Salisbury-Cushing in UMass Sunday Matinee
Amherst, Mass. -- The Patriots season appears to have ended so, with the freed-up time, USHR was out in full force Sunday to take in the matinee game between Cushing and Salisbury, played at the UMass practice rink adjoining the Mullins Center here. It was a close contest with Salisbury coming away with a 3-1 decision after an empty-netter with 11 seconds on the clock.
Let’s start with this: Salisbury is going to be a very tough team to beat down the stretch. The group is talented, well coached, and can really clamp down defensively. Though Cushing has a slew of talented forwards, they were unable to generate a lot of grade “A” scoring opportunities — and the ones they did were stopped by junior goaltender Justin Nichols. Head coach Andrew Will’s squad has the ingredients of a championship caliber team: high end forwards, a deep corps of defensemen, and a goalie who stops everything he is supposed to stop -- and then some.
Here is who we felt were the top ten players this afternoon:
1. John Stevens, F, ’94 (Salisbury) 6-2/185—Was the best forward in the game today. Figured in all of Salisbury’s goals (1g, 2a) and the ice seemed tilted every time he stepped on it. Seems to be developing the offensive side of his game and we left thinking he could turn out to be a top six forward in D-I college hockey. Plays a pro-style game, is reliable defensively, and can protect the puck. Could be a late pick in the NHL draft this June.
2. Shane Eiserman, F, late ’95 (Cushing) 6-2/196—The UNH recruit is a difference maker and will be a unique player for the Wildcats as he does not fit their stereotype. Was very good here today as he scored Cushing’s only goal — on an absolute laser. When he is moving his feet and drops his shoulder en route to the front of the net, there is not much defenders can do to stop him. In the third period Eiserman started to try to dangle through players, which is not his game. Is a power forward in the making and we feel he has the earmarks of a high NHL draft pick when 2014 rolls around.
3. Marc Biega, D, ’94 (Salisbury) 6-0/195—Would like to attend Harvard, if he is able to get in. If not, then Harvard’s loss will be someone else’s gain as the senior captain has excellent offensive instincts. Possesses elite vision and looks right at home at the top of the umbrella on the PP. Played a great game today as he scored the game-winner and also assisted on the first goal. Will need to get stronger and improve his skating in order to be an effective defender at the next level, but is prepared right now to contribute on the offensive side of the redline.
4. Jason Kalinowski, F, ’95 (Salisbury) 6-0/180—Looks more like 5’10" on the ice (team roster lists him as 6'0") , but nonetheless was excellent in this game. The UNH recruit showed us another gear today -- something that we had not previously seen — and was very involved in all aspects of the game. Blocks shots, finishes checks, makes plays, and is a finisher around the net. In other words, he's someone you want on your team, not someone you want to be playing against. Displayed high-end vision in heavy traffic areas — a promising quality.
5. Ryan Segalla, D, late ’94 (Salisbury) 6-2/190—May have to bring a tape measure to the rink as we have a hard time pegging Segalla at 6'2" -- 6'0" seems more appropriate. The Rockland, Mass native was very good today. Was partnered with Biega and together they were very efficient. The 12/29/94 birthdate is very reliable with the puck on his stick and makes tape-to-tape passes with ease. Looked far more confident than he did at the Flood-Marr Tournament and is developing into a D-I defenseman. Is a strong candidate to take over the PP quarterback position when it is vacated by Biega’s graduation.
6. Corey Scammon, D, ’93 (Cushing) 5-9/175—The UMass-Lowell recruit has a lot of qualities you cannot teach: great vision, hockey sense and poise. The Cushing PP was not good here today, but when the Orlando, Florida native had the puck on his stick he made things happen. Will need to get stronger and faster to keep pace in Hockey East, but will have a spot on the PP the day he arrives at Tsongas Arena.
7. Zack Pryzbek, F, ’94 (Salisbury) 6-4/205—On the drive to Amherst we were thinking, “How does Pryzbek only have 13 points in 20 games this season?” After watching him today we can conclude that he certainly needs to work on his finishing abilities, but his numbers are in no way indicative of his value. There is no one better in prep hockey along the walls. Is excellent in regards to getting pucks out of the zone and getting them in deep. Wears opponents down with his ability to possess the puck and log time in the offensive zone. Is a D-I/pro prospect with a lot of upside. If he did not play on such a deep offensive team his numbers would be much greater.
8. Justin Nichols, G, ’95 (Salisbury) 5-9/150—We had not gotten a good read on the second round OHL draft pick, mainly because he is rarely tested. In this particular game, though, Cushing forced him to make some athletic saves, and he was up for the challenge. The St. Catherines, Ontario native has a .944 save percentage through 15 games, which is extremely difficult to accomplish no matter how good the team in front of you is.
9. Philip Zielonka, F, ’93 (Salisbury) 5-11/180—When we think of Zielonka three words come to mind: Experienced, Intelligent, and Sniper. Does not turn the puck over, makes smart decisions, creates a lot of offense from scratch and if you give him the puck in the scoring area it will end up in the back of the net. If Salisbury is going to win a championship this season something tells us that the Harvard recruit is going to be a big reason why. The Lac St. Louis Lions product is currently leading the team in scoring with a 20-13-33 scoring line in 22 games played.
10T. Garrett Hehir, F, late ’93 (Cushing) 6-1/190—When Shane Eiserman is on the ice a lot of eyes are glued on him and Hehir goes unnoticed. However, the Auburn, Mass. native is at least part of the reason why Eiserman has made a seamless transition to prep hockey. Hehir, a 12/23/93 birthdate, has a very good sense of the game and knows not only where to be on the ice, but has that sixth sense in that he can see plays developing. Is not blessed with elite speed, but because of his hockey sense he has managed to be very productive for the Penguins and is leading the team in scoring with a 15-27-42 scoring line. Has a strong stick and a heavy shot.
