NTDP Adds Two Forwards for Under-18s
Forwards Andreas Vlassopoulos, a highly-skilled LW from the Los Angeles Stars Midget AAA program; and Justin Mercier, a gritty LW from Erie, PA, have been added to the U.S. Under-18 Team for this coming season.
Both were picked out of this week’s Select 17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn. Vlassopoulos, 5’11” and 175 lbs., is a fun player to watch. He has excellent vision, is a great skater, has a real nose for the net and a shot to match. He’s very quick and agile, frequently fooling opponents with head fakes -- a pure skill player.
Mercier, a Honeybaked product, played last season for the now-defunct St. Louis Heartland Eagles where he was one of the USHL’s few ‘87s-- actually, one of ten. Mercier, 6’0” and 185 lbs., is a gritty power forward who’s at his best along the walls and in the corner. He’ll be expected to fill the role left by departed Nick Foligno, who has left the NTDP to play for his father, Mike, the head coach of the Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Both Vlassopoulos and Mercier were expecting to play this season in the USHL, the former for Des Moines, and the latter with Lincoln.
Governor Dummer Academy forward Benn Ferriero, a 5’11” Essex, Mass. native and a Boston College recruit, was also invited, but turned down the NTDP for the second time in two years.
Players now gone from last season’s Under-17 Team are forwards Scott Birnstill and Nate Lawrence, both of whom will be playing in the USHL in the coming season, and Foligno. One defenseman is gone – Erik Felde. He’ll be playing in the USHL, too.
Another forward, 6’1” ’88 Peter Mueller, a Minnesota recruit, may be gone before long, too, to either the USHL or WHL. His rights in the Dub are owned by the Everett Silvertips, coached by Kevin Constantine.
It’s yet to be determined if the NTDP will take on a new defenseman to replace Felde, or stand pat, and retain flexibility. If so, the top candidate is likely to be 6’2” RD Brian Lee, a North Dakota recruit from Moorhead (Minn.) HS. Lee was unable to play in this week’s Select Festival due to a concussion. Others who might be under consideration for a slot on the National Team include 5’11” RD Ryan Turek, a Michigan State recruit; 6’0” LD Taylor Chorney, also a North Dakota recruit; 5’11” RD Kyle Lawson; and 6’1” LD Tim Kunes, a BC recruit. Not only is it likely to depend on whether the NTDP feels that it is even necessary to bring in another D-man, but what kind of player the team needs.
Highly sought-after Coquitlam Express (BCHL) RW Brock Bradford has his college choices down to Boston College, Minnesota, and Denver. The general feeling is that BC has the upper hand due to Bradford’s friendship with Eagles’ recruit Danny Bertram – they’re close buddies, joined at the hip. It’s also possible that Bradford is waiting to see how Bertram likes playing at the Heights before he makes his pick. Another factor that could weigh in BC’s favor is the fact that Bradford’s sister, Ashley, plays for the Colgate women’s team. At any rate, it appears there’s an eastern predilection in the family.
Bradford is friendly with Minnesota recruit Chris Chucko, another BCHL product, but Chucko is a year older, and it’s just not the same as it is with Bertram.
Speaking of Bradford and Bertram, they – and Michigan recruit Andrew Cogliano – will be the only college-bound players among the forty candidates for Canada’s National Under-18 Team who will be gathering for training camp starting today in Calgary. Alb. The camp runs through Fri. Aug. 6.
The other 37 players, selected by Blair Mackasey, Hockey Canada’s head scout and the father of former Deerfield Academy and current Princeton defenseman B.J. Mackasey, are all major junior kids. There are some good ones too. In addition to the above-mentioned troika, Gilbert Brule, Mark Staal, Patrick McNeil and others will be competing for slots. The U.S., first-time winners of the tournament last summer, may have their hands full if they meet the Canadians, which, as fate would have it, could only happen in the semis (Aug. 14) or the gold medal game (Aug. 15).
The tournament starts Aug. 10 and will take place at two locations in the Czech Republic and one across the border in Slovakia.
Bradford, who’s a 5’10”, 170 lb. right shot forward, can play center or wing and is highly skilled, possessing the ability to skate equally fast with and without the puck. He’sexceptionally good at finding open players.He’s not a physical player, but he doesn’t really have to be – he just sees it.
Small, Quick Forward for Bowling Green
5’7”, 155 lb. Jacob Cepis, the leading scorer at the Select 17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn.a couple of weeks ago, has made a verbal commitment to Bowling Green for the ’06-07 season.
Cepis is a late ’87 – very late, 12/21/87 to be precise – and will be a junior in high school this year. Last year, he played 65 games for the Cleveland Barons Midgets and posted a 33-44-77 line. He will play for the Cleveland Barons NAHL team this coming season. (He actually played six games for them last year, and notched five points in six games).
A skilled centerman, Cepis, who’s from Parma, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, is quick, has a good stick, and a strong sense of the game.
Michigan was also recruiting him.
North Dakota alum Ian Kallay, who has a year under his belt as an assistant at Michigan Tech, will not be pursuing the open assistant’s position at his alma mater. Kallay, a top scorer on the ’96-97 NCAA champion Fighting Sioux, has also served as an assistant at Green Bay (USHL), and head coach at Drayton Valley (AJHL).
Sanguinetti Bails for the O
6’2”, 173 lb. RD Bobby Sanguinetti, who had committed to the NTDP for the coming season, has signed with the Owen Sound Attack.
Owen Sound had drafted Sanguinetti, a Lumberton, NJ native who played for the Lawrenceville School, late in the fourth round of the OHL draft back in early May.
Sanguinetti’s agent is Joe Resnick, who is reported to have a strong working relationship with Owen Sound ownership.
Last year, also at this time, the NTDP had another committed player, RW Bobby Ryan, reneg on his commitment and sign with the Attack.
’88 D-man Commits to Terriers
6’1”, 185 lb. LD Brian Strait, who’ll be entering the NTDP next month, committed to Boston University last night.
