genovese's point shot.
"Scardella ended up with 38 saves and (GDA goaltender Dan) Galajda ended up with six. GDA next faces New England prep school hockey's two-time defending champion St. Sebastian's at home on Wednesdsay.
"Brian McGuirk obviously had a special day -- you don't see five-goal games too often and I can't recall ever seeing a player score four straight in one period. Despite generating so many chances in the first two periods, Brian gave us a spark when we needed it most. We took some ill-advised penalties and we were not playing very well in our own end. We faced a test being tied after two periods and I was pleased that we finished so strong. We can play better as a team and we will have to against St. Sebastian's on Wednesday," said coach Peter Kravchuk.
Note: In the box score for this game, which can be viewed on the '02-03 prep page, the goals are listed in reverse order by period. The database into which box scores are entered only recognizes elapsed time. If the time remaining in the period was entered, the scores will sort themselves in backward order. That was the case here. So please remember: for the scores to display correctly, do the math, and figure what the elapsed time would be. Thanks.
Holiday Tournament Schedules
The big prep weekend gets underway this Thursday with the start of the Exeter and Avon tournaments. The Flood-Marr, Lawrence-Groton, St. Sebastian's, and Barber Tournament get underway on Friday. On Saturday, the Lawrenceville Tournament faces off.
Click below for full schedules for all tournaments, including post-Christmas affairs like the Nichols, BB&N, Cushing, and Tabor tournaments.
St. Paul's School LD Bill LeClerc and Chicago Freeze (NAHL) goalie Matt Modelski will be headed to Yale next fall.
LeClerc, a 6'0", 185 lb. native of Acton, Mass., is a rugged defensive d-man with puck skills that enable him to help out offensively, too. In his first year at St. Paul's, LeClerc played forward. He missed practically all of another season with injury.
LeClerc is a 4/26/84 birthdate.
Modelski , a 5'11", 165 lb. native of Brighton, Mich., is in his second year for the Freeze. To date, he's appeared in 24 games and has a .897 save percentage and a 3.16 GAA. Modelski, who was cut twice by the Freeze before eventually sticking with the club, previously played Jr. B with the Flint Generals (CSHL).
Modelski is a 2/29/82 birthdate.
Cushing #1 in Season's First USHR Poll
Cushing Academy (5-0-0) holds the #1 spot in the season's first U.S.Hockey Report Prep Poll. To view the full poll, please go into our prep page, click on 'This Week's Poll' and scroll down to Dec. 15.
Our next poll will be Mon. Dec. 23. After a one-week break, the poll will be back on Mon.Jan. 6. Starting Jan. 12, the poll will return to its Sunday night slot and stay there until the end of the regular season.
Peltier to Gophers
Cedar Rapids Roughriders 6'0, 175 lb. LD Derek Peltier has committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2004-05 season.
Peltier, a native of Plymouth, Minn. and a 3/14/85 birthdate, plays for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL). Last season, he played for Armstong High School in Robbinsdale, Minn.
Peltier is a good skater with good puck skills. He's solid on his skates and makes good decisions. While he lacks flashiness, he's very poised and steady -- a well-rounded d-man who plays a strong, confident game.
In 26 games with Cedar Rapids, Peltier has a 3-12-15 line with 26 pims.
U.S. Under-17 Team forward Brandon Scero has committed to Ohio State for the fall of '04.
Scero, 6'0" and 196 lbs., is tied with Tommy Fritsche as the fourth-leading scorer on the Under-17 Team with a 10-6-16 line in 32 games played.
Even though Scero was born in Toledo, Ohio to a family of Ohio State fans and spent his early years there, he's lived most of his life in Canton, Michigan and, yes, he hated Ohio State -- until now. Scero came around to the Buckeyes quickly, saying that halfway through his recent visit he knew OSU was where he wanted to go.
Scero had scheduled visits with Michigan State, Bowling Green, and Miami but chose Ohio State.
Scero, who played for Compuware '86 last season, joins forwards Ryan Kesler and Danny Knapp as Michiganders who've chosen the Buckeyes.
-- 6'7", 247 lb. RD Arthur Femenella of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) has committed to the University of Vermont. Femenella, a defensive defenseman, has an 0-3-3 line and a +4 in 20 games with Sioux City this season. He also has 100 pims and has no problem dropping the gloves.
A native of Annandale, NJ, Femenella played in the US National Team Development Program for two years, arriving in the fall of '98 highly touted because of his size, long reach, and his stride. However, he was mistake-prone in his own end, wasn't highly recruited by Div. I schools, and went to the USHL, where he's now in his third year and coming into his own.
