Established 1996
 
 

 

 

 

1/31/03

Lewiston Again?

On Tuesday, the Lewiston (Maine) City Council will vote on a financial package that, if approved, could pave the way for the Sherbrooke Castors (QMJHL) to move into the Central Maine Civic Center in time for the start of next season.

Matt McKnight, the Castors vice president, told the Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal that the team was originally looking to move to Prince Edward Island. When that plan fell through, ownership turned its focus on Lewiston, a city of 37,000 located about 35 miles northeast of Portland.

Central Maine Civic Center owner Roger Theriault has been trying to lure a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team to Lewiston for years. In 1996, the league approved an expansion franchise for the city, but the deal fell through just before the deadline. Two years ago, an unnamed QMJHL team was considering moving to the city, but that too, fell through.

The financial incentives the city councilors will be presented with on Tuesday are significant and include a loan of up to $2 million to Theriault for renovation of the Civic Center, which would get a new rink surface, with new boards and glass, plus an increase in seating capacity from 2,635 to 4,000, new concession areas, new administration offices and locker rooms, and paving for the dirt parking lot (which, by the way, we've always found pleasingly funky.)

The Central Maine Civic Center has a few miles on it. It's most glorious moment came in 1965 when Muhammad Ali KO'd Sonny Liston in "Clay-Liston II." The fight had originally been scheduled for Boston Garden in November of 1964, but Ali -- he was Ali by then, though the press still insisted on calling him Cassius Clay -- came down with abdominal pains and had to be hospitalized. The rematch was scheduled six months later, on May 25, 1965 in Lewiston. Liston had a bad night, felled by what some still insist was a phantom punch 1:12 into the first round. Singer Robert Goulet had a bad night, too -- he forgot the words to the National Anthem.

Getting back to the issue at hand, the QMJHL will reportedly be voting on Feb. 13 whether to approve moving the team out of Canada. There has not been a QMJHL team in the U.S. since 1984 when the ill-fated Plattsburgh (NY) Pioneers joined the league, went 0-16-1 and folded by Thanksgiving. The aptly-named Pioneers didn't have much of a chance, being forced by the league to employ a roster entirely of U.S. kids. As the record indicated, their early-season disbanding was a mercy killing. Most of the team consisted of former New Prep (Cambridge, Mass.) players. New Prep, too, eventually went defunct.

The league now feels that a presence in New England is important, particularly since the league has exclusive player draft rights to the region. There are a handful of New Englanders in the Q now, including Josh Hennessey, Jordan LaVallee, and Evan Shaw (Quebec); Jesse Lane and Justin LaVerdiere (Victoriaville), and Jimmy Sharrow (Halifax).

The Lewiston City Council's formal vote comes in late February.

 

1/30/03

Top Minnesota Prospects

By clicking on the link below, you'll be brought to our annual list of the top prospects currently playing high school hockey in Minnesota. There are 121 players on the list, which encompasses students in the 8th to 12th grades.

When we say "prospects," we're thinking of a range of players. For starters, there are twenty players we singled out from the pack and gave an "A" rating to -- these are the players we believe have the greatest upside, and they are the only players we gave a ranking to. They are: F Jon Ammerman, Moorhead sophomore; D Chris Anderson, White Bear Lake senior; F Brent Borgen, Mahtomedi senior; F Sidney Crosby, Shattuck sophomore; F Robby Dee, Breck sophomore; F Nate Dey, North St. Paul senior; D Tysen Dowzak, Shattuck Bantam; D Joe Finley, Edina freshman; G Jeff Frazee, Holy Angels sophomore; D Blake Friesen, Benilde junior; F Dustin Fulton, Breck junior; F Jordan Fulton, Breck freshman; D Jack Johnson, Shattuck sophomore; F Jimmy Kilpatrick, Holy Angels senior; F Peter Mueller, Breck 8th grader; D Rob Page, Blake junior; D Matt Smaby, Shattuck senior; F Drew Stafford, Shattuck senior; F Ryan Stoa, Bloomington Kennedy sophomore; and F Blake Wheeler, Breck sophomore.

Of the 101 remaining players on the list, all have shown something that makes them worthy of a close look by Tier I and college recruiters, whether for next year, or, in the case of younger players, for the years ahead. Please consider it a finder's list.

Minnesota is a large state, with a ton of high schools with hockey programs, many tucked away in small communities far from the Twin Cities, so you can be sure there will be additional names when we update the list later on. In addition, we're missing some stray pieces of info on some players -- birthdates, etc. -- so if anyone has that, please feel free to e-mail it to us at information@ushr.com

We included top Shattuck-St. Mary's players on the list even though Shattuck is a prep school and not a high school. However, it's in Minnesota, so that's good enough for our purposes.

The list is an Excel document. If you are planning to print it out, it's four pages long.

 

Minnesota High School Players to Watch

 

1/29/03

Littler to Get Nod Today?

The Tri-City Storm (USHL) will be holding a press conference at 11:00 am today and are expected to announced that Bliss Littler, who resigned as head coach/GM of the Topeka ScareCrows (USHL) last week, will be named general manager of the Storm for the rest of this season and then, after the season, will take on combined coach/GM duties.

Tri-City, which holds the USHL's worst winning percentage (.385) is in last place in the league's West Division with a 13-22-4 record.

On December 19, the Storm fired head coach/GM Jim Hillman.

The club is currently being run on an interim basis by Regg Simon, who was Hillman's assistant. Simon is assisted by Tom Kowal.

Update: It's a done deal.

 

1/28/03

Adrahtas Pens a Winner

Most hockey biographies we come across seem to be written -- intentionally or otherwise -- for ten-year-old readers. Recently, though, Albion Press released Glenn Hall: The Man They Call Mr. Goalie by Tom "Chico" Adrahtas and it's a winner.

