Hoggers, Part II
We thought our story on the highly unusual Dec. 19-20 Northfield-Mt. Hermon games at the Lawrenceville Tourney - the goalie-less games - would garner a little bit of interest outside of the prep community. It never really happened, though the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle did pick up on it in a column emphasizing the local angle. However, you have to wade through an article on the Indianapolis Colts to get to get to it.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Story on NMH
We were unable to reach Lawrenceville head coach Etienne Bilodeau for comment after the game due to the fact that immediately after the game he left for Quebec City to spend Christmas with his family - and we didn't have his cell number.
On Christmas day, though, he sent us an email, some of the highlights of which follow:
First off, says Bilodeau, "In no way was I trying to avoid comment on the game against Northfield Mt. Hermon."
"As for the game itself, it certainly was something I have never seen in over thirty years of hockey. I have to give all of the credit in the world to Coach Pratt and his kids. They played inspiring hockey in all three zones. They peppered our goalie, won every loose puck, blocked tons of shots, and outhustled and outplayed us in every aspect of the game. They had six skaters, and that certainly was a unique aspect to their style of play; but they outplayed us so dramatically that I am not sure that their having six skaters and no goalie was sine qua non of the outcome. Considering how well every single NMH player played, had they played with five skaters and a goalie, they probably would have beaten and outshot us by a significant margin. Tom Pratt had his players ready to go and it showed. I can't say enough about how impressed I was by the NMH coaching staff and their players.
"At Lawrenceville, we talk a great deal about accountability and responsibility. I am not immune to these requirements. I take complete responsibility for not having my players ready to go on Sunday morning. Northfield Mt. Hermon is a good team, and there is no excuse for not being ready to play a game against such a quality opponent.
"Northfield Mt. Hermon owed us one. Two years ago, in the opening game of the Lawrenceville Tournament, we played a great game - NMH had a tough game - and we ended up coming away with an 11-1 win. One of the things that makes prep school hockey so wonderful are the lasting rivalries and opportunities for redemption and on-ice reckoning. Because of that, it is only a matter of time before a team gets its payback. I knew that it was only a matter of time before NMH got us back - I just didn't think it would ever be with six skaters and no goalie.
"We are looking forward to a rematch with the Hoggers on January 23, goalie or not."
Canada Tops U.S. With Shootout Win
Saskatoon, Sask. - When Danny Kristo scored early in the third to put the U.S. National Junior Team up 4-2 it looked like the U.S. was on their way to pulling off the difficult task of putting away Canada - on their own soil.
But it wasn't to be.
A Jordan Eberle goal - his second of the game -- cut the U.S. lead to 4-3 at the 10:03 mark, and, with 4:15 left on the clock, Alex Pietrangelo tied it at 4-4, a shorthanded goal.
With 2:10 remaining in regulation, it looked like Canada had taken the lead, but the referee had blown the whistle for a crease violation before the puck crossed the line.
The teams went scoreless in overtime, and moved on to the shootout, where all three Canadian shooters scored. When Canadian goaltender Jake Allen stopped Jordan Schroeder's attempt -- after Danny Kristo and Chad Morin had cashed in on their attempts -- Canada had their win.
Earlier, the U.S. had picked up a pair of shorthanded goals of their own, both in the second period, by Jordan Schroeder, and then, with 11 seconds on the clock, Tyler Johnson, the latter goal putting the U.S. up 3-2.
In the latter stages of the second, with the game tied at 2-2, Chris Kreider was awarded a penalty shot, but was stopped by Jake Allen. Minutes later, Kyle Palmieri was stopped on a breakaway.
With the win, Canada takes first place in Group A and gains a bye into the semis. The U.S. must play Finland in a quarterfinal on Saturday Jan. 2.
Canada 5, United States 4 (shootout win)
Canada - Della Rovere (Adam, Caron) 2:03
United States - McRae (D'Amigo) ppg 3:40
United States - Schroeder (Johnson) shg 7:08
Canada - Eberle (Schenn, Scandella) 11:15
United States - Johnson, (D'Amigo) shg 19:49
United States - Kristo (Stepan) 1:01
Canada - Eberle (Schenn, McMillan) 10:03
Canada - Pietrangelo (unn) shg 15:45
Canada -- Eberle (goal)
United States -- Kristo (goal)
Canada --- Kadri (goal)
United States -- Morin (goal)
Canada -- Kozun (goal)
United States -- Schroeder (no goal)
Canada - Jake Allen (24/28)
USA - Jack Campbell (30/34)
Ned Bunyon, 73, Dies Unexpectedly
Former Boston College forward and long-time hockey official Ned Bunyon died unexpectedly last night at his Belmont, Mass. home. He was 73.
Bunyon, in recent years a supervisor of officials, was on the job until the end. This typist was talking to him on Monday at the Nichols--Belmont Hill Tournament, and he was looking great. Several college coaches saw him yesterday at the BB&N Tournament.
His death came as a result of a fall in his home. He was on a blood thinner, and reportedly broke an artery in the brain.
A moment of silence was observed at area rinks today.
Bunyon was a walking history of hockey. He knew everyone in the game in New England – and everyone knew him. Though best known to the public for his decades of officiating, he’d also worked as a scout, and as an independent sales rep for hockey equipment. The game was his life.
Local Los Angeles Kings scout Bob Crocker, when he was with the Hartford Whalers, hired Bunyon to run the officiating at the team’s training camp for the years he was there.
“He never let me down – ever,” said Crocker. “He did such a good job for me that I hired him as the Whalers’ New England scout in ’87-88. He did that until Eddie Johnston came in and brought his own people.”
“He had a phenomenal memory. He could remember people and dates and the details of long ago games like you wouldn’t believe. He’d always test me by saying something like, ‘What happened on January 14th, 1973?’ and I’d go, ‘I don’t know, Ned’ and then he’d tell you. If it was a game he was talking about, he’d remember the most minute details. It would always amaze me.”
Visiting hours are Monday Jan. 4th from 4:00-8:00 pm at the Brown & Hickey Funeral Home at 36 Trapelo Rd., Belmont.
Funeral services are Tues. Jan. 5th at 10:30 am at St. Joseph’s Church, 124 Common St., Belmont.
Winter's Night Reading
Below, you will find links to a couple of interesting articles that have been brought to our attention.
The first, written by Don Campbell of the Ottawa Citizen, concerns the resignation of Nepean Raiders (CJHL) head coach Gary Galley, who, along with his entire staff, resigned over the fact that the Raiders' team owner demanded certain players - specifically, his children - get playing time. The situation has parallels with the Albert Lea Thunder (NAHL) imbroglio of about six weeks ago, and suggests that the old saying, "You're not in youth hockey anymore" may be further from the truth than even before.
The next story, by Jeff Hicks of the Kitchener Record, explodes the myth of OHL scholarships and looks exactly at how post-secondary shakes out in the OHL. The article should be required reading for anyone on the fence over the NCAA vs. major junior question. What gives Hicks' story added weight is that it appeared in the only daily of a city that is home to a major junior team. We can't imagine Mr. Hicks will be welcomed with open arms at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, but no one can say that he didn't do his homework, pun intended.
Kitchener Record Article on OHL Education Packages
We are looking for one or more people who enjoy combing websites for hockey articles and tidbits that might be of interest to USHR readers. The two articles we linked to above were both sent to us by readers, and are a couple of examples of what we are looking for. We don't care where you are located, or what sort of hockey articles and websites and newspapers you are reading. We just know that we don't have time to read everything, or even close to it. So if there are people out there interested in helping out by scouring websites and newspapers for interesting material, we'd like to hear from you. Please send your links along and if we like them, we'll use them. We can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Other WJCs
With the World Junior Championship getting underway in Saskatoon, Sask. tonight, it's time to look at the other, lower-level Under-20 championships, which were going full tilt last week. As we've done before, we are highlighting the players who play for North American teams, have kept their college eligibility, and are representing their country.
-- Div. IA U20 World Championship, Saint-Gervais and Megève, France. Dec. 14-20.
