A Top Young Center for the Wildcats5’10”, 160 lb. LC Grayson Downing, a ’92 birthdate who played last year for the Fraser Valley Bruins (BC Midget Major League), has committed to the University of New Hampshire for ’10.
In the upcoming season, Downing, a native of Abbotsford, BC, will graduate to the BCHL (each team in the league is only allowed to carry two ‘92s) where he will be playing for the Westside Warriors, led by Wisconsin ’09 blue line recruit Justin Schultz.
Downing played for the Canada West team in last weekend’s Junior Chowder Cup in Foxboro, Mass. University of North Dakota assistant coach Dane Jackson flew east to watch him there (it’s extremely unusual for the Fighting Sioux to come to New England to watch players, particularly one from Western Canada). UNH assistant Scott Borek was there every day, as well.
A quick, prototypical UNH forward, Downing sees the ice very well. At the Junior Chowder Cup, he both scored and set up some highlight goals, and was the leading scorer for his team.
Vazzano to UnionGunnery School goaltender Alex Vazzano, a junior-to-be, has committed to Union College for the fall of ’10.
Last season, Vazzano shared goaltending duties at Gunnery with his older brother, John, a Vermont recruit for this fall.
The younger Vazzano, who is 6-0, 175 lbs., is from Trumbull, Conn. Well, they both are, actually (so is Chris Drury, for that matter), but we’re focusing on the younger Vazzano today.
Last season, his older brother played about two-thirds of the games. Alex, a 10/14/90 birthdate, still played 602 minutes and posted a .909 save percentage. The year before, as a freshman, he had a .960 save percentage in limited action.
Daily Double for the TerriersBoston University has commitments from New York Apple Core (EJHL) defenseman Sean Escobedo, and South Kent School forward Wade Megan.
Escobedo is scheduled to arrive on Comm. Ave. in the fall of ’10, but if the Terriers lose someone earlier he could be there in the fall of ’09.
Escobedo, who, in his second year with Apple Core posted a 2-28-30 line with 118 pims in 45 games, will be playing the upcoming season -- or two -- with the Tri-City Storm (USHL).
Escobedo, from Bayside, LI, is 6’0”, 175 lbs. and a 10/27/90 birthdate. He is the younger brother of Brian Escobedo, an ’82 defenseman who played at Bowling Green, graduating in ’04.
Megan, a 6’1”, 170 lb. senior-to-be from Canton, NY, will arrive at BU in the fall of ’10, meaning he will play a year of juniors first. Megan, who was a first-year-student at South Kent teamed up with linemates Mike Pereira (younger brother of BU forward Joe Pereira), and Mike Silengo to score a combined 76 goals in to help lead Geoff Marottolo’s road warriors all the way to a 24-9-3 record and a berth in the prep semifinals, where they were blanked by St. Paul’s.
Megan is a rugged winger, a power forward type who is difficult to knock off the puck and can finish, too. For the season, he posted a 24-29-53 line in 36 games.
Revised Beantown ScheduleThis week’s Beantown Tournament – not to be confused with the one coming up in the third week of August, or the one in the fall, or the one in March – has a bunch of last-minute changes in its schedule due to the fact that there will just be one team coming in from Minnesota, not two as originally planned.
Here’s the revised schedule:
Wed. 7/29(@ Marlboro)
2:00 pm -- Ontario vs. Jr Bruins
3:00 pm -- Minnesota vs. Vancouver
Thursday 7/30 (@ Marlboro)
2:00 pm -- Ontario vs. Minnesota
3:00 pm -- Brandywine vs. Jr. Bruins
5:00 pm -- Vancouver vs. Minnesota
Friday 8/1 (@ Providence)
10:00 am -- Brandywine vs. Minnesota
12:00 pm -- Vancouver vs. Ontario
Saturday 8/2 (@ New Hampshire)
10:00 am -- Ontario vs. Brandywine
12:00 pm -- Vancouver vs. Jr. Bruins
2:00 pm -- Brandywine vs. Minnesota
Sunday 8/3 (@ Milton Academy)
10:00 am -- Minnesota vs. Jr. Bruins
12:00 pm -- Brandywine vs. Vancouver
College Coaching Openings AboundThis summer has featured an exceptionally large turnover in the college coaching ranks. Here’s an update:
Western Michigan assistant Chris Brooks has been named head coach at Rio Grande Valley of the Central Hockey League. So Jim Culhane has an opening on his staff. Get those resumes in!
