Last Big EJHL Tournament on Tap for Coming Weekend
Twenty teams will be appearing at the Lowell Jr. Lockmonsters Tournament this coming weekend -- all 12 EJHL teams, seven other junior teams, and the U.S. Under-17 Team.
The tournament will run from Fri. Dec. 12-Sun. Dec. 14 at the two sheets at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, Mass. It's the last big EJHL in-season tournament of the '03-04 season.
Prep Coach Fired
The Tilton School has fired head coach Mike Esposito and replaced him with boy’s JV coach Jack Curtin.
Curtin will be behind the bench on Friday when Tilton faces off against Gunnery in opening day action at the BB&N Tournament in Cambridge, Mass.
Tilton AD Ken Hollingsworth confirmed that Esposito was no longer employed by the school in any capacity, but offered only a “no comment” in regards to specific reasons why.
Calls to Esposito’s home number have gone unanswered.
From what we’ve been able to determine, Esposito was fired because he had been asked by Hollingsworth to sit two players for the Dec. 19 game against Northwood at the Exeter Tournament, but only sat one, letting the other play.
Whether those two players were meant to sit for violation of school rules is unknown. One source said that at least one had received a game misconduct and then failed to sit out the obligatory one game as mandated by NEPSIHA rules. Whatever the precise situation, termination appears excessively punitive, suggesting that perhaps there may have been other issues involved here, or perhaps a longer-standing conflict.
Esposito, a Trinity graduate, arrived at Tilton last year, coming over from Northfield-Mt. Hermon, where he was the boy’s JV coach.
This season is Tilton’s first at the Division I level.
Holy Cross to the ECAC?
Look for Holy Cross to be admitted to the ECAC upon Vermont’s acceptance into Hockey East.
For roughly two years, Holy Cross, currently 11-1-1 in Atlantic Hockey play and 11-4-1 overall, has been exploring the possibility of joining the ECAC for hockey. In discussions with ECAC officials, Holy Cross administrators have made it clear that, should an opening ever come up, they wanted in.
Now, there’s an opening.
According to our sources, other schools besides Holy Cross will apply, but Holy Cross is the school that the league is most ready to accept.
One reason given is that Holy Cross fits in with the profile of the league as a whole. It’s a smallish school (2,748 full-time students) that annually rejects more students than it takes. They have long played Ivy schools in many other sports, so there’s a tradition there. In addition, it’s a non-scholarship school, which, should the Div. III legislation happen to pass, could leave the ECAC as an entirely non-scholarship conference.
There would be work that Holy Cross would need to do on their end, such as additional cash support.
Some have questioned whether Holy Cross’ Hart Athletic Center, which seats1,400 (all on one side of the arena) and has room for at least a couple of hundred standees, is up to major conference Div. I play. However, there are several current ECAC teams which draw in that range – and at least one Hockey East school, too. If Holy Cross had a name opponent scheduled they could shift games to the Worcester Centrum.
It’s unknown whether Hockey East will admit Vermont for next season or the year after. If it’s for next year, look for the ECAC to add a team as soon as Vermont gets its official acceptance. If it’s for the following year, different scenarios exist. We’re getting into the highly speculative area here, but its been suggested that the ECAC wouldn’t be happy playing a full season with a school, Vermont, that has one foot out the door, and might add their new member immediately, thus forcing Vermont to play a year as an independent. We don’t see this as happening. Vermont’s been a strong ECAC member for too many years, and, for the good of the college game, their leaving should be treated with grace. In addition, the ideal situation for a school coming in would be to have at least a full academic year to prepare for the transition.
Time will tell.
Of the other schools likely to make strong presentations for inclusion in the ECAC, we’ve heard UConn and Quinnipiac mentioned most frequently.
Div. I College Prospects Playing Div. II Preps
There could be ten or more kids currently playing prep hockey at the Div. II level who will go on to play Div. I college hockey.
This is a significant departure, as we’ve seen years where the number has been zero, or perhaps one.
Some are obvious, like Proctor Academy forward Josh Robertson, an NHL draft pick (Washington, fifth round) in June and now back for his senior year at Proctor. Robertson, an ’84, will be going to Northeastern in the fall.
Chris Higgins, a junior at Pingree, is one of the best one-on-one players in all prep hockey, a right-shot LW from Lynnfield, Mass., who’ll play his senior year with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) and then, the following year, will likely be playing for BU head coach Jack Parker, who was watching him at the Brooks-Pingree Tournament last weekend. He’s an ’86.
St. George’s junior RW Shea Guthrie, an ’87 from Carleton Place, Ontario whose hat trick in the Div. II semis last spring helped lead his school into the title game against Proctor, was drafted by the OHL’s Ottawa ‘67s in May, but returned to the Middletown, RI school where he’s coached by Rich Dempsey and Ryan Mulhern. Guthrie took an unofficial visit to Colgate last summer. He’s a relative of interim AD Don Vaughan.
