Day 1 at the USHL Fall Classic
We were able to see six teams during opening day action at the USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa: Des Moines, Sioux Falls, Lincoln, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, and Tri-City. Of that group, the best show was put on by Cedar Rapids. With 11 Div. I commits, a slew of returnees, and great team speed, they blew past Lincoln, blanking them 7-0. '90 center Jayson Megna (UNO) had a really good game, as did '92 RW Sam Warning (Minnesota), '91 Stu Wilson (Yale) and '92 Peter Sakaris (uncommitted) were consistently noticeable up front, as was '91 center Rasmus Juell (uncommitted.). On the blue line, '91 Tommy Fallen (Air Force) showed really nice offensive skill. 6'2" Josiah Didier, a '93 Denver recruit who played for the Colorado T-Birds last year, showed real potential; he looked pretty comfortable for a rookie in the league. '90 goalie Brady Hjelle, back from Minnesota-Duluth, stopped all 24 shots he faced. We were sorry we didn't get to see 14-year-old d-man and BU recruit Anthony DeAngelo, who was suspended due to a fight at his high school. Cason Hohmann, also a BU recruit and the team's leading returning scorer to boot, was also suspended. Another big gun for the Roughriders, North Dakota recruit Michael Parks, was out with an injury. The team certainly didn't need them against Lincoln, who looked like they were skating in mud.
Sioux City looked good, easily handling Tri-City in a 6-2 win. Several rookies -- kids who were playing high school hockey last year -- looked very much at home. Specifically, '92 LW Max McCormick (Ohio State), and late '91 center Caleb Herbert (Minn-Duluth). Those two worked really well together. If Herbert were bigger than 5'10" he would have been snapped up long before the fifth round in June. McCormick got in, and won, a fight. Big 6'3" LW Max Gaede was consistently noticeable. The Zehnal Twins, ‘94s from Sweden, look like they'll make a nice contribution this year. Richard, a 6'2" center, was with Sioux City last year. His 6'0" twin, Ondrej, had a pair of goals. 6'3" late '93 d-man Jordan Schmaltz, a former Wisconsin commit, showed speed and made some nice passes.
Tri-City, like Lincoln, had a very tough time getting anything going. We'll have to see them again before we pass judgment. Just a tough day for them.
The Des Moines-Sioux Falls game, the first of the day, was a bit of a sleepy affair. Minutes after the game started the glass to the right of the Sioux Falls bench shattered and the players returned to their locker rooms for a half hour before the glass was repaired and play resumed. The game never really developed much of a tempo. Des Moines, 3-2 winners despite being outshot, got some timely plays. '92 center Dan DeSalvo, who was playing for Team Illinois last year, had a nice game, making plays, but also working hard, being physically involved and making himself consistently noticeable. '93 RW Kevin Irwin, who played for the Cleveland Barons Under-18 Team last year, was also noticeable. Not everything he tried worked, but sometimes it did. The same applied to '93-born Michigan recruit Justin Selman, who we began to notice more as the game moved along. We liked some of the big D on Des Moines, like 6'3" Peter Stoykewych, a CC recruit from Winnipeg and a Tampa Bay draft pick, 6'1" Ethan Prow, a late '92 from Sauk Rapids High School who'll be going to St. Cloud, and 6'2" Blake Doerring, a Vermont recruit and a '91 birthdate who seems to have become quicker on his feet. Both goalies played well for Des Moines '90 Tyler Bruggeman, who played in the NAHL last season with St. Louis, and '90 Michael Shibrowski, a late '90 who played at Colorado College last year. For Sioux Falls, we liked Michigan State recruit Brent Darnell, a 5'11" '92 birthdate who has a pretty good idea what to do when the puck's on his stick, and the Reilly Twins, late '91 Minnnesota recruits, and heady players. Overall, though, Sioux Falls seemed listless, just never really got it going.
Fasching Shines at Elite League
6'1½", 189 lb. Apple Valley sophomore RW Hudson Fasching, playing for the Southeast squad, was the talk of the scouting fraternity at the Upper Midwest High School Elite League in New Hope, Minn. last weekend.
For Fasching, it's all part of an upward trajectory that started early last winter, then turned white hot when, in the state tournament quarterfinals at the Excel Center in March the then-14-year-old freshman outplayed Florida Panthers first round draft pick Nick Bjugstad in Apple Valley's 2-0 upset win over Blaine.
In July, we saw Fasching at the Select 15s in Rochester, NY, where he was our top-ranked forward - by a wide margin. However, he was playing against his own age group then. On Saturday, Fasching, one of only five ‘95s in the elite league, stood out playing against older kids.
Fasching, who has a 3-7-10 line in eight games, possesses a rare combination of size, athleticism, and poise. At one point in Saturday's morning game, the winger was working the puck along the wall between the hash marks and goal line in an uncanny display of puck protection. When his linemate dropped down to open space, Fasching, spotting him, put it right on his stick. Bing. Occasionally, you see a play in a game that kind of makes you gasp, and you look around to see if everyone else saw what you just saw. This was one of those moments.
We also noted Fasching's demeanor on the ice. There's nothing cocky about him. He's all business. Never stays out a second too long on shifts. He just plays the game the right.
In a state that has produced a large number of talented players over the years, Fasching could be one of the really special ones, a possible Top Five pick in the 2013 NHL draft.
Fasching, by the way, is no one-sport athlete. He's also a key forward on Apple Valley's soccer team which went 18-0 and won the state championship last season. This fall, Apple Valley is 13-0 to date. So Fasching knows about winning.
But he also knows that life isn't always fair. He may be blessed with off-the-charts athletic skill, but his two siblings, both younger, are special needs kids, and seriously handicapped. They were in attendance Saturday, watching from their wheelchairs.
"There's a great love and a strong bond you see in the family," says Steve Bartlett, Fasching's family advisor. "It's impressive to watch Hudson's interactions with his siblings. He's a really good kid from a really nice family."
It's hard to say where Fasching will play next year. Both of his parents are college grads - Hudson's father works for LG North America; his mother is a math tutor as time allows -- so education is important. Consequently, the WHL seems like a long shot (he was drafted by Kelowna in the WHL Bantam Draft last spring). The NTDP would clearly want him, as would any USHL team. As for college, from what we're seeing, it's a little hard to imagine him in NCAA play for more than a single season. And we're not even sure about that: he could be one of those rare ones who gets drafted and goes directly to the NHL.
