Tier I Pushes East Into New England
The Tier I Elite Hockey League has added an eastern division for ’09-10, and now stretches from Los Angeles to Boston.
The full-season league, known prior to last season as the Midwest Elite Hockey League, has added seven teams and dropped two. There are now 25 franchises in the league.
The expansion teams are the Columbus AAA Blue Jackets, the LA Selects, Colorado Thunderbirds, Boston Advantage, Team Comcast, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, and the Buffalo Regals.
The Mahoning Valley Phantoms and S2 have been dropped.
In addition, there’s been some reshuffling in an effort to line things up more geographically. Here is how the new divisions look:
Chicago Young Americans
St. Louis Amateur Blues
Columbus AAA Blue Jackets
LA Jr. Kings
Philadelphia Jr. Flyers
For the Boston area, where midget hockey has always taken a back seat to prep and high school hockey, this could change the picture, though how much remains to be seen. Most of the organizations in the Tier I League, at the midget level and below, have produced quality players for a good long time, and the league showcases are heavily scouted. The Boston Advantage has a solid nucleus of returning players, but will also be adding a small number of players who are leaving prep school.
The Advantage are likely to host a league showcase next season, and we will know more about this in the next few weeks. It’s preliminary but right now it looks as if the Advantage will host one showcase a year for the next four years, after which the cycle repeats itself.
In Tier I League showcases a team hosting a tournament brings in one of the other divisions, so each tournament becomes a 10-team event. There are showcases throughout the season, which consists of about 60 games.
The Boston Advantage is run by three men – the Lovell brothers and Joe Bracken.
Tim Lovell, who played at the University of Maine and UMass-Amherst, is the GM and says “it’s great” that the Boston Advantage has been asked to join the league.
"I'm 35 now,” he said. “Back when I was playing you just knew who teams like Caesar’s were. It’s an honor to be in the league. It’s very exciting. I think our team next year will be really, really strong. I think we’ll have a top-end team. This is our year.”
Joe Lovell, Tim’s brother, will be the head coach of the midget team. He says he’s excited, too. “The kids,” he said, “will be playing the best teams in midget hockey.”
Bracken, the program director and assistant coach, said, “We got into the league because we started a full-season program right off the bat. We went to the right tournaments. Played the right teams, and built relationships. We went out there and played Belle Tire and Caesar’s and the Dallas Stars and others. We became a part of that. And now we can bring it to New England.”
Bob Mainhardt, in charge of hockey operations for the Mahoning Valley Phantoms, is not happy that his team was bounced from the Tier I Elite Hockey League, and he’s not happy that he’s been unable to get an answer from the league as to why it happened.
“I found the whole thing ridiculous and unprofessional,” he said.
Mainhardt believes that some of his viewpoints ran contrary to the league’s business model.
“For me,” Mainhardt says, “the two key words are exposure and development. You can get too much exposure by playing too many games, which doesn’t allow for time to correct mistakes in practice.”
“We didn’t think driving 7-8 hours to play two league games has anything to do with development and exposure.”
Mainhardt says that, while he was upset at how the whole thing was handled, he has come to accept it. “Realistically, maybe they did us a favor. We are going to be fine.”
Mainhardt is looking to compensate by putting together a challenging schedule for his midget program. He’s already talking about bringing in Shattuck-St. Mary’s and other top independent programs operating outside of the Tier I Elite League.
Mahoning Valley to Join USHLThe NAHL’s Mahoning Valley Phantoms will join the USHL this fall, playing in a seven team Eastern Division that includes the US NTDP, the Chicago Steel, The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Green Bay Gamblers, Waterloo Black Hawks, and Indiana Ice.
Look for an official announcement sometime next week.
In the meantime, Bruce Zoldan, the Phantoms owner, is looking for a buyer for his NAHL franchise. Zoldan hopes to keep the NAHL franchise in the Youngstown area so that the USHL team could work in a cooperative manner with the NAHL team as well as the Phantoms midget program.
Zoldan is the president/CEO of one of the Youngstown-based B.J. Alan Company/Phantom Fireworks.
The new USHL team would, like the NAHL team this season, play in the Chevrolet Center, a modern four-year old arena with a capacity for 5,700 for hockey. The Phantoms played 25 home games at the Chevy Center this season and drew an average of 1,379. Currently, the Phantoms are playing in the NAHL North Division finals vs. the U.S. NTDP and are up 2-1 with game four scheduled for tonight.
Bob Mainhardt, who is the coach/GM of the NAHL’s Phantoms, would become the head coach of the USHL team.
Youngstown is in Northeast Ohio, roughly halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, PA – about 60 miles from each city. A former steel city, it fell on hard times in the late 70’s – you may have heard Bruce Springsteen’s “Youngstown” – but has rebounded a bit in recent years.