10T. Jacob Hand, F, ’94 (Salisbury) 6-3/195—With Anthony DiFruscia out with a concussion Hand was moved up the second line with Aaron Berisha and Kalinowski. The Oakville, Ontario native has a lot of tools and could turn out to be a real steal. Has obvious size, but also has a soft set of hands and elusive speed. Generated a lot of scoring opportunities today and made some eye-opening plays. Would like to see him play at a faster pace and with a greater sense of urgency.
How KUA was KO’d
A lot of people are scratching their heads today and wondering: how in the world did Kimball Union not make prep hockey’s Elite 8? A lot of people are also wondering what the ‘Hoosac issue’ is. And why Millbrook got bounced. And why the Sunday coaches meeting, chaired by Brooks head coach and NEPSIHA president Dave Ries, which usually is wrapped by lunchtime, stretched almost to dinnertime.
It was, said Ries, “a perfect storm.”
For the sake of simplicity, let’s look at each of the issues separately.
Before doing so, however, bear in mind that while the NEPSIHA playoff calculations – the RPI, the JSPR points, et al – are complex, they are that way only because, in order to arrive at a true measure of a team’s body of work on the ice, a huge number of variables have to be taken into account. Anyone who reads this publication knows, if only from a casual perusal of different teams’ schedules and results, that not every win and loss is created equally. A win over Salisbury has more value than a win over Portsmouth Abbey. But how do you measure that? How do you put a precise value on it? The JSPR system attempts to do just that.
The complexity of the math, says Ries, “is not only the beauty of the system, but also the reason 60 prep coaches wind up banging their heads on their desks trying to figure the whole thing out.”
This year, a layer of complexity was added to the process when outside forces, in the form of the NEPSAC Executive Board, became involved with the process. For those of you who are new to this, the aforementioned board, headed by Suffield Academy AD Dave Godin, consists of a group of ADs who are charged with overseeing prep athletics. They sit at the top of the food chain, and have greater powers than the NEPSIHA coaches. They also have their own set of rules, and their own ideas on how things should be handled. And that brings us to…
-- The Hoosac Issue: A major variable separating prep teams is not only the number of games they play, but also the number of games they play against Div. I prep teams – i.e. teams that belong to NEPSIHA. It was determined that, in order for a team’s body of work to be accurately measured, they needed to play 15 ‘NEPSIHA games.’ If a team drops below that threshold, the statistical sample becomes too small, and skews the numbers in an unfair manner. As a consequence, game results of teams that fail to meet this minimum are tossed under the JSPR system.
St. Thomas More, Hamden Hall, Harvey, King-Low, Rye Country Day are Div. I schools that fell below the 15-game threshold this season. So, too, did Hoosac, finishing with 14 games.
When USHR posted JASPR points and the RPI right before the final weekend of the regular season, it was with all games involving the above-named schools removed from the equation. It was obvious that not one of them would reach the 15-game level, so… out the door they went. Pretty black and white.
However -- and this is where things get sticky -- there are teams out there in contention for playoff spots who had played Hoosac during the season, and had done well in those games. South Kent went 3-0 vs. Hoosac. Brunswick and Albany Academy went 2-0. Tilton and Millbrook each went 1-0. And each of those schools stood to lose something if Hoosac’s games were eliminated.
We know South Kent and Tilton, when they got wind of the fact that Hoosac was going to fall short of the 15-game minimum, was not happy, and voiced their displeasure. Perhaps others did, too.
At any rate, somebody went to the NEPSAC Executive Board, and they started looking into it.
The thorn in the ointment here is the fact that Hoosac had ‘intended’ to play 15 NEPSIHA games -- and would have -- but for a snafu on the part of Kingswood-Oxford which, on Wed. Jan. 11, had somehow committed their hockey team to be playing two different games in two different places at the same time (a home game vs. St. Thomas More, and a road game at Hoosac). We have no idea who messed up with the scheduling there, not that assigning blame makes any difference.
The bottom line is the fact that South Kent and others made the argument that since Hoosac ‘intended’ to play 15 games and only failed to do so because of forces beyond their control, that an exemption should be made and Hoosac’s 14 NEPSIHA games should count in the calculations. This, of course, goes against the agreed-upon rules for determining how playoff seeding is calculated. However, NEPSAC rules -- and decisions – trump NEPSIHA decisions.
Godin and the executive board reportedly felt that Hoosac had made a “good-faith effort” to comply by scheduling 15 games at the start of the season. This, at least, is what was reported to us. Godin did not answer an email from USHR seeking clarification as to how the executive board arrived at its decision.
At any rate, knowing that this storm was brewing, Ries, after Saturday’s games, requested two sets of numbers – one with Hoosac in and one with Hoosac out. On Sunday morning, when the committee met to go over the numbers, they had to first settle the Hoosac issue. Before they had a chance, Godin and the executive board settled it for them: Hoosac was back in.
This was good news for South Kent, Albany Academy, and Brunswick, all of whom got a boost and moved up in the seedings.
It was felt at the time that putting Hoosac back in knocked Kimball Union out of the big tournament, and bounced them down to the small tournament. Everyone felt that way, and, at first glance, that conclusion seemed totally logical. The playoff system, however, sometimes requires a deeper look into the numbers in order to truly tease out what exactly caused Team A to moved ahead of Team B. This deep study is not necessary in order to arrive at accurate numbers, only to answer how and why.
-- Here then is the big surprise: it wasn’t Hoosac that caused Kimball Union’s fall from the Elite 8.
KUA got KO’d when Gunnery topped Berkshire, 4-3, on the final day of the regular season.
If you look at the JSPR comparisons after games of Wed. Feb. 22, Avon, Cushing and KUA were all tied with seven JSPR points. Given that KUA beat Avon, Avon beat Cushing, and Cushing beat KUA, the tiebreaker was then determined by RPI order. KUA was 7th, Avon 8th and Cushing 9th. This is where things stood last Thursday morning – and it was reported on USHR. At the time, KUA looked pretty secure given their RPI. However, they were not secure. In order to move up from that three-way tie, all one of these teams needed to do was to gain a JSPR point (and not lose any). Avon gained the point, while Cushing and KUA did not, and it was one game that caused this: the Berkshire vs. Gunnery game.
