As many USHR readers know by now, August is the month we slow down, and get away from the game a bit. Timely, too, because this typist doesn't have much of a stomach for reporting on decommitments and early departures for the pros.
For college hockey, it's been a bloody month, and exactly how to turn things around is a huge issue. This feels like something larger than a mere blip. It's definitely a confluence of events and decisions that go back 10-15 years and have been hastened by everything from the CHL's strong push for players to the most-recent CBA. And those are just the most obvious factors.
There is certainly nothing new with high draft picks leaving college early for the pros. Now, though, more guys are leaving before they've really had a chance to prove themselves at the college level. In recent weeks the Montreal Canadiens - to pick one NHL team -- signed Louis Leblanc (after one year at Harvard) and Jarred Tinordi (who pulled a 180 and decommitted less than a month before classes at Notre Dame).
Let's go back in time a bit, just for fun. John LeClair, a second round pick of these same Canadiens back in 1987, went on to play four full seasons at the University of Vermont. As a senior, in '90-91, after the Catamounts final game, LeClair immediately joined the Canadiens and finished out the regular season and playoffs with them. LeClair would go on to have a fine career, playing 967 NHL games. One of his teammates that year at Vermont was defenseman Aaron Miller. A Rangers' pick, Miller, too, would play a full four years at Vermont, and then go on to play 677 NHL games.
Would LeClair and Miller play four years of college hockey today? Did it hurt them that they played four years then?
OK, two seasons later. '93-94. Same school. Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin, an 18-year-old and a 17-year old from Laval, Quebec, arrive together at UVM as undrafted freshmen. They were phenomenal from the get-go, combining for nearly 100 points and leading the team in scoring as freshmen. Can you imagine the pressure those two would be under now to leave for major junior? Can you imagine the money that would be thrown at them? As we all know, St. Louis and Perrin both stayed at Vermont for a full four years and played, respectively, 772 (and counting) and 245 NHL games.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, folks in Burlington and other ECAC towns got to see LeClair, Miller, St. Louis, and Perrin - and all for a full four years. They got to see them grow and develop as players because once colleges had a chance to keep players of that caliber. Not always, but a hell of lot more than today, when folks in Burlington just have to wonder whether they will ever see Zemgus Girgensons at all.
And we're just talking about one school here!
Just something to think about on a summer night.
Luongo Picks His Assistants
Newly-minted University of Alabama-Huntsville head coach Chris Luongo has picked his assistants for the upcoming season.
Mike Warde, who was the chief recruiter at West Point for four years before going into the health care industry, is back in the college game. He'll be the recruiting coordinator on Luongo's staff, and will also work with special teams.
Gavin Morgan, a forward at Denver in the late ‘90s who went on to an 11-year pro career, will also be coming on as an assistant.
"I am confident that not only will our players learn from our newest staff members but I look forward to gaining knowledge from them about the game of hockey," said Luongo, in what we would say is a modest and gracious statement from a man who played four years on Michigan State's powerhouse teams of the mid-to-late ‘80s before going on to play 218 NHL games before getting into coaching as an assistant a few years ago.
Fitzgerald Leads Under-17s
Hutwill, Switzerland -- The U.S. Under-17 Select Team defeated the Czech Republic, 5-3, in their opening game at the Five Nations Tournament here today.
Ryan Fitzgerald, a BC recruit from Malden Catholic, scored the game winner and picked up two assists in the win. Troy Donnay, Miles Koules, Nicholas Schilkey, and Sam Piazza scored the other U.S. goals.
The U.S. outshot the Czech Republic, 44-18. Brandon Hope kicked out 15 of 18 shots for the win.
Wed. Aug. 18 - US 5, Czech Republic 3
Fri. Aug. 20 - vs. Slovakia
Sat. Aug. 21 - vs. Switzerland
Sun. Aug. 22 -- vs. Germany
All games are at Hutwill, Switzerland. There is no playoff round.
US Under-17 Select Team:
Goaltenders (2): Brandon Hope (Canton, Mich./Honeybaked); James Howe (Northville, Mich./Little Caesar's).
Defensemen (6): Grant Webermin (Novi, Mich./Honeybaked); Tim Davison (DePere, Wisc./Team Wisconsin); Teddy Doherty (Hopkinton, Mass./Shattuck-St. Mary's); Troy Donnay (Belle Tire); Sam Piazza (Darien, Ill./Chicago Mission); Justin Wade (Aurora, Ill./Chicago Mission).