Adrahtas, the head coach of the Danville Wings (NAHL), grew up in Chicago, where his father owned and operated a Henry's Drive-In hamburger stand directly across the street from Chicago Stadium. There, as an eight-year-old, Adrahtas first felt, in his words, "the magic" that was Hall and the Black Hawks of the early '60s. It was a magic that led Adrahtas to become a goalie himself, and then to continue on to a long career as a highly successful coach.

In a sense, then, the book represents the payment of a debt owed, and Adrahtas, writing with veneration but without lapsing into hagiography, neatly dovetails the life of Hall and the Hawks with snippets of his growing up and discovering hockey for himself. We get Original Six characters such as Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Jacques Plante and the star-crossed Terry Sawchuck as well as the tight-fisted, all-powerful owners whose whims could pretty much dictate a player's career, particularly for goalies. This, remember, was the era when clubs only carried one netminder. That, of course, meant that there were only six NHL goalies in the world, which made for one pretty exclusive club -- if you were lucky enough to stick around for a while. Hall not only stuck around, but piled great season on top of great season and played right into the expansion era, becoming the key to the St. Louis Blues instant success. As for Adrahtas, he continued following Hall, driving south from Chicago to watch his favorite player.

What separates this book from other hockey biographies is the personal angle. Adrahtas cares about Hall and wants the reader to see what he sees and to understand the man behind the legend. Adrahtas writes clearly and well and as the book, his first, moves forward, you sense the author gaining confidence in his ability to tell the story. There's a slight tentativeness when it comes to Adrahtas' personal story, perhaps because Adrahtas clearly wants the focus to be squarely on Hall (even if Hall was never one comfortable in the spotlight). However, some of the book's strongest and most poignant moments come when Adrahtas is writing about what Hall meant to him as a youth and what it was like to get to really know the goaltending great, living since retirement on his Saskatchewan farm. In short, as the book goes along you'll find yourself getting as interested in the author's story as much as the subject's.

Adrahtas relates some intersting tidbits. We hear about Hall's legendary habit of vomiting before games, of course, but we also get the more obscure.For example, when Hall first broke into the NHL as a member of the Red Wings in the 1950's, the Gordie Howe-led team sipped hot tea in the locker room to calm nerves between periods. We learn not only of Hall's pioneering use of the butterfly technique -- and what others around hockey at the time thought of it -- but other subtler innovations, such as Hall's tapping the posts with his stick and glove to help reset himself after a save.

We also learn of Hall's hands-off approach to practice, which was more just an unwillingness to put himself -- helmetless, maskless, and with padding insufficient to Bobby Hull's slaphot -- in harm's way. For Hall, it was enough on his nerves just to face NHL shooters in games. He wasn't going to waste his energy or hurt himself in practice. Adrahtas also reminds us how small goalies were in that era. While Hall was big for the era at 5'11, 180 lbs, his contemporaries were often much smaller. Gump Worsley was just 5'8"; Roger Crozier was 5'7"; and Charlie Hodge was just 5'6".

Adrahtas, who rarely lapses into sports cliches, does a good job explaining exactly what long-gone players of the early '60s did that made them stand apart. While most serious hockey fans have heard of Montreal Canadiens' Hall of Fame defenseman Doug Harvey, for example, few under age 40 can picture his game. Adrahtas not only can picture Harvey, but he can bring his game on the ice to life. It's something Adrahtas does for countless players. To anyone with a special interest in the NHL of the '50s and '60s, this book is must.

Our only complaint -- and it's a minor one, for some other readers may find it a strength -- is that game accounts get a little lengthy at times. Clearly, Adrahtas delighted in going back over old film and written accounts and reliving some of the huge games of the era, and, by doing so, helped bring an era back to life. But Adrahtas strongest suit is his empathy for his subject, and his ability to convey the essence of the man. Adrahtas is an excellent hockey coach and his success with Team Illinois and the Danville Wiings is well known. Now, he has another feather in his cap. He's a good writer, and we hope he finds the time to keep writing.

Link to Amazon.com

 

1/24/03

BU's Sabo Facing Assault Charges

According to reports in both today's Boston Herald and Boston Globe, Boston University senior forward and assistant captain John Sabo will be arraigned next month on charges that he allegedly beat a man outside a local bar five months ago.

Sabo is accused of beating and kicking the alleged victim, who is unnamed but identified as a 21-year-old West Roxbury man, at 1:40 am on Sept. 22 outside The Avenue, a bar at Commonwealth and Harvard Avenues, not far from Boston University's west campus. The complaint charges Sabo with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a shod foot), assault and battery, threats, and mayhem. The charges were issued following a hearing before a Brighton District Court clerk magistrate.

Sabo is scheduled for arraignment on Tues. February 4th.

"This happened two months ago and we looked into it thoroughly," BU coach Jack Parker told the Herald. "There was no reason to take any disciplinary action against John Sabo."

Parker told the Globe that the alleged victim is also a BU student.

Sabo, 5'8, 174 lbs., is from Harding Township, NJ. An assistant captain with the Terriers, he has a 9-8-17 line in 25 games. Before coming to BU, Sabo played for the U.S. National Team Development Program and Cushing Academy.

Update 2/4/03: Today's scheduled arraignment was postponed. Becase Sabo was reportedly not properly notified of his probable cause hearing, the court granted his request for a hearing at a later date.

 

1/24/03

Topeka Head Coach Littler Resigns

Bliss Littler, head coach of the Topeka ScareCrows (USHL) has resigned from that position, and his assistant, Tom Rudrud, has taken over as interim head coach, effective immediately.

In a team-issued statement that appeared on the USHL web site last night, Topeka owner Butch Johnson said, "We are extremely disappointed that Bliss chose to leave the team at this point of the season, especially with the quality of the team and our position in the standings. He was not asked to leave, nor were there plans to replace him."

These are disingenuous remarks.

Littler has guided a ScareCrows team remarkably barren of high-profile names to a 20-12-3 record, including a sweep last weekend of Des Moines, Sioux City, and Waterloo. Littler is one of junior hockey's most-respected coaches, both for his work behind the bench and as a GM.

