Established 1996



-- BC head coach Jerry York was among those who made the trip over to Harvard’s Bright Arena on Sunday to take a look not only at Salisbury’s juggernaut of Div. I prospects but, yes, Holderness, specifically the New Hampshire boarding school’s 14-year-old LW/C manchild Steven Anthony, who is already 6’2”, 180 lbs. The ’91 birthdate, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is one smooth skater for a 14-year-old of that size, and has tremendous upside. It wasn’t the best game to see what Anthony could do with the puck, mainly because Salisbury doesn’t tend to share it with their opponents, but we saw real poise. At any rate, while word is that he’s interested in college, Anthony will also be getting a major tug from the QMJHL in a couple of years.

-- Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) LD Chad Morin has committed to Harvard for this coming fall. Morin, a 5’11”, 205 lb. smooth-skating defensive defenseman from Auburn, NY, played two years in the U.S. NTDP and was on the U.S. Viking Cup team over the holidays.

-- Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) forward Chris Donovan has committed to Northeastern for this fall. Donovan, a Berkshire school graduate now in his second year with the Junior Bruins, is sixth in the EJHL in scoring with a 23-22-45 line in 34 games. Though smallish at 5’9”, 185 lbs., the Fairfax, Virginia native has speed to go with his scoring ability.

Look for Donovan’s Junior Bruins teammate, Jimmy Driscoll, the leading scorer among EJHL d-men, to also commit to Northeastern shortly.

-- The commitment of Catholic Memorial’s Devin twins – RC Joe and RD Mike -- to Cornell marks, to the best of our knowledge, the first time in two years that a major conference Div. I school has committed to a player still in a Mass. high school. The Devins will both play a year of juniors before heading to Cornell in the fall of ’07.

Salisbury senior RD Alex Biega, a 5’11”, 191 lb. quick-footed, quick-handed ball of energy, still has his sites set on Harvard if he can lift his SATs up a bit more. Salisbury 5’10” RD junior Nick Jaskowiak, who played at Benilde-St. Margaret’s before transferring to Salisbury this fall, has committed to Harvard for the fall of ’07, but he, too, has to get through the admissions process . Jaskowiak, like Biega, is a quick, mobile, puck-handling defenseman with offensive skills.

-- Look for Belmont Hill 6’0” junior LW/C Matt McCollem, who visited BC a couple of weeks ago, to make his college choice from among BC, BU, or Harvard.

-- Hill-Murray HS junior forward Nick Larson will also be looking at BC, BU, and Harvard when he visits for the Beanpot in a couple of weeks. Larson has already visited Minnesota and Wisconsin and has a visit to North Dakota coming up soon as well.

-- Look for US Under-17 team defenseman Joey Lavin, who’s really come on recently, to make his pick from between BU and UNH.


AJHL/MJHL All-Star Game Rosters

The Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AJHL) and the MET League (MJHL) will be holding a pair of all star games at Iorio Arena in Walpole, Mass. tomorrow (Sun. Jan. 29).

The Met League All-Star Game will face off at 11:00 am. The AJHL All-Star Game will face off at 1:45 pm.  

MET League All-Stars (11:00 a.m.)

Team North

Goaltenders: Dean Klemenz (Connecticut Wolves); Nick Broadwater (Portland Jr. Pirates).

Defensemen: Chris Wille (Connecticut Clippers); Dan Calnan (Northern Mass Cyclones)

Pete Bruckler (Northern Mass Cyclones); Stanley Zancho (Connecticut Clippers); Chris Galgano (Suffolk PAL); Jeremy Deutsch (Suffolk PAL); Thomas Castelli (Connecticut Wolves).

Forwards: Tyler Slomkowski (Connecticut Clippers); Tyler Cleary (Connecticut Clippers); Andrew Preston; Travis Hitt; Clint Bowman; Jim Toomey (Northern Mass Cyclones); Kelen Corkum; Bobby Wilkins (Suffolk PAL), Rob Pfeiffer (Suffolk PAL); Matt Mangene (Suffolk PAL); Mark Anthoine; Charlie Delfosse; Jacob Karras; Austin Schultz (Northern Mass Cyclones).

Coaches: John Poapst (Wolves); Jim Wright (Suffolk PAL); and Brandon Johnson (Clippers).

Team South    

Goaltenders: Erick Cinotti (N.J. Rockets); Michael Clemente (Washington Little Caps); Michael Swick (N.J. Titans).

Defensemen: John Heyser (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers); Chris Lloyd (N.J. Rockets); Ryan Jordan (Valley Forge Minutemen); Travis Duffey (Central Penn Panthers); Daniel Autenrieth (Washington Little Caps); Andrew Panzarella (Washington Little Caps), Jack Callahan (N.J. Rockets).

Forwards: Francis Barbuc (Bethlehem Blast); Colin Hart (Bethlehem Blast); Robert Durkee (Central Penn Panthers); Nick Peterson (Washington Little Caps); Chris Malarick (Valley Forge Minutemen); Ryan McCarthy (Valley Forge Minutemen); Patrick McAuley (N.J. Rockets); Colin Hoey (Philadelphia Little Flyers); Jared Kersner (N.J. Titans); Jack Walchessen (N.J. Titans); Matt Markovich (N.J. Rockets); Andrew Brady (Valley Forge Minutemen); Christopher Holmes (N.J. Titans).

Coaches: Mark Tinordi (Capitals), Jerry Domish (Minutemen), and Dustin Depalm.

AJHL All-Stars (1:45 pm):

Team North

Goaltenders: Casey Tuttle (Portland Jr. Pirates); Ryan Donavan (Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack); Shane Brooks (Northern Mass Cyclones).

Defensemen: Jeremy Vanbuskirk (Northern Mass Cyclones); Ryan Guerin (Boston Bulldogs); Nicholas Davis(Northern Mass Cyclones); Brett Carriere (Northern Mass Cyclones); Sean Wilson (Portland Jr. Pirates); Steve Jones (Portland Jr. Pirates); Dave Schroder (Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack); Ryan Criscuolo (Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack).

Forwards: Andrew Strathman(Northern Mass Cyclones); Tony Resendes (Northern Mass Cyclones); Matt Gillen (Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack); Jay Anctil (Boston Bulldogs); Greg Costa (Boston Bulldogs); Naoto Hamashima(Boston Bulldogs); Igor Karlov (Boston Bulldogs); Michael DeLuca (Boston Bulldogs); Nick Payson (Portland Jr. Pirates); Billy Rocha(Walpole Express); P.O. Michaud(Portland Jr. Pirates); Andrew Letellier(Portland Jr. Pirates); Tom DeRosa (Northern Mass Cyclones); Jason Anderson (Laconia Leafs); Casey Olsen (Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack).

Coaches: Mike Addesa (Bulldogs), Bill Flanagan (Cyclones), and Josh Bourdon (Leafs).

Team South

Goaltenders: Alan Fritch (Hudson Valley Eagles); Matt Tendler (Philadelphia Little Flyers); Evan Hyndman (N.Y. Bobcats).

Defensemen: Wayne Sands (Philadelphia Little Flyers); Kenny McAdams (Hudson Valley Eagles); Justin Porpora (N.Y. Bobcats); Michael DeMayo (N.Y. Bobcats); Casey Hubbard (N.Y. Bobcats); Bill Day (Washington Jr. Nationals); Brett Aimone (New Jersey Rockets); Ian O’Connell (New Jersey Rockets).

Forwards: Mike Cacciotti (New Jersey Rockets); Ben Kenyon (Hudson Valley Eagles); Frank Rizzo (N.Y. Bobcats); Michael Coppola (N.Y. Bobcats); Tony Romano (N.Y. Bobcats); Jarret Gold (N.Y. Bobcats); Patrick Moriarty (N.Y. Bobcats); Anthony Scampoli (Hudson Valley Eagles); Chad Kenyon (Hudson Valley Eagles); Trevor Lewis (Philadelphia Little Flyers); Bobby Surdam(Washington Junior Nationals); Rem Vanderbeek (New Jersey Rockets); Eric Tufman (Philadelphia Little Flyers); Mike O’Brien (Philadelphia Little Flyers); Oscar Von Sydow (N.Y. Bobcats).