Let's look at the Berkshire-Avon JSPR comparison from Thursday morning. Berkshire was beating Avon head-to-head and in the RPI. At the same time, Avon was beating Berkshire in record against mutual opponents and record against teams under consideration. Thus, the comparison is tied 2-2 and, since the first tiebreaker is head-to-head, Berkshire gets the JSPR point. However, once Gunnery defeated Berkshire on Saturday, Berkshire's RPI dropped and Avon jumped over Berkshire in RPI. Suddenly, while Berkshire still held the advantage in a head-to-head comparison, Avon moved ahead of Berkshire in RPI while still maintaining their advantage in mutual opponents and teams under consideration. As a result, the final JSPR comparison now falls Avon's way 3-1 -- and Avon gets an additional 'new' JSPR point.
When that happened, Cushing and KUA were still tied with seven points each. (The top six seeds remained the same and Avon, with eight points, became the #7 seed.) When two teams are tied, you go to their JSPR comparison for the tiebreaker. How, then, did Cushing and Kimball Union compare using this criteria? The answer: Cushing wins head-to-head, and record against teams under consideration. KUA wins RPI and record against mutual opponents. In other words, it’s a 2-2 tie. However, the first tiebreaker is head-to-head. And since Cushing went 2-0 against KUA this season, the Penguins won the JSPR comparison over KUA. This comparison was like this both on Thursday and on Saturday.
When all the points were added up, and all the tiebreakers were settled, Cushing became the #8 seed -- and KUA was out of the tournament. Ultimately, Kimball Union’s downfall was the fact that they lost – twice – to Cushing during the regular season. They could still have gotten into the big tournament if Berkshire had managed to pull out a win over Gunnery on Saturday. But, in the final analysis, because of the losses to Cushing, KUA no longer controlled their own destiny. They needed forces beyond their control to come through, and Berkshire was unable to help them.
-- The Millbrook Situation: Strictly going on the math, Millbrook would have made the playoffs this season, sneaking into the last spot in the Small School Tournament. However, they ran afoul of a NEPSAC rule stipulating that no team with a losing record shall be allowed to compete in NEPSAC post-season play.
Millbrook finished the season 10-14-3 in NEPSIHA play. But they also played a lot of tough teams. They split with Albany Academy and Brunswick, both of whom made the playoffs. They tied Kimball Union at the Belmont Hill-Nichols Tournament. They also played Belmont Hill, Kent, Gunnery (2x), Berkshire (2x), Winchendon (2x), and Salisbury – again, all playoff-bound teams. In total, Millbrook played 15 games against playoff-bound teams. They didn’t fare particularly well against them, but the fact remains that they played a tough schedule, which gets you something, particularly when the team in question wins the games that they ‘should win,’ as Millbrook did. And that is how Millbrook earned the last small-school spot. But, due to the losing record, they are not allowed to compete. St. Mark’s, 15-9-3 in Div. I play got the final seed in their place. But St. Mark’s only played six games against teams that will be in action tomorrow – Lawrence, St. Paul’s, Brooks (2x), and Dexter (2x). In those, six games, the Lions went 1-5, beating only Brooks. The numbers show that Millbrook, by a slim margin, was the better team. Their crime: playing a schedule that was too challenging. Their punishment: getting booted from the Small School Tournament due to a NEPSAC rule that is – at best -- outdated.
On Sunday night, NEPSIHA president Dave Ries issued a statement on what transpired. We include it here in full.
“This year we ran into a situation with our playoff system that was not in compliance with NEPSAC tournament policies. One of our members, Hoosac, started the season with 15 games scheduled against other NEPSAC schools eligible for tournament consideration. Due to a cancellation/scheduling conflict, one of these games was not played, dropping them below the 15 game minimum. Following our formula, we removed ALL of their game results from last week’s playoff calculations, which not only removed Hoosac from playoff consideration but affected all their opponents as well. The NEPSAC Executive Board found this out and informed us that removing these scores from their opponent’s records is not acceptable. After much discussion, it was decided that the Hoosac results must be included for their opponents to bring our tournament into compliance with NEPSAC rules.
“Additionally, when we went to this formula two years ago, we knew that there was the chance of a team with a sub-.500 record qualifying for post-season play. We were told by the Executive Board that we would have to appeal on a case-by-case basis were this to happen. Today we faced that situation and were told that the .500 rule would be upheld.”
N.Y. Times Puts Juniors & Fighting on Page 1
The New York Times has a front-page article today entitled "Junior Hockey on Cusp of a Revolution: Trying to Stop Fighting."
The article covers recent efforts by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada to ban fighting from junior leagues -- including major junior -- in both the U.S. and Canada.
New England Prep All-Stars Named
As voted by NEPSIHA coaches:
Matt Beattie, Sr., F, Exeter
Chris Calnan, Jr., F, Nobles
Brian Hart, Sr., F, Exeter
Gavin Bayreuther, Jr., D, Holderness
Rob O'Gara, Sr., D, Milton
David Cunningham, Sr., G, Belmont Hill
Ben Foster, Sr., F, Choate
Boo Nieves, Sr., F, Kent
Phil Zielonka, Sr., F, Salisbury
Marc Biega, Sr., D, Salisbury
Colin Sullivan, Sr., D, Avon Old Farms
Michael Santaguida, Sr., G, Avon Old Farms
Elite 8 Prep Preview
Leading Scorer: Philip Zielonka (26 GP, 26-22-48)
D1 Committed Players: Philip Zielonka (Harvard), Jason Kalinowski (UNH), Thomas Welsh (Penn State)
Who’s Hot: Salisbury enters the tournament riding a 13-game unbeaten streak. Senior forward Philip Zielonka is red hot. The Harvard recruit has produced 19 points in his last seven games. Junior goaltender Justin Nichols has allowed just four goals over his last four starts. Junior forward Aaron Berisha has 10 goals on the season, but five of them have come in the last four games.