Germany won the title, thus earning a promotion to the 2011 IIHF World Under-20 Championship.
Alexander Jensen, '90 F, Waterloo (USHL). Jensen led the tournament in scoring with a 2-7-9 line in five games.
Maxime Brachet, '90 F, South Shore Kings (Empire)
Yegor Bezugly, '91 F, Brewster Academy
Vladyslav Gavrik, '91 F, Hebron Academy
Oleksi Lakiza, '92 D, Philadelphia Thunder (NJHL)
Yevgeni Lymansky, '92 F, Philadelphia Thunder (NJHL)
Oleksi Malichenko, '90 F, NY Apple Core (Empire)
-- Div. IB U20 World Championship, Gdansk, Poland. Dec. 14-20.
Norway won it.
Scott Winkler, '90 F, Colorado College. Winkler, who led the tournament with a 6-8-14 line in five games, was named the best forward in the tournament.
Kirill Gotovets, '91 D, Shattuck-St. Mary's (Gotovets, a Cornell recruit, played in just two games - we are assuming he was injured).
Ivan Delic, '90 D, Holderness School
Nikita Mokin, '92 D, Syracuse Stars (Empire)
Valentin Milyukov, '92 D, Syracuse Stars (Empire)
-- Div. IIA U20 World Championship, Debrecen, Hungary.
Pol Gonzalez, '92 F, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (CCHL)
Ignacio Martinez-Barona, '92 G, St. Paul (Minn.) Highland Park HS
Richard Hardi, '93 F, Notre Dame Hounds (Wilcox, Sask.)
David Kiss, '90 F, New England Huskies (Empire)
Atilla Pavuk, '91 F, Hoosac School
Hungary beat Mexico, 28-0, outshooting their opponents 105-9, on Dec. 14. Pavuk and Hardi each had five points.
A couple of days later, Hungary beat China, 20-1, outshooting them 70-4. The New England Huskies' David Kiss had a five-point game (2g,3a). Despite all those goals, Hungary finished in second place at the tournament, bowing 5-4 to Great Britain in the championship game.
-- Div. IIB U20 World Championship, Estonia
The winner: Lithuania.
Roman Andrejev, '90 F, New Jersey Renegades
Pijus Rulevicius, '92 F, Suffolk Juniors
Nardi Nagtzaam, '90 F, Alaska Avalanche
Mickey Bastings, '92 F, Banff Academy
Still to come: The Div. III World Under-20s, which will run Jan. 4-10 in Istanbul, Turkey. If you prefer minarets to grain silos, this might just be the World Junior Championship for you. Competing teams are Australia, Bulgaria, Iceland, New Zealand, Korea, and Chinese Taipei. We've studied the rosters, and failed to find one familiar name.
All Eyes on Saskatoon
Saskatoon, Sask -- The U.S. National Junior Team plays their opening game at the 2010 World Junior Championship tonight, an 8:00 pm (EST) tilt against Slovakia.
The last two cuts - Boston University defenseman Max Nicastro and Michigan forward Chris Brown -- were made on Wednesday.
Here's the 22-man roster:
Goaltenders (2): Jack Campbell (U.S. Under-18), Mike Lee (St. Cloud State).
Defensemen (7): John Carlson (Hershey Bears - AHL), Matt Donovan (Denver), Cam Fowler (Windsor - OHL), Jake Gardiner (Wisconsin), Brian Lashoff (Kingston - OHL), John Ramage (Wisconsin), David Warsofsky (BU).
Forwards (13): Ryan Bourque (Quebec - QMJHL), Jerry D'Amigo (RPI), A.J. Jenks (Plymouth - OHL), Tyler Johnson (Spokane - WHL), Chris Kreider (BC), Danny Kristo (North Dakota), Philip McRae (London - OHL), Jeremy Morin (Kitchener - OHL), Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame), Jordan Schroeder (Minnesota), Derek Stepan (Wisconsin), Luke Walker (Portland - WHL), Jason Zucker (US Under-18).
Stepan has been named captain, with Schroeder and Carlson alternates.
Of the 22 players, two are ‘92s (Campbell, Zucker) and seven are ‘91s (Fowler, Ramage, Bourque, D'Amigo, Kreider, Morin, Palmieri). The remaining 13 players are ‘90s.
Schroeder will be playing in his third WJC; Johnson and Kristo their second. All other players are new to the tournament.
Eleven players are NCAA players, eight come from major junior, two come from the U.S. Under-18 Team, and one comes from the AHL.
All U.S. games are on the NHL Network , which is subscription based. They will also be streamed on FAST hockey.
Head Coach: Dean Blais
Assistant Coaches: Mark Osiecki, Tom Ward, and Joe Exter.
Director of Player Personnel: Tim Taylor
Sat. Dec. 26 - vs. Slovakia, 8:00 pm EST
Sun. Dec. 27 - vs. Switzerland, 4:00 pm EST
Tues. Dec. 29 - vs. Latvia, 4:00 pm EST
Thurs. Dec. 31 - vs. Canada, 8:00 pm EST
Sat. Jan. 2 -- Quarterfinals, TBD
Sun. Jan. 3 - Semifinals, TBD
Tues. Jan. 5 - Medal Games, TBD
Wherever you are on this Christmas morning, we hope that the bounty of the season, be it material, spiritual or some beguiling combination of the two, has landed on your door, and is prepared to settle in for the day, or longer.
From here at the U.S. Hockey Report, we just want to say thank you to all our subscribers. Without you, this site would not exist. It's as simple as that. We are grateful, and want you to know that.
The Hoggers' Improbable Feat
When the final buzzer of Sunday morning's seventh-place game at the Lawrenceville Christmas Tournament sounded, the Northfield-Mt. Hermon players streamed off the bench and made a beeline for the crease to congratulate their goalie for the win.
Only problem was, no goalie was there. The reason: NMH had played the entire game - their second in a row -- without a goalie. That's right, no goalie at all. Not even a shooter tutor.
Several players could be seen reaching out and air-patting the spot where their goalie would have stood.
Thus, with a 12-4 win over Lawrenceville, a game in which NMH outshot their hosts 66-4, the Hoggers' improbable run to a seventh-place finish at the tournament came to an end.
The story starts earlier, though, back on Dec. 9, when NMH's #1 goalie, Branden Komm, pulled a hamstring muscle in a 3-2 loss to Deerfield. He was put on the shelf, and told to rest up until the Cushing Tournament, which begins Jan. 1st. Next, NMH's #3 goalie, Jon Wells, suffered a concussion in the last week of practice before exams.
The upshot: NMH headed to New Jersey on Friday with just one healthy goalie, sophomore Nik Nunges, and hoped for the best.
However, in their first game of the tournament, on Saturday morning vs. Belmont Hill, Nunges took a couple of hits, hard enough that penalties were called on the Belmont Hill players. Nunges finished the game, a 4-2 loss.
That afternoon, during warm-ups for NMH's second tilt of the day, versus a young, skilled Nichols team, Nunges came to coach Tom Pratt and reported that he was suffering from a headache and blurred vision. The NMH trainer took a look and reported to Pratt that Nunges had a concussion and would not be able to play.
Komm volunteered to go in the net. Pratt, however, envisioned a scenario in which the whole season could go down in ashes, and told Komm no.
The game was minutes away - and NMH had no one to put in the net. "My first thought" said Pratt, "was can I even play a whole game without a goalie?"
He could, and he did. However, Pratt, a defenseman at Bowling Green in the mid-'80s, had no time to prepare.
"I created three units of six, with the sixth player being taken off the fourth line," he said.
Basically, Pratt was playing a 4-2.
On the opponent's bench, Nichols coach Jamie Printz, once he realized what was transpiring, realized he too would have to come up with a strategy. "But we got fortunate," he said, "and got out to an early lead. I think we were up 3-0 before they got their first goal."
Nichols scored a bunch of goals from their end, gaining control of the puck and winging it the length of the ice.