Forwards (12): Jordan Masters (Rochester, NY; Little Caesar's); Brian Morgan (Windham, NH/ Boston Junior Bruins); Nicholas Schilkey (Smiths Creek, Mich./Honeybaked); Kyle Osterberg (Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville South HS); A.J. Michaelson (Lakeville, Minn./Apple Valley HS); Riley Barber (Livonia, Mich./Compuware); Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass./Malden Catholic); Zach Stepan (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary's); Joseph Cox (Chelsea, Mich./Compuware); Miles Koules (Los Angeles, CA/ Shattuck-St.Mary's); Sheldon Dries (Macomb, Mich./Honeybaked); Jack Rowe (Cary, Ill./Team Illinois).
Head Coach: Sean Tremblay (New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs)
Assistant Coach: Matt Herr (Kent School)
Who's Next for the Gamblers?
There is no shortage of highly qualified candidates to take over the head coaching position with the Green Bay Gamblers, vacant since Jon Cooper was hired last week by the Norfolk Admirals (AHL).
The names we've been hearing the most are Denver assistant Steve Miller and St. Cloud assistant Eric Rud, both of whom have made visits to Green Bay; as well as Notre Dame assistant Andy Slaggert, Michigan State assistant Brian Renfrew, and Denver assistant Derek Lalonde.
6'0", 192 lb. North Jersey Avalanche forward Justin Selman has committed to the University of Michigan for the fall of '12.
Selman, a 10/2/93 birthdate from Saddle River, NJ, was our #8-ranked forward at last month's U.S. Select 17 Festival. Off that camp, he won a spot on the Under-18 Select Team that won silver on Saturday at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic. Selman, who is going into his junior year in high school, will spend the next two seasons with Des Moines (USHL).
A player who has steadily improved every year we've seen him play, Selman is noted for his hard work and two-way play. He's been the captain of just about every team he's played on.
Selman also visited RPI and the University of New Hampshire.
Canada Edges US Under-18s in Title Game
Piestany, Slovakia - The U.S. Under-18 Select Team bowed to Canada, 1-0, in the championship game at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament here today.
6'0" center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels (WHL), who could go in the top ten of next June's NHL draft, scored the game's only goal, an unassisted tally just 1:42 into the game.
U.S. goaltender Stephen Michalek of Loomis Chaffee, whose stock has certainly shot up this summer, was the hard-luck loser, kicking out 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
Canada outshot the U.S., 23-22.
"Our guys gave it everything they had today," said U.S. head coach Tim Army. "We couldn't have asked for anything more from these players, who really came together in a short period of time and played well against tough international competition all week."
Cason Hohmann (3-3-6); Lukas Sutter (3-1-4); Tanner Sorenson (2-1-3); John Gaudreau (1-2-3); Vince Trocheck (1-2-3); Alex Racino (1-2-3); Seth Ambroz (2-0-2); Alex Broadhurst (2-0-2); Justin Selman (1-1-2); Theo DiPauli (0-2-2); Sean Kuraly (1-0-1); Kevin Irwin (0-1-1).
Connor Murphy (0-3-3); Brian Cooper (0-2-2); Max Everson (0-1-1); Chris Bradley (0-0-0); Craig Duininck (0-0-0); Keegan Lowe (0-0-0); Tanner Mort (0-0-0); Colin Sullentrop (0-0-0).
Jay Williams (42/49; .857 save percentage) played the first two games. Stephen Michalek (68/75; .907 save percentage) played the final three games.
Mon. Aug 9 - US 3, Czech Republic 2
Tues. Aug. 10 - Russia 6, US 5 (Shootout win)
Wed. Aug. 11 - US 5, Finland 2
Fri. Aug. 13 - Semifinals: US 5, Sweden 4 (OT)
Sat. Aug. 14 - Championship Game: Canada 1, US 0
Beantown Getting Underway Tonight
The Beantown Classic officially gets going tonight at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass.
First up is the Prospects division (‘95-'96-‘97-‘98) starting tonight with a couple of days of skills with college coaches prior to starting games on Sunday.