A sixth round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2001, Femenella attended Tampa Bay's rookie camp in the late summer, and came back to Sioux City with increased confidence.
In September, we wrote in these pages that "scouts and recruiters have seen so much of Femenella for so long that some have become over-critical to the point of looking for weaknesses where none exist. Yes, Femenella does make bad decisions, errant passes, etc., a tendency that has scared off colleges in the past. However, that is really the only thing holding him back. At 6'7", 247 lbs., he has tremendous size and uses it. He's also a great skater for his size, smooth on his edges. Femenella just needs to play a little more conservatively and not try to do it all. If he shows he can do that consistently over a whole season, he could be a player yet."
Femenella led the Musketeers, the USHL's most-penalized team (and Clark Cup champion) last year, with 215 pims, making himself the second-most penalized player in the league, not too far behind Cedar Rapids' Nate Meyers. We think Femenella could be a sleeper for the Catamounts. He'll be the biggest recruit in Div. I next season, edging out BC-bound Brian Boyle.
-- Dartmouth College received a commitment this week from Tanner Glass, a 6'2", 200 lb. LW from Craven, Saskatchewan (great town name, eh?). Glass, an 11/29/83 birthdate, is playing for the Penticton Panthers (BCHL). A power forward who puts up points and finishes his checks, Glass is a tough, strong kid who plays a very aggressive style. In 32 games, he has a 15-25-40 line with 108 pims.
-- Boston Jr. Bruins 6'0", 170 lb. LD Bobby Gates has committed to Quinnipiac. Gates, a 1/16/84 who is in his PG year, is a native of Cranston, RI and a hybrid type of D who is solid defensively but is also sure-handed and chips in offensively. In 37 games for the Junior Bruins, Gates has a 5-11-16 line and 12 pims.
-- Danville Wings (NAHL) LC Aaron Clarke has committed to Niagara. Clarke, a 5'9", 170 lb. native of Peterborough, Ontario, has played 18 games with Danville and has a 3-10-13 line with 73 pims. Clarke, who played in the Provincial League last season, is a quick, gritty type of forward.
Lock Monsters Tournament Gets Underway This Morning
The EJHL's Lowell Lock Monsters Tournament gets underway this morning at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, Mass. This year's tournament features 20 teams, including all 12 EJHL members. NY Apple Core and the New England Jr. Coyotes are in different pools so can not meet until Sunday's playoffs. Last weekend in Enfield, Conn. the Coyotes took a pair from Apple Core, winning a 1-0 forfeit Sat. night and then taking a 6-5 OT decision Sunday afternoon. Saturday night's game was noteworthy for the fact that the referee never showed up and an inexperienced replacement had to be pressed into service. Apple Core coach Henry Lazar felt the referee failed to control the game and, after a scoreless first period, decided that the situation was unsafe for his players and didn't send his squad out for the second. The Coyotes went out, however, and when the puck was dropped broke in on a 5-on-0, scored, and won a forfeit. Lazarr was unhappy that the forfeit was allowed to stand, feeling that the league should have picked up the game at a later date with a more experienced referee.
Boston University center Brian McConnell was named this afternoon to the U.S. National Junior Team, winning the spot that became vacant when BC's Patrick Eaves was injured in the Eagles' 2-2 tie with Maine last Saturday night at Conte Forum.
Barring further injuries, here is the final 22-man squad that leaves for Nova Scotia next Thursday.:
Forwards (12): Dustin Brown (Guelph -- OHL); Gino Guyer (Minnesota), Dwight Helminen (Michigan); Chris Higgins (Yale); Ryan Kesler (Ohio State);Greg Moore (Maine); Eric Nystrom (Michigan); Patrick O'Sullivan (Mississauga -- OHL); Zach Parise (North Dakota); Ryan Shannon (BC); Brett Sterling (CC); and Barry Tallackson (Minnesota).
Defensemen (7): Tim Gleason (Windsor -- OHL); Matt Greene (North Dakota), Matt Jones (North Dakota); Mark Stuart (CC); Ryan Suter (U.S. Under-18 Team); Ryan Whitney (BU); and James Wisniewski (Plymouth -- OHL).
Goaltenders (2): Bobby Goepfert (Providence); and Jimmy Howard (Maine).
McConnell a Leading Candidate -- Again
As many of you many know, Boston College freshman forward Patrick Eaves suffered a fracture of the C-5 vertebra in Saturday night's 2-2 tie with Maine at Conte Forum.
Eaves, who is leading the Eagles in goals with 10, and is in a three-way tie with older brother, Ben, and Ryan Shannon in total points (17), is wearing a neck brace and will be out of action for six weeks -- at least. The break was clean, which will aid the recovery process.