"It was weird," Printz said. "We'd score and we were a bunch of jerks for scoring into an empty net. We couldn't get any satisfaction from scoring goals. But when they scored it was a big momentum boost for them!"
Nichols built leads of 3-0, 4-1, and 6-2. "I told my guys it would be hard, and that Northfield would score goals," Printz said. "We just had to score more."
"In the second period, NMH began to swing the puck back to the point and then four guys would crash the net. They scored a lot that way. There were constant second and third opportunities. And it wore down our goalie.
"We were only up 10-8 after two periods, but they didn't score again after that. We became more patient. We got it out into the neutral zone and tried to force turnovers. And we packed it down low and made it hard to get through.
"But it was an amazing thing to be a part of. You'd think it would be a throwaway game, but it was very difficult to play against. It was so hard to get to a loose puck and when you did get there, two guys were on you and you couldn't make a play."
Printz pointed out that his team was basically killing a 45-minute power play. "For one and a half or two minutes that's one thing, but for 45 minutes it's something else entirely. You can't make plays so your guys get frustrated just banging it out of the zone for 45 minutes. Plus the goalie just doesn't get a break. He's in a crouch for 45 minutes. The puck just never comes out of the zone for any sustained time. That will wear you down fast."
"On top of that, NMH was quick, determined, and desperate. With no goalie, they were playing without a safety net. It was very interesting to watch and very hard to play against."
At the final buzzer Nichols had a 14-8 win, but it was hard-earned: they'd been outshot 53-14.
Saturday night, Pratt had a lot to think about before retiring. The next morning's game was an early one, at 8:00 am - the so-called toilet bowl - and he had to come up with a better mousetrap.
First, a couple kids came to him, volunteering to go into the net. "After the Nichols game," Pratt said, "I felt we had a better chance skating 6-on-5 than just throwing someone in net. Plus I'd feel terrible if one of my guys were to injure himself doing something he wasn't trained to do."
"When I say I felt we had a better chance, I also really felt that we needed to put up a football score," Pratt said. "I felt we would need 15 goals to win.
"While the kids gave a tremendous effort in the Nichols game, I felt we needed to give that same effort vs. Lawrenceville, but in a more organized manner. What we did was simplify the role of the sixth skater. Against Nichols, we had put him in a position where he had to do too much skating.
"Also in the Nichols game, we allowed their guys an extra four or five seconds to gain control of the puck and then flip it down to our end. So against Lawrenceville, we kept that fourth forward high in the offensive zone. We also ran a really aggressive two-man forecheck with the third forward a little lower than normal."
NMH scored 13 seconds into the game against Lawrenceville and never trailed. Indeed, the Hoggers were up 2-0 before Lawrenceville even got the puck out of their own end. And when Lawrenceville did get it up into the neutral zone, NMH just jumped all over them.
Meanwhile, Printz, whose Nichols team was playing in the next game, watched with interest.
"They dropped the fourth forward back to the high slot so they could defend better," he said. "And it certainly helped that they scored right off the bat. You could see in the second that the Lawrenceville goalie was wearing down. He was getting peppered."
By period, the shots on goal were 24-1, 23-2, and 19-1.
In the third period, Printz observed, the Lawrenceville goalie was getting seriously worn down. "After NMH got their second goal in the third period (making it 9-3), Lawrenceville knew they weren't going to be able to come back. You could see it. It looked like they were accepting defeat."
"I tip my hat to Northfield," Printz said. "They competed and did what they had to do. They were dogs on the puck, just relentless. It was amazing. They got to everything. It will be interesting to see how it translates to the rest of their season. It was a tough situation for those kids. They could have gone south on that, but instead they made it a positive. It was impressive to watch."
A Div. I college recruiter who watched both of NMH's goalie-less games said that it took the NMH kids a little while to figure out how to play 6-on-5. "But then they made it a game. It was fun to watch. You had to root for them because they kept coming back. Going into the third period against Nichols it was a close game. The kids never packed it in. There was no quit in them. That's what stood out for me. They would get scored on from the red line and then on the next faceoff they'd be trying to figure out how to get it back."
"It was fun to watch, and very entertaining. I saw something I'll never see again. I should also point out that coach Pratt wasn't discouraged after the Nichols game -- and that just had to rub off on his players."
"As for the Lawrenceville game, in those 8:00 am games before Christmas vacation a lot of times kids are just going through the motion. But suddenly you're in the last-place game without a goalie -- and they were trying to win it like they were playing in the first place game! Hats off to them. It was really neat. Tom Pratt did a good job with his group. And those kids will be talking about that game for the rest of their lives."
We emailed Lawrenceville coach Etienne Bilodeau in an effort to get a comment or two from him, but never received a reply.
BC Keeping It All In The Family
6'1", 190 lb. forward Patrick Brown, the son of former BC and NHL forward Doug Brown, has committed to Boston College for the fall of '10.
Brown, whose uncle, Greg, is an assistant coach for the Eagles, is a senior at Cranbrook Kingswood, a Michigan prep school.
A 5/29/92 birthdate who played at this past summer's USA Hockey Select 17 Festival, Brown plays all forward positions, but probably projects best as a center, as he is good on draws. He's a strong, hard-nosed, physical, two-way player who is also a co-captain on this team, where he is coached by former Yale forward Andy Weidenbach.
He was invited to join the NTDP last year, but turned it down to stay at Cranbrook.
-- BC also has a commitment from 5'11", 180 lb. South Shore Kings (EJHL) goalie Brad Barone, who is currently leading the EJHL with a .934 save percentage, three percentage points ahead of BC's top goalie recruit, Brian Billett of the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
Barone, a 12/2/90 birthdate, graduated from Roxbury Latin this past spring, where he had a .938 save percentage as a senior, .938 as a junior, and .930 as a sophomore. Because he's on the small size and played at a Div. II prep, Barone never got the attention he deserved until this season.
This is a nice get for BC, not only because Barone is a solid goaltender, but also because the Eagles don't have to use an athletic scholarship on him: Barone's mother is a professor at Boston College, thus making him eligible for free tuition.
U.S. Junior Team Cuts Six
The 30-man U.S. Junior Team preliminary roster was trimmed to 24 today. To bring the roster down to 22, another two cuts will be made following Tuesday's exhibition game vs. the Czech Republic in Moose Jaw, Sask.
The cut players were defensemen Justin Faulk, Jon Merrill, John Moore; and forwards Vinny Saponari, David Wohlberg, and Kenny Ryan.
Here's the 24-man roster:
Goaltenders (2): Jack Campbell, Mike Lee.
Defensemen (8): John Carlson, Matt Donovan, Cam Fowler, Jake Gardiner, Brian Lashoff, Max Nicastro, John Ramage, David Warsofsky.
Forwards (14): Ryan Bourque, Chris Brown, Jerry D'Amigo, A.J. Jenks, Tyler Johnson, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Philip McRae, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Palmieri, Jordan Schroeder, Derek Stepan, Luke Walker, Jason Zucker.
Of the 24 players, two are ‘92s (Campbell, Zucker) and eight are ‘91s (Fowler, Ramage, Bourque, Brown, D'Amigo, Kreider, Morin, Palmieri). The remaining 14 players are ‘90s.
This Morning's Fenway Game
Please see today's USHR prep news for a running account of this morning's Taft-Avon Old Farms game at Fenway Park. The game, a running time exhibition game, was won by Taft, 9-5.
The Enforcer From Cape Cod
How does a kid who was playing on Cape Cod for Falmouth High School two years ago suddenly find himself an enforcer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League?
6'5", 225 '91 defenseman Tyler Howe, who played for the Boston Jr. Rangers midget squad last year before latching on with the Melville Millionaires (Sask League) this fall, made his debut for the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) in a 6-1 win over the visiting Halifax Mooseheads last night.
According to today's Moncton Times & Transcript, Howe, who left the Saskatchewan Jr. A ranks to sign with Moncton as a free agent, "fought Halifax tough guy Spencer Metcalfe to a draw in the third period."