Bartlett is totally aware of the upside, but is also trying to keep things low key, and see that things play out at the proper pace. "The family is very grounded," he says. "They don't want to get too far ahead of themselves in this."
The New England Fall Prep Hockey League (i.e., Massachusetts/Northern New England) vs. Western Prep Elite League showdown (i.e, Connecticut) scheduled for this Sunday Oct. 3 at the Icenter in Salem, NH, has been scrubbed.
The Oct. 17 interleague showcase scheduled for Quinnipiac is also in jeopardy.
According to both league's websites, "Significant conflicts with the student athletes and their school activities associated with the considerable travel, has warranted the cancellation of these games."
If we can chime in here a little, we have to wonder what exactly constitutes 'considerable travel.' This typist spent last weekend watching the action at the Upper Midwest Fall Elite League. The driving distances out there are in many players' cases up to twice as long as the distance between the most-distant Connecticut school and Salem, NH. From Roseau and Warroad to the Twin Cities is a little over six hours. Grand Forks, ND and Green Bay, Wisc. are both over five hours from the Twin Cities. And everybody makes the trip, because they have committed to the league. And because they have committed to the league, the NHL scouts and college coaches show up in droves. Another reason they show up in droves is because there are fewer teams, hence the quality of play is higher. That, however, is an issue for another day.
The Mass teams will go ahead and use the ice at Salem on Sunday, playing a series of intraleague games, starting at 10:20 am. The final game will face off at 3:30 pm.
Some people have interpreted our above comments as a questioning of the kids' commitment. Perhaps this typist didn't choose his words carefully enough, but such was far from our intent. We were questioning the league, though. If there were going to be such massive logistical problems, certainly they could have been foreseen by the adults in charge, and someone should have spoken up long ago. We think it's better to schedule zero games than sign on to an elaborate event and then back out at the last minute. Pro scouts and college recruiters really like to know that if they go to a certain place at a certain time that the games will be played and all the kids will be there. When things like this happen, they become skittish about the entire schedule -- and that's not good.
Belmont Hill Jamboree
Here's the schedule for Sat. Nov. 27.
8:30 am - Belmont Hill vs. Winchendon
10:00 am - Governor's Academy vs. Proctor Academy
12:00 pm - Winchendon vs. St. Andrew's College
1:30 pm - Proctor Academy vs. Belmont Hill
3:30 pm - St. Andrew's College vs. Governor's Academy
That's it. Leaves plenty of time to have dinner afterward. Unlike the old days, there are a number of places to have dinner in Belmont. Be sure to drink a toast to Belmont native Wilbur Wood, the USHR Person of the Day. Wood, who was signed by the Boston Red Sox out of Belmont High School, was soon after traded to the Pirates, and from there to the White Sox, where he learned to throw the knuckleball. On one night in 1973, while with the Pale Hose, he finished up a game that had been suspended in the 17th inning the night before, pitching five innings and earning the win when the White Sox won in the 21st inning. Wood then went out and started the regularly-scheduled game, throwing a complete game shutout to earn two wins in the same night. Later that same season, Wood started both ends of a doubleheader, and wasn't so fortunate, picking up two losses in the same night. At any rate, Wood is the last major league pitcher to start both games of a doubleheader, and we don't expect there to be another one. And that is why Wilbur Wood is the USHR Person of the Day.
Yale Showcase Schedule
Here's the schedule for Sun. Nov. 21 at Yale University's Ingalls Rink.
9:00 am - Hill Academy vs. Williston-Northampton
11:00 am - Northwood vs. Delbarton
1:00 pm - Rice Memorial vs. Pomfret
3:00 pm - Milton Academy vs. Northfield-Mt. Hermon
5:00 pm - Cushing vs. the Gunnery
7:00 pm - The Hill School vs. Brunswick
Note that both the Hill Academy and the Hill School will be playing at the showcase. Hill Academy, a private school in Vaughan, Ontario, in Toronto's northern suburbs, is a new program headed up by former University of Minnesota and NHL goaltender Frank Pietrangelo. Among the players at Hill Academy is LW Ryan Lomberg, a University of Maine recruit for the fall of '12.
Heading for the Empire State
5'9", 180 lb. Team Comcast Under-18 forward Dave Ferriera has committed to Clarkson for the fall of '13.
Ferriera, a 10/27/93 birthdate from Riverside, NJ who centers Team Comcast's top line, is a speedy, offensively-skilled forward who can score goals.
"He's gotten better and better each of the last three years I've had him," said Team Comcast coach Jared Beach. "I think he'll play on the top two lines at Clarkson when he goes there."
Ferreira, a junior in high school, will head out to the USHL next fall, and play there for two years before heading to Potsdam.
5'11", 184 lb. U.S. Under-18 Team RW Ryan Haggerty has committed to RPI for next fall.
Haggerty, who played for Trinity Catholic High School in his hometown of Stamford, Conn. before going out to Ann Arbor last fall, has strength and a strong shot. The Engineers will be counting on him as a top two line guy who will score goals.
Day 3 at the USHL Fall Classic
In the first game at the big rink today, the Indiana Ice, behind a 25-save shutout from '94 goaltender Jon Gillies (Northeastern), blanked Waterloo, 5-0. Gillies didn't face much in the way of grade A opportunities, but showed poise handling everything that came his way. Up front, 5'11" Austrian '91 RW Peter Schneider was very good. Playing on the top line with Michigan State recruit David Johnstone and 6'1" '92 LW Brian Ferlin, a Cornell recruit and second-year USHL player who also had a strong game, Schneider had a goal and an assist and was consistently noticeable. Ditto for 5'10" '92 LW Dan Cesarz, formerly of Honeybaked. Cesarz had several assists and was consistently making plays. '95 RW Adam Erne (BU) had a goal and an assist. This was the second strong game here for Erne, who looks at home in the league. He certainly made up for the last time we saw him, at the Select 15s. 5'11" '91 Russian center Daniil Tarasov - no idea if he is related to Anatoly Tarasov, the grandfather of Russian Olympic hockey -- had a couple of goals. He's very good, and has played two consecutive strong games here. There is, however, some question as to whether he burned his amateur status back in the mother country. On defense 6'1" '91 Nick Mattson (North Dakota) stood out - no surprise there. We also liked 6'2", 245 lb. Jarrod Rabey (St. Cloud). Solid; doesn't get bounced aroud. Note: Sean Kuraly (Miami), who played yesterday, didn't play today. Ditto for Ian Spencer (Vermont). Alex Gacek (Miami) is out with an injury.