Scouting Report: Andrew Will’s squad has more depth than any other team in prep hockey. The first line of Zielonka, senior John Stevens and senior Zack Pryzbek form one of prep hockey’s top trios. Offensive-minded senior Marc Biega headlines a D-corps that includes five D1 prospects. In net, St. Catharine’s, Ont. native Justin Nichols has been lights out this season with a .943 save percentage. Salisbury is the consensus favorite to win the crown.
Leading Scorer: Adam Gilmour (24 GP, 24-29-53)
D1 Committed Players: Chris Calnan (BC), Andrew Doane (Brown), Tim Boyle (Union), Tyler Wood (Brown)
Who’s Hot: Senior forward Adam Gilmour figured in all five of his team’s goals in the season finale against Milton and has produced eight points in his last two games. BC recruit Chris Calnan has tallied six goals in his last five games. ’97-born freshman Cal Burke has just eight points on the year, but half of those points have come in the last seven games. Fellow ’97-born forward Colin White has tallied 11 points over his last eight games as the eighth grader continues to develop into a primary scoring threat.
Scouting Report: Brian Day’s Bulldogs have lost just four games all season, but three of those losses have come in the last six games. Calnan and Gilmour could be the most dangerous duo in prep hockey, but White, Burke, and seniors Andrew Doane and Max Franklin give Nobles plenty of offensive firepower. Late bloomer Tim Boyle is the centerpiece on the backend and he will have to log lot of minutes on Wednesday against Avon as senior defenseman Phil Sciretta was suspended for hitting from behind in Saturday’s regular season finale against Milton. It is difficult to win a title without a significant contribution from your goaltender and Connor Maher will have to improve on his .895 save percentage for Nobles to contend.
Leading Scorer: Matt Beattie (26 GP, 39-34-73)
D1 Committed Players: Matt Beattie (Yale), Brian Hart (Harvard), Michael St. Denis (Army)
Who’s Hot: Matt Beattie and Brian Hart have been scorching hot all year long as the two have combined for 135 points in 53 games played. PG Matt Rubinoff has also chipped in six points in his last three games.
Scouting Report: Dana Barbin loves to ride his horses and Gunnery should expect to see a lot of Beattie and Hart. While those two forwards get the headlines, Exeter also has four other forwards averaging over a point-a-game in Rubinoff (50), PG Alex Carlacci (38), junior John Cross (33) and senior Michael St. Denis (32). Senior Will Goss has emerged as one of prep hockey’s finest defenders and will be relied on heavily in the post-season. Exeter could be the only team to enter the playoff tournament without a starting goaltender as PGs Tim Cooney and Nolan Daley have been rotating down the stretch.
Leading Scorer: Devin Tringale (28 GP, 16-26-42), Tyler Whitney (28 GP, 7-35-42)
D1 Committed Players: Devin Tringale (Harvard)
Who’s Hot: The Spartans have been 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. Senior Matt Baldino enters the tournament riding a six-game point streak, having produced nine points over that span.
Scouting Report: The best word to describe Kevin Potter’s squad would be balanced. No other team in the tournament has more scorers who have produced double-digit point totals. Harvard recruit Devin Tringale attracts the most attention, but the offense runs through Tyler Whitney. Whitney, the younger brother Joe and Steven Whitney, has elite hockey sense and is excellent quarterbacking the PP. Six other forwards average .74 points-per-game or more, giving Lawrence Academy three lines capable of scoring any shift. The team’s top defender is Naples, Florida native Jacob Schechter. The senior has averaged over a point-a-game producing a 5-17-22 scoring line in only 18 games played. Senior goaltender Nathaniel Heilbron has been excellent all season long. The West Vancouver, BC native has been quite the iron man, playing in all but 29 minutes this season. The 5’9” puck stopper has given up more than three goals just three times this season and sports a .926 save percentage.
#5. Belmont Hill
Leading Scorer: Carl Hesler (30 GP, 10-18-28)
D1 Committed Players: Carl Hesler (Dartmouth), Joe Mcnamara (Holy Cross), Sean Gustin (Holy Cross)
Who’s Hot: Belmont Hill enters the postseason on a six-game winning streak and, like their first round foes, is 8-1-1 in their last 10. Sophomore forward Will Golonka has scored eight goals on the year, with five of those having come in the last five games. Senior forward Devin Albert, who was injured and missed over a month to start the season, has scored four goals and added two assists over the course of the final four games of the season.
Scouting Report: Jeremiah McCarthy’s team is the only group in the prep tournament without a single scorer producing at over a point-a-game pace. The team is built from the net out with senior David Cunningham being the MVP at this point in the year. The Amherst recruit has played 80% of the games and has flashed an impressive .945 save percentage. Junior Mike Najjar has been the most consistent scoring threat. The Stoneham, Mass. native has tallied 13 goals in 30 games played.
Leading Scorer: Jarrid Privitera (27 GP, 16-22-38)
D1 Committed Players: Jarrid Privitera (Boston University), Jake Wood (RPI), Cameron Romoff (Brown)
Who’s Hot: Junior Anthony Bird has rattled off a 3-4-7 scoring line over the last four games. Privitera, a senior, has found the score sheet in six of his team’s last seven games.
Scouting Report: Chris Baudo has a lot of weapons in his arsenal as nine forwards are chipping in .70 points-per-game or more. Of those nine forwards, Privitera, Bird, junior Marc Cibelli and senior Jake Wood are all exceeding more than a point-a-game. Exeter’s top line should expect to see a lot of 6’2” 175 lb. shutdown defenseman Dakota Ford. Gunnery has seen consistent goaltending this season from junior Dawson Sprigings. The Toronto, Ontario native has a respectable .918 save percentage while getting roughly 75% of the starts.
#7. Avon Old Farms
Leading Scorer: Vincent Russo (26 GP, 17-20-37)
D1 Committed Players: Griff Martin (Yale)
Who’s Hot: Avon finished the season on a 9-2 run. The Winged Beavers will enter the playoffs with offensive confidence as they have outscored their opponents 20-2 during their current three-game unbeaten streak. Over those same three games junior Vincent Russo has produced an eye-popping 10 points.
