Imes New Steel Head Coach
Former University of Maine and US Olympic Team defenseman Chris Imes will be named the new head coach of the Chicago Steel (USHL).
Imes, 32, was formerly an assistant with the Tri-City Storm, then moved to the NAHL as head coach of the Pittsburgh Forge, which he led to a league title a couple of years ago. In 2003-04, Imes coached professionally in Slovenia, then returned to the US and this past winter worked as head coach of the girls team at Elk River (Minn.) High School. When the high school season ended in March, Imes joined the the Sioux Falls Stampede as an assistant.
Imes played for Shawn Walsh at Maine from 1990-95, taking one year off to play on the 1994 US Olympic Team. An All-American, Imes was also a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 1995. (This typist felt he should have won it easily, but the award went to Bowling Green center Brian Holzinger.) Imes played in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose, and also in Europe.
Imes is a native of Indus, Minn., up on the Ontario border.
Merrimack has started interviewing for the head coaching job vacated when Chris Serino resigned last month. Reportedly, the search committee is working from a list of ten candidates. Stan Moore (Colgate), Mike Cavanaugh (BC), Andy Heinze (Valley Jr. Warriors), Bruce Crowder, Dave Peters (Dartmouth), Bobby Jay (Harvard), Mark Dennehy (UMass), and Paul Pearl (Holy Cross) are the names most prominently mentioned.
Army forward Ryan Cruthers, a key to the Black Knights offense the past two seasons, will be leaving West Point and transferring to Robert Morris University.Because of academic difficulties, Cruthers played in only 18 games this season but still finished as the team’s second-leading scorer (Army struggled to score goals.) As a freshman, Cruthers scored a team-high 18 points. Cruthers is an Apple Core (EJHL) product.He’ll be eligible to play at Robert Morris in the fall of ’06.
Big Thayer Academy senior forward Andrew Orpik, the younger brother of former BC Eagle defenseman Brooks Orpik, will be playing hockey at the Heights this fall. Orpik, who had a 6-9-15 line in 30 games this season, will be a depth player for the Eagles.
Jackson’s First Recruit at Notre Dame
New Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson has his first recruit – Ian Cole, a 6’1”, 202 lb. defenseman from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Cole, currently in the 10th grade, played this season for Victory Honda Midget AAA. A sturdy, strong defenseman, Cole contributes equally at both ends of the ice. An ’89 birthdate, he’ll join the National Team Development Program in the fall.
He’ll arrive in South Bend in the fall of ’07.
BC Goaltending: Pearce Back
With freshman Cory Schneider unmovable from the Boston College crease, Waterloo Black Hawks goaltender Joe Grossman, scheduled to arrive at the Heights this fall as a walk-on who would fight for playing time, has decided instead to return to the USHL.
Joe Pearce will take his place, returning to BC's active roster in the fall.
Grossman, a 9/10/85 birthdate, will not be deferring at BC. Instead, he’s making himself available to other interested schools, and will be eligible for NCAA play in the fall of ‘06. This season at Waterloo, the 5’11”, 165 lb. rookie out of Foxboro, Mass. and BC High played 29 games and had a 2.68 gaa (6th best in league) and a .903 save percentage (12th best in league).
Pearce, cut from the team a little over a year ago after playing five games (3.11 gaa, .874 save percentage) as a freshman, stayed on at BC as a scholarship player who wasn’t playing. This, of course, all coincided with Adam Pineault’sdismissal from Boston College; Pineault’s scholarship was given to Schneider, who at the time was expecting to spend a year playing in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers. Instead, Schneider came in directly from Andover Academy, Matti Kaltiainen completed his senior year, as did walk-on Robbie Miller – and Pearce was the odd man out.
Quinnipiac offered Pearce, a 6’4” New Jersey native, a full scholarship to transfer, but Pearce stayed at the Heights. However, Pearce, a fifth round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the June 2002 NHL Draft, hasn’t played in over a year. As a recruited hockey player, he was not even eligible to play intramurals at BC. Pearce, who will be 23 next month, will be a junior when he returns to the Eagles this fall.
BC’s third goalie next year is Adam Reasoner, the brother of former BC start Marty Reasoner, who played for the Bay State Breakers (EJHL) last season.
Jeff Jackson has tabbed Providence College head coach Paul Pooley to be his top assistant at Notre Dame.
Look for an official announcement out of South Bend by the end of next week, and rest assured that it will send shock waves through the college coach fraternity. It’s not every day that an 11-year Div. I head coach “steps down”, but Notre Dame has the allure and the resources and Jackson appears determined to turn around the Fighting Irish hockey program.
Pooley, 44, was on Jackson’s staff at Lake Superior State during the glory years when the Lakers reached the NCAA title game in three consecutive seasons, winning it all twice (’92, ’94).
Jackson has always given a lot of credit for the success of those teams to Pooley's recruiting prowess.
An All-America forward at Ohio State, Pooley came to the Lakers after Jackson wrenched him away from his alma mater, where he had been an assistant from 1988-91. At Lake State, Pooley was an assistant for two years, then was elevated to associate head coach. Pooley’s success at Lake State led to his being named the head coach at Providence College in 1994. Pooley took over a Friars team that lost 19 games in the previous season. Four years later, Pooley and his staff had a team entirely built on their own recruiting efforts. From that point on, Providence finished .500 or better for five of the next six years. In 2000-01, he was named Hockey East Coach of the Year. This past season, the Friars stumbled, finishing 12-21-4.
Pooley is still officially the coach at Providence, though Providence College AD Bob Driscoll knows of the Notre Dame situation.
Pooley will be out in South Bend this weekend.
Back on March 5, we reported on South Kent School senior forward Aaron Davies’ battle with cancer.
Since then, Davies has had some extraordinary successes in his fight against the cancer, diagnosed as non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Recently, a couple of different radioactive scans for cancer both came back ‘normal,’ meaning he’s basically cancer free.
“He’s doing awesome,” said South Kent coach Geoff Marottolo. “It’s a miracle.”
Davies, whose weight is up, has at least one more seven-day chemo session scheduled and then he’ll be heading back to South Kent from his Chesapeake, Virginia home to speak at graduation.
Davies, 19, will be heading to New England College in the fall where, if all goes well, he’ll be playing for coach Tom Carroll.
A Better -- and More Colorful -- Mousetrap
Grayson Fertig, former Tabor Academy and Middlebury College defenseman (class of ’02) is featured in this week’s Hockey News for his solution to the low-scoring games that are turning some fans off hockey.
At Middlebury, Fertig studied color theory, and learned that the eye and brain work together in such a way that the eye sees the hard colors (red, orange, yellow, etc.) before all others. Red is the most dynamic and dominant color in the spectrum, hence it’s the most optimal visually.
However, for a forward streaking down the wing, red isn’t the color he wants to be focusing on, as it turns the goalposts into the shooter’s subconscious target.
“The netting should be the shooter’s target,” Fertig explains. So Fertig has developed a goal that is the same size and shape as the traditional goal. The only difference is in the colors – the posts and crossbar would be gray, and the mesh red.
Fertig believes goal scoring would go up, and he has the support of ophthalmologists and color theorists.
Next step is getting some leagues to give it a try. Would the GMs who rule over the NHL buy into his thinking? We like to think they’d consider it, but the NHL GMs are the guys who, when asked in February if removing the red line looked like something that might someday happen in the NHL, responded – grouptalk, perhaps? -- by saying they might have to study it in the AHL first.
To that, we say huh? There is no need to study it. Every NHL GM has seen numerous international and college games, and can surely come up with an opinion without a meaningless study.
Prep Playoff Criteria: Our Proposal
This past winter, by tracking game results for the purposes of projecting post-season seedings, we, specifically number-cruncher extraordinaire Steve Schwartz, developed a beyond-casual understanding of the way the selection criteria work.Having had a chance to study it, we see its strengths and weaknesses. It’s a good system, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon. And for that we have a proposal.
