Watch for WoodchucksThe Fourth Annual Woodchuck Tournament gets underway tomorrow night in Burlington, Vermont with it usual cross-border flavor.
Once again, in the Junior A Division, the teams will be competing in a U.S. vs. Canada format, or, looked at another way, the EJHL vs. the Ontario Provincial League.
The Green Mountain Glades, the Jersey Hitmen, the Syracuse Stars, the Junior Bruins, the NH Jr. Monarchs, and the Cap District Selects will represent the EJHL. The Portland Pirates (AJHL) will be on hand, too, as will the Atlanta Jr. Knights, coached by Jean-Alain Schneider, a former major junior player, McGill graduate, lawyer, and the younger brother of veteran NHL defenseman Mathieu Schneider. The Bay State Breakers were originally going to be in the division as well, but backed out. The vacancy was filled by the “EJHL All-Stars”, which is not really an all-star team at all, but, rather, made up of the extra rostered players from the six EJ teams that will already be on hand.
Wellington, Toronto, Peterborough, Oakville, and Ajax will be on hand from the Provincial League. St. Lawrence (Que.) and the Woodstock (Nova Scotia) Slammers are two more junior A teams rounding out the Canadian side.
And on top of all that, there is a batch of Jr. B teams. Six are from the Empire League, including the New York Coyotes, a new team from Massena, NY.
The Glades have a new head coach this year in 30-year-old Essex Junction, Vt. native Chris Line, who played at Cushing, the Northwood School, the Green Bay Gamblers, and Clarkson. Last season, Line was an assistant at RIT. Dennis Himes stays on board with the Glades as team owner/head of hockey operations.
Before their Saturday afternoon game vs. Oakville, the Glades will be holding a tribute to former forward Ben Kinson, a Vermont native who died at the age of 18 in a July auto accident.
To follow the tournament’s progress – scores will be updated regularly – check out the Glades web site at http://www.vtglades.com/
USHL Top 20 NHL Draft Prospects
After watching two days of the USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa, we put together a rough list of our 20 Top NHL Draft Prospects. We included players who will be eligible for the first time in June – there are 12 of them, and their names are followed by an asterisk. We have five players who were passed over this past June and will be going through the draft for the second time in ’09. And we have several prospects for the 2010 and 2011 drafts.
USHL Top 20 NHL Draft Prospects
The two forwards we liked the most in terms of their total game were Louis Leblanc and Alex Chiasson, and we have placed them at #1 and #3, respectively. As for #2 Josh Birkholz, we feel he’s rather one-dimensional, but that dimension – his high-end speed – is pretty hard to ignore. For now, we’ll leave him where he is.
On the blue line, Chicago’s big John Moore is the man, hands-down.
In net, we were not wowed by anyone.
1. Louis Leblanc*, 1/26/91, 6-0/178 Omaha (Harvard)
2. Josh Birkholz*, 3/28/91, 6-1/189 Fargo (Minnesota)
3. Alex Chiasson*, 10/1/90, 6-4/187, Des Moines (uncommitted)
4. Stanislav Galiev, 1/17/92, 6-1/182, Indiana (won’t be going to college) 2010 draft
5. Seth Ambroz, 4/3/93, 6-2/195, Omaha (Minnesota) 2011 draft
6. Ryan Walters*, 7/30/91, 5-11/185, Des Moines (Minnesota)
7. J.P. Burkemper*, 2/18/91, 6-2/180, Des Moines (uncommitted)
8. Tyler Barnes, 2/13/90, 6-0/173, Waterloo (Wisconsin) – 2nd time through draft
9. Gavin Hartzog, 6/12/90, 6-3/210, Fargo (Wisconsin) – 2nd time through draft
10. Patrick Mullane, 7/31/90, 5-11/190, Omaha (BC) – 2nd time through draft
11. Matt White, 10/21/91, 6-2/195, Des Moines (uncommitted) 2010 draft
12. Max Cook, 6/3/90, 6-1/175, Green Bay (Miami) – 2nd time through draft
13. Nick Oliver*, 5/4/91, 6-3/185, Fargo (St. Cloud St.)
1. John Moore*, 11/19/90, 6-3/195, Chicago (Colorado College)
2. Seth Helgason*, 10/8/90, 6-5/220, Sioux City (Minnesota)
3. Blake Thompson*, 7/31/91, 6-3/210, Sioux Falls (uncommitted)
4. Lee Moffie, 8/29/90, 6-1/205, Waterloo (Michigan) – 2nd time through draft
5. Patrick Wey*, 3/21/91, 6-3/203, Waterloo (uncommitted)
6. Paul Phillips*, 7/16/91, 6-1/195, Cedar Rapids (Denver)
7. Matthew Kinman*, 12/13/90, 6-2/190, Sioux City (uncommitted)
We've already received a couple of email inquiries, so, to avoid confusion, we want to point out that there are two Matt Whites in the league. And both are forwards. The Matt White listed above is NOT the UNH recruit playing for Omaha. That Matt White, a Californian who played at Cushing Academy a couple of years back, is much smaller, at 5'9", and is an '89 birthdate.
Saturday at the Fall Elite LeagueWe spent Saturday watching the action at the Upper Midwest High School Elite League – and picked a good day for it, too, as all the teams were in action at one locale, the twin rinks at New Hope, Minn. If you’re interested in our thoughts about the league, skip down to the end of this article, because we want to go over the games and players first.
The marquee tilt was the nightcap, in which a loaded Team Southwest, despite being outshot 43-23, defeated a loaded Shattuck-St. Mary’s squad by a 4-1 score. .
It was a tight game until late, when Team Northwest added a pair of third period goals.
The story of the game was goaltending, particularly the work of Team Southwest goaltender Alex Fons of Hopkins High, a 6’0”, 175 lb. junior and late ’91 birthdate. In the third period, with the game on the line, Shattuck stormed the Southwest end, and threw everything they had at him, and the kid came up big, allowing nothing to get past him.
“Fonzie” had a powerful team in front of him, even if the shot totals indicate otherwise.
Team Southwest’s big start on the blue line is 5’11” Eden Prairie senior defenseman Nick Leddy, a Gopher recruit, and no secret to readers of this page. Leddy can pretty much carry the puck wherever he wants. The elite league features, by design, a very wide open style of play, which certainly plays into his strengths. A ’91, Leddy looks like he could go somewhere in the top three rounds of next June’s NHL draft.
The Edina first line of Marshall Everson (Harvard), Zach Budish (Minnesota), and Anders Lee (undecided) didn’t have their usual verve. Lee, a star QB at Edina, had thrown three TD passes on Friday night – he has 21 on the season – in a 28-21 loss to Minnetonka. Then, on Saturday morning, he was on the ice for the morning game, as Team Southwest suffered its first loss in eight games, a 7-2 decision to Team North. Against Shattuck, Lee looked totally gassed by the third period. It was all he could do just to get back to the bench. Budish, a linebacker on the team, wasn’t much better. Give them credit, though. In most places, these kids would be specializing in hockey. It’s rare these days that a ‘91 birthdate with a legit shot at getting taken in the first round of June’s NHL draft – we’re talking about Budish -- would even consider playing football in the fall. Budish is a throwback, and we salute him, and anyone else who plays more than one sport. Now that we’ve buttered Budish up, we want to point out that we don’t really think he’s a good enough skater for the first round. Second round, maybe, but definitely not first round.
As for Lee, he’s being recruited by a number of football schools. Harvard has been onto him – for hockey -- for a long time now, and Crimson coach Ted Donato was in attendance on Saturday watching Lee along with his two committed guys – Fallstrom and Everson – and no doubt others. Lee will be taking his official visit to Harvard this week. If he decides to make hockey his concentration, he might just elevate his game to another level. Right now he’s a pure athlete who happens to be a hockey player. For the record, he’s also reported to be a good baseball player.
As far as we know, Everson, the third member of the line, doesn’t play football. Not surprisingly, he was a little more involved and chipped in with a goal. He’s a smart player and, at 6’2”, 185 lbs., is hard to move from out front. Every time we see him play he seems to score from the left corner of the crease, and he did so again on Saturday. He also has a bomb of a shot and can find the back of the net from farther out.
Team Southwest 6’2”, 175 lb. center Max Gardiner, a ’92 from Minnetonka (he’s the brother of Jake Gardiner, Anaheim’s first round pick in June), is just shooting up. Like his brother, he has the earmarks of a pro prospect. He’ll be eligible for the 2010 draft.
A less-heralded forward who deserves props for his play was 5’8” Connor Reilly of Holy Angels, a late ’91 (his twin was also on the team) and 11th grader who skated and worked his tail off.
North Dakota recruit Danny Mattson, a late ’90 and a senior at Holy Angels, played the morning game, but not the evening game. As we said, this team is loaded, by far the most powerful team in the tournament, even if they did get toasted in the morning game.
Getting back to the Southwest blue line, we have already mentioned Leddy. But everybody knows about him. Less-heralded is 5’6” 11th grader Jeffrey Pauluk of Bloomington-Jefferson, a ’92 who is super mobile, has nice hands, plays with verve and physicality, but is small. He scored his team’s fourth and final goal to seal it, nicely finishing off a rink-length rush.
6’2”, 170 lb. Troy Hesketh, a ’91 and an 11th grader at Minnetonka, was solid.
The four players on Shattuck who stood out for us are all from countries other than the U.S., but please don’t read anything into that – there are some good U.S. kids on the team, too.
6’2”, 195 lb. center Alexander Fallstrom, a Stockholm, Sweden native and Harvard recruit, is an excellent skater who can really get around the ice. His forechecking is top notch – twice he got in on the D and just stole the puck off the defenseman’s stick. It’s not every day that you see that twice in a game. Fallstrom is a 9/15/90 birthdate, meaning he was eligible – he would have been the youngest player taken – for June’s draft but was passed over. There is no way in the world he’ll be passed over this time around.
Another forward who played really well is ’92 Joe Basaraba, a right wing from Fort Francis, Ontario. Basaraba has size at 6’2”, 175 lbs. On top of that he can skate and really lay the body on. He’s an 11th grader and a really good prospect for the 2010 NHL draft.
6’0”, 170. lb. Eric Haula, a LW from Pori, Finland who played on the same line as Basaraba, was also hard to miss. He was just around the puck a lot. An 11th grader and a ’91, he’s also a good skater – has a nice low center of gravity.