With assistant coach Gene Reilly leaving Northeastern for the pro ranks in Austria, Greg Cronin has hired former BU forward Albie O’Connell away from Merrimack.
So Merrimack has an opening, too.
Brown has filled the opening created with Danny Brooks departing for the Q. And the job goes to an alum, Scott Stirling, the Bears’ goaltender from ’96-00. Stirling is the son of Steve Stirling, a BU forward in the early ‘70s who went on to become head coach at Babson and Providence College, and is currently in the pro ranks.
Bowling Green has filled the opening created when Doug Schueller was named head coach of Div. III St. John’s (Minn.). Schueller takes over for John Harrington, the 1980 gold-medal winning Olympian who, after 15 years coaching the Johnnies, will be heading to Switzerland and a pro job. Taking Schueller’s place on Scott Paluch’s staff at Bowling Green will be alum Dennis Williams, who has been at Alabama-Huntsville for the past season. By the way, Bowling Green now features an all-alum staff, with Paluch, tall Todd Reirden, and Williams.
And, of course, Danton Cole has an opening to fill on his staff at Alabama-Huntsville.
In late spring, Alaska-Fairbanks alum and former assistant Dallas Ferguson was hired to take over for Doc DelCastillo. Ferguson has hired Lance West, a former Alabama-Huntsville defenseman and assistant coach as one of his assistants. West was a volunteer assistant with the Nanooks last season while managing the school’s student recreation center. The other assistant at Fairbanks will be Brian Meisner, who was at UConn last season. Before that, Meisner was head coach/GM at Wichita Falls (NAHL). And before that, he was at Butte (AWHL) and Waterloo (USHL). Meisner is originally from Cloquet, Minn., so the cold of Fairbanks shouldn’t be too unfamiliar.
Army assistant Brian Sherry has been hired at Div. III Manhattanville College, so head coach Brian Riley is looking for someone to join his staff at West Point.
Cornell has yet to fill the position vacated when Brent Brekke moved west to take the position in Miami vacated by Jeff Blashill, who in the spring took the head coach/GM position with the Indiana Ice (USHL).
Colgate also has an opening, created when Andrew Dickson recently took a pro scouting position with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Earlier in the summer, Shawn McEachern was hired to take Kenny Rausch’s position at UMass-Lowell. And Northeastern alum Sebastien Laplante, most recently coaching in the Q, was hired by his alma mater. He, of course, takes McEachern’s spot. Musical chairs.
In case you missed it, in late June, in a high-profile move, long-time Omaha Lancers head coach/GM Mike Hastings was hired as an assistant at the University of Minnesota. Hastings takes the position vacated by Mike Guentzel, who had been a Gophers assistant for the past 15 years.
Last, and far from least, there is a head coaching position still open. Hamilton College still hasn’t come up with a replacement for Phil Grady, who announced his retirement back at the end of the season. That was months ago. It’s July 25th today!
Note: If we’ve missed anyone in the above roundup, please let us know at information (at) ushr.com. Thanks.
Four Nations Schedule AnnouncedThe 2008 Under-18 Four Nations Cup will take place in Lake Placid, N.Y. from Tues. Nov. 4 through Sat Nov. 8. The standing U.S. Under-18 Team (NTDP) will represent the U.S. Other countries competing are Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland.
Games will be held at both the 1932 Arena and the 1980 Arena, which are both under the same roof in the Olympic Center.
Note: The Women’s Four Nations Cup will be held simultaneously – same rinks, same week. The U.S.-Canada Women’s game, sure to be a big draw, is scheduled for Thurs. Nov 6 (7:00 pm), an off-day of the men’s tournament,. In addition to Canada and the US, Sweden and Finland will also be sending teams to the women’s tournament. The women’s title championship games will be held Sun. Nov. 9, the day after the men’s title games.