Coaches: Aleksey Nikiforov (N.Y. Bobcats) and Wayne Sands (Philadelphia Little Flyers).


Camper to Join Under-18s

NAHL leading scorer Carter Camper, an '88 playing with the Cleveland Barons, will be joining the U.S. National Under-18 Team for the upcoming Four Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.

In 43 games, Camper has a 27-39-66 line. A native of the Cleveland suburb of Rocky River, Camper came up through the Barons program. This is his second year with the NAHL team.

Camper, who is 5'10, 175 lbs. sees the ice well, has good speed, and quick hands. He's a junior in high school and will be attending Miami of Ohio beginning in the fall of '07.


Cushing Top Guns to Become Saints

Cushing senior RW Tom Bardis and post-grad LW Alex Curran have both committed to St. Lawrence for next fall. 

Bardis, who is Cushing's leading scorer with a 16-26-42 line in 25 games, is a hard-working forward from Alpharetta, Georgia who has steadily worked his way into prominence at Cushing. He's 5'10", 186 lbs., works hard, has a good stick, plays physically, and sees the ice very well.  

Curran, who's 6'2", is a PG from Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, where last season he was the leading scorer while playing with the Fredericton Canadiens in the New Brunswick midget major hockey league last season. He's big, physical, can bump you off the puck, and has good hands. His skating is just OK, but he's a big guy so it could get better. Right now, he's Cushing's third-leading scorer with a 12-20-32 line in 25 games.

Bardis and Curran join goaltender Richard Bachman as Cushing's current Div. I commitments. Bachman, who was also recruited by Harvard, committed to Colorado College in December but will be playing a year of juniors first.


Northwood Results

Over the weekend, the Boston Junior Bruins won the 27th Annual Northwood Tournament in Lake Placid, NY, beating Northwood 5-1 in the title game. 

Boston Junior Bruins defensmen Jimmy Driscoll was named MVP. For complete results and the all-star team click on the link below.

2006 Northwood Tournament




Friends Stick Together

Highly sought-after LD Brendan Smith of the St. Michael’s Buzzers (OPJHL) has committed to the University of Wisconsin, where he will be joining equally sought-after Sam Gagner, his teammate on the Toronto Marlies Midget Minor squad last season.

Smith, who was excellent skating for the Ontario entry at last month’s World Under-17 challenge, made his final choice from between Wisconsin and Boston University.

An offensive defenseman who’s new to the position, having converted from forward at the beginning of last season, the 6’1”, 174 lb. Smith has a 5-20-25 line in 35 games for the Buzzers. He’s still learning the nuances of the position, and is a little turnover prone, but he’s still just 16 (he turns 17 next month), he can skate, can shoot it, can make plays,  and has confidence in his ability. There’s a lot of upside here, and he's a big get for Wisconsin.


5’11”, 205 lb. LW Matt Schepke of the Omaha Lancers has committed to Michigan State. Schepke, a native of Warren, Mich., made his final choice between the Spartans and Boston University.

Schepke has emerged as a goal scorer this season, with 21 in 37 games, just two behind league leader Andreas Nodl, and one behind Trevor Lewis. Schepke's overall scoring line, in 37 games to date, is 21-11-32, a huge leap from last year when he had a 2-2-4 line in 31 games with the Lancers. He’s very dangerous down low.

Schepke played for Texarcana (NAHL) in ’03-04 and was the first player from that franchise to get a college scholarship. An 11/3/85 birthdate, Schepke went off to Michigan Tech in the fall of ’04, but left school in early December after appearing in just three games for Tech, and joined the Lancers.


5’10” forward Mike Atkinson, a University of Vermont freshman forward who withdrew from school in the wake of an Oct. 2nd drunk driving incident, has enrolled at Quinnipiac College and will be eligible to play in the second semester next season.

Atkinson, a center from Sparta, NJ, played several years at the Salisbury School and was the school’s second-leading scorer last season with a 21-24-45 line in 27 games. He’s a smart, cerebral playmaking type who sees the ice well and can also finish.

If Atkinson works through the things he needs to, he could be a big help to Quinnipiac.


Two more of this year’s Salisbury forwards, Will Ortiz and Jeremiah Cunningham, have committed to college:

Ortiz, a 5’10, 170 lb. RW from Framingham, Mass., has committed to UMass-Amherst. An ’86 birthdate, Ortiz, in 14 games, has an 11-7-18 line.

Cunningham, a 5’9”, 170 lb. RC from Ashburn, Virginia, has committed to St. Lawrence. Also an ’86, Cunningham has a 4-12-16 line in 14 games.

They are the fifth and sixth current Salisbury players to have college commitments. LW Greg Collins (PC) committed while at Thayer last season, and RW Mark Arcobello (Yale) committed before the start of the season. LD David Cavanagh and his cousin, center John Cavanagh, committed to Providence College in December.


6’1½”, 176 lb. RC Kai Kantola of Fargo-Moorhead (NAHL) has committed to Bowling Green for this fall.

Kantola, an 11/9/87 birthdate eligible for June’s NHL draft, played on the U.S. Viking Cup team over the holidays.

In 34 games, Kantola, a native of Raleigh, NC, has a 20-19-39 line with 69 pims. Last year at Fargo, he had a 5-7-12 line in 37 games.


Prep Boys to Face U.S. Women's Olympic Team

The U.S. Women's Olympic Team will face the Salisbury, Westminster, and Choate boys' teams in a series of games/scrimmages set to begin this Wednesday night, January 25, at 7:00 pm at Salisbury.

On Friday night, Jan. 27, the U.S. women will be at Westminster at 7:00 pm. Next Monday, Jan. 30 they will be at Choate for a 7:00 pm tilt. Three members of this year's Olympic team played their prep hockey at Choate: defenseman Angela Ruggiero '98; and forwards Kim Insalaco '99, and Julie Chu '01.

U.S. Women's Olympic Team head coach Ben Smith is low-keying this series, and has asked the schools not to publicize it. With his squad's first game at Turin, Italy two weeks from this Saturday, he may have some specific things he wants to work on, so these might be controlled scrimmages of some sort. Then again, they may not be. The Olympic team, which is in training at the Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, Conn., is supplying the refs, though, and the games will be no checking. 

Anyone hoping to attend the games might be wise to check with the schools before driving there. There's a chance that the games may not be open to the general public. Choate is reportedly planning on allowing no more than 400 into their rink, and will likely print up tickets in order to hold it to that number.

The rinks at Salisbury and Westminster are also small.

We're also told that Smith wants to avoid any Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King type of distraction with the Olympics so close at hand.

Wednesday's game will not be the first meeting between the 2006 women's Olympians and a boys team.  

On Jan. 4, a few days after beating Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Women's Olympic Team made the short ride south to Warroad, Minnesota, and played the Warroad High School boy's team before approximately 2,000 fans in the 1,700-seat Gardens, which is about the town's population.

The Warroad boys won, 2-1, employing a strategy of driving the puck into the corners as often as they could, and relying on their strength to neutralize their opponent's skill.

Smith's scheduling of that game was a nod to Warroad's role in U.S. hockey history. The town, which sits on the shore of the Lake of the Woods, provided numerous Olympians, like the three Christian Brothers, plus Billy Christian's son, Dave, and Henry Boucha. As recently as the '80s, the Men's Olympic team would always include Warroad on it's pre-Olympic tour, playing the Warroad Lakers, the town's senior team.  

The Women Olympians, while based in Lake Placid, played five games against the Northwood School B Team.

They also, in late October, played a pair against an Atlantic District select team of '88s and '89s. 


#1 vs. #2 – Still Undefeated

Maplewood, Minn. -- A late power play goal off the stick of defenseman Cameron Cooper lifted #1-ranked Holy Angels to a 3-3 tie with #2-ranked Hill-Murray Saturday night at Aldrich Arena, which was jammed with 3,200 fans, the building’s largest crowd in 14 years.

Holy Angels dominated the first period, outshooting Hill-Murray, 11-3 and taking a lead on a Tyler Matson goal at 10:16.

Hill-Murray took charge in the second period, blitzing Holy Angels for three goals in five minutes as Gophers’ recruit Mike Hoeffel tied the game with a power play goal at 7:28. Nick Larson and Brian Arragoni followed with goals just 46 seconds apart.