Other forwards showed flashes, but for us Fallstrom, Basaraba, and Haula were the top three. On defense 6’0”, 170 lb. ’91 Kivill Gotovets of Minsk, Belarus was excellent. Gotovets has decent size, sees the play in front of him, has excellent mobility, and really good hands.
Team Southeast was thin. However, we are intrigued by 6’3”, 168 lb. ’93 center Joseph LaBate, a 10th grader at Holy Angels. Very smooth skater for his size/age. Nice hands. For whatever reason, LaBate was not among the Minnesota contingent at the Select 15 Festival. Had he been, he would have been among the top players there.
Team Wisconsin is just OK. A lot of solid players but no standouts. ’90 center Cody Strang, a senior from Madison, gets a lot of attention but didn’t really do that much on Saturday.
The Great Plains squad suffers from a lack of depth. The squad is fairly equally split between North Dakota players and Minnesota kids. The Minnesota kids are significantly better. The two Roseau kids, ’90 senior center Tyler Landman and ’92-born junior wing Adam Knochenmus, were the best up front, though to be honest, the 5’10” Landman, who plays for Roseau in the winter, seemed a little flat, less dynamic than at other times we’ve seen him. Knochenmus is small at 5’8”, but he has nice hands and knows what to do when the puck’s on his stick.
On defense, 6’1”, 175 lb. Kevin McMorrow, a ’92 birthdate and a junior at Park Rapids, a kid we rated high at the 2007 Select 15s, was good. We didn’t see him in the morning game; just at night. He hasn’t become the player we thought he might, but he’s still developing, just slower than this typist expected. He could get there, though. Also quite noticeable on the blue line was 6’2”, 200 lb. Nicholas Romanick of Bismarck, North Dakota. A ’91 and an 11th grader, Romanick was one of the sleepers here.
We thought the Team North goaltender, Zane Gothberg, a 6’1 ’92 out of Thief River Falls, looked very good. There might be something there as well.
Team Northwest has 6’1” star center Nick Bjugstad, a ’92 10th grader from Blaine who has size, hands, and a strong ice presence for a 10th grader. A Gopher recruit, we expect Bjugstad to go high in the 2010 NHL draft. He already has that prototypical pro look about him.
We liked 5’11’ 168 lb. Joey Rehkamp, a ’91 and a senior at Breck this year. He could help a college program. Also quite noticeable was 5’9” Ryan McArdle, a ’90 and an 11th grader at Bloomington Kennedy.
Team Northeast, coached by Chris McAlpine, had an intriguing defenseman in Brett Stern, 6’2”, 170 lb. ’92 defenseman who’s a junior at Centennial. Stern has Bambi legs, but when he gets stronger and fills out could be a very special player. He’s not shy. He goes right into the corners and pound away on opponents.
Team Northeast also features 5’7”, 150 lb. Mahtomedi defenseman Ben Marshall. A ’92 and a 10th grader, Marshall has happy feet and can zip all over the ice with the puck on his stick. He has played forward in the past; now, he’s a rover. A fun player to watch.
6’2”, 180 lb. late ’91 Tyler Pitlick, a senior at Centennial and a Mankato State recruit, has size, and a rangy sort of smooth skating style that enables him to cover a lot of ice. Some observers question his hockey sense, but his tools are undeniable. He’ll be eligible for the 2010 draft.
6’4”, 220 lb. Danny DeLisle a late ’90 senior center at Totino-Grace, has been watched closely by NHL scouts this fall. He didn’t do that much for us, but there is some buzz around him, so check him out.
We thought Nick Widing, a 6’0”, 190 lb. senior RW and ’91 birthdate from Hill-Murray, was solid, a potential third-fourth line guy at a Div. I program somewhere down the line.
Moving on to the North Team, the big star there is 6’4”, 185 lb. ’92 defenseman Derek Forbort. We have written about him previously (most recently in July, from the Select 16 Festival). Forbort, a junior at Duluth East, has committed to North Dakota. His future college coach, Dave Hakstol, was on hand to watch him Saturday. Forbort has all the marks of a future first rounder. Great size, poise, and vision. We like him every bit as much as we liked Erik Johnson at the same age – and Johnson wound up going #1 overall in the draft, and jumping straight to the NHL after one year with the Gophers. We hate to make such lofty comparisons, but Forbort is very, very good.
Up front, his Duluth East teammate Max Tardy, a 5’11”, 175 lb. late ’90 center and a senior, was excellent, skating strongly, moving the puck quickly and smartly, and finishing off his scoring opportunities. His play was a bit of an eye-opener for us.
6’2”, 200 lb. Ben Hanowski, a St. Cloud State recruit, a late ’90, and a senior at Little Falls HS, was centering another line, and was also very noticeable. He has size and produces offense, but we expect his feet will keep him from NHL draft consideration. Hanowski and Tardy each had two goals and an assist against Team Southwest in the morning tilt.
We also liked 5’11”, 170 lb. Duluth Marshall wing Zach Mausolf, a ’90 and a senior who can really move with the puck.
A less well-know player who had a strong game was 5’8”, 170 lb. Duluth Denfield senior Cody Hotchkin, a ’91 birthdate who was consistently working and making smart plays.
And that’s what we saw on Saturday.
"It's a Weekend Thing"
There’s a lot to like about the fall elite league, which consists of seven league teams, plus Shattuck. For one thing, it takes pressure off the high-end players to make decisions they probably don’t really want to be making in the first place. It’s given them a legitimate reason to stay in Minnesota until they graduate from high school. No longer do they feel they have to leave home and join the NTDP – seven Minnesota players turned the program down in 2008 -- or play juniors in order to play quality hockey. They can stay home, with their families and friends. They can play football, soccer, and still get in 25 or so games before the high school season starts.
The whole setup is quite sane. The players are scouted during the high school season, so the vast majority are chosen off their play in real games, not on how they might perform on some random summer weekend. The rules are tweaked to maintain flow and encourage development. “Our goal is to go fast as hell,” says league president John Russo. “We want blazing speed. We want our players to be able to think fast.”
Trapping is not allowed (unless permission is granted by both coaches, and only them in order to learn how to beat it). Three penalties and you’re out of the game. No fighting – period. Refs drop the puck quickly. No yapping. No starting lineups are announced. No national anthems. Just warm up for seven minutes and get after it. Each team plays two games on Saturday (one in the morning, or around lunchtime, and one in the late afternoon/evening slot, and then one more on Sunday).
Oh yes, no pulsating music turning observers who have to sit in the rink for long stretches into zombies!
Nike is a league sponsor. The uniforms are complete, socks to helmets. Names are on their backs. The league provides program booklets, with heights, weights, high school, DOB, and grade in school. They also provide line charts before every game. And complete player profile books. There is a room for scouts to sit and have a coffee, or work at a table. And the coaches in the league are really good. When we walked into the rink Saturday morning, Reed Larson was behind one bench, and Pat Guyer was behind another. Enough said.
The tuition is really reasonable, as ticket fees and sponsors provide revenue to the league, which is a tax-exempt non-profit corporation. If families are struggling, they can get help with the fees.
A lot of NHL scouts feel that the high numbers and quality of Minnesota players, as reflected in recent drafts, can be tied to the formation of the league, which is now in its eighth season.
“Where I really see the value of the league,” one scout said to us, “is around the midpoint of the high school season. Players really start to emerge around then, and then you can follow them for the rest of the season. Before the Fall Elite League existed players would often begin to come on during the state tournament. Now, the process happens earlier.”
“I think it’s fun for the players too. They’re playing against good players. There are not a lot of practices. It’s a weekend thing.”
9/25/08 A Texan for the Maize & Blue
5’10”, 173 lb. U.S. NTDP forward Jacob Fallon has committed to the University of Michigan for the fall of ’10.
Fallon, a Southlake, Texas native who played for the Texas Attack Under-16 Team last season, is best described as a well-rounded player. He’s smart. He’s understands the game. His skills are all good, though none are off-the-charts. He’s a little too much of a tweener to project how he’ll be seen in his NHL draft year, but he has all the earmarks of an excellent college player.
A Southlake, Texas native, he’s a 2/27/92 birthdate.
A Texan for the Maize & Blue
BC Loses Recruiting Battle!
The Boston College hockey program is currently on such a roll that losing recruiting battles is almost unheard of.
BC Loses Recruiting Battle!
But that's exactly what's happened, as 6’3”, 200 lb. U.S. Under-18 Team defenseman Brendan Rempel has committed to Harvard University for the fall of ’09.
Rempel, who had narrowed his final choice to just those two schools, is a Willington, Conn. native who played the ’06-07 season at the Pomfret School, then last season transferred to Avon Old Farms, where he grew into his body, and blossomed, gaining confidence while playing on a powerhouse team that went 27-1-0 and capped things off by winning the New England Prep School title.
Rempel continued his strong play at the Select 17 Festival in July, and was named to the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that played in the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. From there, he was invited to spend his senior year in Ann Arbor with the Under-18 Team.
A right shot, Rempel posted a 0-14-14 line for Avon last winter. He’s eligible for June’s NHL draft.
9/27/08 USHL Recap, Day 1 --
USHL Recap, Day 1 --
There are so many new players in the USHL every year, and so many of them are just acclimating themselves to a new level of play that we don’t like to make big sweeping statements based on one day of games -- there's just a lot to take in. However, we took notes yesterday and will give it our best shot.
Green Bay 3, Lincoln 2 – Not a great game. Lincoln has size and can intimidate, but lacks finesse. Green Bay is the more skilled team, and came out on top. ’89 RW Anthony Hayes was a standout. He has speed and scored a highlight goal, snapping one under the crossbar from the left faceoff circle. Michigan Tech recruit Jacob Johnstone was consistently noticeable. There was one fight. Lincoln’s Mike Dalhuisen decisioned Bowling Green recruit Robert Shea, a nice defenseman who hung in there against the much larger and pugilistically more experienced Dalhuisen. The goaltending was good in this game, though to be honest not a ton of the shots were high-quality. Northern Michigan recruit Reid Ellingson (12/12) stopped everything he faced. ’90 Steven Summerhays (11/12), ’90 Mankato recruit Kevin Murdock (11/9) and ’88 Alan Armour (9/8) were all solid.