From 2005-08, the Chevy Center was home to the Youngstown SteelHounds of the Central Hockey League.
Mon 4/28/09 update: It was made official today. Mahoning Valley has been accepted into the USHL for the '09-10 season, bringing the number of USHL teams to 14 -- seven in the west; seven in the east.
Kreider: Straight to the Heights?
A likely first round NHL draft pick in June, the 6’2”, 200 lb. Boxford, Mass. native, who arrived at Andover from Masconomet Regional High School (Topsfield, Mass.) as a repeat sophomore in the fall of ’07, is looking into going back to his old high school for his diploma. As a member of the class of ’09 at Masco before heading off to prep school and repeating, he’s not exactly accelerating. Perhaps we should say he’s accelerating after decelerating.
At any rate, Boston College, like a lot of NCAA Div. I programs, has done very well with prep players, and does not pressure them to leave early for juniors. And they had no problems with Kreider staying at Andover another year. However, Kreider is getting a lot of questions from NHL teams as to his intentions for next season. The team drafting him would almost certainly want to see him move on to the next level – right away. And once Kreider, a 2008 draft pick of the Lincoln Stars, started seriously considering leaving Andover for the USHL, Boston College suggested that – if he was going to leave anyway – why not go directly to college? So it’s up to the young man and his family. If he wishes, and the family can work it out academically, he’ll go directly to the Heights.
From all indications, the ball is in Masco’s court. If the high school says it can be done, perhaps through summer classes, Kreider will have his high school diploma by September.
Kreider, the USHR Prep Player of the Year, is ranked #14 overall on Central’s final ranking of North American skaters June’s NHL draft. He is also the top-ranked high school player in the U.S.
Marlies’ Mitchell Chooses Westminster
Harvard University has a commitment for 2011 from Toronto Marlies Midget Minor RW Zach Mitchell.
Mitchell, who had been considered a potential first round draft pick for the May 2 OHL draft --– at least before indicating he was taking the NCAA route – will be at the Westminster School as a new junior starting this fall.
The Marlies midget minor squad was the top-ranked squad in Ontario this season, winning the GTHL regular season, the GTHL playoffs and, to cap it off, won the OHL Cup.
Mitchell, who is 5’11, 155 lbs., had a 4-5-9 line in the series. He’s equally talented as a scorer and a playmaker.
On the Marlies, Mitchell was a teammate of defenseman Eric Chevrier, a UNH recruit who will also be playing prep hockey starting in the fall, at Cushing Academy.
-- Lawrence Academy is losing both of their New Brunswick sophomores, defenseman Zach Shannon and forward Zack Phillips.
Both were drafted by the Lewiston Maineiacs in last June’s QMJHL draft. Shannon, whose father is chief scout for the team, will be playing next season for the Maineiacs (who, by the way, are staying in Lewiston after trying to find a home in suburban Montreal and then, when that fell through, at the University of New Brunswick’s home rink in Fredericton).
Phillips, a 6’1”, 168 lb. center who has committed to UMass for either ’11 or ’12, will be playing for the Junior Bruins (EJHL) this coming season.
The Junior Bruins also have both Kyle Smith and Jamie Hill, the UNH recruits and linemates from Team Comcast, committed for next year. Those two just create offense – a lot of fun to watch together.
New faces on the Junior Bruins blue line include Providence recruit Roo Adams, who is currently a junior at Malden Catholic, Mac Lalor from St. Sebastian’s, and Jeff Reppucci from Exeter.
T.J. Massie will be returning from Tri-City (USHL) and will be in goal for the Junior Bruins next season before returning to UMass-Lowell in the fall of ’10.
U.S. Under-18’s Blank Russia; Win Gold
Fargo, ND -- The U.S. Under-18 Team got goals from five different scorers as they rolled to a 5-0 win over Russia in the gold medal game of the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship before 4,923 fans at the Urban Plains Center last night.
Jack Campbell stopped all 17 shots he faced to pick up the shutout. The U.S. outshot Russia by a lopsided 43-17.
With the win, the U.S. Under-18’s avenged their loss to Russia in the final game of the preliminary round just five days earlier, a 6-5 decision in a game in which the U.S. outshot Russia 55-26.
Last night, defenseman Cam Fowler got things going for the U.S., scoring a power play goal on a wrist shot through a screen at the 2:09 mark. Matt Nieto converted a Kevin Lynch pass at 9:27 to give the U.S. a two-goal lead. In the second period, defenseman William Wrenn, with the U.S. up a man, scored to make it 3-0. In the third, Chris Brown and Ryan Bourque added even-strength goals.