Scouting Report: Russo, a Team Comcast product, has figured in more than ome-third of his team’s goals this year. Seniors Colin Sullivan, Jon Ahern and Jack Even, along with junior Griff Martin, give Avon a formidable top four on the backend. John Gardner’s ace has been senior goaltender Michael Santaguida. The Mississauga, Ontario native is more than capable of stealing a game single-handedly and owns a .948 save percentage—which is tops in all of prep hockey.
Leading Scorer: Garrett Hehir (29 GP, 17-31-48)
D1 Committed Players : Shane Eiserman (UNH), Corey Scammon (Lowell), Kyle O’Brien (Bentley)
Who’s Hot: Cushing’s play down the stretch has been quite average (6-6-1), but the Penguins may have the ship back on course as they are winners of their last three. Sophomore forward Eiserman appears to be heating up with a 3-2-5 scoring line in just his last two games. Sophomore forward Shane Kavanagh has been quietly consistent, figuring in on the scoring with at least a point in six of the team’s last seven games.
Scouting Report: You cannot take Rob Gagnon’s crew lightly because they have players with the ability to break a game open in the blink of an eye. UNH recruit Eiserman, leading scorer Hehir and the aforementioned Kavanagh comprise a potent top line. Junior forward Thomas Aldworth presents a significant threat on the second line. PP quarterback and captain Corey Scammon is looking to make a run in his fourth season at Cushing. Goaltending inconsistencies have plagued the team from day 1, but senior Liam Moorfield-Yee has stepped up and gives Cushing a chance to win on most nights.
In the MIAA playdown, held last night at Merrimack, #9 St. John's-Shrewsbury almost blew a 5-0 lead but held on and edged #8 Needham, 5-4, to advance to the next round, to be played Sunday, also at Merrimack.
In the nightcap, #10 Central Catholic got three goals from senior Michael Kelleher to go up 3-0, but #7 Burlington came back and tied things up at 3-3. Central, however, came back to score three of the next four goals, and skate off with a 6-4 win.
St. John's-Shrewsbury has been re-seeded at #8 and and Central Catholic is now #7. Here's the schedule for Sunday:
Super 8, Sunday March 4 @ Merrimack College
#4 Hingham vs. #5 BC High, 12:00 pm
#2 St. Mary's vs. #7 Central Catholic, 2:15 pm
#3 St. John's Prep vs. #6 Springfield Cathedral, 4:45 pm
#1 Malden Catholic vs. #8 St. John's-Shrewsbury, 7:00 pm
After Sunday, Super 8 play will continue with two games on Tues. night 3/6 (5:45, 8:15) and two on Wed. 3/7 (5:45, 8:15) before all four teams meet again on Sun. 3/11 (12:00, 2:15, 4:45. 7:00). The crossover round is on Wed. 3/14 (5:45, 8:15). All games are at Merrimack with the exception of the final, which will be held at the TD Garden on Sun. night March 18th.
EJHL Playoffs Get Underway Today
The EJHL playoffs are underway, with four games scheduled for today:
Springfield @ Green Mountain, 11:50 am
Huskies @ Bridgewater, 2:20 pm
Apple Core @ Valley, 2:30 pm
Rochester @ Bay State, 7:00 pm
The Junior Bruins (37-7-1), South Shore Kings (37-8-0), New Hampshire Junior Monarchs (30-14-1), and Jersey Hitmen (27-14-4) all get byes and don’t start play until the quarterfinals on Sat.-Sun. March 3-4.
Click this link for the full EJHL playoff schedule:
EJHL Playoff Schedule
Shea Leaves Moncton; Returns Home
Yahoo Sports Canada has posted an article detailing the circumstances surrounding former Nobles forward Brandon Shea’s departure from the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL).
A ’95 from Marshfield, Mass., Shea, the third-leading scorer as a freshman last year at Nobles, had committed to the NTDP and Boston College before changing course and going major junior over the summer.
First-Rounder Brandon Shea Bolts from Wildcats
Wed. 2/29/12 -- For the scores to today's games please go to the USHR Prep Pages.
Winter Storm Coming
A winter storm is coming to New England Wednesday afternoon, with snow reaching Hartford and Worcester around lunchtime. Weather reports indicate that snow could be pretty heavy in Boston by the evening rush hour, and the region is under a winter snow advisory.
The only game times that have been affected by the storm so far are the Avon Old Farms @ Nobles tilt, which has been moved up to a 2:00 pm faceoff; the Brunswick-St. Seb's game, which has been moved up a half hour, to 4:00 pm; the KUA-St. Mark's game, which has also been moved up by a half-hour; and the Westminster-Berkshire game, which has been moved up by a full 90 minutes. In addition, the Gunnery is having bus problems and their game vs. Exeter, scheduled to be played at St. Mark's at 3:00 pm, will now faceoff at 4:00, and possibly a little later.
If there are any additional changes, we will have them for you here.
The coaches have a contingency plan to play Thursday -- same time/same venues -- in case games have to postponed. However, Thursday is also looking bad weather wise -- maybe even worse.
