MET League/AJHL Top Prospects
Last Saturday and Sunday, at their respective league showcases, we watched every single team in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MET) and the Atlantic Junior Hockey League (AJHL). As you can imagine, there were a lot of players to sift through -- and not a lot of high-end talent on display. Of the two leagues, the play in the AJHL is significantly better as the players are much older. However, there are probably more players with D-I potential in the somewhat younger MET League. While it is easy to criticize these leagues, the reality is that they provide a lot of players with an opportunity to chase the dream. If these junior circuits did not exist many players would have to end their careers without having the opportunity to showcase themselves in front of D-I, D-III and club hockey programs. And a number of top players – e.g. John Carlson (Washington Capitals), TJ Brennan (Buffalo Sabres), and Patrick McNally (Harvard) -- have played in these leagues and developed while doing so. Having said that, we believe that they could run their showcases in a more professional manner. They owe it to the kids. Try this on for size: at neither of the two showcases we attended were programs available. Come on! Is there a commissioner in the house? Some of the coaches did put out rosters — to be specific, 11 of 20 for the MET League. Also, we do not believe there should be a fee to watch this hockey. Parents are paying good money to have their kids on these teams and should not have to also pay at the door to see them play. And scouts should be encouraged as much as possible to attend and not have to pay to enter.
As for the hockey, here is who caught our attention.
THE TOP THREE --
Ryan Hitchcock, F, ’96 (New Jersey Rockets -MET) 5-9/155-- Was the top player in either league. We understand why coach Bob Thornton has decided to keep him in the MET League as he is not physically mature and the players in the AJHL are, which would make him susceptible to injury. However, the Yale recruit is not challenged at all. His skill set is right near the top of the ’96 age group and he pretty much does what he wants in this league. Should be a no-brainer to attend the NTDP Final 40 Camp. We are curious to see how he will perform when the competition is elevated.
Daniel Willett, D, ’96 (New Jersey Rockets - MET) 5-7/165— A Northeastern commit – and a very confident player. Has great hands, vision and a cannon from the point. Really dominates games at this level. He is very small—we think 5’7” might be a bit of a stretch -- and he is physically mature. We are curious to see how his game will develop and how effective he will be defending against much taller forwards when they, too, physically mature. Willett is another top prospect that passed on playing for a very strong Long Island Royals U16 team in order to play juniors. The Rockets are a safe bet to win the league title, and if they do not win they will likely be the runners-up. Our question is this: would Daniel Willett be better served playing for a title against the Metro Moose, or playing in the U16 Nationals against the likes of the Chicago Mission, Honeybaked, Belle Tire, etc? We think the Rockets do a great job in attracting high-end kids, likely because Bob Thornton is a good coach and can develop the players in practice. It’s a tough sell, though, because the other teams in this loop are not run in a similar manner.
Dom Sacco, F, ’95 (Metro Moose-MET) 5-9/155—If Hitchcock was the best forward in either league, Sacco was #2. The league’s leading scorer has 48 points in only 19 games played. We have written about Sacco before and even ranked him as one of the top uncommitted 95’s — and after watching him this weekend we still feel confident about that. Sacco has excellent stick skills and thinks the game on an elite level. He’s also strong on his skates and efficient when it comes to protecting the puck. The problem is that is does not play at the high pace you expect to see in a potential D-I committed player. He has skill, but not enough to float around at the next level and wait for the puck to come to him. He will need to use his speed and hunt pucks down and be a difficult player to play against. He is not there just yet. Will a school jump on him before seeing him play at that pace and assume he will do so when he moves on to the USHL? It is tough question to answer and will be a difficult decision to make.
KEEP AN EYE ON THESE FIVE --
Hitchcock, Willett, and Sacco are the three players that we feel will not only play D-I hockey, but could be really good players at that level. We group them together here because there is a bit of a drop off after those three. We saw five other players that piqued our interest and think that they have a good chance to move in with the above mentioned guys, though they are not there yet. Those players are:
Alec Marsh, F, ’95 (NJ Rockets -MET) 5-10/165—A very intelligent player who has a good stick and is dangerous in scoring areas. Has 35 points in only 18 games played. Needs to improve on his speed. Right now he is not very dynamic and at the next level he will need speed in order to get into the scoring areas. He is a late ’95 so he has plenty of time to get there.
Chris Makowski, F, ’95 (Suffolk-MET) 6-1/180—Looks to have grown and could be taller than 6-1. He can really skate – and if you simply watch him skate around the rink he has the look of a pro. Aleksey Nikiforov, his head coach, is regarded as one of the top skill developers in the country, and we think Makowski will benefit greatly from spending time under his tutelage. Had three points in the game we saw, but we were unable to get a true feel for his ability to make plays. The team he was playing against was pretty bad, so we left intrigued – and also curious as to how he would fare in a game against stronger competition. Right now we have him listed as a project with a lot of upside, but there is a chance that he could be promoted from project to prospect very quickly.
Dominic Brenza, F, ’95 (Central Penn Panthers-MET) 5-7/150—The leading scorer on the Panthers has a lot of skill and makes plays. He is very small, and reminiscent of a young Cam Brown (Rivers/NH Monarchs/UMaine recruit). If Brenza grows a couple of inches -- or just fills out and gets stronger -- he will be a college prospect. Will likely not be ready to play in the USHL next season, but if we coached an EJHL team we would certainly invite Brenza to training camp.
Joseph Fleschler, G, ’95 (NJ Rockets-MET) 6-4/175—Has the size that you love to see in a goalie and he really looks the part. His numbers are very good this season—1.83 GAA and a .925 save percentage. We did not see him challenged at all as the Rockets were playing a weak Wilkes-Barre/Scranton team that did not muster any quality scoring chances, as the Rockets shut them out, 6-0. We plan on taking a closer look at Fleschler sometime again this season.
Daniel Vaysberg, D, ’95 (NJ Rockets) 5-8/165—Small defenseman certainly has a head for the game and is very savvy with the puck on his stick. At his size you have to be dynamic— as Daniel Willet is —and even then there are still question marks. Right now, Vaysberg is not there, but the good news is that he gets the game and has some qualities that are not teachable. Will he add a step to his speed and be strong enough to defend in the USHL/NCAA? Those are things he will have to prove before he gets serious consideration for a spot on a D-I roster.
THE BEST OF THE REST --
There are other players who caught our eye who we feel deserve recognition, and that’s exactly what we are going to do now. While we do not feel the following players are D-I guys (at least as of now), and they all have their shortcomings, you never know what can happen in the coming years.
Dmitry Burov, F, ’94 (Cranston Reds-MET) 6-1/185—Has good skill and can really shoot the puck, but plays the game with little to no intensity. A frustrating player to watch because he has some ability. A good EJHL prospect with some upside.
Matthew Goldberg, F, ’94 (Long Island Royals-MET) 6-2/180—Good hands, and patient in scoring areas, but he’s not very fast and he seems to glide through whole games. There is something here though.
Adam Goldstein, D, ’94 (Long Island Royals-MET) 6-0/190—Is a solid defender who could probably make an EJHL team.
Nick Balboa, F, ’94 (Walpole Express-MET) 6-0/160—Has 16 goals in 19 games and good offensive instincts. Has good hands around the net and shows flashes of being a really nice player. Skating is holding him back right now. If he fixes that, he could move on to higher levels.
Matt Armenti, D, ’93 (New Jersey Titans-MET) 6-1/180—Steady and efficient. Makes a good first pass. Would be a good invite to an EJHL camp.
Max Manhood, F, ’93 (Richmond Generals-MET) 6-0/180—Decent size forward is a good skater. Has 12 points in only six games played. Is worth taking a look at.
Nick Masteller, D, ’93 (Central Penn Panthers-MET) 6-1/175—Captain of the team can handle the puck and makes good passes, but has really bad feet.
Lenny Caglianone, D, ’93 (NJ Rockets-AJHL) 6-0/185—Confident defender at this level. Is pretty good in all facets of the game. A D-III prospect.
Max Capuano, F, ’91 (Walpole Express) 6-1/193—Is leading the AJHL in scoring by a wide margin. Has a D-I shot, but his skating and hockey sense are questionable. Is walking on at Providence, where we think he will battle to crack the lineup.
Jacob Brightbill, D, ‘92 (Walpole Express) 5-9/182—Very intelligent defender who is really good with the puck. The top-scoring d-man in the league. A top D-III prospect.
JD Rassett, D, ’92 (New York Bobcats-AJHL) 5-11/175—Handles the puck at a high level. Was excellent on the PP. Skating is what is keeping him from being a D-I player.
Tommy Telesca, F, ‘93 (New York Bobcats-AJHL) 5-7/155—Offensively gifted and a really smart player. Dangerous on the PP. Another top D-III recruit.
Luc Kilgore, D, ’91 (Laconia Leafs-AJHL) 6-3/200—A big, solid defender. One of the better d-men in the league.
Erik Lyrvall, D, ‘91(WB/Scranton Knights-AJHL) 6-4/210—Massive defenseman is pretty interesting. Does not have the feet for D-I play, but he could be a good project for a college team.
Mike Vollmin, D, ’93 (Northern Cyclones-AJHL) 5-11/175—Comes from a nontraditional hockey area in Wilmington, NC, so there is a learning curve here. Is producing a point a game from the blue line on one of the top teams in the league. Still has a couple years of juniors left in him and will make for an excellent EJ prospect. Has some upside.
Joey Bruckler, F, ’93 (Northern Cyclones-AJHL) 5-9/170—Team-leading scorer. Has the ability to slow the game down. Has figured this league out.
Andrew Bucci, F, ’91 (Boston Bulldogs-AJHL) 5-10/174—Can fly and has some finishing abilities. A hard worker who will no doubt play at the D-III level. A lot of schools seemed to be watching him closely in Hudson, NH.
Nick Leonard, F, ’93 (Boston Bulldogs-AJHL) 5-10/165—Skates well and makes plays. Played with Bucci here; the two created a lot of scoring chances.
Dzmitry Daniliuk, D, ’94 (Suffolk-MET) 6-2/183—Big kid who we are told has improved a lot in the last year. Is pretty young; has some upside. Will play at a higher level.
Happy New Year!
We just wanted to take a moment to wish a Happy New Year to all our readers. Have a fun time tonight, but drive safely. We look forward to seeing you all in the rinks in 2012.
Top 50 Juniors
As promised we have followed up our list of Top Seniors with our Top Juniors. All of the following players are playing in prep/high school. While there are some high-end 11th graders playing midget hockey we felt that including them would expand the scope of this list to the point where getting an accurate assessment of the players would be compromised. Of the players ranked, nearly 40 remain uncommitted. Happy viewing, and look for this list to change by the end of the season, with new players sure to be stepping up.
1. Ryan Fitzgerald, F, ’94 (Malden Catholic/BC) 5-10/160 – There is no better way to describe the BC recruit other than to say he is an intelligent hockey player. Is not blessed with superior size, speed or shooting skills—just knows how to play the game.
2. Sean Malone, F, ’95 (Nichols/Uncommitted) 5-11/171 — Crafty and dangerous in the offensive zone. Makes the players around him better. Has not committed to a college and will be a big recruit for whichever school lands him.
3. Drew Melanson, F, ’95 (Delbarton/RPI) 5-10/150 — A dynamic, strong skater who is strong on the puck. The future Engineer is progressing at a rapid rate. Was the top player in a recent game between Delbarton and Malden Catholic.
4. Chris Calnan, F, ’94 (Nobles/Uncommitted) 6-3/195 — Developing before our eyes into a premier power forward. Was very impressive at the Flood Marr Tournament.
5. Aaron Berisha, F, ’95 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 5-10/185 — Has a strong understanding of the game. Is still settling into the prep school pace, but once he gets comfortable, look out!
6. Adam Gilmour, F, ’94 (Nobles/Quinnipiac) 6-2/185 — Quinnipiac committed to Gilmour earlier than most would have — and they look awfully smart right now. The Hanover, Mass. native is big, skilled and is playing at a fast pace.
7. Mark Hamilton, D, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 6-3/215 — Some may consider this a lofty ranking, but the uncommitted defender is really coming on strong under Andrew Will’s tutelage. He is big, physical and makes good decisions with the puck. Has a real workmanlike approach to the game.
8. Anthony Florentino, D, ’95 (South Kent/Providence) 6-1/205 — The Providence recruit is polished and will contribute at both ends of the ice. Has a bomb of a shot and the ability to run a power play at the next level.
9. Dakota Ford, D, ’95 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) 6-2/175 — Solid defenseman in all facets of the game. Responsible, reliable and confident.
10. Liam Coughlin, F, ’94 (Catholic Memorial/Uncommitted) 6-3/180 — Has all the tools to be an impact player at the next level. The top NHL prospect in the Catholic Conference. Whether or not he puts those tools together remains to be seen.
11. Thomas Aldworth, F, ’95 (Cushing/Uncommitted) 6-0/170—The Keller, Texas native has a high level of athleticism and an explosive first step. Will have to show more consistency to move up this list.
12. Doyle Somerby, D, ’94 (KUA/Uncommitted) 6-4/210—Has NHL potential, but is still a long way away. A project player with a lot of upside.
13. Alex Carle, D, ’94 (KUA/Uncommitted) 5-11/190—Matt Carle’s little brother has a strong positional understanding and makes positive plays nearly every time he has the puck.
14. Eddie Ellis, F, ’95 (Andover/Uncommitted) 6-2/195 – Andover’s captain is showing he’s more than just a big kid who peaked early.