Strait, who played at Northfield-Mt. Hermon the past two years, and will be an 11th grader this coming season, will arrive in the fall of '06.
Strait is a 1/4/88 birthdate. He’s a strong skater who sees the ice well, moves the puck adroitly, plays with a ton of poise, is excellent in his own end, and can chip in on offense. He’s a well-rounded player.
A native of Waltham, Mass. Strait was taken to his first BU game at age seven, and has been a Terriers fan ever since. It’s where he wanted to go all along.
As of now the Terriers defense for ’06-07 will consist of seniors Thomas Morrow, Sean Sullivan, and Kevin Schaeffer; juniors Kevin Kielt and Danny McGoff,; no sophs; and, of course, Strait.
Speaking of Northfield-Mt. Hermon, the Hoggers do not have a new coach as of this writing. However, over the last week, the administration started interviewing candidates. Jeff Matthews, the NMH coach for the last two seasons, took an assistant’s post at RPI, his alma mater, earlier this month.
New ’87 D for NTDP
5’11”, 200 lb. Kyle Lawson, who played last season for the Honeybaked Midgets, will be joining the National Program for the upcoming season.
The addition of Lawson, who has committed to Notre Dame for the '05-06 season, gives the Under-18 team another guy to run the power play behind Jack Johnson.
Lawson, a right shot, had a 17-41-58 line for Honeybaked last winter. A 1/11/87 birthdate, he’s from New Hudson, Michigan. He was on the most recent roster 25-man protected list of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders (USHL).
Lawson will be going to the Under-18 Junior World Cup in the Czech Republic Aug. 10-15 with forwards Justin Mercier and Andreas Vlassopoulos, two other recent additions to the NTDP.
Here are the schedules for the NTDP’s Under-18 and Under-17 teams for the upcoming season.
7/27/04 Updated, with correction
Backman to Yale
Last night, we reported that Avon Old Farms 5’9”, 165 lb. LW Sean Backman had committed to Yale for the ’05-06 season.
That’s only partly true: Backman, a Greenwich, Conn. native, has committed to Yale, but for ’06-07, not '05-06. After graduating from Avon, he will play a year of juniors, with the league and team to be determined later.
Backman, who had a 15-14-29 line for Avon, the New England prep champs last season, is a quick, skilled forward whose father, Mike, played 18 games for the New York Rangers in the early ‘80s. Backman Sr. also played for the New Haven Nighthawks (AHL), down the street from Yale.
Note: Yale hockey recruit Mike Karwoski, who’ll also be arriving at Yale in the fall of ’05, is also among the country's top lacrosse recruits, and will be playing both sports for the Eli, something Yale’s Christian Jensen is currently doing. The two will overlap for one season, giving the Eli hockey team two two-sport athletes. Maybe someday, if we’re lucky and live long enough, we may see the return of three-sport athletes. In the meantime, we can just hope.
Hakstol’s First Recruit
U.S. NTDP defenseman Zach Jones has committed to North Dakota, becoming the first recruit of the Dave Hakstol era, which officially began on July 9.
Jones, who’s 5’10’, 175 lbs. and a left shot, will arrive in Grand Forks in the fall of ’05, several months after his brother, Fighting Sioux defenseman Matt Jones, graduates.
Jones started last season with the US Under-17 Team, played 45 games, and, in February, was moved up to the older team to prepare for the World Under-18 Championship in April, where he excelled. Since he was an underager, he will be eligible for next April’s Under-18s as well.
In 64 games last season, Jones was 2-11-13 with 56 pims. A 1/14/87 birthdate, Jones is a native of Lisle, Ill. and played for the Chicago Chill Midgets before arriving in Ann Arbor last fall.
Jones, who enjoyed playing for David Quinn on the Under-17 Team last season, recently visited Boston Univeristy. His final choice came down to the Terriers and North Dakota.
Jones, who enjoyed playing for David Quinn on the Under-17 Team last season, recently visited Boston Univeristy. His final choice came down to the Terriers and North Dakota.
Top BCHL Defenseman Picks Denver
Julian Marcuzzi, one of just a handful of top North American prospects still remaining for ’05-06, has committed to the national champion Denver Pioneers.
Marcuzzi, a 5’11”, 190 lb. native of Vancouver, was a rookie in the BCHL last season, and right from the start showed himself to be someone who can run the power play. For Denver, he’ll be the guy who can contribute in the Matt Carle-Brett Skinner mode. In addition to his power play skills, Marcuzzi is very competitive, wins battles for the puck, and likes to be involved physically.
Marcuzzi plays for the Salmon Arms Silverbacks, who, last season, lost to Nanaimo in the BCHL championship series. In 40 regular season games, he was 4-22-26 with 71 pims.
A 4/5/87 birthdate, Marcuzzi is eligible for June’s NHL draft. He has first round skills but, at 5’11”, he’ll go lower.
Denver head coach George Gwozdecky made the July 1 trip to Marcuzzi’s home in Gibsons, BC to seal the deal.
BC Loading Up on the Blue Line
6’2”, 205 lb. LD Tim Filangieri of the Waterloo Black Hawks, the defending USHL champs, has committed to Boston College for the ’05-06 season.
Filangieri, a rookie in the USHL last season, “developed at a quick pace,” said Black Hawks head coach P.K.O’Handley. “He was one of our key guys down the stretch. For a young kid in this league he played like a man. He has strong defensive skills. He’s tough. He skates well. And he can handle the puck.
“Note that he was a plus 18 on the season,” added O’Handley, between sessions at Waterloo’s camp. “He’s a special kid. The skies the limit for him.”
Michigan and Boston University were other schools in the hunt for Filangieri.
A native of North Massapequa, NY, Filangieri played for the NY Bobcats in ‘02-03, and the LI Gulls Bantams the year before that.
An 8/18/87 birthdate, Filangieri is eligible for next June’s NHL draft.
When BC opens the ’05-06 season, they will have eight scholarship defensemen on their roster. One senior – Peter Harrold; no juniors; three sophs – Brian O’Hanley, Mike Brennan, and Todd Perry; and four freshmen – Tim Kunes, Brett Motherwell, Anthony Aiello, and Filangieri.