Wed. Feb. 29, 2012:
#8 Cushing vs. #1 Salisbury -- 3:45 pm (@ Avon Old Farms)
#5 Belmont Hill vs. #4 Lawrence Academy -- 4:00 pm (@ Lawrence)
#6 Gunnery vs. #3 Exeter -- 4:00 pm (@ St. Mark's)
#7 Avon Old Farms vs. #2 Noble and Greenough -- 2:00 pm (@ Nobles)
#8 Westminster vs. #1 Berkshire -- 3:00 pm (@ Berkshire)
#5 Albany Academy vs. #4 St. Paul's -- 3:30 pm (@ Deerfield)
#6 Choate vs. #3 Kent -- 4:00 pm (@ Kent)
#7 Brunswick vs. #2 St. Sebastian's -- 4:00 pm (@ Williston-Northampton)
#8 St. Mark's vs. #1 Kimball Union -- 3:00 pm (@ KUA)
#5 Dexter vs. #4 Winchendon -- 5:30 pm (@ Winchendon)
#6 Kent's Hill vs. #3 Holderness -- 4:00 pm (@ Exeter)
#7 Brooks vs. #2 South Kent -- 4:00 pm (@ Eaglebrook School)
Semis and Finals:
Fri. March 2 (IceCenter Salem, NH)
5:30 pm -- Stuart/Corkery Semifinal (1-8 winners vs. 4-5 winners)
8:00 pm -- Stuart/Corkery Semifinal (2-7 winners vs. 3-6 winners)
Sat. March 3 (IceCenter Salem, NH)
9:00 am -- Piatelli/Simmons Semifinal (1-8 winners vs. 4-5 winners)
11:30 am -- Piatelli/Simmons Semifinal (2-7 winners vs. 3-6 winners)
2:00 pm -- Martin/Earl Semifinal (1-8 winners vs. 4-5 winners)
4:30 pm -- Martin/Earl Semifinal (2-7 winners vs. 3-6 winners)
Sun. March 4 (IceCenter Salem, NH)
10:30 am -- Piatelli/Simmons Final
1:00 pm -- Martin/Earl Final
3:30 pm -- Stuart/Corkery Final
St. Andrew’s Wins Mid-West Prep Title
St. Andrew’s College topped Lake Forest Academy, 3-1, yesterday to win the Mid-West Prep League 2011-12 championship.
For St. Andrew’s, it was their fifth league title in the eight years they have been a member of the league.
James Lappin, Brandon Cercone, and Burke White scored the St. Andrew’s goals, and Hayden Neuman earned the win in net. Matt Ustaski scored Lake Forest’s lone goal.
In Saturday’s semis, St. Andrew’s topped the Edge School, 4-2, while Lake Forest edged Stanstead College, 3-2 in OT.
Midwest Prep Hockey League All-Stars:
Greg Jansz, F, St. Andrew’s College; Mark Jankowski, F, Stanstead College; James Robinson, F, Edge School; Carl Greco, D, Ridley College; Mitch Ferguson, D, Edge School; Hayden Neuman, G, St. Andrew’s College.
Frankie Senese, F, Lake Forest Academy; Dominic Oliver, F, Shady Side Academy; Ken Tencza, F, St. Francis School; Andrew Debrincat, D, Lake Forest Academy; Ty Gladwell, D, Shady Side Academy; Josh Hickey, G, Gilmour Academy.
Mass Super 8 Seeding
The MIAA has seeded teams for the Mass High School Super 8 Tournament. They are as follows:
1. Malden Catholic (15-1-4)
2. St. Mary’s (18-1-3)
3. St. John’s Prep (13-5-2)
4. Hingham (16-4-2)
5. BC High (10-5-5)
6. Springfield Cathedral (10-6-6)
7. Burlington (14-1-6)
8. Needham (16-4-1)
9. St. John’s--Shrewsbury (15-4-3)
10. Central Catholic (12-3-5)
Play-in games are tomorrow (Mon. 2/27) night at Merrimack College. #8 Needham will play #9 St. John’s-Shrewsbury at 5:45 pm followed by #7 Burlington vs. #10 Central Catholic at 8:15 pm.
NEPSIHA Tournament Seeds
Here are the final NEPSIHA seeds, for each of the three tournaments. Please check the prep pages later this evening for times and venues for Wednesday's games (look for a lot of neutral site games).
Open Tournament (Stuart/Corkery)
5. Belmont Hill
7. Avon Old Farms
Large School Tournament (Martin/Earl)
2. St. Sebastian’s
4. St. Paul’s
5. Albany Academy
Small School Tournament (Piatelli/Simmons)
1. Kimball Union
2. South Kent
6. Kents Hill
8. St. Mark’s
-- 6’1”, 165 lb. Delbarton senior goalie Colton Phinney has committed to Princeton for the fall of ’13.
A 6/17/93 birthdate from Chatham, NJ, Phinney has a 20-1 mark this season, with a .946 save percentage.
“Colton is one of the best goalies in the country,” says Delbarton head coach Bruce Shatel. “He’s 6’1”. He’s athletic. He’s great when the game is on the line. And he handles the puck like a pro right now.”
Phinney will be joining current Delbarton teammate Tommy Davis (fall ’13) and former teammate Michael Ambrosia (fall ’12) at Princeton.
This is Phinney’s fourth year at Delbarton, and his second as a starter. During his first two years he backed up Bobby Kaminski (Bowdoin).
Phinney will play for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) next season.
-- Berkshire School 6’2”, 195 lb. LC Kevin Rooney has committed to Providence College for this coming fall.
Rooney, a Canton native, is the leading scorer at Berkshire with a 12-12-24 line in 27 games. He’s also one of the team’s captains.
“Very few kids of his size skate as well as he does,” says Berkshire head coach Dan Driscoll. “He can flat-out fly and is a physical presence. He plays both ends of the rink extremely well.”
Rooney’s uncle is Steve Rooney, who played at Providence College for Lou Lamoriello in the early ‘80s before going on to play 154 NHL games with Montreal, Winnipeg, and New Jersey. His first cousin, Chris, is currently a junior forward for the Friars.
-- 5’9”, 170 lb. Kimball Union junior LW Nick Roberto has committed to Maine for the fall of ’13.
A Wakefield, Mass. native and a 4/4/94 birthdate, Roberto played on Malden Catholic’s Super 8 winning team last season before coming to KUA as a repeat junior this year. In 28 games, he has a 14-14-28 line.
“His biggest asset is the fact that he competes hard and plays with a ton of energy,” says KUA head coach Mike Levine.
Gordon Conference All-Stars
Here is this winter’s Gordon Conference All-Star Team:
Tommy Muratore, Sr. D, Delbarton.
John Baiocco, Jr. F, Delbarton; Drew Melanson, Jr. F, Delbarton; Daniel Malafronte, Sr. F, CBA; Tommy Muratore, Sr. D, Delbarton; Tommy Davis, Sr. D, Delbarton; Colton Phinney, Sr. G, Delbarton.