First off, we don’t take issue with the teams that have made the playoffs the last couple of years.But, this year, we saw a couple of real problems.First, almost no one we talked to really understands the third criterion, i.e. “strength of schedule.” There was probably more discussion about that criterion and what it meant, and how different scenarios could affect it, than any other criterion or issue relating to the playoffs.Second, there is so little “official” information available about the rankings prior to the season’s end that coaches often don’t know whether a game is critical or not.Given that game strategy can be affected (e.g., “if I don’t need to win to get in, maybe I can rest a couple of players who are a little banged up.”), it seems to us to be unfair that no one really knows for sure where they stand.Third, the criteria, which are supposed to be equally weighted, in fact give undue weight to Div. II games, positively in the first criterion and negatively in the third.Fourth, though the playoff teams are picked for the East and West separately, there is no criterion that captures how well teams do against the teams that represent their most direct competition.
Here are some specific issues we identified during the course of the year.The first criterion is winning percentage against all NEPSIHA teams—Div. I and Div. II.Among the top teams (East and West), games against Div. II schools are only played by teams in the East.See chart below.
Team Number of Div. II games Number of NEPSIHA games
Andover 4 26
Cushing 1 27
Exeter 4 27
GDA 2 25
Nobles 3 29
NMH 0 26
St. Paul’s 1 24
Tabor 1 24
Thayer 4 28
AOF 0 24
Canterbury 0 29
Choate 0 24
Deerfield 0 23
Pomfret 0 26
Salisbury 0 24
Taft 0 21
Westminster 0 25
Clearly, different teams play different numbers of games.That helps them, because they don’t lose those games – thus their position in the first criterion is elevated.But, playing those rivalry games against Div. II teams hurt them in criterion #3, because the percentage of games played against teams with .500 or better records is based on all NEPSIHA games.As a matter of arithmetic, when you play more games overall because you play more Div. II games, that percentage is reduced.But, the winning percentage against teams with .500 or better records is based only on Div. I games.Since the winning percentage of the Div. II teams is not counted at all, playing Div. II games can only hurt in criterion 3.Thus, there is an inconsistent treatment of Div. II games.Our proposed solution—see below—is not to count Div. II games at all.
The third criterion also focuses only on games played against teams with records of .500 or better, presumably because those games represent the games against better teams.However, that bright line is a hard line to draw.Is a team with a .500 record is materially better than a team with a .480 record? We doubt it.Moreover, strength of schedule should also reflect the number of weak teams that are played.This criterion does not do that.Our proposed solution—see below—is to measure strength of schedule differently.
One hole that we see is that while there are really two different playoff races—East and West—a team’s performance within its “conference” does not count at all.Some teams—NMH, in the East and Pomfret in the West—play relatively more cross over games.Other teams play fewer.Since there are no overriding requirements about the total number of games teams must play (other than the eight-game minimum) or how many games must be played within its “conference”—nor do we advocate such requirements for prep hockey—there is a real potential problem of non-comparable schedules.One way to fix that problem is to add a factor for winning percentage within the conference, since there will typically be a good bit of schedule overlap among teams in the same geographic conference.Our solution is outlined below.
The last potential problem we see is that the playoff seedings are based on the rankings within each criterion as opposed to the scores for each time in each criterion.In other words, regardless of the difference in the winning percentages in the second category, Canterbury was ranked fourth and Deerfield fifth -- a difference of one place that could be offset by a two position swing in another criterion.However, if playoff position was based on each team’s scores in each category, Canterbury’s lead would have been even more secure than it was going down the stretch.Looking at scores and adding them up, as opposed to rankings, would have affected seedings this year (in the East), though not which teams made the playoffs.However, when rankings are used, it is much more likely that there will be ties, and so far as we know, there are not tie-breaker rules to cover every possibility.Using the scores makes ties less likely, and tie-breaking rules easier to develop.
How can things be better?Any system of determining playoff position ought to have several attributes, in our view.It must be transparent; that is, it must be easily understood and clear to all affected by it.Second, the criteria ought to be related to the competition.Put differently, since it is a Div. I tournament that teams are striving for, games against Div. I teams ought to be most important.Since teams are chosen by geography, games between direct opponents for a playoff berth ought to count.Third, all teams ought to know which games will be considered for all teams, in advance, so that anyone can track their playoff position, at least in principle, by themselves.There should be no mystery about whether a certain game (e.g., a tournament game) counts or not.
In our view, the current criteria almost meet the first requirement, but they don’t meet the other two very well.So what would we do differently?Here are some suggestions.
1) Don’t count games against Div. II teams at all.The top Div. I teams regularly win their games against Div. II teams, so the first criterion serves only to help teams that play more Div. II teams.The way the third criterion is measured, those same teams are hurt for playing more games against Div. II teams.This seems a little strange to us, and the solution is easy: don’t count Div. II games.That would be a practice consistent with Div. I college sports and would allow teams to schedule Div. II “rivalry” games without their playoff chances being implicated at all.It would also eliminate a difference in the way the criterion affects teams in the East (that tend to play more Div. II games) than the West (that do not).
2) Instead of dropping the first criterion, we advocate replacing it with one that measures performance against “conference” opponents.In other words, for an eastern team, it would be win percentage against east opponents: for a western team, it would be win percentage against west opponents. The chart below has the information for that criterion.You’ll see that in the west, nothing changes with this year’s results.In the east, however, there would be changes in the seedings.Nobles would have been seeded first, ahead of Cushing, because it did very well within the East.Andover would have been the third seed and Thayer would have been the fourth seed, comfortably.Arguably, this would have been a better and fairer outcome, since it seems sensible that performance against conference teams ought to factor into seedings somehow.In this formula, it does.
1. Nobles 1. AOF
2. Cushing 2. Salisbury
3. Andover 3. Taft
4. Thayer 4. Canterbury
5. St. Paul’s 5. Deerfield
8. St. Sebs
However, we think the selection criteria can be improved even more.
3) Replace the hard-to-understand third criterion with one that is simpler and easy to calculate.Account for strength of schedule by multiplying the average winning percentage of a team’s Div. I opponents times its own Div. I winning percentage.This measure is better than the current one because it doesn’t draw an artificial — and unnecessary — line between a team with a .500 win percentage and one whose win percentage is .498.The current criterion treats a win over the first team as a quality win and gives no credit for the win over the second team, even though there is almost certainly no real difference in the “quality” of that win.The attached chart shows that the seedings would change in the East, though not the participants, and things remain the same in the West.
1. Nobles 1. Avon
2. Cushing 2. Salisbury
3. Andover 3. Taft
4. Thayer 4. Canterbury
5. St. Paul’s 5. Deerfield
A. What would the three criteria be under our modest proposal?
1. Win percentage versus Div. I opponents
2. Win percentage versus Div. I opponents in the same geographic region
3. (Win percentage versus Div. I opponents TIMES average win percentage of Div. I opponents)
These criteria give weight only to Div. I games.There are no distortions created because of Div. II games.And, given that East teams play more Div. II opponents than West, the current criterion affects the East differently from the West.Our proposed criteria eliminate this problem.These criteria actually capture how well a team does against its direct competitors by accounting for win percentage against teams in the same geographic region. This would eliminate what we see as a glaring hole in the current criteria.If Andover, Exeter, Cushing, Nobles, Thayer and St. Paul’s are battling for playoff spots, as was the case this season, there ought to be an accounting for how well they do against each other and their geographic rivals.Finally, the new third criterion we are proposing is simple to understand, easy to calculate and, most importantly, rewards teams that succeed against strong schedules.That was the original intent of the third criterion; we think this will take that goal a step further.There won’t be any huge swings in a team’s score because one of its opponents finishes at .500.Since there is little difference in the quality of teams at .500 and just below it, our proposed criterion fully captures a team’s schedule strength by acknowledging the difference between a team just below the .500 mark and a team that hasn’t won a game all season.
But, one might argue, why change anything if these new criteria don’t change who is in the playoffs? Most importantly, we think these are actually more meaningful criteria.They are transparent and easily understood.They would have changed the seedings this year, and likely would have changed the playoff teams and seedings in past years.We have not reviewed past years’ results, but it would certainly be an easy thing to do.Finally, these changes would eliminate the inconsistencies in the way the various criteria affect teams in the East and West; they would place the emphasis where it ought to be placed.
The final change we would advocate is to change from an ordering of teams in each criterion (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) and replace it with each team’s actual “score” in each category. This change, when all three criteria are considered, would virtually eliminate the chance of a tie. It also credits teams appropriately for big advantages in, say, win percentages.Finally, when all three criteria are considered, it makes it difficult for one team to excel in only one or two criteria and make it into the playoffs.
We believe the above changes would take a good system, and make it even better.