We wrote about Waterloo yesterday. Today, 6'2", 194 lb. '95 d-man Ian McCoshen, who played for the Shattuck-St. Mary's Bantams last season, was in the lineup for Waterloo, and didn't look out of place at all. Looks like he'll be another '95 who makes the league.
In today's second game, the Green Bay Gamblers topped the Chicago Steel, 4-2, despite being outshot, 28-14. The disparity didn't appear to be that great, but that's how they counted them. The Gamblers 6'1" late '92 goaltender from South St. Paul HS, Adam Wilcox, a Gopher recruit, was really good while his teammates got a lot of power play opportunities -- and converted every one of them. Up front, 5'9", 158 lb. center Austin Czarnik, a Miami recruit who played last year for the U.S. Under-18 Team, was terrific -- quick, great stick, elusive, just a fun-to-watch, high-skill player. Czarnik, a late birthdate, is currently a senior in high school, which is why he's not at Miami right now. Green Bay is strong at center with, in addition to Czarnik, Mankato recruit J.P. LaFontaine,a '92 who was at Shattuck last year; Alex Broadhurst, a '93 from the Chicago Mission midgets committed to UNO, and '91 Travis Lynch, who had 22 points last year for the Gamblers. 6'2", 200 lb. LW '91 Ludwig Karlsson, a Northeastern recruit from Sweden, is a strong-up-and-down the wing pro-style player who had 29 points in 58 games last year. He's not a natural finisher, but is good in his role. He looks like a pro. RW Nolan LaPorte, a '92 from Team Illinois, made plays, contributed a couple of assists, and was very noticeable. Laporte, who's 6'0", 181, played for TI last season. On the blue line, 6'2" CC recruit Aaron Harstad and 6'1" UNO recruit Brian O'Rourke led the way, as expected. 6'2", 204 lb. Mitch Witek, a '92 who played for TI last season, scored on a nice wrister and is a player to keep an eye on. Note: Brett Stern (Mankato), Max Hartner (Air Force), Christopher Eick, and Josef Pontasch were scratches for the Gamblers.
Yale recruit Connor Wilson was in goal for Chicago. He didn't have a great day, allowing four goals on 15 shots.
Note: We had to make the trek north to the Twin Cities right after the next game, a 4-2 Youngstown win over Sioux Falls, marred by lousy officiating. That report may have to wait a while.
USHL Fall Classic: Day 2 Impressions
An issue that's come up in a lot of conversations among the scouting/recruiting fraternity here is the huge number of players some teams brought to town, far more than in past years, often 30 to 35 players. Coaches will say they are still picking their team, and, to a certain extent, that may be the case. However, they certainly know enough at this late date to get it down to a manageable level like 25, and if they don't, well, tough luck. Also, given the enormous number of NHL teams and Div. I colleges that are here, it would be nice to have the top underagers and first year draft-eligible players dressed for every game, as well as players uncommitted to college. If you have to sit someone, sit a '90 or a '91 who already has a college commitment in hand. These are exhibition games, after all, and those aren't guys who need to be seen. To use one example, today Fargo sat late '93 LD Brian Cooper, who is perhaps the most-coveted uncommitted '93 in the league, with a boatload of colleges - up to 15, we're told - that are actively recruiting him. Colleges, scouts, and fans should get the chance to see him. After all, he's one of the league's best players, and this is a showcase for the league.
Commissioner Skip Prince says that the large number reflects teams' desire to bring in their affiliate players, and give them a taste of USHL life. Well, bring one or two, or have games that just feature affiliate players, There has to be a better way.
As for the games today at the Tyson Center, in the early tilt, the expansion Muskegon Lumberjacks topped Fargo, 4-2. Muskegon went up 2-0 on a pair of unassisted shorthanded goals 57 seconds apart in the first period. The first came when John Parker (UMass) raced down the right side with the puck and fired a wrister past Fargo goalie Ryan Massa. The next came when Fargo's '93 D Garrett Haar (Northeastern) turned it over at the blue line and Muskegon's 6'0" center Matt DeBlouw, a late '93 committed to Michigan State, was off to the races. Fargo went up 3-0 on a Charlie Taft goal and then held on while Fargo rallied to cut it to 3-2 before '94 Jordan Masters iced the game with an empty netter. For Muskegon, a young team with only five players who played in the USHL last season, we liked 6'3", 190 lb. RD Mark Yanis, a '94 from Belle Tire Under-16. There's a lot of upside there. Another D who had a strong game was 6'3" '91 Sebastian Gingras (Maine). Up front, we thought 6'3" '92 LW Brendan Woods (Wisconsin) had a strong game, as did 6'1" Casey Thrush (UNH), as well as the aforementioned DeBlouw, Taft, and Parker. '93 goalie Paul Berrafato kicked out 20 of 22 shots for the win. For Fargo, late '93 Colten St. Clair (North Dakota) was consistently noticeable on both the positive and negative side of the ledger: he scored a power play goal but hurt his team with a couple of dumb penalties. 6'2" '92 C Tanner Lane (Nebraska-Omaha), who put himself and Detroit Lakes HS on the map last winter, should be a big gun for Fargo this season. Ditto for 6'2" '93 Jakob Batcha (Wisconsin), and 5'10" '92 Jimmy Mullin (Miami), a Shattuck grad. '93 Brian Cooper leads the D, but, as we mentioned, he didn't play today. Ditto for '92 forward Garrett Allen, a Wisconsin recruit and the team's leading returning scorer. With those two in the lineup, the outcome may have been different.
In the second game, Chicago, despite being outshot 38-30, topped Waterloo, 6-3. Adam Miller, a ‘92 goalie from the Janesville Jets, kicked out 35 of 38 shots and was the difference. We should point out that Miller is the Steel's #2, behind Yale recruit Connor Wilson. The top line of '90 Tyler Lapic, late '90 Danny Mattson (North Dakota), and late '90 Cole Gunnar (Air Force) led the Steel attack. 6'2" '91 RW Adam Krause (Minn-Duluth) was very noticeable, as was 5'9" '93 LW Theo DiPauli. On defense, we thought 6'4" '92 lb. Sam Windle had a strong game.