Cole Maier, Jr. F, Don Bosco; Brendan Calello, Sr. F, Don Bosco; Justin McKenzie, Sr. F, Don Bosco; Connor Wynn, Jr. D, Bergen Catholic; Cody Calcagno, Soph. D, Don Bosco; Matt Manley, Sr. G, Seton Hall.
Tucker James, Jr., Bergen Catholic; Dan Perez, Jr, SPP; Matt McMorrow, Sr., Don Bosco; Josh Melnick, Jr., Delbarton; James Martello, Sr. , CBA; George Watkins, Sr., Gloucester Catholic; James Potter, Jr., SHP; Billy Faulkner, Sr., Pope John; Mike DeSimone, Sr., St. Augustine Prep; Derek Jester, Sr., Bishop Eustace.
O'Keefe Chooses Yale
6’3”, 210 lb. Dan O’Keefe, a right-shot defenseman from Team Comcast U-18s, has committed to Yale for the fall of 2014.
A 3/6/94 birthdate from New Jersey, O’Keefe is, according to Team Comcast head coach Jared Beach, “A big, physical, strong kid who skates well for his size. He competes hard and plays a shutdown game, but he also moves the puck well and has offensive ability.”
In 38 Elite League games, O’Keefe has a 1-9-10 line with 12 pims.
The schools O’Keefe visited were Princeton, Harvard, St. Lawrence, and Yale.
O’Keefe, currently undrafted in the USHL, will play the next two years in that league.
Calnan to the Heights
Noble & Greenough junior forward Chris Calnan has committed to Boston College for the fall of 2013. The Norwell, Mass native is leading Nobles in scoring with a 22-23-45 line in only 22 games played.
The 6’3” 195 lb. power forward is a bit of late bloomer (25 points in '10-11) who has really turned it on this season. Back in December, we ranked Calnan as the fourth best junior/prep/high school prospect in New England. In Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings the Bulldogs' ace was slotted in at #94 and is expected to be drafted this June somewhere between the 3rd and 5th round.
Calnan made his final decision between BC, Harvard and Yale. Look for the ’94 birthdate to be pulled in all directions in the offseason as EJHL and USHL teams will make a strong push for his services.
Big, Mean D-Man for Wildcats
Merritt Centennials (BCHL) defenseman Dylan Chanter has committed to the University of New Hampshire for the fall of 2014.
The 6’3” 195 lb. blueliner plays with a real mean streak, is strong in 1x1 situations, can make a good first pass, and goes against the grain of a “typical” UNH defenseman. The Armstrong, BC native also possesses leadership intangibles.
The 9/17/95 birthdate is not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2014. The rugged defender made his final decision between UNH, Michigan Tech, and the Portland Winterhawks (WHL). Portland made a strong push in the last 48 hours to sign Chanter for 2012-13 but in the end the NCAA route won out.
In 50 games for Merritt, Chanter has a 2-10-12 line with 45 pims.
Masters Sent Home by Muskegon
UNH fall 2013 recruit Jordan Masters has been dismissed from the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) for a violation of team rules. The 4/30/94 DOB has a 5-10-15 scoring line through 31 games played this season.
The 5’10”, 163 lb. forward led the USA Hockey Select 17 festival in scoring over the summer after producing a 9-2-11 scoring line in only five games played. His performance at the festival earned him a spot on the US Under-18 Team which participated in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. While the team finished an underwhelming fifth place, Masters led the squad in scoring (4-3-7 in 4 games played) out-producing the likes of potential first round NHL draft picks Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia-OHL) and Boo Nieves (Kent School).
It is likely that Masters’ season is now over, but Muskegon has yet to release him from their protected list. The second-year player is currently home in Rochester, NY and all parties involved will reevaluate the situation in the off season.
Holderness D-man Picks Saints
Holderness School junior defenseman Gavin Bayreuther has committed to St. Lawrence for the fall of 2014.
Bayreuther, who arrived at Holderness from the Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH – where both his parents teach -- as a 5’8” freshman in the fall of 2009, has grown to 6’1”, 175 lbs. and is among the leading scoring d-men in New England preps with a 10-18-28 line in 24 games played.
A 5/12/94 birthdate, Bayreuther has been a standout for Holderness which, under second-year head coach – and St. Lawrence alum -- Allie Skelley, has gone from 7-21-1 last season to 18-8-2 so far this year. They are a virtual lock for the small school tournament.
Bayreuther, who will play a year of juniors before going to St. Lawrence, is a puck-moving d-man who has show excellent offensive skills at the prep level. He’s a strong skater who can take if from goal line to goal line and should be able to play on the power play at the college level. He is good at getting pucks through traffic to the net. He needs work on his defensive play, and has one more year at Holderness and then a year of juniors (either the USHL or EJHL) before heading to upstate New York.
Bayreuther has been a three-sport athlete every year since his freshman year, playing soccer, hockey, and lacrosse. He was heavily recruited by Div. I programs for lacrosse.
Sampson Takes the Reins at Winchendon
Jarrett Sampson has been named head coach of the Winchendon School Varsity, effective immediately.
Sampson, a 29-year old from Prince Albert, Sask. played two years for the South Surrey Eagles (BCHL) before going on to Dartmouth, where he played four years, graduating in ’06.
At Winchendon, he will take the place of Sean Hayes, who has accepted a position in the admissions office at Becker College in Worcester, Mass.
Winchendon, 14-20-1 last season, has improved to 14-11-0 this season.
South Shore Kings (EJHL) forward Jimmy Vesey, a Harvard recruit formerly at Belmont Hill, was honored before yesterday’s game for setting a new EJHL single-season scoring record this season.
In last Thursday’s 6-3 win over Bay State, Vesey broke the previous single-season EJHL scoring mark of 83, set by the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs’ Paul Thompson during the ’06-07 season and equaled by South Shore’s Chris Wagner during the ’09-10 season.
Vesey has since added to his total and now has a 46-41-87 line in 44 games played. South Shore has one more regular season game remaining.
The second-leading scorer in the league is Vesey’s teammate, Nick Bligh, a Dartmouth recruit out of the Dexter School, who has 81 points thus far.