15. Derek Pratt, D, ’94 (NMH/Uncommitted) 6-2/180—The son of NMH Head Coach Tom Pratt is flying under the radar. Does nothing to jump out at you and catch your eye, but is a real honest player who, the more you watch him, the more you enjoy his game.
16. Quinn Pompi, D, ’94 (Berkshire/Uncommitted) 6-2/185—Have been really impressed with the former Philadelphia Junior Flyer every time we have seen him play. Has size, can skate and plays within himself.
17. Niko Rufo, F, ’94 (KUA/Providence) 6-0/180—Has been dynamite for the 9-1 Wildcats. The Providence recruit is leading the team in scoring with 15 points in 9 games.
18. Trevor Fidler, F, ’95 (Dexter/Uncommitted) —The Watertown, Mass. native is lighting it up this season—21 points in 8 games played. Plays with an edge and has the ability to get under opposing teams skin, just ask Exeter’s Matt Beattie.
19. Jason Kalinowski, F, ’95 (Salisbury/UNH) 6-0/180—Gritty goal scorer is committed to UNH for the fall of 2015. We are confident that after one more season at Salisbury, and two in the USHL, the Mid-Fairfield product will arrive more than ready to make an impact.
20. Nathan Ferriero, F, ’94 (Governor’s/Northeastern) 5-10/175—Keeps getting better, just like his brothers Benn Ferriero (San Jose/Worcester) and Cody Ferriero (Northeastern). If he continues to follow his elder siblings’ development curve he will rise up this list.
21. Anthony DiFruscia, F, ’95 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 5-11/197—The 2nd round OHL draft pick is a gritty, north/south winger who can finish around the net. Thorold, Ontario native will be an energy player at the next level, but has the potential to work his way into a top six role.
22. Jacob Hand, F, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 6-3/195—There is a lot to like about the former Oakville Rangers’ forward’s game. The Canadian is big and skilled — and we would have a much better gauge on his game if he was not playing on Salisbury’s third line.
23. Carl Hesler, F, ’94 (Belmont Hill/Dartmouth) 5-11/180 – Middlesex transfer is a hard-working center who is effective in all three zones.
24. Wilson Vershay, D, ’95 (Nichols/Uncommitted) 6-3/190—Is very raw right now, but could turn out to be a home run. A long-term project.
25. Anthony Sabitsky, F, ’94 (Milton/Uncommitted) 5-10/170—The Mustangs’ top offensive threat. The Team Comcast product can fire the puck and is a well-rounded player who is effective in all three zones. Scoring at a goal-a-game pace.
26. Casey Miller, F, ’94 (KUA/Uncommitted) 5-9/165—Tied for the team lead in goals with seven. Put himself on the map at the Flood-Marr Tournament.
27. Mike Pontarelli, F, ’94 (St. Marks/Uncommitted)—The Laval, Quebec native has led St. Mark’s to a 6-2-1 record. Scott Young’s top player has put the team on his back at times. Is third in goals (14) in prep hockey, trailing only two seniors—Matt Beattie of Exeter (16) and Richard Schulman of Harvey (16).
28. Tim Harrison, F, ’94 (Dexter/Uncommitted) 6-1/170—An interesting player who has a lot of upside. Good size, skates well, and makes plays. Plays on a line with Fiddler and the two are difficult to contain.
29. Griffin Martin, D, ’94 (Avon Old Farms/Yale) 6-1/185 – Eli recruit for 2014 is coming along nicely Fairfield, Conn. native plays a steady, unflashy game.
30. David Hallisey, F, ’94 (Westminster/Uncommitted) 5-10/181—The former Mid-Fairfield Blues forward plays the game hard, kills penalties, and blocks shots. Is developing his scoring touch this season as he has put up nine points in only five games played.
31. Alex Rauter, F, ’94 (Choate/Uncommitted) 6-1/180—Scored a ton of goals last season for the New Jersey Avalanche and has not missed a beat this season. Leads the Wild Boars in scoring with a 7-9-16 scoring line through eight games played.
32. Tyler Wood, D, ’94 (Nobles/Uncommitted) 6-2/200—The son of former NHL player Randy Wood is one of the most improved players in New England. If he continues along those lines he could have a long career in this game.
33. Robert Klein, D, ’95 (Lawrence/Uncommitted) 6-3/200—Huge defenseman has made an impact on the #1 ranked Lawrence Academy team. Is very raw right now and his feet need to get much better, but there is a lot to work with here.
34. Garret Hehir, F, ’94 (Cushing/Uncommitted) 6-1/190—Is the Penguins leading scorer with 14 points through eight games played. The Auburn, Mass. native has excellent offensive instincts. If he can add a step to his skating he could be a D-I player.
35. Nick Roberto, F, ’94 (KUA/Uncommitted) 5-9/170—A coaches’ player. The former Malden Catholic forward pays attention to detail—finishes his checks, stops on loose pucks, and blocks shots. Has finishing abilities and is looking to take his game to a Hockey East school.
36. Thomas Welsh, D, ’95 (Salisbury/Penn State) 6-0/205—The Penn State recruit was quiet at the Flood-Marr Tournament. Plays a subtle game, and does not make many mistakes.
37. Connor Evangelista, D, ’93 (KUA/Uncommitted) 5-9/170—Puck-moving defender lacks size, but makes up for it with smarts.
38. John Baiocco, F, ’95 (Delbarton/Yale) 5-9/155—Small/crafty forward is intelligent and is we see him more of a playmaker despite the fact that the future Eli has nine goals in six games played. Combined with Melanson, the two make for a fun duo to watch.
39. Anthony Bird, F, ’94 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) 5-11/160—Leading the Gunnery in scoring this season with 10 points through eight games played. Every time we have seen the Gunnery play this season the former Syracuse Star has been their most consistent scoring threat. Generates a lot of offense through speed and hard work.
40. Alex Goyne, F, ’94 (Deerfield/Uncommitted) 6-1/175—New Canaan, Conn. native has a lot of skill, but has to play with more pace and consistency. Scoring nearly a goal per game and we feel there is even more in the tank.
41. Ryan Scarfo, F, ’94 (Governor’s/Uncommitted) 6-0/180 – Has a nice release. Very dangerous down low. Athletic and quick.
42. Sean Orlando, F, ’95 (Westminster/Uncommitted) 6-0/174—Is making a big jump to Westminster from the Hatfield Ice Dogs (Tier II). Intelligent center has adjusted well and is scoring a point per game thus far.
43. Mason Krueger, F, late ’94 (Avon Old Farms/Uncommitted) 6-0/190 – Nashua, NH native averaged over a point a game last year with the New England Huskies (Empire).
44. Gavin Bayreuther, D (Holderness/Uncommitted) 6-1/175—The wildcard on our list. Saw him at the Lawrence-Groton tournament and really enjoyed his game. The Canaan, NH native has good size and is very effective on the power play. Possesses an excellent wrist shot and gets it through traffic on a regular basis. Has 11 points in eight games thus far.
45T. Daniel Fritz, F, ’95 (Canterbury/Uncommitted) 6-0/168—We really liked the play of Fritz at the St. Paul’s jamboree. Has been offensively productive throughout his career as a member of Team Maryland. Is worth checking out.
45T. Ryan Segalla, D, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 6-2/190—A 12/29 birth date—just a tough break for any hockey player. Puck-moving defender has good size and is pretty well rounded.
1. Nick Ellis, G, ’94 (Pomfret/Providence) 6-0/156—Providence recruit is a game changer. Has been inconsistent at times this season, but when he is on his game there is no one better in prep hockey. Should hear his name called in the NHL draft this summer.
2. Justin Nichols, G, ’95 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 5-9/150—Has a nice swagger to his game. Very athletic and quick side to side. St. Catherine’s, Ontario native has the ability to get hot and steal games.
3. Eric Bogart, G, ’95 (KUA/Uncommitted) 6-5/189—Has all the tools, looks the part. Needs to compete a little harder and mentally decide to put the team on his back. The London, Ontario native could carry KUA pretty far over the next two seasons.
4. Shane Starret, G, ’94 (Catholic Memorial/Uncommitted)—Made a name for himself in the recent Kevin Mutch Cup as he stonewalled St. Sebs 2-1. Is big, confident and stops pucks.
5. Jake Thoubboron, G, ’94 (Deerfield/Uncommitted) 6-0/185 -- New Jersey native will help keep Deerfield competitive.
A couple of other junior goalies who have played well in the early going are Michael Pinios of St. Paul’s and Nolan Daley of Exeter.
Looking Ahead to Next Year’s WJC
In perusing the current US National Junior Team roster one can’t help but notice that there are only three players – John Gibson, Jacob Trouba, and JT Miller -- eligible to return for next year’s tournament (which, by the way, will be held in Ufa, Russia, about a thousand miles east of Moscow). The staff here at USHR feels, with this year’s tournament set to face off, that now is the perfect time to look ahead, and take a shot at how the U.S. Team might look one year from today. The players we have listed below are those we feel will be closely followed for inclusion in next August’s evaluation camp. In addition, we have taken our best guess at the final 22-man roster. Please bear in mind that this is solely our educated guess and does not in any way reflect any thoughts USA Hockey might have. Also, bear in mind that there will likely be players that come out of left field -- à la Miami forward Austin Czarnik and UNO forward Josh Archibald -- and play their way into consideration. Check back in a year!
The Evaluation Camp Prospects:
Goaltenders (4): John Gibson (Kitchener-OHL, ’93), Matt Mahalek (Plymouth-OHL, ’93), Garret Sparks (Guelph-OHL, ’93), Jon Gillies (Indiana-USHL, ’94).
Defensemen (16): Brian Cooper (Fargo-USHL, ’93), Nick Ebert (Windsor-OHL, ’94), Seth Jones (US Under-18, ’94), Keegan Lowe (Edmonton-WHL, ’93), Ian McCoshen (Waterloo-USHL, ’95), Connor Murphy (Sarnia-OHL, ’93), Rob O’Gara (Milton Academy-NE Prep School, ’93), Mike Reilly (Penticton-BCHL, ’93), Robbie Russo (Notre Dame-CCHA, ’93) Joakim Ryan (Cornell-ECAC, ’93), Steve Santini (US Under-17, ’95), Jordan Schmaltz (Green Bay-USHL, ’93), Patrick Sieloff (US Under-18, ’94), Brady Skjei (US Under-18, ’94), Jacob Trouba (US Under-18, ’94), Andy Welinski (Green Bay-USHL, ’93).
Forwards (26): Riley Barber (US Under-18, ’94), Tyler Biggs (Miami-Ohio-CCHA, ’93), Colin Blackwell (Harvard-ECAC, ’93), Reid Boucher (Sarnia-OHL, ’93), Taylor Cammarata (Waterloo-USHL, ’95), JT Compher (US Under-17, ’95), Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia-OHL, ’94), John Gaudreau (Boston College-Hockey East, ’93), Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota-WCHA, ’93), Nick Kerdiles (US Under-18, ’94), Miles Koules (US Under-18. ‘94), Sean Kuraly (Indiana-USHL, ’93), Joseph Labate (Wisconsin-WCHA, ’93), Mario Lucia (Penticton-BCHL, ’93), Stefan Matteau (US Under-18, ’94), Mike McCarron (US Under-17, ’95), Shane McColgan (Kelowna-WHL, ’93), JT Miller (Plymouth-OHL, ’93), Tyler Motte (US Under-17, '95), Boo Nieves (Kent-NE Prep School, ’94), Stefan Noesen (Plymouth-OHL, ’93), Blake Pietila (Michigan Tech-WCHA, ’93), Henrik Samuelsson (Modo-Sweden, ’94), Lukas Sutter (Saskatoon-WHL, ’93), Vincent Trocheck (Saginaw-OHL, ’93), Austin Wuthrich (Notre Dame-CCHA, ’93).
The Final Roster
Alex Galchenyuk, ’94, 6-1/185—The dual citizen would have been a likely candidate for this year’s team had he not suffered a knee injury that has kept him out of action this season. Without playing a single game this year the Sarnia Sting sniper is still projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2012 NHL draft.
Rocco Grimaldi, ’93, 5-6/165—The ultra-dynamic forward is yet another player who probably could have made this season’s squad if not for injury. The Florida Panthers draftee is a game breaker who has consistently been a top scorer for the US in international play.
JT Miller, ’93, 6-1/198—The New York Rangers 1st round draft selection will be the only forward to return from the 2011-2012 team. The East Palestine, Ohio native has chemistry with Grimaldi and the two will comprise what could be the best 1-2 punch in the tournament.
Vincent Trocheck, ’93, 5-10/185—The Pittsburgh, PA native is on a tear this season in the OHL with 41 points in only 32 games played. The 3rd round draft pick of the Florida Panthers has a quick release which will be beneficial to the US power play.
John Gaudreau, ’93, 5-7/150—The Calgary Flames draft pick was one of the final cuts on this year’s team. The BC Eagle was never drafted into the OHL, was not invited to the US NTDP, and did not make it to a USA Hockey festival until the Select 17’s. The Philadelphia Little Flyers product has developed into possibly the most skilled ’93 forward in the country.
Shane McColgan, ’93, 5-9/170—The Kelowna Rocket was regarded as the top ’93 in the country as he came up through the ranks. A Manhattan Beach, California native and New York Rangers draftee, McColgan has been a consistent point-a-game producer since breaking into the WHL as a 15 year old.
Tyler Biggs, ’93, 6-2/200—The Toronto Maple Leafs 1st round draft pick in 2011 is challenging to play against—really physical, and with a nice scoring touch to boot. The Cincinnati, Ohio product will likely see a lot of the other teams’ top lines.