For Waterloo, we found 6'3" '92 Alex Guptill, a Michigan recruit from Orangeville (OPJHL) to be quite intriguing. Look for him to be a force for the Blackhawks. '94 LW Vince Hinostroza, who is only 5'8", 130 lbs. and committed to Notre Dame for down the road, was not shy, getting right in the offensive flow. '93 goalie Jay Williams (Miami), formerly of Hotchkiss, came in midway through the second half, allowed a couple of quick goals before breaking a sweat and then slammed the door the rest of the way.
In the thrid game, an odd one, the expansion Dubuque Fighting Saints, wearing nice retro uniforms of white with red stripes (think Cornell), coughed up a 3-1 lead to Tri-City, who tied the game on a Dan Kolomatis (Merrimack) goal with 33 seconds remaining in regulation. Tri-City then won the shootout as well.'91 LW Cody Murphy (Miami) was the big gun for Tri-City, scoring their first goal and leading their attack. Tri-City goalie Steven Bolton, who was shellacked yesterday, bounced back with a solid performance today. This was an upset win for Waterloo, as the Dubuque team put together by head coach/GM Jim Montgomery and his staff has a lot of talent, up front and on defense. Goaltending? We're not so sure. 6'2" Jackson Tiechroeb struggled today, stopping just 11 of 14 shots. That may be the team's Achilles heel; time will tell.
Dubuque's top line of '93 LW John Gaudreau (Northeastern), '94 C Zemgus Girgensons (Vermont), and '90 RW Vinny Saponari has more pure talent than any line here, including the U.S. Under-18 Team. When they are on the ice, all eyes are on them. But in the third period, Gaudreau stayed out too long on a shift and Montgomery benched him for the rest of the game and the shootout. Gaudreau might have made the difference between winning and losing, but Montgomery's message was clear: he's going to be running a tight ship.
In the nightcap, the U.S. Under-18 Team struck fast, with goals by Tyler Biggs and Rocco Grimaldi in the first five minutes. But that was it. Omaha scored the next three. 6'2", 210 lb. '93 RW Seth Ambroz (Minnesota) made a big statement, tying the game at 2-2 on the powerplay at 2:16 of the third and then, just two and a half minutes later, scoring the game winner. Ambroz, a likely first rounder next June, is Omaha's leading returning scorer (he had 49 last year as a 16-year-old) and will be their big gun this season. It's his team, and he might be able to carry them a long way. 5'11" center Tommy O'Regan (Harvard) scored Omaha's first goal tonight. His skating has improved, and there's some jump to his game. Note: Defenseman Ben Marshall didn't play for Omaha due to injury. Top '94 forward Adam Chlapik, a native of the Czech Republic who lit it up last year for the LA Jr. Kings U-18s, did not play due to a missed class.
For the U.S. Under-18 Team, 5'6" Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota) was excellent as usual, just a gas to watch, the best pure talent here. 6'2", 207 lb. RW Tyler Biggs (Miami) has gotten lighter on his feet. He was on fire tonight -- scoring, making plays, hitting, and fighting -- and his stock is rising fast. Center J.T. Miller (uncommitted) was also excellent, constantly making things happen. Those three were the standouts up front. The blue line for the U-18s is in a state of flux right now, with Connor Murphy, Jake McCabe, and Andy Ryan all out with injuries. In the meantime, the Under-18 Team has borrowed Matt Killian (Yale) from Delbarton and Max Everson (uncommitted) from Edina to fill the gap. Killian played well, had no trouble with the tempo and rang a shot off the crossbar at one point. Everson was a little less noticeable, but fit in well. RW Austin Wuthrich left with an injury to his right leg in the third period. We'll try to get you an update on that tomorrow, when we'll be back at the Tyson Center.
The Fitzgerald Triplets
Here's something you don't see everyday: triplets. The Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL) have the Fitzgerald Triplets, 8/26/93 birthdates Myles, Gerry, and Leo Fitzgerald, all rookies in the league. They're identical. All are 5'7", 150. While we haven't seen them, NCAA recruiters who have say they're skilled, quick, Div. I prospects who compete hard.
Myles and Gerry are right shots, while Leo shoots left. So maybe they aren't identical after all.
The triplets are from Port Alberni which, like Nanaimo, is on Vancouver Island. Port Alberni once called itself the Salmon Capital of the World. Pollution emanating from a local pulp mill decimated the fish's population, and deep-sixed the moniker.
Chicago Mission defenseman Sam Piazza has committed to Boston College for the fall of '12.
Piazza, a skilled offensive defenseman who is solid in his own end, was a standout at the Select 16 Festival and went overseas with the U.S. Select Under-17 Team that won the 2010 Five Nations Tournament in Hutwil, Switzerland last month.
BC head coach Jerry York was among the observers in Hutwil, combining a little hockey with a wedding anniversary trip with his wife, and got to get a good look at Teddy Doherty (Shattuck-St. Mary's d-man), who committed to the Eagles as soon as he got home, as well as Piazza, so it was a very productive trip for the Eagles. Malden Catholic forward Ryan Fitzgerald, who had committed to the Eagles earlier, was also on the team that went overseas.
Piazza made his final pick from between Boston College and Notre Dame. The Illinois native visited Notre Dame a couple of weeks ago, specifically, the weekend the Fighting Irish lost in football to Michigan.
Look for Devin Rask to be named assistant coach at Providence College within the next week, replacing recently retired Stan Moore. Rask, a 32-year-old native of Saskatchewan, was a forward for the Friars from '99-03, played minor pro, and began his coaching career as an assistant at Wesleyan before moving on to the University of Connecticut last season. Rask's position at UConn will be filled by Josh Robinson, an assistant at Colby the last two years. That means that Colby head coach John Tortorella is currently looking for an assistant. Ironically, Stan Moore, whose wife is a dean at Colby, lives in town with his family.