Fowler was named Team USA Player of the Game. Fowler was also named the tournament’s top defenseman. Fowler, Campbell, and Jerry D’Amigo were named to the tournament all-star team.
Campbell led all goaltenders with a 0.75 gaa and a .967 save percentage. D’Amigo (4-9-13) was the leading U.S. scorer, followed by Jeremy Morin (6-4-10), Kevin Lynch (5-5-10), Drew Shore (2-7-9), Fowler (1-7-8), Chris Brown (4-3-7), and Bourque (1-6-7).
Thurs. April 9 – U.S. 8, Norway 0
Sat. April 11 – U.S. 4, Finland 3
Mon. April. 13 – U.S. 12, Slovakia 0
Tues. April 14 – Russia 6, U.S. 5
Thurs. April 16 – U.S. 6, Czech Republic 2 (quarterfinals)
Fri. April 17 – U.S. 2, Canada 1 (semifinal)
Sun. April 19 – U.S. 5, Russia 0 (final)
Central Scouting Final Rankings ReleasedNHL Central Scouting released their final 2009 rankings today and University of Minnesota forward Jordan Schroeder tops the list at #5 overall, followed right away by Chicago Steel (USHL) defenseman John Moore. Andover forward Chris Kreider, at #14, is the top-ranked prep/high school player in the country.
Please follow the link below for the full list. Also, in case you are wondering, the little pencils in the left-hand column denote players who will be matriculating at college in the fall. If you touch the pencil with your cursor, it will even tell you the name of the school. Of course, if it had been left to us we would have scrapped the pencil and gone right for the beanie hat with a propellor.
U.S. Wins First Two Games at Under-18sOn Thursday in Fargo, ND, the U.S. Under-18 Team unloaded 65 shots at the Norway net and skated off with an 8-0 win. Kevin Lynch (2g,1a), Jeremy Morin (1g,2a), and Ryan Bourque (2a) led the offense. Adam Murray kicked out all 16 shots he faced to earn the shutout.
Yesterday offered a better test, and the U.S. edged Finland, 4-3. Lynch continued as the hot hand (1g,2a).
The U.S. went up 4-0 on goals by A.J. Treais, Jerry D’Amigo, Lynch, and Chris Brown. Finland battled back with three goals to make things interesting.
Murray got the start again, and kicked out 36 of 39 shots.
Next up, the U.S. plays Slovakia Monday evening at 7:30 pm (Urban Plains Center; Fargo, ND).
NTDP Evaluation Camp
The annual National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp, held at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube the last weekend of March, showcased most of the top ‘93s in the country. What follows is our take on the camp. It’s a consensus look, drawn from the observations of those watching the closest.
All the players listed below are excellent prospects, and any comments we offer should be considered within that context. In other words, if a player’s skating, to use one example, is getting criticized, remember that the reference point is not the average player, but the top players of his age group, or even current NHLers back when they were the same age. Remember, some of these kids won’t get invited to the National Program – and will turn out to be better than some who do. Players improve at vastly different rates, and in different ways, and in different places. That’s just the nature of the beast.
A number of players have been invited and have either accepted/refused the program or are on the fence.
On defense, there was no single player who was miles ahead of most of the others. That said, Keegan Lowe (Edmonton, Alberta/Shattuck-St. Mary's U16), the son of Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe, really stood out. He’s tall, lanky, and extremely thin, but eventually he will fill out. He’s a very good skater. He competes. He makes smart decisions. And he offers upside galore.
Michael Paliotta (Westport, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall) has all the tools – he’s big, strong, and can skate. He’s polished for his age, and if and when he puts everything together, he could be a really good defenseman. As in Lowe’s case, there is a lot of upside with Paliotta, who has committed to the program and will be leaving Choate.
Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill./Chicago Mission Midget Major). Russo, of the Chicago Mission Midget Major squad, has great stick skills. Nice first pass. Can lead the rush, and run a power play. Has poise, anticipation. Provides offensive punch, but not at the expense of defense. Good shot. Played up all season, and was the first player offered for this year by the NTDP.
Jake Worrad (London, Ontario/Elgin-Middlesex Midget). Another blueliner who can really skate and move the puck. Very good low center of gravity, and very mobile. Worrad, who is 5’10” and a late ’93, tended to overhandle the puck a bit, thus making simple decisions complex. Highly rated for OHL draft.
Alex Lepkowski (West Seneca, N.Y./St. Francis High School). Big, raw, and the most physical defenseman in the camp. Competes.
J.D. Cotroneo (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S). Was better than expected. Nice soft hands. Smooth passes. Sees the ice well. Poised and steady.
Andy Welinski (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East H.S). He’s a good solid skater with a very good first step or two. Passes the puck well. Shows poise and calmness. Has presence.