Indiana 6, Omaha 2 – We only saw the third period of this game, at which time it was already out of hand at 6-1. Indiana is a good team, but the Omaha defense allowed them to look like the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s. ’88 RW Brandon Richardson was a force for the Ice. 6’1”, 182 lb. Indiana's Stanislav Galiev, a ’92 from Russia, has big-time pro potential and will be draft eligible in 2010. The line of ’91 Shane Bernsbach, Dartmouth recruit Jason Bourgea, and ’89 Dan Cecka was productive for the Ice. 6’3” Bowling Green recruit Ian Ruel looked strong on the blue line. As for Omaha, ’91 center Louis Leblanc, a Harvard recruit and former Lac St. Louis Lion, is a big-time prospect, and despite the fact that his team was getting pounded, played hard to the end. He’s not the quick, shifty stereotypical Quebec forward. He’s 6'0", 175 lbs. and has finesse, but he is also gritty, and shines along the wall, which he uses very effectively, consistently coming out with the puck. He's not a high-end skater but the rest of his game is excellent. He was hampered by playing on a line with North Dakota recruit Danny Kristo, who just wouldn’t dish him the puck. Leblanc, who will go high in June’s NHL draft, will be facing a ton of pressure from the QMJHL to turn major junior.
We passed up the Tri-City vs. Des Moines game in the smaller arena in favor of Sioux Falls vs. Chicago, a good close game won by Sioux Falls, 5-4. ’89 Robbie Vrolyk was the story in this one, using his speed, and driving to the net consistently. Vrolyk tied the game at 4-4 late in the second and then scored the game winner in the third. ’89 winger Dane Walters had a strong game for the stamped as well. 6’3” ’91 D Blake Thompson is making the jump from Eden Prairie and will be a player. We liked the way ‘90 D Chris Rumble, son of former NHLer Darren Rumble, played as well. For Chicago, 6’2” ’89 Eric Alexander was very noticeable. The Mark Anthoine (Maine) -Greg Wolfe-Andrew Miller (Yale) line was consistently effective. On defense, John Moore, a 6'3", 190 lb. late '90 committed to Colorado College, is a terrific college and pro prospect.
Cedar Rapids 4, Fargo 0 – This was a tough one to watch. Fargo, an expansion team coached by Dean Blais, was unable to muster a single shot on goal until the 4:30 mark of the second period. And it wasn’t even much of a shot -- ’91 RW Josh Birkholz, an excellent prospect, used his outside speed and just drove it to the net for a jam shot. We liked what we saw of ‘ 92 Colten St. Clair, though he’ll need time to adjust to the league. We don’t know anything about him but 5’11”, 209 lb. ’91 LW Oleg Lee of Moscow, Russia was consistently noticeable. He’s our sleeper pick. Fargo is really weak on the blue line. Late ’91 Eamonn McDermott is a smart player, but really small. As a group, the Fargo D were unable to handle the RoughRiders forwards down low. Conversely, the Cedar Rapids group of D -- with high-end veterans like Paul Phillips and Matt Donovan, et al -- were excellent, keeping Fargo from getting anywhere near the net, and minimizing second chance opportunities. As for first-chance opportunities, Fargo only had nine shots total in the game. ’90 goaltender Mike Lee, formerly at Roseau High, kicked out 24 of 27 in a losing cause, but it could be a long winter in Fargo.
Waterloo 5, Sioux City 3 – The buzz in this game was over Sioux City 5’10:, 165 lb. RW Austin Mattson, new to the league after playing last season for the Marquette Rangers (NAHL). A ’91 from Livonia, Michigan, Mattson (no relation to Nick Mattson from the NTDP) is a dynamic player with strong puck skills. Best of all, he’s fearless, driving through a crowd to get it to the net, and taking hits to make a play. We expect that all the Michigan schools will be descending on him in short order. Northeastern recruit Justin Daniels started slowly for Sioux City but began to assert himself in the third period. Merrimack recruit Stephane DeCosta, an ’89 from Paris, France, looked good, too. ’90 Craig Kitto, formerly with the Washington Jr. Nationals (AJHL), connected on a really nice stretch pass that was cashed in for a goal. On the blue line, 6’3” Seth Helgeson was hard to miss. He fought and decisioned fellow Minnesotan Dan Sova. Mike Keenan, an ’89 in his second year out from CM, looked good. Waterloo looked strong. Lee Moffie adapted quickly on the blue line and ’91 Patrick Wey looked good too. The attack was very balanced top to bottom.
We’ll add a few more details to the above as time allows, but Friday’s games have long since started, and we have to catch up on those, too – at least as much as is possible.
USHL Fall Classic Recap, Day 2
Tri-City 5, Green Bay 4 – This was a good game. At four different points the game was tied, at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, and 4-4. With 2:31 left, Jordan VanGilder won it for Tri-City on the power play. The story in this game was the play of the Tri-City line of Radoslav illo-Michael Cichy-Josh Berge. Illo is a 6’0”, 178 lb. LW from Slovakia. Cichy is a USHL veteran, committed to North Dakota. Ditto for the 5’8” Berge. All are ‘90s. Illo ripped one from the left faceoff circle; Cichy had a goal and an assist; and Berge had three assists. On the blue line, 6’1”, 190 lb Mankato recruit Daniel Heath stood out. For Green Bay, 5’10” speedster Anthony Hayes had another strong game, scoring on a nice wraparound. 6’1” Miami recruit Max Cook made a few nice plays. 6’2” ’88 Michael Forney, ex of the University of North Dakota, scored a goal through hard work, just by banging away. ’89 Slovakian Dalimir Jaccovic can skate; ditto for ’90 Keegan Flaherty. Late ’91 Chris Crane, who played for the Honeybaked Midgets last season, showed good power forward. Dalton Speelman, a ’90 who played for the San Jose Midgets, was quite noticeable, scoring a goal and adding an assist.
Indiana 6, Fargo 3 – Fargo hung with Indiana for nearly two periods but faded. Still, it was a big step forward from yesterday. At any rate, Indiana went ahead 3-2 late in the second, added a pair early in the third and took it home. RW Will MacDonald, a Princeton recruit, had a strong game—just competed consistently. Minnesota-Duluth recruit Chris Stafne, a 5’11” centerman, was consistently noticeable. Late ’89 LW Dan Cecka, a key to Hill-Murray’s state championship team, scored a highlight reel goal, deking a d-man and going top shelf. For Fargo, 6’1”, 185 RW Josh Birkholz draws a lot of attention due to his high-end speed. Does he do enough other things well to be a first-round pick? How well does he see it? Is he a big-time finisher at this level? We’ll see over the course of the season. ’89 Air Force recruit Dan Durham made some nice plays for Fargo. On the blue line, Stephen Spinnell, a 6’1”, 220 lb. Miami recruit, played a sold game. Bryce Ravndalen, an ’89 playing for Warroad High last winter, showed some flashes. There’ll be some growing pains with Fargo; let’s see where they are at the end of the season.
-- As you can see, we stuck to the games in the big arena today. So that’s it from Sioux City. We’ll watch some of the late game then it will be time to hit the road. We’ll be checking in from the Minnesota Fall Elite League either tomorrow or Sunday. Thanks.
USHL Fall Classic Recap, Day 2Cedar Rapids 10, Omaha 6 – Another tough day for Omaha. However, down 6-0 seven minutes into the second, and then 8-1 with a couple minutes to go in the second they managed to salvage something by scoring five goals over the last 22 plus minutes of the contest. The goaltending, particularly starter Andreas Goetz, an ’89 who isn’t even on the roster, was poor, and the defense was shaky. In the first period, Omaha managed to skate for what had to be 45 or more seconds – a long time -- with too many men on the ice. Not one single player, coach, ref, or linesman noticed – very strange. As for Omaha’s players, we still think 6’0” center Louis Leblanc is the most complete player we’ve seen here. Does all the little things right. Excellent along the wall. Gritty, wins the one-on-one battles. Wins draws. Very sound defensively. Good size. Good enough skater. Was taken off a line with Kristo and placed on a line with Ben Arnt and UNH recruit Matt White. Leblanc potted a goal and White had a couple, one a big-time 15 footer. BC recruit Pat Mullane, who did nothing yesterday, seemed more comfortable today. He added a goal, too. 5’10” Tye Lewis, an ‘89 who playedfor the Bismarck Bobcats last season, looked good. Good speed, good stick. But enough about Omaha. This is the preseason. They can only get better from here. As for Cedar Rapids, they already look good. They have depth, right through all four lines and the defensive pairings. The start today was 6’2” UNH recruit Greg Burke, who put in his second strong game in a row. Today he had the hat trick and added an assist – the pass was a beauty and the goals had flair. 5’10” ’91 LW Cody Murphy, a 5’10”, 175 lb. Miami recruit who played for the TI Midgets last year, is excellent. Tenacious, hard-working, and very strong on his skates. 6’0” Swedish LW Robin Bergman, an ’88, was strong. Big 6’3” CC recruit Scott Winkler, ex of Russell Stover Midgets, scored a nice goal. Vermont recruit Tobias Nilsson-Roos, an ’88 from Malmo, scored a pair of goals. Nottre Dame recruit Jeff Costello was tossed for coming off the bench during a Dean Chelios-Taylor Holmstrom dustup (which actually wasn’t much of a dustup at all).
Italian Defenseman for ColgateThe name Thomas Larkin doesn’t exactly evoke the hills of Tuscany, but the big Phillips Exeter defenseman, who last week committed to Colgate for the fall of ’09, is a native of Varese, Italy.
His father, Mark, is an American who went to London 30 years ago and then moved to Italy, where he married his wife, Elena, a former Olympic Pentathlete for Italy.
Their son grew up playing youth hockey in Italy, and recently has played on Italian national Under-18 teams. Mickey Goulet, a former UNH defenseman from Ontario, coached Larkin on a national team and recommended him to Phillips Exeter head coach Dana Barbin, who also happens to be a UNH grad, though of later vintage.
This will be the third year on the Exeter varsity for Larkin, a converted forward who moved to the blue line only last season. Larkin is 6’4”, 220 lbs. and is a 12/31/90 birthdate. Last year, in 29 games, he had a 6-17-23 line.