So why would he leave? What the news release failed to mention is that Johnson has just sold the ScareCrows to a group out of St. Louis for a price reportedly in the area of one million dollars. While there is no "official" word that the team will be moved, attendance in Topeka has been lousy, and the ScareCrows lease at their arena expires at the end of this season. On top of all that, former University of North Dakota and NHL defenseman Rick Zombo, who recently was head coach of the since-relocated St. Louis Sting (NAHL), has been reported to be tight with the new ownership group and will likely be coaching the franchise when the fall comes around.

Littler, despite his success -- he leaves the ScareCrows, a second-year team in the league, with a 45-42-9 record -- would have been out of picture, a lame duck.

There have been reports of aspects of the team's sale undercutting Littler's ability to do his job, enough so that it may have made it unpalatable for him to remain on in Topeka.

Littler has been around junior hockey for awhile, has had success, and is not one to burn bridges, so don't look for him to say anything negative here, but it's a known fact that he was under pressure from ownership to draw more fans than the roughly 1,700 Topekans who showed up for home games.

"I've been here 29 months and I've been unable to convince the people of Topeka that the USHL is worth watching," Littler told a reporter from the Topeka Capital-Journal. Worrying about attendance shouldn't have been Littler's job, and he shouldn't be beating himself up for it. Being a coach and GM in the USHL, where you basically have to turn over the bulk of your roster every season, is a 12-months-a-year job. Putting attendance pressure on top of that is an unfair burden.

Don't be surprised to find Littler as the the next head coach of the Tri-City Storm (USHL).

 

1/21/03

Ftorek Recovering

5'8" Taft star forward Casey Ftorek, who has been seriously ill and hospitalized for two-and-a-half weeks, is on the road to recovery, though it's unlikely he'll be playing hockey for quite a while.

This month alone, Ftorek has lost over twenty pounds off his playing weight of 165.

Doctors, suspecting he had some kind of bacterial infection, were finally able to trace it to his liver. They have only just begun to gain control of the infection this week, though.

Taft, undefeated this season with Ftorek, the son of former Needham (Mass.) HS star and current Boston Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek, in the lineup, have stumbled in January, with only one win in their last four games. Included in this stretch was a 2-1 loss to Salisbury, a 12-3 win over Loomis, a 3-0 loss to Canterbury, and a 3-3 tie with Lawrenceville. Taft should have taken that last game, but Lawrenceville senior goalie Matt Gluck, a 6'2" '84 birthdate, had a huge game, kicking out over 60 shots.

While we're on Taft medical affairs, 6'2", 195 lb. junior defenseman J.D.McCabe, who cracked his L5 vertebrae in an August 19th car accident in his hometown of Jamison, PA., has begun to skate and practice, though he still can't do full contact drills.

McCabe only recently has been able to shed the brace he was wearing 12 hours a day.

He's been working hard in the weight room, and hopes to be able to play this season, though that sounds a little optimistic.

 

1/20/03

Tabor D Commits to NTDP

Tabor Academy sophomore defenseman Andrew Andricopoulos has committed to the U.S. National Team Development Program for next year, where he will play for the U.S. Under-17 Team.

Andricopoulos, 6'1", 170 lbs. and a right shot, has strong skating and puckhandling skills and can play as physically as the situation calls for. Naturally, he's a top Div. I prospect for a few years down the line.

A native of Groveland, Mass., which is about 30 miles northwest of Boston, Andricopoulos is in his second year at Tabor. He's a 4/1/87 birthdate.

Andricopoulos is the second defenseman committed to the NTDP for next year, joining Shattuck's Jack Johnson.

Five forwards are committed: Jack Skille (Verona, Wisc. HS); Bobby Ryan (HoneyBaked 87), Scott Birnstill (NY Apple Core -- EJHL); Nathan Gerbe (River City -- USHL); and Phil Kessel (Madison Midget AAA).

No goaltenders are committed.

 

1/19/03

Best of Marlies Tournament

In the better-late-than-never department, here is our Top 10 from the Toronto Marlies Bantam Tournament, held between Christmas and New Year's in lovely Etobicoke, Ontario. When we say Top 10, we, this being the U.S. Hockey Report, are referring to American kids. Anyway, out of the quadrillion teams up there, these are the Yanquis who stood out the most for us. They are not listed in any particular order, though Ryan gets our nod as the standout. All are '87s unless otherwise noted.

Bobby Ryan -- A 6'1" forward from HoneyBaked, formerly with the LA Kings Bantams, whose upside is huge. He's a big, strong power forward who puts up points.

Kyle Lawson -- A 5'10" RD with HoneyBaked who is strong on his skates, physical, and as good defensively as offensively. Excellent playmaker. Excellent shot. Lawson, you may recall, led all D at last summer's Select 15 Festival in scoring -- by a mile.

Zach MacVoy -- A 6'1", 210 lb. center for Little Caesar's. Uses his size and reach to protect the puck well. He plays with a real edge, too.

Adam Abraham -- A 6'1" d-man with Caesar's. He's big, strong, athletic, and moves the puck well.

Brandon Gentile -- A 5'11", 170 lb. LD, also from Little Caesar's who is an excellent skater. He's also competitive, physical, strong, good on his feet, and a heady player. A defensive D with offensive upside.

Tommy Schmicker -- A 6'2", 197 big, strong, rugged center who is excellent around the net. Skating could use some improvement, but he's a big kid so it will take a little more time. From Rye, NY, he plays for the Deerfield Academy JV. Played here for the Philly Flyers team.

Chris Gravelding -- a 5'9". 170 lb defenseman who's highly mobile and can really skate with the puck. Hard worker. Good strength for size. And a good sense of the game, too. He's a 12/87 DOB, so expect more growth. From Clinton, NY. Played for Rochester here.

Carter Camper -- Cleveland Barons center is the only '88 in our Top 10. He flies -- just an excellent skater. His speed keeps opponents off balance, and creates a lot of offense.

