Established 1996

St. Paul’s D-Man to Big Red

6’1”, 192 lb. St. Paul’s School sophomore defenseman Ryan Bliss has committed to Cornell for the fall of ’14.

A 6/26/96 birthdate from Bedford, N.H., Bliss made his final pick from between Vermont and Cornell (where he has family connections). He also visited Boston University last week.

Bliss, who had a 1-2-3 line as a freshman at St. Paul’s last season, is a very strong skater for his age and size, plus has offensive upside. He projects well.

He’s playing fall hockey in the New England Fall Prep League in Salem, NH.


Yanks in the CHL: The Annual Census
Once again, we’ve tallied the number of American kids playing major junior and have arrived at a total of 110, which is fairly consistent with last year, when we counted 115 at this time. The record is 117, and that could be broken as kids defect during the course of the season. 

Again, teams in Michigan – and near Michigan – really clean up. The Windsor Spitfires roster 12 Americans, including top '94 D Nick Ebert, while Plymouth and Saginaw have nine each. Sarnia has six, including prize ’94 forward Alex Galchenyuk, a dual citizen who was born in Milwaukee while his Russian father was playing minor pro hockey with the Milwaukee Admirals.

There are ten former NTDP players currently playing major junior. Twelve, if you count Jared Knight and Brandon Shea, both of whom committed to the NTDP before changing their minds and going major junior.

Please let us know if we’ve missed anyone on the list below.


WHL (29):

Brandon Wheat Kings (0)

Calgary Hitmen (1)

Trevor Cheek , ‘92 C, Vancouver, WA

Edmonton Oil Kings (0)

Everett Silvertips (1)
Josh Birkholz, ’91 RW, Maple Grove, MN

Kamloops Blazers (2)
JT Barnett, ’92 RW, Scottsdale, AZ
Chase Souto, ’94 RW, Yorba Linda, CA

Kelowna Rockets (3)
Shane McColgan, ’93 RW, Manhattan Beach, CA
Colten Martin, ’94 D, Arlington, TX
Adam Brown, ’91 G, Yorba Linda, CA

Kootenay Ice (0)

Lethbridge Hurricanes (0)

Medicine Hat Tigers (2)
Emerson Etem, ’92 RW, Long Beach, CA
Matthew Konan, ’91 D, Tustin, CA

Moose Jaw Warriors (2)
Markus McCrea, ’92 LW, Canyon Lake, CA
Colin Bowman, ’91 D, Littleton, CO

Portland Winterhawks (6)
Chase De Leo, ’95 C, La Mirada, CA
Seth Swenson, ’93 RW, Parker, CO
Josh Hanson, ’94 D, Eagle River, AK
Cody Castro, ’92 D, Pasadena, CA
William Wrenn, '91 D, Anchorage, AK
Brendan Burke, ’95 G, Scottsdale, AZ

Prince Albert Raiders (1)
Tyler Vanscourt, ’92 D, Corona, CA

Prince George Cougars (1)
Michael Mylchreest, ’95 D, Gilroy, CA

Red Deer Rebels (0)

Regina Pats (1)
Brandon Underwood, ’92 D, San Marcos, CA

Saskatoon Blades (0)

Seattle Thunderbirds (4)
Tyler Alos, ’93 C, Spokane, WA
Colin Jacobs, ’93 C, Coppell, TX
Jacob Doty, ’93 RW, Billings, MT
Kyle Verdino, ’91 D, Phoenix, AZ

Spokane Chiefs (2)
Liam Stewart, ’94 C, Hermosa Beach, CA
Tanner Mort, ’93 D, Post Falls, ID

Swift Current Broncos (0)

Tri-City Americans (2)
Justin Gutierrez, ’95 C, Anchorage, AK
Brian Williams, ’95 C, Claremont, CA
Eric Comrie, ’95 G, Newport Beach, CA -- correction: he's not a dual

Vancouver Giants (1)
Brendan Jensen, ’93 G, El Granada, CA

Victoria Royals (1)
Logan Nelson, 93 C, Rogers, MN

OHL (73):

Barrie Colts (1)
Alex Lepkowski, ’93 D, West Seneca, NY

Belleville Bulls (1)
Danny Elser, ’93 LW, Hopewell Junction, NY

Brampton Battalion (2)
Philip Lane, ’92 RW, Rochester, NY
Dylan Blujus, ’94 D, Buffalo, NY

Erie Otters (5)
Mac McDonnell, ’92 RW, Allen Park, MI
Nick Betz, ’95 RW, Clinton Twp., MI
Mitchell Eisenberg, ’94 LW, Raleigh, NC
Nathan Glass, ’94 D, Weston, FL
Travis Wood, ’95 D, Hudson, WI

Guelph Storm (1)
Garret Sparks, ’93 G, Elmhurst, IL

Kingston Frontenacs (3)
Tyler Brown, ’91 LW, Westland, MI
Conor Stokes, ’91 LW, Lansing, NY
Ryan Hutchinson, ’95 D, Bloomingdale, IL

Kitchener Rangers (3)
Jesse Young, ’94 D, Walled Lake, MI
Max Iafrate, ’94 D, Livonia, MI
John Gibson, ’93 G, Pittsburgh, PA

London Knights (5)
Chase Hatcher, ’94 RW, Haddonfield, NJ
Jared Knight, ’92 RW, Battle Creek, MI
Troy Donnay, ’94 D, Fenton, MI
Jarred Tinordi, ’92 D, Millersville, MD
Michael Houser, ’92 G, Wexford, PA

Mississauga St. Michaels Majors (0)

Niagara IceDogs (0)

Oshawa Generals (6)
Cole Cassels, '95 C, Columbus, OH
Cody Payne, ’94 C, Weston, FL
Mark Petaccio, ’94 RW, Sicklerville, NJ
Jimmy McDowell, ’93 D, Dimondale, MI
Chris Carlisle, ’94 D, Fort Lee, NJ
Colin Suellentrop, ’94 D, Plantation, FL

Ottawa 67’s (1)
Shane Prince, ’92 LW, Spencerport, NY

Owen Sound Attack (0)

Peterborough Petes (2)
Andrew Yogan, ’91 C, Boca Raton, FL
Austin Watson, ’92 C, Ann Arbor, MI

Plymouth Whalers (9)
Stefan Noesan, ’93 RW, Plano, TX
JT Miller, ’93 C, East Palastine, OH
Danny Vanderwiel, ’95 LW, Island Lake, IL
RJ Mahalak, ’91 LW, Monroe, MI
Alex Aleardi, ’92 C, Farmington Hills, MI
Nick Malysa, ’93 D, Bridgewater, NJ
Austin Levi, ’92 D, Aurora, CO
Beau Schmitz, ’91 D, Howell, MI
Matt Mahalak, ’93 G, Monroe, MI