The Brunswick School, alma mater of Hugh Jessiman, has another potential big timer in ’89 defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a New Rochelle, NY native who’s the younger brother of Taft forward Keith Shattenkirk (who’ll be playing for Princeton next fall). The younger Shattenkirk, even if you didn’t know he was 14 years old and a freshman, just jumps out at you. He’s a strong, assertive defenseman who flat-out competes and, even though we’re looking years down the road, he already has the earmarks of a future pro prospect. We saw him last weekend in a game against Proctor, and he didn’t look out of place going up against Robertson, who has five years on him.
The above four – Robertson, Higgins, Guthrie, and Shattenkirk – are, for our money, the top college prospects in the Div. II ranks.
There are others who are not far behind.
Brunswick, coached by John Riley, has another talented freshman in forward Greg Squires, an ’88 from White Plains, NY.Squires, one of the niftier forwards at last summer’s Select 15 Festival, is perhaps too small for the pros, but has the skill to make a nice Div. I player out of himself.He’s quick, slippery, and a clever stickhandler.
Worcester Academy goalie A.J. Scola, named MVP of the Div. II portion of the Lawrence-Groton Tournament last weekend, is a big part of the reason his school is undefeated thus far this season. Scola, an ’86 who stood out at the Select 17 Festival last summer splitting time in the Mass. net with Andover Academy’s Cory Schneider, is a senior, and will have to play some junior hockey to prove himself to the college recruiters. Of course, we said the same thing about St. Mark’s goalie Bryce Luker last season, but he’s stepped right in at Michigan Tech and is getting the lion’s share of the work. (Tonight, the 6’3” Luker was shelled by Michigan State in front of 17, 500 at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit, and was lifted in the third.) We haven’t seen Scola, who’s 5’11” yet this season, though we expect to before too long.
Proctor head coach Mike Walsh, who will be going for his fifth straight Div. II crown, has other players you might want to watch, like forward Rob Campbell, a PG from Reading High who stood out the day we watched him. It’s hard to say where Campbell fits in – he may have just had a career day when we were watching. The jury is out as far as we're concerned. A player who could develop into something is sophomore forward Ian Flanagan, an ’88 from New Hampton, NH.
South Kent, coached by Geoff Marottolo, the younger brother of Yale associate head coach C.J. Marottolo, is going Div. I next season. They have a core group of several players that are worth watching. The sniper is senior Andrei Uyyadov of St. Petersburg, Russia -- around the net he’s just lethal. A couple of sophomores, defenseman Scott Wolfe and forward Tony Morrone, grabbed our attention as well.
We’ve seen only a relatively small percentage of the Div. II prep teams, and often against weak competition. The one thing we know is that there’s more talent at the Div. II level than there has been in a long while, if ever, and there may be one or two more out there we have yet to see – or even hear about. Walsh has proven he can find players, and now we know some of the younger guys, like Marottolo and Riley, can do likewise. Why else would all these good players be flowing to Div. IIprograms? More importantly, how many will stay?
Hotchkiss #1 in New USHR Prep Poll
A five-day stretch of living in cold rinks and eating bad food has brought the flu here to USHR land, but the weekly prep poll can't be stopped. It's been cross-referenced, annotated, triple-double checked and the new #1 is... Flood-Marr tourney winner Hotchkiss.
For the full poll, go to the Boy's Prep Page and click on polls.
In Div. II play over the weekend, Brewster Academy knocked off Proctor and South Kent, the teams we ranked #1-2 in our pre-season poll. So they are #1 in our first-ever regular-season Div. II poll.
Two for the Tigers
Two forwards, Erik Pridham of Nobles and Jean-Francois Boucher of Upper Canada College, have committed to Princeton University for next fall.
Pridham, whose team, along with seven other New England preps, begins play in the annual Flood-Marr Tournament this morning, is a 6’0”, 185 lb. RC from Belmont, Mass. Pridham, who committed to Princeton over the summer and was accepted this week, is a player who is strong in all areas of the game, and uses his on-ice smarts to good effect. A 9/6/85 birthdate, Pridham captained the Nobles’ soccer and lacrosse teams.
Boucher is a 6’0”, 195 lb. power forward who loves physical play and has a bit of a mean streak. A LW, he’s a 12/1985 birthdate and hails from Rosemere, Quebec. Boucher, who led UCC in scoring last season, is currently the team’s captain.
Boucher’s father is Gaetan Boucher, a four-time Canadian Olympian in speedskating. Gaetan won a silver medal in Lake Placid (’80) and a double gold in Sarajevo (’84). His mother, Karin Fleige, was a German Olympic speedskater, so the genes are good.
Surprise Winner at Jr. Lock Monsters Tournament
The Green Mountain Glades, a sub-.500 team in the EJHL, came from three goals down to defeat the league-leading New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs in this past weekend’s Lowell Junior Lock Monsters Tournament title game in Fitchburg, Mass.
In last month’s Valley Junior Warriors Tournament, two sub-.500 teams, the Bay State Breakers and the Boston Harbor Wolves, met in the title game, with the Breakers coming out on top.