Moncton head coach Danny Flynn said, "I thought Tyler did very well. He hasn't really practiced with our team yet and this was the first time he played forward since he was seven years old. He did quite well against Metcalfe, who's a 19-year-old and one of the toughest kids in the league."
In his 30 games with Melville, Howe had a 0-4-4 line with 118 pims, good for third in the league.
Boston Rangers head coach Bobby Kinsella, a former assistant with Sioux City (USHL), recruited Howe for the Rangers last season, after he had played his 9th, 10th, and 11th grade seasons for Falmouth High.
Rangers assistant coach Mike Kelleher put in countless hours working with Howe, teaching him how to become a defenseman.
"He was a big guy and skating was an issue," Kinsella says, "and the physical presence he brought doesn't get you far in high school hockey."
It doesn't get you far in midget hockey either, but on trips to Canada with the Rangers, Howe dropped the gloves and made an immediate impact by dropping any opponent he squared off against.
Kinsella says, "If he gets a shot in the NHL someday, I wouldn't be surprised. He knows when he has to do his job. He has great instincts for that. If he stays focused he could do it... he's that tough. He's the toughest kid I ever coached. Just scary tough."
By the way, the Boston Junior Rangers are hosting a tournament in Raynham, Mass. this weekend. Please go to their web site www.jrrangers.com for the schedule.
All the News
Highly-touted 6'3", 210 lb. Canmore Eagles (AJHL) goaltender Sam Brittain has committed to Denver.
A native of Calgary and a 5/10/92 birthdate, Brittain is eligible for June's NHL draft and is expected to go in the top few rounds.
Brittain, who is very athletic, covers a lot of net, handles the puck well, and has a ton of poise. He got heavy interest from various college programs including BU, Denver, Wisconsin, UNO, and Colorado College.
Brittain was the goaltender last year for the Calgary Buffalos, who won the prestigious Mac's Midget Tournament in January, but lost out in the Telus Cup finals (Canada's National Midget Championship) to the Notre Dame Hounds.
A rookie in the AJHL this season, Brittain has played 30 games and has a 3.17 gaa and a .902 save percentage.
Denver's current goaltender, 6'3" junior Marc Cheverie, a Florida Panthers draft pick, is expected to turn pro after the season. Brittain would come in next fall and replace him.
5'11" winger Kenny Ryan, who started the season at Boston College before leaving in October for the Windsor Spitfires (OHL), has been added to the U.S. National Junior Team camp list. Ryan, a '91 has played 21 games for Windsor and has a 5-10-15 line.
Hotchkiss senior LW Mike Borge, the Bearcats' leading returning scorer, has committed to Brown.
Borge, who is from Somerset, Mass., on the Rhode Island border, had a 12-26-28 line in 23 games for Hotchkiss last winter. His 12 goals led the team in that category.
Lately he's been slowed by a case of mono.
6'5" forward Peter McIntyre has left the Boston Advantage Midget Major program for the South Shore Kings (EJHL). McIntyre, a Dec. '91 birthdate, will be in the lineup for the Kings when they host the Bridgewater Bandits Wednesday night.
J.F. Houle, one of the good guys in college hockey circles, has left Clarkson after serving six plus years as an assistant in order to take the position of head coach of the Lewiston Maineiacs (QMJHL).
Houle, a 34-year-old native of LaSalle, Quebec (and the son of former Montreal Canadien Rejean Houle), played at Clarkson from '93-97.
In Lewiston, where he will take over behind the bench on Dec. 27, things can only get better under his tenure.
Last week, Lewiston fired Don MacAdam after the Maineiacs had lost 14 in a row. The Maineiacs have gone through five coaches since setting up camp in Lewiston seven years ago.
Late last season, Maineiacs owner Mark Just announced that, due to poor attendance at Maineiacs games at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, he would be moving the team to the Montreal suburb of Boisbriand. Not only did Just announce he was moving the team, but he used the occasion to throw the team's fans under the bus for not coming out in greater numbers. The laugh was on Just, though, when a fellow league owner asserted his territorial rights and blocked the Maineiacs' hoped-for move. Next, Just tried to move his team to Fredericton, NB, but that attempt failed as well. He returned to Lewiston with his tail between his legs.
The fans and the city of Lewiston did not hold a parade welcoming the team back to town.
They've silently voiced their displeasure in the old-fashioned manner, by staying away. Attendance has averaged about 1,800 fans this season, one of the league's worst attendance figures. Last Wednesday, the Maineiacs drew 415 fans for a 5-1 loss to the Drummondville Voligeurs. They were outshot, 57-15.
The club couldn't have made a better hire than Houle. He was a workhorse as a player, and a workhorse as an assistant at Clarkson, so the players will - or should - respect that. The fans in what is a blue-collar city with a number of transplanted Quebecois will definitely respect that and find him easy to relate to him as well. Houle's personality and perhaps a few wins, could bring the fans back. Whether the population of Lewiston, a city going through tough economic times, can support the team is also an open question. There is talk about the team moving to Portland, and sharing the Cumberland County Civic Center with the Portland Pirates (AHL).
Former Lawrence Academy defenseman Zach Shannon is playing for Lewiston, and his father, Roger, is the team's GM.
In other Q news, commissioner Gilles Courteau, in an attempt to halt "gaming" of the draft, announced sanctions against teams that are found guilty of the practice.
Certain agents and players have used NCAA leverage and have avoided all QMJHL Showcase events while swearing up and down that they wouldn't go to the league, only to wind up going to the team (usually well-heeled) that drafts them - usually well below where they would have been taken if things were on the level - under a prearranged deal.
It is hoped that fines of as much as $10,000 and the loss of draft picks for two years will curtail the practice. We have a feeling it won't.
Max Gratchev left Thayer Academy after his freshman year of '03-04 for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Russian-born forward spent five seasons playing for three different clubs (Quebec, Rimouski, and Lewiston), and aged out after last season. A fourth round pick of the New York Islanders in the 2007 NHL draft, Gratchev was released by the Binghamton Senators (AHL) last week from his professional try-out contract after four games. He has returned to the Elmira Jackals (ECHL). The handwriting appears to be on the wall.
The Russian-born Gratchev was part of the Thayer freshman class that included fellow '88-birthdates Paul Carey and Brian Gibbons, who are both now at Boston College.
A Christmas Gift That Won't Be Forgotten
If life is treating you well, and you find extra coinage burning a hole in your pocket this Christmas season, here is a sweet saucer pass of an opportunity to buy yourself and someone special a Christmas present they won't forget.
We have learned that Hockey East is offering a limited number of "corporate sponsorship" packages - as of today there are 14 left -- that include, as the big, bright cherry on top, a pair of seats for the two NCAA games at Fenway Park on Fri. January 8: the UNH-Northeastern women's game and the BC-BU men's game.
As you know, these tickets sold out almost instantly the day they went on sale to the general public in mid-September.
To determine just how good these Hockey East seats are, we studied the seating chart for Fenway Park. We followed that up with a good look at the NHL webcam showing exactly where on Fenway's turf the rink will be situated. These seats, we can tell you, are primo, finding that sweet spot between being close to the action, yet having enough elevation to get the clear and unobstructed view of the ice surface that true hockey fans need. If you wish to look for yourself, here's the skinny: they are loge box seats scattered between sections 148 through 159, which extend from the end of the visitors' dugout closest to home plate to the cut of the grass directly behind third base. The seats are higher than the field box seats, which may fetch top dollar for baseball, but are too low for hockey.
As we mentioned, these are "corporate sponsorship" packages, because Hockey East figures that's the likely market at $5,000 a pair. But individuals are buying these, too. We have no idea who, but there are certain people who always seem to be at the big events. You might wind up sitting next to Ben Affleck, Steven Tyler, the Salahis, or Lady GaGa. Whoops, scratch Lady GaGa... replace her with Mike Eruzione.
The price for one of these packages -- $5,000.