Lukas Sutter, ’93, 6-0/200—If the dual citizen decides to play for the US, he’ll be a nice pick up. The Saskatoon Blades (WHL) all-purpose forward is finding his offensive game in his second full season of major junior play. The son of Rich Sutter plays the game hard and has sandpaper for skin.
Sean Kuraly, ’93, 6-1/195—Prototypical power forward could combine with Biggs and Sutter to form a top shutdown unit. The Indiana Ice standout/San Jose draft pick sits 6th in the USHL scoring race right now.
Henrick Samuelsson, ’94, 6-2/192—Playing pro hockey in the top league in Sweden raises the stock of the likely 1st or 2nd round NHL draft pick. Has already played for Team USA at the IIHF sanctioned Under-18 tournament, thus making him eligible for the US at the World Junior U-20 tournament.
Stefan Noesen, ’93, 6-0/196—The Ottawa Senators 1st round pick is excellent in the faceoff circle and could provide Team USA with much needed secondary scoring.
Stefan Matteau, ’94, 6-1/210—The North Dakota recruit is versatile and can play any brand of hockey. Another dual citizen—Canada’s loss is the US’s gain.
Blake Pietila, ’93, 5-11/190—Exactly what you look for in a 13th forward. The New Jersey Devils draft pick/Michigan Tech Husky can kill penalties, block shots, provide energy and be slotted into a scoring role barring injury.
Seth Jones, ’94, 6-3/200—The likely 1st overall selection in the 2013 NHL draft has all the earmarks of a franchise player. Would be on the team this year if not for a recent injury. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones does it all—defends, produces offense, and is a leader in the dressing room.
Jacob Trouba, ’94, 6-2/195—The Compuware product will be the only returning defender on the US blue line. The Michigan recruit will hear his name called in the 1st round of this summer’s NHL draft.
Jordan Schmaltz, ’93, 6-2/175—The North Dakota recruit is a gazelle on skates—arguably the best pure skater available for this year’s draft. The Green Bay Gambler has the ability to play a lot of minutes and will be excellent on the big sheet.
Brian Cooper, ’93, 5-10/180—The Anchorage, Alaska native was in the mix for a roster spot this year. The future Nebraska-Omaha defender is excellent in transition.
Connor Murphy, ’93, 6-3/192—The Phoenix Coyotes 1st round selection has been plagued by injuries over the past couple of seasons. If the son of former NHL defenseman Gord Murphy can manage to stay healthy he will be a huge help on the blue line.
Robbie Russo, ’93, 6-0/190—The New York Islanders draftee is off to a fabulous start to his freshman year at Notre Dame. The Chicago Mission product has a lot of international experience and was one of the top-scoring defensemen at the U-18’s last year.
Joakim Ryan, ’93, 5-10/185—The Cornell defender has seven points in his first 11 games this season. Unable to play for Sweden due to a technicality, the Rumson, NJ native is an excellent skater, effective on the PP, and makes for a nice seventh defenseman.
John Gibson, ’93, 6-3/203—The Anaheim Ducks draft pick will enter the selection process for the tournament as the starting goalie. It will be his job to lose.
Matt Mahalak, ’93, 6-2/185—The Plymouth Whalers netminder is having a sensational season—in 14 games played he has a 2.12 GAA and a .933 save percentage. If the former Culver Academy backstop can keep moving in the right direction, he will challenge Gibson for the starting role.
Line Chart for Ufa, Russia:
Tier I U18 Tournament Schedule for Boston
The Boston Advantage are hosting a post-Christmas U18 Tournament featuring all 24 Tier I Elite League Teams. The tournament starts on Tuesday the 27th, mostly at the Pilgrim Arena in Hingham.
We want to take this moment to thank our readers, as it is through your support that the U.S. Hockey Report exists. Wherever you are, we hope you are having a great time this holiday season.
National Junior Team Final Roster Announced
USA Hockey has announced its 22-man roster for the U.S. National Junior Team.
Before cutdown day, the squad was reduced by two players when, on Monday, the Carolina Hurricanes refused to release defenseman Justin Faulk, who plays a key role with the NHL club; and the U.S. lost Seth Jones to an upper-body injury when the big defenseman took a hard hit in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Russia.
The players cut were defenseman Austin Levi (Plymouth – OHL, ‘92), and forwards Kenny Agostino (Yale, ’92), Brian Ferlin (Cornell -- USHL, ’92), John Gaudreau (Boston College, ’93), and Shane Prince (Ottawa – OHL, ’92).
The U.S., 7-3 winners in last night’s exhibition game vs. Switzerland, has one more exhibition game, vs. Slovakia, on Friday in Three Hills, Alb. The tournament starts on Monday Dec. 26 in Edmonton with the U.S. facing Denmark (8:00 pm EST). All games will be televised live on the NHL Network.
The A pool, which will be playing out of Calgary, will consist of Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Latvia. The B pool, which will be playing its games in Edmonton, features the US, Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, and Denmark (a newcomer).
U.S. 22-Man Roster:
Players marked with an asterisk were members of last year's bronze-medal winning team (Buffalo, NY). A double asterisks indicates they were also on the 2010 team that won gold (Saskatoon, Sask.).
Goaltenders (2): **Jack Campbell (Soo – OHL, ‘92), John Gibson (Kitchener -- OHL, ’93)
Defensemen (7): Adam Clendening (Boston University, ’92), *Derek Forbort (North Dakota, ’92), Kevin Gravel (St. Cloud St., ’92), Stephen Johns (Notre Dame, ’92), *Jon Merrill (Michigan, ’92), Jarred Tinordi (London – OHL, ’92), Jacob Trouba (US Under-18, ’94).
Forwards (13): Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha, ’92), Billy Arnold (Boston College, ’92), *Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota, ’92), Connor Brickley (Vermont, ’92), *Charlie Coyle (Boston University, ’92), Austin Czarnik (Miami, ’92), *Emerson Etem (Medicine Hat -- WHL, ’92), J.T. Miller (Plymouth - OHL, ’93), Kyle Rau (Minnesota, ’92), Brandon Saad (Saginaw – OHL,’92), TJ Tynan (Notre Dame, ’92), Austin Watson (Peterborough – OHL, ‘92), **Jason Zucker (Denver, ’92).
Head Coach: Dean Blais. Assistants: Scott Sandelin, Tom Ward, and Joe Exter. Director of Player Personnel: Tim Taylor.
Tues. Dec. 20 – Russia (exhibition) @ Red Deer, Alberta, 7:00 pm MST, L 6-3
Wed. Dec. 21 – Switzerland (exhibition) @ Camrose, Alberta, 7:30 pm MST, W 7-3
Fri. Dec. 23 – Slovakia (exhibition) @ Three Hills, Alberta, 7:00 pm MST
Mon. Dec. 26 – Denmark, 6:00 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Wed. Dec. 28 – Finland, 1:30 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Fri. Dec. 30 – Czech Republic, 1:30 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Sat. Dec. 31 – Canada, 6:00 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Mon. Jan. 2 – Quarterfinals
Tues. Jan. 3 – Semifinals
Thurs. Jan. 5 – Medal Games
Final Roster, 12/22/11
44-Man Evaluation Camp Roster (Lake Placid, August)
Players on the 22-man roster who were not at the Lake Placid Camp in August are Trouba, Archibald, Czarnik, Rau, and Saad. Gravel was at the camp but was cut before the international games. 5’8”, 152 lb. Czarnik, by the way, is the only player on the 22-man roster who has gone through the NHL Draft without being selected. Trouba, the only ’94 on the team and the team’s youngest player as well, will be draft-eligible in June. It’s very much a 19-year-old team as, with the exception of Trouba, goaltender John Gibson (’93) and forward J.T. Miller (’93), all players are ‘93s.
Campbell will become the first U.S. goaltender to ever play in three World Junior Championships.
Cornell goaltender Andy Iles is the U.S. emergency goaltender.
Milton, Mass.—The U.S. Hockey Report spent the weekend at the Flood-Marr Tournament which, as usual, was well attended, with scouts filling the stands and lining the glass. The games were played at a fast pace, were tightly contested (nine of the weekend's 16 games were decided by one goal or less) and there was plenty of talent on display. Here are our thoughts on each team.
Noble & Greenough (4-0-0, 1st Place)
It is no secret that this Nobles team has a boatload of talent, but their play, inconsistent prior to the tournament, was elevated en route to winning the championship. The big story was 6’1”, 195 lb. junior Chris Calnan. The power forward was dominant against Westminster on Saturday night, scoring a goal and adding an assist that had scouts scribbling all over their programs. If there were any question as to whether or not he was a D-I player/NHL prospect they were answered here. That particular game had some heavy hitters in the stands—e.g., Jack Parker (BU), Toot Cahoon (UMass) and Jim Madigan (Northeastern) – and they all witnessed the Bulldogs forward at his best. A powerful skater who possesses a hard, accurate shot and is good down low and in the corners, we expect to see the Norwell, Mass. native committing somewhere in the near future. Junior forward Adam Gilmour was also very good. The Quinnipiac recruit, who was named tournament MVP, centers the top line and played at a faster pace than we have seen in the past. At 6’2”, 185 lbs. he has good size and used it to his advantage, protecting the puck down low and distributing it into scoring areas. In the game vs. Westminster, Gilmour notched four points (2g,2a). 5’11”, 185 lb. forward Colin White is the other winger on the top line, and had three points (1g,2a) in that line's big game vs. Westy. For an 8th grader he is very impressive, a natural and fluid skater with high-end skill. His ability to process the game quickly enhanced the play of Gilmour and Calnan and, while it is a lot of responsibility for an 8th grader -- and while he is far from dominant right now -- it is pretty evident that he is a ball player. The biggest surprise on this team was the play of 5’9”, 170 lb. senior Max Franklin. This kid really thinks the game well and makes a ton of plays. It seemed that every time he touched the puck something positive happened. He is a little bit limited in the sense that he is undersized and not ultra dynamic, but we are confident that he will be pursued hard by colleges in the coming months. If a NESCAC school can land him it would be a huge get. Andrew Doane, a 5’10”, 190 lb. senior, was recently ranked as one of our top seniors and he did not disappoint here. Plays the wing on a line with Franklin and the two of them give Nobles a 1a/1b look. We are not sure where the Brown recruit will fit in at the next level as he has the speed to play an energy role, but could also complement high-skill players on the top two lines. Three defensemen stood out to us on this team, starting with Tim Boyle. The 6’2”, 190 lb. senior is a D-I defenseman, no doubt. The brother of New York Rangers forward Brian Boyle has size, can skate and does not make many mistakes. He’s just solid and takes care of business, the type of defenseman you can put out on the ice and feel comfortable in knowing that he will control the defensive zone. There is no panic in his game. Boyle’s defensive partner, 6’2”, 200 lb. junior Tyler Wood, has all the tools to be an elite defenseman and has come a long way in the past couple years, but is still mistake-prone. Quarterbacking the Nobles PP was 6’1”, 200 lb. senior Phil Sciretta, and he looked good doing it. Handles the puck very well and is tough to defend against. Does not skate particularly gracefully, but he certainly has a good understanding of the game and could turn out to be a D-I defenseman when all is said and done. (Update 12/22/11: Sciretta has a scholarship to play baseball at Virginia Tech, so scratch Div. I hockey in his case.)