O’Hanley, an offensive d-man, could probably play up on the wing if necessary.
Speed for the Big Red
6’1”, 195 lb. Matt Connors, a fast, high-scoring wing with Nichols School and the Buffalo Saints midget major team, has committed to Cornell for the fall of ’05.
Connors, a right shot from Buffalo Grove, NY, is a big get for Cornell. He’s an exciting player who creates numerous chances with his speed, often breaking free for a breakaway. His size and ability to finish round out the picture. Last year, Connors played a combined 70 games for Nichols and the Saints, and finished with a 78-51-129 line. The other schools in Connors’ final five were Maine, Michigan State, Yale, and Dartmouth.
Last winter, it looked to many observers as if Connors would be heading toward Michigan State. Chris Mueller, a linemate of Connors at school and midgets, had already committed to the Spartans (for this fall). In the spring, former Saints linemate Tim Kennedy committed to Michigan State for ‘05. It appeared Connors might be heading there too, but he had a different idea, and will be keeping his game back home in the Empire State.
An 11/15/86 birthdate, Connors, who will be a senior in high school this season, will be billeting on Long Island and playing for New York Apple Core (EJHL).
Connors is eligible for next June’s NHL Draft.
U.S. Under-18 Select Team Named
USA Hockey has released its twenty-man roster for the Under-18 Select Team which will take part in the 2004 Under-18 World Junior Cup Aug. 10-15 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The U.S. team, according to today’s press release, “is composed of players chosen from the 2004 USA Hockey Select 17 Festival…” Hours earlier, USA Hockey's $2 million web site stated that the team to be named would be an "all-star" team from the festival.
However, one defenseman named to the team, North Dakota recruit Brian Lee of Moorhead (Minn.) HS, did not even play at the Select 17 Festival. Lee, who had been named to the Minnesota team, suffered a concussion in advance of the tournament. His roster spot was filled by another player.
In the recent past, select teams sent overseas for the August tournaments have always been the exclusive domain of players who actually played in the 16 & 17 festivals. This year, an exception was made, and people were not told in advance. A new precedent has thus been set, and it’s sure to open up a Pandora’s box.
It’s highly likely that Lee, had he played, would have made the team. He’s that good. He was also on the team last year, but so were nine other kids – Zach Bearson, Andy Bohmbach, Ben Ketchum, Tim Miller, Chad Rau, Ryan Thang, Jon Ammerman, Jon Kearns, and Brian Foster -- who made last year’s Europe trip and who actually played at last week’s 17 Festival. Should any of them have received an automatic bye into the tournament? We don't think so. One player, Ketchum, played with a strained groin and a back injury last week. We know that head injuries comprise a separate category of injury, as is only right, but a single standard must still apply. If it was predetermined that Lee was going to be on the team, everyone should have been notified right away. Would that have made it right? Probably not, but it would have been several degrees superior to the way it was handled.
We suspect that what happened is two-fold. 1) The NTDP, which may add an '87 D, and is interested in Lee, wanted to evaluate him in international competition in order to possibly recruit him to Ann Arbor for this year and/or to see how Lee could help the Under-18 team in in-season international events and/or at April’s IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
Different people will likely have strong feelings on this one. We’re all for putting together the best possible team to represent the country, but if injured/inactive players are going to be added in, then everyone should have been notified of the new ground rules before the tourney began. Such an approach, though, would have been counterintuitive for USA Hockey, which is excessively secretive, particularly for a non-profit.
In sum, it’s never a good idea to spring new rules on kids after the fact. If grownups are setting rules, they better stick by them.
Given that this scenario just unfolded, we haven't had time to find out who made the final decision here -- and why. We imagine lips will be sealed all around, so if anyone has insight please call or e-mail us at information (at) ushr.com.
In addition to all the reasons mentioned above, the Lee situation detracts from the moment, taking attention away from the achievements of those who made the team.
And with that, here they are:
Goaltenders (2): Shane Connelly (Chicago Steel -USHL); Drew O'Connell(Alaska All Stars Midget AAA).
Defenseman (6): Taylor Chorney (Shattuck-St. Mary's); Jeremy Dehner (Culver Academy); Tim Kunes (New England Jr. Coyotes --EJHL); Kyle Lawson (Honeybaked Midget AAA); Brian Lee (Moorhead HS); Alec Martinez (Honeybaked Midget AAA).
Forwards (12): Hunter Bishop (Fairbanks Icedogs --NAHL); Kevin Deeth (Shattuck-St. Mary's); Benn Ferriero (Governor Dummer Academy); Shawn Gawrys (St. Louis Jr. Blues --CSHL); Ben Holmstrom (Sioux Falls Stampede -- USHL); Nathan Lawrence (NTDP); Justin Mercier (St. Louis Heartland Eagles --USHL); Sean O'Connor (Erie Otters -- OHL); Gary Steffes (Stratford Cullitons -- OHA); Mike Testwuide (Pikes Peak Miners Midget AAA); Evan Trupp (Anchorage North Stars Midget AAA); Andreas Vlassopoulos (LA Stars Midget AAA).
Head Coach: Roger Grillo (Brown University). Assistant Coaches: Kenny Rausch (UMass-Lowell) and Darren Turcotte (Brentwood, Tenn.).
2004 Under-18 Junior World Cup Schedule
(U.S. Games Only)
Aug. 10 4:30 p.m.* USA vs. Finland Hodonin, Czech Rep.
Aug. 11 4:30 p.m.* USA vs. Russia Breclav, Czech Rep.
Aug. 12 4:30 p.m.* USA vs. Czech Rep. Hodonin, Czech Rep.
Aug. 14 TBD Semifinal Round TBD
Aug. 15 TBD Gold- & Bronze-Medal Games TBD
*10:30 a.m. EDT
Wild Escapes Injury in RI Highway Tragedy
Providence College ’05 recruit Cody Wild escaped injury in a Rhode Island car crash Monday night that claimed the life of the car’s driver, 17-year-old Luis J. Salvatore of North Providence.