But that $5,000 gets you a lot more than just the two tickets. Also included are four tickets to the Hockey East Tournament Banquet at the Royal Sonesta Hotel on the night of Thurs. March 18 - that includes cocktails, dinner, and plenty of hockey talk. All four teams that will be facing off in Hockey East Championship weekend at the TD Banknorth Garden will be there. It's also the night that the Hockey East regular season awards are handed out. You'll get the same complimentary goodie bags that the players and coaches get.
Oh yes, you will also get four loge seats for both nights at the Garden.
On top of those plush seats, you get a shopping bag full of regular tickets for those two nights at the Garden -- one hundred in total (50 per night). These are great for handing out to friends, neighbors, coworkers that don't irritate you and, if we may be so bold as to suggest it, youth hockey groups. If you don't know of any youth hockey groups, we will be glad to find a deserving organization for you. We know some kids who would be thrilled to go to the Garden.
And there's more. Let's see. For the Hockey East quarterfinals you will receive a total of 20 tickets. It doesn't make any difference as to which arena the games are held in or who is playing. You go where you want and Hockey East will take care of you with 20 tickets.
If you're interested in buying one of these packages, please get in touch with Matt Greene, either by phone at (781) 831-5793 or by email at email@example.com . Yes, friends, this is the same Matt Greene who was Catholic Conference MVP at BC High and who went on to play four years at Boston College, where he won a national title as a senior in 2008. Matt, who's already moving up in the Boston business world, is working for Hockey East as a consultant for this event. And he wants USHR readers to know that he is "equal opportunity." In other words, Matt will take care of Boston University fans just as well as Boston College fans, making sure that those in red are comfortably surrounded by fellow supporters. As far as Matt is concerned, if you're a college hockey fan, you're cool.
There are only 14 packages left, and they won't last long, so if you wish to buy one call Matt, tell him you read about it in USHR, and he'll set you up nicely.
Enjoy the evening.
We have some links here you may find helpful:
Marottolo Starts Recruiting With a Bang
6'3", 195 lb. Cushing Academy senior defenseman R.J. Boyd has committed to Sacred Heart, becoming the first recruit of the C.J. Marottolo era.
Boyd's coach at Cushing, Rob Gagnon, says that Marottolo earmarked Boyd as his top recruit and worked hard to get him.
"I think this is an absolute steal for Sacred Heart, but RJ wanted a full scholarship and he got one."
Boyd, a 2/7/91 birthdate from Punta Gorda, Florida, will arrive at Sacred Heart next fall.
"Because of his work ethic, his size, and his skating ability, RJ could be a pro player," Gagnon says. "He can shut down any forward in New England. Last year, I played him against Chris Kreider and Kreider did score in the game... but not when RJ was on the ice. I like his shut-down ability. He has a huge upside. CJ basically said to him, ‘You are going to be the cornerstone of what we're trying to do here.'"
Boyd has a younger brother at Cushing now, 6'3" sophomore D Sam Boyd, who looks to be a nice prospect. There's yet another hockey-playing brother, Richie, a '95, down there in Florida. He could make his way to Cushing next year. And the Boyd brothers have a sister, a '96 who is playing on the boys' team. She might wind up at Cushing, too.
BU Recruit Out for Season
6'3", 208 lb. Des Moines (USHL) forward Yasin Cissé, a Boston University recruit for next fall, had a tendon severed when he took an opponent's skate blade on the ankle - right between the tongue and shinpad - during Saturday's loss to Cedar Rapids.
Surgery was performed, and he's in a plastic cast. A full recovery is expected. However, he will miss the remainder of the season. It remains to be seen whether this will push back his entry to Boston University. Right now, he's a senior in high school.
Cissé, a Montreal native, has been plagued by injuries during his USHL tenure, now in its second year. Last season, he missed the Fall Classic, and wound up playing in only 31 games, finishing with a 2-6-8 line. Ironically, Cissé was also cut by a skate last year, in a similar manner. But he was lucky: he got 16 stitches and played the next day.
This year, a hip injury caused him to miss the Fall Classic - again -- as well as the first four regular season games. He came back on October 17 and, two weeks later, on Halloween night, he hit his stride with a hat trick against first place Green Bay.
Since then, Cissé has been averaging better than a point a game. On Friday night vs. Indiana, he had two goals and an assist. Then, before getting cut on Saturday, he had one goal and one assist vs. Cedar Rapids. His 13 goals places him in a tie for third in the league in that category.
"It's a devastating loss for him," said Des Moines head coach Mike Guentzel. "He's down a little right now. It's his draft year, and he really doesn't want the reputation of being injury prone."
"He was really starting to come into his own," Guentzel added. "It's very unfortunate for him, and it's very unfortunate for the team."
Stevens Gets the Call
6’2”, 170 lb. Junior Bruins (Empire League) goaltender Colin Stevens, who played prep hockey last year at Albany Academy, has been asked to join the U.S. Under-18 Team to fill in during the time Jack Campbell is with the U.S. National Junior Team at the World Junior Championship.
A 6/30/93 birthdate and Niskayuna, NY native, Stevens will be with the Under-18 Team for USHL league games at Fargo (12/31) and Sioux Falls (1/1) as well as a game at Michigan State Jan. 4.
Stevens will return to the Junior Bruins in time for the EJHL’s Winter Showcase at Marlborough, Mass. on the weekend of Jan. 8-10.
Stevens, in 18 games, has a 16-1-1 record with six shutouts, a 1.38 gaa, and a .948 save percentage.
Where They're Heading
-- 6'1", 178 lb. U.S. Under-17 forward Zach Larraza has committed to Denver for 2011.
Larraza, a Scottsdale, Arizona native who played for the P.F. Chang's Midget Major team last season, has a 4-1-5 line (with 26 pims) in 20 games for the Under-17 Team so far this season.
He's a Prince George pick in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft.
-- Berkshire School junior forward Trevor Mingoia, a 5'11", 175 lb. right-shot wing, has committed to Union College for the fall of '11.
Mingoia, who is in his second year at Berkshire and has a 1-3-4 line in three games, finished last season with 26 points.
A smart player with good skills, Mingoia, who is from the Rochester suburb of Fairport, NY, is the second current Berkshire player to commit to Union. He joins senior wing Kevin Sullivan, who will be heading to Union next fall.
Here's a heads up for anyone in Eastern Mass. The Boston Advantage Midget Major team is hosting their Tier I Elite Hockey League Showcase this weekend at the Pilgrim Arena in Hingham, Mass.
Ten teams will be on hand and will face off against each other in an East vs. West format.
The East Region consists of the Boston Advantage, Pittsburgh Hornets, Philly Jr. Flyers, Team Comcast, and the Buffalo Regals.
The West Region consists of the Chicago Mission, CYA, Team Illinois, Chicago Fury, and Madison Capitols.
The power resides in the west, particularly with the Mission (20-6-0)l, CYA (19-3-2), and TI (16-5-5).
Players you may wish to watch include top ‘93s like Team Illinois forward Austin Wuthrich, and Chicago Mission defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, a Wisconsin recruit for '12.
On Friday and Saturday there are ten games daily, with the first starting at 9:00 am and the last starting at 8:00 pm. On Sunday, there will be five games, with the first starting at 8:00 am and the last at noon.
The complete schedule can be found at www.bostonadvantagehockey.com
Placek, Hudon Stand Out
Our top two players at the Founders' League Jamboree, held last Wednesday, were 6'4", 200 lb. Hotchkiss junior forward Petr Placek, a native of Rakovnik, Czech Republic; and 6'2", 182 lb. Choate junior forward Philippe Hudon, of Hudson, Quebec. Hudon, of course, is a Cornell recruit, and if the Big Red get their way, Placek might be too. Cornell assistants Casey Jones and Scott Garrow were huddled with Hotchkiss coach Damon White after Wednesday's festivities and it didn't appear they were talking about the pizza and hot dogs being served up by the Hotchkiss girls lacrosse team.