Kyle Named Head Coach of National Junior Team
Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle has been named head coach of the 2006 U.S. National Junior Team.
He will be assisted by U.S. Under-17 head coach John Hynes and others to be named later.
Kyle was an assistant to Kevin Constantine on the 1991 U.S. National Junior Team, and was head coach the next two years, winning the bronze in 1992, and coming in fourth in 1993.
The National Junior Camp will be held in Lake Placid August 5-14.
Big Man from Gatineau
The Quebec midget leagues aren’t well scouted by U.S. colleges, which means that 6’6”, 199 lb. RD Simon Danis-Pépin hasn’t been seen much.
Boston University hasn’t seen him play, but they’ve had him in for a visit, anyway. Maine has offered him. Clarkson was on him early. Cornell is in the picture. So, too, is UNH.
An ’88 who just turned 17 last month, Danis-Pépin is rated to go in the first round of the QMJHL draft on June 4, but is a good student, hence looking to go the NCAA route.
Danis-Pépin has both size and high-end offensive skills – a big shot, nice hands, and the ability to QB the powerplay. His style of play is similar to Cornell’s Sasha Pokulok – and he has Pokulok’s upside, too.
Danis-Pépin played this season for the Intrépide de Gatineau, a Midget AAA team that two weeks ago won the silver medal at the Telus Cup (formerly known as the Air Canada Cup), which goes to the national midget AAA champions. Danis-Pépin, who had a 2-3-5 line in the tournament, was named the tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.
Here are a few east coast camps worthy of your consideration. Each has slots available, each has good coaches, and each devotes time to practice and skill development before playing any games.
-- There are still some slots available for the U.S. College Hockey Advancement camp at UMass-Amherst Wed. June 15-Sat. June 18. This is open to ’87, ’88, and ’89 birthdates and features eight teams of 17 players (10 forwards, 5 d-men, and two goalies). A number of top prep players will be there: Max Pacioretty and Jack Downing (both Taft), Jason DeGiovanni (St. Paul’s), Justin Pallos (St. Mark’s/Jr. Bruins), Marc Arcobello (Fairfield Prep/Salisbury), Marc Pulde (BB&N), and others. The coaching staff is excellent. The directors are Mark Dennehy (UMass) and Bruce Wolanin (Yale), who will also be on the ice along with Rick Bennett (Providence College), Greg Brown (BC), Willie Mitchell (Wayne State), Bobby Jay (Harvard), Damon DiGuilian (Vermont), and Dave Cataruzolo (Trinity).
Their web site is www.uscha.net
-- The southeast has its first major camp this summer -- the North American Hockey Prospect Camp -- which will run at the Cooler in Alpharetta, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, from Sun. June 26-Fri. July 1. The force behind the camp is John Bardis, whose son, Tom, plays at Cushing Academy. Bardis hopes to bridge the gap between non-traditional and traditional hockey areas and, with more and more good players are coming out of the southern states, this is a good opportunity for prep candidates to both see where they stand – and be seen. Cushing Academy head coach Steve Jacobs will be directing the camp and coaches will include former NHLers Scott Pearson, Scott Mellanby, Dan Bouchard and others. The camp is also partnered with the Beantown Classic. The camp is well-capitalized, has a nice venue, and plans to build for the future.
The camp will be split into two groups, a prep group (‘91, ‘92, ‘93) and junior group (’86,’87,’88,’89,’90).
Their web site is www.nahpc.com
-- There are a few spots left for ’90-’91 birth year players at National Hockey Training, held at the University of Southern Maine from July 5-9. The forces behind this camp are former Taft coach and current Berkshire School headmaster Mike Maher and Connecticut College head coach Jim Ward. All players skate in six training sessions and compete in six games. Numerous top coaches from the prep and college ranks serve as instructors.
Their website is www.nhtcamps.com
-- Hub City Hockey will be running their camp at the Bridgewater Ice Arena in Bridgewater, Mass. from Mon. July 25-Sat. July 30. The camp, open to players 15 years of age and up, features practices every morning and games every evening. Top Div. I and Div. III coaches have signed on as instructors.
More more info check out http://www.hubcityhockey.com
Next Season’s Under-17 Team
Here are the players, all ‘89s, currently committed to the NTDP’s Under-17 team for the fall. Right now, the team is at nine forwards, seven defensemen, and one goalie.
To be added by the end of the Select 16 Festival: 3-4 forwards, possibly one D, and one goalie.
Ryan Hayes, 5-8/161, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse Stars (OPJHL)
Brennan Vargas, 6-0/186, Coon Rapids, Minn., Coon Rapids HS
C.J. Severyn, 6-0/165, Beaver, PA, Pittsburgh Hornets Midget Minor
Matt Rust, 5-9½/172, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Honeybaked Midget Major
John Albert, 5-8/155, Concord, Ohio, Cleveland Barons Midget Minor
James VanRiemsdyk, 6-2/165, Middletown, NJ, Christian Brothers Academy
Justin Vaive, 6-3½/178, Oakville, Ont., Toronto Marlies Midget Minor
Mike Cieslak, Penfield, NY, McQuiad Jesuit HS
Ryan Schnell, 6-3/211, Cary, Ill., Team Illinois Midget Major
Cade Fairchild, 5-10/154, Duluth, Minn., Duluth East HS
Joey Lavin, 6-0/172, Shrewsbury, Mass., Boston Jr. Bruins Midget AAA
Kevin Shattenkirk, 5-11/178, New Rochelle, NY, Brunswick School
Ian Cole, 6-1/202, Ann Arbor, Mich., Victory Honda Midget Major
David Kolomatis, 5-10/165, Basking Ridge, NJ, New Jersey Rockets Jr. B
Colby Cohen, 6-2/176, Villanova, PA, Syracuse Stars (OPJHL)
Teddy Ruth, 6-0/173, Naperville, Ill., Chicago Mission Midget AAA
Brad Phillips, 6-1/145, Farmington Hills, Mich., Honeybaked Midget AAA
TI defenseman Nigel Williams, an ’88, has signed on with the older team. The NTDP wouldn’t mind if Shattuck forward Kyle Okposo did the same.
Murray Leaves Fighting Sioux
North Dakota 5’9” sophomore Brady Murray has signed a one-year pro contract with Rapperswil of the Swiss League and will be leaving the Fighting Sioux.
Murray’s father, Andy, the current coach of the LA Kings, was coaching in Switzerland when his son was three. At that time, Brady registered as a youth player in the country, which means that Rapperswill is able to sign him as a non-import.
For Murray, it increases his value as the club doesn’t have to use one of its five import slots on him.
Rapperswil will be coached this year by former UMass assistant coach Bill Gilligan, a former All-America at Brown.
Word is that the loophole under which Murray signed his contract – reportedly $300,000 to $400,000, will be closed shortly.
Murray was the WCHA rookie his freshman season, posting a 19-27-46 line in 37 games. This past season, he was hampered by knee and shoulder injuries and missed the playoffs. In 25 games, he had an 8-12-20 line.
Murray, who turns 21 this summer, played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and Salmon Arm (BCHL) before arriving at North Dakota in the fall of ’03.
Well, Hannibal got Elephants over the Alps
Former Union defenseman Alex Todd has been named head coach at Castleton State College, taking over a team which last season – their first in ECAC East (Div. III) – finished 0-25, getting outscored 236-42. In ten different games opponents hit double figures against the Spartans and in the season finale, a first round playoff game at Norwich, they were walloped 16-0.
The previous season, as a Div. III independent, Castleton State finished 0-19. Prior to that, the school only played hockey at the club level.
So Todd, an assistant at Utica College this past season, takes over a program that has never won a game (0-44-0) in its two-year history. There's just one place to go -- and that's up.
"My first recruiting class will be building a whole new hockey atmosphere here on campus," Todd said, adding, "I'm looking for character kids."
Castleton State, located 12 miles west of Rutland, Vermont, is a 1600-student liberal arts college.
Cronin Counting on Reilly
Current Northeastern assistant Gene Reilly will be retained by new Huskies head coach Greg Cronin.
Reilly, 41, joined the Northeastern staff last year after one year at Harvard. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach in the Ottawa Senators organization, coaching at Grand Rapids (AHL) and Binghamton (AHL). And for the three seasons before that, Reilly was an assistant at the University of Maine, going behind the bench as interim head coach when Shawn Walsh was undergoing cancer treatment in 2000-01. (Cronin also served as an interim head coach at Maine, filling in when Walsh was suspended for NCAA violations in the fall of 1996.)