Holy Angels cut the Hill-Murray lead to 3-2 when Ryan Hurley scored a power play goal in the final minute of the period.

In the third, Hurley had a chance to tie it up on a penalty shot, but Hill-Murray sophomore goaltender Joe Phillippi came up with a big pad save.

Then, with 1:35 remaining in regulation, Cooper brought Holy Angels all the way back, tying it at 3-3. Hurley, who figured in all three of his team’s goals, picked up an assist.

-- Holy Angels forward Jay Barriball, a Gophers recruit, was whistled for a 10-minute misconduct in the second period. He spent the rest of the period in the penalty box but during the second intermission was diagnosed with a concussion and was done for the night.

-- Holy Angels outshot Hill-Murray 38-24. Phillippi finished with 35 saves for Hill-Murray while Keaton Smith had 21 for Holy Angels.


Battle of the Undefeated

Tomorrow night at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood, Minn., #1-ranked Holy Angels (11-01) faces off against #2-ranked Hill-Murray (16-0-0) in the Minnesota high school hockey season’s most-anticipated matchup.

Most observers are giving Holy Angels the edge, but not a huge one. Both teams have blue-chip forwards – University of Minnesota recruits Jay Barriball, a Holy Angels’ forward, and Mike Hoeffel, a Hill-Murray junior. They could dictate the outcome of the game.

Both have been putting up big points. Ditto for Holy Angels’ junior Taylor Matson and Hill-Murray junior Nick Larson.

Hill-Murray has 13 seniors, so is a little more experienced. Their defense is anchored by four of them – Derek McCallum, Billy Leier, Gabe Guentzel, and Mac Garceau. University of Wisconsin recruit Nick Pryor, just a 9th grader, has to battle for ice time.

It’s hard to get a true line on both teams as they both play in weak conferences. For examples, Hill-Murray’s last three games have been 8-0, 14-0, 12-0 wins.

Hill-Murray, you may recall, lost to Holy Angels in the 2002 Class AA title game, and they are playing at home, so they won’t be lacking for motivation.



Indiana Turmoil

The Indiana Ice have traded their top two prospects.

First, 6'2" '88 forward Sean Dolan was traded to Cedar Rapids for '86 forward Aaron Bendickson and a 2006 first round pick in the USHL draft.

Last night, 6'1", 190 lb. defenseman Tristin Llewellyn, a University of Michigan recruit, was traded to the Tri-City Storm for defenseman Jon Ammerman and a draft pick.

Both players are in high school, and both asked to be traded.

Finally, to cap things off,  look for head coach Dean Grillo, having been demoted to assistant, to resign today and head home.  



North Rules EJHL All-Star Games

Hooksett, NH -- The two-game, four-team EJHL All-Star setup today was dominated by the North Division, which won both games, knocking off one South team by 4-3, and the other by 6-3 here this afternoon.

The North Division is home to the league's two strongest teams, today's host, the New Hampshire Monarchs (25-1-3) and the Boston Junior Bruins (22-5-1-2).

In Game #1, all four of the winners' goals were scored by members of the Junior Bruins, while goaltender Chris Rossi kicked out 17 of 18 in the first half for the day's best goaltending stint.

In Game #2, five out of six of North's goals were scored by Monarchs.

The car driven to the game by Monarchs goaltender Ryan Simpson flipped on the icy roads, hence he was unable to play. Simpson was checked out on the scene by the EMTs and appeared totally unscathed. His spot on the roster was taken by teammate Ryan Murison.

New England Coyotes forwards Nick Johnson and Tyler Fernandez were unable to play due to injury. Their spots on the roster were taken by, respectively, T.J. Syner and Zach Wissman.

A fire in the engine of the Zamboni in an adjacent rink brought proceedings to a halt in the middle of the first game, and everyone was sent outside for a half hour while the fire department took over the premises.

Game #1: North 4, South 3

North: Kory Falite (2g,1a); Patrick Kimball (1g,1a); Chris Donovan (2a); Bobby Butler (1g); Nate Bostic (1a); Jim Driscoll (1a); Jayson Lee (1a).

South: Dane Hetland (1g,1a); Garrett Vassel (1g,1a); Jared Katz (2a); John Carter (1g), Justin Bonitatibus (1a), Ian Schaser (1a).

Shots on Goal: South 29, North 21.

North: Chris Rossi (17/18); Stephen Parry (9/11).
South: Tristan Favro (9/11); Jason Zuck (8/10).

Game #2: North 6, South 3

North: Jason Williams (3a), Greg Holt (2g), Ian O'Connor (2g), Dan Bartlett (1g,1a), Matt Wallace (2a), Pat Bowen (2a), Jonathan Higgins (1g), Paul Worthington (1a), Collin Ostroot (1a), Asher Hirshberg (1a).

South: Zach Wissman (1g,1a), Chris Murphy (2a), Patrick Cannone (1g), Steve Coon (1g), Anton Kharin (1a), Mathew Piegza (1a).

Shots on Goal: North 29, South 24.

North: Dan Meyers (10/11); Ryan Murison (11/13).
South: Thomas O'Brien (8/9); Nicholas Krauss (15/20).


Game #1:

Northern Division

Forwards: Kory Falite (Bruins), Patrick Kimball (Bruins), Bobby Butler (Bruins), Chris Donovan (Bruins), Joe Cucci (Warriors), Dan Rossman (Warriors), Todd Bartelson (Warriors), Alex Muse (Huskies), Nate Bostic (Huskies).

Defensemen: Jim Driscoll (Bruins), Ed Shea (Bruins), Jesse Williams (Warriors), Eric Scovill (Warriors), Jayson Lee (Huskies), Patrick Brenner (Huskies).

Goaltenders: Steve Parry (Warriors), Chris Rossi (Bruins).

Southern Division

Forwards: Barry Almeida (Falcons), T.J. Syner (Falcons), Justin Bonitatibus (Walpole), Dane Hetland (Breakers), Jared Katz (Breakers), Garrett Vassel (Applecore), Alec Kirschner (Hitmen), John Carter (Hitmen), Ian Schaser (Bandits).

Defensemen: Mark Moller (Falcons), Nick Jillson (Walpole), James Burichin (Breakers), Toby Heaslip (Hitmen), Ryan Seavy (Bandits), Brian Cooke (Bandits).

Goaltenders: Jason Zuck (Hitmen), Tristan Favro (Applecore).

Game #2:

Northern Division

Forwards: Jason Williams (Monarchs), Dan Bartlett (Monarchs), Greg Holt (Monarchs), Ian O’Connor (Monarchs), Paul Worthington (Glades), Collin Ostroot (Glades), Jonathan Higgins (Glades), Asher Hirshberg (Syracuse), Matt Wallace (Syracuse).

Defensemen: Pat Bowen (Monarchs), Kevin Kessler (Monarchs), Barry Goers (Glades), Steve Rizer (Syracuse), Nate Burns (Harborwolves), Colin Quinn (Harborwolves).

Goaltenders: Ryan Murison (Monarchs), Dan Meyers (Glades).

Southern Division

Forwards: Zach Wissman (Falcons), Pat Cannone (Falcons), Chris Murphy (Walpole), Anton Kharin (Breakers), Mickey Lang (Applecore), Matt Piegza (Hitmen), John Morea (Hitmen), Brandon Smith (Bandits), Matt Tommasiello (Bandits).

Defensemen: Greg Burgdoerfer (Applecore), Jordan Behler (Applecore), Mark Zarbo (Selects), Steve Coon (Selects), Chris Lepore (Hitmen), Matt Davis (Bandits).

Goaltenders: Thomas O'Brien (Bandits), Nick Krauss (Breakers).



NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings

The National Hockey League's Central Scouting Service has released its midterm ranking.

Of the 240 North American players ranked (210 skaters, 30 goaltenders), 93 are American and 147 Canadian. That's 39% and 61%, respectively.

The #1 ranked player, 6'4" RD Erik Johnson, and the #2 ranked player, 6'0" center Phil Kessel, are both Americans. 

For detailed rankings click below, but here's a quick listing of the Americans drafted by round:

1st Round (11) -- Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Peter Mueller, Bobby Sanguinetti, Kyle Okposo, Mark Mitera, Nick Foligno, Joey Ryan, Nigel Williams, David Fischer, Brian Strait.