Colin Sullivan (Milford, Conn./Fairfield Prep). Has size and skating ability, but his game is raw. Could be a top-flight prospect, but exactly how top-flight is hard to say. The building blocks are there, but we would need to see him more. Committed to Yale. Might be at St. Paul’s or Avon this fall.
Alexx Privitera (Old Tappan, N.J./New Jersey Avalanche Midget Minor). Can skate and has good overall skills. Didn’t really separate himself from the pack here. Has been offered a spot on the team.
Matt Van Voorhis (Edina, Minn./Edina HS). Was offered a spot by the NTDP in advance of the tryout weekend. He is small, skates well, and makes a good first pass, but is not exactly a high-end offensive player and was a little shaky with the puck in his own end. His lack of size neutralized him in certain areas of the ice.
Colin Suellentrop (Plantation, Fla./Compuware Midget Minor). Showed poise under pressure. Kept things simple. Steady type. Nothing fancy.
Andy Ryan (Brighton, Mich./Victory Honda Midget Major). Good size. Didn’t really stand out for us. Committed to Notre Dame. Has been offered a spot on the team.
Barrett Kaib (Upper St. Clair, Pa/Culver Academy). A rugged type who played a simple smart game. Has been offered a spot on the team.
Joakim Ryan (Rumson, N.J /NJ Devils Midget Minor). Also kept things simple.
Jacob MacDonald (Brighton, Mich./Compuware Midget Minor). Poised, good passer.
Dan Molenaar (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie H.S.). Was sick coming in, and appeared tired, lethargic, slow in reacting.
Zach Larazza (Scottsdale, Ariz./P.F. Chang’s Midget Major). Big -- 6’2”, 175 lbs. – strong and can skate. Huge upside. A power forward with solid fundamentals. Can make plays and finish – probably more likely to dish it. He’ll hit. He does it all, really. Quite polished. Committed to team.
Travis Boyd (Hopkins, Minn./Hopkins H.S.). Smooth skater. Excellent hands. Hockey smarts. Excellent at creating time and space. Competes. Physically slight and weak, but that can be worked on. Was offered a slot by the program.
Rocco Grimaldi (Rossmor, Calif./Little Caesars Midget Major). Excellent skills – plus he competes hard. Driven, and tough to knock off the puck. Darts around and fights through checks. Good release to shot. He’s small, and we’re unsure if he has what Nate Gerbe or Brian Gionta have. Has committed to team.
J.T. Miller (Epalestine, Ohio/Pittsburgh Hornets Midget Major). Big 6’’1” kid who projects as a power forward. Good skater N-S. Protects puck well, but has a tendency to overhandle it. Drives to net hard. Has been offered a spot on the team.
Tyler Biggs (Loveland, Ohio/Toronto Jr. Canadiens Midget Minor). Really good hands and really good sense of the game. Good size. Heavy-footed skater, though. Has been offered a spot on the team.
J.C. Campagna (Dublin, Ohio /Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets). Good size at 6’2”. Good hands. Excellent offensive skills. A natural goal scorer. Skating is average, but looks like it can be improved.
Vince Trocheck (Bingham Farms, Mich./Little Caesars Midget Major). Really good sense of the game. Distributed puck well, an excellent playmaker. Really good release to shot. Very dangerous from circles down. Opportunistic. Has been offered a spot on the team.
Cason Hohmann (Arlington, Texas/Compuware Midget Minor). Really good puck skills. Darts in and out of traffic. Quick and fast. Weak shot. Very good now, but also very small.
Ryan Haggerty (Stamford, Conn./Trinity Catholic). Moved and distributed puck well. Average size, around 5’10”. Has been offered a spot on the team.
Alex Gacek (Dracut, Mass./Governor's Academy). Good wheels. Will probably be playing in EJHL next season.
Christian Horn (Plymouth, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret's H.S.). Lanky, unorthodox skater. Physically weak. Slippery in traffic, and slippery around net. A player to keep tabs on.
Dan Carlson (Corcoran, Minn./Maple Grove H.S.). Skates well. Good size. Made some good passes. Had a presence out there. That said, he could have accomplished a bit more.
Corbin McGuire (Ridgefield, Conn./Taft School). One of the New England players who had to leave early. Didn’t really get a chance to show what he could do. Committed to Wisconsin.
Blake Pietila (Milford, Mich./Compuware Midget Minor). Average size. Average skater. But a smart player with a good sense of the game. Makes heady passes. Good in own end.
Thomas Schutt (Chanhassen, Minn./Minnetonka H.S.). Good, smart, two-way player. Decent speed, but lacks a first step. Average size, 5’10” or so.