2008 Under-18 Four Nations Cup Schedule
Nov. 4-8, Lake Placid, NY
Tues. Nov. 4 – Sweden-Finland, 5:00 pm
US-Switzerland, 8:00 pm
Wed. Nov. 5 – Sweden-Switzerland, 5:00 pm
Finland-US, 8:00 pm
Thurs. Nov 6 – Off day
Fri. Nov. 7 – Switzerland-Finland, 1:00 pm
U.S.-Sweden, 4:00 pm
Sat. Nov. 8 – Third Place Game, 4:00 pm
Championship Game, 8:00 pm
D’Amigo an EngineerU.S. Under-17 Team LW Jerry D’Amigo has committed to RPI.
D’Amigo is a Binghamton, NY native who, before heading out to Ann Arbor last fall, played for the Binghamton Jr. Senators (AJHL), where Seth Appert and the RPI staff were on him early.
A 2/19/91 birthdate, D’Amigo is 6’0”, 190 lbs.
D’Amigo, who will be the first National Program player to suit up for the Engineers, will play on the U.S. Under-18 Team this season, and arrive in Troy in the fall of ’09.
With the Under-17 Team, D’Amigo, in 64 games, posted an 11-17-28 line with 75 pims. He’s a smart player who can make plays and create offense. On top of that, he is also very competitive, physical, and a leader.
Other schools in the picture included Miami, Notre Dame, and Harvard.
Arnold Makes His ChoiceNoble & Greenough RC Billy Arnold, the top ’92 in Massachusetts, has committed to Boston College.
Arnold, who repeated when he entered Nobles, will be a 10th grader this season, and will matriculate at the Heights in the fall of ’11.
A 6’0”, 215 lb. native of Needham, Mass., Arnold had, in 29 games as a freshman at Nobles, a 13-23-36 line. This spring, he was invited to join the U.S. NTDP, but opted to stay at Nobles.
From Aug. 19-24, Arnold will be playing for the U.S. Under-17 Select Team at the Five Nations Tournament in Prievidza, Slovakia.
Other schools in the picture for Arnold were BU, UNH, and Harvard. On this one, though, the Eagles, who considered Arnold a must-get, appeared to have the upper hand from the get-go.
Arnold is a tenacious player with good skating skills. He’s extremely strong on the puck, utilizing his low center of gravity to drive to the net. He thinks the game well, and both gets open and finds the open man. He’s very dangerous down low, has a quick release to his shot, and is not afraid of heavy traffic. He carries a bit more weight than he should, but he’s also just a couple months past his 16th birthday, so that is something that can be worked on.
Before going to Nobles, Arnold played at the Fessenden School, a pre-prep in West Newton, Mass.
A Playmaker for the EaglesThings are happening at the Heights. First, Nobles center Billy Arnold commits to Boston College, for ’11. Now, Berkshire School center Chris McCarthy has committed to the Eagles, for ’10.
McCarthy, a 6’1”, 175 lb. right shot from Collegeville, PA – that’s about 20 miles west of Philadelphia – centered one of the most productive lines in prep hockey last winter, the all-sophomore, all-‘91 trio of Jake Goldberg-McCarthy-Kevin Sullivan.
McCarthy, who sees the ice exceptionally well and makes some really nice passes, can also finish, as indicated by his 19-18-37 line in 29 games for Berkshire.
Prior to going to Berkshire, McCarthy played for coach Jeff Quebec at the Eaglebrook School, where he is the all-time assist leader. Back in the Philadelphia area, he came up through the Valley Forge Minutemen youth organization.
A 7/30/91 birthdate, McCarthy will be a junior at Berkshire this season.
McCarthy, who narrowed his final choice to BC and the University of Vermont, had a strong Select 17 Festival and was named to the U.S. Under-18 Select Team heading to Slovakia Aug. 12-16 for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
Car Crash Takes Life of EJHL ForwardBen Kinson, a 6’4”, 220 lb. forward for the Green Mountain Glades (EJHL), died early Sunday morning when he lost control of his truck and struck a tree along Rte. 22A in Addison, Vt.