Andrew Karie -- Compuware goaltender was simply great against the Marlies, keeping his team in the game through three OTs. A quick agressive goalie.

Aaron Lewicki -- Compuware center is average sized but a good skater -- quick and aggressive -- and plays with a lot of jam.

 

1/19/03

UCC Power Forward a Dutchman

6'3", 210 lb. left-shot wing Olivier Bouchard of Quebec City, Que. and Upper Canada College will be skating for Union College next season.

Bouchard, who had four points (3g,1a) in a 5-3 win over Nichols in the third-place game at the Lawrenceville Tournament and then added six points in four games at the Tabor Tournament is an '84 birthdate and a pure power forward who could develop well under Kevin Sneddon. He needs to pick up his feet a little bit more -- that's our only knock on him.

Upper Canada College had a couple other prospects, like Bouchard's center, Jean-Francois Boucher, a left-shot from Rosemere, Quebec.

Note: Speaking of Christmas and New Year's tournaments, the annual Nichols Tournament won't be played in Buffalo again for two years, as the tournament will now alternate hosting duties with the Belmont Hill School.

 

1/19/03

Toffey Transfers to UMass

Walpole Junior Stars (EJHL) 6'3", 200 lb. center John Toffey, who played his freshman season at Ohio State (CCHA) before leaving the school this past fall, will enroll at UMass for the start of spring semester on Jan. 27.

Toffey was originally recruited by UMass during his senior season at St. Sebastian's ('00-01). A three-sport athlete there, he was a quarterback for the Arrows' football team, put up 46 points for the 29-1-1 New England prep championship hockey team, and was an all-ISL baseball player. .

Toffey was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in baseball, and, after his only season at Ohio State, by the Tampa Bay Lightning (9th round, 2002) in hockey.

Toffey, playing a limited role for the Buckeyes, posted a 2-3-5 line in 24 games. A major factor in Toffey leaving Ohio State was his wish to be a two-sport athlete. Ohio State baseball coach Bob Todd wanted Toffey to drop hockey in order to concentrate on baseball, which actually starts its regular season in late February. Toffey, a right-handed pitcher, did not play baseball at Ohio State last season, which means he's eligible to play baseball this spring for the Minutemen.

Toffey, who did not appear in a game for the Buckeyes this season, will be eligible to play for Toot Cahoon's team in December. He will be able to play the remainder of next season and then his full junior and senior seasons after that. Because of the complexity of the baseball situation, Toffey is requesting a waiver from the NCAA in order to have his residency requirement shortened and be able to begin next season with the UMass hockey team.

For Walpole, Toffey, an 11/26/82 birthdate, has a 4-7-11 line in 13 games.

Notes: UMass has a commitment from Matt Burto for the fall of '04. Burto, a 5'10", 180 lb. LW for the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL), played for Avon Old Farms last season, and the Connecticut Clippers Jr. B the season before that. A native of Orange, Conn., Burto, a 7/29/84 birthdate, has struggled a bit in his first year in the USHL, hence is going back for a second campaign next year. He has a 3-9-12 line in 32 games. Burto is the adopted son of Jeff Russell, whose biological son, '84 defenseman Casey Russell, has been his teammate since a young age. Both left Avon over the summer to join Des Moines, as did goaltender A.J. Bucchino.

Joining UMass in the fall of '03 will be 6'2, 185 lb LD Mark Matheson of the Calgary Royals (AJHL). Matheson is a big, mobile D who can skate, handle the puck, and should be able to help the Minutemen from the get-go. Matheson is a 2/1/84 birthdate.

 

1/17/03

Clarkson Candidates

Here, in alphabetical order, are the official candidates for the head coaching job at Clarkson -- at least the ones we know of.

LA Kings scout Greg Drechsel; Edmonton Oilers scout Bob Mancini; Michigan State assistant Dave McAuliffe; NTDP volunteer coach Buddy Powers; Oswego State head coach George Roll; Boston College assistant Ron Rolston; Lake Superior State assistant Jimmy Roque; and Potsdam State head coach Glenn Thomaris.

There may be a few others, and if we learn of them we will let you know.

The deadline for getting applications in was Wednesday, but that might not be a hard deadline.

Since Mark Morris' firing in November, the job has been filled on an interim basis by Fred Parker. His assistants are Jason Lammers and Mike McCourt.

Of the candidates, two have been head coaches at the Div. I level -- Mancini, at Ferris State and Michigan Tech; and Powers, at RPI and Bowling Green.

As for Clarkson connections, Thomaris is a '77 grad, while Drechsel, Roll, Roque, and Rolston have all been assistants at the school.

Clarkson's AD is Sean Frazier, who is in his first year at the school, coming in from Manhattanville College, where he helped create that school's Div. III hockey program.

 

1/17/03

USHL All-Star Rosters Announced

The USHL has announced its selections of prospects and all-stars who will compete in 2003 USHL Prospects/All-Star Game to be held on Feb. 4 at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Click on the below link for the rosters. (You will need Adobe Acrobat reader, which most computers these days have.)

2003 USHL All-Star Game rosters

 

1/17/03

Central Scouting's Mid-Term Ranking -- the Numbers

The NHL's Central Scouting Service has released its mid-term rankings of North American draft-eligible players, including kids who are eligible to opt in but haven't necessarily declared their intentions yet.

The top-ranked American skater is RW Dustin Brown of the Guelph Storm (OHL). He's followed by LD Ryan Suter of the US Under-18 Team; LC Zach Parise of the University of North Dakota; RC Danny Fritsche of Sarnia (OHL); LC Patrick O'Sullivan of Mississauga (OHL); LD Mark Stuart of Colorado College; RC Ryan Kesler of Ohio State; LC Brian Boyle of St. Sebastian's Country Day School; RW Patrick Eaves of Boston College; and RW Hugh Jessiman of Darmouth.

And that's just the top 10.

The top-ranked US goaltender is Alvaro Montoya of the University of Michigan, followed immediately by James Howard III of the University of Maine.