Saginaw Spirit (9)
Garret Ross, ’92 LW, Dearborn Heights, MI
Jimmy Lodge, ’95 C, Downingtown, PA
Brandon Saad, ’92 LW, Gibsonia, PA
Vincent Trocheck, ’93 C, Pittsburgh, PA
Sam Povorozniouk, ’95 C, Northbrook, IL
Brad Walch, ’91 D, Saginaw, MI
Brandon Archibald, ’92 D, Port Huron, MI
Dalton Young, ’93 D, Marysville, MI
Ramon Lopez, ’95 D, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Sarnia Sting (6)
Reid Boucher, ’93 LW, East Lansing, MI
Alex Galchenyuk, ’94 C, USA
Daniel Broussard, ’91 D, Fayettville, NC
Connor Murphy, ’93 D, Dublin, OH
Anthony DeAngelo, ’95 D, Sewell, NJ
Brandon Hope, ’94 G, Canton, MI

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (4)
Rudy Sulmonte, ’92 RW, Levittown, NY -- update: put on waivers
Michael Kantor, ’92 LW, Lake Forrest, IL
Trevor Morbeck, ’93 RW, Jackson, WI
Joe Rogalski, ’91 D, Lancaster, NY

Sudbury Wolves (3)
Alex Racino, ’93 LW, Merril, WI
Charles Dodero, ’92 D, Bloomingdale, IL
Frank Schumacher, ’93 D, Brighton. MI

Windsor Spitfires (12)
Stephen Alonge, ’93 RW, Lynbrook, NY
Ben Johnson, ’94 C, Calumet, MI
Kenny Ryan, ’91 RW, Franklin Village, MI
Nick Czinder, ’92 RW, West Bloomfield. MI
Brady Vail, ’94 LW, Palm City, FL
John Bowen, ’93 D, Auburn, NJ
Craig Duininck, ’93 D, St. Cloud, MN
Nick Ebert, ’94 D, Livingston, NJ
Saverio Posa, ’92 D, Grand Blanc, MI
Grant Webermin, ’94 D, Novi, MI
Jack Campbell, ’92 G, Port Huron, MI
John Cullen, ’91 G, Hamburg, NY

QMJHL (8):

Halifax Mooseheads (1)

Anthony Terenzio, ’93 G, Norwalk, CT

Moncton Wildcats (3)
Brandon Shea, ’95 C, Marshfield, MA
Daniel Milan, ’92 D, Detroit, MI
Myles McGurty, ’94 D, Weehawken, NJ

Quebec Ramparts (1)
Adam Erne, ’95 RW, New Haven, CT

Shawinigan Cataractes (2)
Payton Ruter, ’93 RW, Wilmar, MN
Dillon Donnelly, ’93 D, Amherst, NY

Victoriaville Tigres (1)
Troy Vance, ’93 D, Goshen, NY



Cautionary Tales
If you look at today’s NHL waiver wire you will see a couple of interesting names in defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti and forward Chris Bourque.

The 6’3” Sanguinetti, who left the Lawrenceville School in 2004, when he was 16, to turn major junior with Owen Sound, was, two years later, drafted in the first round by the New York Rangers. Two more years of major junior followed (four years total in the O: the same number of years it takes to get a college degree), then several years in the AHL, which appears to be his true level. Of course, Sanguinetti can say he played five NHL games with the New York Rangers in the winter of 2009-10, which will get you a free drink in some precincts. He can also say that the Rangers were so thrilled by what they saw that they offloaded him to Carolina for draft picks a few months later – actually pretty high draft picks, all things considered. However, Carolina now has him on waivers. Sanguinetti, who is 23, would have made a nice college hockey player for someone. This is a kid who scored 65 points from the blue line in his draft year, and went in the first round – no small potatoes. The lights of Broadway beckoned. Now, it’s the lights of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bourque, as you all know, is the son of NHL Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. A 2004 graduate of Cushing Academy, he was drafted by the Washington Capitals high in the second round that summer. Bourque, who is 5’8”, went to Boston University that fall, stuck around for one year, scored 10 goals for the Terriers, and turned pro as soon as the season ended. In the six years since, Bourque has played 349 AHL games, eight games in the Kontinental Hockey League, and 33 games in the NHL.

In his 33 NHL games he has scored one goal, and added three assists. He’s 25 now. His career is not exactly over, and maybe some team will grab him off the waiver wire. Anything’s possible, but his true level appears to be the AHL.

Anyway, we mention these guys because they are both on waivers today, both had full rides to take advantage of but didn’t, and now they are in a less advantageous position. Yes, they have some bucks out of the experience and can certainly use that money to finish up their education – assuming they even want it. But it’s their money they would be spending.

Here’s a request: Any advisors or college coaches out there who have similar stories, please send them on to us. We’re doing an informal study. We want to know what happened to kids who spurned college for major junior, or left for pro hockey when they weren’t ready. Send us success stories too. We want to see if they balance out at all. This is information which will prove useful to kids and their parents who are trying to decide between major junior and the NCAA route. Or are trying to decided whether to stay in college for another year or two – or three. Just click on the “Contact Us” link in the upper right hand corner of this page. Thanks so much.


USHL Protected List
The USHL Season begins this weekend, and rosters are being cut down. Here’s the league protected list, as of today:

USHL Protected List 9-29-11

We’ll have a write up on the Fall Classic shortly.


Two Top Recruits Commit
Over the past couple of days two of the country’s most-heralded recruits made their college picks.

First, 6’2”, 184 lb. U.S. Under-18 RD Jacob Trouba, a likely first round pick in June’s NHL draft, chose Michigan over Notre Dame – and Kitchener (OHL).

Many believe Trouba will nonetheless wind up in the O. We’re not so sure. Michigan is more chary when it comes to the O than ever before, and Kitchener, as Michigan fans need no reminding, snuck off with this summer with top goaltender recruit John Gibson. We’re pretty sure Red Berenson had a long talk with Trouba – and Trouba waited for a long time before making his decision – for just this reason. Jeff Jackson, who lost Cam Fowler – a similar talent to Trouba -- to the O at the last moment a couple of years ago, probably had an identical conversation with Trouba. We believe when Trouba leaves college he will step right into an NHL lineup.

The University of Minnesota got a commitment from top ’95 Gabe Guertler, a 5’9” forward who racked up 133 points playing for TI’s midget minors last winter and is now in the USHL with Fargo. Guertler, who is from Plantation, Florida, and was a standout at the Summer’s Select 16 Festival, where he had 16 points in six games, was named our top forward in camp, and subsequently named to the Bob Corkum-coached Under-17 Select Team which went undefeated at the Five Nations Tournament last month in Ann Arbor, Mich.