The accident occurred around 10 pm on I-295 in Johnston, RI, just to the west of Providence. Wild was one of three passengers in a Jeep Cherokee, and the only one wearing a seatbelt. State police say that Salvatore swerved to avoid a car that had cut in front of the Cherokee, causing it to flip over several times, and killing the driver. All three passengers – Wild, Jeffrey Angell, 17, and Joseph L. Zambrano, 17 -- will be OK. Wild was treated and released at Rhode Island Hospital immediately afterwards. He was not admitted.
Police are looking for the car that precipitated the accident.
Wild had returned from St. Cloud, Minn. over the weekend, where he played on the New England team at the Select 17 Festival.
It’s Brown at BC
It’s official now. Former BC star Greg Brown will be returning to his alma mater as the Eagles new assistant. For more on Brown, please scroll down to the USHR news of 7/9/04.
Kessel, Jones and their College Options
NTDP blue-chip forward Phil Kessel toured the University of Minnesota on his way to St. Cloud for the Select 17s.
His top five consists of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, BC, and BU.
Kessel, who is an Oct. ’87 birthdate, and not eligible for the NHL draft until ’06, was a sophomore last season in the Ann Arbor high school system. In the coming academic year, he will accelerate. He will enter college in the fall of ’05.
Another blue chip recruit for the fall of ’05 is Kessel’s teammate in the NTDP, Zach Jones. Jones, who was excellent against the top international competition at the World Under-18 Championship in April, is reported as likely heading towards North Dakota, where his brother Matt plays. Matt will be a senior this season so will not overlap with his younger brother, a point not lost on David Quinn, Boston University’s associate coach. Quinn coached Zach last year in the NTDP, and is working hard to get Jones into Terrier red.
Quinn also coached Kessel last season.
Union’s First Recruit for ‘05
Union College’s first recruit for ’05 will be Augie DiMarzo, a small, skilled LW from Avon Old Farms.
DiMarzo, who is 5’7 and 155 lbs., scored the OT goal that gave Avon the New England Div. I prep title back in March.
A native of West Haven, Conn. and a 10/4/85 birthdate, DiMarzo had a 26-23-49 line for the Winged Beavers this past season.
DiMarzo is a Ryan Vesce waterbug type with excellent speed and quickness. He makes things happen and can snipe it. The Lincoln Stars (USHL) drafted him in the May draft, but he’s reported to be heading back to Avon for his senior year.
DiMarzo made his final choice from between Union and UMass.
The Indiana Ice (USHL) assistant coach for this season will be Pavel Nejezchleb, who started working with the club during the past season.
Nejezchleb, 24, is a native of Zdar, Czech Republic who played two seasons for the Danville Wings (NAHL) before that franchise jumped to the USHL and then moved to Indiana. Nejezchleb was a defenseman at Miami from 1998-2002.
The Ice may add another assistant, but are more likely to elevate a scout to recruiting coordinator. GM Josh Mervis likes the work of the team's Minnesota scout, Dean Grillo, and would like to increase his responsibilities and role.
The coaching version of musical chairs is ongoing this summer, with a lot of people getting up but not that many sitting back down.
It’s mid-July and here’s what we have.
Eight-year Lincoln Stars (USHL) head coach/GM Steve Johnson reportedly interviewed for the vacant assistant’s spot at the University of North Dakota on Monday. Johnson, 38, a Grand Forks native, was a forward for the Fighting Sioux from 1984-88. Johnson, before going into the USHL, spent a year as an assistant at his alma mater. Johnson has to be considered an extremely strong candidate for the UND job.
University of Nebraska-Omaha assistant coach Mark Strobel resigned his position with the Mavericks on Monday, and will go into private business. Strobel, a Wisconsin Badgers defenseman -- and captain in his senior year of ’94-95 -- had been at UNO for two years. Before that he was at Minnesota-Duluth for two years. Strobel started his coaching career as an assistant with the Twin Cities Vulcans (USHL).
’95 RPI alum Jeff Matthews, who has been the head hockey coach at Northfield-Mt. Hermon School for the past three seasons, will be signing on as an assistant on Dan Fridgen’s staff. Matthews, before coming to NMH, was an assistant at AIC. We have an unconfirmed report that Alabama-Huntsville assistant Lance West will be taking the other assistant’s post at RPI. In recent months, RPI assistants Ivan Moore and Andrew Will moved on, Moore into the business world and Will to take over as head coach and teacher at Upper Canada College, his alma mater.
Former Maine Black Bears All-America defenseman Chris Imes will be returning home to his native Minnesota to take over the defending state champion Elks River High School girl’s team. The Elk River girls won the Minnesota state championship this past March. Imes, a native of Indus, Minnesota, a small town on the Rainy River separating Minnesota from Ontario, will also be teaching social studies at Elk River.
AIC assistant Glenn Stewart, captain at UNH in ’94-95, is reported to be moving over to UConn as an assistant.
Here are the current job openings for college assistants:
North Dakota (1)
Robert Morris (1)
In the junior ranks, there are openings for assistants at:
Tri-City Storm – USHL (1)
Cleveland Barons – NAHL (1)
Indiana Ice – USHL (1)
In the prep ranks, Northfield-Mt. Hermon will be needing a head coach.
U.S. Under-17 Select Roster for Germany
USA Hockey released – finally -- the roster for the Under-17 Select Team that will represent the U.S. at the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament that will run from Aug. 24-28 at Halle de Saale, Germany.
Goaltenders (2): Neil Conway (Stouffville Jr. A); William Sauer (Buffalo Saints Midget AAA).
Defensemen (6): Corey Toy (Hotchkiss); Steven Kampfer (Little Caesar’s Midget AAA); Arne Krogh (Alaska All-Stars Midget AAA); Kevin McNamara (Belmont Hill); Will O’Neill (St. John’s Prep); Tysen Dowzak (Shattuck-St. Mary’s).