In the decade before he went to Maine, Reilly, a Springfield, Mass. native, coached the Springfield Pics/New England Junior Whalers/New England Coyotes of the EJHL, first as an assistant to Gary Dineen and then as a head coach. At the end of his tenure, Reilly's squads, which sent numerous players on to the Div. I ranks, won three consecutive EJHL regular season and playoff championships.
Reilly, an '86 graduate of Elmira College, is a hard worker with a strong analytical mind and an eye for talent. “He’s driven, hard-working and industrious,” said Cronin, who also liked the fact that Reilly, like himself, has pro experience. Cronin will be drawing on certain aspects of the pro model as he attempts to shape the Huskies into a winning club.
Cronin plans to have both his assistants – he still has another yet-to-be named – on the road almost constantly, scouring North America for players. “It’ll be go, go, go,” said Cronin.
After he names an assistant to team up with Reilly, Cronin will turn his attention to picking a volunteer assistant. Cronin will be putting a lot of time into that decision, as his volunteer will be spending a ton of time with the team.
Gasparini Returning to the Plains
Union College assistant coach Tony Gasparini will be leaving the Dutchmen to return to the Midwest.
Gasparini, who cited family reasons, will be working with an orthopedic company in Sioux Falls, SD and scouting part time with one of a couple NHL teams he’s talking with.
Gasparini, a Grand Forks, ND native, will also be living in Sioux Falls, where he coached the Stampede before coming to Union. The father of two children under three, Gasparini said, “It’s the right move for me and my family, but it’s also hard to leave something that I’m passionate about. My heart wants to be here (at Union). The program is headed in the right direction. It was a tough decision. However, the scouting job will allow me to keep in the game.”
Union head coach Nate Leaman is at work seeking a successor to Gasparini, and hopes to have someone by the end of June.
USHL Draft Notes
Some random thoughts while wondering how the South Korean researchers discovering a way to produce human embryos by cloning and extracting stem cells will affect 21st century hockey.
Kyle Okposo – Gopher recruit, currently a junior, can call his own shot. Return to Shattuck? NTDP? Request a trade to another USHL team? In the first two scenarios, Des Moines winds up with zilch. However, Okposo was the best player available – and Des Moines certainly needs good players -- so it’s a risk they were willing to take.
John Kemp – University of Nebraska-Omaha recruit was let go by the NTDP last September for disciplinary reasons and returned to LA to play midget hockey. Great vision. Should put a charge into Indiana’s powerplay.
Tysen Dowzak – Another of Shattuck’s star 11th graders. 6’5” defenseman is a potential first round NHL draft pick.
Chad Morin – Definitely leaving NTDP. No risk for Sioux City here.
Matt Lundin – Maine Black Bears freshman goaltender was drafted by Tri-City. If Jimmy Howard turns pro, Lundin could be back at Maine. So Tri-City took a goalie in the second round, too -- Cushing Academy junior Richard Bachman. Tri-City also has Nick Hopper already on its roster.
Ray Kaunisto – Cedar Rapids made the Northern Michigan recruit their top pick. Kaunisto has size, toughness, and can score. Played in the Soo (NAHL) this season. Could just as easily have stood out in the USHL.
Nick Petrecki – Slipped away from the NTDP and was taken in the first round of the OHL draft by Plymouth, which was a surprise as the OHL draft is heavily rigged, and Petrecki had been leaning toward Kitchener or London. There’s been bad blood between Plymouth and Kitchener for a while, so that may have played into things, too. If he comes to Omaha, it’s a coup by Mike Hastings and his staff. Last we heard, BU was the school the big defenseman is most interested in. However, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see him, in the final analysis, sign with Plymouth. Represented by Bobby Orr group.
Brendan Smith -- Sioux City selected Smith, adefenseman from the Toronto Marlies ‘89s who’s not only highly skilled but a personable character kid. Sioux City also has Smith’s Marlies teammate, Sam Gagner, from last August’s USHL Future’s Draft. Both project to be college stars.
Brett Bandazian – Forward was selected by Lincoln. Wouldn’t have been returning to Choate anyway, as he was asked to leave for violation of school policy (tobacco).
Keith Yandle – Astute insurance policy. It’s not 100 percent certain that Yandle will get through the clearinghouse. He still has to pass a course this summer to graduate from Cushing. If he doesn’t, there’s also a good chance he’ll stay east and play with the Junior Bruins.
Mike Vaskivuo – Westminster School senior was taken by Green Bay, and will go to their camp. If he doesn’t make the cut, he’ll take another year in prep school, at South Kent.
Steve Silva – Skilled Tabor forward was taken by Green Bay in the ninth round. An ’87, he’ll be going into his senior year.
Logan Couture – St. Thomas Jr. B star forward was told he’d be the Ottawa ‘67s #1 overall pick in the OHL draft. However, a week before the draft OHL commissioner Dave Branch did a 180 degree turn, bowing to the league’s bottom line and deciding to allow “exceptional” 14-year-olds into the draft. We’re speaking of John Tavares, of course, and Ottawa selected him. Ottawa was still able to select Couture with the 12th overall pick, but he and his family felt miffed by the whole thing. Most observers feel Couture will eventually sign with Ottawa. If he doesn’t, the Lincoln Stars, who took a flier with their 100th overall pick, will be there to jump.
Chris Berenguer – Sioux Falls took the 6’3” Eden Prairie, Minn. defensman, the son of former Minnesota Twins pitcher Juan Berenguer. Berenguer played at Santa Fe (NAHL) this past season.
Phillip McRae -- Selected by Des Moines, the son of former NHLer Basil McRae played midget minor in St. Louis this past winter. McRae is a ’90 birthdate, the only ’90 selected in the draft.
James Perkin – Selected by Lincoln, Perkin was one of the top scorers in the AJHL last year as a 17-year-old. Committed to Bowling Green for ’06.
Chris Brennan – The Chicago Steel selected Brennan from the University of Rhode Island, which has been one of the top club teams in the country for the past couple of years. Brennan, a sophomore forward, is from Bryn Mawr, PA and played for the Philly Jr. Flyers before going to URI.
Alex Berry – UMass recruit also has some academic details to clear up. Chances are good they’ll get taken care of. In case they don’t, Green Bay will have his rights.
-- Best draft? We’ll go with Sioux City. On a pure skill level, the Musketeer’s top five draft picks -- Chad Morin, Frank Grzeszczak, Dustin Gazely, Brendan Smith, and Bobby Jarosz -- make up a very strong group. At last August’s Futures Draft, Sioux City selected Anthony Maiani (Honeybaked Midgets), Hunter Thunell (Phillips Andover Academy), Peter Mueller (NTDP), and Sam Gagner (Toronto Marlies ’89). Put them together, and you got something – even if Mueller goes to the Dub, which we think is the more likely, or back to the NTDP, also a possibility.
-- In case you forgot who was drafted in the futures draft last August, the list follows. The team listed after each player’s name is the team for which they played in the 2003-04 season. In the futures draft, each USHL team is allowed four selections under the age of 18. The players selected can play zero games – or any number of games, actually -- with the club that selected them and still remain the property of the team drafting them, provided they are on that team’s protected list 12 months later (this coming August, in other words).