We’ll have wrap-ups on a couple tournaments, and that includes the USHL Fall Classic, very shortly. We’ve been traveling too much – and finding little time for writing, a situation that will change. We thank you for your patience.


Sherman’s March to the Charles

6’5”, 187 lb. Hotchkiss sophomore LD Wiley Sherman has committed to Harvard for the fall of ’14.

A 5/24/95 birthdate from Greenwich, Conn., Sherman is tall and skinny with good feet – especially for a kid of his size – and good hands. He lacks strength at this point, but that should improve with time (and effort). He looks to us like a defensive defenseman, but a touch of offense could emerge.

Last winter, Sherman had an 0-4-4 line in 23 games at Hotchkiss.

Sherman played well at this past summer’s Select 16 Festival in Rochester, NY; this fall he's the only ’95 playing up on Mid-Fairfield’s midget major team.  

He’s from an athletic family. His brother, who also went to Hotchkiss, plays lacrosse at Brown, and he has a sister at Dartmouth.

Last spring, Sherman was Omaha’s fourth round pick in the USHL’s Future’s Draft.

--- Army has a couple of new recruits. 5’10” Jersey Hitmen (EJHL) forward RJ Burns, the MVP of the Gordon Conference while playing at Don Bosco Prep last season, will be joining the Cadets next fall. Burns was born and raised in Pearl River, NY, about 30 miles south of West Point’s granite fortress on the Hudson.

6’1”, 190 lb. LD Christian Pomarico, a Simsbury, Conn. native who played at the Northwood School last winter, will also be joining the Long Gray Line next fall. Pomarico, a late ’92, is playing for Muskegon (USHL) this season.

Junior Bruins Shootout

Marlborough, Mass. -- We spent a day and a half at the Junior Bruins Shootout this past weekend, where there were close to 50 teams, so by no means did we come close to scouting them all. Most of the games we watched were in the U16 and U19 divisions. There were a number of already-committed players on hand —e.g., Sam Kurker (BU), Kevin Duane (BU), Daniel Willett (Northeastern), Danny O’Regan (BU), Ryan Hitchcock (Yale), and Adam Gilmour (Quinnipiac)—and not one of them did anything to hurt his stock. Two players we missed who we would have liked to have seen were the two top young kids in the Empire League – late ’96 forward Jack Eichel (Junior Bruins) and ’97 forward Cam Askew (Valley Jr. Warriors). Without further ado, here are 17 of the top uncommitted players that caught our eye – 11 forwards, five d-men, and one goaltender.


Dylan Plitt, ‘94 (Team Comcast) -- 6’0”, 170 lbs. — The type of player that does everything well, but nothing great. Good skater, decent size and makes plays happen when he has the puck on his stick. Comcast’s most noticeable forward.

Ara Nazarian, ‘96 (Little Bruins) — 5’9”, 170 lbs. — One of the leading scorers in the Empire league as a 14-year-old last season. A high end forward who makes you sit up in your seat when he has the puck on his stick. Very explosive and dangerous in 1x1 situations. A sure-fire Div. I prospect, but has he peaked physically at an early age? Is still undecided on where he will be playing this winter.

Corey Ronan, ‘95 (Cape Cod Whalers) —5’8”, 160 lbs. — Played on a team with a lot of well known players and still managed to stick out every shift. He can flat out fly. One of the best skaters we saw here this weekend. Plays with St. Sebastian’s. Look for him to establish himself as one of the elite players in prep hockey this season.

Alec Marsh, ‘95 (NJ Rockets) -- 5’10”, 165 lbs. — Always around the puck. Seems to have a knack for scoring goals. Good stick and vision. Scored the OT winner on a penalty shot in the U19 semi-finals.

Joe Snively, ‘96 (Selects Hockey Academy) — 5’5”, 130 lbs. —Ranked as the #23 forward at this summer’s Select 15 Festival. Was impressive this weekend with his ability to finish. Is able to make plays at top speed. Has a very hard and accurate shot for a player of his stature.

Roberts Smits, ‘95 (Selects Hockey Academy) —  6’1”, 185 lbs. — From Riga, Latvia. We felt he was the top player for Selects Hockey Academy. Good mixture of size and skill. Made things happen playing with Snively. An interesting prospect whose best hockey is ahead of him.

Brendan VanRiemsdyk, ‘96 (New Jersey Devils) — 6’2”, 175 lbs. — At 15, there is little physical difference between Brendan and his older brother, James. All of the tools are there, he just has to figure out how to use them. A recent growth spurt has robbed him of his coordination. When that coordination returns, look for his game to take off. UNH was on hand tracking his progress.

Daniel LaFontaine, ‘95 (Long Island Royals) — 5’10”, 150 lbs. — If the name sounds familiar it should, as Daniel is the son of NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine. In fact, the Royals, an extremely good team that will compete for a national title, are coached by LaFontaine père. Here in Marlborough, they won the U16 division handily and could have mounted a legit challenge at the U19 level as well. They’re that good. And young LaFontaine is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s an honest player who does all of the little things well, like win faceoffs – he must have won 75% of them over the weekend. LaFontaine is the type of player who, the more you watch him, the more you like him. An excellent prospect.

Michael Marnell, ‘95 (Long Island Royals) — 5’9”, 150 lbs. —Very good stick skills. Could handle the puck in a phone booth. Has a knack for making plays in tight.

Justin Bailey, ‘95 (Long Island Royals) — 6’3”, 182 lbs. — Was at the Select 16 Festival this summer and we had him at #22. Has a nice combination of size and skill and is an obvious pro prospect. Playing at the U16 level, being the go-to-guy and learning how to score goals will do wonders for his confidence – an infinitely better choice than grinding it out with 19-20 year olds. We wish more players his age would make the same decision. Master a level and then move on.

Dom Sacco, ‘95 (Metro Moose) — 5’8”, 165 lbs. — An absolute diamond in the rough. Was playing on a team from Brooklyn, NY that did not even have a roster in the tournament program. Sacco has never been invited to a USA Hockey Development Camp or played on a high-profile select team in the summer. That should change quickly because Sacco is an impact player playing on an entirely different level than his peers. While he is a good skater, it’s his vision and puck skills that set him apart. Was deadly working the half wall on the power play as he threaded the needle back door effortlessly. It’s hard to imagine that many college recruiters have the Metro Moose on their must-see list, but they should. 


Brandon Fortunato, ‘96 (Long Island Royals) — 5’7”, 140 lbs. — We have written about Fortunato before and had him at #13 for defensemen at the 15 Festival, but he deserves a little more ink after his performance this weekend. He’s a very special talent. Every time he has control of the puck he makes the best decision possible. Can make high-risk plays look risk free. An incredibly smooth skater who doesn’t slow down one bit when he has the puck. Will be a game-changing player at the next level, right at home quarterbacking a top college’s PP. We will be very surprised if he is not committed to a college by Christmas. He’s small, but he’s a unique defensemen who deserves a long look this winter from the NTDP.