Forwards (12): Cory Callen (Salisbury); Tony Romano (Suffolk PAL Midget AAA); Brian Gibbons (Thayer); Patrick Kane (Honeybaked Midget AAA); Mario Lamoureux (Grand Forks Central); James Marcou (Suffolk PAL Midget AAA); Kyle Okposo (Shattuck-St. Mary’s Midget AAA); Doug Rogers (St. Sebastian’s); Brian Day (Governor Dummer); Tyler Ruegsegger (Shattuck-St. Mary’s Midget AAA); Ben Smith Boston Junior Bruins); Joe Whitney (Belmont Hill).
Head Coach: Andy Slaggert (Notre Dame). Assistant Coaches: David Berard (Providence College) and Tom Rudrud (Tri-City Storm).
Bailey to NTDP
University of Michigan ’05-06 recruit Jason Bailey of the Nepean Raiders (CJHL) will be joining the NTDP’s Under-18 team for the upcoming season.
Bailey, a 6’1”, 200 lb. right wing, is a tough, strong physical power forward who goes right through opponents.
A Nepean, Ont. native, Bailey was one of three non-OHLers (fellow Michigan recruit Andrew Cogliano was another) on Ontario’s entry in the World Under-17 Challenge in Newfoundland over the Christmas/NewYear’s break.
Bailey, a 6/4/87 birthdate, is the son of a Canadian father and New York-born mother.
NTDP Players Return to Select 17 Festival
The USA Hockey Select 17 Festival gets underway with practice sessions tonight in St. Cloud, Minn.
The biggest change to this year’s festival -- besides the fact that, like kid’s soccer, medal games have been eliminated -- is the mandatory presence of this past season’s National Team Development Program players. This marks the first time since 1998 – six years ago -- that NTDP kids took part. The main reason Colorado Springs pushed for them to be on hand this time around was to give a lift to the Select 17 festival, which in recent years has suffered from marquee players bypassing the event. By ratcheting up the competition a notch, it was hoped that marquee players from outside the National Program – i.e. high profile ‘87s in major junior and the USHL – would want to be on hand.
However, except for a handful of exceptions, they won’t be.
The top ‘87s who played major junior this past season will be conspicuous by their absence. As of the most recent available rosters, none will be in St. Cloud. No Bobby Ryan. No Steve Spade. No Devereaux Heshmatpour. No Joey Ryan. No Andrew Andricopoulos. Perhaps former NTDP head coach Moe Mantha’s harsh words toward a few of those players for reneging on their contracts with the NTDP has played a role in their staying away.
Other factors in major junior kids staying away included the requirement that they participate in their district tryouts despite, in many cases, living far from home. Since NTDP players were exempt from attending tryouts, many of the major junior kids felt that a double standard was at play.
In addition, major junior teams were unwilling to pay liability should a player hurt himself at tryouts; and several player agents advised their clients not to tryout on the grounds that there was little to gain, and that their players would be better off preparing for the upcoming season by focusing on their off-ice conditioning.
However, there are two OHL players here: Sean O'Connor (Erie) and Ryan McGinnis (Plymouth). Both are from Michigan.
The USHL had ten ‘87s in the league last year. Seven – Zach Bearson, Tim Miller, Ben Holmstrom, Justin Mercier, Jon Kearns, Evan Stephens, and Shane Connelly – will be on hand. Three others – David Meckler, Tim Filangieri, and Ben Caldwell -- won’t be.
Will the NTDP kids put on a strong performance? They didn’t six years ago, when only four of the top 35 scorers were NTDP kids and NTDP goaltender Ricky DiPietro finished up with a .852 save percentage – only six of the twenty goaltenders there did worse than he. For the most part, the NTDP kids of six years ago showed flashes of their talent, but didn’t appear to really want to be there. Only one made the all-tournament team, New York defenseman J.D. Forrest (who, by the way, will be playing the upcoming season in Finland, hoping to reach the NHL via the Brian Rafalski route.)
After 1998, NTDP head coach Jeff Jackson asked the program’s players not to go to the Select 17s. Jackson felt that the NTDP kids already spent enough time away from home and, after the grind of Ann Arbor, should stay put, do off-ice work, get away from the game for a little while, and mentally prepare for the upcoming season. The sub-par performance at the 1998 Select 17’s just bolstered the argument.
All but three of the returning players, Nathan Gerbe, Nick Foligno, and Jack Johnson have been excused from participating in St. Cloud. (Johnson, however, will be at the National Junior Camp next month in Grand Forks.) Scott Birnstill and Erik Felde, who have left the program, will not be playing. However, Nathan Lawrence, who was booted out of the NTDP late in the season due to off-ice behavior problems, will be there, playing as an at-large player for Dakota.
On paper, Minnesota is the strongest team in the festival – loaded up front, on D, and in the net.
York to Pick an Alum as BC Assistant?
The leading candidate to fill the assistant coach’s spot vacated by Ron Rolston, now with the NTDP, appears to be 38-year-old former Boston College defenseman Greg Brown.
Brown, from Southboro, Mass., played at Cardigan Mountain and St. Mark’s School and followed his older brother, Doug, to the Eagles in the fall of 1986. After his freshman year, Brown joined the U.S. Olympic Team for the Calgary Olympics, and played again for the Olympic team in ’92. One of a galaxy of BC stars in the late ‘80s, Brown was a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, a two-time All-American, a two-time Hockey East Player of the Year, and a captain of the Eagles in his senior year of ’89-90.
Brown played pro in North America, appearing in 100 NHL games with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Winnipeg. After the ’94-95 season, in which he played for the Cleveland Lumberjacks and the Winnipeg Jets, Brown went overseas, playing for a number of European teams over the next eight years.
Another name we’ve heard mentioned a lot in connection with the BC assistant’s job is Casey Jones, the former Cornell forward (’90) who has been an assistant at Ohio State for the last nine years. Jones, who’s from Temiscaming, Que., on the province’s border with Ontario, is bilingual, which has helped the Buckeyes land a large number of French-Canadian recruits. Jones’ wife is from the Boston area.