”There’s a lot of fight in Larkin,” says Barbin. “He wants to get better every day. He’s worked very hard to become a good hockey player. He has size and toughness, and plays extremely hard.”
Dumoulin To HeightsNew Hampshire Jr. Monarchs 6’3”, 195 lb. defenseman Brian Dumoulin of Biddeford, Maine has chosen to attend Boston College.
A large number of colleges were interested but in the end Dumoulin narrowed his choices to UNH, Maine, Northeastern, Providence, and, of course, BC.
Dumoulin is playing his senior year with the Monarchs after three years with Biddeford High, which he led to a state title in March (he also played for the Seacoast Spartans). He boosted his stock significantly over the summer with a strong Select 17 showing. Off of that, he was chosen for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that competed in the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic in August.
Dumoulin, who turned 17 a couple of weeks ago, is a 9/6/91 birthdate and a strong prospect for next June’s NHL draft. He will enter BC in the fall of ’09 as a true freshman.
Brother Act>5’11”, 185 lb. Governor’s Academy junior forward Cody Ferriero has committed to Boston College for the fall of ’10.
Ferreiro, the younger brother of BC senior forward Benn Ferriero, is a late ’91 from Essex, Mass. He’s a hard-nosed player with strong all-around skills, not unlike his older brother. If there’s a difference, it’s that the younger Ferriero might be a little more of a shifty.
We are told that he wanted to follow his brother to Boston College, and didn’t waste time talking to other schools.
Last season, in 27 games, Ferriero posted a 12-10-22 line in 27 games.
Eight U.S. Kids in the Q!?There are only eight Americans on QMJHL opening night rosters. That’s right. Just eight. There was a time, roughly five years ago, when QMJHL scouts were ubiquitous in New England, worked the area hard, and enticed a number of players to pack up and head north. However, with a few notable exceptions, those players didn’t pan out. While the league still has a presence in New England, the bloom is off the rose – and that’s looking at it from both sides of the border.
Here are the U.S. players in the Q:
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (1):
Christopher Holden, ’90 G, Philadelphia, PA
Halifax Mooseheads (1):
Rich Greer, ’91 D, Quincy, MA
Lewiston Maineiacs (3):
Tom Michalik, ’88 D, Salem, MA
Matt Bourdeau, ’89 F, Northampton, MA
Sean Stagles, ’89 D, Rochester, NY
Moncton Wildcats (1):
Paul Dimitruk, ’90 D, Andover, MA
Montreal Juniors (1):
T.J. Brennan, ’89 D, Willingbord, NJ
The Montreal franchise is the former St. John’s, Newfoundland franchise
Victoriaville Tigers (1):
Ryan Jasinsky, ’90 F, Richmond, VA
Twelve teams -- Acadie-Bathurst, Baie-Comeau, Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Gatineau, PEI, Quebec, Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saint John, Shawinigan, and Val-d’Or – have no U.S. players.
We're going to change the number from eight to ten. When compiling the list we went by country of birth, but by so doing we left off two naturalized U.S. citizens. They are:
Halifax '89 F Yuri Cheremetiev, who is from Moscow, Russia and Stoughton, Mass.
Lewiston '88 F Max Gratchev, who is from Novosibirsk, Russia and Billerica, Mass.
Also, players from outside the Q's protected U.S. area of New England -- e.g. Holden, Stagles, Jasinsky -- were training camp invitees who had been previously passed over by OHL teams.
And one other thing: Drummondville assistant coach Danny Brooks, a Natick, Mass. native and, most recently, an assistant at Brown, is a U.S. native.
U.S. Players in the DubThere are 40 U.S. players on WHL rosters this season. Along with the eight players in the Q, and the 57 players in the OHL, that brings the total of U.S. players playing major junior to 105, a new record.
That’s 105 kids who aren’t in the USHL or an NCAA school.
The CHL is winning the battle for U.S. players.
Everett Silvertips (6):
Tyler Maxwell, ’91 F, Manhattan Beach, CA
Shane Harper, ’89 F, Valencia, CA
Zach Dailey, ’89 F, Healy, AK
Ryan White, ’91 F, Parker, CO
Tyler Parker, ’92 F, Livermore, CA
Markus McCrea, ’92 F, Canyon Lake, CA
Kamloops Blazers (3):
C.J. Stretch, ’89 F, Irvine, CA
Uriah Machuga, ’92 F, Norco, CA
Brandon Underwood, ’92 D, San Marcos, CA
Kelowna Rockets (6):
Colin Long, ’89 F, Santa Ana, CA
Mitchell Callahan, ’91 F, Whittier, CA
Kyle Verdino, ’91 F, Phoenix, AZ
Collin Bowman, ’91 D, Littleton, CO
Tysen Dowzak, ’88 D, Fergus Falls, MN
Adam Brown, ’91 G, Yorba Linda, CA
Kootenay Ice (1):
Tyler Vanscourt, ’92 D, Corona, CA
Lethbridge Hurricanes (3):
Garrett Taylor, ’91 F, San Diego, CA
Brandon Brossoit, ’92 F, Los Alamitos, CA
Cody Castro, ’92 F, Peoria, AZ
Medicine Hat Tigers (3):
John Stampohar, ’90 F, Hibbing, Minn.
Tristan King, ’90 F, Elk River, Minn.
Matthew Konan, ’91 D, Tustin, CA
Moose Jaw Warriors (1):
Todd Matthews, ’90 G, Covina, CA
Portland Winter Hawks (2):
Chris Francis, ’89 F, Las Vegas, NV
Colin Reddin, ’90 F, Corona Del Marca, CA
Prince George Cougars (4):
Marcus Watson, ’89 F, San Jose, CA
Alex Poulter, ’89 F, Broomfield, CO
Parker Stanfield, ’90 F, Orange County (?), CA
Cameron Cepek, ’88 D, Huntington Beach, CA
Red Deer Rebels (1):
Morgan Clark, ’90 G, Highland Village, TX
Seattle Thunderbirds (3):
Jim O’Brien, ’89 F, Maplewood, Minn.
Colin Haas, ’89 F, Plano, TX
Jonathan Parker, ’91 F, Solana Beach, CA
Spokane Chiefs (6):
Ryan Letts, ’89 F, Newport Beach, CA
Tyler Johnson, ’90 F, Spokane, WA
T.C. Cratsenberg, ’92 F, Federal Way, WA
Mitch Wahl, ’90 F, Seal Beach, CA
Seth Compton, ’88 F, West Richland, WA
Drayson Bowman, ’89 F, Littleton, CO
Swift Current Broncos (1):
Mark Guggenberger, ’89 G, Richfield, Minn.
The Brandon Wheat Kings, Calgary Hitmen, Chilliwack Bruins, Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, and the Edmonton Oil Kings have no U.S. players. But there is a U.S. head coach in Edmonton -- Steve Pleau of Seabrook Beach, NH… and the Westminster School and UNH.
Yanks in OHL
The three major junior leagues – the QMJHL, the OHL, and the WHL – have all started play and we’re going over their rosters, counting the Americans. It looks like the total number of Americans on major junior rosters will be well over one hundred this season, which would break the old record of 104, set last season.
The OHL has 57 players with U.S. addresses, and they are listed below.
Tomorrow we’ll do the QMJHL and the WHL.
Barrie Colts (1):
Brian Lashoff, ’90 D, Albany, NY
Belleville Bulls (3):
Scott Howe, ’92 F, Atlanta, GA
Eric Tangradi, ’89 F, Philadelphia, PA
Bjorn Krupp, ’91 D, Manhattan Beach, CA
Erie Otters (5):
Nick Palmieri, ’89 F, Clinton, NY
Shawn Szydlowski, ’90 F, St. Clair Shores, MI
David Shields, ’91 D, Rochester, NY
Frank Grzeszczak, ’89 D, Plantation, FL
Tyler Hostetter, ’91 D, Lititz, PA
(Coach: Robbie Ftorek, Needham, MA)
Guelph Storm (3):
Connor Stokes, ’91 F, Lansing, NY
Patrick Moran, ’90 D, Highland, MI
Thomas McCollum, ’89 G, Sanborn, NY
Kingston Frontenacs (2):
Jesse Brown, ’90 F, Cortland, NY
Peter Stevens, ’89 D, Chester, NY
Kitchener Rangers (8):
Shane Prince, ’92 F, Spencerport, NY
T.J. Battani, ’89 F, Armada, MI
Alexei Doistonov, ’89 F, Old Bridge, NJ
Alex Aleardi, ’92 F, Farmington Hills, MI
Alex Dzielski, ’89 D, Pittsford, NY
Christian Stevens, ’91 D, Portsmouth, NH
Dan Kelly, ’89 D, Morrisonville, NY
Josh Unice, ’89 G, Holland, OH
London Knights (5):
Philip McRae, ’90 F, Chesterfield, MO
Jared Knight, ’92 F, Battle Creek, MI
John Carlson, ’90 D, Colonia, NJ
Tony DeHart, ’90 D, Ballwin, MO
Barron Smith, ’91 D, Hinsdale, IL
Mississauga St. Michaels Majors:
Niagara IceDogs (2):
Scott Fletcher, ’88 D, Haslett, MI
John Cullen, ’91 G, Hamburg, NY
Oshawa Generals (2):
John Padulo, ’92 F, Rochester, NY
Neil Conway, ’88 G, Concord, OH
Owen Sound Attack (1):
David Kolomatis, ’89 D, Basking Ridge, NJ
Peterborough Petes (3):
Zach Tatrn, ’91 F, Lower Burrell, PA
Tony Romano, ’88 F, Smithtown, NY
Jack Walchessen, ’90 F, Ortly Beach, NJ
Plymouth Whalers (10):
Ryan Hayes, ’89 F, Syracuse, NY
Myles McCauley, ’91 F, Sterling Heights, MI
RJ Mahalak, ’91 F, Monroe, MI
AJ Jenks, ’90 F, Wolverine Lake, MI
Tyler J. Brown, ’91 F, Westland, MI
Mike Yovanic, ’89 F, Highland, MI
Josh Bemis, ’90 D, Clarkston, MI
Christian Steingraber, ’89 D, Oregon, OH
Beau Schmitz, ’91 D, Howell, MI
Jeremy Smith, ’89 G, Brownstown, MI
Saginaw Spirit (6):
Tyler Murovich, ’89 F, Pittsburgh, PA
Barry Sanderson, ’90 F, Dearborn, MI
Jack Combs. ’88 F, St. Louis, MO
Brad Walch, ’91 D, Saginaw, MI
Joe Underwood, ’90 D, Canton, MI
Adam Comrie, ’90 D, Ashburn, VA
Sarnia Sting (2):
Dan Broussard, ’91 D, Fayetteville, NC
Joe Rogalski, ’91 D, Lancaster, NY
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (2):
Brandon Archibald, ’92 D, Port Huron, MI
David Mead, ’92 D, Conklin, NY
Windsor Spitfires (2):
Andrew Yogan, ’91 F, Coconut Creek, FL
Austin Watson, ’92 F, Ann Arbor, MI
Harvard Takes a HitHarvard goaltender Kyle Richter, who would have been a junior, will not be with the Crimson for the upcoming season.