Overall, 93 American citizens were ranked, and 167 Canadians.

For the complete list, please go to Central's web site at:

centralscouting.nhl.com

Click on "Rankings" on the bar in the left-hand column and the mid-term rankings will come up. Bear in mind that there are two lists -- one for skaters and one for goalies.

Here are the number of players selected by leagues:

USHL -- 31
EJHL -- 6
NAHL -- 2
U.S. Independent Junior -- 1

US Under-18 Team -- 9

U.S. High School East -- 17
U.S. High School West -- 4

BCHL -- 12
Ontario Tier II -- 9
AJHL -- 1
SJHL -- 1

CCHA -- 10
WCHA -- 8
Hockey East -- 8
ECAC -- 7

Notes: Of the 270 players ranked (240 skaters; 30 goaltenders), 144 are major junior players. The remaining 126, listed above, are all, of course, NCAA-eligible....Please don't, from the difference in the numbers of players ranked from U.S. Eastern high schools (17) vs. U.S. Western high schools (4) draw any hasty conclusions regarding the quality of players coming out of Minnesota (and the rest of the upper midwest) vs. the Northeast. The reason for the disparity is the simple fact that Minnesota high school kids don't normally repeat grades, hence are already playing in the USHL. Not surprisingly, most of the 31 USHL-ranked kids are from the Gopher State. Minnesota, as long as we're on the subject, is currently very strong at the younger ages: roughly one-half of next season's U.S. Under-17 team could come from Minnesota alone.

 

1/16/03

Apple Core Line Shines at EJHL All-Star Game

Walpole, Mass. -- The Apple Core line of C.J. Tozzo (2g,1a), Ryan Cruthers (1g,1a), and Ryan Hodkinson (1g,1a) was on the ice for three goals as Team South defeated Team North in the 2003 EJHL All-Star game here tonight.

The Colin McDonald (2a)- Paul Dufault (1g,1a)-Garrett Summerfield line (1g,1a) chipped in for two goals.

New England Jr. Coyotes defenseman Bryan Cirullo added two goals for the victors all by himself, one a beauty when he walked through the opposition as he made his way down from the point before putting it past North goalie John Sterbling, who allowed five goals (not all his own fault, either) in a disastrous second period.

For the losers, Zech Klann (1g,1a) and Brian Pouliot (2a) figured in two of their team's three goals.

Tozzo was named the gam's MVP.

South 7, North 3

1st Period:
No Scoring

2nd Period:
North -- Thomas (Klann, Pouliot)
South -- Tozzo (Hodkinson, Cruthers)
South -- Cirullo (McDonald)
South - Tozzo (Porter)
South -- Cirullo (Porter, Margott)
South -- Cruthers (Tozzo, Hodkinson)
North -- Klann (Pouliot, Manos)

3rd Period:
South -- Summerfield (Dufault)
South -- Dufault (McDonald, Summerfield)
North -- Tyler (Cross, Jones)

Shots on Goal:
South 41, North 35

Goaltenders:
South -- Barton (5/5)
South -- Ramirez (18/16)
South -- Leggio (12/11)
North -- McNulty (11/11)
North -- Sterbling (17/12)
North -- Adam (13/11)

Notes: Some players who didn't figure in the scoring but played well nonetheless included Apple Core defensemen Kevin Schaeffer, who showed poise and steadiness; and Steve Birnstill, who's 6'2" and agile. For the North team, the Junior Bruins defensive pairing of Bret Tyler and Jake Pence was noticebable every time they stepped on the ice. The NH Junior Monarchs pairing of Jason Ortolano and Andrew Thomas played their customary strong game. In goal, Kyle McNulty and Dan Ramirez both had strong outings.

 

1/15/03

Tragedy in New Hampshire

Two teenage athletes at the Holderness School, a Div. I prep school in Holderness, NH, were struck and killed by a car last night as they were walking back from town on Rt. 175A at around 8:30 pm.

One of the victims, senior Weston Lea, of Grand Isle, Vt., died immediately. Lea was a forward on the school's varsity hockey team. A three-sport athlete, he would have turned 19 on Friday.

The other victim was not a varsity hockey player, but was a standout lacrosse player. Michael Damico, a postgrad from Geneva, NY, died shortly after in the hospital.

Holderness Police have charged Anthony Begin, 38, of Holderness with two counts of negligent homicide, one count of conduct after an accident, and drug possession. Begin did not stop after killing the boys. He was arrested at his home after witnesses described the car, and arraigned today at Plymouth District Court.

In the time leading up to the accident, Lea and Damico were working on a class project together and had gone to the Rite-Aid in town, just a quarter-mile walk from the school, where they had puchased some Oreo cookies and Gatorade. They were hit from behind 100-200 yards before setting foot back on school grounds.

Lea was a player for -- and student advisee of -- Holderness head hockey coach Patrick Dennehy, who saw the two boys walking to town and gave them a friendly wave as he and a couple of other faculty members were heading to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Shortly afterward, Dennehy got a call at the restaurant informing him of the boy's death.

Lea, 5'9", 163 lbs., played for the Green Mountain Glades (EJHL) before going to Holderness as a repeat junior last year. Lea was also a soccer and baseball player, with soccer being his best sport. As a junior, Lea helped lead Holderness to the Class B prep soccer championship. This season, Holderness was bumped up to Class A, went 15-1, and lost in the semis to Nobles. Lea scored 24 goals, believed to be a school record. He was considering schools in which he could play both hockey and soccer.

Nine members of the current Holderness hockey team also played soccer.

Coach Dennehy descibed Lea as a "tough, spirited kid who was focused, intense, and always gave 150%. He was just a great kid. He had one of those infectious laughs."

There will be a memorial service at the school tomorrow and then, on Saturday, there will be a memorial service in Lea's Vermont hometown, which is about 20-30 minutes north of Burlington.