Kimball Union (3-1-0, 2nd Place)
Head Coach Mike Levine has himself a nice group that should be fun to coach for the next couple of seasons. The Wildcats will compete for a title this season, but if Levine can keep this group together – there are only three seniors on the team -- they will undoubtedly be the preseason favorite to win the crown in 2013. The team’s strength lies with the defense. For our money their best/most consistent defenseman right now is junior captain Alex Carle. The 5’11”, 180 lb. Anchorage, Alaska native has a lot of hockey smarts and is very confident with the puck on his stick. If there is a man open, he hits his target. He plays a nice and efficient style of hockey — he does not complicate the game, and makes a lot of short, quality, 10-foot passes. He keeps the play in front of him at all times and defends adequately. To play at the next level he will have to get bigger, stronger and faster -- all of which he can do. Has a strong understanding of the game and a desire to attend Denver University where his brother, Matt Carle won the Hobey Baker in 2006. One of the more intriguing prospects here was 6’5”, 220 lb. junior defenseman Doyle Somerby. The massive defender from Marblehead, Mass. has great size, skates well, and put himself on the map with NHL teams here. The scouts discussing his game gave him mixed reviews. Some feel he is a no-brainer who will develop into a top shut-down defenseman while others felt he did not make enough plays and will struggle with the speed at the next level. D-I schools are honing in and it is likely he will have a home by the end of the season. The KUA player with the most upside is 6’2”, 165 lb. freshman defenseman John Macleod. As a ’96, there is a very good chance that he could end up with the NTDP next season. The Cardigan Mountain alum has already been offered a full scholarship by BU and had Michigan watching very closely this weekend. Paired with Somerby, Macleod played nearly every other shift and appeared mature beyond his years. The Dracut, Mass. native plays a well-rounded game in the sense that he defends well and can also bring some offense to the table. The fourth KUA defenseman that impressed this weekend was 5’8”, 170 lb. junior Connor Evangelista, a Super 8 champion with Malden Catholic last season who has made the transition to prep hockey with ease. He is a bit of a ‘tweener’ in that he might be a little small to defend at the D-I level, but certainly moves the puck and thinks the game at a higher level than most D-III players. Evangelista played with Carle and the two of them could have been the best D pairing in the tournament. Up front, we felt that 5’8”, 165 lb. junior Casey Miller was outstanding. The Billerica, Mass. native is an intelligent player with a soft/slick set of hands. He appeared on the score sheet on a regular basis. 6’0”, 180 lb. junior Nick Rufo was equally good here. The Providence recruit knows how to get the puck to the front of the net and was difficult to contain. Former Malden Catholic forward Nick Roberto was very noticeable, as well. The 5’9” 180 lb. junior plays the game hard and with a lot of energy. Levine uses him in all situations, and Hockey East schools are expressing interest. Another forward getting some college attention is Clinton, NY native Gregg Burmaster. The 6’0”, 180 lb. junior plays a complete game and has already been on the St. Lawrence and Colgate campuses. Ottawa, Ont. native Elie Vered was opportunistic and seemed to have the puck on his stick an awful lot. The 5’11” 170 lb. senior is someone to follow. In goal, big 6’5” 187 lb. junior Eric Bogart was very intriguing. Size is a big piece to the puzzle with goalies, and he has that. His technique is also good, but we felt that his compete level needs to come up a bit. Seems content with relying on his strengths – i.e., size/technique -- and does not appear to have that killer instinct that you see in the game’s best. The good news is that he is a good goalie, good enough to win plenty of games at this level. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Salisbury (3-1-0, 3rd place)
There is a lot of good -- and some bad – in the discussion regarding the wagon that head coach Andrew Will has assembled. The good is that this is the deepest prep school team that we have seen in a while. Conservatively speaking, there are ten D-I players on the roster — more than enough to be dominant at the prep level. Yet, over the last couple of weeks. we have seen them lose to KUA and Albany Academy and just squeak by the likes of Milton (1-0 OT) and Deerfield (2-1 OT). This typist feels that the problem lies in having too much depth. Other teams seem content with having their top guys on the ice for 20-25+ minutes per game, but when you have so much talent and only so much time to get everyone involved in the game, minutes to the star players are diminished. This could be something that will be beneficial at the end of the season, but only time will tell. The player that seemed to generate the most buzz was 6’4”, 205 lb. senior Zack Pryzbek. The power forward from Niagara, Ontario is excellent along the walls and in the corners. His skating could be improved, but it is far from a problem. He is able to make plays and is not someone opposing teams enjoy lining up across from. Senior center John Stevens appears close to taking his game to the next level. The 6’2” 185 lb. senior from Sicklerville, NJ is very reliable, strong on the puck and solid defensively. He has shown enough to prove he belongs on a D-I roster, but still has a way to go to play a top six forward role when he gets there. Rounding out the top line in the tournament was 5’11”, 180 lb. senior Philip Zielonka. At times the line of Pryzbek-Stevens-Zielonka trio looked like men among boys. The Montreal, Quebec native is the finisher of the group, and finish he did, scoring two big-time goals in the third place game against Westminster that opened a lot of eyes. It shouldn’t take long for a D-I school to commit to the skilled sniper. Salisbury’s second line of Jason Kalinowski, Aaron Berisha and Anthony DiFruscia, all ’95 juniors, was disappointing over the weekend. We wrongfully assumed that they would step in and be dominant from Day 1, but clearly there is still a lot to be learned. Nonetheless, all three players showed a lot of promise and we have seen enough to know that -- at some point -- they will be dominant at this level. The surprise up front was the play of 6’3”, 195 lb. junior Jacob Hand. The Oakville, Ont. native has size, can skate and has a nice soft set of hands. He appears to be the odd man out of the top two lines, but really turned some heads in his limited role. Salisbury’s back end is every bit as deep as the talented group of forwards, with 6’0”, 195 lb. senior Marc Biega leading the group. Gifted offensively, Biega, who is uncommitted, looked right at home on the PP and was constantly active on the offensive blue line. Big 6’3”, 215 lb. junior Mark Hamilton established himself as a D-I defender and looked much improved. Uses a long stick and was rock-solid defensively over the weekend. Plays a pro-style brand of hockey and we would not be the least bit surprised to see him creep his way onto the Central Scouting List. Another pro prospect is 6’1”, 185 lb. sophomore Will Toffey, who will not be eligible until the 2013 NHL draft. The brother of former Ohio State/UMass forward John Toffey is an elite skater who defends well and has already received D-I offers. In net, 5’9”, 150 lb. junior Justin Nichols is reminiscent of former Salisbury/current Cornell Big Red goalie Andy Iles. The undersized netminder has a confident demeanor and is certainly good enough to be the backbone of a championship caliber team.
Westminster (2-2-0, 4th Place)
Tim Joncas’s squad is one that needs to be taken seriously. They do not have the depth of the above-mentioned teams, but they certainly have enough talent to beat any team on any given night. The top player this weekend was 5’10” 180 lb. senior forward Chris Izmirlian. The Boca Raton, Florida native produces a lot of offense. In the two games that we watched him play he had three of his team’s four goals. A skilled winger with a nose for the net, Izmirlian has his choice of pretty much any school in the NESCAC — and is probably good enough to play D-I hockey. Yale recruit Patrick Spano was good here, but he did not steal any games for his team — though he certainly has the ability to do so. The 6’0”, 182 lb. senior, and team captain, is arguably the top goalie in all of prep hockey, and possesses the tools and intangibles of an NHL goaltending prospect. 6’1”, 191 lb. defenseman Evan Neugold was also very noticeable. The converted forward from Goshen, Conn. looked right at home quarterbacking an effective PP and showed some elite instincts. 5’10”, 181 lb. junior forward David Hallisey showed a lot of jump and grit. The Mid-Fairfield product is not a natural finisher, but will make for a great role player at the next level. A player we found intriguing was ’95 born junior Sean Orlando. The Warminster, PA native, who has always played Tier II hockey, has a lot of upside. A 6’0”, 174 lb. center, Orlando is good in the faceoff circle and very responsible in his own end. We are very curious as to how his game will progress as he takes on more offensive responsibility. 6’1”, 194 lb. senior forward Nick Finn is also worth mentioning. While he is not someone with high-end offensive abilities, he can make plays and used his big frame to make room for players around him. He’s definitely worth tracking as well.
Deerfield (2-2-0, 5th Place)
Head Coach Brendan Creagh’s squad will compete this season. They have a very potent first line that is capable of being the top line in any game they play. ’95 sophomore forward Sam Lafferty really established himself as one of the premier young forwards in prep hockey here. The Hollidaysburg, PA native can really skate and has already proved to be the team’s primary threat in the middle of the ice. The 5’10”, 160 lb. speedster scored the OT winner against Hotchkiss on Sunday afternoon and posted two more goals against Milton on Friday. Playing on his wing is 5’11”, 155 lb. junior Alex Goyne. The streaky forward shows flashes of being a D-I player, but is not a consistent factor — he fades in an out of games. The final piece on the top line is diminutive winger Jordan Jancze. At 5’8”, 165 lbs., the Woodbury, Minn. native is going to fight the size battle, but he certainly has a lot of skill and is really crafty. He’s a very good prep school player. Last, but certainly not least, is junior goaltender Jake Thoubboron. We did not see enough of the 6’0”, 168 lb. junior to get a good read on him, but the New Jersey Avalanche product is worth keeping tabs on.
Hotchkiss (1-3-0, 6th Place)
Despite their record, we were really impressed with this Hotchkiss team. All the games they played in were very competitive and all were decided by one or two goals. Head coach Damon White has a lot of talent to work with and our guess is that this group will hit their stride soon. 6’6”, 225 lb. sophomore forward Tyler Hill cultivated the most attention. The fifth round OHL draft pick (Ottawa 67’s) has all the earmarks of an expected NHL draft pick. A Hagersville, Ont. native, Hill is a dual citizen who has size, can skate, makes plays and wants the puck on his stick at all times. NHL scouts will follow him closely over the next two seasons. Another NHL prospect playing for Hotchkiss is Harvard recruit Wiley Sherman. We were really impressed with the 6’5”, 200 lb. defender from Greenwich, Conn. He appeared more confident than usual, and handled the puck well on the PP. Our initial comparison for Sherman was Hal Gill, but there is a chance that he has more offensive upside than originally projected. Minus a bad penalty in overtime against Deerfield, 6’1”, 195 lb. Swedish PG Victor Lindstrom looked really good in his first season state side. A smart hockey player who understands his responsibilities and appears to have been schooled well, Lindstrom protects the puck, makes plays and is good in the defensive zone. We would like to see a little more offensive punch from the ’92-born Swede, but that could come as he gets more comfortable. 6’2”, 185 lb. Ford Traff, a senior from Wayzata, Minn., has good size and slick hands. Combined with Lindstrom, the two were difficult to contain.
Milton (0-3-1, 7th Place)
It is no secret that Paul Cannata is in total rebuild mode after a championship run last season. Having said that, Milton did compete this weekend and won some moral victories—a 1-0 OT loss to Salisbury and 3-2 loss to KUA with 22 seconds remaining on the clock are very impressive given the personnel. The top prospect in the entire tournament was 6’3”, 195 lb. senior captain Rob O’Gara. The Bruins draft pick appears to play one shift per period—it starts at the drop of the puck and ends at the buzzer. The Yale recruit may have set a Flood-Marr Tournament record for time on ice. The Long Island native appears to be settling into his new role and is progressing just fine. He has an excellent stick, holds lines and has a very effective poke check. He has the ability to beat the first defender and make an excellent outlet pass. O’Gra is also developing his game on the PP and looked pretty comfortable at the top of the umbrella. Another player to keep an eye on is 5’10”, 170 lb. junior center Anthony Sabitsky. If O’Gara plays 80% of game, Sabitsky is not too far behind. The Team Comcast product has a nice feel for the game and can really shoot the puck. A smart hockey player who will shine more when he is surrounded by better players.
Andover (1-3-1, 7th Place)
The cupboards are somewhat bare up in Andover, Mass. this season, but that does not mean that Dean Boylan’s crew does not compete. The attack is led by junior forward Eddie Ellis and Holy Cross recruit Tim Driscoll — the two of them do what they can and produce the majority of the offense. We have noticed positive changes to Ellis’s game. A couple of years ago, the 6’2”, 195 lb. ’95 was a hot commodity, being chased by all the prominent local NHL agents. As time passed, however, the Burlington, Mass. native began to be labeled as a player who had peaked early and whose best hockey was already behind him. This weekend, though, Ellis showed that he is more than just a big body who matured early. He made plays, was consistently Andover’s biggest scoring threat, and was difficult to knock off the puck. It is probably a good thing that he is not surrounded by a lot of high-end talent, as it is forcing him to make plays himself and produce a lot of his own scoring chances. It is difficult to say if he will or will not play in the NHL, but he certainly has D-I capabilities.
Jankowski Makes His Choice
6’2”, 170 lb. Stanstead College LC Mark Jankowski has committed to Providence College for either ’12 or ’13.
A native of Dundas, Ontario (right outside Hamilton), Jankowski, a well-rounded forward who skates well, has a good stick, and plenty of poise with the puck, is a bit of a hidden gem. Providence College head coach Nate Leaman first saw him last year when Stanstead played at Union College’s Achilles Center, and followed that up with a trip up to the Midwest Prep League Showcase in Burlington, Vermont last month, and another trip up to Stanstead last week.
In addition to the Friars, Cornell, Harvard, Maine, and Penn State were all in the picture for Jankowski. BU reportedly was interested too.
Jankowski, a 9/13/94 birthdate, is projected to be a mid-round pick in June’s NHL draft.
He leads Stanstead in scoring with a 15-11-26 line in 14 games played. Stanstead College will be back in New England Jan. 1-2, playing in the Tabor Tournament.
Jankowski is the son of former Cornell forward Len Jankowski (1978-82). He is also the grandson of Lou Jankowski, former Detroit Red Wing and Chicago Blackhawk forward, and also a long-time New York Rangers scout. He is also the grandson of former Red Wing and Maple Leaf Hall of Famer Len "Red" Kelly, and the nephew of current Montreal scout Ryan Jankowski.
5’6”, 148 lb. Cedar Rapids (USHL) forward Austin Ortega has committed to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
A 4/12/94 birthdate from Escondido, Calif. (near San Diego), Ortega played for the Colorado Thunderbirds U-18 Team last year.
As a rookie in the USHL, Ortega has a 7-4-11 line in 25 games played. He’s a speedy, clever – and very small – forward with a high compete level.
Also committing to UNO is 6’3”, 185 lb. Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL) goaltender Anthony Stolarz, a 1/20/94 birthdate from Jackson, NJ.
Stolarz, who played for the Jersey Hitmen Empire Team last year, has a 2.42 gaa and a .926 save percentage in 18 games played with Corpus Christi.
Manley to RPI
5’8”, 140 lb. Selects Academy sophomore defenseman Charles Manley has committed to RPI.
A 7/16/96 birthdate from Orchard Park, NY, Manley formerly played in the Buffalo Regals organization. He’s a fluid skater, and very light on his feet -- a good puck- handling defenseman.
Manley is pretty small right now – 5’8” might be generous. However, a growth spurt seems likely: his older brother is 6’5”, 234 lb. Richard Manley, a former NTDP forward now a sophomore at SUNY-Geneseo.
Lawrence New #1 in USHR Prep Poll
Lawrence Academy (5-0-1), the only undefeated team in prep hockey, takes over the top spot in this week’s USHR Prep Poll.
Unceremoniously booted from the Top 10 are Westminster, Kent, and South Kent, last week’s #3, #8, and #10 team, respectively.
Click below to see who has taken their place.
Dec. 19, 2011 USHR Prep Poll
A Two-Way Center for Union
Chicago Steel (USHL) 5’9”, 172 lb. center Theo DiPauli has committed to Union College for the fall.