2nd Round (9)
-- Carl Sneep, Kevin Montgomery, Michael Forney, Luke Lynes, Blake Geoffrion, Trevor Lewis, Aaron Marvin, Chris Summers, Tysen Dowzak.

3rd Round (13)
-- Ryan Flynn, Ryan Turek, Eric Baier, Rhett Rakhshani, Michael Carman, Cameron Cepek, Jeff Petry, Jordan Willert, James Pouliot, Kai Kantola, Jamie McBain, Joe Devin, Kyle Medvec. 

4th Round (10)
-- Michael Griffin, Doug Rogers, Derrick LaPoint, Chad Morin, Brian Gibbons, Will O'Neill, Kevin Quick, Matt Lombardi, Cody Wild, Michael Ratchuk.

5th Round (12)
-- Ray Kaunisto, Benn Ferriero, Zach Jones, Jeremy Beller, Alex Biega, Jack Christian, Brian Day, David Grun, Sean Dolan, Josh Burrows, Zach Cohen, Dan Lawson.

6th Round (15)
-- Erik Felde, Mike Devin, Scott Fletcher, Brian Schack, Joe Smith, Pasko Skarica, Chris Huxley, Brett Peterson, Matt McCollem, Tony Romano, Tyler Ruegsegger, Brent Gwidt, Austin Mayer, Andrew Rowe, Tom Sestito.

7th Round (12)
-- Sean Coffey, Tyler Pederson, Ben Smith, Chris Clackson, Cory Schneider, Peter Child, Jason Lawrence, Mike Testwuide, Carter Camper, Jack Clayman, Gary Steffes, Greg Squires.

Goaltenders (11)
-- Billy Sauer, Joe Palmer, Jeff Zatkoff, Alex Kangas, Ryan Simpson, Richard Bachman, John Murray, Alec Richards, Bryce Christianson, Matt Lundin, Austin Lee.    



USHL All-Stars Named

The USHL has named the forty players who will be participating in the 2006 Prospects/All-Star Game to be held Tues. Feb. 7 in Sioux City, Iowa. 

The two teams, one representing the Western Conference and the other representing the East, are selected by the NHL's Central Scouting Service in conjunction with the USHL.  

Western Conference:

Goaltenders: Alex Kangas (Sioux Falls); John Murray (Sioux Falls).

Defensemen: Nick Schaus (Omaha); Nate Prosser (Sioux Falls); Eli Vlaisavljevich (Lincoln); Chris Berenguer (Sioux Falls); Chad Morin (Sioux City); Steven Kampfer (Sioux City).

Forwards: Jaroslav Markovic (Tri-City); Casey Parenteau (Sioux Falls); Tony Lucia (Omaha); Zach Cohen (Tri-City); Sam Gagner (Sioux City); Mark Magnowski (Sioux Falls); J.J. Koehler (Lincoln); Ryan Turek (Omaha); Matt Schepke (Omaha); Andreas Nodl (Sioux Falls); Mike Davies (Lincoln); Jordan Willert (Tri-City).

Eastern Conference:

Goaltenders: Alex Stalock (Cedar Rapids); Troy Davenport (Des Moines).

Defensemen: Eddie Del Grosso (Indiana); Eric Gryba (Green Bay); Kevin Wehrs (Cedar Rapids); Chase Ryan (Des Moines); Ian Tallet (Chicago); Jeff Petry (Des Moines).

Forwards: Chris Clackson (Chicago); Phil Axtell (Cedar Rapids); Kevin Deeth (Green Bay); Ray Kaunisto (Cedar Rapids); Trevor Lewis (Des Moines); Ted Purcell (Cedar Rapids); Dan Kissel (Chicago); Sean Dolan (Indiana); Kyle Okposo (Des Moines); Chad Costello (Cedar Rapids); Zach Bearson (Waterloo); Mike Testwuide (Waterloo).  


US-Canada to Face Off in Paralympic Preview

This weekend the U.S. and Canadian sled hockey teams will be facing off in a three-game series in the Boston area in a preview of what will be coming up at the Internatioanal Paralympic Games, which take place in Torino, Italy after the conclusion of the regular Olympic Games.

The games will be Fri. 1/13 at Harvard (7:00 pm), Sat. 1/14 at Harvard (4:00 pm), and Sun. 1/15 at Babson (10:00 am).

One of the key players on the U.S. team is Taylor Chace, someone long-time readers of this site will be familiar with. Chace, of Hampton Falls, NH, was a hard-nosed power forward who played for the Cardigan Mountain School and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL), a sure-fire Div. I prospect. While playing an early season tournament in Canada with the Monarchs, Chace was hit the wrong way and suffered a career-ending spine injury. After his initial rehabilitation, Chace rejoined the Monarchs as a volunteer assistant coach, and is a familiar figure around New England rinks.

All of the current Monarchs players will be at Friday night's game. In addition, if his schedule allows it, Chace will be honored by the Monarchs at next Monday's EJHL all-star game.

Junior Monarchs head coach Sean Tremblay will be taking a brief leave of absence from his team to be with Chace at the opening of the games in Torino.

The Chace injury, Tremblay said, "Was the hardest thing I've ever gone through as a coach and I want to be there for him. The motivation he provides our organization every day is immeasureable. What he's overcome to get to the Olympics is just incredibly inspiring." 

The games ini the Boston area should be tight, hard-fought battles. The teams split a two-game series last week in Vancouver, BC. 


Taft Forward Commits to Michigan

6'1", 197 lb. LW Max Pacioretty of the Taft School has committed to the University of Michigan for the fall of '07.

Pacioretty, a New Canaan, Conn. native now in his junior year at Taft, is a big kid with pretty good hands. With his long reach, he is able to protect the puck well, and he has good acceleration for his size. At the very least, he projects to be a solid checking winger for the Wolverines. Depending on how he develops, he could be much more -- there's upside here.

In Taft's eight games thus far, he has a 1-7-8 line. Last season, as a sophomore, Pacioretty had a 5-14-19 line in 23 games played.

Pacioretty played, with mixed results, on the Under-18 Select Team that went to Slovakia and the Czech Republic last August.

Pacioretty, an 11/20/88 birthdate, is not eligible for the NHL draft until '07. He was selected by the Sioux City Musketeers in last summer's USHL futures draft.

Pacioretty's college decision ultimately came down to either Michigan on the one hand and or, on the other, the Ivies (Dartmouth, Brown).


The Rich Get Richer

The USHL's most-coveted '89 prospect, Sioux City Musketeers 5'10", 182 lb. center Sam Gagner, has committed to the Wisconsin Badgers for the fall of '07.

Gagner, an 11th grader and the son of former NHLer Dave Gagner, is the leading scorer among '89s in the USHL, with a 8-21-29 line and +5 in 29 games. 

Over the holidays, Gagner played for Team Ontario in the World Under-17 Challenge, and was the second-leading scorer in the tournament, finishing with 13 points in five games, one point behind teammate John Tavares.

Gagner, who played last year for a very talented Toronto Marlies Midget Minor team along with Tavares, Brendan Smith (looking at BU and, yes, Wisconsin), Justin Vaive, Cody Goloubef and others, has been the object of an intense recruiting battle.

Last night he decided to become a Badger. His final four schools were Wisconsin, BU, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Gagner is a difference-maker, a character kid who has what it takes to someday soon win the Hobey Baker Award. An outstanding playmaker, what sets him apart from his peers, and made him so sought-after, is his outstanding ability to think the game at a high level. 

This is a big get for Mike Eaves and his staff, but it doesn't end there.

***  Eaves just got a commitment from the leading scorer on the Lincoln Stars (USHL), 5'8", 165 lb. forward Mike Davies, who may  be on the slight and small side, but is very skilled with the puck, skates well, and competes hard. Despite his size, Davies is willing to get physically involved. Davies, who played in the NAHL last season, is a 12/10/86 birthdate from Chesterfield, Missouri. In 25 games with the Stars, he has a 15-20-35 line.

***  Another new Badger commitment is Cretin-Derham HS LD Ryan McDonagh, a 6'1", 190 lb.native of Arden Hills, Minn.  McDonagh, who won't be showing up in Madison until 2008, is an '89 birthday. At last summer's Select 16 Festival, he really grew on this observer. He reads plays well, forces turnovers, made a number of nice passes, and scored a couple of goals. With two whole years of development beyond this year, McDonagh should be an excellent college player.