Today's Holderness-Tilton game was cancelled. Holderness is scheduled to play the Hill School on Saturday at UMass-Amherst, but it's unclear whether that game will be played. Lea's roommate and best friend was hockey teammate Casey Carr of Burlington, Mass.

Elsewhere today, Exeter defenseman Eric Yeager, a fellow Vermonter, wore Lea's #4 in tribute as Exeter topped Bridgton this afternoon.

Lea has a younger brother who plays hockey at South Burlington High School.

 

1/14/03

USHL Tenders

Here is the latest list of signed USHL tenders:

Cedar Rapids:
None.

Chicago:
Jeff Hazelwood, F, Dublin, CA (IMG Academy) 7/24/85

Des Moines:
None.

Green Bay:
Sean Garrity, F, North St. Paul, MN (North St. Paul HS) 7/23/85
Nate Dey, F, Maplewood, MN (North St. Paul HS) 2/14/85

Lincoln:
None

River City:
Jeff Lerg, G, Livonia, MI (HoneyBaked Midget AAA) 4/9/86
Brett Motherwell, D, Novi, MI (HoneyBaked Midget AAA) 9/11/86

Sioux City:
None

Sioux Falls:
Cody Lampl, D, Ketchum, ID (Dallas Stars Midget AAA) 6/19/86
Jeff Prough, F, Dearborn, MI (HoneyBaked Midget AAA) 4/20/86

Topeka:
None

Tri-City:
Chris Zarb, D, Waterford, MI (Little Caesar's) 1/11/85

Waterloo:
None

* All teams are allowed three tenders this season. Trading tenders is allowed. Topeka traded one of their picks to Sioux Falls -- that's the only trade so far.

Notes: Lampl and Motherwell generated a ton of buzz among the college recruiters at the MAC's Tournament in Calgary over Christmas break (more on that tournament, won by TI, in the days to come). Both are highly mobile, offensive defensemen. Lampl, who's 5'8" and from Ketchum, Idaho, plays for the Dallas Stars Midgets, and is smart and highly skilled with the puck, much in the manner of Boston College D Justin Forrest. Motherwell, 5'10" and a good student, combines skill with the grit we see so frequently in Michigan-bred defensemen. Future Gamblers - and current North St. Paul HS teammates - Garrity and Dey are both big strong power forwards with skill. Zarb, a 6'4" d-man from Little Caesar's is growing into his body and coming on nicely as of late. Jeff Hazelwood is a 6'1" smooth skating center from the San Jose, CA area who's been playing this season at IMG Academy in Florida -- he's ready for some cold weather hockey. River City will be getting HoneyBaked's Jeff Lerg, who is as skilled as Dominic Vicari was at the same age. Many -- if not most -- observers feel Lerg is the best goalie in the country not already playing at the junior level or above.

 

1/12/03

EJHL All-Stars Announced

The EJHL All-Star game will be held this coming Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Iorio Arena in Walpole, Mass. Game time is 8 pm.

Here are the lineups:

North Squad:

Forwards: Michael Picone (Harbor Wolves); Matthew Rogers (Harbor Wolves); Matthew Byrnes (Jr. Bruins); Reese Wisnowski (Monarchs); Michael Barger (Glades); Christopher Cross (Lock Monsters); Mikael Zettergren (Jr. Bruins); Nick Monroe (Lock Monsters); Brian Pouliot (Monarchs); Luke Jones (Jr. Bruins); Zech Klann (Monarchs); Jarrett Scarpaci (Jr. Bruins).

Defense: Bret Tyler (Jr. Bruins); Todd Spencer (Warriors); Jason Ortolano (Monarchs); Noah Lucia (Harbor Wolves); Casey Bickley (Lock Monsters); Jake Pence (Jr. Bruins); Andrew Thomas (Monarchs); Michael Manos (Glades).

Goaltenders: Kyle McNulty (Jr. Bruins); John Sterbling (Lock Monsters).

Coaches: Sean Tremblay (Monarchs) and Peter Masters (Jr. Bruins).

South Squad:

Forwards: Colin McDonald (Coyotes); Garrett Summerfield (Cap District); Valdis Sustko (Stars); Chris Margott (Breakers); Paul Dufault (Stars); Ken Porter (Cap District); Ryan Cruthers (Apple Core); Eric Thomassian (Stars); Henri Hietaharju (Bandits); C.J. Tozzo (Apple Core); Joe Rooney (Stars); Ryan Hodkinson (Apple Core).

Defensemen: Kevin Schaeffer (Apple Core); William West (Cap District); Brian Gineo (Cap District); Brian Cirullo (Coyotes); B.J. Crum (Coyotes); Buddy Anderson (Bandits); Anthony Leccese (Breakers); Steve Birnstill (Apple Core).

Goaltenders: Daniel Ramirez (Stars); Allen Barton (Apple Core).

Coaches: Henry Lazar (Apple Core) and Jack Sweeney (Stars).

Last year's game was a crowd-pleasing affair, won 6-4 by Team North as NH Jr. Monarchs LW Jonathan Poirier, now at Union, put on a show, scoring five goals in front of large crowd of pro scouts and college recruters at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro.

Note: As regards the player selection process, each team is allotted a certain number of players based on that team's position in the league standings as of the December cutoff date. You will notice that the top team, the Junior Bruins, have seven players while the four teams with the worst records each have two players in the game. On top of that, there has to be the correct proportion of forwards/defensemen/goalies. What you wind up with, then, is something less than a true all-star game. We know this happens in a lot of sports these days, but that doesn't mean we like it. All-Star games should be for the best players, regardless of any other factors.

A fan going to the game Thursday night might wish to see New England Coyotes forwards Keith Johnson, who's bound for the University of Maine next season; and Mark McCutcheon (Cornell). They should be there, without question. But they won't. The Coyotes are fourth in their division this year, so are only allotted three players.

The one argument for picking players from every team and allocating by position is that it does give exposure to bubble players who don't yet have a college but are coming along nicely. While Johnson and McCutcheon won't be seen Thursday, Coyotes defenseman B.J. Crum will. If Crum has a strong game and attracts a college's interest, that's a plus.

