National Junior Team Questions
After having announced the core of the roster a month ago, the remaining ten members – one goalie, five defensemen, and five forwards – were announced Tuesday.
Here, then, is the full team, with the newly-added players in bold. The questions follow.
Al Montoya, Michigan (CCHA), ’85 – 2nd year
Cory Schneider, Boston College (HE), ‘86
Casey Borer, St. Cloud St. (WCHA), ‘85
Alex Goligoski, Minnesota (WCHA), ‘85
Nate Hagemo, Minnesota (WCHA), ‘86
Matt Hunwick, Michigan (CCHA), ’85 – 2nd year
Brian Lee, Moorhead HS, ‘87
Jeff Likens, Wisconsin (WCHA), ’85 – 2nd year
Ryan Suter, Milwaukee (AHL), ’85 – 3rd year
Chris Bourque, Boston University (HE), ‘86
Mike Brown, Michigan (CCHA), ‘85
Ryan Callahan, Guelph Storm (OHL), ‘85
Jake Dowell, Wisconsin (WCHA), ’85 – 2nd year
Dan Fritsche, Sarnia Sting (OHL), ’85 – 2nd year
T.J. Hensick, Michigan (CCHA), ‘85
Phil Kessel, U.S. Under-18, ‘87
Patrick O’Sullivan, Mississauga IceDogs (OHL), ’85 – 3rd year
Adam Pineault, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL), ‘86
Kevin Porter, Michigan (CCHA), ‘86
Robbie Schremp, London Knights (OHL), ‘86
Drew Stafford, North Dakota (WCHA), ’85 – 2nd year
Shawn Weller, Clarkson (ECAC), ‘86
We’ve spent considerable time the past few days studying the roster and discussing it with a wide range of scouts and coaches who have observed these players in many different settings and knew what the junior teams options came down to.
*** The #1 topic of discussion was the controversial selection of 6’2” Moorhead (Minn.) High School RD Brian Lee. If my memory serves me well, then-Cushing Academy defenseman Tom Poti was the last high school player who played on the U.S. National Junior team. That was nine years ago, in Boston, and Poti was invisible. As good as he was, and would become, he simply wasn’t ready to step in cold to the WJC and make any kind of impact. It’s asking a lot of a player to calibrate their game to a tempo at which they’ve never before played. Lee, like Poti before him, is a great prospect, but it seems risky to plug a player this young – he’s an ’87 -- and this inexperienced into such a tournament.
Few understand why, if they were to take an ’87 at all, that it wasn’t 6’0” Under-18 team LD Jack Johnson. Johnson played in last spring’s Under-18 World Championship. He has been playing against college teams all fall. Some feel he’s too high-risk and runs around too much, but he also has the skating skills to get back and cover for himself. The coaching staff obviously wanted a more conservative type of defenseman, hence Lee. But what is riskier, an experienced defenseman who takes chances occasionally or a (relatively) inexperienced defenseman who’s only played a miniscule number of games this fall? If we were making the pick between those two, we’d go with Johnson, hands down. If we felt the need to go older – and we do feel the team is too young – we’d go with Boston College RD Mike Brennan (an ’86) or Kitchener LD Matt Lashoff (also an ’86). Those two were in the mix, but, like Johnson, passed over.
*** Some scouts who have watched both Brennan and the Gophers’Nate Hagemo prefer Brennan.
*** One difference between this team and the gold medal winning team of last year is simply the lack of two guys to fill the roles Mark Stuart and Corey Potter previously held. That is, prototypical, physical defenseman with experience, guys who can handle some of the big forwards you may have seen listed on Canada’s 32-man camp roster. Borer is that type of player, but doesn’t play at the Stuart/Potter level.
*** Up front, many observers expressed surprise that London Knights star Robbie Schremp was taken after dissing the U.S. team for not taking him last year. We see where they are coming from, but also see where those supporting the decision to take Schremp are coming from. Quite simply, if he can somehow put the team in front of himself, he will help the U.S. cause. He’s too good not to take.
*** A number of people we spoke to felt that Michigan forward Mike Brown, who has a 2-0-2 line in 15 games for the Wolverines, was a dubious pick. They have a strong point. Brown may have size, speed, strength and the ability to intimidate people, butis that enough to make up for the lack of offensive punch? .
*** Many felt that Wisconsin’s Robbie Earl, an ’85 with the speed the tournament requires and a 9-12-21 line in 16 games, should have been chosen. He’s excellent on the power play and good enough defensively. The knock is that he’s too soft for the tournament.