Both Placek and Hudon were with their respective schools last year, and were very good, but from what we saw Wednesday, the two players could huge seasons this year, and, in 2010-11, look to have a cadre of NHL scouts following their every move in anticipation of the 2011 NHL draft. Both have all the earmarks of first round picks. Just from watching them in warm-ups, it was clear that they have grown into their bodies since we last saw them nine months ago, and that their skating and overall agility has improved dramatically. Placek made a statement in his first shifts of the day, scoring a couple goals. The second of the two he wouldn't have been able to convert last year - he just wasn't nimble enough. As for the first, a snipe coming down the wing, he showed a quickness that wasn't there last time we saw him.
Both Placek and Hudon are expected to finish out their prep careers in the Founders' League, which is noteworthy because, in this age of American kids jumping desperately from league to league - and record numbers of Yanks going major junior - there is also a continuing reverse migration featuring talented new players coming into prep hockey from other countries, mainly Canada.
Of the new players in the Founders' League that caught our eye on Wednesday - we counted seven hailing from north of the 49th parallel. For the record, four are forwards: Sean McGovern (junior/Taft), Kevin Roy (soph/Deerfield), Jake Martin (soph/Salisbury); and Ben Foster (soph/Choate -- he's a dual citizen actually; his family has moved back to the states). Three are defensemen: Phil Saviuk (junior/Hotchkiss), MacKenzie Braid (junior/Salisbury), and Mike McKee (soph/Kent). All are very good players, all are new to prep hockey, and all are from Canada. And yes, at least four of the seven above-named were drafted by major junior teams back in the spring but chose to come south. Should give Paul Kelly, former NHLPA boss and now executive director of College Hockey, Inc., reasons to wear a wry smile in his first week on the job.
Let's look at some of the teams - in no particular order.
-- Avon is back, but do they have enough to win it all? We're not betting on it. But, in their first mini-game, a 1-0 win over Kent, guess who scored the lone goal? Yep, Mike Pereira. The erstwhile South Kent player, a UMass recruit, is a difference-maker. Avon's biggest improvement, however, is on the blue line. Yale recruit Colin Sullivan, a '93 soph from Fairfield Prep, looks very comfortable there - he's just a poised, graceful player. Sullivan was paired up with 6'0" Michael Flynn, a returning junior - also a '93 - whose game has smoothed out nicely. Brown recruit Kyle Quick, who left Salisbury and wound up playing in the NAHL last season, is back in prep school for his senior year. He should be a big help to the Winged Beavers this season. For Avon to return to prominence they need a goaltender - and right now that is a big question mark.
-- Salisbury doesn't have a go-to guy up front, but they might not need one, as they have a lot of depth. Everyone they throw out there is solid, and, from shift-to-shift, we see different guys do things we like. On Wednesday, we thought perhaps their best forward, at least for the day, was new sophomore Jake Martin. He's only 5'7" and 150 lbs., but was consistently noticeable. On another day, and we'd seen Salisbury several days earlier at the RPI tournament, there might be a different player providing offensive punch. At RPI, it was defenseman Brandon Russo, who ripped back-to-back first period goals to give his team an early two goal lead over Pomfret, a game Salisbury would go on to win 4-1. In terms of long-term upside, we really like the way 6'2", 190lb. junior center Jack Barre, a '93, is coming along. His skating keeps getting better, he has nice hands, he has size. There's a lot there, and we expect some high profile school will scoop him up before long. Also intriguing is 6'3", 180 lb. late '92 Kevin Morris, the son of Manchester Monarchs (AHL) head coach Mark Morris. The younger Morris was playing high school hockey in New Hampshire last winter. He's a big, raw kid who could become something. Time will tell.
Right now, Salisbury's biggest strength is on the blue line. 6'0" new junior MacKenzie Braid, mentioned up top, is an excellent prospect. A '93, he is rugged, has size, and skates very well. Russo, a 5'8" senior and a '92, is back for his senior year. And '93 sophomore Matt Caito, a Californian, is another Salisbury blue-liner to keep tabs on.
As for goaltenders, we've had a chance to see a lot of 6'5", 205 lb. '94 freshman Jon Gillies - and he could be a big-time player. It's also quite possible he could be a one-year player, as the NTDP will be tracking him like a hawk. Salisbury's other new goalie, Gabe Antoni, is out with a concussion. (In the second mini-game, vs. Choate, #3 goalie Evan Casamento got the start - and, while falling short on style points, did a nice job.)
-- Hotchkiss was a little hard to get a line on. They appear set in goal with 6'2" sophomore Jay Williams, though he didn't have a great day Wednesday. 6'0" Phil Saviuk, a '92 formerly of the Lac-St. Louis Lions, will be the Bearcats top defenseman. 6'2" defenseman Mike Holland, a '92 from Central Catholic (Mass.) HS, should be another to keep an eye on. Up front, the jury is still out. There's some depth, but the stud is clearly Placek. If he can learn to dominate games -- and everyone else plays up to their ability -- Hotchkiss could make some noise. (Senior forward Mike Borge missed the jamboree due to mono.)
-- Choate is improved. Their top line of Hudon-Alex Hagen- Dan Linell is as good as any in prep hockey. We've written about Hudon and Linell recently, as both have recently committed to college. The 5'11" Hagen, a '92 RC from the NY Bobcats and a new junior at the school, is excellent - good stick, plenty of hockey savvy - and will be a sure-fire Div. I kid. His dad played at St. Lawrence back in the day. We liked Ben Foster, one of the Canadians we mentioned above. He's a 6'1" sophomore and a '93 from Toronto. He's strong on his skates, and another good Div. I prospect. We noticed new 5'9" junior Kyle Criscuolo, who played for team Comcast Under-16 last season -- good speed and quickness. Senior Nick Bondurant is in goal, and will aim to be more consistent this year.
-- Deerfield was another hard team that will take time to get a line on. 6'2" senior RD Nick Lovejoy, a Dartmouth recruit, is back, and is the blueliner who jumps out at us. He's just very athletic. 6'5" senior Dave Mackasey is huge, and able to take away a lot of space in the defensive zone. Of the newcomers, most interesting is 5'10" sophomore forward Kevin Roy, a '93 from Beauport, Quebec. He has skill, and the Big Green could use a few more like him. Deerfield's goaltending is a question mark. The departure of Casey DeSmith, who would have been a senior, for the USHL, has left put the team in a tough spot.
-- For Loomis, the Mike Blair- Chris Lembo-Chris Izmirlian line is back and intact. If they play out of their heads, Loomis will win some games. Blair and Izmirlian, by the way, are juniors; Lembo is a senior.
-- Trinity-Pawling needs 6'0" junior goaltender Zach Kizitaff to steal them some games. He did just that a few times last year, but needs to be consistent at it. New junior Josh Roberts, who we liked at the Select 17 Camp in Rochester, NY this summer, will have to contribute right away. We noticed 5'11' soph RD Vincent Muto, a '93. 5'7" '92 forward Brandon Moore, a senior now, will have to lead the offense.
-- Westminster is much improved, although they didn't score a single goal on Wednesday. Coach Tim Joncas has brought in several new players that you may want to watch, specifically 5'10" sophomore defenseman Andy Michailidis, a highly-mobile '94-born puck-moving D-man, '94 freshman winger David Hallisey, and 6'1" junior forward Andrew Tegeler, a ‘92. Key returnees are senior center Dan Hnatko, a late '91 from Ontario, and 6'2" junior goaltender Nick Thompson, who did an excellent job keeping Kent off the board on Wednesday.
-- And what about Kent? Well, they are big, have excellent goaltending and play a solid defensive game, which is good, because they won't win many shootouts. As a matter of fact, they, like Westminster and Kingswood-Oxford (a different story there), didn't score a single goal at Wednesday's jamboree. But they also don't allow many goals - Avon and Westminster combined for one goal against them on Wednesday, and that was off the stick of Pereria, who we expect to bury his chances. We should mention that we also had a chance to watch Kent on Monday at the Berkshire Tournament, where 6'2" senior goaltender Marco De Filippo, a native of Italy, came up with an excellent game, blanking South Kent. 5'10" senior Matt Madrazo, whom he rotates with, is also very good. The two skaters who intrigued us the most on Kent are sophomores -- 6'0" right-shot center Ryan Rosenthal, and 6'4" defenseman Mike McKee, a '93 from Newmarket, Ontario and one of the seven Canadian newcomers to prep hockey we liked.