Kinson, who would have turned 19 tomorrow, was coming from a party in Bridport, Vt., when the accident happened at around 7:15am. Alcohol is reported to have been a factor in the crash. In addition, Kinson was not wearing a seatbelt,
A 2007 graduate of Middlebury Union High School, Kinson was to have enrolled at Plymouth State this fall.
“He was a phenomenal kid from a phenomenal family,” said Glades GM Dennis Himes. “This has really hit us hard. It’s a tough, tough time for the organization, especially as he was a local kid. It’s very tough to handle.”
“He was very well liked, very easy to get along with. Kids are flying in from all over the country today to be here, which is nice. And the support has been phenomenal within the Glades organization.
The funeral is set for tomorrow morning at 11:00 am at the Congregational Church in Vergennes, Vt. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Vergennes Community Food Shelf, 30 Water St., Vergennes, Vt. 05491
Reilly Heading OverseasNortheastern assistant Gene Reilly will be leaving the Huskies for a coaching position in the Austrian professional league.
Reilly, one of the top veteran assistants in the league, has been a key contributor to the resurgence of Northeastern hockey. The Springfield, Mass. native has been at Northeastern for the past four years, one under Bruce Crowder and the last three seasons under Greg Cronin. After a grim ’05-06 when Northeastern went 3-24-7, the Huskies made a huge leap and have hovered a little under the .500 mark the past two seasons.
Prior to coming to Northeastern, Reilly spent a year at Harvard on Mark Mazzoleni’s staff. Before that, he has an assistant in the Ottawa Senators organization, working as an assistant with Grand Rapids (AHL) and Binghamton (AHL).
Reilly also made his mark at Maine, where he was a part of the coaching staff when the Black Bears won an NCAA championship in 1999. Reilly also served as interim head coach when Shawn Walsh was undergoing medical treatment.
Through most of the ‘90s, Reilly was head coach of the Springfield Pics/New England Jr. Whalers/New England Jr. Coyotes, then the dominant EJHL franchise.
Reilly joins Bill Gilligan as former Hockey East assistants now coaching in Europe.
Under-18 Select Team NamedUSA Hockey has announced the roster for the Under-18 Select Team that will be heading to the 2008 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament Aug. 12-16 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia.
The 21 players were chosen from the Select 17 Camp (’91 birthdates), held July 7-13 at St. Cloud, Minn.
Six players are from the state of Minnesota, three are from Michigan, and two are from Illinois. Ten other states are sending one player apiece.
Zach Budish, Nick Leddy, Eamonn McDermott, Nick Oliver, Paul Phillips, Ryan Walters, and Steven Whitney were all members of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team that took part in the 2007 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.
NTDP players are not eligible for the team. Defenseman Beau Schmitz, who was selected for the team, played last season for the US Under-17 Team but is leaving the program for the OHL.
RPI head coach Seth Appert will be the squad’s head coach while Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) head coach Jon Cooper will assist him.
U.S. Under-18 Select Team:Goaltenders (2): John Cullen (Maksymum Jr. B); Casey DeSmith (Berwick Academy).
Defensemen (7): Collin Bowman (Kelowna – WHL); Brian Dumoulin (Biddeford HS); Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie HS); Eamonn McDermott (Cleveland Barons Midget AAA); Paul Phillips (Cedar Rapids – USHL); Brendan Rempel (Avon Old Farms); Beau Schmitz (U.S. Under-17 Team).
Forwards (12): Shane Berschbach (Little Caesar’s Midget AAA); Tyler Brown (Plymouth – OHL); Zach Budish (Edina HS); Caleb Herbert (Bloomington Jefferson HS); Sean Little (Madison Capitols Midget AAA); Chris McCarthy (Berkshire School); Nick Oliver (Roseau HS); Garrett Peterson (Team Illinois Midget AAA); Tyler Pitlick (Centennial HS); Ryan Walters (St. Thomas Academy); Steven Whitney (Lawrence Academy); Alex Wideman (St. Louis Blues Midget AAA).