Some players you may want to keep an eye on in this group are: Joey Fallon, a ‘95 D from LI; Connor Brassard, a '95 D from the Junior Bruins; Jake Songtag, a forward from LI; Kevin Kerr, a ‘96 D from Team Comcast; Christian Dvorak, a ‘96 forward from the Chicago Mission; Jack Eichek, a '96 forward from the Junior Bruins; Jeremy Bracco, a '97 forward from the LI Gulls; Luke Kirwin, a ‘97 forward from the Syracuse Nationals; Josh Sarlow, a ‘97 goalie from Mid-Fairfield; Cal Burke, a ‘97 forward from the Minutemen Flames; and John Marino, a '97 D from the South Shore Kings.
The Futures (‘93-95's) start on Monday. Some of the top players in this age group are a little more familiar. Keep an eye on Chris Calanan, Dennis Kravchenko, Mike Weaver, Tyler Kelleher, Sam Kurker, Eddie Eliis, Drew Smozliski, Mac Cook, Ryan Segalla, Kevin McKernan, Jake Thoubboron, and Alex Joyce
The Pro Division starts Sunday afternoon. The tournament winds up next Wednesday. All rosters and times are at www.beantownclassic.com
Cooper Leaving Gamblers for AHL
Jon Cooper, who coached the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) to a Clark Cup championship this past spring, will be leaving Green Bay to become head coach of the Norfolk Admirals, Tampa Bay's affiliate in the AHL.
The Gamblers will be moving quickly in their search for a head coach.
Cooper, in his two years at Green Bay, had an 84-27-9 (.738) regular season record. Including playoffs, his record was 97-33-9.
When Cooper was hired, Green Bay, under Mark Mazzoleni, was coming off a league-worst 32 point season. In Cooper's first year, they leaped to a league-best 82 point season.
Prior to coming to Green Bay, Cooper won two straight Robertson Cups as head coach/GM of the St. Louis Bandits (NAHL).
Before that, Cooper coached three years at Texarkana (NAHL).
Cooper, who also coached the Honeybaked Midget Majors, worked as a lawyer until devoting himself to coaching full-time. A dual citizen born in British Columbia, he played hockey for the Notre Dame Hounds of Wilcox, Sask. He received his undergraduate degree from Hofstra University, on Long Island.
Palmieri Signs With Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks have signed 5'10", 190 lb. Notre Dame forward Kyle Palmieri to a three-year entry-level contract.
Palmieri, the Ducks' first round pick (#26 overall) in the 2009 NHL entry draft, would have been a sophomore for the Fighting Irish this season. As a freshman he had a 9-8-17 line in 33 games, and won a gold medal with the U.S. World Junior Team.
As you know, Palmieri has been dogged by a bit of trouble. When he was with the Under-18 Team, he was dismissed from the squad late in the '08-09 season for violating team rules. This past April, in the early morning hours of Sunday April 25th, he and Notre Dame teammate Riley Sheahan were arrested in South Bend for minor consumption of alcohol. Palmieri was also tagged for resisting arrest.
Palmieri's agent, Steve Bartlett, wanted to make it clear that Palmieri's leaving Notre Dame had nothing to do with that incident, writing in an email that, "I wanted to clarify something. I've seen some blogs indicate that (Palmieri) couldn't return to Notre Dame and/or that his legal troubles caused him to leave. His decision to leave was 100% his and not related to anything else. The charges filed against him for the drinking incident have been dropped and he only received a ticket for underage drinking, the same thing that Riley Sheahan got. Had the Ducks not made him an offer he couldn't refuse he was planning on returning to Notre Dame and was both wanted and welcomed by the coaches."
We spoke to Notre Dame had coach Jeff Jackson this afternoon. Jackson backed up Barlett, but added, "The Residence Life office was still going to have a hearing on this and I can't predict what they would have done. It varies from incident to incident."
"Also," Jackson said, "I was going to suspend him at the beginning of the season, which he was aware of. The length of the suspension would have been partly determined by what Residence Life did."
Given the fact that it was a first offense for Palmieri and had been dealt with legally, it is unlikely that his punishment by the University's Residence Life Department would have consisted of anything other than community service.
Jackson described Palmieri as "a good kid" and said the forward "left here on good terms." Jackson noted that what happened in April and what punishment might have come Palmieri's way this fall, "didn't influence his decision a great deal."
What almost certainly influenced Palmieri's decision was the money, which has lured a steady stream of players to leave college early this offseason. Palmieri is certainly very talented and might be fine in time, but the bottom line is this: he scored nine goals last season. He didn't exactly dominate college hockey but, then again, neither did Louis Leblanc. It's all a sign of the times, fueled by the CBA.
Palmieri is in Lake Placid this week and notched two assists in Team USA's 6-3 win over Sweden last night at the National Junior Team Evaluation camp.