The injury was a flukey one. Early in the third period, Maine senior forward Robert Liscak lost his stick in the neutral zone as Boston College was taking the play into the Maine end. Liscak, without his stick, stayed with his man, Chris Collins, and wound up in the corner trying to yank away the BC forward's stick. Collins, though, wasn't letting go, and Eaves, skating backwards, wound up getting clotheslined by it.
Eaves, besides missing a chunk of BC's schedule, will also miss the World Junior Championship, which gets underway Dec. 26 in Nova Scotia. The U.S. staff, which consists of head coach Lou Vairo, assistants Ron Rolston, Jeff Sauer, and Mike Hastings; and director of player personnel Lew Mongelluzzo, now has to scramble to come up with a forward to fill Eaves' spot.
The leading candidates are Danny Fritsche (Sarnia Sting -- OHL), Brian McConnell (BU), Robbie Shremp (Mississauga Ice Dogs -- OHL), and Lee Falardeau (Michigan State).
Look for an announcement as early as tomorrow or Thursday.
Early indicators point to McConnell getting tabbed for the spot. The Norfolk, Mass. native was a leading candidate for the last two spots, but had a subpar weekend in BU's back-to-back losses at Cornell Nov. 30-Dec. 1, which knocked him out of the picture. The last two spots went to Gino Guyer (Minnesota) and Greg Moore (Maine).
Now, McConnell has a second chance. He played well on Saturday vs. UMass and will be watched closely tonight as the Terriers travel to RPI.
Sauer has gone into Ontario to watch Fritsche, an '85, and Schremp, an '86.
Age and experience count for a lot in junior team picks -- you've probably heard scouts refer to it as a "19-year-old's tournament" -- and with that in mind McConnell who, like Falardeau, is an '83, looks strong. McConnell, who, along with Justin Maiser, leads BU with 12 points in 15 games, has more to offer offensively than Falardeau. Both McConnell and Falardeau have extensive international experience from playing in the NTDP together. McConnell is not a strong skater, but in Halifax and Sydney the sheets are small. Also, the U.S. forwards are on the small, highly-skilled side of the equation, so McConnell's 6'1", 190 lb. frame and his willingness to bang and play the pro-style game will help his chances.
All four players are being discussed, however, so check back.
By the way, this is the second straight season a player selected to the squad has suffered a December injury and has had to be replaced. Last year, Harvard defenseman Noah Welch had to be scratched. He was replaced by Michigan wing Eric Nystrom. Unfortunately for Welch, last season was his final year of junior eligibility so he was never able to play on the big stage. Eaves, on the other hand, is an '84 and will still be eligible for WJC play next time around, though that fact is probably not particularly consoling to the young center right now .
With one more to go, here are the 21 members of the team to date:
Forwards (12): Dustin Brown (Guelph -- OHL); Dwight Helminen (Michigan); Chris Higgins (Yale); Ryan Kesler (Ohio State); Eric Nystrom (Michigan); Patrick O'Sullivan (Mississauga -- OHL); Zach Parise (North Dakota); Ryan Shannon (BC); Brett Sterling (CC); Barry Tallackson (Minnesota); Greg Moore (Maine); and Gino Guyer (Minnesota).
Defensemen (7): Tim Gleason (Windsor -- OHL); Matt Jones (North Dakota); Mark Stuart (CC); Ryan Suter (U.S. Under-18 Team); Ryan Whitney (BU); James Wisniewski (Plymouth -- OHL); and Matt Greene (North Dakota).
Goaltenders (2): Jimmy Howard (Maine); and Bobby Goepfert (Providence).
Note: Defenseman Whitney, and forwards Brown, Helminen, Higgins, and Nystrom were members of the 2002 US National Junior Team. Defenseman Gleason was a member of the 2001 US National Junior Team and, though invited, elected not to play in last winter's tournament.
Pre-tournament schedule for the U.S. World Junior Team:
Thurs. Dec. 19 -- Arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Fri-Sat. Dec. 20-21 -- AM and PM practices.
Sun. Dec. 22 -- AM practice.
Mon. Dec. 23 -- Pre-game skate in Halifax. Exhibition vs. Sweden in New Glasgow (7 pm). Bus to Sydney.
Tues. Dec. 24 -- PM practice.
Wed. Dec. 25 -- PM pracatice.
Thurs. Dec. 26 -- Tournament begins.
U.S. Game Schedule:
Group A: Russia, Switzerland, United States, Slovakia, and Belarus.
Group B: Canada, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Germany.
Thurs. Dec. 26 -- US vs. Russia at Sydney (6 pm local; 5 pm EST).