***  Wisconsin also recently got a commitment from 6'1", 192 lb. Lincoln Stars (USHL) RW Ben Grotting. A 4/20/86 birthdate fromj Birmingham, Alabama, Grotting played at Shattuck-St. Mary's before moving on to the Texas Tornado last season. A rookie in the USHL, Grotting will bring grit to the Badgers. In 31 games, he has a 6-9-15 line with 110 penalty minutes (which places him fourth in the league in that category, 11 minutes behind league leader Ryan Hohl.)



Eagles Nest

The Eagles may not have gotten Trevor Lewis last month, but they've just done pretty well for themselves, landing both Brainerd High School senior defenseman Carl Sneep and U.S, Under-17 Team forward Ryan Hayes.

-- Sneep, who's 6'2" and 200 lbs., came out of nowhere. Last year at this time, no one was talking about him, but interest in him picked up at the Minnesota High School Elite League in the fall. Somewhere between then and last month's holiday tournament, where he played very well, BC identified him as their #1 target for the blue line for '06-07. 

Sneep, a late '87, will likely be one of the top three kids drafted out of Minnesota high schools in June's NHL draft, along with defenseman David Fischer (Apple Valley) and forward Michael Forney (Thief River Falls). He's a big kid who is smart, takes care of business in his own end, and moves the puck well. He thinks the game and has offensive upside. He's a little rugged on his skates when it comes to pivoting, but that should take care of itself in time. 

In case BC fans are thinking he's the second coming of Andrew Alberts, he's not that guy. Sneep can play physically, but not at the Alberts' level. He's' definitely better with the puck than Alberts. Sneep is more in the mold of North Dakota freshman Brian Lee, though not as poised.

Other schools interested in him -- he's a 3.8 student -- were Notre Dame and Yale. Maybe we just didn't hear it, but it's a little surprising WCHA schools weren't onto him. His ascendency came late, though, after most schools had filled their slots. 

-- Hayes, a  5'9" 170 lb. RC/RW, is another small forward for the Eagles, joining Gibbons, Whitney, et al. Not surprisingly, he, too, is a scorer. A native of Syracuse, NY where he played with the Syracuse Jr. Crunch (OPJHL) before coming to the NTDP, Hayes was the surprise of the NTDP camp last March, where he was the scoring leader and showed himself to be quick as a cat, a darter who moves well to openings and has the hands to be lethal down low. A 6/8/89 birthdate, he came to the Select 16s in June and the puck just followed him around. He scored a hat trick in one game -- all unassisted. Other games he wasn't so noticeable, and his play away from the puck was iffy. He projects to be a really good scorer at the college level. 

Hays has been a regular at Plymouth Whalers (OHL) games and during the fall there were indications he'd be going major junior next season. Plymouth selected him in the sixth round last spring.

The University of Michigan was recruiting him as well.   

Hayes has one more year in the NTDP and will arrive at the Heights in the fall of '07. 


6'2", 184 lb. US Under-18 RC James O'Brien has committed to the University of Minnesota, as we wrote that he would be a couple weeks ago. O'Brien, the youngest player on the Under-18 Team (he's a 1/89 birthdate), is accelerating at school and will join the Gophers this fall.



EJHL All-Stars Announced

The EJHL All-Star event will be held a week from today, Monday Jan. 16 (Martin Luther King’s birthday), at the Tri Town Ice Arena in Hooksett, NH, the Monarchs’ home rink.

The first game will be at noon and the second game at 2:20 pm. The rosters for all four teams are below.

Game One – 12pm

Northern Division

Forwards: Kory Falite (Bruins), Patrick Kimball (Bruins), Bobby Butler (Bruins), Chris Donovan (Bruins), Joe Cucci (Warriors), Dan Rossman (Warriors), Todd Bartelson (Warriors), Alex Muse (Huskies), Nate Bostic (Huskies).

Defensemen: Jim Driscoll (Bruins), Ed Shea (Bruins), Jesse Williams (Warriors), Eric Scovill (Warriors), Jayson Lee (Huskies), Patrick Brenner (Huskies).

Goaltenders: Steve Parry (Warriors), Chris Rossi (Bruins).

Southern Division

Forwards: Barry Almeida (Falcons), Nick Johnson (Falcons), Justin Bonitatibus (Walpole), Dane Hetland (Breakers), Jared Katz (Breakers), Garrett Vassel (Applecore), Alec Kirschner (Hitmen), John Carter (Hitmen), Ian Schaser (Bandits).

Defensemen: Mark Moller (Falcons), Nick Jillson (Walpole), James Burichin (Breakers), Toby Heaslip (Hitmen), Ryan Seavy (Bandits), Brian Cooke (Bandits).

Goaltenders: Jason Zuck (Hitmen), Tristan Favro (Applecore).

Game Two – 2:20pm

Northern Division

Forwards: Jason Williams (Monarchs), Dan Bartlett (Monarchs), Greg Holt (Monarchs), Ian O’Connor (Monarchs), Paul Worthington (Glades), Collin Ostroot (Glades), Jonathan Higgins (Glades), Asher Hirshberg (Syracuse), Matt Wallace (Syracuse).

Defensemen: Pat Bowen (Monarchs), Kevin Kessler (Monarchs), Barry Goers (Glades), Steve Rizer (Syracuse), Nate Burns (Harborwolves), Colin Quinn (Harborwolves).

Goaltenders: Ryan Simpson (Monarchs), Dan Meyers (Glades).

Southern Division

Forwards: Tyler Fernandez (Falcons), Pat Cannone (Falcons), Chris Murphy (Walpole), Anton Kharin (Breakers), Mickey Lang (Applecore), Matt Piegza (Hitmen), John Morea (Hitmen), Brandon Smith (Bandits), Matt Tommasiello (Bandits).

Defensemen: Greg Burgdoerfer (Applecore), Jordan Behler (Applecore), Mark Zarbo (Selects), Steve Coon (Selects), Chris Lepore (Hitmen), Matt Davis (Bandits).

Goaltenders: Thomas O'Brien (Bandits), Nick Krauss (Breakers).


DeSimone Makes His Pick; Others Do, Too

Sioux City Musketeers second-year forward Phil DeSimone, who’s picked up his scoring pace after a slow fall, has committed to the University of New Hampshire for the fall of ’07.

In 33 games, DeSimone, a native of Williamsville, NY, a Buffalo suburb, has a 7-19-26 line with 48 pims. An ’87, DeSimone, who’s 6’0”, 185 lbs., was also looking at Bowling Green, Northeastern, Michigan Tech, and Clarkson.

-- Luke Popko, a 5’9”, 205 lb. center with the U.S. Under-18 Team, has committed to Boston University. Popko, a New Jersey native, is a strong, hard-nosed centerman. Neither fast nor much of a scorer, Popko, who played at Taft before going to the NTDP, is a good honest player who understands the game clearly, and does a lot of little things well -- playing hard both ways, winning key faceoffs, blocking shots, etc. Vermont was most prominently mentioned among other schools interested in Popko.

Popko will join the Terriers in the fall.

-- A pair of South Kent School forwards who grew up together in Florida have just committed to college for the fall – Tony Morrone to Maine, and Mike Vaskivou to Merrimack.

Morrone, a 5’10”, 200 lb. native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, grew up playing roller hockey and switched to ice at age 12. He can skate, go to the net, dish it or finish. Morrone could turn out to be a bit of a steal for Maine. The rap on him has been his defensive play, but he’s improved significantly in that area. Morrone, an ’87, is a right shot who plays the off wing. He has a 12-23-35 line in 14 games played.

Vaskivuo, who’s 6’0”, 190 lbs. and a left shot playing the right side, has committed to Merrimack. A native of Finland, Vaskivou’s family settled in Florida when he was seven. He played prep hockey at Westminster, graduating last spring. He’s taking a PG year at South Kent. Vaskviou, who has a 17-16-33 line in 14 games, is dangerous on the power play.