UMass-Lowell Top Recruit Decommits Late
UMass-Lowell recruit Julian Melchiori, who was set to play for the Riverhawks this fall, has decommitted, signing with the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) instead.
Melchiori, a 6'3", 185 lb. left-shot D, was a third-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers at June's NHL Draft. Last season, Melchiori, a 12/6/91 birthdate, played for the Newmarket Hurricanes (CCHL) and had a 7-16-23 line in 39 games. A Richmond Hill, Ontario native, Melchiori committed to Lowell nearly two years ago, in September of '08.
Riley Named Head Coach at Springfield
Former Army head coach Rob Riley has been named head coach of the Springfield Falcons (AHL), the Columbus Blue Jackets' top minor league affiliate.
Six years ago, Riley, after placing the Army hockey program in the hands of his younger brother, Brian, moved back to the Boston area and began scouting regionally for the Blue Jackets while working in the investment banking industry.
Riley, a forward at BC in the ‘70s - he was co-captain of the '77-78 team - is the son of Jack Riley, who played at Dartmouth and went on to coach at Army. The elder Riley, now 90 and still living on the Cape, took a hiatus from West Point to coach the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team which, as you better know, won gold at the Squaw Valley Olympics.
So, it's fair to say that the younger Riley was born to coach. Right after his playing career ended at BC in 1978, Riley became an assistant with the Eagles for a couple of years, followed by several years at St. Lawrence. In 1983-84, he took over at Babson and in his first year the team went 27-5-1 and won a national championship, blanking Union 8-0 in the title game. But it wasn't until the following year that Riley was named Div. III coach of the year. After that, he served under his father for a year at Army before taking over the Cadets for the next 18 seasons.
This past spring, Riley's youngest son, Brett, a forward, graduated from Governor's Academy, and is heading off to college at Hobart.
A Riley, by the way, has been coaching Army hockey for sixty consecutive seasons. Mull that one over, because it's something we might not ever see again.
Hynes Takes Over at Wilkes-Barre
John Hynes has been named head coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate.
Hynes, 35, takes over for Todd Rierden, a Bowling Green defenseman in the early ‘90s. Rierden has been named as an assistant with the big club.
Last season was Hynes' first with the Penguins organization after leaving the U.S. NTDP.
Hynes, a native of Warwick, RI who played on Boston University's 1995 NCAA championship squad, was a graduate assistant at BU before coming to the NTDP as a volunteer assistant in the program's first year. In between stints at the NTDP, Hynes worked as an assistant at UMass-Lowell and at Wisconsin.
Good News for the Eagles
6'0", 160 lb. LD Scott Savage of the LA Selects has committed to Boston College for the fall of '13.
Savage, who was our #3 ranked defenseman at USA Hockey's Select 15 Player Development Camp July 15-21, has been in Boston for the past ten days. Last week, he visited all four Beanpot schools, the only college visits he took.
A really solid all-purpose defenseman, Savage is the kind of player you want on the ice in all situations. He's good on the power play, moves the puck with hard, accurate passes and has a nice heavy shot from the point. He kills penalties. He has size. He's great in his own end. He's physical and rugged. He's very strong on his skates. He works hard. And he's just a top-notch competitor. It's hard to find any weakness in his game.
This coming season, Savage, who is going into the tenth grade, will be playing for the LA Selects 16-and-Under team. Savage has already been offered a slot at the NTDP, and has accepted. He will be heading to Ann Arbor in the fall of ‘11.
This past weekend, Savage, a 4/11/95 birthdate, was playing for the Beantown Bullies at the Beantown Summer Tour in Exeter, NH, and had a good showing while playing for a team that struggled due to its youth.
He's come east to play for the Junior Bruins summer team for years. Former BC forward Chris Masters, who has been his coach in those summers, says Savage has always been a "fierce competitor... a leader... no ego... and a really great kid, too. When he first started playing for our summer team four or five years ago, I remember him saying that he wanted to come east to play college hockey, and that BC was the front runner."
"His parents are really great too, a pleasure to deal with. I asked him and his dad two weeks ago at the EJ Showcase when he was playing for us if he had any interest in major junior. Both he and his dad emphatically said no, that college would be his route."
Savage, whose father is a fireman, is from San Clemente, California, exactly halfway between LA and San Diego. San Clemente, besides being Richard Nixon's ‘Western White House' derives fame from its many surfing beaches. San Clemente High School has won six of the last seven National Scholastic Surfing Association national titles. Just thought you'd want to know that. We never even knew there was a high school surfing league.