Sat. Dec. 28 -- Switzerland vs. US at Sydney (4 pm local; 3pm EST).
Mon. Dec.30 -- U.S. vs. Belarus at Sydney (2 pm local; 1 pm EST).
Tues. Dec. 31 -- Slovakia vs. US at Sydney (2 pm local; 1 pm EST).
Thurs. Jan. 2 -- TBA (Qualification Round) at Halifax.
Fri. Jan. 3 -- TBA (Semifinal Round) at Halifax.
Sat. Jan. 4 -- TBA (Fifth/Sixth Place Games) at Halifax.
Sun. Jan. 5 -- TBA (Bronze/Gold Medal games) at Halifax.
Myers to UVM
Former Catholic Memorial star Chris Myers, now taking a PG year at Salisbury, has committed to the University of Vermont.
Myers, who helped lead CM to the finals of last springs Super 8 (where the Knights bowed to BC High, 2-0), was the MVP of the Catholic Conference. His game is based on grit and hard work. A 6'0", 175 lb. RW from South Boston, Mass., Myers posted a 23-29-52 line for CM. A 9/21/83 birthdate, he began his PG hockey campaign today as Salisbury, under former CM forward Dan Donato, knocked off Hotchkiss, 4-0.
Earlier this fall, Myers, a goaltender, helped lead Salisbury into the prep scocer playoffs.
A Bright Future for Minnesota High School Sophs
Bloomington Kennedy's 6'2", 180 lb. rangey centerman Ryan Stoa heads up the list of Minnesota high school sophomores this season. An '87, Stoa has a degree of finesse rarely seen in kids of his size and age, combining a long skating stride with soft hands and excellent playmaking ability. A standout at the Select 15 Festival in August, Stoa has perhaps the best long-term potential of any Minnesota sophomore. His short-term potential isn't bad, either: Stoa notched two goals and an assist to lead Kennedy to a 5-2 win over Armstrong on Tuesday.
Stoa, who played bantams last year, is not alone. This year, there are a number of talented sophomores -- and freshman, too. It's a good age group, perhaps the strongest the state has had in a couple of years.
Let's look at the top forwards first. Right there with Stoa, though he's an '86 and a little over a year older, is Justin Bostrom of Moundsview, a sophomore center who's the younger brother and teammate of senior forward Kent Bostrom, one of the top high school players in the state. We'll say it right here: Justin has the greater upside. What Justin lacks in size -- he's 5'9", 165 -- he makes up for in smarts. An excellent playmaker who sees the ice extremely well, the younger Bostrom utilizes hard accurate passes. One of just a few sophs who played a full season as a freshman last season, Bostrom finished with 48 points, the only freshman in the state's top 50 scoring leaders. If he stays for the full three years, Bostrom should break the school career scoring record set over 25 years ago by Rob McClanahan, who went on to play for Herb Brooks with the Gophers and the 1980 Olympic Team.
An '87 forward who's a newcomer to high school hockey and already making a splash is Robby Dee, who played for the Armstrong Bantams last winter, but is now with Breck's varsity. Dee, from Plymouth, Minn., is a smooth-skating centerman. Dee, 5'11" and 155 lbs., proved at the Select 15 Festival that he's one of the tops in his age group, showing an ability to both make a play and finish. Last Saturday, Dee figured in both goals (1g,1a) as Breck bowed to Chaska 4-2.
Chad Rau, who played bantams last season, has looked good for Eden Prairie in early scrimmages. Rau is a good skater with smarts, good hands, agility, a hard shot, and plenty of competitiveness. A dynamic player, Rau appears physically stronger than he did just a few months ago at the Select 15 Festival. An early '87, Rau is 5'10 and 155 lbs.
Ryan Thang, an '87 who also played bantams last season, has moved up to the Edina HS varsity, where he lit it up in pre-season scrimmages. Thang, 5'11 and 175 lbs., has a nose for the net, and can shoot it. He's tough, strong, skates hard both ways, and is smart, too. Like Rau, he's dynamic, but cut more from power forward cloth.
Like Stoa, Dee, and Rau, Thang is a newcomer to high school hockey, and will be closely watched.
An '86 sophomore who played as a freshman at Breck last season is 5'7", 145 lb. Andrew Birkholtz. He more than just played -- he put up 28 points, which is not too shabby.
Other sophomore forwards who'll help their teams include Matt Ambroz (New Prague HS), Jon Ammerman (Moorhead HS), Mike Pilot (S. St. Paul), Michael Gergen (Hastings), Matt Woods (Wayzata), and Trent Graham (Totino-Grace).