Michael Sit (Edina, Minn./Edina H.S.). Brought a lot of energy. Played with speed and jam. Good sense of game. Good quick release on shot. Could be a role player in the program.
Tanner Sorenson (Anchorage, Alaska/Shattuck-St. Mary's U16). Good sense and decent skills. Was around the puck a lot. Didn’t stand out.
Jack Barre -- Fairfield, Conn./Salisbury School – Big, raw forward with good strong hands. Moves puck well. Stiff-legged skater had difficulty getting around the ice with any kind of speed.
Adam Reid (China Hills, Calif./LA Selects). Big – 6’3” or so – and works hard. Very raw. Limited sense of game. Ran around a lot. Just a big horse.
Kevin Irwin (Hinckley, Ohio/Cleveland Barons Midget Major). His father died three weeks ago, so we think that may have affected his game.
Danny Elser -- Hopewell Jct., N.Y./Shattuck-St. Mary's U16 – Don’t have anything on him. Wasn’t noticeable.
Cole Bardreau -- Fairport, N.Y./Rochester Midget Minor – Reported to be injured. Didn’t stand out. Has been offered a spot on the team, and accepted.
Max Birkinbine -- White Bear Lake, Minn./White Bear Lake H.S. – OK.
Reid Boucher -- Grand Ledge, Mich./Lansing Capitals Midget Major – Didn't do much goal scoring at the camp, but he can score. Has been offered a spot on the team, and accepted.
Three goalies made an impact. The two Matts -- St. Thomas Academy’s Matt McNeely, and Culver Academy’s Matt Mahalak. And John Gibson of the Pittsburgh Hornets Midget Minors. We are told both McNeely and Gibson made the team, but believe Mahalak is part of the discussion as well. McNeely, a University of Maine commit, was the consensus #1 here.
Matt McNeely -- Burnsville, Minn./St. Thomas Academy
Matt Mahalak -- Monroe, Mich./Culver Academy
John Gibson -- Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Hornets Midget Minor
Daniel Liesman -- Okemos, Mich./Capital Center Midget
Garrett Sparks -- Elmhurst, Ill./Team Illinois Midget Minor
Kevin Venturoso -- Franklin, Mass./Bridgewater Bandits (Empire)
New Full-Season Midget AAA LeagueA full-season Tier I midget AAA hockey league – the Eastern Elite Hockey League – will be beginning play in the Northeast this fall.
There are four teams currently in the EEHL, and they are seeking additional teams to round out the league. The four teams are: Rice Memorial High School (South Burlington, Vt.), the New England Junior Falcons (Springfield, Mass.), the Portland Junior Pirates (Portland, Maine), and the Clifton Park Dynamo (Clifton Park, NY).
“We are very excited to see this new venture on the ice,” said Damian DiGiulian, head coach at Rice and the EEHL spokesman in making the announcement. “We intend to provide the very best competition for the players in our league and at the same time, we will be committed to developing great athletes and exceptional young men on and off the ice.”
In addition to the league’s regular season and playoff schedule, teams will also compete in a league showcase tournament, and play outside programs as well.
The schedule will be set when the number of league teams is finalized. A league website will be going up later this spring.
In addition to DiGiulian at Rice, other announced head coaches are Brad Shaver for Clifton Park, and Pat Tabb for the Falcons.
USHL Playoffs Start Tonight
The USHL Clark Cup Championship begins tonight with #4E Waterloo @ #1E Green Bay facing off in best-of-five first round action. Tomorrow, the remaining three series get underway: #3E Indiana @ #2E Cedar Rapids, #4W Sioux Falls @ #1W Lincoln, and #3W Fargo @ #2W Omaha.
The Green Bay Gamblers, under first year head coach Jon Cooper went from worst to first and won the Anderson Cup, which goes to the regular season champions. A year ago, the Gamblers were coming off a 13-41-6 season, good for 32 points. This season, they finished up with a 39-17-4 record (82 points).
Andrew Miller, a late ’88 forward with the Chicago Steel and a Yale recruit, won the league scoring title with a 32-50-82 line in 58 games played. Mike Cichy (Indiana) and Craig Smith (Waterloo) finishing second with 76 points apiece.
Mankato State recruit Kevin Murdock (Lincoln Stars), a ’90 from Bradenton, Fla., was the top goaltender in the league, with a 2.24 gaa and a .920 save percentage in 35 games.
The regular-season leader in penalty minutes was Sebastian Geoffrion, an Alabama-Huntsville recruit who used a late rush (19 pims in his final regular season game) to finish with 182.
World Under-18s Start Tonight
The U.S. Under-18 Team begins play in the IIHF World Under-18 Championship tonight in Flood-ravaged Fargo, ND.