-- The done deal got done today as Dave Hakstol was officially named head coach of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in a press conference in Grand Forks. Hakstol, 35, has worked under now-departed Dean Blais for the last four years. Before that, he was head coach of the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Hakstol was a defenseman for the Fighting Sioux from ’89-92. Brad Berry, 39, who has also spent the last four seasons as an assistant under Blais, was made associate head coach today. Prior to that, we’d heard talk of Berry heading to a position in the WHL.
-- What we mentioned at the end of June as highly likely is now a done deal: Sean McCann will be retained at Harvard and work on the staff of Ted Donato, his old teammate. McCann was a Harvard freshman in ’90-91, when Donato was a senior and team captain. Donato will be spending a couple of days next week at the U.S. Select 17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minn.
NTDP ’04-05 College Schedule
Here is the (tentative) schedule of games the U.S. Under-18 Team will play against colleges in the upcoming season.
Fri. 10/1 @ Clarkson
Sat. 10/2 @ St. Lawrence
Fri. 10/8 @ Northern Michigan
Sat. 10/9 @ Michigan Tech
Sat. 10/16 Robert Morris University (7 pm, Ann Arbor)
Fri. 10/22 @ Manhattanville College
Sat. 10/23 @ Manhattanville College
Sat. 10/30 @ Harvard
Sun. 10/31 @ Brown
Fri. 11/19 @ Notre Dame
Fri. 11/26 @ Bowdoin
Sat. 11/27 @ Colby
Sat. 12/11 @ UNH
Sun. 12/12 @ Dartmouth
Fri. 12/17 @ RIT
Sat. 12/18 @ RIT
Sat. 1/1 vs. Trinity (at Middlebury College Tournament)
Sun. 1/2 vs. Middlebury (at Middlebury College Tournament)
Sat. 1/8 @ BU
Sun. 1/9 @ Maine
Fri. 1/21 @ Canisius
Sat. 1/22 @ Canisius
Fri. 1/28 at Michigan State
Sat. 2/19 @ Minnesota
Sun. 2/20 @ Minnesota State
Sat. 2/26 @ Michigan
The Under-18 Four Nations Tournament featuring the US, Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland will be held in Ann Arbor from Sun. Nov 7 to Sun. Nov. 14.
The Under-18 Five Nations Tournament featuring Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and the US will be held in Sweden from Sun. Feb. 6 to Mon. Feb. 14.
Squires Added to NTDP Under-17 Team; Popko, too?
5’6”, 160 lb. RC Greg Squires, a White Plains, NY native who played at the Brunswick School last season, has been named to the U.S. Under-17 Team.
In addition, 5’9”, 185 lb. LW/C Luke Popko, a Skillman, NJ native who played at the Taft School last season, has been invited to join the Under-17 Team.
Both, along with NTDP recruits Bobby Sanguinetti and Chris Atkinson, were members of the Atlantic District Select 16 team that went undefeated at last week’s Select 16 Festival in Rochester, NY. Squires, who has speed, shiftiness, and quick hands, was 2-2-4 in six games.
Popko, who consistently makes excellent plays and, while short, is physically strong and can play that kind of game, was 4-1-5 in six games at Rochester. He’s not particularly flashy, but if you watch him a lot, you’ll see something new every game. He just sees the game.
Here are the Under-17 Team committed players so far – two goalies, eight D, and, if Popko joins, 11 forwards. That might be what coach John Hynes goes into the season with. This would give the team the fluidity to add an extra forward from the older team for league games; and -- for international tournaments -- either stay inside the program and add ’88 Peter Mueller or else go outside the program if some ’88 tearing it up out there..
Goaltenders (2): Joe Palmer (Yorkville, NY/Syracuse Jr. B); Brett Bennett (Williamsville, NY/Honeybaked).
Defensemen (8): Erik Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./Holy Angels Academy); Mike Ratchuk (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo Saints); Chris Summers (Ypsilanti; Mich./Victory Honda AAA); Bobby Sanguinetti (Mt. Holly; NJ/Lawrenceville School); Brian Strait (Waltham, Mass./Northfield-Mt. Hermon); Trent Palm (Edina, Minn./Shattuck Under-16); Jamie McBain (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck); and Kevin Montgomery (Rochester, NY/Syracuse Jr. A).
Forwards (10): Blake Geoffrion (Brentwood, Tenn./Culver Academy); Rhett Rakhshani (Huntington Beach, CA/California Wave); Billy Sweatt (Elburn, Ill./Team Illinois Midget AAA); Mike Carman (Apple Valley, Minn./Holy Angels Academy); Steve Sperry (South Lake, Texas/Dallas Midget AAA); Jim O’Brien (Lake Angelus; Minn./Little Caesar’s); Ryan Flynn (Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial HS); Chris Atkinson (Kinderhook, NY/Salisbury School); and Greg Squires (White Plains, NY/Brunswick School).
NAHL Commish Meets With EJHL Team Owners
NAHL commissioner Mike Santos spoke before EJHL clubowners Thursday night and, in a two-hour meeting, outlined a proposal whereby the EJHL would form an eastern division of the NAHL.
Under the proposal, the EJHL would operate under its own rules, play its traditional league schedule (including playoffs), and govern itself.
The EJHL would participate in the Blaine, Minn. NAHL showcase in late October, and, if it can be arranged at this late date, NAHL teams would also participate in a Boston-area EJHL showcase. (The NAHL has decided not to hold a showcase in Chicago during the upcoming season.)
For both existing leagues, the proposed merger appears to be a win-win situation. It offers both leagues more of a national profile, which is attractive to sponsors. For the NAHL, it would bring its players, via a Boston showcase, into the backyard of the eastern colleges.
Reportedly, some EJHL owners, having already drawn up their budget for the upcoming season, grumbled over the cost of the Blaine trip. However, that doesn’t seem like an insurmountable hurdle. Teams can always hold a golf tournament or a bake sale -- whatever it takes.