While it’s a dubious proposition to draw conclusions from just two tournaments, coaches around the league feel that the lower-level teams in the EJHL this year have narrowed the gap a little bit and on any given day can surprise the big boys. The Glades had to go through the Boston Jr. Bruins as well as the Monarchs to win the crown here, which came only after the Glades, down by a goal late in the game, pulled their goalie, South Burlington native Jake Thaler, who was excellent throughout the tournament. With 34 seconds on the clock, Michael Westerman, an Ann Arbor, Mich. native, scored his first goal of the season to send the game into OT. At 1:22 of the extra session, played 4-on-4, John Perrotta, who played for the NJ Jr. Titans last season, beat Monarchs goalie Brian Foster, a top ’87 who played at Bishop Brady HS last season, to give the Glades the title.
Reportedly, the Glades, coached by Brad Holt, almost didn’t come down to the tournament because of dwindling funds.
The most impressive team in the tournament was -- no surprise -- the U.S. Under-17 Team, which has at least four probable NHL first rounders in F Phil Kessel, D Jack Johnson, F Peter Mueller, and F Ryan Stoa, and possibly one or two more out of F Jack Skille, G Jeff Frazee, D Mike Stuart, and D Mark Mitera. Time will tell with all of that, but as one who has closely observed every Under-17 Team since the start of the program, this is easily the most skilled – even after losing guys like Bobby Ryan, Andrew Andricopoulos, and Joey Ryan to major junior.
The Under-17 Team came in late Thursday night, looked half asleep in the first half against the Monarchs Friday morning, but woke up in the second half to salvage a 4-4 tie. In Friday’s nitecap, the Under-17s, lacking crispness in their playmaking, lost to the host Lock Monsters, 3-1. On Saturday, they bounced back with a 5-1 win over Apple Core to finish the tournament 1-1-1. As most of you know, the Under-17 team is composed primarily of ‘87s, with a couple of ‘88s in Mueller and defenseman Chad Morin. The three teams they faced were, with the exception of one player(the Monarch’s Ian O’Connor), exclusively ‘83s-86s. It really does make a difference.
There was one player in the tournament who could have fit right in with the Under-17 Team, but wasn’t invited to the program: 6’1”, 170 lb. LD Tim Kunes, a former LI Gull Midget who now skates for the New England Junior Coyotes. Kunes, who’s a strong skater with mobility, decisive with the puck, and physical, will be a blue-chip college recruit.
A couple of other top young players with the Coyotes are 6’2”, 225 wing Colin Hanley, an ’87 out of Long Island in his second year with the club. Hanley has a tremendous amount of upside, as does ’88 wing Tyler Fernandez, who’s a freshman attending Loomis-Chaffee but playing fulltime with the Coyotes.
Fri. Dec. 12:
US Under-17 4, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 4
Portland Jr. Pirates 6, Washington Nationals 1
NY Apple Core 4, Lowell Jr. Lock Monsters 1
New England Jr. Coyotes 3, Bridgewater Bandits 1
Green Mountain Glades 7, NJ Titans 2
NY Apple Core 3, Boston Bulldogs 2
Lowell Jr. Lock Monsters 3, U.S. Under-17 1
Valley Jr. Warriors 3, Portland Jr. Pirates 0
Boston Jr. Bruins 3, New England Jr. Coyotes 1
Sat. Dec. 13:
Bridgewater Bandits 3, NJ Titans 0
NH Jr. Monarchs 5, Boston Bulldogs 0
Green Mountain Glades 5, Boston Junior Bruins 3
U.S. Under-17 5, NY Apple Core 1
Boston Harbor Wolves 3, Portland Jr. Pirates 1
NH Jr. Monarchs 8, NJ Titans 1
Green Mountain Glades 7, Bridgewater Bandits 2
New England Jr. Coyotes 1, Lowell Jr. Lock Monsters 0
Boston Jr. Bruins 1, Boston Bulldogs 1
Sun. Dec. 14:
Green Mountain Glades 2, Bay State Breakers 1 (OT)
New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 6, Capital District Selects 1
Green Mountain Glades 5, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 4
The tournament staff does not name an all-tourney team, however they do name an MVP, and it was Perrotta, who scored the game-winner for the Green Mountain Glades in the title game.
Also, concerning our article the other day about the proposed expansion of the EJHL, we wanted to remind readers that it was simply a presentation, and not a vote. The vote will take place later, likely in January, and probably via conference call. For a franchise to be accepted, eight out of 12 votes are required. We will report the results of that vote here. Also, we incorectly reported the expansion fee as being $15,000. That is what the figure was set at quite a few years ago. It has remained at that figure since, in part because of the recent moratorium on expansion. However, it is now expected to be revised upward, possibly as high as $100K.
Magnuson a Pioneer – in More Ways Than One
As has been reported in other places, former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman and coach Keith Magnuson, 56, died in a Vaughan, Ontario three-car crash Monday at about 5 pm.He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the car, former NHL defenseman Rob Ramage, a #1 overall pick in the 1979 NHL entry draft (by the Colorado Rockies), suffered a broken femur. Ramage has been charged under Ontario law with impaired driving. A woman in another car was hospitalized, but her injuries are reported as being non-life threatening.