A native of the Chicago suburb of Woodbridge, Ill., DiPauli is a 2/28/93 birthdate who is already in his third USHL season.
DiPauli, who has a 6-2-8 line in 21 games this season, is a solid, two-way center. He’s the older brother of U.S. Under-18 forward Thomas DiPauli, a Notre Dame recruit.
Catamounts Get Fallon for Three Years
UVM has received a commitment from 5’11”, 187 lb. Indiana Ice (USHL) forward Jacob Fallon, a former University of Michigan Wolverine.
Fallon, a 2/27/92 birthdate, will arrive at Burlington in the fall. He visited Vermont this week and obviously liked what he saw. As he has played a year at Michigan, he will have three years of playing eligibility remaining at Vermont.
The Southlake, Texas native played two seasons with the NTDP (2008-2010). After playing in a limited role for the Wolverines in 2010-2011 in which he dressed for only 13 games it was decided that it would be best for his career to head back to the USHL, gain maturity, and land in a new program with an increased role.
Through 22 games played the former NTDP product sits fourth in the league scoring race with a 8-18-26 scoring line.
The Catamounts need some offensive punch. Through 15 games the Catamounts do not have a single scorer producing at a point-a-game pace and they only have two players with 10 points or more — and this is probably a big reason why they are currently 3-11-1 and sit at the bottom on the Hockey East standings. Vermont fans need not panic though. Not only will Fallon provide a much needed injection of offense, but likely first round NHL draft pick Zemgus Girgensons (Dubuque-USHL) is also scheduled to arrive in the fall.
UNH Taking a Chance on an Unknown
UNH has received a commitment from 6’4”, 215 lb. Bay State Breakers (EJHL) LD Harry Quast for next fall.
Quast, in his second year with the Breakers, is the leading scoring defenseman in the league with a 7-16-23 scoring line in 26 games played. He is described to us as a player with a really good stick who sees the ice well. The 3/26/91 birthdate from Chagrin Falls, Ohio made his final decision between UNH, Yale, and Quinnipiac.
UNH associate head coach Scott Borek, in attendance at a recent Exeter vs. Tabor game, happened to run into an NHL scout for a Canadian-based team and began to pick his brain. The scout suggested that Borek zip down I-95 and take a look at the big rear guard who is just coming into his own. After watching just one practice and one game the Wildcats liked what they saw and made their move.
Quast is interesting because he does not have the typical pedigree that most top tier Hockey East recruits have. Last season, the offensive defender managed just a 1-5-6 line in 46 games played. During the 2009-2010 season he played for three teams in the NAHL (Topeka/Janesville/Albert Lee) and had a 2-3-5 line in 35 games played. Is this season an anomaly? Or is the Gilmour Academy graduate simply a late bloomer? The Wildcats are certainly hoping for the later.
While we are on the subject of the UNH Wildcats, 5’9”, 195 lb. defenseman Eric Chevrier has decided to leave UNH and head west to the Surrey Eagles (BCHL). The 1/28/93 birth date is a natural freshman and has not played a single game this season.
Chevrier, a Cushing graduate, committed to UNH three years ago to the day (12/15/08). The stocky defender was a member of the powerhouse Toronto Marlies team which featured 1st round NHL draft picks Ryan Strome (NY Islanders, 5th overall) and Stuart Percy (Toronto, 25th overall).
With Chevrier’s departure, and the recent decommitment of Mike Vecchione (Tri-City-USHL) the Wildcats find themselves with opportunities as a lot of scholarship money has been freed up.
Another Key Departure at BU
The major buzz among the scouting fraternity at the prep tournaments today revolved around Boston University sophomore center Charlie Coyle, who has left Boston University, supposedly due to academic issues.
Coyle, who is expected in Camrose, Alberta Friday for the start of the U.S. National Junior Team’s training camp will, at the conclusion of the World Junior Championships, be reporting to another team. Word is that he will go to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, likely with the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Coyle, the Hockey East Rookie of the Year as a freshman, was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks. This past summer, his rights were traded to the Minnesota Wild. The Wild's first round choice from this year's draft, former Lawrence Academy center Zack Phillips, is playing at Saint John, and he and Coyle became friends this past summer at the Wild's rookie camp.
The word on Coyle comes three days after the Terriers kicked senior center Corey Trivino off the team following his arrest Sunday night for assault and battery, and assault with intent to rape.
There is reportedly a degree of unhappiness among some Boston University players over the manner in which Trivino was dismissed from the team, specifically coach Jack Parker's pointed comments concerning Trivino's alleged history of alcohol abuse.
In 16 games for BU this year, Coyle had a 3-11-14 line.
Former Taft Goalie Commits to Michigan
Former Taft goalie Steve Racine has committed to the University of Michigan for the fall.
An 8/28/91 birthdate from Williamsville, NY, Racine played for Taft in his sophomore and junior years (’07-09) before leaving to spend his senior year in the USHL, a season in which he was traded from Lincoln to Waterloo, playing in a total of seven USHL games before coming back east to the Jersey Hitmen (EJHL). Last year, Racine went from the Hitmen for three games, to the Chicago Steel (USHL) for five games to the Chicago Hitmen (NAHL) for one game. This year, Racine played 18 games for the Westside Warriors (BCHL) and posted a 3.10 gaa and .885 save percentage. In late November he was traded from Westside to the Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) where he has started three of his team’s four games since then, posting a 1.30 gaa and a .961 save percentage. Racine has done some serious traveling, but it appears to have paid off as he’s receiving a half-scholarship to Michigan.
On the Wolverines’ depth chart, Racine will be behind top goaltending recruit Jared Rutledge of the U.S. Under-18 Team. Given that the last two goalies from the NTDP to commit to Michigan, Jack Campbell and John Gibson, both reneged on their commitment and headed to the OHL before even setting foot on campus, Racine might, if history repeats itself, have a good opportunity in front of him.
“It has definitely been a challenging couple of years where I have faced adversity, but it has also given me real opportunities,” Racine wrote in an email. “I was given a great opportunity this year in Westside to play almost every game and play well. I gained interest from a few schools throughout my time in Westside and that has carried over to my time in Georgetown, who acquired me almost a month ago.”
“It is a dream come true,” Racine added. “It just shows that with perseverance and a positive attitude anything can be overcome.”
Top BCHL Defenseman to Big Red
Merritt Centennialas 6’2”, 185 lb. LD Reece Willcox has committed to Cornell for next fall.
A 3/20/94 birthdate from Surrey, BC, Willcox is a big, offensive d-man with the ability to run the power play at Cornell.
In 24 games this season – his second in the BCHL – Willcox has a 3-7-10 line with eight pims. He had a strong performance in the World Jr. A Challenge in Langley, BC in early November, and is rated a “B” prospect by Central Scouting for next June’s NHL draft.
Willcox made his final decision from between Harvard and Cornell.
By the way, next year’s World Junior A Challenge will be on this side of the continent, in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia Nov. 5-11, 2012.
An Important Note
We are at that time of year when games rain down in torrents. There will be many box scores to peruse on USHR, and, yes, there will be mistakes (not many, we hope) in those box scores. It's part of life. At prep games, there is no slow-motion replay to determine exactly who got the second assist on such-and-such a goal. Quite the opposite. Refs are tired, maybe worrying about their mortgage, and might misread a uniform number. They go over to the scorer's table and report it. It gets duly entered on the game sheet, and winds up in USHR.
Box scores appear in USHR because the coaches are kind enough to take the trouble to do it - they upload the box score directly to the site. It does not go through anyone at USHR, and we see only what you see. In most cases, the home coach in a game will upload the game. In some cases, each coach will upload their own team's information.
We consider box scores to be the domain of the schools involved, and we do not touch them - ever. We will not change the scoring on a goal. We will not change shots on goal. Sorry, but no way. If it's an emergency and we get a specific request from a coach for help, we'll do it... otherwise, no.
Coaches can enter the system at any time during a season and correct a mistake in a box score, roster, schedule. If you feel like there is a mistake, go to them.
On the prep pages, particularly over the next couple of days, we will, time allowing, have highlights of certain games - short blurbs. Often these tidbits are taken off of the game sheet before coaches have a chance to look at them. If you see a mistake in these highlights, do not worry. There is no connection whatsoever between these blurbs and the box scores. What we're doing with those blurbs is simply going with the best available information at the time.
All cumulative statistics on USHR are drawn directly from the box scores, which are dynamically interconnected. Statistics, especially in a fast-moving sport like hockey, are imperfect. Please keep that in mind -- and enjoy the games! If you are worried about your son getting screwed out of an assist, it means you're not enjoying the game to its fullest. And if your son is worried about the same thing, it probably means his head is not 100% into the game. Either way, something is lost.
USHR’s Top New England Seniors
Back in the 1990’s, mid-December was the time of year that recruited seniors would hear back from colleges. It seems quaint and antiquated now, doesn’t it? But trust us when we tell you that it was a system that worked far better than what we have now, and was undeniably better for the mental health of all involved.
Back then we didn’t have facebook, twitter, iphones, etc. to amuse and distract ourselves. But we got by, didn't we? Here at USHR we filled the vacuum by creating lists, chief among them the rankings of players by what grade they were attending in school. That actually meant something back then. When we made a list of top 11th graders, it was, unlike today, a list made up entirely of uncommitted players.
Anyway, we have decided to once again do some class lists this year, and what follows is our first salvo. Of course, there’s a good chance this list will look a bit different after we get a look at everyone over the next two or three weeks of tournaments. For now, though, this is what we’re starting the season with.
The following players are, to the best of our knowledge, all seniors. There are two or three PGs, but they are PGs in prep school. The list only has two ‘92s. We didn’t want to get into adding players who had been graduated from high school or prep school and are now playing junior hockey. That might make for a very valid list, but it would be a fundamentally different – i.e. older -- list. There are kids playing junior hockey on this list, and they are all in their senior year of school.
And, while this is primarily a New England list, we have included a few players from nearby states, and one from Quebec.
1. Boo Nieves, F, ’94 (Kent/Michigan) 6-3/185— Has a 1st round skill set, and may go low1st round -- more likely 2nd round -- in June’s NHL draft. His game still has a way to go in terms of engaging and taking control. If he wants to, he could dominate at the prep level.
2. Brian Hart, F, late ’93 (Philips Exeter/Harvard) 6-2/205—Big sniper will pile on the points this season and is a likely top 3-4 round NHL draft pick. Still pretty raw, he relies on his strength, athleticism, and shot. Skating isn’t pretty, and he needs work on the finer points of the game.
3. Brendan Collier, F, late ‘93 (Malden Catholic/BU) 5-10/165 —Small, dynamic forward probably has more hockey sense than anyone on this list. When he gets to BU he will make an immediate impact, a la Colin Blackwell is at Harvard right now.
4. Rob O’Gara, D, ’93 (Milton/Yale) 6-4/205—Plays more minutes than anyone else in prep hockey. The Mustang’s captain has an NHL wingspan and is figuring out the offensive side of his game this season. A Bruins (5th round) draft pick.
5. Jim Vesey, F, ’93 (South Shore/Harvard) 6-2/185—The leading scorer in the EJHL is making a statement this season—51 points in 28 games played. Was totally bypassed in NHL draft last summer. He won’t be this time. Could go as high as third round.
6. Brett Pesce, D, late ’94 (NJ Hitmen/UNH) 6-2/175—Smooth, puck moving defender is not physically mature, but thinks the game at an elite level. Could arrive in Durham next season.
7. Danny O’Regan, F, ’94 (St. Sebastian’s/BU) 5-10/175—The Arrows captain will look to lead a young/talented group of players to their first prep title since the early 2000’s.
8. Sam Kurker, F, ’94 (St. John’s Prep/BU) 6-2/205—Power forward with a soft set of hands will attempt to lead St. John’s to a Super 8 title. Will be watched closely by NHL scouts.
9. Brian Morgan, F, ’94 (NH Monarchs/Maine) 6-0/170—Complete, well-rounded player has nice patience in scoring areas and is not afraid to get his nose dirty. Skating is just OK.
10. Kevin Duane, F, ’94 (Brunswick/BU) 6-4/220—Has size, hands, a good shot and thinks the game well. Skating has a long way to go. Is a project right now, but has a lot of upside and we think an NHL team will take a chance on him in June’s draft. Could be a middle round pick in the draft.
11. Zach Pryzbek, F, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 6-4/205 – The former Hill Academy forward has a lot of upside. North/south winger who plays in the tough ice and is difficult for defenders to deal with. Could be a middle round pick in June’s draft.
12. Will Goss, D, ’92 (Exeter/Uncommitted) 6-5/205—The massive defender has come a long way in a short period of time. While college recruiters scatter across North America in search of a top defenseman Goss is a late bloomer right in their backyard.
13. Matt Beattie, F, ’92 (Exeter/Uncommitted) 6-3/185—Has adapted quickly to the pace of prep hockey. Good speed, good stick, has smarts. In Exeter’s recent 4-1 victory over Cushing, Beattie was the top forward in the game.
14. Nick Bligh, F, ’93 (South Shore/Dartmouth) 5-11/180—The former Dexter sniper has not been fazed by the level of play in the EJHL —he is tied for 2nd in league scoring.
15. Michael Doherty, F, ’93 (Groton/Yale) 5-11/175—No single team relies more on one player than Groton relies on Doherty. Will finish right up at -- or near -- the top of the pack in prep scoring.
16. Philip Zielonka, F, ’93 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 5-11/180—Former Lac St. Louis Lion is the leading returning scoring on the top team in prep hockey. Is a D-I prospect who has yet to choose a home.