On defense, the soph to watch is Brian Lee, a 6'2", 175 lb. right shot who played bantams last winter and will be with the Spuds varsity this winter. Lee is a very smooth, steady defenseman with good puckhandling skills and an offensive dimension. There's a lot of upside here.
Right up with him is Taylor Chorney, a RD from Hastings who last winter played bantam hockey under his dad Marc Chorney, who played at North Dakota and in the NHL with Pittsburgh and LA. The younger Chorney, who's mending from a fall injury, is smallish at 5'8", 150 lbs. but has excellent passing and stick skills, and great moves. A fun player to watch.
Mike Phillippi a 5'10", 150 lb. RD who played for the Hill Murray JV last winter, has good hands, patience, and poise.
Chris Babich and Carl Babich are twins playing up at Eveleth-Gilbert for former UVM star Craig Homola. It's a little hard to separate them when it comes to ability. Both are physical, competitive, and have good all-around tools. Chris led Eveleth in scoring as a freshman while Carl was just five points behind. They are both 5'11", 150 lbs. Take your pick.
Up at Silver Bay is 6'2", 175 lb. Jesse Downey, an '86 sophomore who skates well for his size and can contribute offensivively.
Other sophs to watch include Brian Connelly, a skilled 5'8", 155 pounder from Bloomington Jefferson; Jared Hummel, an '86 at Holy Angels; and Brett Kettlekamp at Breck.
For the record, we should point out that Nate Hagemo, Holy Angels' superb young defenseman last season, is with the National Team Development Program. A late '86, Hagemo would have headed up this list of sophomore D had he stayed home.
The best sophomore goalie we've seen in Minnesota is 5'11" Jeff Frazee, a backup who got into six games for Holy Angels last season. The Burnsville native was consistently good at the Select 15s. On the depth chart, Frazee will again be behind Ben Luth, who's now a senior. .
A final note: the state of Minnesota is so big, and there are so many far-flung high schools, that there will likely be one or more players -- not stars, perhaps, but good solid prospects -- who just come out of nowhere and make an impression . So look for this list to grow.
Breck Boasts Top Freshman -- and 8th Grader, too
Moving on to Minnesota high school freshmen and 8th graders, the players to watch are forwards Peter Mueller and Jordan Fulton, both of whom are at Breck.
Mueller, an '88 and an 8th grader, is already pushing 6'0" and 190 lbs. A superstar in the making, Mueller could end up in the 6'2"-6'3" range. He's strong, fast, sees the ice well, has a nose for the net, and a huge shot. This fall, Mueller was frequently flown out to Detroit to play for HoneyBaked.
Fulton, a 6'0", 175 lb. freshman LW at Breck, is the younger brother of teammate Dustin Fulton, a junior and one of the best forwards in the state. Jordan, while not quite as dynamic as his older brother, has excellent top-end skill and could turn out to be every bit as good. He has excellent hands, sees the ice very well, and has great playmaking ability. A native of Brooklyn Park, Minn., Fulton played for the Champlin Park Bantams last season.
In defenseman Drake Herd, an '87, Breck has yet another solid freshman.
Dowzak Impresses at Shattuck
We didn't include Shattuck-St. Mary's when talking about the top young Minnesota high school kids because it's not a high school. It's a private boarding school which draws from anywhere it wants. But we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that Shattuck has both the state's top sophomore and freshman defensemen.
The soph, of course, is Jack Johnson, who is perhaps the top '87 in the country. Johnson is headed to the NTDP and then, in the fall of '05, the University of Michigan. We've written about him on several occasions, so there's no big secret here. If Johnson isn't the best '87 US-born defense prospect, he's no worse than second best (we also like Rochester, NY native Steven Spade, who's playing in the Provincial League for the Georgetwn Raiders).
The top freshman defenseman in Minnesota is 6'4", 208 lb. Tyson Dowzak, a 14-year-old -- he's an '88 -- from Fergus Falls. Dowzak, who plays for the J.P. Parise-coached Tier I Bantam Team (currently undefeated at 27-0-3 and pointing toward Nationals), already has pro size. Now, it's just a matter of waiting as he grows into his body. Dowzak has good hands -- he's the leading scorer among the Shattuck d-men with a 6-21-27 line in 27 games played.
Note: It has nothing to do with Minnesota, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that the Shattuck Bantam's leading scorer is Tyler Ruegsegger who leads his team by a country mile. In 27 games, Ruegsegger has posted a 36-40-76 line. Also an '88, Ruegsegger is 5'10", 143 lbs. and a native of Lakewood, Colorado, a state which has really started to pump out more and more good players -- particularly over the last five years or so. As for Ruegsegger, you can count on hearing a lot more about his exploits as the years roll along.