*** Some people felt Under-18 team forward Jack Skille should have won a spot on the team. There was also some support for Ohio State’s Tom Fritsche, an ’86 who goes into tonight’s action with 16 points – 15 are assists -- in 16 games
*** Quebec Remparts LC Josh Hennessy, the seventh-leading scorer in the QMJHL, was watched, but wasn’t really in the final mix. He didn’t play well at the last two summer evaluations and has to play center to be effective. The team is strong down the middle already.
*** 6’3” Michigan State LD A.J. Thelen was out of contention for a spot a long time ago. Nobody we spoke to has been happy with his play this fall.
*** Others that, to varying degrees, were watched included former Clarkson defenseman Matt Nickerson, now in the Q (95 pims in 26 games); Owen Sound forward Bobby Ryan, an ’87 RW who has a 14-22-36 line in 29 games; and 6’3 Blake Wheeler, an ’86 who in 26 games at Green Bay has a 8-9-17 line.
Avon’s DiMarzo Injured in House Fire
Avon Old Farms leading scorer Augie DiMarzo, a Union recruit for next fall, and his father were injured while jumping from a second floor window to escape their burning West Haven, Conn, home Tuesday morning.
DiMarzo, a senior who has 24 point in Avon’s nine games this season, received numerous stitches on both arms while busting through a second-story window to escape the fire. His father, Augie Sr., a retired West Haven fire lieutenant, broke both of his feet and shattered his right heel.
DiMarzo credits Union coach Nate Leaman with saving the life of both he and his father by calling the house 15 minutes before the fire was detected.
“My dad went down and talked to coach Leaman on the phone. When he hung up, he came back upstairs and watched Sports Center in bed.”
Shortly afterward the ex-firefighter smelled smoke, and ran to get his son.
“I was sleeping,” Augie said. “Next thing, my dad was coming at me, screaming. I rolled over in bed and punched the window out. My window was 15 feet up.”
DiMarzo decided not to jump through that window, instead running with his father down the hall, past the fire, and to the bathroom. There, he punched out another window, this one in the bathroom – and jumped about 12 feet down onto the porch roof.
“I landed on my feet,” DiMarzo said. “I was fine. Then my dad jumped. ‘Try to break my fall,’ he said. I tried, but he landed funny. I ran across the street to where Danny Lyons (ex-Kent and RPI forward) lives and rang his doorbell. His mother-in-law answered, saw me standing there bleeding all over the place and called the paramedics. But before they came I had to get my dad -- a FedEx guy helped me get him across the street.”
DiMarzo father and son were taken to St. Raphael’s Hospital. Avon head coach John Gardner brought them some clothes.
“When I saw them,” Gardner said, “they were still both in shock.”
“I was very fortunate,” DiMarzo said, adding that he and his father planned to rebuild the house, which was formerly owned by his grandfather. “We’re not giving up on it,” DiMarzo said. “We’re just going to have to tough it out.”
DiMarzo, who said he’d gotten a lot of calls from coaches and players he’s played with and against, is living with teammate Jon Quick until they both return to school next week.
Most of DiMarzo’s stitches are on his right arm -- 18 on the inside of his right elbow and 16 more on the outside. “Every time I bend my elbow it opens the stitches again. That’s my top hand, too.”
The doctor told DiMarzo to wait two weeks before holding a stick. DiMarzo is itching to return, saying, “There’s no way I’m missing the Taft game against Mr. Murphy (Taft’s new coach, Dan Murphy, was formerly an assistant at Avon. The two schools meet for the second time in the season on Sat. Jan. 8 at Taft.
Avon’s next game is scheduled for Wednesday Jan. 5 against Pomfret. .
Bourque Out; Borer Back
Despite last night’s defensive fiasco vs. Belarus, the U.S. can still finish first in its pool with a win over the Czech Republic tonight at the World Junior Championship.
Americans cannot watch the game on TV, as ESPN2 will be airing the Gonzaga vs. Missouri college baketball game. Canadians, however, can watch the game, as it will be on TSN.
A struggling Alvaro Montoya will be back in goal.
Chris Bourque, making his way around on crutches today, will not play – he has what’s reported to be a sprained ACL.
Nate Hagemo is hurting – he has a banged-up shoulder -- but will be playing nonetheless.
Casey Borer, who missed last night’s game with the flu, will be back in action.