-- Big 6’2”, 225 lb. defenseman Kevin McCarthy, a Phillips Exeter PG who’s opened eyes from the beginning of the season, has committed to Dartmouth College for the fall. McCarthy, who played last year at Stoneham (Mass.) High School, has perhaps the hardest shot we’ve seen in prep hockey this season – just a bomb. Other schools recruiting McCarthy were Princeton and Yale. McCarthy, in 13 games, has a 6-9-15 line.

-- 5’8”, 170 lb. Steve Silva, an ’87 forward from Tyngsboro, Mass. and the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) has committed to Northeastern University. Silva, who played at Tabor last year, passed up his senior year at boarding school in favor of the USHL. In 33 games with the Gamblers, Silva, small, but quick and skilled, has a 3-8-11 line with 48 pims.


Familiar Faces Represent Ukraine

Those who follow New England prep hockey will recognize a number of names on the Ukranian entry in last month's IIHF Div. I World Under-20 championship played in Bled, Slovenia.

Basically, the team consisted of the core -- 12 players -- of the Druzhba '78 squad coach by Ivan Pravilov that tourned the Northeast last January. Through the efforts of people like the late Gene Kinasewich, Peter Noonan, and Paul Parsons, practically the whole team is stateside now, with most attending prep schools. However, they reconvened for the World Juniors, and went 1-1-3, coming in fifth in the six team tournament, which also featured the Under-20 teams from Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, and Slovenia. Part of the Ukraine problem -- besides lack of money, jobs, and hockey rinks in their native country -- was extreme youth: they only had two '86s on the roster. Everyone else was an '87 or '88.

The squad's goalie was Sergei Sorocolat of the South Kent School. Sorocolat played four games in Slovenia and finished with a 3.55 gaa and a .900 save percentage. He faced a lot of rubber, finishing with a tournament-leading 117 saves.

The members of the Ukranian team now playing in the US prep and junior ranks:  

Sergei Sorocolat (South Kent), Artem Gumenyuk (South Kent), Aleksandr Ponomar (Culver), Aleksandr Romanenko (Hebron), Dmitry Naida (Hebron), Roman Krivda (Trinity-Pawling), Pavel Kozhokin (Canterbury), Aleksandr Mikolenko (Northwood), Fillip Ogleznev (Tri-City Storm), Egor Egorov (Shawinigan -- QMJHL), Danil Guryev (Suffolk PAL), and Maksim Podkosov (Trinity-Pawling).




The IIHF Div. III Under-20 World Championships are currently underway in Lithuania, with the championship game between Iceland and Lithuania set for tomorrow. Bulgaria and Turkey will battle it out for the bronze.

Armenia won't be playing for any medal. They're likely happy just to get out of the tournament alive. So, you may be wondering, just how did Armenia do? Here are the scores of their games, with shots on goal.

Iceland 50, Armenia 0 (SOG: 133-10)
Bulgaria 21, Armenia 2 (SOG: 75-25)
Lithuania 47, Armenia 1 (SOG: 124-5)
Turkey 28, Armenia 3 (SOG: 77-6)

In case you're wondering, goal differential matters in the Under-20s, hence some of these scores. Can you imagine watching one of these games? Can you imagine playing in them? One forward from Iceland had a 9-6-14 line in his team's 50-0 opening-night win! Brown University has played 15 games and doesn't have a single player with that many points on the whole season!

The goalie for Armenia, Harutyun Baluyan, played every minute of the above games and finished the tournament having faced 409 shots in four games. He made 263 saves, and allowed 146 goals for a .643 save percentage. His GAA for the tournament was 36.50. Armeniam gave up 29 power play goals and 17 shorthanded goals.

Back to the drawing board.


Another team that got smoked -- nothing like Armenia, though -- was New Zealand, which was playing in the IIHF Div. II Under-20 World Championships in Romania.

They were outscored just 64-2. Here are their scores:

Great Britain 18, New Zealand 0
Netherlands 19, New Zealand 0
Spain 7, New Zealand 2 (close game!!)
Romania 14, New Zealand 0
Australia 6, New Zealand 0 (another nail biter!!)


No Medal, Plenty of Questions

Once again, the U.S. leaves the World Juniors without a medal and, coming a year after the debacle at Grand Forks, a number of questions are out there for the asking.

One is simple: is the U.S. National Team Development worth the millions of dollars that are poured into it? Many feel the NTDP is an entitlement program that winds up creating a bunch of prima donnas who have no idea how to band together as a team when the chips are down. Right now, that assesment looks to be right on the money.

Many of the closest observers of USA Hockey were not surprised by the U.S. World Junior team's failure to medal this year. They weren't surprised because they had seen it before. At the Under-17s at this time two years ago, the U.S. team -- which contained the big names of this year's World Junior team -- underachieved, playing like selfish individuals and ending up fourth with a 3-3 record. Yes, they blew out three defensively inept teams, running up the score nicely. But they lost three other games they could have won, including the semi-final and bronze medal games.

Shortly after that lackluster performance, Kessel and his fellow underagers were moved up to the Under-18 team to prepare for that April's IIHF World Under-18s. And guess what? As soon as they were gone, the less-heralded Under-17 team members that were left behind played their best team hockey. Less talent, for sure, but more of a team - they couldn't wait for the stars to do it anymore and had to step up and do it as a group. And what about the stars? Well, Phil Kessel, despite being an underager, was reportedly unhappy with his playing time under head coach John Hynes at that spring's World Under-18s and threatened to leave the program if Hynes took the Under-18s ('87s) last season. That became a moot point when Ron Rolston was hired by the NTDP, and the squad ended up in his hands. Rolston played Kessel and his fellow studs 75% of the game no matter what the score was -- and cut several stand-up third/fourth liners just before the World Under-18s. The team won the tournament, as expected. They were able to get by on pure skill -- and a lot of help from Jeff Frazee, who had an excellent tournament in net.

In Vancouver, they were unable to get by on their skill alone. Outside of the blowout against Norway, the U.S. only had one period all tournament where they dominated play and scoring chances, and that was in the second period of the Russia game. Unfortunately, it all unravelled in the next period due to lack of strong team play.

Of the U.S. meltdown, a significant stat is the fact that, of the nine goals the U.S. gave up over the last two games, eight came at even strength. Defensive breakdowns and the inability to handle the other team's top forwards caused real problems for the U.S.

A big part of the problem is the U.S. predisposition toward selecting offensive defenseman who handle the puck well but frankly aren't the best available defenders. Look at how Canada has won two years in a row with a very physical, strong group of D, made up mostly of stay-at-home defensemen who can move the puck, and forwards who play a solid two-way game. The Russians couldn't penetrate the Canadian defense, meeting up with blueliners who rocked them, forced them into mistakes, and then capitalized on those very mistakes. The Canadians proved again and again that you don't need more than one or two offensive guys on the backline. Brian Lee, Taylor Chorney, Matt Niskanen are all from a somewhat similar mold, i.e. skilled, two-way offensive guys who don't play a big-time physical game, and lack the edge shown by some of the Canadian D. Jack Johnson is a terrifically skilled player but he's a high-risk/high-reward type, so needs a strong defensive type to be paired with him in order to cover in the case of a mistake. Erik Johnson is an '88 and for one so young he had a great tournament, but didn't make an impact over the final four games. By the time the U.S. played the key games he was worn down and made too many mistakes which cost the U.S. In the last two games, Erik Johnson was a -5 and his partner, Jack Johnson, was a -6. For the U.S. to rely on an '88 d-man on the top pairing certainly hurt the U.S. in the end. U.S. born major junior players like '87s Ryan McGinnis (Plymouth) or Joey Ryan (Quebec) might have been better paired with Jack Johnson. Zach Jones, though a bit on the small size, may have been better, too. Ditto for Mike Brennan of Boston College, an '86 with two years of college experience under his belt. Until the U.S. changes from "showcasing" top guys to actually trying to play as a unit -- the sum of all its parts, they will not be successful. It's not an all-star team of top NHL prospects. Until USA Hockey realizes this, we won't be successful.

Let's finish on a positve note: the U.S. has a nice chance to do well next year. This is, at core, a 19-year-old's tournament -- and the U.S. was counting on a lot of 18-year-olds this time around. Kessel, Peter Mueller, Nate Gerbe, Jack Skille, Bobby Ryan, Chorney, Lee, both Johnsons, Mark Mitera, and Jeff Frazee are all eligible for next year's tournament. Turning them into a real team such as the Canadians have done the past couple of years will be the challenge.