Noah Hanifin, ‘97 (Boston Advantage) — 6’2”, 181 lbs.— Is he the top ‘97 in the country right now? Hanifin played in the U19 division here and looked out of place… because at times he was the best player on the ice. Physically mature, Hanifin will be an impact player at St. Sebastian’s this year. Was rumored that he was offered a spot in the USHL as a 14-year-old, which would have made him the youngest player to ever play in that league (choirboy Anthony DeAngelo, now with the Sarnia Sting, currently holds that distinction). Down the line, Hanifin will be attending either BU or BC.

Jake McCarthy, ‘96 (Boston Advantage)—6’1”, 181 lbs. — Sometimes McCarthy gets overlooked because he always seems to be on the ice with Hanifin, whether that is with the Boston Advantage or with St. Sebastian’s. McCarthy is a good, solid, puck-moving defenseman who is very reliable in his own end. Good size and mobility.

William Campion, ‘95 (NJ Rockets) — 6’2”, 155 lbs. — An interesting player in that he is right on the cusp of being very good, but not quite there yet. Good combination of size and skating ability. He can make plays, too. Leaves you wanting to see a little bit more; is somewhat inconsistent. However, he has all the earmarks of a Div. I defenseman.

James Gobetz, ‘96 (Long Island Royals) — 6’1”, 175 lbs. —No glaring weakness to his game, but is another that does not jump out and catch your eye — you have to watch him a good amount to appreciate his game. Makes the smart play on a consistent basis, and has a very good set of skills.


Joseph Lissak, ‘96 (Ramapo Saints) — 6’1”, 175 lbs. — Really stood out from the pack. Made you take notice. He does not play on a very strong team, but he got them to the final game of the U16 division. An extremely athletic goalie who moves well laterally and appears to have very strong fundamentals. He’s a young goalie – a 9th grader — and definitely a prospect to keep an eye on.

Kalinowski Commits to Wildcats
6’0”, 185 lb. Salisbury School junior forward Jason Kalinowski has committed to UNH for the fall of ’15.

Kalinowski is a gritty, strong, two-way, physical forward. Last winter at Salisbury, he had a 4-10-14 line in 25 games. A right shot, he can play center or on the wing. Last year, he played right wing on Salisbury’s third line.

Salisbury head coach Andrew Will says that Kalinowski is "a guy who has made us better both on the ice and in the locker room with his competitiveness and his work ethic.”

A 7/2/95 birthdate from Stamford, Conn., Kalinowski is playing his fall hockey for the Mid-Fairfield Midget Minor squad.

Jacobs to Michigan State
6’1”, 172 lb. Josh Jacobs, a ’96 defenseman with the Honeybaked midget minor squad, has committed to Michigan State for the fall of ’14.

This is a big get for the Spartans. Jacobs, a solid, poised defensive defenseman is on the top of many observers’ lists of ’96-born defensemen. At this summer’s Select 15 Festival in Rochester, NY, we had Jacobs as our #2 defenseman, trailing only Benilde-St. Margaret’s Jack Glover.

Bourbonnais an Engineer
6’0”, 185 lb. Berkshire School senior forward Riley Bourbonnais has committed to RPI for next fall.

An 8/8/93 birthdate from Rochester, NY, Bourbonnais was the leading scorer for Rochester (Empire Junior Hockey League) before heading to Berkshire as a new junior last fall. With the Bears, he posted a 15-20-35 line in 29 games played, finishing second on the team in scoring (behind Trevor Mingoia, now at Union).

Update: Bourbonnais will be playing for Cedar Rapids (USHL) this season, not Berkshire.

Welsh to Nittany Lions
6’0”, 195 lb. Salisbury School junior defenseman Thomas Welsh has committed to Penn State for the fall of ’13.

A 2/1/95 birthdate from Toronto, Welsh, a fifth round pick of Sarnia in the OHL draft, played his bantam major year with the Don Mills Flyers before coming to Salisbury as a sophomore last season.

His coach at Salisbury, Andrew Will, describes Welsh as “a very strong, puck-moving, two-way defenseman. He’s physical, has really good mobility, plays with an edge and has offensive ability. He sees the ice really well and has a good heavy shot.”

Welsh, who is playing in the Western New England Fall Prep League (based out of the arena in Newington, Conn. this year), recently visited Cornell and Vermont.


Brown Forward Decommits
6’1”, 185 lb. Lincoln Stars (USHL) forward Zach Aston-Reese, a ’94 from Staten Island, NY, has decommitted from Brown University.

Aston-Reese had been scheduled to arrive at Brown in either ’12 or ’13.



Selects Hockey Academy U-16s Set to Go
In one week, the Selects Hockey Academy Under-16 Team will be unveiled, opening its inaugural season with several games at the Junior Bruins Shootout at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro, Mass. Sept. 23-25.

It’s an unusual setup at South Kent, and one that has raised eyebrows at other NEPSIHA schools, leading a handful of them – Avon, Belmont Hill, Berkshire, Cushing, and NMH -- to drop the South Kent School prep team from their schedule, as we mentioned earlier in the summer.

In the view of the other New England preps, South Kent has sailed into dangerous water by entrusting a sports team to an outside commercial interest, in this case the East Coast Selects, the hockey arm of a $10 million sports business. It’s a move without precedence in the world of New England boarding school athletics.

It’s not far-fetched to suggest that Selects Hockey, known in the hockey world for hard bargaining, could buy the entire 175-student boys boarding school. South Kent suffers from a tiny endowment (reportedly $6 million) and a dependence on sports for its survival. Most of South Kent’s students are soccer, hockey, and basketball players. The rest hail from foreign countries.

For South Kent, Selects Hockey has the wherewithal to guarantee that the school’s beds remain filled with hockey players – and some good ones at that. The Under-16 Team boasts seven players who competed in either the Select 15 or Select 16 camps this summer. ’96-born forwards Anthony Siderio and Joe Snively are high on the list of college recruiters right now.

Head coach Devin Rask, an assistant at Providence College under Tim Army, landed at South Kent after Army was fired in the spring.

Rask is upbeat about the squad, but deferred on questions about what the future holds for South Kent to Rich Brande, a South Kent grad and former hockey player at the school. Brande, who has moved over this year from admissions to Director of Hockey Program Development, was also loath to provide concrete details about the future.

“We are discussing options with Selects Hockey on where we are going from here,” Brande said. “We’ve been looking at Shattuck-St. Mary’s and trying to see if that makes sense for South Kent. But we haven’t come to any conclusion that I can discuss publicly right now. We are considering a lot of different options. We haven’t finalized plans with (Selects Hockey). Within the next month we will.”