The U.S., which defeated Germany, 9-0, and Sweden, 4-3, in a pair of exhibition games in Blaine, Minn., will face off against Norway at 8:00 pm CST.
Here’s the US roster:
Goaltenders (2): Jack Campbell, Adam Murray.
Defensemen (8): Adam Clendening, Cam Fowler, Nick Mattson, Jon Merrill, John Ramage, Brendan Rempel, Philip Samuelsson, William Wrenn.
Forwards (12): Ryan Bourque, Chris Brown, Jerry D’Amigo, John Henrion, Kevin Lynch, Jeremy Morin, Matt Nieto, Kenny Ryan, Drew Shore, A.J. Treais, David Valek, and Jason Zucker.
Bourque and Morin played in last April’s World Under-18 Championship.
Campbell, Clendening, Merrill, Nieto, and Zucker are all ‘92s brought up from the Under-17 team.
The only outside player brought in this year is defenseman Philip Samuelsson of the Chicago Steel (USHL). The Steel did not qualify for the USHL playoffs.
The Under-18 Team players who were cut from the team are: Goaltender Brandon Maxwell, who in five games at last year’s IIHF Under-18 World Championship had a 2.21 gaa and a .926 save percentage; defensemen Tyler Amburgey, Sam Calabrese, and Richie Crowley; and forward Chris McCarthy.
Thurs April 9 – Norway, 8:00 pm CST
Sat. April 11 – Finland, 7:30 pm CST
Mon. April 13 – Slovakia, 7:30 pm
Tues. April 14 – Russia, 7:30 pm
Thurs. April 16 – Quarterfinals
Sat. April 18 – 5th Place Game
Sun. April 19 – Medal Games
Hockey at FenwayThe word coming out of Fenway today – besides the fact that the Red Sox are trailing Tampa Bay 4-2 in the ninth, is that the next NHL Winter Classic will be played at Boston’s 97-year-old ballpark.
That, of course, would be on New Year’s Day. Should be easy to remember. Nothing has been confirmed, and no opponent has been announced. The last two New Year’s Day games have been played at Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, NY; and at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
2008-09 Prep Players of the YearThe Hobey Baker Award is getting handed out tomorrow in our nation’s capital, so we’re going to hand out our ’08-09 awards today. The sun is out. It’s warm. It seems like a good day to do it.
USHR Player of the Year:
Chris Kreider, Jr., Phillips Andover
With a 33-23-56 line in 26 games, Kreider was Andover’s leading scorer – by a whopping margin – and the key to their reaching the NEPSIHA Div. I playoffs last month in Salem, NH. Kreider, who came over from Masconomet HS as a repeat sophomore the season before, had plenty of pressure in his second season at Andover as a throng of NHL scouts charted his every move. The 6’2”, 200 lb. C/LW, a likely first round NHL draft choice in June, is intriguing in that he is certainly the best pure skater we’ve ever seen at the prep level. Not only does he offer great explosiveness, but he also has great top speed. And speed is what his game is built around. It remains to be seen whether Kreider, who will matriculate at Boston College in ’10, will be at Andover for his senior season, or will move on to juniors. The Lincoln Stars own his USHL rights.
USHR Forward of the Year:
USHR Defenseman of the Year:
Danny Biega, Sr., Salisbury School
A late ’91 from Point –Claire, Quebec, Biega will be at Harvard in the fall, skating with his two older brothers, defenseman Alex, who will be a senior, and forward Michael, who will be a junior. The 5’11”, 185 lb. Biega, who had an 8-14-22 line in 27 games to help lead Salisbury to the NEPSIHA championship, was the glue on the Salisbury blue line this season. He was hard-nosed, competitive, smart, and extremely reliable in all three zones. As Biega is a late ’91, he won’t be eligible for the NHL draft until next summer.
We thought the goaltending was really good in prep hockey this year and, while Michael Condon, Alex Vazzano, and Max Fenkell all had great years, Iles was a little bit better, and his goaltending helped lead Salisbury to the NEPSIHA prep title. Down the stretch, Iles was very tough, allowing just seven goals over Salisbury’s last six game’s, including a shutout of Exeter in the prep championship game. A native of Ithaca, NY, the 5’9” Iles is a Cornell recruit for ’10. His USHL rights are held by the Indiana Ice, who made him their first round pick in the 2008 Future's Draft.
USHR Goaltender of the Year:
Andy Iles, Jr., Salisbury School
Cushing Forward to UMass
5’9”, 160 lb. Cushing junior forward Conor Sheary has committed to UMass-Amherst for either ’10 or ’11.
Sheary, a left shot RW from Melrose, Mass., was Cushing’s leading scorer this year with a 16-27-43 line in 31 games played. In addition to UMass, he made unofficial visits to UNH, BC, and BU.