Sioux Falls Win Streak Halted at 16

Sioux Falls, SD -- Before a packed house of 3,690 fans the Sioux Falls Stampede (now 27-3-1 on the season) saw their 16-game winning streak halted at home in a 5-4 overtime shootout loss to the last place Sioux City Musketeers. The Herd had built a 4-0 lead in the second period but a late shorthanded goal by Phil DeSimone off a Mike Beck feed seemed to energize the struggling Musketeers. In the third period, Sioux City outshot the Stampede 14-4 and scored three times to tie the game. Dustin Gazely, an '88 RW from Novi, Michigan, scored the tying goal at 17:45 -- just 40 seconds after DeSimone had closed the gap to 4-3 on a power play goal. Blake Martin and Frank Grzeszczak scored for the Musketeers in the shootout while goaltender Beau Erickson stopped all four Sioux Falls shooters. For the game, Erickson kicked out 35 of 39 shots. Alex Kangas took the loss in net for the Herd. Kangas who leads the USHL in goals against average (1.78) and saves percentage (.944) picked up just his second loss of the season (his last one came back on October 7th) while making 37 saves. Even with the win, Sioux City, which is last in the league in special teams, struggled on the power play, going 1-for-9 and on the PK, giving up two goals in four opportunities.

But they won, and with the win, Sioux City stopped a five-game losing streak during which they had struggled offensively, scoring only one goal in each of their last four games. DeSimone has been the team's total offense recently, netting four goals and assisting on two others. The Musketeers leading scorer, Canadian '89 center Sam Gagner will return this weekend after having put up some terrific numbers at the World Under- 17 Challenge. Playing for Team Ontario, Gagner finished second in overall tournament scoring with an impressive 6-7-13 line in five games, trailing only his teammate, Oshawa (OHL) '90 phenom John Tavares, who finished with 14 points.

Sioux City, which started the season as the youngest team in the league, has been constantly re-tooling and recently brought in Erickson, who has stepped up as the #1 netminder. Over the holiday break, the Musketeers picked up two more players: Canadian Rylan Galiardi an '86 forward who was playing for Minnesota Blizzard (NAHL), and '87 defenseman Robby Spalding, who recently withdrew from Div. III Wisconsin-River Falls.


U.S. Settles for Silver at World Under-17 Challenge

Regina, Sask. --- The U.S. Under-17 team dropped a 5-2 decision to Team Quebec in the gold medal game of the World Under-17 Challenge here. The U.S. trailed 2-0 after one period as Quebec scored two quick goals within the last 1:58 of the period. The US squad battled back to tie it on Kevin Shattenkirk's unassisted goal 36 seconds into the third period. Colin Wilson had opened up the scoring for the U.S. in the second period earning his team-leading sixth goal of the tournament off a rebound, with James Van Riemsdyk and Mike Cieslak picking up the assists. However, Quebec followed up the Shattenkirk goal with two even-strength goals and a late empty-netter to close out the scoring at 5-2. Brad Phillips stopped 28 of 32 shots in net for the U.S.

This was the first time since 2002 the US has reached the gold medal game in the WU-17 Challenge. Last year the US finished a disappointing fifth and in 2004 they finished fourth. There was no tournament in 2003. Ron Rolston's team started inconsistently, going 1-1-1 at the start, but came on last in the tournament, playing two must-win games to gain a birth in the final, defeating Quebec 5-1 in their final preliminary game and then knocking off Team Pacific 8-4 in the semi-finals. The US finished with an overall 3-2-1 record. Leading scorers for the US were James Van Riemsdyk (5G, 4A), Colin Wilson (6G, 2A), Ryan Hayes (4G, 2A), John Albert (1G, 5A) and Kevin Shattenkirk (3G, 2A). Brad Phillips played all but 24 minutes in the tournament's six games and posted a 2.69 gaa and .910 save percentage. Phillips and Van Riemsdyk were named to the tournament all-star team. Shattenkirk was named the star of the game last night. 

It's been four years since the U.S. has won this tournament, which is not a good record, particularly since the four European teams, because this is not an IIHF event, rarely if ever send their best, and the five other teams -- like last night's opponent -- are provincial teams thrown together solely for the tournament. The U.S., on the other hand, is a well-funded year-round standing team made up of most of the top players in the age group the U.S. has to offer.  

U.S. Results 
Dec. 28 -- Team Pacific 5, U.S. 4 (exhib.)
Dec. 30 -- U.S. 7, Team Ontario 5
Dec. 31 -- Slovakia 4, U.S. 2
Dec. 1 -- Team West 1, U.S. 1
Dec. 2 -- U.S. 5, Team Quebec 1
Dec. 3 -- U.S. 8, Team Pacific 4
Dec. 4 -- Team Quebec 5, U.S. 2 -- U.S. Wins Silver




Undefeated Salisbury #1 in New USHR Prep Poll

Normally, we post the prep poll Sunday night, occasionally Monday. But we've never done it on a Thursday. But this year, because the last of the prep tourneys ended Monday and most of the teams were back on their regular schedule less than 48 hours later, we decided 'why not?' 

So here it is, on a Thursday. Notice that there are four eastern teams and four western teams in the top eight. Could those same teams be there come late February? That's a tough call, but we do think the top six will be there.

Jan. 5 Prep Poll



Tired Americans No Match for Russia

Vancouver, BC -- A tired and frustrated U.S. team, picked by most observers to take home the gold at this World Junior Championship, will instead be competing for a bronze after last night's 5-1 trouncing at the hands of the Russians before a crowd of 18,630 at GM Place. 

The U.S. did a good job keeping up with the Russians for two periods, trailing just 1-0 going into the third. Russia, which has size, speed, skill, and plays with an edge, finally took total control in the third, outscoring the U.S. 4-1. With the game out of reach, things got nasty in the final minutes, with all players on the ice pushing and shoving while the GM Place crowd chanted "U.S. sucks." Not a pretty picture.

Now, the U.S., which despite their obvious offensive talent with Phil Kessel and Chris Bourque and excellent defense prospects in Erik Johnson (whose stock shot up during this tournament) and Jack Johnson, and a strong goalie in Cory Schneider, has to look in the mirror. While there has been some excellent individual play on the team, there has not been a great deal of team play, which really hurt, not only against Russia last night but in parts of just about every game except for the opening night blowout of Norway. While the U.S. survived on their skill at times, it failed them at others, particularly when their backs were to the wall and they needed to pull together as a team. 

Against Finland, for example, the U.S. was cruising midway through the third period with a 6-3 lead and not only allowed Finland to crawl back into the game, but allowed them to come within a hair of tying it up. 

They escaped that one, but in the next game against lowly Switzerland, they took a 2-0 lead into the third, took a bunch of dumb penalties, and allowed the Swiss to earn a 2-2 tie -- really, a "loss" as far as the U.S. was concerned.

In a must-win situation the following night against Canada, they didn't win, and had to play a quarterfinal two nights later against the Czech Republic. Playing in the quarters forced them to come back the next night -- that's why earning a bye is so important -- against Russia. Sure, the U.S. ran out of gas, but it actually might not have made a bit of difference -- Russia is a very good team,  and they play as a team.

A lot has been made of the sniping and backbiting on the U.S. team. The root source of that particular vipers' pit was a decision made over two years ago by USA Hockey's poohbahs in Colorado Springs to market the hell out of Phil Kessel, which they did, basically presenting him as "our Sidney Crosby." USA Hockey featured Kesse every which way they could, even going so far as to hold a press conference when he committed to the University of Minnesota last season. Naturally, this favoritism, which U.S. Under-18 Team head coach Ron Rolston did nothing to stop, rubbed Kessel's teamates the wrong way -- hockey, remember, is a team sport --and caused divisiveness on and off the ice. The last thing we need in this country is to take already-entitled teenagers and stick them up on a pedestal. Naturally, when Kessel and his bickering teammates had their backs to the wall, they didn't come together, they fell apart. 

Kessel and many other members of this year's junior team may well go on to have great careers in college and pro hockey, but USA Hockey made a tactical mistake when they decided that it would be "The Phil Kessel Show." That may not have been the main reason they underachieved in Vancouver, but it certainly didn't help.