Brande is well aware of other prep schools’ feelings about what is happening at South Kent. He knows because he was at the meeting in the spring that led to other preps dumping games with the school’s varsity.

“The schools that dropped us veiled it behind other reasons, which I though was cowardly,” said Brande. “Our goal is the same as theirs’: to move players on to the next level.”

We asked Brande if other prep schools dropping games against the varsity was forcing South Kent’s hand to the point that they were ready to drop the prep team after the current season and go with an Under-18 team, á la Shattuck.

“They are not pressing our hand,” he replied. “In the end we will do what’s best for the school.”

Brande said that Selects Hockey is not subsidizing the school’s hockey program or its players “No kids are being subsidized by Selects,” he said. “They all go through the same admission process and financial aid process as every student here.”

“Selects is not offering any financial assistance. What they are doing is offering us their network of elite players.

“There are a lot of people trying to poke holes in this. The program will live and die with the kind of kids who come here and the way we integrate the program into the fabric of the school. That kind of symbiosis is the way it will work.”

“So far everything seems to be going very well,” Brande added. “The kids are great kids who want to be here and be a part of the school. And we couldn’t be happier with how competitive this team will be, especially since its germination was only last March.”

Many observers of the prep school hockey scene feel South Kent will fold its prep team after this season and, at the very least, replace it with at least one Under-18 Team. The current situation is a little odd in that there are a number of players on the Selects Hockey Academy Under-16 Team who are better than players on head coach Eric Solty’s prep squad. But there will be no movement between the two teams. They are separate entities. The Under-16 team is on the ice and set to begin the season. And the prep team? They won’t start practice for weeks.

Selects Hockey Academy U-16 Roster

Selects Hockey Academy U-16 Schedule

Huskies Commit a Top 15-Year-Old
Northeastern has a commitment – for ’14 or ’15 -- from 5’6”, 150 lb. LD Daniel Willett of the New Jersey Rockets Jr. B.

A 2/23/96 birthdate from Bayville, Long Island, Willett is a top puck-moving defensemen with superb offensive skills. He puts up great scoring numbers, and his shot from the blue line is very impressive -- deadly accurate and with a lot on it, especially given his size.

At July’s Select 15 Festival in Rochester, NY, we ranked him #6 among all defensemen there. He was the only d-man in our top ten below 6’0” – and he’s way below that, half a foot below to be precise. In five games in Rochester, Willett had a 3-3-6 line, and was the leading scorer among blueliners.

Last season, Willett played on the Long Island Gulls ’96 team that included a host of fine players – Ryan Hitchcock, Sonny Milano, Brandon Fortunato (another small, high-skill d-man), J.J. Piccinich, Brandon Fusaro et al.


Woodchuck Classic Notes
Burlington, Vt. -- I wish we could say we saw every team and every player here, but to do so we would have had to stay for four days and hop between numerous rinks in Greater Burlington. Nobody did that. At large tournaments it just isn’t possible. All one can do is pick and choose as time allows, which usually means homing in on the stronger organizations.

The Woodchuck Classic is put on by the East Coast Selects organization, is growing rapidly, and certainly appears to be a cash cow. Put on at a perfect time of year in what is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S., it attracts a number of good teams. But the haphazard scheduling had most of the scouts and college recruiters weary trying to run around from location to location. No one staffing the desks had maps to the different venues, and games that, logically, should have been grouped together at one arena were scattered all over the place.

For example, pro scouts wanted to see the EJHL teams. It certainly would have helped them to have EJ games grouped together in one location at one time. They did that to a certain extent… but why not have all the EJ teams on hand playing back-to-back?

OK, enough about that. Next year, things will probably be better, because a lot of people were complaining about the scheduling of games.

OK, let’s start with the EJHL.

The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and the Jersey Hitmen both look deep and strong and should challenge each other for the league crown. The Monarchs, who have a lot of size and three balanced lines that can be rolled out there in any situation, had nine players who were on the trip to Russia – so they were pretty sharp. We thought those nine players might have been weary after the trip back from Siberia, but on Friday night, in their first game, the Monarchs set a fast tempo and rolled over the Oakville Blades, 6-1.

Since it’s early we’ll just give you the lines Sean Tremblay utilized.

NH Jr. Monarchs:

Connor Anthoine- Cam Brown- Ryan Ferrill
Brian Morgan- Alex Quinn- Stephen Miller
Connor MacPhee-Michael Jamieson-Connor Gorman
Steven McKenna-Charlie Ackerman-James Randaccio/Daniel Avellanet

Thomas Parisi-Kyle Williams

Derek Stahl-Ian Rodden
Jake Bolton-Ben Kaplan
Ian Herrington- Lucas Souza

Goalies were Zach Andrews, William Flachsbinder, and Nik Nugnes.

The Hitmen lines:

Collin MacDonald- Dylan Gareau-Jack Barre
Jack Riley-Tim Clifton- RJ Burns
Jesse Petito-Steven Swavely-Kyle Bauman
Poston- Sean Sanford-Kevin Loppatto
Jordan Miller-Andrew Black

Cody Van Rueden-Cam Hampson
Denton King-Connor Frick
Josh Bretner-Brett Pesce

Goalies were Coln Brennan and Steven Perry.

Scratches on Saturday were Jason Stephanik, Adrean Copeland, and young Connor Clifton (injured).

The Junior Bruins:

KJ Teifenwerth-Vinny Scotti-Paul Russell
Mike Weaver-Kyle Smith-Cody Learned
Joey Yeadon-Mike Pirovano-Zach Luczyk
Thane Heller-Kyle Nickerson-Mac Cook

Brian Harris-Al Butler
Desmond Bergin-Dylan Pike
Cody Smith-Connor Doherty

Scratches on Saturday were Brendan Leahy, Matt Manzella, Mitch Beyer, Kevin McKernan, Matt Lemire, and Peter Michailidis.

Goalies were Derek Metcalfe and Cam Chassie.

South Shore Kings:

Derek Colucci-Dean Niezgoda-Nick Cruice
Jimmy Vesey- Nick Bligh- Joe Prescott
Colton Bailey-Garrett White-AJ Sgaraglio
Chad O'Brien-Tyler Piacentini-TJ Ryan
Mike Rockwell

Jonathan Mleczko-Derek Henderson
Jared Wiedemann-Mike Reardon
Connor Fallon -- Tyler Cooke
Greg Browne -- Eddie Nolan

South Shore goalies are: Derick Roy, Ben Halford, and Robert Levin.

Injured: Kyle LeBrun, Bobby Sugrue.

We’ve written about a lot of the key players on the above teams, many of whom have already committed to college.

How about a few uncommitted players?

-- Vinny Scotti, who centered the top line for the Junior Bruins, hasn’t committed, but certainly will before long. He’s just a really good, all-purpose centerman – he’ll put up points and play well in all three zones and in different situations. An uncommitted – and underrated -- player.