The EJHL decided not to make an issue of the fact that its league champion would have a full six weeks off before playing in the NAHL championship series. Sometimes, a little rest can be helpful, e.g. Boston won the National Midget AAA championship in April despite the fact that it was comprised of prep and high schoolers who hadn’t played a real game in ages, and, for that matter, weren’t even a full-season team. (Yes, we know they had skill.)
The NAHL may have to change the name of its championship finals from the Jr. A National Championship to the NAHL Cup (or something similar). This because, while USA Hockey gives the NAHL Jr. A designation, the EJHL, simply because its players pay to play, are technically considered a Jr. C league. Yes, it is rather ridiculous, particularly given the number of ex-EJHL players in the Div. I and pro ranks, but that’s the way it is. The EJHL has been fighting for Jr. A status for a long time, but with nothing to show for it.
EJHL owners will mull over the proposal during the long weekend and vote on it next week.
After that, the NAHL will – or will not – sign off on the deal. Obviously, NAHL owners want to see this happen, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent Santos to Boston to make a pitch to the EJHL in the first place.
The Rochester (NY) Junior Americans, currently in the Empire Jr. B League, will join the EJHL as an affiliate member for the upcoming season and, if all works well, join in the league as full members in 2005-06. What this means is that for the upcoming season, the Jr. Americans, coached by Ed Carney, will take part in EJHL showcases and perhaps a limited number of regular season games as well.
It’s possible that the NAHL will be adding a team in Traverse City, Michigan in time for the upcoming season. Traverse City, with a population of about 15,000, is located on Grand Traverse Bay on Michigan’s west coast, 140 miles due north of Grand Rapids.
Kuk to Cats
Kyle Kuk, a defenseman with the USHL regular-season champion Tri-City Storm, has signed on with the University of Vermont for the ‘05-06 season. Kuk, a 5’11, 180 lb. offensive-minded D and a smooth skater, is a 2/18/86 birthdate from Monroe, Michigan.
UNH, Bowling Green, and Michigan State were the other schools in the picture.
Kuk, who played for the Compuware Midget AAA squad before heading to the USHL last fall, posted a 5-16-21 line and a +31 in 56 regular-season games. He played four playoff games before hurting his knee in an April 15th game against Sioux City. He missed the rest of the playoffs, and, while he had been offered by Vermont for ’04, decided to put it off for a year to make sure he came in at full strength. The injury actually turned out to be fairly minor, but he’s still going to play another year in the USHL and come in as a 19-year-old the following season, Vermont’s first in Hockey East.
Kuk’s older brother, Dustin, was a forward at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 2000. He was also a member of the 1998 U.S. National Junior Team. Dustin, who played a couple of years in the minors, is now retired from hockey.
University of Maine recruit Brett Tyler has been OKed by the NCAA clearing house and will be eligible to play for the Black Bears this fall. In addition, Tyler, a small but skilled hard-nosed defenseman, made honorable mention for academic honors at Maynard (Mass.) High School in the spring term.
The speculation has already begun to start on who will take Ronnie Rolston’s assistants’ slot at Boston College. UMass assistant Mark Dennehy, a BC alum (’91), has been mentioned numerous times. However, Dennehy, a candidate the last time the BC job opened up, told us he’s happy where he is. Look for the search to kick into high gear when Mike Cavanaugh returns from his honeymoon next week.
Rice Era Begins at Babson
Jamie Rice, as expected, has been named the new head coach at Babson College.
Rice, a 36-year-old Boston native, is a 1990 Babson graduate, where, in addition to hockey, he was a baseball letterman.
“To do what I love at a place that I love is everyone’s dream,” Rice said. “Very few peoplehave a chance to coach at their alma mater, so I'm very fortunate."
"I never thought this day would come,” Rice added.
Rice has extensive experience, having worked as an assistant coach for 14 years. After graduating from Babson, he was an assistant at Cobly. Next he coached at Dartmouth under Roger Demment. Following that he spent five years at Brown under Bobby Gaudet, doubling up as the university’s head golf coach for several of those years. When Gaudet took the Dartmouth job, Rice went with him. After two more years in Hanover, Rice was hired on by Bruce Crowder at Northeastern and has been there for the last five years.
“I’ve worked with and learned from a lot of really good people,” Rice said.
Rice is well-respected among the coaching fraternity, is a passionate coach, and is an excellent teacher of the game. He’s devoted a big chunk of the last ten summers to the Mass. Satellite Program, working at one time or another with just about all of the top Massachusetts prospects.
Right now, Rice is in Rochester, NY where he is head coach of the Mass. Select 16s, who go into the final day of action on Friday with a 4-0-1 record, good for second-best at the festival.
Others interviewed for the Babson job included Yale assistant Bruce Wolanin, Trinity assistant Dave Catarazullo, andBabson assistant JasonSmith.
Smith will stay on at Babson as Rice’s assistant. Smith and Rice coached the Mass ‘85s at St. Cloud a few summers back.
McNeill Named Head Coach at Gilmour Academy
Mike McNeill, who worked as an assistant at Robert Morris University last season recruiting the squad that will being Div. I play in the CHA this fall, has taken the head coaching position at Gilmour Academy.
With the move, Robert Morris has an opening for one more assistant for the upcoming season.
Whoever wins the job will join Nate Handrahan on Derek Schooley’s staff at RMU. Handrahan, 27, has been an assistant at Niagara for the last three seasons. A former Niagara defenseman, Handrahan was a senior on the ’99-00 squad that upset UNH in the NCAA regionals.
As for Gilmour, the school’s first and only head coach, John Malloy, retired from coaching this spring, and his assistant of one year, Eric Soltys, was named to replace him. However, Soltys, who was previously an assistant at Shattuck-St. Mary’s under Tom Ward, was offered and accepted the job as head coach of the University of Maine’s women’s program, thus reopening the Gilmour job.
McNeill, who worked a couple of years under Joe Battista at Penn State before going to Robert Morris, is a Cleveland native, so this is a chance for him to return home.