However, we still think, given that all the EJHL teams are well-scouted throughout the season, that the all-star game should be a reward to the top players -- period.

 

1/9/03

Shaw Signs With Quebec

With the trading deadline hours away, the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) brought in seven or eight players, including former St. Sebastian's/NTDP/Michigan State defenseman Evan Shaw, to strengthen the team for a run at the Memorial Cup, which the Remparts, as hosts, receive an automatic bid to.

Shaw's signing brings to a close several confusing weeks for the 6'2" 18-year-old defenseman from Narragansett, RI. After realizing he didn't fit into Michigan State's plans, Shaw left school at the close of the fall term with the intention of going to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

However, it almost didn't happen. As a matter of fact, yesterday it appeared that Shaw was headed to the Lincoln Stars (USHL).

This story requires some background. Before Christmas, when Cedar Rapids Roughriders (USHL) coach/GM Mark Carlson learned that Shaw was leaving school he immediately added him to his protected list. However, when it later looked like Shaw would be going to the QMJHL, he took him off the list.

As time passed, the QMJHL option began to fade. At this time last week, it appeared likely that Shaw would be enrolling immediately at UMass, with an eye toward playing for the Minuteman at this time next year. In the meantime Shaw, whose older brother went to UMass, would have either practiced with Toot Cahoon's team or played in the EJHL until he became eligible next January.

A negative factor for the QMJHL was the fact that Cape Breton Screaming Eagles had drafted Shaw two years ago, and held his rights. Cape Breton was ruled out as a destination by the Shaw family because of its remote location, so Cape Breton traded his rights to Quebec, which already has two Massachusetts kids on its roster, Josh Hennessey and Jordan LaVallee, and is more easily accessible.

Last weekend, Shaw and his family visited Quebec City and were impressed by the hospitality of the team's front office and owners, one of whom is Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy, who put in a call to the defenseman. Shaw, though, had reservations about whether the wide-open style of play found in the Q was suited to his stay-at-home style.

Meanwhile the Lincoln Stars (USHL), which boast a ton of top forwards but are a little thin on D, had picked up Shaw and placed him on their protected list and put in their pitch. It appeared to work, for as recently as yesterday morning, it appeared that Shaw was heading there. The plan called for him to enroll in the local community college, and utilize the 4-2-4 rule to get NCAA eligible by this time next year. However, the hitch there was that the defenseman would have needed to take a ton of classes in order to be eligible for Div. I play at this time next year. Specifically, he would have had to get an associate degree in three semesters, one of which would have been a summer semester.

Meanwhile, Quebec was guaranteeing its education package for Shaw, an important consideration, as the defenseman's mother happens to be a school teacher and he had promised her he'd get his degree.

Late last night, Shaw decided that Lincoln was out, and Quebec was in. This morning, Shaw left with his father by car for Quebec City. He was introduced at a press conference this afternoon.

Shaw, and all the other new members of the Remparts, will be in the lineup when Quebec hosts Drummondville Friday night at le Colisee.

Boston-based agent Bob Murray's firm represents Shaw, and partner Jerry Buckley was assigned the handling of the negotiations with Quebec. "They wouldn't give up on getting Evan," Murray said. "and Evan is really excited and enthusiastic about going. After all he's been through, he needed a new breath of air. He'll be an important part of the team, and he'll be well-protected academically."

Note: Earlier this week, former Harvard defenseman Jesse Lane was traded from the Hull Olympiques (QMJHL) to the Victoriaville Tigers (QMJHL). The trade was part of an eight-player deal, with Hull getting three players and a 2003 fourth round draft pick for Lane, Simon St. Pierre, Guillaume Trudel, and Scott Gibson. One of Lane's new teammates will be former Mount St. Charles forward Justin Laverdiere, who, like Lane, once played for the Walpole Stars (EJHL). Small world, eh?

 

1/9/03

McManama Transfers

6'1" sophomre forward Ben McMcManama, who played in 26 games for Boston College as a freshman last season but hadn't appeared in any games this season, has left Boston College and transferred to Union, where he began classes on Monday.

McManama, who played at Nobles and, before that, Milton Academy, was recruited hard by Union while still in prep school. Now, coach Kevin Sneddon will have him, though not until the completion of first term exams next November. McManama needs to sit out one full year (three terms at Union: winter, spring, and fall '03). He will be eligible to play the second half of next season and then two more seasons beyond that, per NCAA rules.

As a freshman at BC last season, McManama played on the fourth line and notched one assist.

 

1/9/03

Dufault to Crimson

Walpole Jr. Stars (EJHL) forward Paul Dufault has committed to Harvard for the fall of 2004. Dufault, who attends St. John's-Shrewsbury High School, is currently the 12th leading scorer in the EJHL with a 13-12-25 line in 19 league games.

Brown was after him hard for next season, and Boston University was beginning to show interest, too, but Dufault decided to spend another year in juniors because, while he's very competitive, speedy, creative with the puck, and sees the ice well, he's not quite strong enough for Div. I play yet. The extra year will give him time to fill out physically.

Dufault is 5'9", 165 lbs and a native of Shrewsbury, Mass. He's a 12/21/84 birthdate.

 

1/9/03

Ex-BC Captain Powers Dead at 54

John Powers, who played at B&N (now BB&N) in the late '60s before going on to Boston College, where he would captain the Eagles in his senior year of '70-71, died in his sleep of a heart attack at his Arlington, Mass. home last Thursday.

Powers was buried Monday at Mt. Auburn Cemetary in Cambridge, just down the street from the prep school where he starred in football, hockey, and baseball years before

Powers, a native of Cambridge, spent his adult life teaching in the Boston public school system and coaching hockey, most recently at BB&N, where he headed up the program from the early '90s until several years ago, when hip replacement surgery made skating too difficult.