The two were returning from the funeral of Keith McCreary, the former NHL left wing who died last week at age 63 after a battle with cancer. (McCreary, who played in the NHL from 1962-75, was the youngest brother of former NHL player Bill McCreary, Sr.; the uncle of former Colgate forward Bill McCreary, Jr.; the uncle of current NHL referee Bill McCreary; and the great uncle to Providence College freshman LW Bill McCreary, who played the last two seasons with the Texas Tornado of the NAHL after a career at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.)
Magnuson is the father of Kevin Magnuson, a four-year defenseman (1996-00) at the University of Michigan.
What’s not much mentioned in the bulk of articles about Magnuson’s death is his college career. Magnuson, a Saskatoon, Sask.native who played Tier II hockey with the Saskatoon Blades before being recruited by long-time University of Denver coach Murray Armstrong, played for the Pioneers from ’66-69 (freshman were ineligible for NCAA competition back then).
In his junior and senior years the Pioneers won back-to-back NCAA championships, beating North Dakota, 4-0, in 1968; and edging Cornell, with Ken Dryden in goal, 4-3, the following year.
That spring, Magnuson, an extremely hard-nosedplayer, team leader, and an All-America to boot, was bypassed in the NHL draft.
The draft that year was the first “real” NHL draft. Prior to 1969, NHL clubs were allowed to own junior teams -- and their players – and thus able to hold those players out of the draft. It was also the last year that the Montreal Canadiens were able to use their “cultural option,” a ruling that granted Les Habitants the option of selecting up to two players of French-Canadian origin before any other team could even begin drafting. In the spring of ’69, the Canadiens, who had just won yet another Stanley Cup, took advantage of this ridiculously unfair ruling to select Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif #1-2 overall. After that, everybody else was allowed to make their selections.
But no one selected the 6’0”, 185 lb. Magnuson, a two-time All-American andthe MVP of the 1969 NCAA final.
While college players were rarer than hen’s teeth in the NHL of the early and mid-‘60s, things began to change slowly after the first wave of expansion in 1967-68. The NHL went from six to twelve teams and, overnight, there were twice as many NHL slots to be filled.
A handful, but not many, went to college players. In that 1969 draft seven college players were selected by NHL teams (the draft age was 20 then). While Magnuson was bypassed, Michigan C Bernard Gagnon, Minnesota D Wally Olds, North Dakota D Mike Baumgartner, Denver C Lynn Powis, Colorado College LW Dale Yutsyk, North Dakota C Dave Hudson, and Colorado College C Bob Collyard were all selected.
Only Hudson and Powis played over twenty NHL games. Magnuson, who signed with the Blackhawks as a free agent at that September’s training camp, played 11 years, all with Chicago, and appeared in 549 regular-season games, scoring just 14 goals, and notching 1,442penalty minutes. He was a two-time all-star
Funeral arrangements for Magnuson, who lived in the Chicago area and was a huge advocate of kids taking the NCAA route, are incomplete.
More Changes for U.S. Junior Team
Maine goaltender Jimmy Howard, a veteran of last year's U.S. National Junior Team, sprained his knee while stepping on a puck during warmups prior to Saturday's game vs. Dartmouth, and will miss this year's World Junior Championship. As an '84, he's losing his last kick at the can as far as the WJC is concerned. He's expected to be able to resume play with the Black Bears in early January.
Howard will be replaced on the junior team by 5'10", 180 lb. Michigan State freshman goaltender Dominic Vicari, who has played in 11 games for the Spartans this season and has a 2.36 gaa and a .918 save percentage. Vicari, from Clinton Township, Michigan, played for the River City Lancers (USHL) last season. He's an '84, too.
Harvard defenseman Dylan Reese is also a scratch, though this is less of a surprise as the freshman defenseman from Pittsburgh, PA has missed the last half dozen Crimson games with a pinched nerve in his back. Reese is also an '84.
Reese will be replaced by 6'0", 195 lb. Matt Hunwick, a freshman at the University of Michigan and an NTDP graduate. Hunwick is an '85 and eligible for June's NHL draft.
The National Junior Team will convene in New York on Thursday and fly out for Finland late Friday afternoon. Their first game is on Fri. Dec. 26 vs. Austria.
He’s Used to Winning
6’1”, 190 lb. LW Matt Thomey of the Niagara Falls Canucks (Golden Horseshoe League) has committed to Yale University.
Thomey, a 2/4/86 birthdate, is the leading scorer for Niagara Falls, who are undefeated through the first 27 games of the season (21-0-5-1).
Thomey, a left wing who goes to the net hard and has a strong shot, has a 17-13-30 line in 25 games played.
A Big Get for the Wildcats
6’2”, 177 lb. Cushing Academy LD Keith Yandle has committed to the University of New Hampshire, where his older brother, Brian Yandle, is a sophomore defenseman.
The younger Yandle, a 9/9/86 birthdate from Milton, Mass., is a sophomore at Cushing, which means that he’s scheduled to arrive at UNH as a 20-year-old freshman the season after his brother graduates.
While still on the raw side, we have a hard time seeing Yandle still playing prep hockey at 19, particularly in this era of acceleration.We’ll just have to see how that one plays out.
At any rate, for now, he’s scheduled to graduate from Cushing in 2006.