Des Moines -- Brian Foster, G, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, 2/4/1987
Chicago -- Michael Phillipi, D, Hill-Murray High School, 4/10/1987
Tri-City -- Kyle Lawson, D, Honeybaked Midget, 1/11/1987
Lincoln -- Chris VandeVelde, F, Moorhead High School, 3/15/1987
Sioux Falls -- Michael Gergen, F, Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep, 2/17/1987
Sioux City -- Anthony Maiani, F, Honeybaked Midgets, 2/24/1989
Waterloo --James Marcou, F, New York Bobcats, 2/19/1988
Cedar Rapids -- Nick Jaskowiak, D, Benilde-St. Margaret's Prep, 2/8/1989
Omaha -- Robby Dee, F, Breck School, 4/9/1987
Green Bay-- Kevin Deeth, F, Shattuck-St. Mary's Prep, 5/26/1987
Indiana -- Vladimir Nikoforov, F, Suffolk PAL, 10/7/1987
Des Moines -- Evan Trupp, F, Alaska All-Stars, 10/22/87
Chicago -- Brian Keane, F, Buffalo Saints, 5/17/88
Tri-City -- Jon Ammerman, D, Moorhead HS, 5/9/87
Lincoln -- Ben Beaudoin, F, Simley HS, 1/18/87
Sioux Falls -- Zach Redmond, D, Compuware Midgets, 7/26/88
Sioux City -- Hunter Thunell, D, Phillips Andover Academy, 1/2/87
Waterloo -- Joe Sova, D, Chicago Mission, 5/8/88
Cedar Rapids -- Ryan Santana, F, California Wave, 11/22/88
Omaha-- Arne Krogh, D, Alaska All-Stars, 3/1/88
Green Bay -- Nick Canzanello, D, Rochester Mayo HS, 2/2/88
Indiana -- Jake Vigen, D, Red River HS, 3/3/87
Des Moines -- Rob Spalding, D, Roseville HS, 6/8/87
Chicago -- Kai Kantola, F, Kerkko Reipas Lahti (Finland), 9/11/87
Tri-City -- Matt Ambroz, F, New Prague HS, 3/25/87
Lincoln -- Mike Devoney, G, Team Illinois, 5/17/87
Sioux Falls -- Mike Forney, F, Thief River Falls HS, 5/14/88
Sioux City -- Peter Mueller, F, NTDP, 4/14/88
Waterloo -- Mike Borisenok, F, Albany Academy, 2/25/88
Cedar Rapids -- Kevin Wehrs, D, Wayzata HS, 4/7/88
Omaha -- Kevin Clark, F, Winnipeg Jr. Blues, 12/29/87
Green Bay -- Patrick Cullity, D, Berkshire School, 1/26/87
Indiana -- Drew Fisher, F, International Falls High School, 2/6/87
Des Moines -- Jordan Fulton, F, Breck School, 9/12/87
Chicago -- Matt DiGirolamo, G, Jr. Flyers Midgets, 6/9/88
Tri-City -- Cameron Cooper, D, Holy Angels, 5/19/88
Lincoln -- Ross James, D, Lawrence Academy, 6/6/87
Sioux Falls -- Matt Kronk, D, Boston Jr. Bruins Midgets, 8/12/88
Sioux City -- Sam Gagner, F, Toronto Marlboros Bantams, 8/10/89
Waterloo -- Mike Sauer, D, St. Cloud Tech, 8/7/87
Cedar Rapids -- Gary Steffes, F,Stratford Cullitons, 5/20/87
Omaha -- Jimmy Martin, D, St. Louis Jr. Blues, 10/20/88
Green Bay -- Joe Welch, F, Hastings HS, 4/29/87
Indiana -- Nigel Williams, D, Team Illinois, 4/18/88
Nigel Williams, the last listed player above, will be with the US Under-18 team next season.
Jackson Keeps Slaggert Onboard
Notre Dame head hockey coach Jeff Jackson will be retaining Andy Slaggert as one of his two assistant coaches.
Slaggert, a 1989 Notre Dame graduate, has been an assistant for the Fighting Irish for 12 seasons. He first served under Ric Schafer, then Dave Poulin, and now Jackson.
Slaggert, 36, has also coached extensively at USA Hockey Select Festivals, and was the head coach of the US Under-17 Select Team that finished second at the Five Nations Tournament last August.
Former Michigan Tech defenseman Layne LeBel, an assistant under Poulin for the last two years, will not be retained.
Look for Jackson to have a new assistant on board before long.
-- Former University of Minnesota and U.S. Olympic Team (’72) forward Craig Sarner, 55, has been named director of player personnel for the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL).
Recently, Sarner, from St. Paul, Minn., scouted the Upper Midwest for the Montreal Canadiens. He also coached in the Midwest High School Elite League, where he worked with new Stampede head coach/GM Kevin Hartzell.
-- Jamie Dumont, an assistant at Bowdoin for the past three seasons, will be moving ujp the road to Orono, where he will serve as a graduate assistant on Tim Whitehead’s staff at the University of Maine. Dumont, who played college hockey at Oswego State, is a native of Lewiston, Maine.
Crane to Princeton
5'11", 178 lb. defenseman Kevin Crane of Phillips Exeter Academy has committed to Princeton University for the fall of 2006. Crane is a mobile offensive defenseman with strong skating and puckhandling skills and a good shot. Before going to Exeter, Crane played for six years on the highly successful California Wave ‘88 Team, coached by Jeff Turcotte and featuring, among others, Rhett Rakhshani, who recently committed to Denver. In 2003, the Wave, with Crane as captain, captured the USA Hockey Bantam Tier I National Championship, beating a powerful Shattuck-Saint Mary's team in the final.
Who’s Next at Merrimack?
Things are moving slowly at Merrimack, but a search committee to appoint the next coach of the Warriors is being formed – indeed, maybe already been formed. Still, it doesn’t appear that anyone has been officially interviewed yet. Everything seems to be in the early stages – all very exploratory. One thing is for sure: the candidates will have as many questions for the committee as the committee will for the candidates.
In the college hockey community there hasn’t been a lot of talk about the subject. However, we put a little work into it and this is what we came up with. We have confirmed that the following six are all interested and have either applied or let the school know that they’d like to talk further.
Alphabetically, they are:
Mike Cavanaugh, Bowdoin grad and BC assistant throughout the Jerry York era.
Bruce Crowder, UNH grad and 12-year Hockey East head coach -- three years at Lowell, and the last nine at Northeastern.
Andy Heinze, longtime Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL) head coach/GM was a top scorer on the Merrimack teams of the late ‘80s.
Bobby Jay, currently an assistant at Harvard, played at Merrimack in the late ‘80s. He hasbeen an assistant with the Detroit Vipers (IHL), Manchester Monarchs (AHL), and San Antonio Rampage (AHL). At San Antonio, he also served as GM.
Paul Pearl, former Brown assistant has been head coach at Holy Cross, his alma mater, for ten seasons.
Dave Peters, a BC grad, has put in a lot of years as an assistant, both at Providence College and, currently, at Dartmouth. In between, he was head coach of the Danville Wings (NAHL).
Barnett Back in College Hockey
Craig Barnett, for the last two seasons the director of hockey operations and the prep team coach at Lake Forest Academy outside of Chicago, has accepted a position as head hockey coach at Becker College.
For Barnett, this is a return to the college ranks. Before taking the Lake Forest position, Barnett was head coach at the University of Findlay, before the Ohio college decided to drop varsity hockey.
Becker, which has twin campuses in Worcester and Leicester, Mass., appears to be making a serious commitment toward building a hockey program.
Eric Long, a defenseman who played at St. Anselm’s in the early ‘90s and just finished up an 10-year minor pro career in the US and Europe, has been named associate head coach on Gino Riffle’s staff at Kimball Union Academy. Long, the older brother of former Colgate defenseman Bryan Long, will also work in admissions at Kimball Union.
Coffey to Brown
6’3”, 180 lb. defenseman Sean Coffey, a sophomore at St. Sebastian’s this past season, has verbally committed to Brown University for the fall of ’07.
In addition, Coffey, who was selected by the Sioux City Musketeers in last Thursday’s USHL draft, has committed to play for the Musketeers in the upcoming season.
Andover Academy 6’3”, 190 lb. defenseman Hunter Thunnel, also a Brown recruit (for ’06), will be playing at Sioux City in the upcoming season as well.
USHL Draft Shows Strong Midget AAA Trend
The 2005, USHL Draft, which took over nine plus (!) hours to complete on Thursday, showed a decided trend toward midget players, with one-third of all drafted players came from the midget ranks.
Of the 179 players were selected Thursday, here’s where they came from (the numbers are ours, hence unofficial, so let us know if there are corrections to be made).
Midget AAA: 60. Far more than ever before. Team Illinois had five players selected, while the LA Jr. Kings and Victory Honda each had four. Overall, though, the talent was well spread out, with 28 different midget teams accounting for those 60. If you were at the Marquette Electricians Fall Classic, you would have seen most of the drafted midget players.
Minnesota high schools: 26. First, we did not include Shattuck-St. Mary’s under Minnesota high schools. They are their own category. Four Minnesota high schools had two drafted players: Bloomington Jefferson, Warroad, Duluth Marshall, and Apple Valley.