Team USA 2008 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament Schedule
August 12-16 . Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia
Sat. Aug 9—Canada, 6:00 pm (exhibition @ Trnava, Slovakia)
Sun. Aug. 10 – Slovakia, 6:00 pm (exhibition @ Piestany)
Tues. Aug. 12 – Russia, 3:30 pm (@ Breclav)
Wed. Aug. 13 – Finland, 3:30 pm (@ Breclav)
Thurs. Aug. 14 – Czech Republic, 7:00 pm (@ Breclav)
Sat. Aug. 16 -- TBD
The above times are local. For EST subtract six hours.
One and DoneUniversity of Michigan 6’2”, 203 lb. forward Max Pacioretty has signed with the Montreal Canadiens and will be leaving the Wolverines after one season.
Last week, Pacioretty, one of two first round picks of the Habs in the 2007 NHL draft (Wisconsin defenseman Ryan McDonagh was selected first), was a standout at the club’s development camp in Candiac, Quebec. Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens’ director of recruitment, said the 19-year-old from New Canaan, Conn. was “head and shoulders” above the other players at the camp.
For Pacioretty, it’s been a quick ride. In ’05-06, he was a junior at Taft, posting a 7-26-33 line in 26 games. Spending his senior year at Sioux City (USHL), the big winger adapted quickly, and finished the ’06-07 regular season with a 21-42-63 line in 60 games. This past winter, playing on a line with seniors Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, both of whom have signed with Phoenix, Pacioretty was the fourth leading scorer on the Wolverines, with a 15-24-39 line in 37 games.
Pacioretty is signing the standard full cap rookie contract, which is $875,000 – if he plays the full season in the NHL. That’s a pretty big if, though. Only 10% of that – an $87,500 signing bonus – is guaranteed. Add the AHL salary, $65,000, on top of that. If Pacioretty is summoned to the big club, he will earn a prorated portion of that $875,000 -- minus the 10% signing bonus. That’s the standard under the current CBA.
The money’s not bad, but if we can editorialize here, we have to say this: it’s extremely rare that we see a 19-year-old college player who is totally ready to leave school and tackle the pro game. Staying another year at Michigan would have been beneficial for Pacioretty’s game in the sense that he would have an opportunity to be a dominant player, and gain the confidence that comes with that. Then there’s the academic angle. It’s far easier to earn a degree going summers once you have two years under your belt. The bottom line is this: If Pacioretty is good enough to play in the NHL, he will get there regardless, so what’s the hurry?
A Tour, But Not a TournamentFrom Wed. July 30 through Sun. Aug. 3, six teams – two from Canada, two from Minnesota, one from Mass., and one from Pennsylvania/Mid-Atlantic -- will barnstorm their way through New England, playing at four different venues over five days.
These teams, made up primarily of ‘92s and ‘93s, will play the first two days of games at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass., then move on to Providence College, UNH, and Milton Academy.
The Beantown organizers have set this up so that the teams will just be playing a series of games – “friendlies” -- but not a tournament (i.e. there is no champion). That way, under NCAA rules, competing players are free to visit area schools. In addition to visiting PC and UNH, players will also tour Brown, BC, BU, Northeastern, and Harvard.
Here are the teams:
The Vancouver Vipers: Largely ‘92s with a couple of ‘91s and a couple of ‘93s. Included will be a lot of kids being courted by WHL teams who would like to see what NCAA hockey has to offer. UNH recruit Joey Laleggia will be skating with this team.
The Ontario Screaming Eagles: Largely ‘93s, but possibly a couple of ‘92s as well. Coach Frank Phillips reports that there may be as many as six kids on the squad who are potential first round picks in next spring’s OHL draft. We say that getting them on college campuses can only help.
Team Minnesota: There are actually two teams coming in from Minnesota. The guiding force behind the teams coming East is Mark Melynchuk, who brought a terrific team to the Junior Chowder Cup two years ago. Look for a ’92-’93 mix with a couple of ‘91s mixed in.