-- Because we missed their first mini-game, we don't have a strong sense of what Taft is about quite yet. Sean McGovern, the strong-skating new junior from Ontario, will help. He's playing on a line with sophomore Corbin McGuire, who long ago committed to Wisconsin, and junior Peter Mistretta. Taft graduated all their top scorers, and it may take awhile to see who will step up and replace them.
-- As the new member of the Founders' League, Kingswood-Oxford is in for a tough go of it. Their roster consists of four 92s, seven ‘93s, three ‘94s, and four ‘95s. If head coach Sean Gorman can keep their spirits up, he will have done a masterful job. As one observer said, "It's possible that they won't score a single goal all season against a Founders' League team." On Wednesday, they were blanked by Salisbury and Hotchkiss - and both teams held fire.
Berkshire School Jamboree:
-- Berkshire returns their top two leading scorers from a year ago in seniors Jake Goldberg (Brown) and Kevin Sullivan (Union). Another returning point producer is junior Trevor Mingoia, a '92. Of the new forwards, the one we noticed the most was Trevor Hills, a late '92 sophomore and the son of RIT head coach Brian Hills. He's a smart, heady player with a good stick, but needs to get a little quicker.
On the blue line, we liked '92 RD Taylor Carmola, a new junior from Rochester, NY. Carmola has size - he appears to be around 6'1 or better. He can also handle the puck a bit. He's one we want to watch more as the season progresses. Another new defenseman to follow is Eric Robinson of Williston, Vt., a junior and a '92 birthdate.
The big story with Berkshire this season, and their most significant newcomer, is 6'0" goaltender Mitch Gillam, the younger brother of Dartmouth forward Josh Gillam. A late '92 from Peterborough, Ontario and a Peterborough Petes pick in the '08 OHL draft, Gillam really jumped out at us. He's a very poised, calm goalie, with no wasted movement. He makes the position look really easy. We watched him for two full games - against Kent and Gunnery - and can say that goaltending, a weakness for Berkshire a year ago, is now a considerable strength. Gillam, a junior, might be as good as any goaltender playing prep hockey.
-- Gunnery, of course, also has a strong goalie in 6'2" senior Alex Vazzano, though he didn't look that good giving up four goals to Berkshire in the afternoon game on Monday last. Nonetheless, the University of Vermont recruit can play.
Gunnery's big line consists of new junior Erik Nilsson (uncommitted), new senior Derek Army (Providence), and returning junior Terrence Wallin (UMass-Lowell). That trio will be expected to put up a lot of points. Behind them, Gunnery has a couple more solid lines that skate hard and put a lot of pressure on opponents. They'll be tough again. Big junior Craig Wyszomirski, a '92 from New Jersey, is the key addition on the blue line.
-- Brunswick has '95 winger John Hayden, who is a freshman at the school. We saw Hayden over the summer at the Select 14s, where he was one of the top forwards. He's not at all out of place on Brunswick's team. At Monday's jamboree, we put a little check next to his name before realizing he was a freshman - and the same player we'd noticed in Rochester over the summer.
-- Kent was at the Berkshire Jamboree, but we've already covered them in the Founders' League comments.
-- The Nichols School, coached by former Bridgton Academy head coach Jamie Printz, has an insanely young team. How young? Four ‘92s, seven ‘93s, seven ‘94s, and two ‘95s. That's it. They are like K-O, agewise, but much more talented. In the morning game, '94-born sophomore center Andrew Poturalski (3g,1a) figured in all four of his team's goals in a 4-1 win over Pomfret, then went out in the afternoon game and figured in two of the three goals his team scored in a 3-2 win over Brunswick. The 5'9" Poturalski wasn't scoring cheapies either - these were goal scorers goals: on one he split the D, on another he cut back to the center and fired, and on his third tally of the game, he tucked home a wraparound. He's not fast, but he's smart. The two ‘95s at Nichols are huge - these are 14-year-olds were talking about. They are 6'3", 185 lb. RD Wilson Vershay and 6'2", 170 lb. RC Nick Smith, and we can tell you that both held their own very nicely. We look forward to seeing this team at the Belmont Hill-Nichols tournament in less than a month.
-- Pomfret bowed to this young Nichols team, 4-1, in the 9:30 am game. Pomfret, which had played Salisbury late the previous day at RPI, looked like they hadn't woken yet. Pomfret head coach Bruce Wolanin couldn't have been happy watching his team get handily beaten by such an under-aged crew. It was certainly a different-looking Pomfret team that came out in the afternoon and battled NMH to a 4-4 tie.
We really liked new Pomfret junior Connor Quinn, a 5'11", 172 lb. '92 who played at Lincoln-Sudbury HS last season. Quinn, who had two goals vs. NMH, will spearhead Pomfret's attack. Pomfret got bad news before the season when 6'1" soph Billy Beirnes, a '93 from Malvern, PA, suffered a season-ending injury. Sophomore forward Garrett White, the nephew of former UNH defenseman Mark White, was also out with an injury, though he is expected back shortly. 6'2" PG defenseman Shayne Anderson, a late '90 and a Roxbury Latin grad, appears to the be the #1 guy on the blue line. He's pretty smooth, has a good long stride, can carry the puck and make a play. 6'4" senior Adam Rimmer is big and rather heavy-footed, but certainly an impediment to opposing forward hoping to buzz around a bit.
-- NMH's top two goal scorers from a year ago are back - 6'2" late '90 Nick Gordon, a senior, and 6'1" '92 Garrett McMullen, a junior. They will have to carry the freight. New freshman Austin Cangelosi, a '94 from Florida, will also be a big contributor. He's small at 5'6" and needs to get a little faster and more dynamic, but he has a good stick and knows his way around the net.
-- South Kent lost a ton to graduation, and then lost several more key players -- Garrett Clement, Neil Fachini, and Pereira -- when Geoff Marottolo was relieved of his duties last month. They look to be seeking a new identity. There are definitely opportunities for the kids who are left to show what they can do. No one in particular stood out when this observer was watching, but we'll see them again before long.
Salisbury Showcase (at RPI):
Delbarton, the defending New Jersey state non-public champs, may have lost defenseman Alex Velischek to Providence College, but still look as strong as they did last year. And, yes, if they were in NEPSIHA they'd be one of the top teams.
The key this year is 5'11", 190 lb. senior forward Kenny Agostino, who has taken a huge leap. Delbarton's captain is bigger, stronger, faster, smoother, and more agile. He's a slippery player with breakaway speed - and is consistently dangerous every time he's on the ice, the guy opponents have to be constantly aware of. Agostino is a Yale recruit for the fall of '11. He's expected to take a year of juniors after graduating, but we don't think he will need that extra year. In addition, we feel that Agostino, a 4/30/92 birthdate, will make his way onto NHL draft lists very shortly. He's very talented.
Taking the role of Velischek on the blue line is 6'2", 190 lb. junior Matt Killian, a returnee who has lifted his game another level. A smooth skater with size, Killian can carry the puck out of the zone and make nice passes. He will get a ton of interest from Div. I schools. A late '92, he won't be draft-eligible until 2011.
Another player on Delbarton we were intrigued by was 6'1" sophomore RD Tommy Davis, a converted forward who moves the puck smartly. Davis is a late '93.
Agostino, by the way, is playing on a line with seniors Mike Pirovano and Michael Ambrosia (Princeton). The other lines have prospects, too. This is a team worth going out of your way to see.