St. George’s Tops Div. II Poll
A loss to Williston kept St. George’s from winning their own tournament, but Proctor, last week’s #1, dropped a pair at the Brooks-Pingree Tournament. That adds up to the Dragons taking over the top spot in this week’s Div. II poll.
Salisbury, Choate Big Tournament Winners
Salisbury won their first game at the Flood-Marr in a cakewalk, but then had to really battle in a tie vs. Andover, and close wins over Nobles and Deerfield. Read all about it in the USHR Prep Pages.
Choate came up big down south, winning the Lawrenceville Tournament with a big 2-1 OT win over Taft.
Those tournaments – and many others from over the weekend – are covered in the USHR Prep Pages.
Avon Holds #1 Spot in USHR Poll
Undefeated Avon Old Farms (9-0-0) holds the #1 spot in this week’s USHR Div. I poll. For the full poll click on:
Note: There will be no poll next week. The next USHR poll is scheduled for two weeks from tonight, on Jan. 3, 2005.
2005 EJHL All-Star Game at Walter Brown Arena
The 2005 EJHL All-Star game will be held on Thursday Jan. 13 at 7 pm at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena.
There will actually be two games: the regular all-star game plus a future stars game (’86 birthdates and younger).
This year’s game is being hosted by the Boston Harbor Wolves.
We will post the rosters when they become available.
Waterloo Black Hawks rookie goaltender Drew O’Connell, who leads the USHL in save percentage at .925 and is second in gaa at 2.04, has committed to Colorado College.
O’Connell, considered the top uncommitted US goalie, is 5’11”, 170 lbs., and a native of Anchorage, Alaska.
-- Nick Schaus, a smooth-skating defenseman with the Omaha Lancers (USHL), has committed to UMass-Lowell for the fall of ’06. Schaus, a 5’11”, 190 lb. native of Orchard Park, NY, outside of Buffalo, is in his third season with the Lancers. In 25 games, he as a 0-5-5 line with a +4 and 83 pims.
-- Jordan Virtue, a center with the Walpole Stars (EJHL) and John Wessbecker, a senior defenseman at the Blake School, have committed to UMass-Amherst.
Wessbecker, 6’2” and 185 lbs., is a hard-nosed, gritty, physical defenseman. In six games for the Minneapolis private school, he has a 2-5-7 line.
Virtue, an ’84 from Quincy, Mass. who formerly played at BC High, is in his second season in the EJHL. He’s 6’1”, 195 lbs, and is a strong skater with a shot and vision. He has a 14-22-36 line in 25 games.
-- Look for Omaha forward Corey Carlson, tied for second in the USHL scoring race, one point behind linemate Brock Bradford, to commit to either Michigan State, Notre Dame, or Vermont within the next few days.
Apple Core Forward to Harvard
6’1”, 170 lb. forward Billy Keenan has committed to Harvard for next fall.
Keenan, a native of New York City who will represent the third generation of his family to attend Harvard, actually got into the school on his own last year, but the Crimson coaching staff suggested another year in juniors would help him compete for a spot on the team.
Keenan, a 4/15/86 birthdate, has played 11 games with Apple Core this season and has a 7-1-8 line in 11 games played. Keenan is a hard-working, intense, physical player who is excellent on the penalty kill. He projects as a defensive forward who can be part of a solid checking line for Harvard.
Keenan will join former Apple Core teammate Jon Pelle on the Crimson.
Proctor Sits Atop Div. II
Proctor Academy, coached again this year by Mike Walsh but without Josh Robertson, holds down the top spot in the first USHR Div. II poll of the season.
Avon Tops First USHR Prep Poll
Avon Old Farms, off to a 4-0-0 start, sits atop the first USHR prep poll of the 2004-05 season. For the full poll, please click on the link below.
Tomorrow night we’ll have our first Div. II poll.
Cavanaugh Fired at Canisius
Brian Cavanaugh, in his 24th season as Canisius head coach, was fired early this afternoon.
Apparently, there was a huge rift between the seniors and the coach, with the players reportedly going to AD Timothy Dillon and demanding their coach’s ouster.
This happened on a game day – Canisius has a home-and-home with Mercyhurst this weekend. And it happened with the Griffs in second place with a 6-2-0 Atlantic Hockey record, just one point behind first place Sacred Heart.
Assistant coaches Clancy Seymour and Stephen Fabilli, both former players of Cavanaugh’s, will be taking over as interim coaches.
The search for a new coach will begin immediately.
A Pontiac for Western Michigan
5’11”, 200 lb. Bonnyville Pontiacs RC Mark Letetsu,the fifth-leading scorer in the AJHL, has committed to Western Michigan.