Team Brandywine: From the Philadelphia/NJ/Mid-Atlantic region. Coached by Jared Beach. Again, ‘92s and ‘93s.
Junior Bruins: The coach will be Peter Masters. The players will be ‘92s and ‘93s.
Wed. July 30 @ NESC: 2:00, 3:00, 4:00
Thurs. July 31 @ NESC: 2:00, 3:00, 4:00
Fri. Aug. 1 @ Providence College: 10:00 am, 12:00, 2:00
Sat. Aug. 2 @ UNH: 10:00 am, 12:00, 2:00
Sun. Aug. 3 @ Milton Academy: 10:00 am, 12:00 pm (Note: Just two games on the final day – no Ontario Screaming Eagles, and no Junior Bruins)
Son of Former Red Sox Farmhand to Merrimack
6’5”, 235 lb. Vernon Vipers (BCHL) RD Kyle Bigos, an Upland, California native who has been playing in Canada for awhile, has committed to Merrimack for ’09 or ’10.
Bigos attended Notre Dame, where he played for the Hounds’ midget team (Sask Midget League), and then moved on to the BCHL this past season. In 58 games with Vernon he had a 2-15-17 scoring line to go with 152 penalty minutes, which included 15 fighting majors.
Bigos, who won the Vipers’ Most Improved Player Award, is a 5/12/89 birthdate. He is the son of Notre Dame Hounds assistant baseball coach Walter Bigos.
In 1975, Bigos senior, a right-handed pitcher out of Cerritos College in California, was the first pick of the Boston Red Sox in the January supplemental draft. Bigos played in the Red Sox system with the Elmira Pioneers (NY-Penn League) and the Bristol Red Sox (Eastern League) and was teammates with Wade Boggs, Bruce Hurst, Mike Smithson, Bobby Sprowl, and Julio Valdez, among others. The Eastern League was as high up the ladder as Bigos rose, however. He wound up in Oakland’s system, dropped down to A ball and pitched a couple of years in the California League.
Under-17 Five Nations Tournament Team Named
USA Hockey has announced its 21-man roster for the 2008 U.S. Under-17 Select Team, which will compete in the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament from August 19-24 in Prievidza, Slovakia.
Players were selected from participants at last week’s USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp in Rochester, NY.
Eric Rud, assistant coach at St. Cloud State University, will be the head coach. Brendan Whittet, assistant coach at Dartmouth College, will be assisting him.
The 21 players come from 12 different states. Five are from Minnesota, four from Michigan, and two apiece from Illinois and Alaska. Eight other states contributed one player apiece. Of the teams at Rochester, the Green team contributed the most players, with four. The Gold and Black teams each had three players selected.
2008 U.S. Under-17 Select Team
Goaltenders (2): Andy Iles (Salisbury School); Ryan McKay (Team Illinois Under-16).
Defensemen (7): Justin Faulk (South St. Paul HS); Derek Forbort (Duluth East HS); Aaron Harstad (Stevens Point Area HS); Ben Marshall (Mahtomedi HS); Eric Preston (Little Caesars’ Midget Minor); Zach Rall (Alaska All-Stars Under-16); Trace Strahle (Alaska North Stars Under-16).
Forwards (12): Bill Arnold (Noble & Greenough); Nick Bjugstad (Blaine HS); Austin Czarnik (Belle Tire Midget Minor); Brent Darnell (Detroit Catholic Central HS); Max Edson (LA Selects Under-16); Christian Isackson (St. Thomas Academy); Alex Lippincott (Cleveland Barons Under-18); Colin Markinson (NJ Devils Under-16); Michael Mersch (Team Illinois Under-16); Michael Parks (St. Louis Blues Midget); Bryan Rust (Honeybaked Midget); Brendan Woods (Hershey Bears Under-18).
U.S. Schedule: 2008 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament
August 19-24; Prievidza, Slovakia
Wed. Aug. 20 -- Switzerland
Thurs. Aug. 21 -- Germany
Fri. Aug. 22 -- Czech Republic
Sat. Aug. 23 -- Slovakia