17. Jeff Taylor, D, ’94 (Albany Academy/Union) 6-0/180—Fluid skater who makes excellent decisions with the puck is staying local and will be playing for the Union Dutchmen.
18. Marc Biega, D, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 5-11/180—One would assume that Marc would be the fourth Biega brother to matriculate to Harvard, but we actually haven’t heard anything one way or the other.
19. Ryan Rosenthal, F, ’93 (Kent/Uncommitted) 6-0/180—The Kent sniper surely has a sour taste in his mouth after losing to Milton in prep finals last season. With Rosenthal and Nieves in their final season, look for Matt Herr’s Kent squad to go for the brass ring.
20. Andrew Doane, F, ’94 (Nobles/Brown) 5-10/190—Skilled forward has the ability to ignite the Nobles offense. Surely the Brown Bears would like him to fill a top six role during his college career.
21. Colin Sullivan, D, ’93 (Avon/Yale) 6-2/210—The Montreal Canadiens draft pick (7th round) has yet to play up to his potential. For this Avon squad to make noise, he will have to step up in a big way.
22. Joe Prescott, F, ’93 (South Shore/Brown) 6-2/190—Has been a goal scorer at every level. Heads to Brown with a pretty good resume.
23. Tim Boyle, D, ’93 (Nobles/Uncommitted) 6-2/190—The younger brother of ex-BC Eagle and current New York Ranger forward Brian Boyle. Is the defensive mainstay a talented Nobles team.
24. Tommy Davis, D, ’93 (Delbarton/Princeton) 6-1/190—If he keeps his game simple, he will make a smooth transition into the Tigers line-up .
25. Ben Foster, F, ’93 (Choate/Princeton) 6-2/188—The Choate forward plays a solid, complete game. Will need to show some offensive flair if the Wild Boars intend to make it to Salem this year.
26. Jake Wood, F, ’93 (Gunnery/RPI) 5-8/165—Skilled, quick, small forward makes a lot of plays. Has the ability to play an energy role if need be. Versatile.
27. Ryan Badger, F, ’94 (Comcast U18/Maine) 5-10/178—Tough, complete player who will head to the USHL before making his debut as a Black Bear.
28. Joe Dipietto, D, ’93 (Choate/Uncommitted) 5-9/168- Smart, savvy defender looks to prove that he is dynamic enough to take his game to the D-I level.
29. Devin Tringale, F, ’93 (Lawrence/Harvard) 6-1/195—Played with Collier and MC’s Ryan Fitzgerald in the fall and was excellent in a support role. Will now have to show that he can be the go-to-guy.
30. John Stevens, F, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) 6-2/185 – Scored the OT game-winner vs. Kent on Saturday night. Could have a breakthrough year. The son of LA Kings interim head coach John Stevens.
31. Jarrid Privitera, F. ’94 (Gunnery/BU) 5-6/149 – Small Gunnery forward has a touch around the net. Will have to get bigger, stronger, and more dynamic to finish at the next level.
32. Matt Pugh, F, ’93 (BB&N/Uncommitted) 6-2/190—Late ’93 is raw right now, but is worth checking out. We’re certainly going to go back and watch him some more. In BB&N’s recent 4-3 OT loss to St. Seb’s, Pugh figured in all three of BB&N’s goals.
Travis Jeke, D, ’93 (Northwood/Uncommitted) 6-4/205
Yannick Crete, F, ’94 (South Kent/Uncommitted) 5-9/155
Mark Jankowski, F, ’94 (Stanstead College/Uncommitted) 6-2/170
1. Patrick Spano, G, ’93 (Westminster/Yale) 6-1/180—Westminster will be in the hunt this season as their goalie gives them a chance to win every game.
2. Pat Feeley, G, ’93 (Berkshire/Uncommitted) 6-7/220—With his size is there a more interesting goalie prospect in New England? He is not a sure thing by any means. When he is good, he is very, very good, but when he is bad he is awful. If he acquires consistency, he will become an instant prospect.
3. Chad Hardy, G, ’93 (Cushing/Uncommitted) 6-4/205— Another goalie who can fill the net, but has yet to reach the level of consistency needed to take his team to the playoffs. Could this be his year? He has the tools.
Trivino Arrested; Booted Off Terriers
Boston University senior center Corey Trivino, charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a female student Sunday night, was dismissed from the Terriers by head coach Jack Parker yesterday.
The leading goal scorer in Hockey East and a New York Islanders 2008 second-round draft pick, Trivino is also charged with two counts of breaking and entering and one count of assault with intent to rape.
A 21-year-old native of Toronto, Ont., Trivino had previously been suspended by Parker for drinking just before the 2010 Hockey East semifinal.
Trivino was arraigned Monday in Brighton District Court.
BU Today Story
Tri-City Storm (USHL) RW Michael Vecchione has decommitted from UNH.
Vecchione, a ’93 from Saugus, Mass. who helped lead Malden Catholic to the Mass Super 8 Title last season has a 4-5-9 line in 17 games played for the Storm. He has missed the last six games due to injury.
UNH reportedly wanted Vecchione to play another year of juniors and come to Durham in 2013. Vecchione, however, wants to play college hockey next year, and will be looking for a new school at which to do so.
Salisbury #1 in First Prep Poll
Undefeated Salisbury, which squeaked past Kent in OT last night, is the top dog in the first official USHR Prep Poll of the 2011-12 season.
The statistical sample is a little thin, so be prepared for big changes by the time next week's poll rolls around. We'll have that one ready next Monday night, Dec. 19.
USHR Poll, Week of Dec. 12, 2011
Box Score of the Month
It’s still early December but it’s doubtful we’ll come across a weirder box score than this one. This is Slapshot-era stuff. Last Saturday night, in Federal League action, the Danbury Whalers faced off against the Cape Cod Bluefins in Danbury, Conn., which has the market cornered when it comes to minor league hockey weirdness (check out this ESPN article for historical perspective).
On Saturday, right off the opening faceoff, in an obvious carry-over from a previous game between the two teams, Danbury’s Corey Fulton, who managed to rack up 323 minutes in penalties in the Provincial League in ’07-08 (he was a teammate of Ethan Werek and Corey Trivino there) took a run at a Cape Cod player – and all hell broke loose, leading to a full-on line brawl at the five second mark, and a second one at 11 seconds.
The lowlights are many, including Danbury goaltender Peter Vetri (formerly of UMass-Lowell and Quinnipiac) and his Cape Cod counterpart, Wes Vesprini (a Belmont Hill and Trinity College grad) squaring off at center ice (Vetri got the instigating penalty), and a Bluefin player using the door to the bench to whack away at a Danbury player. In the second round of fighting, the two backup goalies appeared at center ice, ready to go at it. The officials, perhaps knowing the game would come to an end with 59:49 left to go if the two backups were tossed, intervened quickly.
After brawl #2, the visitors from Cape Cod, citing safety concerns, decamped to their dressing room, refusing to finish the game. However, after negotiations with the officials and Danbury management, the Bluefins returned, and the game resumed, with a reduced fight card the rest of the way. For the record, it took over an hour to get through the first 11 seconds of playing time, and an hour and 45 minutes to complete the first period. The game finished at around 11:30 pm.
The final tally: 128 penalty minutes in the first period, and 224 in the game, six game misconducts, and the ejection of Danbury coach Phil Esposito (not that Phil Esposito, but, rather, the kid who played briefly at Army). Also, the Whalers’ Alec Kirschner, ex-of the Jersey Hitmen and UConn, scored six goals which, by the way, tied his season high for the Huskies. In the game’s aftermath, Danbury head coach Esposito was suspended for 10 games (later reduced to five). Fulton, who started everything, was given a 20-game suspension (the league later reduced it to… four).
As for the visiting Bluefins, whose owner/GM is Mike Nugnes (a coach at Barnstable High until 2005 when he resigned after his arraignment for attacking and beating a referee who sent him to the penalty box during a men’s league game at the Tony Kent Arena), they didn’t like the way they were treated and, with a rematch between the two teams set for the following night – and then a third game between the two on Wednesday (there are not a lot of teams in this league), did what any self-respecting minor hockey league team would do. They picked up the phone and called… Billy Tibbetts.
Tibbetts, if you are new to USHR, is a 37-year-old forward, a Scituate, Mass. native and former prep school player who spent four years in the Massachusetts State Prison in Cedar Junction for shooting a man with a BB gun while serving a suspended sentence for the rape of a 15-year-old girl at a party. During his four years behind bars, Tibbetts never stopped working out and, within a year of his release, was playing in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Between 2000 and 2003, Tibbetts, in 82 games with the Penguins, Flyers, and Rangers, posted a 2-8-10 line -- and 269 penalty minutes.
In 2006, Tibbetts attempted to make it onto a fourth NHL team by earning a spot on the reality TV show “Be a Bruin.” (Only in Boston, right?) Tibbetts might have actually pulled it off, too, but Mike O’Connell, then Boston’s GM, managed to keep his wits about him. In August 2007, Tibbetts landed back in the news for leading a Mass state trooper on a high-speed chase through the South Shore. Tibbetts finally crashed his 2007 BMW into a telephone pole in the town of Abington, took off running, and was apprehended hiding in someone's back yard. A few months later, Tibbetts hooked up with a team in the Swiss pro league.
Anyway, Tibbetts is with the Cape Cod Bluefins now. The two subsequent games were, relatively speaking, quiet, with the two teams splitting the games. Tibbetts has eight points over the two games.
Roy on a Fast Pace
Brown recruit Kevin Roy, who passed up his senior year at Deerfield in order to play for the Lincoln Stars, is leading the USHL in scoring one-third of the way through the season.
Roy, a 5’10”, 170 lb. native of Lac Beauport, Que. and a 5/20/93 birthdate who was passed over in June’s NHL draft, has a 16-14-30 line in 20 games played thus far. Those numbers project to 90 points over the USHL’s 60-game regular season schedule.
If Roy can keep up his pace and reach that mark, he will join Miami freshman Blake Coleman (92 points in 59 games played last season) and Buffalo Sabre Thomas Vanek (91 points in 53 games played in ’01-02) as the only 90 point scorers in the USHL over the last 10 years.
Roy, who also leads the league in shots on net (95), was Lincoln’s first round pick in last spring’s USHL draft. He led Deerfield in scoring in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
Emergency backup to the Rescue
The Dubuque Fighting Saints have been without injured goalie Matt Morris, the Clark Cup MVP, since Oct. 22. At that point former Salisbury goalie Gabe Antoni, a Clarkson recruit, took over the position full-time -- and Dubuque head coach Jim Montgomery and his staff had to find an emergency backup to play behind Antoni.
They looked down the road, to Davenport, Iowa, where a ’92 from New Jersey by the name of Collin LeMay was playing for the Quad City Jr. Flames of the North American 3 Hockey League (formerly the Central States Jr. B Hockey League). The Jr. Flames play in a quasi-developmental league for the NAHL, pretty far down the food chain.
On Thanksgiving weekend, LeMay was called on to play the third period at Des Moines, coming on in relief of Antoni with Dubuque down 4-0. LeMay stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period.
Last weekend, after Antoni won Friday night’s game, Montgomery decided to rest him and go with LeMay on Saturday. Since LeMay wouldn’t be coming in as an emergency guy, he was added to the regular roster, and Morris was moved to injured reserve. At home against Cedar Rapids, LeMay came up with a shutout, stopping all 19 shots he faced.
So there you have it: an emergency backup who has four shutout periods under his belt and a perfect 0.00 gaa and 1.000 save percentage.
Dartmouth’s McNally Given the OK
In early November, Dartmouth College freshman forward Brandon McNally was accused of cheating by a fellow student for giving an answer to a girl during a test. McNally sat out a game on Nov. 11 over the incident, but was reinstated to the lineup for the following game when the school granted his request to appeal.
McNally, who has had to play under a cloud of uncertainty concerning his academic and hockey future, finally got the word from above this week. And the word is good. McNally will be placed on academic probation, which means he will be able to stay in the lineup (provided he doesn’t repeat his mistake, of course.)
Turkey Goes Gaga Over Hockey
Check out this action from the Turkish Super League. They don't look like they'd be much of a match for the Honeybaked U-14s, but not for lack of passion. We think the news anchor is discussing the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkish Hockey Fight
Drouin to Sign With Halifax
5'8" Lac Saint-Louis Lions center Jonathan Drouin, heavily recruited by BC, BU, and Northeastern on a recent visit to the Hub, is going major junior and will be leaving Lac Saint-Louis (Quebec Midget AAA) to suit up in the Quebec League for the Halifax Mooseheads, the team that drafted him #2 overall last spring.
A '95, Drouin has a 16-22-38 line in 14 games played for the Lac Saint-Louis, and leads the league in scoring.
Werenski Impresses at Tier I Showcase
We headed down to South Jersey this past weekend in order to take a look in on Tier 1 Elite League U16 and U18 Showcases hosted by Team Comcast. First, we want to say that they did a fabulous job: the spread in the scout’s room was truly impressive, with chicken wraps, pizza, French Fries, chicken tenders, coffee, soda/water, bagels, muffins. No one was going away hungry -- or going away at all. The programs were also well put together, filled with all relevant information, including GPAs. A lot of other leagues could follow Team Comcast’s example when it comes to putting on a showcase. From a hockey perspective, this typist was a little more interested in the U16 division as Belle Tire and the Cleveland Barons -- both expected to contend for the national championship -- were on hand, and we had not seen either team this season. We had also covered many of the teams in the U18 division at an earlier showcase, but nonetheless went back to the well to see if any players had moved up or down.