Powers had five children, three girls and two boys, one of whom, Andy, followed in his father's footsteps, playing hockey at BC from 1995-99 and currently skating for the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL).

 

1/9/03

Bear Tracks in Ann Arbor

We're back, recovered from a slight case of burnout after the various tournaments of last weekend, and with a lot of catching up to do. Let's start with the Brown Bears, who have added U.S. Under-18 Team defenseman David Robertson to the class coming in the fall of '04. Robertson, who's 6'0", 184 lbs. and a right shot, is a late '85 and currently an 11th grader. A native of Ambler, PA, outside of Philadelphia, Robertson broke his wrist on the first shift of the season and didn't start playing until November. He sees the ice well, and is steady and mobile -- more quick than fast. Physically, he's still filling out. Very athletic, he's also playing varsity lacrosse at Pioneer HS, one of the few NTDP kids to play a varsity sport for the local high school (Bill Cass and John Snowden both played varsity baseball). It's unclear whether Robertson will attempt to be a two-sport man at Brown.

Brown is beginning to look very strong on the blue line with NMH's Sean Hurley, who looked dominating at times in last week's Cushing Tournament, coming in next fall; and then Deerfield's Paul Baier and Robertson coming in the following fall. If they can pick up a scorer or two, some real noise might start coming out of Meehan Auditorium. Remember, this was a team that went 4-21-4 the year before last.

 

1/4/03

Cohen, Davis Make Their Picks

6'1", 183 lb. RD Matthew Cohen of the U.S. Under-18 Team has committed to Yale for this coming fall. Cohen is from New York City -- lower Manhattan, to be precise, an unusual address for a hockey player -- and played for the New Jersey Jr. Devils Bantams before coming to Ann Arbor last season. Cohen, an 11/8/85 birthdate, has one goal and seven assists in 28 games so far this season. Other schools in the picture for Cohen were Harvard, Cornell, CC, and UNO... The Under-17 Team's Nate Davis, a 5'11", 175 lb left-shot forward from Rocky River, Ohio, has committed to the #14-ranked Miami RedHawks for the fall of '04. Davis, a 5/23/86 birthdate, played for the Cleveland Barsons bantams last season. He's been hurt practically all of this season, only appearing in three games. Davis is the younger brother of former Omaha Lancer and current Miami freshman Matt Davis.

 

1/4/03

Alexander Back with Barons

The Cleveland Barons (NAHL) have fired head coach Craig Norwich, who lasted less than two months, and have rehired former head coach/GM Tim Alexander.

Alexander is the only coach who's been successful with the Barons, where he coached for eight years before being fired after a losing streak a couple of years back. Shortly afterward, Alexander was hired as an assistant at his alma mater, Bowling Green. However, he was left jobless after Buddy Powers was fired last spring.

Now, Alexander is back. Hopefully, he'll be able to return some stability to the the franchise.

 

1/3/03

Welch Dismissed from Gophers

Dan Welch's troubled stint with Minnesota came to an end yesterday when the junior right wing was dismissed from the team due to his academic shortcomings.

Welch was once one of the state's most highly-recruited players out of Hastings High School, where he was coached by his father, Russ Welch, and graduated in 1999. However, the speedy RW had academic troubles throughout his career with the Gophers.

Welch was first suspended as a freshman for missing classes, eventually lost his eligibility, and spent his sophomore season playing for the Omaha Lancers (USHL) while attending a local junior college.

He was finally readmitted back to school last January, a year and a half later, after he was first denied readmission to the school's liberal arts program.

Welch, an eighth round draft pick of the LA Kings in 2000, attended a Twin Cities junior college until he was cleared to play for the team in January. Welch, however, continued to have problems this season, including a one-game suspension for violating a team rule.

Welch was the team's seventh-leading scorer this season with five goals and five assists.

Welch's departure leaves the Gophers with no extra forwards for this weekend's series with rival St. Cloud State. Gino Guyer and Barry Tallackson are playing in the World Junior Championhsips and Grant Potulny is injured. --- C.L.

 

1/3/03

Curtale, Nickerson Suspended

Texas Tornado (NAHL) GM/head coach Tony Curtale has been suspended for 13 games and his defeseman, Matt Nickerson, has been suspended for ten games.

The suspensions arise from actions in a game at Danville on Dec. 21 when Curtale was reported to have threatened the life of veteran referee Shaun Davis. It's the second such incident involving Curtale this season, who has been suspended every year he's been in the league. In addition to the suspension, Curtale was fined $2,500 and put on probation for the rest of the year, meaning one more offense and he's out of the league for good.

Nickerson, a 6'5, 225 lb. 17-year-old defenseman from Old Lyme, Conn., was suspended for twice attacking players on the Danville bench. He had to be physically restrained by the linesmen. Nickerson leads the NAHL in penalty minutes, though teammate Colin Trulock is likely to pass him during the term of the suspension.

The owner of the Texas franchise is Quentin Bourjeaurd.

The suspensions were handed down by USA Hockey supervisor of officials Scott Brand.

 

 

 

 

USHR Headlines

 

Around the Rinks

Paul Dore, who scored the game-winner with 52 seconds left to lead KUA to a 4-3 win over Salisbury in the Elite 8 Championship, is a senior the Wildca
Paul Dore, who scored the game-winner with 52 seconds left to lead KUA to a 4-3 win over Salisbury in the Elite 8 Championship, is a senior the Wildcats will be counting on heavily as they go for a record 4-peat. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
 
With Justin Hryckowian and Nick Capone taking their senior seasons in the USHL, classmate and UVM recruit Lucas Mercuri is Salisbury's leading returni
With Justin Hryckowian and Nick Capone taking their senior seasons in the USHL, classmate and UVM recruit Lucas Mercuri is Salisbury's leading returning scorer. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
 
Kent's Aidan Cobb, now a senior, committed to Cornell after helping lead Kent to the Large School Championship last March.
Kent's Aidan Cobb, now a senior, committed to Cornell after helping lead Kent to the Large School Championship last March. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)