Sheary is a 6/8/92 birthdate. Besides his scoring touch, his coach, Rob Gagnon, likes his puck pursuit. “He’s always on it,” Gagnon says, “and if he loses it his retrieval is phenomenal. Backchecking, he can pick peoples’ pockets.”
Adams to Friars
6’2”, 196 lb. Malden Catholic junior defenseman Roo Adams has committed to Providence College for the fall of '10.
Adams, who has size and skating ability, opened eyes at the Beantown Spring Classic a couple of weeks ago. A strong student, Adams also had Yale, Harvard, and Union in the picture.
With Delbarton's Alex Velischek and Adams, the Friars will have two high school players on the blue line -- a bit of a rarity these days.
A 5/23/91 birthdate, Adams is the first Malden Catholic player to go Div. I since Keith Tkachuk.
Levine Hands Reins to Wright
Former Boston University forward Matt Wright has been named to take over at the New Hampton School. Wright, who played at Belmont High and Phillips Andover before going on to BU where he won an NCAA title in ’95, is a co-founder of the Boston Vipers youth program, and has been coaching in the organization.
Wright takes over from – and was hand-picked by – Mike Levine, who guided New Hampton to two consecutive Div. II title game appearances, losing by one goal to Kent’s Hill in ’08 before upsetting Hebron, 3-2, to win the NEPSIHA Div. II championship last month. Four years ago, Levine, practically right out of college, asked the school’s AD if he could try to bring back the school’s hockey program, which had been dissolved. Levine was given the go-ahead and the results speak for themselves.
A Utica College grad, Levine will be returning to Utica to get his master’s degree. While there, he will be working as an assistant to head coach Gary Heenan.
“I have enjoyed my time spent at New Hampton,” Levine wrote in an email. “I love the prep school community, I am thrilled with the success of the program and I know that I leave it in capable hands.”
“Prep school is where I want to be,” Levine added, “and once my graduate degree is completed I look forward to returning to the prep world.”
5’10”, 155 lb. St. Paul’s School sophomore center Jonathan Liau has committed to Princeton for the fall of ’11.
Liau, who also had an offer from Yale and had visited Boston University, is a 1/17/92 birthdate from La Canada, California where he played for the California Wave. Liau, who combines quickness with excellent hands and hockey sense, posted a 12-14-26 line in 26 games this season. He played mostly on an all-soph line with Paul Plaisir and Brendan Bourgea. As a freshman, he centered the second line down the stretch and into the playoffs, where St. Paul’s was edged, 3-2, by Avon Old Farms in overtime of the title game.
(Note: Earlier, we reoported that this commitment was for the fall of '11. It's not. It's for the fall of '12. Liau will play a year of juniors before matriculating at Princeton.)
5’11”, 183 lb. Westminster goaltender Charles Corsi will be heading to Dartmouth this fall.
Corsi, a 1/29/90 birthdate from Rosemere, Quebec, played in 26 games for Westminster this season, posting a .921 save percentage.
Marlboro, Mass. -- The New Hampshire Monarchs, who had bowed to the Jersey Hitmen in the EJHL best-of-three final two weeks ago, had their chance to even things up today in the championship game of the Tier III Jr. A Nationals. And they took advantage of it, too, coming from behind to skate off with a 3-2 win in a hard-fought game.
Monarchs Even Score
With the win, the Monarchs take the National crown for the third straight year.
This game was a breakfast show – a 9:30 a.m. start – and the Monarchs were sleepy in the first, falling behind 2-0 before the game was ten minutes old. At 6:09 Hitmen winger Nick Geraci found UVM recruit Colin Markinson at the far post for a tap-in at 6:09. Less than two minutes later, Geraci dropped a pass to Andrew Kurlandski, who let one rip, beating Monarchs goalie Brian Billett top corner to make it 2-0.
The Monarchs came out hard in the second, and, at the 6:47 mark Adam Kaiser, a Wesleyan recruit, put them on the board, beating Jon Morrow with a turnaround shot from the left face-off circle to cut the Hitmen’s lead to 2-1. The Monarchs held a healthy shot advantage in the second.
In the third, the Monarchs tied the game up as Jeff Hannan finished off a really nice passing sequence with assists going to Maine recruit Matt Mangene and Kaiser at the 12:01 mark.
The winning goal was rather innocuous looking, as Patrick Kiley curled out from behind the net and backhanded a shot on Morrow that found its way through with 4:42 left on the clock.
Kaiser was called for a slash with 2:15 to go. Given the power play, the Hitmen just poured it, but couldn’t solve Billett as time ran out.
Final shots favored the Monarchs, 30-16.