Letetsu, an ’85, has a great stick and very good hockey sense. He will arrive at Western in either the fall of ’05 or ’06.
In 36 games for Bonnyville, Letetsu has a 19-27-46 scoring line. He’s from Elk Point, Alberta.
Martinez to Miami
6’0”, 170 lb. LD Alec Martinez of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) has committed to Miami University for the fall of ’06.
Martinez, a 7/25/87 birthdate from Rochester, Mich., projects to develop into a very good offensive defenseman at the Div. I level. In his own end, he’s solid.
Martinez, who also visited Ferris State, and talked to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota-Duluth, has played 19 games with Cedar Rapids and has a 3-2-5 line with a +7.
Three current RoughRiders have committed to Miami. The other two are defenseman Ray Eichenlaub, who will be going there in the fall of ’05, and forward Gary Steffes, who, along with Martinez, will be going there in the fall of ’06.
Last week, 6’2”, 175 lb. RoughRiders forward Teddy Purcell, an ’85 from St. John’s, Newfoundland, committed to Maine. Purcell, in 20 games, has a 9-11-20 scoring line.
The RoughRiders are on a roll, having won six in a row – and nine out of 10. With a 16-3-2.record, they have the best winning percentage in the USHL. On Friday, they host Omaha, which has the second-best winning percentage in the league.
Notes: New Des Moines Buccaneers head coach Regg Simon has hired Quinnipiac volunteer assistant Brad Frattaroli as an assistant. Frattaroli, 29, is a Pennsylvania native who, in the early ‘90s, was teammates with Simon on the Bucs. Afterward, Frattaroli, a forward, played four years at Northern Michigan.
Holmstrom Out for Season
6’1” Sioux Falls Stampede forward Ben Holmstrom, who injured his knee in a game vs. Waterloo Nov. 6, is done for the year.
Holmstrom, an ’87 who played on the Under-18 Select team that went to the Czech Republic in August, is back home in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he will have surgery. He hasn’t had the best of luck in the USHL. Last year, he didn’t get to play much, and now this year is pretty much washed out.
Keane to UMass
5’10”, 160 lb. Rochester Junior Americans (Empire Jr. B) forward Brian Keane has committed to UMass-Amherst for the fall of ’06.
An 11th grader from Shortsville, NY, Keane is a left shot center who played for the Buffalo Saints Midgets last year. This year, he’s playing for the Americans and leading the team in scoring with an 8-5-13 line in 14 games. Keane, who played for the New York district at last summer’s Select 16 Festival, is a 5/17/88 birthdate.
A burner who’s good on draws, Keane is heady, and works extremely hard.
Keane may decide to play another year of juniors and come to UMass in the fall of’07.
Stuart to Indiana
6’4½”, 220 lb. RD Mike Stuart, who left the U.S. Under-18 Team ten days ago, will be finishing the season with the Indiana Ice (USHL).
Stuart, a Brown recruit, will be in the lineup for Indiana’s weekend home series against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. He is flying to Indianapolis today.
Indiana grabbed his rights upon hearing he was leaving the NTDP. Indiana GM Josh Mervis coached Stuart at Select 14s.
Stuart, who left the NTDP the day after Chris Cahill, had hoped to return to St. Paul’s, which he attended before going to the NTDP. St. Paul’s wanted him back, but the administration had to turn it down because Stuart, despite being an excellent student, is in his senior year and set to go to college in the fall. He had no interest in repeating.
Other boarding schools wanted Stuart, too, but headmasters turned it down for the same reason as St. Paul’s.
Stuart will be playing for Brown starting next fall.
Smith Returns to Westminster
5’11”, 190 lb. RC Ben Smith has returned to the Westminster School and will be in the lineup for today’s game against the Kent School.
Smith, an Avon, Conn. native who played at Westminster for the past two seasons, joined the Junior Bruins this fall and was playing very well. On Sunday, he told Junior Bruins coach Peter Masters that he was returning to Westminster.
Smith was the youngest player on the Junior Bruins and the team’s leading scorer at the time he left. An ’88, Smith was 8-14-22 line in 28 games played and was the 12th leading scorer in the league.
“It’s disappointing to us,” said Masters. “Ben made unbelievable strides this fall, but we knew he was close to the Westminster community and was missing that part of his life.”
Smith is a junior at Westminster. Colleges interested in him for the fall of ’06 include BC, with the Ivies -- Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton waiting to jump in depending on what BC comes up with.