Yandle, an “A” player in Central Scouting’s Preliminary Ranking last month, is projected to go around the third round of June’s NHL draft.
He’s a big, strong strapping kid who plays physically and with a real edge. He has a bomb of a shot, which he showed off against Exeter (he had a goal and two assists) after formally committing to UNH yesterday.
His upside is greater than his brother, as he fits the NHL prototype more, but he doesn’t have the precision and patience with the puck that his brother exhibited at the same age. That may come, though. Yesterday, from just inside his own zone, he hit a streaking Cushing forward at the opposing blueline with a tape-to-tape pass through the neutral zone.
The tug of war for Yandle came down to BU and UNH. After the Wildcats lost Cushing forward Boomer Ewing to BU at -- or after -- the last minute over the summer, you can be sure that for the UNH staff this one might ease the sting, at least somewhat, of last night’s loss to Merrimack.
Cushing Tops First USHR Regular-Season Prep Poll
Cushing Academy, picked #1 in our pre-season poll, also sits atop the first 2003-04 regular season prep poll.
Click below for the full poll.
Brown Out, Stafford In for World Juniors
Los Angeles Kings RW Dustin Brown, a key member of last year's U.S. National Junior Team, is out with a high ankle sprain and will be unable to participate in this year's tournament, which starts Dec. 26 in Finland.
Brown's spot on the roster will be taken by Drew Stafford of the University of North Dakota. Stafford, who played at Shattuck-St. Mary's last season, is averaging better than a point per game as a freshman (11 gp --5-7-12).
Center Ryan Kesler of Vancouver has not yet been granted his official release for the tournament by the Canucks. It is expected to come, perhaps by Monday.
Danny Fritsche has already been granted a release to play in the tournament by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
EJHL To Consider Expansion Today
Today, amidst a 14-game slate at the Lowell Lock Monsters Tournament in Fitchburg, Mass., owners of the 12 existing Eastern Junior Hockey League teams will listen to proposals from three groups hoping to join the league as expansion franchises starting next fall.
The three groups are:
1. The Portland Junior Pirates.
Run as an independent this year, the Sean O’Brien-coached team has the support of the eponymous AHL franchise whose CEO is former Harvard goalie and USA Hockey bigwig Brian Petrovek, who carries some clout. The Pirates have played in numerous tournaments with EJHL teams and are the only one of the three teams seeking admittance that already exist. However, one thing EJHL members realize is that the league has reached – surpassed, really – the saturation point in the New England area.Would they overlook that and bring Portland on anyway?
2. New Jersey:
This proposed franchise will be owned by Peter Masters, Chris Masters and the Boston Junior Bruins, an arrangement that would be new to the EJHL, though quite common in the USHL. Whether that turns out to be a stumbling block is hard to predict. Some league members feel the time is right to expand even further outside of New England, and especially to regions rich in players, and others don't. About 11 new Div. I players a year come out of the area stretching from NJ down to Virginia, and about 15 kids a year move north to prep school from the area. Those kids will be the proposed franchise’s target group. If they get in, the New Jersey franchise will be run by Toby Harris, a teammate of Masters’ for four years at Boston College. Harris now manages the Rock Ice Palace in Dunellen, NJ, which is in the central part of the state, about halfway between Trenton and Manhattan, and reachable from the Philadelphia area. It’s about seven miles east of John Sabo, Sr’s Bridgewater Rink, the home of the New Jersey Rockets, one of the the state’s two premier youth organizations (the New Jersey Jr. Devils are the other). Jim Hunt, most recently the Fairfield University head coach and now the operator of an arena in Wayne, NJ, forty miles north, has agreed to coach a midget AAA squad under the franchise’s aegis.
3. Rochester, N.Y.
Little is known about this proposed group’s plans, other than the fact that John Dvorak is the prime mover behind it and that they plan to play out of the ISL Center, where USA Hockey has held its 14 and 16 Select Festivals over the past couple of summers. Rochester, which briefly had an NAHL team that featured Stephen Gionta and Thomas Vanek before going belly up a few years back, wants to avoid the Ontario Provincial League. Syracuse, an hour to the east, has a team in that league, which now numbers 30 franchises and has become extremely watered down. On top of that, the Provincial League is far more difficult for the eastern college coaches to get to than, say, most of the EJHL towns. Actually, right now, some Rochester-area kids -- Jon Marshall and Torren DelForte, for example -- play for the Junior Bruins. If this franchise passes muster and is accepted into the league, those same kids will be able to play at home. However, the road trips will still be long.
The EJHL meeting will take place at 4:00 pm at the Wallace Civic Center, and there could be some heated discussion, particularly as some teams will feel that their choice recruiting grounds are being moved in on.
It takes eight of 12 votes for an expansion franchise to win acceptance into the league. The expansion franchise fee is reported to be $15,000.
A vote is not expected at tomorrow’s meeting, just presentations and discussion. It’s expected that the vote will come no later than the end of January, as teams will need to lay their groundwork for next season.
A New Junior Team for Massachusetts
Former RPI forward Bill Flanagan, who coached Austin Prep for the last six years, will be heading up a new junior team that will play out of the Ice Hut in Dracut, Mass., just outside Lowell about 35 miles northwest of Boston.