Canadian Tier II: 18. More and more top Canadians are leaving Tier II for the USHL. The number of imports allowed per team is capped, though, so this number won’t rise, though the quality certainly will.
New England prep schools: 14. Three from Cushing, two from Milton, and one apiece from Avon, Choate, GDA, St. Sebastian’s, Tabor, Taft, Tilton, Trinity-Pawling, and Westminster.
Michigan high schools: 7 (Two apiece from Cranbrook, Detroit Catholic, and Mona Shores; one from Howell HS).
Wisconsin high schools: 4 (One apiece from Verona, Hudson, Superior, and Fond du Lac).
Shattuck-St. Mary’s: 3.
Jr. B: 3
North Dakota high schools: 2
NCAA Div. I: 2.
College club hockey: 1 (University of Rhode Island forward Chris Brennan).
New York high schools: 1.
Massachusetts/New England high schools: Zero.
If anyone has observations, or numbers different than ours, please send them to information at ushr.com. Please replace at with @.
We will update this article to include any corrections.
When the USHL comes out with their own numbers, which won’t be until next week at the earliest, we’ll publish those as well.
A New Head Coach for St. Mark’s
Brian Grady, an assistant at Hamilton College this past season, will be the new head hockey coach at the St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass.
Grady, the son of Phil Grady, head coach at Hamilton for the last 21 years, has coached at the Salisbury School, was an assistant at Maine in 2002-03, and was director of youth hockey at Chelsea Piers Sky Rink in lower Manhattan for a couple of years.
Grady played at Taft and Hamilton, from where he was graduated in 2000.
St. Mark’s, under coach Shawn Rousseau, reached the Div. II Final Four this March.
USHL Draft This Morning
The USHL draft will start at 10:00 am (CST) and can be followed live on www.ushl.com
Here’s the draft order for the first round:
- Des Moines
- Omaha (from Green Bay)
- Sioux Falls
- Sioux City
- Cedar Rapids
- Green Bay (from Omaha)
A good bet to go #1 overall is University of Maine freshman goalie Matt Lundin, who played 150 minutes spread over nine games with the Black Bears this past season (2.00 gaa, .928 save percentage). Lundin, who won the Frank Brimsek Award in his senior year at Apple Valley (Minn.) High School, is the odd man out at Maine, where Jimmy Howard will be returning for his senior year and 6’6”, 220 lb. Ben Bishop of the Texas Tornado (NAHL) is coming in. Bishop, who helped lead the Texas Tornado to the Jr. A championship less than two weeks ago, had a 1.93 gaa and a .920 save percentage in the NAHL regular season. Bishop’s numbers dropped a bit in the playoffs. In 11 games he posted a 2.73 gaa and an .881 save percentage.
5/8/05 Updated 5/9/05
Petrecki Top Yank in OHL Draft
As expected, underager John Tavares of the Toronto Marlies Midgets was selected #1 overall in Saturday’s OHL draft, by the Oshawa Generals.
The top US player selected was 6’2” LD Nick Petrecki of the Cap District Selects (EJHL). Petrecki, represented by the Bobby Orr group, was selected by the Plymouth Whalers.
The other US kid to go in the first round was Matt Smyth, a Floridian who notched over 90 points this season playing midgets for the Markham Islanders.
Taken in the second round was RW Nick Palmieri of the Northwood School. Erie wouldn't waste a pick this high if they didn’t think the kid would be coming.
Unlike Petrecki, Smyth, and Palmieri, third rounder Dan Kelly, a left shot D from New York state, didn’t get an NTDP camp invite. He has size, is physical, but raw. Projects as a very solid defensive defenseman.Rookie of the Year in the CJHL playing for Pembroke.Didn't tryout for NY Select 16s, an indication he's headed north.No way Kitchener coach/GM Peter DeBoer would waste an early pick without his coming this year -- or at least next.
Also taken in the third round were three more big stay- at-home US defensive defenseman: Doug Leverton by Guelph; Trea Higgins by Windsor; and AJ Sturges by Peterborough.
Justin Vaive also went in the third round to Sudbury. Is NTDP now in his rearview mirror? Vaive could, like head coach Mike Foligno’s son, Nick, play for the USNTDP in international competition while playing major junior. We’re not saying he would be asked, but there is a precedent right in front of his eyes.
Tristin Llewellyn went late – fifth round to Saginaw – as his father told everyone his son was not going to be heading north.However, if he changes his mind, Saginaw has him locked up. It should be interesting to see how this plays out.
Colby Cohen went in the fifth round to Brampton -- a surprise.While not quite as good as all the hype, he’s still a solid prospect.It's really tough these days to judge the OPJHL – Cohen played for Syracuse -- as the talent is so watered down in that league. At any rate, it will be interesting to see where he ends up next year.
Another Syracuse kid, Ryan Hayes, was taken in the sixth round by Plymouth.Had a great Prospects and NTDP camp.He’s committed to the NTDP but Plymouth will push hard to get him into their organization.
DeBoer took an eighth round flyer on the younger Fritsche, an ’86 at Ohio State.If there is an NHL draft he'll likely go on Day 1.NHL pressure to follow his brother's lead into the O was worth a gamble by DeBoer.
UMass recruit Vladimir Nikiforov, an ’87, being selected by Barrie might make it impossible for him to go to the Q. Will Nikiforov go to the O -- or stick with the original plan of going to the Indiana Ice instead?
From the 10th to the 15th round the usual high-end US kids going to NTDP or college can be found – mostly fliers.
OHL scouts felt that the overall quality in Ontario was down this year and feel that, even without Tavares, next year’s crop will be a step up.
We mistakenly ommitted Saginaw pick Thomas Craig from out original list of drafted Americans. Craig, from St. Louis, is a 6'0", 185 lb. LW. He was taken with the third pick of the second round, #23 overall.
Also, Colby Cohen was invited to the NTDP last night. No word on whether he has accepted.