Richter is not enrolled in school. He is home in Alberta. The Harvard coaches and sports information department are mum on the issue, saying only that the 6'1" goaltender is taking the year off for "personal reasons" and is expected to return to Harvard in '09-10. Word around the rinks, however, is that he was caught cheating.
Last season, Richter was the story for the 17-13-4 Crimson. He carried the team early, dipped a bit in mid-season, then caught fire again late. The starter in all 34 Crimson games, Richter finished with a 2.10 gaa and a .923 save percentage, and was named the winner of the Ken Dryden Award, which goes to the top goaltender in the ECAC. He even scored a goal – an empty-netter -- against Yale, the first Harvard goaltender to ever light the lamp at the other end.
Richter is an ’86, so his junior eligibility is all used up. He could play senior hockey in Canada this winter, then return to the Crimson next fall. Could he turn pro? He could, and we can see teams having interest, but we haven’t seen his name on any rosters, or heard anything along those lines.
Harvard will have three goalies on their roster this season; junior John Riley, who played 13 minutes last season; sophomore Ryan Carroll, who played 17 minutes; and freshman Matt Hoyle, who played 25 games for the Indiana Ice (USHL) last season, posting a 3.05 gaa and a .900 save percentage.
We don’t want to make this sound like an afterthought, because it isn’t, but don’t look for defenseman Jack Christian, who would have been a senior this season, on the Crimson roster either. Again, the word from Harvard is vague, and probably necessarily so, but Christian's situation has been described as being similar to Richter’s in that he too is eligible to return and finish out his Harvard eligibility. However, the two players' situations are also being characterized as unrelated, which we take to mean they each got into their own pickles, and are off the squad for either totally different -- or somewhat different -- reasons. At this point there's just not a lot of information. The bottom line though, remains: when the puck drops on the '08-09 Harvard season, the Crimson will be without the two upperclassmen.
2008 Fall Beantown ClassicThe 2008 Fall Beantown Classic runs from Thurs. Oct. 23 through Sun. Oct. 26 this year. Games will start in the early morning on all four days.
The majority of the games will be played at the Exeter Ice House in Exeter, NH (formerly The Rinks at Exeter), a two-sheet facility. Remaining games will be played at UNH in Durham, NH; at Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass.; and in Dover, NH.
There will be a 20-team Under-18 division and a 10-team Under-16 division. In addition, the Northwood School and three – possibly five -- EJHL teams will be on hand. The Junior Bruins, Monarchs, and Jersey Hitmen will definitely be there. The Bridgewater Bandits and South Shore Kings may be there.
Junior Bruins Empire (Mass.)
Belle Tire (Mich.)
Seacoast Spartans (NH)
St Louis Selects (Mo.)
Team Maryland (Md.)
Bay State Breakers (Mass.)
Cleveland Barons (Oh.)
Buffalo Regals (NY)
Colorado Thunderbirds (Col.)
Okanagan Hockey Academy (BC)
Little Bruins (Mass.)
BC Eagles (Mass.)
South Shore Dynamos (Mass.)
Junior Rangers (Mass.)
Pittsburgh Hornets (Penn.)
Philadelphia Jr. Flyers (Penn.)
San Jose Jr. Sharks (Calif.)
Team Illinois (Ill.)
Dallas Penguins (Tex.)
Jersey Hitmen (NJ)
Seacoast Spartans (NH)
Chicago Fury (Ill.)
Belle Tire (Mich.)
Team Comcast (Penn.)
Dartmouth Subways (Nova Scotia)
Victory Honda (Mich.)
Team Illinois (Ill.)
Chicago Mission (Ill.)
Portland Jr. Pirates (Maine)
Cape Breton (Nova Scotia)
The Dallas Penguins are a team born out of the ashes of the Texas Attack. The Attack were an organization on the rise last season, but infighting and money reportedly got the better of them. Hence, this new organization.
Forgive us for this late report on last month’s Beantown Classic, held August 17-20 at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass.
It’s called the Pro Division, so let’s go with that and talk about potential. We have five names for you, starting with 6’1”, 180 lb. Phillips Andover forward and BC recruit Chris Kreider who was, in our opinion, the top pro prospect at the tournament. He’s tenacious, has size, and is an excellent skater – very explosive. His overall game is still pretty raw, but the upside is impossible to overlook.
5’11”. 170 lb. Hotchkiss defenseman and Michigan recruit Mac Bennett is a smooth skater who reads plays smartly, and excels in the transition game. He’s going to be an excellent college player. Smallish for a pro defenseman, but rates highly in every other are, so he will be drafted.
6’0”, 185 lb. wing John Henrion drew differing opinions. UNH recruit is physically mature and has a big-time shot. He’s also a proven goal scorer, and there can never be enough of those. However, his skating, while OK, is not exceptional, and his impact from shift-to-shift at the tournament was underwhelming. He did not bring his A game, and was not consistently noticeable. Perhaps he was looking ahead to getting out to Ann Arbor after the tournament. Henrion will be drafted, but how high?
6’2”, 175 lb. D Colin Shea is on the slight side, but the brother of BC recruit Edwin Shea looks to us like he has the potential to eclipse his brother. A 5/12/91 birthdate, he will be moving up from the Junior Bruins Empire team to the EJ team this season. It will be interesting to watch his progress. He’s a true 12th grader this year but colleges are looking at him for ’10. UMass, Maine, BC, and a bunch of ECAC schools are all showing interest
Want a sleeper pick? How about Tim Schaller of the New England Jr. Huskies (EJHL), a 6’2”, 195 lb. former forward who was converted to defense last year. A late ’90 with good feet, he’s a pro-style bruiser, but he’s also a project who is still trying to learn his position, which automatically puts him in the category of high-risk draft pick. Some like his pro potential, some say no way, and others are on the fence. His progress over the course of the season will be watched closely.
Others who played well:
The following, presented in random order, are other players we liked in the Pro Division, though not necessarily as pro prospects. These are guys who just played well.
6’2”, 200 lb. Deerfield defenseman Nick Lovejoy is coming off a season lost to injury, and was a little tentative at times, though that’s to be expected. He’s a raw talent and will be interesting to watch over the next two seasons at Deerfield. A Dartmouth recruit, he’s a late ’91, so he’s not NHL draft eligible until ’10.
6’0”, 175 lb. Yale recruit Brad Peltz, a winger from Avon, had the puck on his stick a lot, worked hard, and played smart. He’s a late ’89. Will be a senior this year, then play a year of juniors before Yale.
6’0”, 180 lb. Deerfield forward Andrew Ammon, a Princeton (’10) recruit, showed himself to be one of the best skaters at the tournament – just very explosive. Was consistently noticeable. Entering his senior year.
6’0”, 170 lb. Hotchkiss forward Derek Deblois played well. He is tenacious, gets to the net, and is always on the puck. A competitor, he made things happen. He’s a ’91, and an 11th grader this year.
5’10”, 160 lb. South Kent School wing Mike Pereira was on a weak offensive team, so didn’t have a lot of support. But he has a real nose for the net. Look for him to put up a ton of points again this season. He’s an 11th grader.
5’9”, 165 lb. Robbie Bourdon, who was Taft’s leading scorer last season, had an excellent tournament. He’s crafty, he’s smart, and he came to play. Right now, we see him as a top NESCAC-type player, though Div. I play is not out of the question. He’s a senior from Quebec, and a ’90 birthdate.
5’11”, 190 lb. forward Ben McLaughlin is a thick, strong power forward type with a bit of speed and a real nose for the net. Was the leading scorer at Div. II Pingree, but would have also put up good numbers at a Div. I prep. A ’90, he has graduated.
5’11”, 185 lb. Cody Ferriero, a late ’91 was, like Lovejoy, playing up in the pro division, where he was right at home. A cerebral player with a good stick. Very savvy. An excellent Div. I prospect. Is an 11th grader this season. Younger brother of BC’s Benn Ferriero.
5’11”, 185 lb. Wayne Simpson, the leading scorer at Lawrence Academy last season, looked very good. A late ’89, Simpson is entering his senior year. He’s a Union recruit.
6’2”, 200 lb. Salisbury defenseman Vic Heselton played a strong physical game, and was a real presence in the dirty areas of the ice. Will be a 12th grader this year.
6’4”, 205 lb. Belmont Hill defenseman Dawson Luke played solidly. He’ll be a senior this year.
Goalies who played well included Belmont Hill’s Mike Condon, who is a Princeton recruit; and Gunnery’s Alex Vazzano, who is committed to Union.
There are always a handful of less-heralded players -- not necessarily Div. I prospects -- who come to these things and take advantage of the opportunity to show what they can do in front of college coaches. 6’2”, 220 lb. Apple Core defenseman Anthony Bitetto. 6’0”, 175 lb. was one such player. St. John’s Prep forward Christian Cowles showed competitiveness and above-average skill. Jersey Hitmen ’89 defenseman Brendan Jamison is a good skater who showed a little something. 5’10”, 170 lb. NMH grad Colin Downey, a forward and a late ’89, worked as hard as anyone. 5’9”, 150 lb. Canterbury School forward Kevin Goumas, a late ’91 who will be a junior, also played hard, showing speed and offensive skills. New England Huskies (EJHL) 6’2”, 210 lb. power forward Brian Nehring, a late ’89, skates well for his size. 5’8” Jon Celli, a late ’91 from the Boston Shamrocks (EJHL), showed himself to be slippery and elusive.