The team, the Northern Massachusetts Cyclones, will join the Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AJHL) next fall. The AJHL, not to be confused with the Alberta Junior Hockey League, presently consists of the NY Bobcats, Connecticut Wolf Pack, NJ Junior Titans, Philadelphia Little Flyers, North Jersey Avalanche, and Washington Nationals .
Flanagan also hopes to ice a Junior B team in the Metropolitan Hockey League.
The Cyclones are owned by Flanagan, his younger brother, Joe, and Tony Dalessio, who all worked together at Austin Prep.
Bill Flanagan will coach the Cyclones. Dalessio, who assisted Flanagan at Austin Prep and has run the Cyclones Midget and Bantam programs for the past three years, will be his assistant coach/GM. Joe Flanagan, a top scorer at UNH in the early ‘90s, will coach the proposed Met League team.
In other Massachusetts news, The Pond in Norwood, about 25 miles southwest of Boston, have a new hockey director in Phoenix Coyotes scout and former Matignon and UNH standout Steve Lyons. The Pond, whose president is Jim Piatelli, a former Kent player, contains a 50x100 rink, something we think is excellent for helping develop young hockey players, forcing them, because of the smaller area, to handle the puck more adroitly and quickly. Anyone who has ever watched a mite skate back deep into his own end -- on an Olympic sheet -- and pick up a puck and carry it up ice while the nearest opponent is fifty feet away can see the developmental advantage oflearning on the small sheets. Call 781-762-9055 or visit www.thepondsofnorwood.comfor more information.
A Playmaker for Brown
5’11”, 175 lb. RC Brian McNary of the St. Albert’s Saints (AJHL) will be heading to Brown next fall.
McNary, who played on the 2003 Alberta Under-17 Team, is a standout playmaker.
A 5/23/86 birthdate, McNary posted a 9-23-32 line in 58 games as a rookie last season. This season, he has an 11-24-35 line in 32 games, which ties him for 15th in the league in points. He's the center on a line that includes Nick Johnson, who’ll be attending Dartmouth next fall.
A native of Edmonton, McNary played midget hockey for the Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask.
Michigan Tech offered him a full scholarship, and he was scheduled to visit Harvard this weekend. However, when Harvard landed Holy Angels center Mike Taylor last week, McNary, for obvious reasons, decided to pass on the visit and commit to Brown.
U.S. National Junior Team Named
The 22-man U.S. National Junior Team was officially named today, and features 12 forwards, eight D, and two goaltenders.
The forwards are:
Dustin Brown* (Los Angeles – NHL)
Patrick Eaves (BC)
Ryan Kesler* (Vancouver – NHL)
Greg Moore* (Maine)
Patrick O’Sullivan* (Mississauga – OHL)
Zach Parise* (North Dakota)
Brett Sterling* (CC)
Stephen Werner (UMass).
Brady Murray (North Dakota)
Danny Fritsche (Columbus – NHL)
Jake Dowell (Wisconsin)
David Booth (Michigan State)
Fritsche has been cleared by Columbus to go, but there’s still a chance, rather remote, that Brown and/or Kesler could be retained by their NHL teams. That would give a shot to someone else, likely North Dakota’s Drew Stafford.
The defensemen are:
Matt Carle (Denver)
Jeff Likens (Wisconsin)
Corey Potter (Michigan St.)
Mark Stuart* (CC)
Ryan Suter* (Wisconsin)
James Wisniewski* (Plymouth – OHL)
Danny Richmond (London – OHL)
Dylan Reese (Harvard)
The goaltenders will be:
Jimmy Howard* (Maine)
Alvaro Montoya (Michigan)
16 players(8 F, 6 D, 2 G) were named in October. The six players added since then are Fritsche, Murray, Dowell, and Booth up front, and Richmond and Reese on the blue line.
Players who played in last year’s WJC are noted by an asterisk above (Eaves was named to the squad last year but was unable to go due to injury.)
The team will fly out of New York on Dec. 19th and hold their camp in Finland.
2004 IIHF World Junior Championship
December 26, 2003 to January 5, 2004
Helsinki and Hameenlinna, Finland
Fri. Dec. 26 -- Austria vs. USA (Hameenlinna)
Sun. Dec. 28 -- USA vs. Slovakia (Hameenlinna)
Tues. Dec. 30 -- USA vs. Sweden (Hameenlinna)
Wed. Dec. 31 -- Russia vs. USA (Hameenlinna)
Thurs. Jan. 1 -- Quarterfinal Round (Helsinki)
Sat. Jan. 3 -- Semifinal Round (Helsinki)
Sun. Jan. 4 -- Fifth-Place Game (Helsinki)
Mon. Jan. 5 -- Bronze-Medal Game (Helsinki)
Gold-Medal Game (Helsinki)
Harvard Gets Another Minnesotan
5’11” Holy Angels LC Mike Taylor will be playing for Harvard University next season.
Taylor, who played 10 games with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) this fall and notched five assists, returned to his high school team, which opened its season last night with a 10-0 win over Farmington.