Gilmour is an up and coming Midwestern prep program located in the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills, Ohio. Last season, Gilmour came east over the holidays and won the Belmont Hill/Nichols School tournament.
Speaking of Shattuck, (See Soltys reference above), former Shattuck student Marlon Brando died in Los Angeles this morning. Brando, a 4/3/24 birthdate from Omaha, Nebraska, arrived at Shattuck, then known as Shattuck Military Academy, in the fall of 1940 and was shortly thereafter kicked out of the school for “disobedience and waywardness.” It was in the library at Shattuck that Brando first developed his fascination with Tahiti and all things Polynesian, most especially the women. In recent years, Brando has been a recluse, spending most of his time on the Polynesian atoll of Tetiaroa, which he is generally reported as owning, though he actually leases it, having signed a 99-year deal back in 1966.
Just thought you might be interested!
In the story above we mentioned that Eric Soltys, a former assistant at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and Gilmour Academy, had been named head coach of Maine’s women’s program.
This is incorrect. Soltys will be a volunteer assistant with the Maine men’s program, joining Grant Standbrook and Campbell Blair on Tim Whitehead’s staff.
The new head coach of the women’s program is Guy Perron, the former Maine captain, full time assistant at Maine and Dartmouth, and head coach of the Chicago Freeze (NAHL). Perron has yet to name an assistant.
Perron, not to be confused with the Guy Perron in The Raj Quartet, spent last season as a volunteer assistant at Maine, taking the job after the Chicago franchise folded.
Lerg Makes His Choice
U.S. Under-18 Team leading scorer Bryan Lerg has committed to Michigan State University and will begin play there this fall.
For Lerg, who visited BU and BC last week, his final decision came down to BU and Michigan State -- and he went with the Spartans, making his final decision early this afternoon (Fri.)
For more on the Lerg story, please refer back to the USHR news of last Wednesday (6/23/04).
Sandelin Named Head Coach of U.S. Junior Team
Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin, who was going to be an assistant coach to Dean Blais at this year’s World Junior Championships in Grand Forks, ND, will, now that Blais is joining the Columbus Blue Jackets as an associate head coach, move up and take over as head coach.
River City Lancers (USHL) head coach Mike Hastings, rumored to be returning to St. Cloud State as an associate head coach, will be added as an assistant on Sandelin’s staff. Hastings will join new BU associate coach David Quinn, who was named as an assistant several months ago.
Rolston Joins NTDP
USA Hockey announced today that Boston College assistant coach Ron Rolston will return to his native Michigan to coach the U.S. Under-18 team effective immediately.
Rolston, who has worked at Boston College for two years and, before that, at Harvard, Clarkson, and Lake Superior State, has had success at every stop.
Rolston, taking over for new BU associate coach David Quinn, will coach the Under-18 Team this fall, while John Hynes coaches the Under-17s. In 2005-06, it will flip-flop:Rolston will take the younger team, and Hynes, as he did this year, will coach the older team.
It’s Official: Donato to be Named at Harvard
Harvard University will officially name Ted Donato as the school’s new head hockey coach.
Look for Donato to be introduced at a Friday press conference.
Donato, a former Catholic Memorial and Harvard star who went on to play for the US Olympic team and several NHL teams, actually needs very little introduction. An outgoing, charismatic type who played on Harvard’s ’89 championship team, Donato will likely, as he learns the ropes, be cut a lot of slack by the Harvard community.
He’ll need it, as Harvard has a way to go before getting back to NCAA title contention.
It appears likely that Sean McCann, an assistant for the Crimson the last two years and a Harvard alum, will stay on in his current capacity. In addition, look for Donato to hire an older seasoned coach with both knowledge of the current player pool and numerous contacts in the game. Current Harvard assistant Gene Reilly is the obvious candidate here. There’s also been a lot of talk about the possibility of Billy Cleary, who retired from coaching after the 1989-90 season to take over as AD, to return as a volunteer assistant coach, serving as a mentor to Donato as he makes the transition from player to coach. Cleary is retired from his AD’s job, which Bob Scalise now holds.
NAHL Courting EJHL
NAHL commissioner Mike Santos is flying into Boston tonight to pitch to the EJHL the merits of New England’s top junior league becoming the Eastern Division of the NAHL.
EJHL commissioner Dan Esdale and league members are said to be very interested.
Under the proposal, the EJHL will play their own schedule, and also participate in the NAHL’s two showcases – one in Minnesota; one in Chicago – while the NAHL teams will come east one time and play in an EJHL showcase (time and location to be determined).
Under the proposal, the EJHL would send its league champion to the USA Jr. A championship.
There is a potential stumbling block there, however. The EJHL typically finishes its season in the first week of March and holds playoffs the following week. However, the Jr. A National Championship doesn’t take place until the beginning of May. How would the EJHL winner stay sharp without playing any games for at least six weeks? It’s unlikely that other EJHL league members would extend their season just to accommodate the league champion – the expenses would be too high. On top of that, the western teams in the NAHL, which are gate driven, are actually looking into extending their season.
However, if the desire to get it done is strong enough, it will likely happen. Most EJHL members feel they should strike while the offer is on the table, get their Junior A status, and merge leagues in time for the upcoming season. Other league members may be likely to desire putting off the merger until ’05-06.
The EJHL will not participate in the NAHL draft. It’s not a negotiable issue, as the EJHL wishes to remain largely a league for northeast U.S. players.
Top Playmaking Center for CC
Earlier this evening, Eden Prairie 5’10”, 165 lb. RC Chad Rau committed to Colorado College for the fall of ’05.
Rau, who completed the 11th grade last month, will play his senior year of high school with Des Moines (USHL).
A 5/10/87 birthdate, Rau is noted for his playmaking skills, which are excellent, as are his finishing skills. Rau has top-notch hands and vision, and is the kind of guy who makes those around him better.His skating is pretty good – not great – but it’s more than compensated for by his other attributes.
Denver was also in the hunt for Rau.
Rau, in 25 games with Eden Prairie this past season, posted a 33-24-57 line.