6’1” Charlie Coyle of Thayer Academy, a ’92, was probably the top player in the Futures Division, moving his feet well, playing hard, and controlling the tempo when the puck was on his stick. As a freshman, Coyle was the leading scorer at Thayer last season.
Also outstanding was 6’1”, 185 lb. Nobles forward Kevin Hayes, a ’92 and the younger brother of BC’s Jimmy Hayes. The younger Hayes has always had hands, hockey sense, and size. His skating has been a weakness, but it’s getting steadily better. He’s a hot property now. BC, BU, UNH, and Harvard are all working on recruiting him.
5’7”, 170 lb. Alex Gacek, a ’93 sophomore at Governor’s Academy, was another outstanding forward. Quick and shifty.
On D we thought Dylan Pike and Jonathan Mleczko were both very good, though in different ways.
Pike, a 6’2”, 200 lb. ’93 from Belmont Hill is big, mobile, and wasn’t the least bit timid. A freshman this year, he was physical in the corners. Playing against older kids this season will be a good test for him.
Mleczko, a 5’10”, 170 lb. ’92 from Milton Academy, was recently converted from forward to defense, which has worked out well for him. He’s an excellent skater who can get the puck out his end and through the neutral zone with speed. A little high risk at times, but that’s the way it goes with that kind of player. He’s an 11th grader.
When all is said and done, though, 6’1”, 195 lb. Danny Federico of the Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) is perhaps the most complete ’92 defenseman from the Boston area. He's just strong in all areas.
Going back to the forwards, we have always liked 6’0”, 175 lb. forward Brendan McNally of Belmont Hill, a ’92 and 10th grader. He's just an excellent prospect. Like Hayes, his skating is not great, but it will get there. His stick, however, is excellent. And he knows just what to do with the puck when it’s on his stick.
5’11”, 175 lb. Joey Yeadon, a ’93 who will be playing split season with the Little Bruins and Burlington HS, played very well. Good to see some of the better young players hanging with their high school program.
Governor’s 6’0”, 180 lb. forward Brian Ward, a ’92 who is a sophomore this year, is just really solid, a good solid Div. I prospect who does a lot of things right. Also had a good Select 16 Festival this summer.
6’0”, 185 lb. Belmont Hill ’92 forward Connor Brickley played well. As a freshman last year, Brickley led Belmont Hill in scoring by a pretty wide margin.
Thane Heller, a 6’2”, 205 lb. ’92 from the Gunnery School, is a power forward type who is good around the net. Good solid prospect.
Goalies that impressed were 6’2” Petie Von Rosenvinge of the Junior Bruins Empire Team. That’s a name like that, and his size, he won’t get lost in the shuffle. He does need experience and he’ll be getting it this season. 6’0” Steve Racine, a ’91 who will be a junior this season at Taft, also played well.
A Mighty Storm
There are some eerie parallels between what is happening in Galveston, Texas this afternoon and what happened in the hours leading up to the deadly hurricane that hit that Texas city on September 8, 1900, killing over 6,000 people in what is still the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
First off, the dates – Sept. 8 and Sept. 12 – are just four days apart. On top of that, the tracks of the two hurricanes are virtually identical. After forming off the coast of Africa and crossing the Atlantic, they then followed the exact same track, running straight down the length of Cuba before heading northwest across the Gulf of Mexico, taking dead aim at Galveston, and striking in the middle of the night.
A major part of the reason so many died on September 8, 1900 is because, although the U.S. Weather Bureau (now known as NOAA) had been formed, and staffers there knew about the storm’s progress from reports of ships at sea, they downplayed its danger, insisting that the gentle slope of the gulf’s bottom would keep Galveston Island fairly safe. As a result, fewer than half of the city’s 37,000 residents evacuated.
As the 1900 storm approached, sightseers came down by train from Houston to watch the enormous waves and enjoy Galveston, which at the time was an extremely wealthy town, a major U.S. port and a shipping center for the south’s cotton. Less than 24 hours later, the city was gone -- wiped out -- and that is why Houston, 40 miles inland, subsequently emerged as the region’s port city. Galveston’s current seawall was built in the aftermath of that hurricane, and the earth’s level on the island was actually raised. Tonight, those measures will get their greatest test.
As of early this afternoon, despite the fact that there have been days of dire warnings, and thousands have indeed acted on the warnings and evacuated, there are still a lot of people who will ‘ride it out’ on the island. Galveston officials report that only about sixty percent of the city’s residents have left, which, if accurate, is startling.
Numerous stories surround the 1900 hurricane, and most are tragic. They are well captured in Isaac’s Storm, by Eric Larson, which is a good read (it’s a little slow at the beginning, so hang in there). The Isaac of the title was Isaac Cline, the Galveston area weatherman with the U.S. Weather Bureau who so badly underestimated the storm.
Cline lived, but his wife was among the storm’s victims.
So many died in Galveston that in the storm’s aftermath the bodies – as well as all the bodies that floated up out of the city’s cemeteries – were stacked onto barges, loaded down with weights, and dropped into the Gulf of Mexico. However, the bodies came right back in on the tide, rolling over the gentle slope of the Gulf’s bottom (forgive the sarcasm), and washing up on the city’s beaches. The authorities switched tack, and burned the bodies.
If you look around the web, you will find numerous photographs of Galveston after the 1900 hurricane. The photos bear an eerie similarity to ground level photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after those cities were destroyed by atomic bombs in August 1945. Less vaporized, perhaps, but still quite similar.
We realize none of this has anything to do with hockey, and that there are few if any readers of the U.S. Hockey Report in Galveston and surrounding areas, but we really hope people listen, head for high ground, and get through the night safely. It sure didn't happen last time.
After the Hitmen Tournament this weekend, things get big, really big.
The annual Junior Bruins Shootout, at Marlborough, Mass. Fri.through Sun Sept. 19-21, features a whopping 73 teams. All 14 EJHL teams will be on hand, as will 17 of the 21 Empire Jr. B teams. In addition there will be a 22-team U-19 and a 20-team U-16 division.
The bulk of the games – including all the EJ and Empire games -- will be at the New England Sports Center. A number of games will be played at the North Star Arena, a couple miles down the road.
Games get under way on Friday the 19th at 8:00 am, and on Saturday the 20th at 7:00 am. On both of those days, the games will go deep into the night. On Sunday, playoff games get underway at 7:10 am. Everyone will be on their way home around 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon.
We expect to be able to link to the completed schedule tomorrow, so please check back.
Here's the schedule for the Shootout.
Here are the remaining EJHL showcases for the ’08-09 season.
Fri.-Sun. Oct 3-5 – N.H. Jr. Monarchs Tournament; Hooksett, NH.
Fri.-Sun. Nov. 7-9 – Valley Junior Warriors Tournament; Haverhill, Mass.
Thurs.-Sun. Dec. 11-14 – New England Huskies Tournament; Fitchburg, Mass.
Fri.-Sun. Feb. 13-15 – South Shore Kings Tournament; Foxboro, Mass.
Hitmen Showcase Coming Up
The 2008 EJHL champion Jersey Hitmen are hosting their 2nd annual showcase tournament Fri.-Sun. Sept 12-14 at the Ice Vault in Wayne, NJ. The schedule can be found here.
Former Black Bear Joins Coaching Ranks
As long as we’re on the subject, did you know that Castleton State, which was founded in 1787 and was actually privately owned for a while, is the fifth oldest college in New England? It’s a true fact. Only Harvard (1636), Yale (1701), Brown (1764), and Dartmouth (1769) are older.
The school was also known for decades as Castleton Teachers College. It’s located about 20 miles due south of Cornwall, Vt., where this typist went to grade school for four years. Virtually every teacher I had came from there, including Mrs. Farnham, who, quite incredibly, managed to drive staples into her fingers several times a week. Her digits were always swaddled in Band-Aids. What she lacked in coordination, though, she made up for in toughness. One time, a local farmer who believed his son was more useful working on the farm than attending Mrs. Farnham’s school, showed up hours before lunchtime to claim his issue. Stepping through the school’s only door – this was a true one-room schoolhouse – he wagged his index finger, a sign for the boy to get up from his desk and prepare to milk some cows. Usually, Mrs. Farnham just glowered at the man and muttered something about the boy’s inability to count to ten. This time, though, she must have just stapled a finger or something because she had blood in her eyes. Rising up to her full height, she situated her formidable body between the farmer and his son. Our little mouths formed perfect O’s of astonishment. This was real tension. The farmer stared at the teacher. The teacher stared back. Suddenly, the farmer, who was quick, put a deke on Mrs. Farnham, kind of reaching around behind her and grabbing his son by the left arm. Mrs. Farnham, a little off balance, countered by grabbing the boy’s right arm. Suddenly, the poor kid was being tugged fiercely in opposite directions. It looked like his arms would get yanked out of their sockets. Suddenly, the farmer said, “Aw, the hell with it,” let go of his son's hand, swiveled on his heels and stepped toward the door. At that precise moment Mrs. Farnham was arcing backward, the floor coming up behind her. She had plenty of padding in the right places, though. The farmer’s son followed right behind, making a soft landing on her ample bosom. It was an amazing sight.
Former Black Bear Joins Coaching RanksFormer Maine Black Bears forward Ben Murphy has been hired as the new assistant coach at Castleton State College. Four years ago, the school, which is just a little west of Rutland, Vt., saw its hockey program bottom out at 0-25-0, so they hired a new coach, former Union defenseman Alex Todd. After a 4-19-3 rebuilding season, the Spartans have since gone 17-6-4 and 13-11-2 in the ECAC East (Div. III). What Todd did was totally make over the team, changing it from a provincial outfit of Vermont/New York-based kids to a team stocked with hockey players from a variety of junior programs across the U.S. and Canada.
As for Mrs. Farnham, she lifted the boy off her, dusted herself off proudly, and went right back to teaching, as if nothing of consequence had happened. She had stood her ground in the name of higher education, and the farmer had brought shame on himself. That much we understood pretty clearly, even if he might not have actually anticipated her losing her balance and falling when he let go of his son's hand. Mrs. Farnham was, after all, flat-out clumsy. And, anyway, he did say “Hell” in front of little kids. He did apologize, of course, though that part is hazy. As for the farmer’s son, he stayed for the whole day, and practically every day after that. He eventually learned to count and to read, too, at least passably so. And for that he had Mrs. Farnham to thank.