As a junior last season, Taylor played LW and finished the season as one of the top scorers in the state with a 33-40-73 line, just six points behind teammate Jimmy Kilpatrick, who has graduated and is playing the full season with Green Bay.
Taylor, a 2/12/86 birthdate from Maple Grove, Minn., chose Harvard over Colorado College, the University of Minnesota, and Notre Dame. Harvard had been onto him since last season.
Taylor is one of those players whose individual skills are good but not exceptional. You won’t see eye-popping speed or stick skills, though he does have one of the better backhanders around. What you’ll see in Taylor is a very well-rounded player who is solid in every aspect of his game, but excellent when it comes to reading the playHe combines on-ice intelligence with hard work.
Taylor joins forwards David Watters (Des Moines), Alex Meintel (Taft), and Paul Dufault (Walpole) as well as D Chris Kelley (Green Bay) in Harvard’s current recruiting class.
Taylor joins Watters as the first Minnesota players recruited by Harvard during the Mark Mazzoleni era. The last Minnesotan to play for the Crimson was Peter Capouch, a Hibbing native who graduated in 2002. Capouch was recruited by Ronn Tomassoni and staff.
Note: If Holy Angels’ 10-0 win looks bad, try this: On Tuesday night, Centennial, led by senior Tom Gorowsky, who had seven points, walloped Blaine 17-0. Blaine, you may recall won the Minnesota State AA championship behind Brandon Bochenski in 2000. Bochenski, now a junior at North Dakota, goes into this weekend leading the Fighting Sioux in scoring.
National Junior Team Nearly Set
Head coach Mike Eaves and the staff of the U.S. National Junior Team hoped to have this year’s team announced by now.
That won’t happen, though they are very close.
One point debated was whether to go with 13 forwards and seven D, or 12 forwards and eight D.
The latter won out and the following eight defenseman have been named:
Matt Carle (Denver), Jeff Likens (Wisconsin); Corey Potter (Michigan St.); Dylan Reese (Harvard); Danny Richmond (London – OHL); Mark Stuart (CC); Ryan Suter (Wisconsin); and James Wisniewski (Plymouth – OHL).
Jason Dest (Michigan); Matt Hunwick (Michigan); and Matt Smaby (North Dakota) were close, but no cigar.
Up front, ten players have accepted invitations and are guaranteed spots, though three of them are with NHL teams right now and it’s possible that a situation could arise where one has to stay with the big club. At any rate, the ten chosen ones are Dustin Brown (Los Angeles – NHL); Patrick Eaves (BC); Danny Fritsche (Columbus – NHL); Ryan Kesler (Vancouver – NHL); Greg Moore (Maine); Brady Murray (North Dakota); Patrick O’Sullivan (Mississauga – OHL); Zach Parise (North Dakota); Brett Sterling (CC); and Stephen Werner (UMass).
Of the three NHLers, the main question mark is Kesler, though the U.S. coaching staff is expecting to hear from Vancouver GM Brian Burke tomorrow. If the above ten can all go, then the final two spots will come from Jake Dowell (Wisconsin), Drew Stafford (North Dakota), and David Booth (Michigan State). Dowell is said to be a heavy favorite for at least one of those two spots. Stafford would be our hunch for the second spot as Booth has been out over a month with a knee injury.
Barring a rash of injuries, the foursome of Robbie Earl (Wisconsin), T.J. Hensick (Michigan), Danny Irmen (Minnesota), and Hugh Jessiman (Dartmouth) – all closely watched this fall -- will not make the junior team: Earl and Hensick are ‘85s and have another year of junior eligibility left; Irmen and Jessiman, both ‘84s, do not.
The goaltenders will be Jimmy Howard (Maine) and Alvaro Montoya (Michigan).
Brady Murray, who attended Canada’s junior camp this summer, was not offered a guaranteed spot on the Canadian junior team, so opted to play for the U.S, where he was offered a guaranteed spot. Though Murray’s father, LA Kings head coach Andy Murray, has been involved with Canadian national teams for years and is a strong contender for the head job with Team Canada in next August and September’s World Cup of Hockey, the younger Murray has spent most of his hockey playing years – eight and counting -- in the U.S., most recently at Shattuck and, now, North Dakota. An ’84, Murray is in his last year of eligibility and just wanted to play in the tournament.
The younger Murray holds dual citizenship and is set to be naturalized on Dec. 10. He was born in Brandon, Manitoba, but his mother, Ruth, is an American. Murray has close ties to head coach Eaves, as well as players Patrick Eaves and Parise, the latter being his Shattuck-St. Mary’s and college teammate as well as best friend. Stafford was also a teammate of Murray’s at Shattuck.
-- London Knights (OHL) center Robbie Schremp, shortly after finding out he wouldn’t be invited, told the London Free Press of his disappointment, saying “I thought I had a good camp. I thought I was among the top 12 forwards. I have no idea what I had to do more to impress them.”
We know what he could have done: show more ability away from the puck. On top of that is the fact that he’s only 17, and it’s a rare player of that age who has stood out at the WJC, basically considered a 19-year-old’s tournament. Of the twenty named to the U.S. team thus far,15 are ‘84s, five are ‘85s, and none are ‘86s (Shremp’s birth year). This is as deep, strong, veteran team with an excellent chance of winning the whole thing.