”We didn’t do anything well in the first,” said Monarchs head coach Sean Tremblay. “They came out loose, and we came out tight. In the second we started to stretch on the weak side to open up the ice and create some offense. And Brian Billett held things down. You only remember the last game you play going into the summer so this was nice. But the Hitmen are a class organization. There is no loser in a game like this.
Hitmen head coach Toby Harris said “Sean did a good changing up the way he played us. They really shut down our power play. It was a really tight game. I tip my hat to them.”
Suffolk PAL (MJHL), coached by Aleksey Nikiforov, won the Junior B Nationals, topping the Central Penn Panthers, 4-1. '91 forwards Matthew Vidal (2g,1a), Jesse Petito (1g,2a), and James Murphy (3a) led the attack with three points apiece. '90 goaltender William Cirillo kicked out 28 of 29 shots to earn the win,
McGuire Commits to Badgers
5’8”, 168 lb. Taft freshman forward Corbin McGuire has committed to the University of Wisconsin for the fall of ’12.
A 5/11/93 birthdate from Ridgefield, Conn., McGuire is a skilled scorer and playmaker who, if he returns to Taft, will be a key to next year’s team.
This season, in 24 games, he had a 7-3-10 line.
McGuire was out at the NTDP Development Camp at the end of last week. (To be precise, he was there for just one full day, as he, along with the other four New England district players on hand, had to fly out at 5:00 am Saturday in order to be in Portland, Maine on Saturday for Select tryouts. Another strange-but-true USA Hockey story.)
6’3”, 200 lb. St. Paul’s School defenseman Scott Harff has committed to Brown for this fall.
Harff, a 12/30/89 birthdate from Watertown, NY, has played at St. Paul’s for the last three seasons. This year, in 26 games, he had a 4-11-15 line and captained the team.
Here We Come, Heartland
Bennett, a 6’0”, 170 lb. LD, visited Cedar Rapids, Iowa over spring break. The Warwick, RI native, ranked #63 in Central’s Mid-Term Rankings of North American skaters, has his USHL rights owned by the RoughRiders.
Deblois, a 5’11”, 175 lb. forward, was Hotchkiss’ leading scorer this past winter with a 10-21-31 line in 23 games. The Narragansett, RI native was ranked #69 in Central’s Mid-Term Rankings. His USHL rights are held by the Tri-City Storm. However, he reportedly wants to play in Cedar Rapids, wtih Bennett.
Here We Come, HeartlandHotchkiss School juniors Mac Bennett and Derek Deblois, both of whom are University of Michigan recruits, will be leaving Hotchkiss for junior hockey in the fall.
van Riemsdyk Signs With Flyers
UNH 6’3” 205 lb. sophomore LW/C James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers top pick (#2 overall) in the 2007 NHL amateur draft, has signed a multi-year entry level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers that commences with the ’09-10 season.
Simultaneously, van Riemsdyk signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL). The Flyers’ affiliate plays in the soon-to-be demolished Philadelphia Spectrum, a stone’s throw from the Wachovia Center and van Riemsdyk, a native of Middletown, NJ, about 90 minutes from Philadelphia, will be in the lineup tonight when the Phantoms host the Albany River Rats (7:05 pm).
The Flyers brass would have liked to have signed van Riemsdyk now, as there would have been salary cap advantages for the club. However, to do so would have necessitated sending two players down, so head coach John Stevens vetoed it in the name of team unity. Needless to say, van Riemsdyk wouldn't have wanted to begin his pro career in such an uncomfortable situation anyway. Besides, the AHL offers enough of a challege for a college player adjusting to the pro game.
The Phantoms might not make the playoffs, so barring anything unusual, van Riemsdyk might only have seven games to play before the end of the season.
2008 Great 8 Rosters
The 28h annual Ted Brill Great 8 Tournament gets underway this Friday night at 6:00 pm with four quarterfinals. Semifinals are Saturday, with quarterfinal losers meeting at 12:30 and 3:00 pm and quarterfinal winners meeting at 1:00 and 3:30 pm.
On Sunday, the seventh place game is at 11:30 am; the fifth place game is at 2:00 pm; the third place game is at noon; and the championship game is at 2:30 pm.
All games are at Wakota Arena in South St. Paul.
The series started in 1983 and for the first 14 years was known as the Minnesota High School All-Star Maroon and Gold Series and featured just two teams – an outstate team and a metro team. Thirteen years ago, the tournament expanded to four teams with a combined total of 68 players and was known as the “Great 68.” Nine years ago it ballooned to its current eight-team format.
The Minnesota entry in the 25th Annual Chicago Showcase (April 14-19) is drawn from this tournament. However, only players who do not have a firm Div. I NCAA commitment are selected. Over the last 11 years, Minnesota has won the tournament nine times.