US Players Selected, OHL Draft, May 7, 2005
1/9 Plymouth – Nick Petrecki, LD, 6-2/190, Capital District Selects (EJHL)
1/14 Brampton – Matt Smyth, RC, 5-11/165, Markham Islanders
2/3 Saginaw -- Thomas Craig, LW, 6-0/185, Christian Brothers College HS
2/10 Erie – Nick Palmieri, RW, 6-2/200, Northwood School
3/2 Kitchener – Dan Kelly, LD, 6-2/175, Pembroke (COJHL)
3/5 Guelph – Doug Leaverton, RD, 6-2/170, Cleveland Barons ‘89
3/6 Windsor – Trea Higgins, RD, 6-2/195, St. Louis Blues Under-16
3/7 Peterborough -- AJ Sturges, LD, 6-3/180, Team Wisconsin Under-16
3/13 Sudbury – Justin Vaive, LW, 6-2/177, Toronto Marlies Midget Minor
4/4 Plymouth – Jeremy Smith, G, 6-0/150, Detroit Belle Tire ‘89
5/10 Peterborough – Teddy Ruth, RD, 6-0/180, Chicago Mission Midget AAA
5/12 Saginaw – Tristin Llewellyn, LD, 6-0/175, Indiana Ice (USHL)
5/14 Brampton -- Colby Cohen, RD, 6-2/175, Syracuse (OPJHL)
5/19 Plymouth – CJ Severyn, LC, 6-0/155, Pittsburgh Hornets
6/9 Plymouth – Ryan Hayes, RW, 5-10/160, Syracuse (OPJHL)
6/17 Belleville – Eric Tangradi, LC, 6-2/217, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers
7/5 Kingston – Peter Stevens, RD, 6-1/195, New Jersey Jr. Devils
7/14 Sarnia -- Christian Steingraber, LD, 6-0/180, Detroit Honeybaked ‘89
7/19 Mississauga – Scott Murphy, RC, 5-11/170, Detroit Belle Tire ‘89
8/9 Plymouth – Anthony Hayes, RW, 5-9/150, Detroit Compuware ‘89
8/10 Erie – Richard Manley, LW, 6-2/180, Buffalo Saints Selects
8/11 S.S. Marie – Anthony Perdicaro, RC, 6-0/180, LI Gulls Under-18
8/18 Kitchener – Tom Fritsche, LW, 5-11/180, Ohio State (NCAA) ’86 birthdate
9/2 Sarnia – Corey Tropp, RW, 5-10/155, Detroit Belle Tire ‘89
9/5 Plymouth – Kyle Jendra, G, 5-7/150, Chicago Chill Midget AAA
9/11 SS Marie – Matt Thurber, RC, 5-8/150, Madison Capitols Midget AAA
9/15 Barrie – Vladimir Nikiforov, RW, 5-7/150, NY Bobcats ’87 birthdate
10/2 Sarnia – Mike Cieslak, RW, 6-2/170, McQuaid Jesuit HS
10/3 Saginaw – Scott Zacharias, G, 6-2/170, Columbus Jr. B
10/5 Guelph – Patrick Leonard, LW, 6-1/180, Detroit Compuware ‘89
10/8 Belleville – Devin Mantha, RW, 5-11/160, Detroit Belle Tire ‘89
10/9 Plymouth – Vincent Loverde, RD, 5-10/190, CYA Under-16
10/14 Brampton – James VanRiemsdyk, LW, 6-2/175, Christian Brothers Academy
11/5 Guelph – Kevin Shattenkirk, LD, 5-11/170, Brunswick School
11/9 Plymouth – Frank Grzeszczak, RD, 5-8/155, Detroit Honeybaked Midget AAA
11/13 Sudbury – Michael Swick, G, 6-1/180, NJ Titans Midget Minor
11/19 Owen Sound – David Kolomatis, RD, 5-10/160, NJ Rockets Jr. B
12/8 Belleville – Ian Cole, LD, 6-1/190, Victory Honda Midget AAA
14/1 Oshawa – Matt Jennings, LW, 6-2/195, Chicago Mission Midget AAA ’88 birthdate
14/3 Saginaw – Nigel Williams, LD, 6-2/190, Team Illinois Midget AAA ’88 birthdate
14/8 Belleville – Danny Loucks, LD, 6-1/180, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers
14/9 Plymouth – Trevor Nill, RC, 6-1/175, Detroit Compuware ‘89
14/10 Erie – Drew Wearing, RD, 5-11/165, Western Reserve Academy
14/18 Kitchener – Brian Harrison, RD, 6-2/165, Chicago Chill ‘89
14/19 Owen Sound – Dan Stanisz, RD, 6-1/185, Detroit Belle Tire ‘89
15/7 Brampton -- Sebastian Geoffrion, LW, 5-10/160, Culver Academy
15/13 Sudbury – Dan Frawley, LC, 6-1/200, Rochester Americans
15//14 Brampton -- Jordan Duff, LD, 6-1/190, Detroit Little Caesar’s ‘89
15/15 Barrie – Ryan Schnell, LW, 6-2/195, Team Illinois Midget AAA
USHL Title on the Line Tonight
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders plays host to the Sioux City Musketeers in the final game of the USHL season tonight at 7:00 pm CST (live via internet telecast at ushl.com). The winner will be awarded the Clark Cup.
The series, a best-of-five, is currently tied at 2-2. The last three games have been decided by one goal, and the last two in overtime.
In game four, before a packed house of4,130 fans at Sioux City, Blake Martin scored an unassisted goal off a scramble in front at 4:29 of OT to give the Musketeers a 2-1 win and stave off elimination. Defenseman Louis Liotti scored in the first period, and Alex Stalock kicked out 23 of 25 shots.
The NAHL closed out its season Saturday night in Bismarck, North Dakota.
as the Texas Tornado romped to a 6-1 victory over the Fargo-Moorhead Jets to win their second consecutive NAHL Robertson Cup as well as the USA Hockey Gold Cup, awarded annually to the Jr. A champions. (Given that they are the same thing, perhaps one cup would suffice.)
Mueller’s Next Stop?
Indications are that forward 6'2", 200 lb. C/RW Peter Mueller, a sure-fire first roundNHL draft pick in 2006, will forego his final season with the U.S. National Team Development Program and move on to the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) or Everett Silvertips (WHL) this fall.
If Mueller signs with Everett, coached by former RPI goaltender Kevin Constantine, he will, of course, give up his NCAA eligibility. Mueller, now in the 11th grade, has committed to the University of Minnesota for the fall of 2006.
Everett GM Doug Soetaert has said he feels confident that the Silvertips will land Mueller.
Mueller, an '88, has played up at Ann Arbor and was the second-leading scorer on the gold medal-winning Under-18 Team. With his teammates graduating and moving on to college, Mueller appears ready to go, too.
Cedar Rapids Wins Clark Cup
Alex Stalock kicked out 24 shots to lead the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders to a 4-1 win over the Sioux City Musketeers before 3,413 fans tonight in Cedar Rapids. The win gave Cedar Rapids the first Clark Cup in the franchise’s 22-year history.
The Roughriders got goals from four different scorers: Ray Eichenlaub scored in the first; Rob Ricci and Gary Steffes scored in the second; and Matt Vokes scored in the third. Sioux City got a late goal from Joe Charlebois.
Cedar Rapids head coach Mark Carlson has been behind the RoughRiders bench for six years – and has a string of five straight winning seasons. This year, the team finished first in the East Division, and tied for first in the overall standings with the Omaha Lancers. Both teams finished with 89 points.
Stalock, a St. Paul, Minn. native who will move on to Minnesota-Duluth in the fall of '06, was named tournament MVP.
The WHL Bantam Draft – yes, indeed, ’90 birthdates – was held yesterday at the Calgary Saddledome and the #1 overall pick was 6’4” defenseman Colten Teubert of the Semiahoo Ravens Bantams and White Rock, BC.
Here are the U.S.-born players selected:
#4 overall (Spokane) – Mitch Wahl, C, Seal Beach, Calif.
#51 overall (Portland) – Colin Reddin, LW, Corona Del Mar, Calif.
#203 overall (Swift Current) – Tyler Johnson, C, Spokane, Wash.
#208 overall (Prince Albert) – Max Nicastro, D, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
#212 overall (Red Deer) – Morgan Clark, G, Highland Village, Texas
#214 overall (Saskatoon, traded to Red Deer) – Nick Pryor, D, St. Paul, Minn.
#218 overall (Medicine Hat) – Kyle Chartrand, LW, Burnsville, Minn.
Top Three from Prospects
Just for fun, we asked Div. I assistants scouting last weekend’s Prospects Tournament (the ’86-89 weekend) to name their top three, regardless of age and/or whether they were going major junior -- or not.
We asked four different guys, and got the same exact answers from each -- an unusual occurrence.
All three players spent the past winter playing for the same team, the Toronto Marlies midget minor team, which went 34-1-1 in league play and outscored opponents 245-34.
1) John Tavares, the underage (9/27/90 DOB) phenom who was granted an exemption to be allowed to be taken #1 overall in tomorrow’s OHL draft. At 14, he’s already 6’0”, 178 lbs. He has skills, sees the ice really well, can finish, has size, and competes. In other words, he’s a flat-out phenom. Nonetheless, we think the OHL made a mistake in reversing themselves and making Tavares eligible for OHL play in the fall. Jumping from midget minor to major junior is asking a lot of a young kid. What’s the rush? What’s wrong with playing Tier II for a year? And yes, we know that he played 16 games for the Milton Ice Hawks (OPJHL) at the end of the season, and scored a bushel of points. Tavares, by the way, is also an excellent lacrosse player (he’s the nephew of former Canadian lacrosse star John Tavares.)
2) Sam Gagner, a 5’10”, 175 lb. right-shot center and 8/10/89 birthdate, is dynamic, fast, creative, has good hands, can make plays and finish. He’s definitely taking the NCAA route, and will be playing for the Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) next season. He’s the son of former NHLer Dave Gagner, who’ll shortly be moving his family from Toronto back to the Twin Cities area. The younger Gagner will be a high-end college player.
3) Brendan Smith, a 6’0”, 155 lb. LD and 2/8/89 birthdate, is a Paul Coffey-style of defenseman who can wind up and go end-to-end. Just a dynamic skater who can handle the puck – has a ton of offensive potential. Can play forward, too. Loves to play, and has a jovial, upbeat personality. Could be a top five kid in tomorrow’s draft, but is also said to be open to the NCAA route.
Notre Dame's Pick: Jeff Jackson
New York Islanders assistant coach Jeff Jackson, who guided Lake Superior State to two NCAA titles and three straight Frozen Four appearances in the early '90s, will be named the new head coach at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow (Friday) at noon local time.