6'2", 175 lb. Wayzata High School forward Mario Lucia, the son of Gophers head coach Don Lucia and one of the top '93 forwards in the country, may well, like older brother Tony, wind up with the Gophers, but it's far from a sure thing. Over the summer Mario visited Colorado College (where his father was head coach before taking the Gophers position), Denver, and Notre Dame (his father's alma mater). Now, Boston College is in the hunt for the younger Lucia as well. "He just may want to follow his own path," said Don Lucia of his son.
5'9", 165 lb. Salisbury goalie Gabe Antoni has committed to Clarkson for next fall. A 1/6/92 birthdate from Lansdale, PA, Antoni arrived at Salisbury last season and posted a .933 save percentage for the squad, which went 15-6-5. A senior at Salisbury and a Team Comcast alum, Antoni is expected at Clarkson in the fall of '11.
By the way, because of the early December trip Salisbury is taking to Ann Arbor to play Kent in an outdoor game at the University of Michigan's stadium, the school will not be hosting a preseason jamboree at RPI and Union this season.
Michigan State has a commitment for the fall of '13 from big '95 birthdate Michael McCarron. The younger brother of Lincoln Stars forward and Cornell recruit John McCarron, Michael is a Macomb, Mich. native playing in the Honeybaked organization. He's already 6'5", 220 lbs. and, like his brother, plays with a bit of an edge. When he grows into his body, he could be a major force coming down the wing.
Western NE Fall Prep League
The Western New England Fall Prep Elite Hockey League gets underway for real tomorrow (Sun. 9/19), with all 11 teams in action at the Newington Ice Arena in Newington, Conn. The first game faces off at 9:50 am, and the last at 3:20 pm. There will be ten games, with staggered starting times. All teams will play two games, except for two teams that will play one game apiece. That will be the format every Sunday, except for Sun. Oct 3, when the league travels up to Salem, NH for crossover competition with the Mass League, and on Sun. Oct. 17, when the two leagues meet at Quinnipiac University.
If you go to the Connecticut league's website at www.westernprep-elite.com you will see complete rosters, with name, height/weight, year in school, birthdate, etc. There is also a alphabetical/searchable roster (click on ‘Full Roster' under the ‘Teams' tab) if you wish to quickly determine if certain players are in action. You can also search by school, which, of course, we did. And, by our count, the five schools most represented at the Elite League will be Avon Old Farms (22), Gunnery (22), Salisbury (21), Kent (19), and Taft (17). All 225 of the league's rostered players are from prep schools. There are no players from Connecticut public schools. (The Mass League, on the other hand, has a handful of Mass. and New Hampshire Public/Parochial players.)
The website for the Mass. league can be found at www.nefphl.org. Their format is a little different, with a few games on Saturday night, and the bulk on Sunday morning/afternoon. They also have held the number of teams down to five, so the level of play is higher than in Connecticut, at least based on what we saw over Labor Day weekend in Salem. The Mass league will be also be officially opening up this weekend, with all games being played at the Salem Icenter.
Both leagues will finish up with their own respective playoffs on the weekend of Nov. 6-7.
New England HS Showcase Rosters
We have the rosters for the New England High School Showcase scheduled for tomorrow (Sun. 9/19) at the Northford Ice Pavilion in Northford, Conn.
Here's the link:
2010 New England Showcase Rosters
Also, there has been a slight change to the schedule, as Mass North and Mass South have had their time slots flip-flopped. Here's the new schedule for tomorrow:
9:30 am - Conn. vs. Rhode Island
11:15 am - Mass North vs. New England
11:30 am - Mass South vs. Maine
3:15 pm - New England vs. Maine
4:45 pm - Mass North vs. Rhode Island
5:15 pm - Connecticut vs. Mass South
There will be two more showcases after tomorrow, at the University of Southern Maine on Sun. Oct. 10 and at Fitchburg State on Sun. Nov. 7.
And Let's Not Forget...
A few things happened in August, during our vacation break, which deserve mention, chief among them being the U.S. Under-17 Select Team winning the 2010 Five Nations Tournament at Huttwil, Switzerland.
The U.S. topped the Czech Republic, 5-3, on Aug. 18th; lost to Slovakia, 3-2 on Aug. 20th, then came back and beat host Switzerland, 5-3, on August 21st, and trounced Germany, 14-2, on the 22nd.
The team's head coach was Sean Tremblay of the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) and he was assisted by Matt Herr of the Kent School.
Forwards: Nick Schilkey (5-1-6); Jack Rowe (4-2-6); Jordan Masters (3-3-6); Zach Stepan (2-4-6); Ryan Fitzgerald (1-4-5); Miles Koules (2-2-4); Joseph Cox (1-3-4); Brian Morgan (1-3-4); Kyle Osterberg (2-1-3); A.J. Michaelson (0-3-3); Riley Barber (1-1-2); Sheldon Dries (0-2-2).
Defensemen: Troy Donnay (1-3-4); Teddy Doherty (1-2-3); Sam Piazza (1-2-3); Tim Davison (1-1-2); Justin Wade (0-1-1); Grant Webermin (0-0-0).
Goaltenders: Jimmy Howe (55/50; .909); Brandon Hope (37/31; .838).
A half dozen of the players on the team that went overseas committed to college right after the tournament: defensemen Teddy Doherty (BC) and Tim Davison (Wisconsin); and forwards Joseph Cox (Michigan State), Miles Koules (North Dakota), Kyle Osterberg (Minnesota-Duluth), and Jack Rowe (North Dakota).
Earlier commits were forwards Ryan Fitzgerald (BC) and Brian Morgan (Maine).
In June, defensemen Troy Donnay signed with London, and Grant Webermin signed with Windsor.
There have been a bunch of other commitments around college hockey that took place while we were on vacation. Junior Bruins RW Cody Learned, a late '91, is headed to Yale in the fall of '12. He's small and offensively gifted, as is another Yale recruit, Nicholas Weberg, a Norwegian playing for Shattuck who will be arriving in New Haven in either '12 or '13 (Weberg will play for Sioux City after graduating from Shattuck). Both of the Roy brothers, from Lac Beauport, Quebec -- St. Paul's senior goaltender Derick Roy and Deerfield junior forward Kevin Roy - have committed to Brown for the fall of '12. The Brown staff, by the way, has been busy, committing six players over the last six weeks. LD Joey DeConsilys, a '93 who will be at Salisbury this fall, is another Brown recruit, heading there in either '11 or '12. Ditto for lanky St. Sebastian's junior forward Joe Prescott, who will be at Brown in the fall of '12. Holy Cross has a couple of recent commitments in Nathan Domagala, a '92-born LD from Upper Canada College and Tommy Dwyer, a big late '92 forward from the Brunswick School
The EJHL season officially opened last night with one game, a 3-1 home win for Baystate over Bridgewater. From what we saw at the Woodchuck Classic in Vermont last weekend - and not all EJ teams were there - we have to say that the two strongest teams there looked to be the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and the Jersey Hitmen, each of whom won all three games they played.