Zach Werenski, ’97, D (Belle Tire) 6-2/190— There’s a big debate right now: Werenski or Hanifin? Which ’97 d-man is better? Werenski’s game is more polished than Hanifin’s. He is very solid defensively and brings much more offense than we expected. He oozes with confidence when he has the puck on his stick. He was described to us as a big, solid man-child who keeps things simple and controls the game when he is on the ice—we feel that is not giving him enough credit offensively as he is excellent on the PP -- a dynamic player. Having said that, Werenski is also smaller than we envisioned—6’2 may be giving him an inch or so. Right now, his game is as good as -- or even better -- than Hanifin’s, but we feel Hanifin has only scraped the tip of the iceberg in terms of realizing his potential. The St. Sebastian’s defender is still growing into his body and is such an athletic specimen that he will continue to get better and better. Will Werenski continue an upward trajectory that matches Hanifin’s? Hard to say. However, one thing we are sure of is that these two elite-level defenders are as close as it comes to being can’t-miss prospects. We also feel that the two ‘97s are superior to any ’96 d-men out there, and when we say that we’re not projecting. We’re talking about right now.
Kyle Connor, ’96, F (Belle Tire) 6-0/150—A well-rounded player who does all the little things that go unnoticed. Has good size and a really nice stride. Plays center on the top line and has enough skill to compliment high-end players. We feel that he is a great candidate for a job out in Ann Arbor next season.
Brendan Perlini, ’96, F (Belle Tire) 6-0/165—The Sault St. Marie, Ont. native is the son of Fred Perlini (eight games in the NHL) and brother of Michigan State forward/Anaheim draft pick Brett Perlini. He’s undecided, though, on whether or not he will pursue college or major junior. Has great hands, is very shifty and is tough to put a body on. From a pure skill perspective he was the top player here over the weekend.
Evan Gizinski, ’96, D (Belle Tire) 5-10/145—Was partnered with Werenski over the weekend and the two of them were dominant at times. It was as if they were playing keep away. Gizinski has a soft set of hands and high-end vision. Makes a great first pass and is excellent in transition—really gets the puck up to his forwards in full stride. Is on the smaller side and not the fastest of skaters, but his head for the game makes him a D-I prospect.
Anthony Petrella, ’96, F (Belle Tire) 5-10/175—An energy player who has some skill. Is not very tall, but appears to be well put together. Versatile in the sense that he has enough skill to play a top six role (at this level), but also has great speed, some grit and is a dog on loose pucks, qualities that will ensure his effectiveness at higher levels.
Dylan Pavelek, ’96, F (Belle Tire) 5-10/175—On a deep Belle Tire team Pavelek can go unnoticed, but he would probably play on most other team’s first line. Has good wheels and can make plays. Has been one of Belle Tire’s top scorers over the years, but, as there has been an influx of talent from different parts of the country, his numbers have taken a hit as the players sacrifice personal success for team success.
Aaron Haydon, ’96, D (Belle Tire) 6-3/190—Very raw and a project as of right now, but has great size and gets around the ice well for a big man. Keeps things fairly simple and could develop into a big, mean, steady defensive defenseman.
Nick Magyar, ’96, F (Cleveland Barons) 6-1/173—Our first impression was that he was just OK —then we saw him grab the puck and take it to the net with authority, and he was unstoppable in doing so. When Magyar gets the puck it is as if he grows three inches and adds 25 lbs. He’s an old-time style hockey player who can slow the game down, make plays and is tough as nails with the puck on his stick. He is certainly in the upper echelon of ’96 forwards and is a likely candidate for the NTDP.
Sonny Milano, ’96, F (Cleveland Barons) 5-10/154—The Long Island, NY native is a graceful skater. He is very shifty and scored a highlight reel goal in the game we were watching, as the Barons trounced Team Comcast. Milano’s skill level is far above average, and when we were watching him we kept thinking how good he could become when he plays at 185-190 lbs. Right now, he thinks his way through the tough ice. If he can add some weight/strength and really protect the puck he will be able to make a ton of high-level plays.
Connor Sunkle, ’96, D (Cleveland Barons) 5-11/178—Smart, intelligent puck-moving defender who has a really hard shot. Has a nice command/feel for the game. Keeps the play in front of himself at all times and makes a lot of short, ten-foot passes. Projects to be a PP quarterback as he moves up through the ranks.
Max Rasberg, ’96, F (Cleveland Barons) 5-9/152—Very dangerous in the offensive zone. Really slippery and elusive. Something is off about the way he skates—he looks a little awkward, but he is quick nonetheless. Creates a lot of scoring opportunities.
Ed Minney, ’96, G (DC Capitals) 6-4/195—A high end prospect in net. There is a lot to like about Minney. For starters, he’s 6-4! In the game we saw him play he was not challenged as much as we would have liked, but we still got that strong sense that he is going to be very good. He appears to be athletic, and technically sound. There is a lot to work with here. He is someone we would expect to see at the NTDP 40-man camp.
Christian Meike, ’96, D (DC Capitals) 5-9/140—Small defenseman who is at his best in transition. Carries the puck with confidence and is very effective jumping into the rush. Does not appear to be physically mature. We are assuming he probably still has some growing to do which could make him a much different player.
Eric Carreras, ’95, F (Philadelphia Jr. Flyers) 5-6/130—Very small, but plays big. Strong on the puck, and tenacious without it. Makes plays in tight spaces and has an effective shot. Will only get better as he gets bigger and stronger.
Kevin Kerr, ’96, D (Team Comcast) 5-11/155—Stands out on Team Comcast. Sometimes he needs to be reeled in as he loves to be involved in the offense. Has decent size, skates well and can really get the puck up and down the ice. Is not overly physical and appears to suffer from tunnel vision when he decides that he is going to rush the puck. Team Comcast is well coached by former UMass-Lowell Riverhawk, Jeremy Hall. We think that a year with Hall will do wonders for structuring Kerr’s game and turning him into a well-rounded defender. Will challenge for a roster spot on the NTDP.
Ron Greco, ’95, F (Team Comcast) 5-8/150—Does not jump out as one of those players with high-end skill, but is really solid in all areas. Has a nice release to his shot and we think he will continue to score goals as he progresses through the ranks.
Bobby Hall, ’95, F (Boston Advantage) 5-11/168—The offensive catalyst for the Boston Advantage makes a lot of plays happen and is responsible for the majority of his team’s offense. Has a good skill level and will benefit greatly when he adds muscle/weight to his sleek frame.
As we mentioned above, we have covered the majority of the U18 teams on hand here either at the Fall Beantown Classic or at the U18 Showcase in Hingham, Mass. a couple of months ago. We do not want to be repetitive and discuss the same players over and over again, but there were a few who caught our eye for the first time, and a few others on whom we have revised our opinions slightly.
Liam McDermott, ’94, F (Cleveland Barons) 6-3/180—We were not overly impressed with McDermott’s game at the Fall Beantown — we expected more. And he was better here. At times he looked like a dominant player and used his size effectively to make plays around the net. He is not there yet, but we are confident that in 2-3 years he will be on a D-I roster.
Ryan Badger, ’94, F (Team Comcast) 5-10/178—When UMaine originally committed Badger we were a little perplexed. We just thought it was too early – and unnecessary. We liked him at the Tier 1 showcase two months ago, but we liked him a lot more here. He is the epitome of a hockey player—a tone setter, if you will. We can imagine a Maine coach thinking to himself, “You know what, I want that kid on my team. I don’t care if it is early in the game or not, I am committing him.” We are not yet sold that he will be a top six forward with Maine, but it is not out of the question either. What we are sold on is his willingness to play night-in and night-out. He will give a consistent effort every game, make life difficult for opposing teams, and probably be a team captain.
Alex Talcott, ’95, F (Victory Honda) 6-0/195—OK, let us first start by stating that at the U18 level Talcott is a solid player who produces at nearly a point a game pace. With that being said — and the fact that he committed to Michigan last March, right after his 16th birthday -- we were expecting a lot more, especially from one who committed so early. We think that he has a way to go in order to prove that he deserves a spot on their roster.
Matt Menta, ’94, F (Philadelphia Junior Flyers) 5-11/170— Can really skate and would be a nice addition to nearly any USHL team. Makes plays in U18 hockey, but probably projects to be more of a role player at the next level. Good all-around skill level, plays hard and competes for loose pucks.
Jake McNamara, ’95, D (Victory Honda) 6-0/191—The late ’95 looked strong in all areas. Has a good stick and makes good, hard, crisp passes. Is good in his own end and does not put himself in vulnerable positions defensively.
Boogaard Series in New York Times
The New York Times is running a three-part series on the life and death of Derek Boogaard. It’s noteworthy in that the entire front page of the sports section -- both on Sunday and today (and, it’s fair to assume, tomorrow as well) -- has been given over to this story, which is, as obviously intended, lengthy, in-depth, and designed to provoke thought.
Times reporter John Branch has been working on the story for six months. The first installment, published yesterday – ‘A Boy Learns to Brawl’ – chronicles Boogaard’s childhood and adolescence in Western Canada, difficult years in which he transformed himself from an awkward kid into a devastating punching machine, and quickly rose through junior hockey and into the role which ultimately played a role in his death last May at the age of 28. Today, in Part 2 – ‘Blood on the Ice’ – Branch chronicles Boogaard’s NHL years and delves deeply into the profound physical and emotional toll that fighting takes on players like Boogaard.
Part 3 will be in tomorrow’s Times, and this typist is looking forward to seeing what angle on the story Branch will conclude his series with, and how the issue of concussions, fighting, and brain damage will be handled.
-- We’re including the links to the stories. This typist read it in the paper, not online, where additonal material -- i.e. video clips -- can be found.
We’re not a hundred percent sure if the below links will work, as the Times recently started charging for their online content. The links work for us, but we're subscribers. If necessary, head down to your local library or newsstand.
Update: The New York Times allows readers access for up to 20 stories for free, so, even if you are not a subscriber, you should be able to read this -- if you're under quota, that is.
Derek Boogaard: A Boy Learns to Brawl
Blood on the Ice
National Junior Team Preliminary Roster
USA Hockey has announced its 29-man preliminary roster for the U.S. National Junior Team. All 29 players will gather for training camp on Dec. 16 in Camrose, Alberta.
The final 22-man roster will be announced on Thurs. Dec. 22, after the second of three pre-tournament exhibition games the U.S. will be playing.
The WJC gets underway the day after Christmas in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. The A pool, which will be playing out of Calgary, will consist of Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Latvia. The B pool, which will be playing it's games in Edmonton, features the US, Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, and Denmark (a newcomer).
U.S. 29-Man Preliminary Roster:
Players marked with an asterisk were members of last year's bronze-medal winning team (Buffalo, NY). A double asterisks indicates they were also on the 2010 team that won gold (Saskatoon, Sask.).
Goaltenders (2): **Jack Campbell (Soo – OHL, ‘92), John Gibson (Kitchener -- OHL, ’93)
Defensemen (10): Adam Clendening (Boston University, ’92), *Justin Faulk (Carolina-NHL, ’92), *Derek Forbort (North Dakota, ’92), Kevin Gravel (St. Cloud St., ’92), Stephen Johns (Notre Dame, ’92), Seth Jones (US Under-18, ’94), Austin Levi (Plymouth – OHL, ’92), *Jon Merrill (Michigan, ’92), Jarred Tinordi (London – OHL, ’92), Jacob Trouba (US Under-18, ’94).
Forwards (17): Kenny Agostino (Yale, ’92), Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha, ’92), Billy Arnold (Boston College, ’92), *Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota, ’92), Connor Brickley (Vermont, ’92), *Charlie Coyle (Boston University, ’92), Austin Czarnik (Miami, ’92), *Emerson Etem (Medicine Hat -- WHL, ’92), Brian Ferlin (Cornell -- USHL, ’92), John Gaudreau (Boston College, ’93), J.T. Miller (Plymouth - OHL, ’93), Shane Prince (Ottawa – OHL, ’92), Kyle Rau (Minnesota, ’92), Brandon Saad (Saginaw – OHL,’92), TJ Tynan (Notre Dame, ’92), Austin Watson (Peterborough – OHL, ‘92), **Jason Zucker (Denver, ’92).
Head Coach: Dean Blais. Assistants: Scott Sandelin, Tom Ward, and Joe Exter. Director of Player Personnel: Tim Taylor.
Tues. Dec. 20 – Russia (exhibition) @ Red Deer, Alberta, 7:00 pm MST
Wed. Dec. 21 – Switzerland (exhibition) @ Camrose, Alberta, 7:30 pm MST
Fri. Dec. 23 – Slovakia (exhibition) @ Three Hills, Alberta, 7:00 pm MST
Mon. Dec. 26 – Denmark, 6:00 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Wed. Dec. 28 – Finland, 1:30 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Fri. Dec. 30 – Czech Republic, 1:30 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Sat. Dec. 31 – Canada, 6:00 pm MST -- Edmonton, Alb.
Mon. Jan. 2 – Quarterfinals
Tues. Jan. 3 – Semifinals
Thurs. Jan. 5 – Medal Games
Complete Preliminary Roster
44-Man Evaluation Camp Roster (Lake Placid, August)
Players named to the 29-man preliminary roster who were not at Lake Placid Camp in August are Trouba, Archibald, Czarnik, Gaudreau, Rau, and Saad. Czarnik, by the way, is the only player on the 29-man roster who has gone through the NHL Draft without being selected. Trouba will be eligible in 2012; Jones in 2013.
Cornell goaltender Andy Iles is the U.S. emergency goaltender and will not be at the pre-tournament camp.