U.S. Junior Roster Cutdown
Thirteen of the 42 players who participated in the intrasquad scrimmages at USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp this weekend in Lake Placid, NY, have been cut.
Goaltenders (1): Michael Houser (London Knights - OHL; ‘92).
Defensemen (3): Mark Alt (Cretin-Derham Hall HS; late ‘91); Brandon Archibald (Sault Ste. Marie - OHL; ‘92); and Jarred Tinordi (US Under-18 Team; ‘92).
Forwards (9): Kevin Hayes (Noble & Greenough School; ‘92); Phil Lane (Brampton - OHL; ‘92); Kevin Lynch (Michigan - NCAA; ‘91); Tyler Maxwell (Everett - WHL; ‘91); Matt Nieto (US Under-18 Team; late ‘92); Tyler Pitlick (Mankato State - NCAA; ‘91); Bryan Rust (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); Nick Shore (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); and Steven Whitney (Boston College - NCAA; ‘91).
Note: Drew Shore (Denver - NCAA; ‘91) has an AC sprain in his shoulder and is out three to five weeks.
That leaves a 28-man roster for this week's international games. Here is the roster for that team. The returnees from last winter's gold medal team are marked with an asterisk.:
Goaltenders (3): Jack Campbell* (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); Zane Gothberg (Thief River Falls HS; ‘92); Andy Iles (US Under-18 Team; ‘92).
Defensemen (9): Adam Clendening (U.S. Under-18 Team; late ‘92); Brian Dumoulin (Boston College - NCAA; ‘91); Justin Faulk (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); Derek Forbort (U.S. Under-18 Team; ‘92); Stephen Johns (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); Jon Merrill (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); John Ramage* (Wisconsin - NCAA; ‘91); Philip Samuelsson (Boston College - NCAA; ‘91); Patrick Wey (Boston College - NCAA; ‘91).
Forwards (16): Beau Bennett (Penticton - BCHL; late ‘91); Nick Bjugstad (Blaine HS; ‘92); Ryan Bourque* (Quebec -QMJHL; ‘91); Connor Brickley (Des Moines - USHL; ‘92); Chris Brown (Michigan - NCAA; ‘91); Zach Budish (Minnesota - NCAA; ‘91); Charlie Coyle (South Shore Kings - EJHL; ‘92); Jerry D'Amigo* (RPI - NCAA; ‘91); Emerson Etem (Medicine Hat - WHL; ‘92); Chris Kreider* (Boston College - NCAA; ‘91); Jeremy Morin* (Kitchener-OHL; ‘91); Brock Nelson (Warroad HS; late ‘91); Kyle Palmieri* (Notre Dame - NCAA); Brandon Saad (US Under-18 Team; ‘92); Austin Watson (Peterborough - OHL; ‘92); Jason Zucker* (US Under-18 Team; ‘92)
Head coach: Keith Allain.
Assistant Coaches: Mark Osiecki, Phil Housley, and Joe Exter.
Camp Coaches: Mark Carlson and Greg Brown.
General Manager: Jim Johannson.
Director of Player Personnel: Tim Taylor.
Not in camp but eligible: Cam Fowler (Windsor - OHL; late ‘91); Nick Leddy (Minnesota - NCAA; ‘91).
For those of you who are new to this, USA Hockey's National Junior Evaluation Camp is just part of a process. The final roster will not necessarily be drawn entirely from the 28 players who are advancing to this weekend's games. And the 14 players who were cut last night are not totally out of the picture, either. In short, anyone who is a '91 or younger is eligible, and Director of Player Personnel Tim Taylor will be out beating the bushes between now and mid-December. You never know who will pop up out of nowhere to fill a role on the team.
Lake Placid This Week:
Here's this week's schedule at Lake Placid in case you have the time, a tank full of gas, and tires with good treads. Cash, too, because the hotels in Lake Placid are not cheap.
Today: Finland vs. Sweden, 4:00 pm.
Tomorrow: USA vs. Sweden, 4:00 pm.
Wed. 8/4: USA vs. Finland, 4:00 pm.
Thurs. 8/5: Finland vs. Sweden, 4:00 pm.
Fri. 8/6: USA vs. Sweden, 4:00 pm.
Sat. 8/7: USA vs. Finland, 4:00 pm.