The Monarchs have the edge defensively with guys like Jacob Rutt (Maine), Billy Fitzgerald (Dartmouth), Trevor van Riemsdyk (UNH), and Kyle Williams (Mercyhurst). When Brian Billet (BC) returns, they should have the edge in net, too. Sean Tremblay's club isn't bad up front, either. Look for Pat Doherty, Trent Ruffolo (Yale), Tommy Thompson (Mercyhurst), and Connor Toomey to all have big seasons. We didn't get to see much of Cam Brown (Maine), as he took a hit and was knocked out of the game during his first shift Friday. Brian Morgan (Maine) is just a '94, but is obviously a player to watch, and could be a major factor by midseason.
The Hitmen were solid on the blueline, but their strongest suit is up front - they are deep. Connor Leen (Maine), Craig Kitto, and Max Novak (Union) all jumped out at this observer. Ditto for Tucker Long, and Chris Preziosi, who scored a nice highlight reel goal. 6'3" Charles Orzetti (Yale) missed all of last season, so might take a little while to round into shape. Hitmen GM/head coach Toby Harris has put together a team with four strong lines.
After those two teams, we give the nod to the Junior Bruins, as coach Peter Masters had four very balanced lines in action at the Woodchuck. As for the other teams, it's a little hard to say. However, teams that struggled last season seem to have improved, so the bottom is coming up. The Philadelphia Revolution, coached by Geoff Marottolo, feature Garret Clement setting up the offense from the blue line. Clement, a '91, had a bit of a lost year in '09-10, as things didn't work out for him in Lincoln (USHL) once he left South Kent. The Revolution will count on Clement heavily. The New England Huskies also look better. Small, quick RD Patrick Borer, a '90 from Golden Valley, Minn., was very good for Paul Jenkins' team. '90 RD Nick Gawron, from Lemont, Ill., was noticeable too.
There were some teams in the "B" division we enjoyed watching. The DC Capitals (formerly Team Maryland) played hard, and also seemed quite in sync for so early in the season. We liked 5'11" '95 LW J.B. Baker, who showed a good mix of skill and grit. 6'1" '92 Max Raskin, a LW from Florida, skates well and knows what to do when the puck's on his stick. He scored a nice goal off a pass up the wall from fellow Floridian Dylan Maller, a 6'1" '94 D with upside. We also liked 5'9" '93 D Josh Bretner, 6'0" '94 D Eric Sade and 6'0" D Eric Sweetman, also a '94. The DC Caps gave the talented Little Bruins team all they could handle, but a goal by BC recruit Ryan Fitzgerald with 1:30 on the clock allowed the Little Bruins to eke out a 5-4 win. The Little Bruins featured 5'9" '93 Colin Blackwell, the St. John's Prep forward who played very well at the Select Festival and is getting a ton of interest from Div. I schools, as well as Belmont Hill forward Brandon McNally, a Dartmouth recruit, and big '95 forward Eddie Ellis, from Phillips Andover. Lawrence Academy forward Devin Tringale, who blasted a kid into next week, and St. John's Prep forward Sam Kurker played well. Moving on, we should mention the Junior Bruins Empire Team, which looks like it will run away with the league again this year. They have a 6'1" '94 RW in Mike Weaver, who had a nice shootout goal. Weaver is getting attention from schools like UMass, Northeastern, and UNH. The Empire Bruins, coached by Chris Masters, also have a '96 forward named Jack Eichel, who didn't look at all out of place and could become a serious prospect in time. '93 LW Paul Russell and '94 wing Mac Cook were solid up front, while '94 Kevin McKernan will be anchoring the blue line. 6'1" '95 Connor Brassard is another blue liner to keep an eye on with the Empire Bruins this season. Jared Beach's Team Comcast U-18s were given a series of three highly competitive games and handled themselves well. 5'8" '93 LW Dan Barnaby was consistently noticeable, as was 5'9" late ‘93 center Dave Ferriera, 5'10" '94 center Ryan Badger, 5'10" '94 RW Matt Gaudreau (Northeastern), 6'3" '93 Ryan Ferrill, and 6'1" '94 Chase Hatcher. On defense Team Comcast has a big '94 in 6'3" John Bowen. The most talented D, though, was 5'11" '94 RD Nick Cyr, who has mobility and a sense of the game. The Long Island Royals Under-18 Team was in the same class as team Comcast, though perhaps a little older. A'94 who jumped out at us was 6'0" Chris Zaverdas, a forward who can man the point and has a nice hard shot.
Yale Prep Showcase Lined Up
The Second Annual Yale Prep Showcase is scheduled for Sun. Nov. 21 at Yale's Ingalls Rink. There will be twelve teams (up from 10) this year. They are: Northwood, NMH, Gunnery, Cushing, Milton, Delbarton, Rivers, Brunswick, Rice Memorial, Williston-Northampton, Pomfret, and the Hill School.
We'll have the actual schedule for you when it is finalized.
New England HS Showcases
High school hockey coaches from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and Connecticut came up with an idea last spring to create a series of showcase tournaments for their top players, and that idea has now come to fruition in the form of a series of three showcases.
All the players had to tryout for the squads, all were pre-screened academically, and most are seniors. High schoolers already committed to college, e.g. Ryan Fitzgerald (BC) and Mike Vecchione (UNH) were discouraged in order that college and junior coaches will only be watching players who are searching for a home. There could be some diamonds in the rough here.
The first showcase will be held at the twin sheet Northford Ice Pavilion (Northford, Conn.) this coming Sunday, September 19th. There are six teams. Here is the schedule:
9:30 am - Connecticut vs. Rhode Island
11:15 am - Mass South vs. New England
11:30 am - Mass North vs. Maine
3:15 pm - New England vs. Maine
4:45 pm - Mass South vs. Rhode Island
5:15 pm - Connecticut vs. Mass North
Future showcases will be held at the University of Southern Maine on Sun. Oct. 10. The third and final showcase will be held at Fitchburg State College on Sun. Nov. 7.