Within a few years of that incident, this reporter’s whole family had returned to Cambridge, Mass. I was placed in private school, where I learned how to conjugate Latin verbs from graduates of Ivy League schools, most of whose names I have forgotten. I haven’t forgotten Mrs. Farnham, though. That will never happen.
While We Were AwayThere is one big-time college hockey commitment that we haven’t yet reported. In case you missed it, Seth Ambroz, a 6’2’, 195 lb. power forward from New Prague, Minn. who finished up as the leading scorer at last month’s USA Hockey Select 15 Camp, has committed to the University of Minnesota for the fall of ’11.
Ambroz, who received plenty of attention from other powerhouse programs – North Dakota and Wisconsin, to name a couple – is the younger brother of University of Nebraska-Omaha sophomore forward Matt Ambroz.
Here’s what we had to say about the younger Ambroz based on his play at the Select 15s, held in St. Cloud, Minn. Aug 2-8.
In writing about forwards, we gave our #1 ranking early in the week to 6’1”, 190 lb. Colin Jacobs of the Texas Attack, but, “for the second half of the week – and the tournament as a whole -- we have to give it to 6’2”, 195 lb. Seth Ambroz of New Prague, Minn and New Prague HS. Ambroz, so much bigger and stronger than practically every other kid here, could be a first round NHL draft pick in a few years, simply because he has skill and hockey sense to go with that size/strength combination. Here, he was a pure force, finishing up as the tournament’s leading scorer with an 8-3-11 line. They don’t hand out MVP awards at this affair, but if they did Ambroz would be a no-brainer. Will be playing in the USHL this season with the Omaha Lancers.”
In 27 games, Ambroz had a 37-32-69 line at New Prague last season, impressive numbers for a freshman, even taking into account the fact that New Prague doesn’t play in one of the tougher conferences.
A 4/3/93 birthdate, Ambroz will be one of two ‘93s attempting to play in the USHL this season. The other is Californian Shane McColgan, who played on the LA Kings Midget AAA squad last season.
In addition to the two ‘93s, there are six ‘92s on the lastest USHL 25-man protected lists. Three are imports, and three are domestic.
John Parker of the NJ Rockets (AJHL), who is with Indiana.
Charlie Dodero of the Chicago Young Americans, who is with Tri-City.
Colten St. Clair of P.F. Chang’s, who is with Fargo.
The imports are:
Yassin Cisse of the Lac St. Louis Lions, who is with Des Moines.
Stanislav Galiev of Moscow Dynamo, who is with Indiana.
Also listed is Garret Clarke of Russell Stover, a New Brunswick native who committed to the University of North Dakota and the Fargo Force (USHL) but then reneged on both earlier this summer. Clarke is still on Fargo’s list but won’t be for long – he’s already played an exhibition game for the Lewiston Maineiacs, the team which made him their first pick in June’s QMJHL draft.
Wilding in GreenwichThe following appeared in this week’s Greenwich (Conn.) Post, in the police blotter:
Thomas Atkinson, 50, and his two sons Cam Atkinson, 19, and Tommy Atkinson, 20, were arrested Aug. 19 and charged with breach of peace. According to police, the senior Atkinson was driving and attempting to make a left-hand turn from Sheephill Road onto East Putnam Avenue when he was cut off by three teens on bicycles. Atkinson reportedly began exchanging profanities with one of the teens as they all rode onto East Putnam Avenue. When they all reached the McDonald’s parking lot in Riverside, Atkinson reportedly contacted his sons, Cam and Tommy, and they responded to the scene to confront the teens. The two younger Atkinsons allegedly began kicking and punching the boy who had gotten into the argument with their father, injuring the boy’s forehead. Cam and Tommy Atkinson were also charged with third degree assault. The men were released on promises to appear and are due in court Aug. 27.
Werek Leaves Ice Camp
6’2”, 185 lb. center Ethan Werek, who had committed to Boston University for the fall of ’09 and was slated to play the upcoming season in the USHL, left the Indiana Ice camp after yesterday's practice.
He is returning to Ontario, and will sign with the Kingston Frontenacs, who selected him in the first round (#9 overall) of the 2007 OHL draft despite the fact that he had already committed to the Terriers.
Werek, a projected first round pick in next June's NHL draft, is a 6’2”, 185 lb. power forward with soft hands. Questions about whether he would ever wind up with the Terriers have persisted over the 16 months that have passed since Kingston's draft day gamble. Needless to say, the OHL club kept the pressure on. More recently, the Indiana Ice pushed hard to get him to the USHL for the upcoming season.
A 6/7/91 birthdate, Werek played for Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL) last season where he was a dominating player. In 52 games (including playoffs), he posted a 35-54-89 line. His father, Zeev Werek, is a co-owner of the Spirit.
Indiana Ice head coach/GM Jeff Blashill confirmed that Werek had left camp and was returning home to Ontario to play in the OHL. Blashill said that, until yesterday, he had no immediate foreshadowing that Werek was planning on leaving. "However," Blashill said. "I knew that he wasn't completely sold on (the USHL/college route). He spent a lot of time going back and forth on what he really wanted to do. It was a decision he had been trying to weigh for some time, and in the end, in his heart, he wanted to go to the OHL. It's a battle between college and the OHL for these kids."
"I wish Ethan the very best," Blashill added.
A Playmaking Center for the WildcatsSouth Kent School senior forward Jeffrey Silengo has committed to the University of New Hampshire and will arrive in Durham in either ’10 or ’11.
Last season, Silengo, a 6’1”, 175 lb. native of Madison, Conn., centered South Kent’s top line, with Mike Pereira on the left side and Wade Megan (BU) on the right. That trio helped lead the school past Salisbury in the quarterfinals, but in the semis at Salem, NH they were blanked by St. Paul’s.
Silengo is a very smart, playmaking center who sees the ice extremely well. As he continues to fill out, he’ll just get better.
Other schools in the picture included Providence College and Union. Northeastern also expressed interest.
A 2/26/90 birthdate, Silengo will be a senior captain this season.
“I think Jeffrey is sneaky, sneaky good,” said Geoff Marottolo, his coach. “He’s very heady. It’s hard to get high school players to play well in all three zones and that’s exactly what Jeffrey does. He’s also our best draw man, winning over 60 percent. He’s probably our best all-around player.”
Silengo’s older brother and teammate at South Kent, Billy, will be a freshman defenseman at Manhattanville College this season.
Clendening to the Heights
5’11’, 165 lb. RD Adam Clendening, who played last season in the Toronto Marlies organization and is now in Ann Arbor with the U.S. Under-17 Team, has committed to Boston College for the fall of ’10.
Clendening, who made his final pick between BC and Michigan State, is noted for his puck-moving skills. He sees the play in front of him really well, has a good sense of who’s open (or is about to be), thinks quickly and is patient, too, and should fit in very nicely on the Eagles power play during the early years of the next decade.
He’s a native of North Tonawanda, NY, halfway between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and is a 10/26/92 birthdate.
Last season, for the Marlies, Clendening played 60 games, and had a 8-42-50 line.
Rempel Looking StrongAvon Old Farms is losing another key underclassman in 6’3”, 195 lb. defenseman Brendan Rempel, who would have been a senior for the Winged Beavers this season.
Rempel will be going to Ann Arbor for one season, joining the Under-18 Team.
In practices this week in Ann Arbor, Rempel, who played for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team last month in the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament, was said to have played very well.
The Wallingford, Conn. native, who played a season for Pomfret before going to Avon last fall, is being recruited hard by both Harvard and Boston College, and will probably be making a decision between those two schools soon.
-- In case you are keeping track, there are four new players on the U.S. Under-18 Team this season: Rempel, BC recruit Chris McCarthy, UNH recruit John Henrion, and formerSt. Louis Bandits (NAHL) defenseman John Ramage.
They replace three players from last year’s Under-17 Team who have chosen to play elsewhere this season. Zach Golembiewski will be in Indiana (USHL) while Beau Schmitz (Plymouth) and Bjorn Krupp (Belleville) will be in the OHL. The NTDP, to retain flexibility, had kept a spot open. In other words, one forward and a two D are leaving, and two forwards and two d-men are coming in.
-- Avon Old Farms’ hopes for a repeat prep championship – #8 overall -- took a mortal blow earlier this summer when forward Patrick Mullane (BC) and defenseman Lee Moffie (Michigan) decided to forgo their senior seasons in order to play in the USHL. Now, with Rempel the third underclassman to leave, and Cam Atkinson (BC), Paul Lee (Dartmouth), and Danny New (Providence) having graduated, head coach John Gardner faces a rebuilding year.
-- ’07-08 New England prep players on USHL 9/1/08 25-man protected lists:
Matt Delaney, G, Deerfield (Chicago) Graduated
Mark Goggin, F, Choate (Chicago)
Alex Chiasson, F, Northwood (Des Moines)
Ben Albertson, F, St. Paul’s (Indiana) Graduated
Jason Bourgea, F, St. Paul’s (Indiana) Graduated
Zach Fulton, F, Northwood (Indiana) Graduated
Patrick Mullane, F, Avon (Omaha)
Steven Whitney, F, Lawrence Academy (Omaha)
Drew Daniels, F, Kent (Sioux City) Graduated
Justin Daniels, F, Kent (Sioux City) Graduated
Adam Pawlick, F, Salisbury (Sioux City)
Danny Furlong, D, Governor’s (Sioux Falls)
Torin Snydeman, F, Cushing (Tri-City)
George Hughes, D, Taft (Waterloo) Graduated
Lee Moffie, D, Avon (Waterloo)
Kevin Nugent, F, Taft (Waterloo) Graduated
In addition, there are five players from Culver on the protected lists: Nic Dowd, Sebastian Geoffrion, David Gerths, Corey Hibbler, and Steven Hoshaw.
Look for Whitney and Goggin to return to prep school but possibly join up with the teams holding their rights for the Fall Classic (Sept. 25-27) and/or as vacations allow during the school year. Tommy Cross did it last year for Ohio, playing nine games. A few Minnesota high schoolers do likewise each year. USHL teams must cut down to 23 players by the start of the regular season October 3.