-- LW Jack Riley of the Hitmen, formerly at South Kent, was also quite noticeable. He could come on strong this year.  Decent size, not flashy, good along wall and in corners, and will get his share of points as well.

-- 6’4”, 225 lb. center Alex Quinn of the Monarchs could turn into a player. We liked him at BB&N but thought he was a bit too lumbering. Well, his feet have improved – and he’s still really big. It will be interesting to see where his game is at in March. The same can be said of some of the Monarchs’ other big forwards, like  6’4”, 205 lb. LW Connor MacPhee. The former Kent forward was very noticeable. He just has to do things a little quicker. He’s no finesse player, but he can bang, crash, create havoc along the wall, and be tough to move out in front. 6’3”, 205 lbs. Ryan Ferrill, a ’93, was very noticeable too. As far as we know, all three are uncommitted.

Monarchs goaltender Zach Andrews, a ’94 from Florida, was really good against Oakville, including one Tim Thomas-like save.

On Bay State we thought goalie Kyle MacDonald and forward Matt Vidal – both ‘91s – played well. Jay Malone, who is 6’2” and a ’93 was consistently involved, putting his team up 1-0 over the Wellington Dukes on a nice shot.

We didn’t se the South Shore Kings. Draft-eligibles Joe Prescott and Jimmy Vesey were unable to play Friday’s games because of school, but were there for Saturday.

As for other divisions, on Team Comcast’s U-18 team we liked ’95 RW Dwyer Tschantz, who’s 6’5”, 205 lbs. and pretty raw, but has a sense of the game. He could become something, given a little time. 6’1” ’94 LC Dylan Plitt played very well, and Dan Barnaby and Ryan Badger, a Maine recruit, really worked well together. ’94 goalie Greg Procopio had a strong game. Their defenseman came through, too, shutting down a younger – all ‘95s but for two players -- but skilled Hill Academy team. For Hill Academy, ’94 D Cal Hofford moved the puck well. A couple of other D had a good game as well – Adam Clements, a ’95, and Calum Perry, also a ’95. Their forwards all moved well, but were shut down pretty well.

Team Comcast Under-16s had defenseman Kevin Kerr, who we’ve written about before. 

We wanted to see the LI Royals U-16 Team, but time – and logistics -- didn’t allow it.

The Brewster Bulldogs Empire Team had 6’2”, 205 lb. Joe Wegwerth, who was one of the standouts at Select 15s this summer, a pure power forward. The big schools are already onto him, and it’s not hard to see why.

If you want to go even younger, the Westchester ’97 Team up here had an offensive, puck-moving defenseman named Chad Krys who could become a very good player. If the last name sounds familiar, it should. His dad, Mark, was a Boston University defenseman back in the late ‘80s. The elder Krys, you may recall, was in the World Trade Center on 9-11 – exactly ten years ago today -- and escaped with life by dint of having gone down to a lower floor to get a cup of coffee moments before the building was hit.

That seems an appropriate note on which to end this wrap-up.  A lot has been written on the subject of 9-11 in today’s papers and talked over endlessly, and we don’t really have that much to add that hasn’t been better said by others. However, to honor those whose lives were lost – and the pain suffered by family and friends left behind -- we would love to see this country come together again, much as it did in those months after 9/11. There is far too much fractiousness these days, and it’s not leading us anywhere any of us really want to go. There’s a better way. It just requires thoughtfulness and consideration. United we stand, divided we fall -- it's a bit of a cliche, but an apt one.

Yale Commits a Top 15-Year-Old
5’9, 155 lb. LC Ryan Hitchcock of the New Jersey Rockets Jr. B has committed to Yale for the fall of ’14.

Hitchcock, currently a sophomore in high school, is a 3/30/96 birthdate. Last winter, the  Manhasset, NY native averaged nearly two points a game for the Long Island Gulls ’96 Team.

This summer, he was a standout at the Select 15 Festival in Rochester, NY, with a 2-8-10 line in five games. Hitchcock is a smooth skater who always keeps his feet moving and eyes open. He sees the ice very well, anticipates developing plays, gets to open space, finds open teammates, and uses a quick stick to win battles for the puck.

Hitchcock, who visited Yale a couple of weeks ago, was also offered by Northeastern after his strong performance at the Beantown Classic a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, Hitchcock had a goal and two assists in the Rockets 4-2 win over the Brewster Empire Team at the Woodchuck Classic in Burlington, Vermont.

Thurs. 9/8/11 -- We have added the NH High School All-Star roster to the below article. We are still waiting on the Rhode Island roster, and will post it when we get it.
Also, Malden Catholic defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, son of 17-year NHL vet Tom Fitzgerald and brother of BC fall '13 recruit Ryan Fitzgerald, visited Boston College on Tuesday.

Players' Blog: Final Comments
-- By Jimmy Vesey (South Shore Kings) and Connor MacPhee (NH Jr. Monarchs).

“It’s gonna be weird playing against you guys during the year.”  It was way past midnight on our last night in Omsk, Russia, and this comment was followed by a long pause.  No one responded to it, but I couldn’t help but think about how true it actually was.  Our team of all-stars from the EJHL had been put together quickly, after only two days of tryouts and then had come over to Russia to compete in a serious junior hockey tournament.  And now, after 10 days in Siberia and four games together, we had become a tight knit group of friends – a team.

Although we didn’t achieve our ultimate goal of winning the gold medal, the trip was a huge success in many ways, and we represented the EJHL well at the international level.  We went 3-1, falling to the eventual champion, the Red Army, but I had the most fun playing hockey that I’ve had in my whole life.  We forgot about the rivals in our league for a week and a half, came together from different teams, and went out there and played to the best of our ability.  I think it’s worth noting that we went 3-1 at such a high level of competition with a bit of unfamiliarity with our teammates and a bunch of guys who have yet to experience regular season play in the EJ; we fell to the Red Army, a team filled with World Junior veterans and players with experience in the KHL after beating three top junior teams from Russia, Slovakia, and Latvia.  This success on the ice, coupled with the way the team bonded off the ice, is a true testament to not only the high level of play in the EJ, but also the quality of people in the league, from the commissioner to the coaches all the way down the players.
Overall, the trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone, and the fact that it was with such a great group of people made it even more special.  The team went sightseeing in both Moscow and Omsk, seeing all of the historic sites in both cities, most notably Red Square in Moscow.  Besides the sightseeing, other events highlighted the trip.  After every game, fans waited for us outside the rink, begging for autographs and pictures; Russian girls flocked to wherever we were; a couple guys did interviews after games; the atmosphere at the Red Army game was something that no one will forget; and lastly, and probably most importantly, we did everything together.
It was a great trip filled with many memories and no one will be able to forget about the overall experience because it was so special.  Everyone has a set of new friends that they can always share this trip with. 