Rosters will be available at each venue, and we will be posting them here when they are completed.
The Monarchs' 'Rudy'
New Hampshire Monarchs (EJHL) goaltender Brian Billett, a BC recruit for next fall, strained his MCL in practice last week, just as the Monarchs were preparing to head up Route 89 to the Sixth Annual Woodchuck Tournament in Burlington, Vermont. With Billett, who will be on the shelf for a few weeks, expected to be the full-time goaltender for the Monarchs this season, the Monarchs don't really have a true #2. So GM/head coach Sean Tremblay called on Matt Strickrott to fill in for the weekend. Strickrott, a '91 from Gilford, NH, was on the Monarchs team in the new Continental Hockey Association, which is the level below the Empire League within most EJHL organizations.
"Honestly, I didn't even know who he was until Billett was injured" said Tremblay. "Our B Team coach said he was a great young man. And our guys wanted him to stay with us because he is such a great kid and teammate. That's why he's with us now."
Strickrott, who is 5'10" and 150 lbs., was the "Rudy" story of the weekend. He stopped the puck, and he was playing in tight, competitive games. Strickrott allowed two goals vs. Oakville in a 3-2 Monarchs shootout win on Friday, he then allowed two goals in a 3-2 win over the Wellington Dukes on Saturday. In yesterday's finale, he allowed zero goals in the first half and then asked Tremblay to play Shane Robichaud, the Green Mountain Glades #3 goalie, who had been borrowed by the Monarchs to back up Strickrott for the weekend.
"Stricky asked us to put him in. He said he knows what it's like to just sit there, and he wanted to get (Robichaud) some time. When we told Stricky he played great, he said, "No, the team played great."
All added up, Strickrott played two and a half games, and allowed four goals - a 1.60 gaa.
Another goalie who was outstanding at the Woodchuck, and who, given that he is 6'6", 232 lbs., will be getting a lot of looks, is John Nauta, from Tampa Bay, Florida, who is playing for the Jersey Hitmen (EJHL) this season.
"He was awesome," said Hitmen coach Toby Harris.
And that he was. Nauta played 125 minutes of shutout hockey over the weekend, stopped all 65 shots he faced, and even had a pair of assists in Friday night's game vs. Lindsay.
The only downside for Nauta, a 5/15/90 birthdate, is that he played a handful of games for Chicoutimi in the Q last year. "He got some bad advice," says Harris.
"But he wants to go to school," says Harris, and, after the weekend, schools will be watching him closely. Nauta's father was a four-year starting center at the University of Michigan in the ‘70s, and he has two sisters on swimming scholarships at Tennessee and Georgia. Athletic bloodlines abound. And Nauta moved well for a kid his size.
Another goalie we thought played very well was 6'0", 170 lb. Brian Robbins of the Cap District Selects. Robbins, a 4/30/90 from Scotrun, PA, allowed only three goals over three games at the Woodchuck. One of those games was against a weak CGEP team, but no matter... Robbins was solid. This is Robbins' second year with the CD Selects. Last year, in 33 games, he had a 4.26 gaa and a .920 save percentage.
Moore Leaving Friars
Stan Moore, who has been coaching at the college level for over 25 years and is one of the game's institutions, has retired, suddenly, from the Providence College staff. Moore, whose wife is a dean at Colby College and whose children are attending school in Waterville, apparently wanted to see his kids grow up. Can't knock that. At any rate, Providence head coach Tim Army has to find someone quickly. Former PC Friar forward Devin Rask, currently an assistant at UConn, has reportedly put in for the job. No doubt, there will be others.
6'1", 200 lb. right short forward Brian Hart, who had a strong showing at the fall prep league showcase last weekend, has committed to Harvard for the fall of '12. Hart, a Cumberland, Maine native and an 11/25/93 birthdate, is the younger brother of Kevin Hart, who PG'ed at Exeter last year and is at Providence College now. The younger Hart played last winter at Brewster Academy where he had a 27-24-51 line in 30 games played. He's transferred and is a junior at Exeter now. UNH and Cornell were other schools in the hunt.
RPI took a big hit last month when top forwards Jerry D'Amigo and Brandon Pirri left school. Now, recruit Nick Quinn has decommitted from the Engineers to play major junior. Quinn, a puck moving D who played for Orangeville and Aurora last season, was traded from Sudbury to Oshawa last week. A year ago, RPI looked like they have a team to be reckoned with in the ECAC this season, but they have lost a lot.
Jason Herter, who was an assistant under Dean Blais during the Fargo Force's inaugural season of '08-09, has been named the team's new head coach. He takes over for Steve Johnson, who is now an assistant at St. Cloud State. Johnson, of course, took over for Eric Rud, who moved on to take over the head coaching/GM position at Green Bay.
Herter, 39, is a Saskatchewan native who played defense for the University of North Dakota from '88-91 before leaving after his junior season to turn pro. He reached the NHL in '95-96, playing one game for the New York Islanders.
The U.S. Under-18 Team has been hit by injuries and is a bit shorthanded so Delbarton senior D Matt Killian, a Yale recruit for next fall, will be heading out to join them for the next month or so. He will, of course, have to continue with his Delbarton course work while out there.
Matt Greason, a grad assistant in the NTDP last year, will be an assistant to new Under-17 head coach Danton Cole. Greason replaces John Wroblewski, who will move on to become an assistant with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL).
Quinnipiac has a commitment from 6'3" Adam Gilmour, a '94 forward who will be a repeat sophomore at the Noble & Greenough School this fall. Gilmour, who has a good skills and moves well for his size, played for the Boston Advantage U-16 Team last year, as well as for the Neil Shea's South Shore Kings U-16 Team. Northeastern and Brown were among the teams in the hunt for his services.
News From All Over
For those heading north to the Woodchuck Classic in Burlington, there are some schedule changes for tonight's games at Cairns Arena. Check the tourney website at www.woodchucktourney.com
Mike Doneghy, former Merrimack goaltender and assistant coach, and most recently head coach/GM of the Bridgewater Bandits (EJHL), has resigned that position to take a full-time position scouting for the Chicago Blackhawks. Doneghy, who scouted part-time with the Hawks last winter, was given a three-year contract. He'll be working with Ron Anderson, his former college coach. Anderson concentrates more on the college free agents these days.