-- UCC is thin this year, but we felt junior goalie Adam Shibuya did a good job in a 4-1 loss to Delbarton. Shibuya faced a ton of shots and kept his team in the game until Delbarton broke the tie when Davis fed Pirovano, who came down the right side and tucked it short side with 2:19 left for his second goal of the game. Delbarton added an empty-netter. We can't say that Shibuya has the greatest technique, but he managed to get a piece of a ton of shots - deflecting them wide, over the net, every which way but loose.
-- Culver arrived with eight games under their belts, and were way ahead of their opponent, Kimball Union, topping them, 6-2. The '09-19 Culver squad is kind of a stripped-down edition. Off last year's team, several players left for the USHL, including top goalie prospect Matt Mahalak. Barrett Kaib left for the NTDP. On top of that, the team lacks the kind of puck-moving d-man they seem to have produced an endless supply of over the years.
Up front, Culver's center of attention this season is 6'2", 205 lb. RC Max Terhar, a Cincinnati, Ohio native who plays a pro-style power forward game. He's a 8/14/92 birthdate and eligible for June's NHL draft.
Terhar played on a line with Air Force recruit Blake Saylor and senior Scott Snyder.
Culver junior forward Kyle Trolley had a big game for them - scoring two key goals. A 5'11" '93 from Peterborough, Ontario, Trolley, on his second goal, came down the right side and ripped one top shelf past 6'2" Kimball Union goaltender Martin Ouelette. Certainly got our attention.
-- And what about Kimball Union? Well, you may want to make an effort to see them this year. They made big strides last year and, judging by the players head coach Ryan Miller has brought in, may continue that upward trend this year.
Big 6'2", 185 lb. new sophomore forward Thomas Flynn, a '93 from Prince Edward Island, who centered the line with LaFosse, looks to be the squad's top Div. I prospect, and, with his size and youth, has pro potential down the line. The Founders' League, as you can see, is not the only league looking north of the border.
We really liked the play of 6'2", 210 lb. new junior Peter LaFosse, a big strong power forward from Merrimack, NH native. LaFosse is a late '91 birthdate.
We also liked 5'7" new soph Dennis Kravchenko, who is from San Clemente, California. A '94 we'd seen at the Select 15 camp, Kravchenko was consistently around the puck, and hard to miss.
5'8" junior Ryan Cole, a '92 is back. Cole, from Anchorage, Alaska, is the team's leading returning scorer.
New junior Pat Doherty, a 5'11" left-shot D and a '92 from Littleton, Mass., also played well for us.
The final two teams at the RPI Tournament were Salisbury, the host, and Pomfret, each of whom we've already covered.
Where are the powerhouses this year? We're pretty certain there isn't one, at least not in the true sense of the word. We believe that the team that goes all the way will simply be the team with the most depth, and the strongest goaltending. That was Salisbury's formula last year, and they are a similar team this time around. So they certainly have a good chance at repeating. We feel that Gunnery will be right there again. And Exeter, with Fenkell returning, will be tough. Berkshire, with Gillam, could take that extra step this year. Can Avon return to prominence? They'll certainly be a lot better. We do feel that some team will come out of the woodwork and totally surprise us. Whether that team can go all the way is another question. Much can happen twixt cup and lip, and three months is plenty of time for it to happen in.
Big Day for Davy
We have a twofer for you-- Christian Brothers Academy/NJ Devils Under-16 defenseman Joakim Ryan and Boston Junior Bruins forward Stevie Miller have committed to Cornell.
Ryan, who is 6'0½", 190 lbs., is a 6/19/93 birthdate and an 11th grader at CBA. He's an umptempo offensive defenseman with a powerful shot, a versatile player who will likely be QB'ing the Big Red power play staff in the not-to-distant future.
In the first two games of CBA's seasons, Ryan has five goals and three assists.
Ryan is the son of Bill Ryan, a tennis agent, and former Swedish tennis star Catarina Lindqvist, who was ranked #10 in the world in 1985 and reached the semis of both the Australian Open (1987) and Wimbledon (1989). Both times she lost to Martina Navratilova. No shame in that.
Joakim Ryan, better known as "Jokie," is also an excellent tennis player, and was a top-ranked player in Sweden, where he lived until two years ago. When Ryan and his family moved to the U.S., where they live in Rumson, NJ, Ryan got into lacrosse. He's good at that too. You might say he's a bit of an athlete.
Ryan is a dual citizen who will be leaving to attend Sweden's Under-17 Camp in a couple weeks. If he makes the team, he will be coming back across to Timmins, Ontario for the World Under-17 Challenge Dec. 29-Jan. 4. There, he will get a chance to face off against a lot of the kids he was with at the US NTDP tryouts last March.
The defenseman narrowed his final choices to Northeastern, Vermont, and Cornell.
Ryan is expected in Ithaca in the fall of '11.
-- Miller doesn't have the exotic background of Ryan so we can't throw in as much miscellania, but we can tell Cornell fans to look for a big, strong-skating power forward with nice hands and a quick, hard shot. There's also a bit of grit to his game.
Last year, Miller, who's 6'1", 190 lbs., played at Acton-Boxborough High School, but hurt his knee and missed most of the season.
This season, Miller, has an 8-10-18 line in 15 games for the Junior Bruins Empire League team, and a couple of games for the Bruins EJ team. However, he's been out of action since the Beantown Fall Classic at the end of October. He's returning to action this weekend. Look for him to be bumped up to the Bruins EJ team shortly.
A 1/30/93 birthdate, Miller is an 11th grader. Look for him on the shores of Cayuga Lake in the fall of '12.
U.S. Junior Camp Preliminary Roster
Here’s the 29-man roster for the U.S. National Junior Team training camp Dec 17-19 in Grand Forks, ND:
Goaltenders (2): Jack Campbell, Mike Lee.
Defensemen (11): John Carlson, Matt Donovan, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Jake Gardiner, Brian Lashoff, Jon Merrill, John Moore, Max Nicastro, John Ramage, David Warsofsky.
Forwards (16): Ryan Bourque, Chris Brown, Jerry D’Amigo, A.J. Jenks, Tyler Johnson, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, Philip McRae, Jeremy Morin, Kyle Palmieri, Vinny Saponari, Jordan Schroeder, Derek Stepan, Luke Walker, David Wohlberg, Jason Zucker.
Of the 29 players, four are ‘92s (Campbell, Faulk, Merrill, Zucker) and eight are ‘91s (Fowler, Ramage, Bourque, Brown, D’Amigo, Kreider, Morin, Palmieri). The remaining 17 players are ‘90s.
Twenty of the 29 named players were at the Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid in August.
2010 WJC Preliminary Roster (Microsoft Word document)
WJC Player Statistics .xls (Excel document)
Bennett a Pioneer
6’1”, 180 lb. Penticton Vees (BCHL) wing Beau Bennett has committed to Denver.
Bennett, an 11/27/91 birthdate from Gardena, California, is currently the fourth leading scorer in the BCHL with a 22-30-52 line in 27 games played. He was the only non-USHL player at the recent World Jr. A Challenge in Prince Edward Island, won by the U.S.
Last season, Bennett played for the LA Junior Kings Midget AAA program, coached by Jack Bowkus.
Bennett, who, like many California kids, has a roller hockey background, is a creative, highly-skilled competitive player who is lethal on the power play. Of his 22 goals for the Vees, 16 have come on the PP.
Courted by an armful of top college hockey powers, Bennett only made two official visits, to Colorado College and Denver.
Denver has room for Bennett next season, though if he wishes he may play another year of juniors.
Bennett is eligible for June's NHL draft.
Former Cushing defenseman Julian Ciocco, a ’93 from Atco, NJ who has not played since he was at the Guelph Storm’s camp in September, has accepted Geoff Marottolo’s offer to check out the Philadelphia Revolution organization. Ciocco will play with one of the organization's three teams -- not necessarily the EJHL team -- in order to find out where he's at vis-a-vie hockey.
UMass recruit Mike Pereira, who left South Kent at the same time as Marottolo, entered Avon Old Farms yesterday and will be in action for the Winged Beavers at Wednesday’s Founders’ League Jamboree at Hotchkiss.