Mass. High School Hockey Showcase
The Massachusetts High School Hockey Showcase will be held this Sunday, Sept. 11, at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. The top performers will be named to the Massachusetts High School All-Star team that will travel out to the Minneapolis Nov. 4-6 to take part in the Bauer NIT Tournament.

Here’s the schedule for Sunday:

Rink 1:

2:30 pm - NH vs. Team Mass. Red
3:00 pm - NH vs. Team Mass. White
3:40 pm - Team Mass. Black vs. Team Mass. Red
4:10 pm - NH vs. Team Mass. Blue
4:50 pm - Team Mass. Blue vs. Team Mass. Black

Rink 3:

2:40 pm - Rhode Island vs. Team Mass. Black
3:10 pm - Rhode Island vs. Team Mass. Blue
3:50 pm - Rhode Island vs. Team Mass. White
4:20 pm - Team Mass. Red vs. Team Mass. White

The game times indicate a mini-game format, though we don’t have the precise details. We have been able to procure the rosters for the four Massachusetts teams, and here they are.

Mass. High School Showcase Rosters

N.H. High School Showcase Roster

You will notice several familiar names, like BU recruits Brendan Collier and Sam Kurker, and BC recruit Ryan Fitzgerald on the rosters. However, there are other players worth a look by prep, junior, and college coaches.

We hope to be able to add the New Hampshire and Rhode Island rosters as soon as we get them.


Top ‘97s Visit the Heights

The race is officially underway for the top ‘97s in Massachusetts. The opening salvo came when two stars from the Select 14 Camp in Rochester,  defenseman Noah Hanafin, who’ll be in the 9th grade at  St. Sebastians and forward Colin White, who’ll be in the 8th grade at  Noble & Greenough, made unofficial visits to Boston College over Labor Day weekend.

Other Mass. ‘97s who’ll be closely watched this season include Casey Fitzgerald, the brother of BC recruit Ryan Fitzgerald and a freshman at Malden Catholic; and Lincoln Griffin, a freshman at Thayer.

A Big Man for the Huskies

Northeastern has a commitment from 6’4”, 195 lb. forward Ross Olsson for the fall of ’13.

Olsson, who played at Billerica High last year, will be in prep school this year, at Williston-Northampton.

An 11/22/94 birthdate, Olsson, who has a lot of upside, has flown under the radar a bit. He has a good skill set for a big kid – good hands, heavy shot -- but he’s also a physical type who will finish his checks, plays well in the tough areas, and has a genuine nasty streak.

Olsson played well at the Beantown Classic a couple of weeks ago, and generated some interest from Hockey East schools, but Northeastern appears to have made the preemptive strike.

Olsson will be the second forward from Billerica High to suit up for Northeastern this century, following in the footsteps of 6’3”, 225 lb. Dennis McCauley, who was graduated in ’09. McCauley has played the past two seasons in the AHL.


Woodchuck Schedule Updated
Here is the updated schedule for the 2011 Woodchuck Classic, which gets underway this Thursday in Burlington, Vt.

Woodchuck Schedule, Updated 9/6/11

Players’ Blog: Flying Home
-- By K.J. Tiefenwerth (Junior Bruins) and Kyle Williams (NH Jr. Monarchs).

It was the last day of a long but unbelievable trip. We woke up early to prepare for a full day of traveling.  We said our good byes to the people we met in Omsk and made our way out. We checked into the first airport in Omsk along with several other teams that competed in the tournament.
Although our time in Omsk was only a week, we all developed a strong friendship with our translator, Kirill.  Prior to going through customs, we were all sure to give Kirill a hug and thanked him for his assistance throughout the week. We also exchanged contact information so we can keep in touch with Kirill. As he enters his senior year of high school we all wish him the best of luck, and hope that somewhere down the road he can make a trip over to the U.S.

Once we got through customs and checked our bags in we boarded the plane for our first flight of the day. Most of us slept pretty much the whole way before we arrived in Moscow. Players and coaches had a quick bite to eat and purchased last minute souvenirs to bring home to our families. We then got ready for the main flight of our journey back to the states, which was a ten-hour flight from Moscow to New York. For a little over nine and a half hours we talked about the memorable and fun times we had on such a unique experience, which killed a large majority of the time.

Once we landed in New York, we grabbed our bags and got ready to board our last flight to Boston. A few kids who lived in the tri-state area were lucky enough to drive home from JFK.  The rest of us boarded a short flight to Boston, which ended a remarkable journey that we will remember for the rest of our lives.


Players’ Blog: Our Last Night in Omsk
-- By Derek Stahl (NH Jr. Monarchs) and Joe Prescott (South Shore Kings).

Without a game today, there wasn’t much to do in the city of Omsk.  We woke up and after a quick breakfast traveled to the rink to pack up all of our equipment for the return trip.  After we finished packing we headed back to the hotel for lunch and an afternoon of walking around town.  Without a set schedule, kids split up to do their own thing.  Whether napping or walking around to buy gifts, it was clear that the energy and excitement for the trip we originally had was running out.  Although the trip was much better than most expected, you could tell that everyone was ready to return home.

At night, we traveled to the rink once again to watch the Russians play the Czech Republic in the finals.  In front of a wild 9,000 fans, the Russians were able come out victorious in another lopsided game.  Defeating the Czech’s by a final of 7-2, the Russians deservingly got to celebrate in front of their home crowd.  The captain lifted the cup and was swarmed by teammates, as the crowd erupted around the rink.  In a ceremony that Coach Tremblay described as one of the most professional he has seen, the awards for best forward, best defenseman, and tournament MVP were given out.  Although we weren’t fortunate enough to play in this final game, it was still a great event.  For most of us this was our first chance to play in an international tournament, and we were proud to represent the E.J. and our country.

After the ceremony the team headed back to the hotel to spend the last night together. Although we will return to our respective teams and face off against one another soon, we were able to create friendships that will last.  It was a great experience for everyone and we are all thankful we were given the opportunity to participate in this event.

A Big Forward for the Terriers

6’4”, 215 lb. RW Kevin Duane of the Brunswick School has committed to Boston University for the fall of ’13.

Duane, who was a sophomore last year, will be accelerating and playing this season as a senior at Brunswick. In 2012-13, he will play for Des Moines (USHL), who hold his rights. Duane made the Buccaneers this summer, but chose to return to Brunswick for his final year.

Duane, a native of New Canaan, Conn., made his final choice from between BU and Vermont. Schools that had made offers earlier were Union, Providence, Merrimack, and Cornell.

Last season, Duane was Brunswick’s leading goal scorer, and finished second in points. In 26 games, he had a 15-18-33 line. His strong suits are his size – he’s tough to clear out in front of the net – along with his hands. He has a nice shot and sees the ice well. The main aspect of his game that needs work is his skating.