Taking over as head coach at Bridgewater will be Todd Stirling, who has been running Hub City Hockey, the Bandits EHF teams, and helping out as needed with the EJ and Empire Teams. Stirling, who is also a rising referee, will be putting that part of his career on hold for a little while to see how things go with coaching. In other words, he'll be heading up the Bandits on an interim basis, and then will see how things are going come mid-season. Assisting the Bandits this season is former Cushing and BU forward Boomer Ewing, who just retired from pro hockey. Ewing's father, Ben Ewing, owns the Bridgewater franchise.
Leigh Mendelson, who served as, respectively, assistant and head coach at Norfolk (AHL) last season, will be assisting Jon Waibel with the Chicago Steel this season.
This didn't take long: BU recruit Adam Erne, who had agreed to play the upcoming season with the New Jersey Rockets (AJHL), has left for the USHL. He will be playing with the Indiana Ice, who drafted the '95 from the LA Selects in May.
BC fall of '12 recruit Brendan Silk, who had committed to the NTDP before suffering a sliced Achilles tendon in a July skills session which put him on the shelf for six months, will still be heading out to Ann Arbor for the season, and will be doing his rehab there.
Team Maryland, which put themselves on the map over the past couple of years, as three of their players - Nick Sorkin, Casey Thrush, and Maxim Gaudreault - committed to UNH, has changed their name.
The squad, still coached by Jason Kersner and still based in Rockville, Maryland, is now known as the DC Capitals. "We're doing the exact same thing, just with a different name," said Kersner.
The DC Capitals, which have 13 out-of-state billets this year, will be in action at the Woodchuck this weekend.
With Steve Johnson being hired to fill the St. Cloud State assistant's position vacated when Eric Rud took the job as head coach/GM at Green Bay, the Fargo Force will be looking at hiring a new head coach again -- and their pre-season camp opens tomorrow.
Word on the street is that Johnson's younger brother, Chad Johnson, hired to take over at Lincoln from Jimmy McGroarty back in April, was interested in returning and taking over Fargo, but Lincoln wouldn't let him out of his contract.
We haven't mentioned it because it happened when we were on vacation but 6'2" Thomas Flynn, a sophomore center from Prince Edward Island who had 21 points for Kimball Union last season, has signed with the Moncton Wildcats, who had made him their seventh pick in June's QMJHL draft.
6'2" KUA forward Pete LaFosse, who had 49 points last year and is entering his senior year, won't be playing any fall hockey while he mends from a wrist injury.
6'5", 220 lb. defenseman Jed Rusk, a '92 birthdate from Montreal who played the last two seasons at Wyoming Seminary with an eye to NCAA play, is forgoing his senior season at the Pennsylvania prep school in order to go major junior with Moncton.
Bemidji State fall '11 recruit Zach Franko, a '93 who was Cedar Rapids top pick in May's USHL Draft and was expected to play there this year, has signed with Kelowna (WHL). Franko, a center, played for the Winnipeg South Blues (MJHL) last season.
Defenseman Charlie Vasaturo, who graduated from Avon Old Farms in 2009, and then went out to play for Salmon Arm (BCHL) last winter, has committed to Union College for the fall of '11. Vasaturo, who is 6'2", 195 lbs., is a 12/7/90 birthdate from Sewell, NJ.
OK, Where to Start?
How about: Welcome to the '10-11 season. We'll be with you throughout, and, as usual, it will be fun, interesting, strange... pick an adjective. Any one will work, somewhere along the line.
Let's get going.
Bob Mainhardt, most recently coach of the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), has been named commissioner of the EJHL. Mainhardt, 37, was let go last spring even though the expansion Phantoms won 20 games. Mainhardt was a forward for the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) in '92-93, where one of his teammates was current Junior Bruins GM/head coach Peter Masters.
The Sixth Annual Woodchuck Classic gets underway tomorrow (Thurs. 9/9) in Burlington, Vermont and runs through Sunday the 12th. The tournament has continued to grow each year and now boasts over fifty teams spread over Junior A, Junior B, and Midget Divisions. In the Junior A Div., ten of the 14 EJHL Teams will be on hand as well as a half dozen or so Ontario Hockey Association teams -- e.g. the Oakville Blades, Wellington Dukes, Orangeville Flyers, Collingwood Blackhawks, Lindsay Muskies, and Aurora Tigers - and teams out of Quebec and the Maritimes, too. Others in the Junior A Division include the New Jersey Rockets and Northern Cyclones, both from the AJHL. The Junior B Division consists primarily of Empire League Teams. The Midget Division features Team Comcast, the DC Capitals, the Little Bruins, Long Island Royals, and Michigan Elite High School Hockey. There should be something for everybody. Please go to www.woodchucktourney.com for more information.
Former Brown assistant Danny Brooks, who has been an assistant in the Q for the past couple of seasons, is the new second assistant in Peoria (AHL).
Former Colgate and NHL defenseman Steve Poapst, after three and a half seasons as head coach/GM of the Chicago Steel (USHL), has been hired by the Chicago Blackhawks to be an assistant with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL). His position with the Steel will be taken over by former University of Minnesota forward Jon Waibel, 28, a Steel assistant for the past few seasons.
Tom Mutch, 43, who has been an assistant with the Omaha Lancers, Nebraska-Omaha, and Northeastern (his alma mater), is making his reentry into the men's game: he will be working this season as a scout for the Lancers. Mutch, an assistant to Ben Smith on the gold-medal winning US Women's Olympic Hockey Team in 1998 in Nagano, went on to become the head coach of the Boston College women's team, where, in four years, he took the Eagles from six wins to 24 -- and an NCAA appearance. In April 2007, he resigned in the wake of an inappropriate relationship with a player. He's been out of the game for a few years, but is eager to be back at it.
Former Merrimack assistant Marty Quarters is back in the USHL. He'll be an assistant with Des Moines.
Back at It
After a welcome break, this typist is back in the office and, after sorting through the email and regular mail (and paying a few bills, and taking care of some business), we'll have news for you again. Hope you had a great summer, too, and also found an opportunity to take a little time off.