The Latest Coaching HiresThere has been a lot of turnover in the coaching ranks this summer, leading to a lot of late summer hirings. We’ll try to bring things up to date a bit here, starting with the most recent and working backward.
-- Look for Union College to announce Ben Barr as their new assistant early in the work week. Barr will be replacing Billy Riga, who moved on a couple of weeks ago in order to take the assistant’s position vacated by Scott Robson at Quinnipiac.
Barr played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s for Andy Murray and at RPI in the Dan Fridgen era. A hard-working forward from Faribault, Minn., he graduated from RPI in ’04. The following season, he returned as a grad assistant on Fridgen’s staff, then left to go into the business world. He returned as a volunteer assistant with the Engineers last season.
Last spring, we heard that Barr, who is 26, had been hired at Albany Academy, where Dave Rider is attempting to reestablish the hockey program. Barr was going to be the director of player development at the school.
-- Former University of Minnesota assistant Mike Guentzel has been hired as an assistant at Colorado College, where he will be replacing Norm Bazin, hired in early August as the new head coach at Hamilton College.
Guentzel, 46, one of the most experienced Div. I assistants in the game, had been with the Gophers for 14 seasons before resigning in the spring. In the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, columnist Patrick Reusse claimed that Guentzel was the fall guy for the Gophers less than stellar season and was forced out.
Before joining the Gophers staff in the early ‘90s, Guentzel had been a successful head coach in the USHL, with both the Omaha Lancers and the St. Paul Vulcans. Early in his Gophers tenure, Guentzel also served as an assistant on U.S. National Junior teams from ’94 through ‘96. Bottom line: he knows his way around the game.
Guentzel’s middle son, Gabe, is a freshman defenseman at CC. His oldest son, Ryan, plays for Jeff Jackson at Notre Dame. There’s a third son, Jake, but he’s just 14 and still playing bantam in Minnesota.
-- Former Clarkson defenseman Phil Roy has been hired as the new assistant at Merrimack College, taking the place of Albie O’Connell, who was hired at Northeastern earlier in the summer.
Roy, a St. Leonard, Que. native who finished up at Clarkson in 2000 and then played minor pro, has been an assistant on Mark Taylor’s staff at Hobart College the last couple of seasons.
-- The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs have hired Matt Dennehy as an assistant coach. Dennehy, who has been an assistant at Colby College the last three seasons, will be replacing Bob Corkum, who was recently hired by the University of Maine, his alma mater.
Dennehy, who actually played for Monarchs head coach Sean Tremblay not that long ago, is the younger brother of Merrimack College head coach Mark Dennehy.
-- Leigh Mendelson, an assistant on Mike Hasting’s Clark Cup champship Omaha Lancers staff last season, has been hired as an assistant with the Spokane Chiefs (WHL).
Mendelson, who has coached at numerous levels of the game. He’s been as assistant with Atlantic City (ECHL) and has served on the staff of the NTDP. He has been a head coach in the NAHL, and has coached juniors in Europe. He has also worked numerous U.S. Select Festivals.
-- New Tri-City Storm head coach Tom Rudrud has named John Rose to his staff. Rose was an assistant at Alaska-Fairbanks last season, and before that was an assistant at Mercyhurst College.
Rose, 28, is a native of Potsdam, NY. He played his college hockey at New England College.
Another pre-season tournament getting underway this weekend is the Mercyhurst College Showcase. Making the trip out to Erie, PA are eight teams – three from the Provincial League, three from the AJHL, and one apiece from the EJHL and the Golden Horseshoe.
They are: The Buffalo Sabres (OPJHL), Streetsville Derbys (OPJHL), Trenton Hercs (OPJHL), New York Bobcats (AJHL), Washington Nationals (AJHL), New Jersey Rockets (AJHL), New England Jr. Falcons (EJHL), and the Thorold Blackhawks (GHL).
Games are two 25-minute halves, and will be getting underway today (Fri.) and continuing through Sunday.
Can He Play?The confluence of biological cravings and political vicissitudes has, in the last 24 hours, turned an 18-year-old Alaska high school kid into one of the better-known hockey players in the United States – to the vast majority of Americans, that is.
We’re talking of course, about Levi Johnston, the future son-in-law of Republican vice-presidential nominee-to-be Sarah Palin.
And we just have one question: Can he play?
For an answer, we turned to old friend Dennis Sorenson, a Div. II All-America forward at Alaska-Anchorage in the early 80’s and longtime Dimond High School coach. Sorenson, also the head coach of the Alaska All-Stars Midget AAA program during that program’s heyday, has long been the top advocate for the Alaska hockey player. Sorenson also has a fine eye for talent.
And he says Johnston, a winger who sometimes plays center, can indeed play.
“(He) was the best player for Wasilla High School last year,” Sorenson wrote us in an e-mail. “He is a senior but I am unsure where he is playing comp hockey this fall.”
'Comp' is short for competitive, a western designation for travel hockey.
“I haven't seen his name pop up yet,” Sorenson continued. “Tough kid with above average skill. Could play NAHL and D3 but who knows what will happen now.”
Indeed. Levi Johnston’s life appears to be heading in directions he might not have expected at the beginning of summer.
Sorenson, before stepping down as coach of the Alaska All-Stars two seasons ago, coached Track Palin, the governor’s oldest son.
”Track was a good player who played with an edge. He also had a bad shoulder (dislocated) a few times each year. That was why he finally quit. He was a winger and fun to coach.”
What kind of a hockey mom was the governor?
“Sarah,” Sorenson wrote, “was a great hockey mom. Loved to keep score and just help out. Never a worry for us as coaches. Plus, a very cute mom for a midget aged player :-).”
There have been changes in Alaska hockey over the last decade. Once Alaska kids didn’t leave the state to play midget AAA hockey, but they do now, in significant numbers. And the All-Stars, now in the hands of former Gophers star and NHL forward Corey Millen, who married into the family that owns the team, are no longer able to swoop down to the lower 48 and defeat top programs.
“We have an issue with poor coaching and high fees,” wrote Sorenson. “Many families were sending their kids out. Of course many of them would be fine here. But once that started it became a big thing. Some parents think the kid needs to get away from a pre-determined role here and/or bad friends. Last year we had five players on Belle Tire Major Midget. nXi took three of our players a couple of years ago, and we lost several more to L.A., Russell Stover etc.”
“Most of these kids return home after the season to finish schooling here. Our high school league has become full of sophomores and juniors.”
Track Palin, who is now in the army, stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, was among those who left, moving to Portage, Michigan for most of his senior year in order to play midget hockey with nXi (now known as S2) of the Midwest Elite Hockey League. Once the season ended in March, Palin returned to Alaska to graduate with his Wasilla High School class.
Levi Johnston game-by-game stats, '07-08
In case you missed it, the Midwest Elite Hockey League has ballooned to a near-nationwide league and enters the ’08-09 season with twenty teams spread across four divisions.
Here’s the alignment.
Belle Tire, Little Caesar’s, Compuware, Victory Honda, and Honeybaked
Chicago Mission, Chicago Fury, Team Illinois, Chicago Young Americans, Madison Capitols.
Cleveland Barons, Pittsburgh Hornets, Mahoning Valley Phantoms, S2, St. Louis AAA Blues.
P.F. Chang’s, Russell Stover, LA Kings, Dallas Stars, Colorado Rampage
Each team will play 46 games and will appear in six showcases.
The MWEHL will be using the above alignment only at the midget major level – at least for this season. Next year, they hope to have midget minor teams playing within the above format, and then on down to the younger ages.
To us, it appears that, as this league consolidates power and positions itself as a super league, kids will be traveling from all over the country to play for its teams. And as younger age groups are brought under the league’s umbrella, it will just be a matter of time before you see eight-year-olds leaving home to live with billet families, simply in order to play in the league. That's the way it looks now; we hope we're wrong.
Back to Work
For the first time in 14 years, since the days when this publication existed only in paper form, this typist took a lengthy break from hockey.
Over the past couple of years, during whatever spare stretches I could find in the off-season, I’ve been restoring a 53-year-old wooden sailboat. I finally got it on the water this summer. To celebrate, I took a short shake-down cruise and then took off, solo, up the Maine coast to Penobscot Bay to visit family on Vinalhaven. It was a nice little adventure, kind of an Outward Bound experience, though for a grownup. Certain things stand out, like ghosting through thick fog several miles offshore, coming up on a buoy marking a series of rocky ledges, looking off to starboard and seeing, jammed together on the rocks, literally dozens of seals, checking me out. I actually said, “Hey, guys,” and glided on past. I was too mesmerized to even take a picture, though having to concentrate in the fog certainly had something to do with that. At another point on the voyage, I was hanging in this quiet anchorage, just waiting for a favorable wind. I rowed into this island of meadows and firs, just to feel the earth under my feet. On a sandy beach (rare beyond the Mid-Coast), I swam, and then walked around the entire island. I didn’t encounter another human, mainly because the island was uninhabited and there wasn’t one to encounter. I was it. That actually happened several times, as I spent a bit of time poking around, looking for the out-of-the-way anchorages up the bays and tidal rivers. At night, I studied the stars, and, while I saw hundreds of shooting stars, the Perseid Meteor Showers eluded me.
Late last week, in clear weather, I made my way back, eventually squeezing through the Annisquam River and then into the inner harbor at Gloucester. A couple of nights later, I was walking through Harvard Square. It seemed insanely crowded.
In those weeks on the water, I spent a total of twenty minutes in front of a computer. On occasion, my cell phone would work, but basically I kept it off. I had time to think about a lot of things, including USHR. And I had a few brainstorms. The upcoming season, then, will be a good one for readers of this publication. We’ll keep all the features you have come to expect from USHR, but we’ll also experiment a bit, and try to shake things up some. I’ll be looking to add some new voices, perhaps a couple of writers who can keep things lively, and are not afraid to address the issues facing the game. If you know of anyone interested, have him (or her) contact me.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll also be endeavouring to cover some of the missed news.
By the way, as great as hockey is, getting away from it for a while is pretty energizing. I know that staying in the game 12 months of the year is draining for a grownup. I have no idea what it’s like to be a kid playing year around, for such things were not done in my day. I’m not going to go into that topic right now, but you can probably guess where I stand. I can also tell you that my feelings on the subject are far, far stronger now than they were three weeks ago.