In Central’s Preliminary Futures list for next summer’s NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, Duane, a 1/16/94 birthdate and a right shot, was given a “C” rating.


Labor Day Tournament Schedules
The New England Fall Prep Hockey League is hosting its Labor Day Showcase this weekend at the Icenter in Salem, NH.

Here are links to the schedule and rosters (both are Excel documents):

2011 Labor Day Weekend Schedule

NEFPHL Rosters

The annual Labor Day Tournament at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro, Mass. gets underway today as well. Here is the schedule:

Marlboro Labor Day Tournament Schedule

Brown Players to the Rescue
On Tuesday, a group of six Brown hockey players, enjoying a day on the beach at Little Compton, RI, suddenly found themselves rescuing three children caught up in dangerous rip currents kicked up by Tropical Storm Irene.

The heroes of the day were Mike Wolff, Jeff Ryan, Dennis Robertson, Mike Borge, Bobby Farnham, and David Brownschidle. All except for Brownschidle, who graduated in May and will be going to the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) training camp later this month, are current players at Brown.

Read Mark Divver's account of the rescue in this morning's Providence Journal:

Three Rescued at Little Compton Beach

Red Army Crushes EJHL All-Stars

Omsk, Siberia
– In the finale at the World Junior Cup here, host Red Army crushed the EJHL All-Stars, 9-1 before a charged-up crowd of over 8,500 fans.

“Our guys have not been in that situation before, and most never will again unless they reach the NCAA Div. I championship game,” said head coach Sean Tremblay afterward. “A tremendous experience
we will all never forget. At the end of the day we went 3-1 overall…unfortunately the last one stings a bit.”

Players’ Blog:

-- By
Mike Lafrenier (New England Jr. Huskies) and Kyle Smith (Junior Bruins):

It was a sad day in Omsk. The day started off like any other game day we got up early and ate breakfast, then we went to morning skate. We were all looking forward to the game against the Red Army. We had been told that it was going to be a sold out game of 9000 fans screaming for our blood.  We knew it would be much different then playing in front of 40 fans at a standard EJHL game. 

As we arrived to the rink for the game the media was waiting at the bus for us. In the locker room everybody was dropping quotes from the movie Miracle. After a great motivational speech by coach we were all ready and excited to represent our league. The outcome of the game, though, was not what we were hopping for. They just happened to get the bounces in their favor. However, we will always remember this game and the atmosphere we were thrown into together. It was something none of us has never experienced before, and may never get the chance again. 

We all had a great time on this trip, and will hold on to these memories for the rest of our lives. We're all excited to get back home and start the season with our respective teams. It sure will be very different playing each other throughout the season. This experience has made us more than just a team, however. We are unlike any other all star team. We have become a very close-knit group of guys that will remain that way for a long time. 


A Key Recruit for Denver
5’11”, 185 lb. LD Will Butcher, who will be playing for the next two seasons in the National Team Development Program, has committed to Denver for the fall of ’13.

A 1/6/95 birthdate, Butcher has excellent offensive skills, perhaps the best among his age group. He’s a classic puck-moving defenseman who will quarterback the Pioneers power play – and probably sooner rather than later.

A native of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, not far outside of Madison, Butcher played last season for the Madison Capitols Midget Major squad, and, in 34 games, posted a 10-20-30 line. He was recruited by the University of Wisconsin. He also took unofficial visits to North Dakota, and Colorado College.

In the hockey-is-a-small-world-department, Butcher is the son of Joe Butcher, who was a teammate of Denver assistant coach Steve Miller at Sun Prairie High School. Butcher – and Miller, too – went on to play for the Madison Capitols (USHL) in the mid-‘80s. That franchise, now defunct, was coached at the time by Bob Suter and had present CC coach Scott Owens as an assistant. Joe Butcher went on to play for Mark Mazzoleni at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, during the Pointers run of four straight NCAA Div. III National Championships.

Former Nebraska-Omaha defenseman Nick Fohr, most recently director of Hockey Ops at UNO, has been hired as an assistant at the NTDP. He takes the spot vacated by Chadd Cassidy, who will be an assistant to Ron Rolston with the Rochester Amerks (AHL).

Fohr, 34, is a native of Grand Forks, ND.

Players’ Blog: EJHL Stars Trounce Slovaks
-- By Jake Bolton (NH Jr. Monarchs) and Cody Smith (Junior Bruins)

Today started out with an optional morning skate so that the guys who wanted to catch up on their sleep could rest up for the game, but it ended up being canceled so we would all rest. After a good night’s sleep and a couple meals, the guys were ready to go at it against the Slovaks. We showed up for the game over two hours early so that the team could work up a sweat and get stretched out before warm ups. The rink has an awesome basketball/handball. We all went in there about two hours before the game, juggled a soccer ball, stretched out, then played some basketball to get our feet moving and start sweating. We got suited up in white jerseys and socks but found out during warm ups that the Slovaks also were wearing white, so we had to rock our blue jerseys with the white socks.

Coach (Tremblay) came into the locker room after warm-ups and gave a great speech to fire up the team and we headed out. Early in the game, a Slovak forward picked off a clearing shot in our defensive zone and quickly fed it back door to once again put us behind early. We quickly responded though and tied the score at one. The game became very physical after a big hit by Brian Harris, and we fed off of the physical momentum. Matt Vidal beat a defensemen wide to the right and took a wrist shot from far out that got tipped by a Slovakian player to beat the goalie 5-hole and give us the lead. Next, winger Joe Prescott picked up a pass off of a faceoff in the offensive zone, and made a quick move before tucking the puck 5-hole once again to give us the two-goal lead.

Between periods, the locker room was energetic with hopes of grabbing a two-win jump in the tournament, and the second period started off fast with a top shelf rocket one-timer from the high slot by Tyler Bouchard on the power play. Zach Luczyk gave us the quick four-goal lead on a great shot from in close that really discouraged the Slovakians. The game started to get even more physical, and Slovakia snuck one by Tyler Kapp to gain some momentum back.

Heading into the third period we had a comfortable lead and came out with confidence. The fans were tilted toward our team, and having United States flags and jerseys in the rink was a cool sight for the team. Once again, Matt Vidal notched a goal to shut down the Slovakians. The third period flew by and Zach Luczyk buried the final goal of the game to give us the W at 7-2. The team is pumped that we are undefeated heading into the Russia game, who have since lost to the Latvians.

Our translator told us that the tilt vs. the Russians will be a sold out contest with 10,000 seats filled and the team should be running on adrenaline for hours. We have the day off tomorrow which gives us a great rest before, for some of us, the biggest game of our lives. Hopefully we will be getting back to you soon with some good news about the Russia game!!