Schremp, asked if he would play for the U.S. in next year’s WJC, to be held in Grand Forks, ND, said, “I’d have to think about it.”
-- The team will convene in New York on Dec. 18th and fly to Finland on the 19th. The U.S. mini camp will take place in the week leading up to the tournament, which begins Dec. 26 in Helsinki and Hameenlinna. The tournament concludes Jan. 5.
-- By the way, only one player on the team is from New England, and that’s Greg Moore of Lisbon, Maine (pop. 1,400).
It seems like a long way off right now, but this list -- the dates for the Summer 2004 USA Hockey Festivals -- might come in handy to some of you trying to plan a vacation for next summer.
Select 16 Festival; June 26-July 2, 2004 -- Rochester, NY
Select 17 Festival; July 10-16, 2004 -- St. Cloud, Minn.
Select 14 Player Development Camp; July 17-23, 2004; Rochester, NY
Select 15 Player Development Camp; July 31-August 6, 2004 -- St. Cloud, Minn.
A 2-way Forward -- for 3 Years
6'1", 185 lb. Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) C/RW Jamie Carroll has committed to Providence College for next fall.
Carroll, who is the all-time leading scorer at the Berkshire School, played for Iona (MAAC) last year and, as a freshman, was the third-leading scorer on the team (35 gp-14-13-27). The Gaels, toward the end of the season, dropped hockey as a Div. I sport, and in May Carroll was picked in the first round of the USHL draft by the RoughRiders.
Carroll is a solid two-way player who will put up his share of points. He's also reported to be a great leader -- he's the captain of the RoughRiders, who have moved up to take over first place in the USHL's East Division, and was also the captain at Berkshire.
A native of Andover, Conn., Carroll is a 10/25/83 birthdate. In 21 games for Cedar Rapids, he has an 8-8-16 scoring line with a +6.
A batch of schools called Carroll -- BU, Maine, UNH, Northeastern, Merrimack, Lake Superior State -- but the Friar staff was onto him first, and actively recruiting him. He's the second player to commit to Providence over the last week, joining ex-Governor Dummer and current New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) defenseman Marc Bastarache, who committed just before Thanksgiving
Carroll, of course, has already used up one year of his NCAA eligiblity.
Cushing, Proctor #1 in USHR Pre-Season Polls
Cushing is our pick as the top team in Div. I, while we expect Proctor, last year’s Div. II champion, to repeat.
The full Div. I and Div. II polls can be found in the Boy’s Prep Section.
Tomorrow, for the first time since last February, there is a full slate of games on tap. The time is right, too, as the temperature is at the freezing point and there’s snow falling in New England this morning.
Week of Feb. 23-29, 2004
Mon. Feb. 23
Hotchkiss @ Canterbury, 4:15 (makeup of Sat. 12/6)
Andover @ Belmont Hill, 4:45 (makeup of Fri. 2/6)
Wed. Feb. 25
Cushing @ Holderness, 2:30 (makeup of Fri. 2/6)
Loomis @ Choate 2:30
Hotchkiss @ Salisbury 2:30
Trinity-Pawling @ Taft 2:30
Gunnery @ Westminster 2:30
Avon@ Canterbury 2:30
Brewster @ Holderness 2:30
Tilton @ Milton 3:00
Williston @ Albany Academy 3:30
Andover @ NMH 3:30
Lawrence @ St. Sebastian’s 3:30
Belmont Hill @ St. Paul’s 3:45
Bridgton @ Hebron 4:00
Kent @ Deerfield 4:00
Pomfret @ Exeter 4:00
Millbrook @ Berkshire 4:30
Gov. Dummer @ Nobles 4:45
KUA @ Tabor 5:00
Thayer @ BB&N 5:15
Thurs. Feb. 26
Hebron @ Bridgton4:00
Fri. Feb. 27
Empire Cup at Millbrook and Trinity-Pawling Schools (Day 1 of 2):
Albany Academy, Hill, Millbrook, T-P, and Lawrenceville.
Winchendon @ Williston 5:00
Proctor @ Berkshire 6:00
Brooks @ Gov. Dummer 6:30
Sat. Feb. 28
Empire Cup at Millbrook and Trinity-Pawling Schools (Day 2 of 2):
Albany Academy, Hill, Millbrook, T-P, and Lawrenceville.
St. Sebastian’s vs. Thayer (@ BC)12:00
BB&N @ Belmont Hill 1:00
Salisbury @ Canterbury 2:30
Taft @ Hotchkiss 2:30
Lawrence @ St. Paul’s 2:45
Holderness @ Cushing 3:00
Exeter @ Andover 4:00
Choate @ Kent 4:00
Pomfret @ KUA 4:00
Nobles @ Milton 4:00
Berkshire @ Gunnery 4:30
Holderness @ Cushing5:00
Williston @ Tilton3:30
Tabor @ NMH 5:30
Westminster @ Deerfield 6:00
Loomis @ Avon 7:30
Sun. Feb. 29
South Kent @ Winchendon 3:00