OHL Flip-Flops; Tavares In
The OHL Board of Governors did a flip-flop and voted earlier today in favor of an amendment that would allow 14-year-old John Tavares of the Toronto Marlies Midget Minors to be drafted into the OHL this Saturday as an underager.
Last week, the OHL said they had decided that a ’90 birthdate – no matter how exceptional – was too young to be playing in the OHL next season. Over the last few days, it began to look more and more as if they would be changing their mind, and they did, making it official today.
Tavares, who turns 15 on September 27, will be drafted #1 overall by the Oshawa Generals, who once had an underager named Bobby Orr. The Generals have scheduled a news conference for 6:00 pm tomorrow (Thurs).
We’ll have some more on all this tomorrow.
6’0½”, 172 lb. Shattuck-St. Mary’s LC Angelo Esposito, ranked #1 overall in the final QMJHL Central Scouting Service ranking released today, looks very unlikely to take the major junior route.
Boston University and UNH, the two schools on his short list, and it looks like the Terriers have the edge.
However, the Montreal native will likely get a lot of attention from major junior between now and June 4, when the draft is held in Chicoutimi.There are two new franchises joining the league next season:St. John, New Brunswick, which drafts #1 and St. John’s, Newfoundland, which drafts #2.
You can expect Esposito, who’ll be a senior next season at Shattuck, to get a ton of pressure between now and June 4. In late March, the weekend after the Culver tournament, Esposito visited the St. John Seadogs, the holders of the #1 pick. College fans will have to wait until June 4 before being totally certain of the path Esposito will take.
Esposito’s family adviser, Kent Hughes, said Esposito has “been dead serious about the NCAA since the beginning.”
** 6’3”, 195 lb. Cushing Academy RW Brad Malone is ranked #4 for the QMJHL draft. What are his chances of foregoing the NCAA route for the Q. “No chance,” said Cushing head coach Steve Jacobs. “Brad will absolutely be back at Cushing.”
Malone, a Miramichi, New Brunswick native who’ll be a junior next season, is the nephew of Pittsburgh Penguins chief scout Greg Malone and the cousin of Penguins’ forward Ryan Malone, who went to Shattuck and St. Cloud State. Malone is reported to be a strong student.
** Ranked #7 overall is 5’11”, 173 lb. LW Keven Guerette-Charland, who plays for the midget AAA at Magog. He’s another who could bypass the Q and set his sights on college.
** 6’3½”, 172 lb. LW Colin Escott of the Northern Mass Cyclones (Atlantic League), a Newfoundland native who showed well at the Q’s pre-draft showcase April 23-24 in Montreal, is listed as a high second round pick. Escott is getting pulled in several directions – the Q, the EJHL, and prep schools.
** Salisbury’s Michael Biega, a 5’11”, 165 lb. LC from Pointe Claire, Quebec, was also listed in the QMJHL rankings as a second-round pick. Based on skill alone, Biega, who’ll be a junior in the fall, would go high in the first round. However, he’s made it very clear that he is going to play college hockey, so clear that he dropped in the ranking.
** 6’1, 175 lb. LW Logan MacMillan of the Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask., is another player eligible for the QMJHL draft who is headed to the NCAA. He was ranked in the fourth round, but is a much better player than that.
All of the above are ’89 birthdates, and all are citizens of Quebec or the Maritimes.
Two New Englanders who could wind up getting drafted and going to the Q are 6’4”, 215 lb. RD Tom Michalik, a late ’88 playing for the New England Huskies Jr. B and 6’0”, 190 lb. LW Yuri Cheremetiev, an ’89 from Stoughton (Mass.) High School. A native of Russia, Cheremetiev became an American citizen recently and thus can avoid the CHL import draft.
New Englanders rostered at the Central Scouting Challenge included Escott, Michalik, as well as forwards Nick Payson (Bangor HS), Todd Chinova (Conn. Wolves Jr. B), Barry Almeida (NE Jr. Falcons – EJHL), Rob McCarthy (St. Mary’s HS – Mass.) and defenseman Brett Provost (Springfield Pics – IJHL).
RC Matt Eagles, a Fredericton, NB native who is currently a junior at St. Paul’s School, was also a rostered player.
(Note: The above were all on the pre-tournament rosters, but we've been told Almeida decided not to attend. Others may have made the same decision.)
Nichol Resigns at Chicago
Wil Nichol has resigned as general manager and head coach of the Chicago Steel (USHL).
When we reached Nichol this morning, he said, “I don’t want to comment. I just want to take the high road here.”
We can comment, though, as all season we’ve been hearing things through the USHL grapevine. In November, Nichol’s assistant, Barry Schutte, got a job as director of Miami of Ohio’s rink, a solid, secure job that was too good to turn down. When Nichol tried to hire a new assistant, he wasn’t allowed to – and had to coach by himself for the rest of the season.
We heard numerous other reports of lack of financial support for both the coach and team.
“Imagine having to show up for a street fight with a butter knife,” said one USHL insider. “Well, that was the situation in Chicago.”
Nichol did well, nonetheless. In his rookie season as head coach, 2003-04, he led the Steel to a first place finish in the USHL’s East Division and was named USHL Coach of the Year.
This season, the Steel finished the regular season in third place in their division. Eighteen players on the squad are moving on to Div. I play next season. The Steel made a strong showing in the playoffs, beating higher-seeded Waterloo, three games to two, in the first round, then getting swept in three games in the next round by a powerful Cedar Rapids team. However, the Cedar Rapids series was competitive. All were one-goal games, as the Steel lost 2-1, 2-1 (OT), and 4-2 (last goal an empty-netter). Goaltending, with Shane Connelly (University of Wisconsin) and Billy Sauer (University of Michigan), was a strength of the team.
The Steel are owned by Bruce Liimatainen, the father of Steel forward Sami Liimatainen.
Palazzari Resigns at USA Hockey
Executive Director of USA Hockey Doug Palazzari has resigned his position, effective immediately.
A national search to find a successor will begin immediately.
Palazzari, a 52-year-old native of Eveleth, Minn., has been executive director of USA Hockey for six years
As of now, Palazzari’s stepping down is being presented as a ‘resigned-by-mutual agreement’ type of deal.
However, we’re extremely skeptical. We can’t see Palazzari leaving a cushy six-figure job with a not-for-profit organization -- and finding another job as good. It just doesn’t compute.
At various times over the years, members of USA Hockey’s Board of Directors reported on their unhappiness with Palazzari’s job performance, though they should probably have been kicking themselves, too. Palazzari was hired because he was already in place at USA Hockey as director of the organization’s youth programs, and was simply promoted to the new position when former executive director Dave Ogrean was hired away by the US Olympic Committee in June 1999. There was no national search -- or anything even resembling one.
Palazzari, a star forward at Colorado College in the early ‘70s, came to USA Hockey in 1991, after six years as an assistant at his alma mater, where he worked under Mike Bertsch and Brad Buetow. These were CC’s dark days, marked by bad teams, and a recruiting scandal that led to an NCAA investigation, Buetow’s eventual resignation, and the near-closing of CC’s hockey program. Palazzari just slid down the street, to USA Hockey’s national office in Colorado Springs, and landed a job as director of the organization’s youth and education programs. His major responsibility was running the summertime Select Festivals.
He was an odd figure at the select festivals. While the games were going on, he was often outside, chain-smoking cigarettes in the summer sun. In the evenings, he’d sit in local bars, surrounded by a halo of smoke. Meanwhile, volunteers were doing the heavy lifting.
When Palazzari was hired as executive director, it raised eyebrows as he lacked the résumé for such a job. Basically, he’d never worked in a high position in either the profit or not-for-profit sector, and lacked both the business savvy and vision that such a position requires.
He was, in short, in over his head. There were firestorms along the way, too, most notably a June 2002 sexual harassment suit filed against him by Mary Samarzia-Bonham, his former assistant at USA Hockey. The suit was settled out of court.
Today, there is a good opportunity for USA Hockey to make a meaningful hire, as the organization really needs someone who can combine public relations, marketing, and fundraising acumen with a vision for what USA Hockey can become. To come up with that person, they have to be serious about conducting a national search – and not just look inward and hire from the good-old-boys network. The latter approach didn’t work last time around, and, in an increasingly corporate sports world, it’s even less likely to work this time around.