Faulk, the only player currently on an NHL roster, will play pending release by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Campbell will become the first U.S. goaltender to ever play in three World Junior Championships.
All U.S. games will be aired on the NHL Network.
Hart’s MVP Season
In this age of ever-increasing specialization, it’s noteworthy that Phillips Exeter forward Brian Hart, a Harvard hockey recruit pegged to go in the top two rounds of June’s NHL Draft, has been named prep MVP for his outstanding year in leading the Exeter soccer team to the NEPSAC semifinals.
Look for the official announcement in tomorrow’s Boston Globe Fall All-Scholastics section.
Hart, a 6’2”, 210 lb. native of Cumberland, Maine, set an all-time career scoring record at Exeter, scoring 57 goals in two years.
As a junior, Hart notched 22. This year, he upped his total to 35 goals (in 20 games played), which, head coach AJ Cosgrove says, “Is just ridiculous in soccer.”
Curious, we wanted to see exactly how ridiculous that was, so we went to the Exeter soccer website and added up the number of goals his team as whole had scored this fall. We counted 67. That means Hart scored over half of his team’s goals – 52 percent, to be precise.
Hart is, according to Cosgrove, “A hell of a competitor. He has speed, power, and a shot like a cannon. Nobody could handle him.”
“He’s also a great teammate,” Cosgrove added. “Humble.”
Word is that Hart would have had an enormous number of Div. I scholarship offers for soccer if he had chosen that route.
Hart, whose older brother Kevin is a sophomore defenseman at Providence College, played at Greely High School in Maine before going to Brewster Academy and then, last season, to Phillips Exeter. He’s an 11/25/93 birthdate.
Fenway Schedule, in Full
Next month, from Jan. 1-16, Fenway’s greensward will be iced over. Here is the full, official game schedule for the ballpark.
We have no information on whether Bobby Valentine, who invented outdoor ice hockey on the ponds of Stamford, Conn., will be on hand.
Mon. Jan. 2:
3:00 pm – Boston Latin Academy vs. East Boston High School (boys)
5:00 pm – Boston Latin School vs. Boston Latin Academy (girls)
7:30 pm – Mount St. Charles vs. Springfield Cathedral (boys)
Wed. Jan. 4:
1:30 pm --- St. George’s vs. Rivers (girls)
3:15 pm – Nobles vs. Milton (boys)
5:30 pm – Thayer vs. Lawrence (boys)
7:45 pm – Belmont Hill vs. St. Sebastian’s (boys)
Sat. Jan. 7:
4:00 pm – UVM vs. UMass (men)
7:30 pm – UNH vs. Maine (men)
Tues. Jan. 10:
3:00 pm -- Dartmouth vs. Providence (women)
Fri. Jan. 13:
3:30 pm – Norwich vs. Babson (men)
7:00 pm – Union vs. Harvard (men)
Sat. Jan. 14:
3:00 pm – Catholic Memorial vs. BC High (boys)
6:00 pm – Northeastern vs. Boston College (men)
Founders’ League Jamboree
If we learned one thing from Wednesday’s Founders’ League Jamboree, it’s this: Salisbury is really, really good. They were really good last year, too, going 22-5 and losing in the semis to Kent. This year’s team is better. It’s deep. The newcomers are high-end and the returnees are key contributors.
Up front, Salisbury returns leading scorer Philip Zielonka, the former Lac St-Louis Lion who had 40 points last season. The 5’11” senior from Montreal – an underrated player in our book -- scored one of his team’s prettier goals yesterday, roofing one to get the day started.
Head coach Andrew Will has brought in four new forwards from Ontario, two of whom come off the powerhouse ’95 Marlies squad. We’re talking about 5’10”, 175 lb. junior center Aaron Berisha and 5’11”, 197 lb. winger Anthony DiFruscia. Will had those two playing on a line – and why wouldn’t he? They know each other well, and their styles are complementary, with Berisha being the guy who’ll win the draws and dish while DiFruscia is more north-south/drive the net. Add in UNH recruit Jason Kalinowski, also a ’95, and a returnee from last year, who’ll dig the puck out of the corners and along the wall and you have one tough line to defend against.
The other potent line has 6’4”, 205 lb. ’94 senior Zack Pryzbek teamed up with 6’2” senior John Stevens, a returnee, and Zielonka. Most prep schools would be thrilled to have one of those lines -- Salisbury has two. All six of those forwards will play Div. I hockey. Pryzbek seems to have grown into his body considerably since we last saw him with the Hill Academy squad.
On the blueline, Miami recruit Matt Caito left after his junior year for the USHL. A loss? Of course, but the team is still really strong on the backend, with a lot of returnees (all left shots, by the way). 6’2” junior Ryan Segalla, a late ’94, looked very good Wednesday, much lighter on his feet than the last time we saw him. Captain Marc Biega is now a senior. Junior Thomas Welsh, a Penn State recruit, is back. Ditto for 6’3” junior Mark Hamilton. A newcomer is Will Toffey, a 6’1” sophomore and an effortless skater.
New junior Justin Nichols, another Ontario native, is in goal. How good is he? It was hard to tell yesterday. Not many guys were penetrating the D and getting off tough shots.
Every Ontario native -- Nichols, along with Welsh, Pryzbek, Berisha, and DiFruscia, 6’3” forward Jake Hand and returning goalie Tim Ernst – and you have seven kids who were drafted into the OHL either this past spring or in 2010. It’s nice to know that while over a hundred Americans are heading north to play major junior, some of the top young Canadians are coming down here to play prep hockey. Add in Biega and Zielonka, who were drafted into the Q, and you have nine kids who chose prep hockey over taking their chances with major junior. There might be one or two more that we’re forgetting, but you get the point.
-- From what we saw, Westminster was the second-best team here. They look similar to many Westy teams that have come before them. Smallish, with a ton of good NESCAC candidates, excellent team play, always in the game, and always more than the sum of their parts.
One new player who caught our eye is 5’9”, 167 lb. junior Ryan Mowery, a San Diego, California native. He’s pretty savvy. Moves the puck smartly and has a really nice touch. Scored a couple of goals against Choate. College recruiters might want to check him out. 5’10” David Hallisey, now a junior, had a couple goals and 6’1” senior Nick Finn added one. 5’9” senior RC Emilio Audi is Westy’s leading returning scorer.
-- Taft is a small, young team, loaded with juniors and sophomores. Their best prospect, as we mentioned the other day, is ’95 sophomore forward Andrew Gaus, from Pittsburgh, PA. All of head coach Danny Murphy’s leading scorers from a year ago are gone. Somebody will have to step up, though who that might be remains to be seen. You may recall that Taft’s top returning goalie, Jimmy Harrison, left school in August to play Tier II in Ontario (4.97/.877 with the last-place Gloucester Rangers). For Taft, this looks like a year in which to build for the future.
-- Loomis has a 6’2” sophomore forward from Quebec named Kristofer VanGameren, who scored a goal against Taft that earned a check put next to his name. VanGameren is new to the school – his older brother is already there.
-- Trinity-Pawling had a little 5’5” ’94-born new sophomore forward named Charlie Zuccarini who was consistently noticeable.
-- Kent, of course, has 6’3” Michigan recruit Boo Nieves, and scouts were out in droves to see him. Kent’s captain showed flashes, but didn’t play at the consistently high level he is capable of. Until Monday, Nieves had reportedly been off skates for two weeks, so that may have played into it. The Syracuse, NY native was on a line with 6’1” senior Ryan Rosenthal. We noticed 6’2” sophomore forward Mitchell Allen and we’ll be watching him closer when the games begin for real. Kent looked flat here, like they were waiting for a Noel Acciari or Drew Brown to lead the attack. They’re gone, though. Nieves, Rosenthal and others are going to have to come through big-time, or Kent won’t make it back to Salem in March.
-- Hotchkiss edged Avon, 4-3, in the day’s first game. Dual citizen Tyler Hill, a left wing who played in Ontario for the Brantford 99ers Midget AAA team last year and was a kid we saw at the Select 16 Festival, was hard to miss. He’s 6’6”, 215 lbs. and is the best prospect up front for Hotchkiss. 6’6”, 200 lb. Wiley Sherman, like Hill a sophomore and a ’95, was the top prospect on defense. Senior goalie Dan Viger, an Oakville, Ont, native and a returnee, had to come up big to hold off Avon’s late charge and preserve a 4-3 win for the Bearcats.
-- As for Avon, they didn’t look scary at all. Head coach John Gardner has lost his top scorers and, after watching Wednesday, we were hard-pressed to tell who was going to step up and fill the void -- no one forward knocked our socks off. On D, 6’2” Colin Sullivan, a Yale recruit, is the key returnee, along with goalie Michael Santaguida. This typist went back and forth between Hotchkiss’ two rinks and Salisbury three different times on Wednesday. Due to that, we really got a rather quick, superficial look at the Winged Beavers, but from what we saw we were underwhelmed. That said, we’ve seen Avon teams that look weak early on – just a couple of years ago the Winged Beavers went 0-4-1 over their Christmas Tournament and into the New Year. They looked like they were going nowhere, much to the joy of the rest of the Founders’ League. Instead, they wound up winning the New England prep title. Gardner and his staff have been around the block a few – well, more than a few -- times and have a way of pulling together a team. Still, that team a couple of years ago had Mike Pereira, Quinn Smith, KJ Tiefenwerth, Mark Naclerio, and Greg Gozzo so there was something to fall back on. We didn’t see a group like that out there Wednesday, so Gardner will have to really dig deep in his pocket to find the rabbit this time. That could happen, but, at the risk of eating our words, we’re betting this team will not be bringing Avon their ninth prep title.
Beantown; Tier I 16U, 18U Schedules
For those of you who like planning far in advance, here is a schedule for the Beantown Spring Classic, still several months away:
Beantown Spring Classic Schedule
Nearer at hand, the Team Comcast is hosting a Tier I Elite League 18U Showcase this weekend at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ. The tournament, which starts Friday at 3:00 pm, pits the East -- Jr. Flyers, DC Capitals, Team Comcast, and Boston Advantage -- against the West -- Belle Tire, Cleveland Barons, Oakland Grizzlies, and Victory Honda.
There will also be a 16U Showcase -- with the same teams -- at the Flyers Skate Zone at Pennsauken, NJ, which is 15 minutes from the Voorhees location.
T1 Elite League 18U, 16U Showcase Schedules
(Both of the above files are Excel Files)
Ryan’s Dream Shot Down
Cornell freshman defenseman Joakim Ryan, a candidate for the Swedish National Junior Team, has been told by the IIHF that he is ineligible to participate in the games, which start Dec. 26th in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.
What the IIHF learned was that Ryan has never been rostered on a Swedish team for 24 consecutive months, reportedly a little-known requirement. Ryan did play minor hockey for Malmo, but was only on roster for 22 months.
Ryan, a dual citizen who speaks fluent Swedish, skated for Sweden in the U-17 Ivan Hlinka Tournament as well as in the World Junior A Challenge in Penticton, BC in Nov. 2010 (while with the Dubuque Fighting Saints). Neither of those tournaments, however, are IIHF-sanctioned.
This past April, Ryan, who had been guaranteed a spot, was unable to skate for Sweden in the U-18 World Championship as his team, the Dubuque Fighting Saints, were in the USHL playoffs (which they eventually won). The U-18 World Championship is, of course, an IIHF-sanctioned tournament. Once a player appears in an IIHF-sanctioned tournament with any particular country, he’s locked into that country permanently, i.e. dual citizens can’t jump back and forth. Interesting that it wasn’t an issue then, but is now. The World Junior rosters are probably vetted more closely than the U-18 rosters, but still…
At any rate, Ryan, who skated with Sweden at the Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, NY in August, can, since he’s a ’93 and has a year of eligibility remaining, either appeal the IIHF’s decision and try to play for Sweden again next winter, or try out for the U.S. National Junior Team.
For now, though, Cornell, which could lose forward Brian Ferlin and goaltender Andy Iles to the U.S. Junior Team, will at least have Ryan on hand for the Florida College Classic Dec. 29-30.
Still, losing an opportunity to play in the WJC so late in the game —especially on a technicality -- is a tough pill to swallow.
“You talk about a kick in the gut… holy cow,” said Ryan’s family adviser, Jim Troy. “He’s devastated. It’s not like he can now turn to USA Hockey and say ‘Here I am.’”
Ryan is a dual citizen by dint of the fact that his mother, Catarina Lindqvist, is Swedish. Lindqvist was a pro tennis player who twice reached the semis of a Grand Slam Tournament (the Australian Open, and Wimbledon), only to lose both times to Martina Navratilova. So you can see where Ryan, who has also represented Sweden in international tennis tournaments, gets his athleticism.
Ryan, who is 5’10”, 182 lbs., was passed over in last summer’s NHL Draft. In nine games this season for Cornell, he has a 4-3-7 line and leads rookie d-men in scoring.
Former St. Sebastian's ('93) and Boston University forward Mike Grier retired today after an NHL career that covered over a thousand games, most recently with Buffalo. He also played with Edmonton, Washington, and San Jose.
When Grier, now 36, broke into the NHL in '96-97, he became the NHL's first African-American player who was born and raised entirely in the United States. Grier, a Hobey Baker finalist at BU, is the son of Bobby Grier, who was a coach and late in the front office of the New England Patriots while Mike was playing at St. Sebastian's and NU. The elder Grier is now director of pro scouting for the Houston Texans (NFL).
We wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Grier, who will be living with his family in Boston, get right into coaching at the prep or college level. We've seen him working with USA Hockey in the summers, and it certainly seems to be something he was a good feel for. He won't be unemployed for long, that much we know.