Anyway, the tournament is not yet over. The U.S. plays for the bronze against Finland tomorrow at 12:05 pm PST. They've beaten Finland once, and they should be able to do so again. After last year's miserable showing in Grand Forks and the subsequent high expectations for this team, failing to win a medal of any sort would be a tough pill to swallow. One thing is undeniable: while next year's team will again be expected to contend, it will be a long time before the U.S. is able to ice a team as skilled as this one. And while the bronze is not what they came for, it's still a medal -- and to leave tomorrow with a consolation prize is better than to leave with nothing at all.

U.S. Results, Schedule:

Mon. Dec. 26 -- U.S. 11, Norway 2
Wed. Dec. 28 -- U.S. 6, Finland 5
Fri. Dec. 30 -- U.S. 2, Switzerland 2
Sat. Dec. 31 -- Canada 3, U.S. 2
Mon. Jan. 2 -- Quarterfinal: U.S. 2, Czech Republic 1 
Tues. Jan. 3 -- Semifinal: Russia 5, U.S. 1
Thurs. Jan. 5 -- Bronze Medal Game: U.S. vs. Finland, 12:05 pm PST



Schneider Leads U.S. Juniors to Semifinals

Vancouver, BC -- The U.S. National Junior Team edged the Czech Republic 2-1 in last night's quarterfinal at GM Place here, and will move on to play Russia in tonight's semifinal (11:00 pm). 

Goaltender Cory Schneider had an excellent game, kicking out 30 of 31 shots for the win.

All the scoring came in the first period, which was wide open. 

Phil Kessel scored a power play goal at 3:21 of the first, a rebound of a shot initially blocked by a Czech defenseman. Assists went to Jack Johnson and Jack Skille. It was Kessel's first goal of the tournament, though he has nine assists (five coming in the opening-night 11-2 blowout of Norway). 

Chris Bourque scored an even-strength goal at 11:08 of the second, lifting the rebound of a Kessel shot past the Czech goaltender for his tournament-leading seventh goal of the tournament (and second since the Norway cakewalk, when he had five). 

The Czech Republic cut the U.S. lead to 2-1 with a Ladislav Smid power play goal from the blue line just 1:09 later. The puck deflected off the stick of U.S. defenseman Mark Mitera. High 2006 draft prospect Michael Frolik and Vladimir Sobotka assisted.

That was it. There was no scoring in the second or third periods. In the third, particularly late, Schneider had to come up big, stopping Michael Birner on a breakaway , then making a pad save off Petr Phol with 21 seconds on the clock. Schneider, who had an excellent game, finished with 30 saves; Marek Schwarz had 29 for the Czech Republic. 

The crowd of 18,630 at GM Place was very anti-American, and, as in all games here, the U.S. team was loudly booed.


A key to the game was the fact that the U.S., after skirting danger by taking too many penalties in the second, stayed out of the box over the game's final 18 minutes. 

Also key down the stretch -- besides the play of Schnieder, of course -- was the superb play of the fourth line of Nate Davis, Geoff Paukovich, and Tom Fritsche. In addition, third line center T.J. Oshie won several key defensive zone faceoffs late in the game, which allowed the U.S. to clear the zone.

Despite all the penalties, U.S. head coach Walt Kyle juggled lines and used all his players effectively, picking spots to utilize their strenghts and minimize their weaknesses.

The U.S. still needs to improve their defensive zone play, particularly moving the puck quickly and effectively out of the zone.


Viking Cup Team Settles for Bronze

The U.S. Viking Cup Team topped Switzerland 6-2 today to take bronze at the 2006 Viking Cup in Camrose, Alberta.

Scoring for the U.S. were: Kyle Okposo (2g,1a), Drew Dobson (1g,2a), Trevor Lewis (3a), Tony Romano (1g,1a), Kai Kantola (2a), Tony Lucia (1g), Chris Vande Velde (1g), Justin Milo (1a), Ryan Turek (1a), and Zach Bearson (1a).

Brian Foster kicked out 20 of 22 to get the win.

The U.S. finished with a 5-1-0 record, but the one loss, to a team representing the South Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, was an unfortunate one, as it came in the semifinals.


Keys for the U.S. Junior Team in Tonight's Quarterfinal

The U.S. (2-1-1) faces off against the Czech Republic (2-2-0) at 8:00 pm PST (11:00) EST) at the GM Place in Vancouver, BC.

1. A hard-fought, close game will be disaster for the U.S. even if they win tonight. Facing a beaten up, tired team tomorrow is what the Russians are hoping for regardless as to who wins tonight’s game.

2. The U.S. needs to play aggressively tonight but stay out of the penalty box, use their speed to create opportunities and stretch the Czech D into making mistakes and taking penalties. Converting early power play opportunities will be a key. Bury the Czechs early and they may quit. They know they are the underdogs.

3. The U.S. can't afford a meltdown in goal -- like last year with Montoya -- at this point in the tournament. Schneider has been very good the last two games and must keep it up. Frazee would be a huge question mark if he has to come in off the bench. Schneider needs to limit the long rebounds which almost cost him once or twice vs. the Canadians.

4. The U.S. defensemen must think about their defensive responsibilities first and making the strong first outlet pass for a quick U.S. transition on offense. They can't afford to make the same neutral zone mistakes that led to breakaways and odd man rushes in Wednesday’s game against Finland.

5. The U.S. must get some even-strength production from their first line (Bourque-Kessel-Porter) and their second line of Mueller-Schremp-Wheeler/Ryan. Both lines have gone scoreless at even strength the past two games.

6. The U.S. must have a solid "plus" game from their third line of Gerbe-Oshie-Skille to take pressure off the top two lines.

7. Walt Kyle has to trust all his players to get the job done. Early in the game he needs to get everyone involved and use the whole bench. If it’s close, he can tighten up to four D and two lines in the third period. In a tight game you don't want someone coming off the bench late in the game (because of an injury or misconduct) who hasn't played -- especially on defense.

8. The U.S. should win this one by 3-4 goals, let's say 6-2 final ... but we've said that a couple times already in this tournament. An upset loss would be devastating to the U.S. program, especially after last year's home soil debacle in Grand Forks.


U.S. Viking Cup Team Defeated; Will Play for Bronze

Camrose, Alb. -- The Alberta Junior Hockey League’s South All Stars defeated the U.S. Junior Select team 3-2 in overtime to advance to the finals.  After a scoreless first period, the US team opened up a 2-0 lead on second period goals by Drew Dobson off assists from Sean Dolan and Tony Lucia; and Justin Milo from Kyle Okposo and Ryan Turek.  However, the US was unable to hold onto the lead as the AJHL All Stars scored two third period goals to send the game in overtime.  With three minutes remaining in overtime, Derek Werenka notched his fifth goal of the tournament, beating Alex Stalock to send the AJHL South  All Stars into the finals. Defensive breakdowns led to all three of the AJHL South’s goals. Stalock kicked out 20 of 23 shots in the loss. The US will now play the loser of the AJHL North vs. Switzerland game for the Bronze Medal tomorrow at 5:00 pm EST. 






U.S. Under-17s Manage Only a Tie

Regina, Sask. -- Despite outplaying and outshooting the Canadian West team 38-17, the U.S. Under-17s could manage only a 1-1 tie in their third game of the World Under-17 Challenge before a crowd of 2,494 in Regina, Sask.  After a scoreless first period, the West team got on the board late in the second on an even strength goal.  The U.S. got the equalizer at 8:40 of the third period as Colin Wilson picked up his third goal of the tournament with Mike Cieslak and Kevin Shattenkirk picking up the assists. Both teams went 0-2 on the power play.  Brad Phillips stopped 16 of 17 shots in net for the U.S.,  which stands at 1-1-1 in the tournament.  The US concludes preliminary play tomorrow at 6 pm EST against the 3-0 Quebec squad, which is already assured of moving on as a top seed in the medal round.  The U.S., even with a win tomorrow, is not assured of getting into the medal round and will likely have to wait it out until the conclusion of the Canadian West vs Ontario game which doesn’t start until 10:30 pm EST.  Cade Fairchild was named player of the game for the U.S.