Vesey, a 6’2”, 185 lb. 5/25/93 birthdate from North Reading, Mass., was passed over by NHL teams in his first year of eligibility last June, but pro scouts have been watching him closely all season and he’s sure to hear his name called this time around.
A New #1 in USHR Prep Poll
After six straight weeks at #1 in the USHR Prep Poll, Nobles, losers of three of their last four, has relinquished the top spot to Salisbury, winners of 11 straight.
For Salisbury, it is the first time they have been in the #1 spot since the first poll of the season, at which time they were 4-0-0. That initial poll, back in December, featured eight teams that are also in this week's poll. (St. Sebastian's, #2 back then, and South Kent, then #10, are the two teams that subsequently fell out of the Top 10.)
Also, while there's been a reshuffling of the deck this week, no team that was in last week's poll has been booted to the curb this week -- and that's a first for this season. of course.
USHR Prep Poll: Week of Feb. 20, 2012
BU’s Nicastro Arrested for Sexual Assault
Boston University junior defenseman Max Nicastro was arrested early this morning by campus police and charged with sexual assault, according to BU Today.
The alleged assault reportedly occurred in a BU dorm. Nicastro is being held on a $25,000 cash bail and will be arraigned in Brighton District Court on Tuesday. (On Dec. 12, senior center Corey Trivino was arraigned in the same court -- and also held on $25,000 bail.)
Boston University AD Michael Lynch announced that Nicastro has been suspended from the team pending the outcome of the investigation.
Californians Coming to New England
6’1”, 175 lb. Chicago Fury (U-18 Elite League) forward Tyler Moy has committed to Harvard for the fall of ’13.
A 7/18/95 birthdate and a native of San Diego, California, Moy, a right-shot forward, is the second-leading scorer on the Fury with a 15-24-39 line in 36 games played.
One of the better players at last summer’s Select 16 Festival in Rochester, NY, Moy previously played for the San Diego Jr. Gulls and the Southern California Titans. He was selected by the Omaha Lancers in the 2011 USHL Futures Draft and will play there next season.
Moy made his final college pick from between Harvard, Princeton, and Providence.
5’11” goaltender Billy Faust, who is from Alta Loma, California, about 40 miles east of LA, has committed to the University of Vermont for this fall.
A 2/20/91 birthdate, this is Faust’s second season in the BCHL (he played for Penticton last season) and, in 42 games, he has a .914 save percentage and a 2.77 gaa while playing for a team tied for ninth place in the league.
Faust will join incoming freshman Brody Hoffman of Fort McMurray (AJHL) as UVM’s goalies of the future.
Gilmour Changes His Mind
Noble & Greenough 6’2”, 194 lb. junior RW Adam Gilmour has decommitted from Quinnipiac.
Gilmour, the leading scorer at Nobles with a 17-27-44 line in 20 games, originally committed to Quinnipiac in the fall of 2010, prior to his sophomore year. The speculation is that Gilmour will resurface at a Beanpot school.
A 1/29/94 birthdate from Hanover, Mass., Gilmour was ranked #145 among North American skaters in last month’s mid-term ranking by Central Scouting.
Nobles, which was cruising along at 18-1-1, is now riding a two-game losing streak, having been beaten 6-0 by Governor’s last Wednesday and 5-2 by St. Sebastian’s yesterday.
Nittany Lions Land First Blue Chipper
Penn State has received a commitment from 5’10”, 160 lb. Team Comcast Under-16 defenseman Kevin Kerr for the fall of 2014. The 2/9/96 birthdate from Bensalem, PA, who has a 4-10-14 scoring line through 15 league games, played for Team USA at the recent Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria and stands a strong chance to make the NTDP.
Kerr, a sophomore in high school, is a significant get for Guy Gadowsky and his staff for a couple of reasons. First, while Penn State has some excellent recruits committed, Kerr is the first blue-chipper. Second, and most importantly, is the fact that he is an in-state recruit. There has been a long line of Philadelphia-area kids who have had success at the college level -- Tony Voce and John Gaudreau at BC, Chad Kolarik at Michigan, and many others -- and these are the kids Penn State will seek to attract, much like BC and BU tend to draw the high-end Boston area kids.
Team Comcast head coach Jeremy Hall, a former forward at UMass-Lowell, thinks very highly of his top defenseman. “Kevin reads the play so well and thinks the game two steps ahead of everyone, and this is what makes him such a good offensive defenseman. He does not put himself in bad situations, as he is very intelligent and knows when and when not to jump into the rush. In my opinion, he is the best defenseman in our league. His impact at the U16 level is tremendous; when he is on the ice he makes everyone better. For Penn State, this is huge. “
Kerr made his final decision between Penn State and Ohio State. Michigan and BU, among others, had also expressed interest in the future power play quarterback.
Nobles is #1 Again, Though Barely
Noble & Greenough, despite being blanked by Governor's Academy 6-0 last Wednesday, holds onto the #1 spot by the slimmest of margins over #2 Salisbury in this week's USHR Prep Poll.
Only one team has been booted out of the Top 10 this week, and that is Cushing, last week's #10. Since then, the Penguins have lost three in a row -- to Tabor, to Canterbury, and to Salisbury.
USHR Prep Poll: Week of Feb. 12, 2012
Scott Young’s Comeback
Scott Young, a 16-year NHL veteran and current head coach at St. Mark’s School, has agreed to a short-term contract with Brunflo IK in Sweden’s second division.
So, is the Clinton, Mass native attempting to make a comeback? No. St. Mark’s will be on break from March 10th-19th and Young will return when school resumes. The winner of the second division in Sweden moves up to the first division and Brunflo IK will be in the tournament during the St. Mark’s spring break. Clearly, they feel the NHL veteran, now 44 years old and retired since the ‘05-06 season, could put them over the top. For his career, the Boston University alum played in 1,172 NHL games and put up an impressive 342-415-757 scoring line.
We contacted Young to see what his motives were for making the decision to play again.
“Europe is a beautiful place,” he said. “The team is flying myself, my wife, my child and my mother-in-law over to Sweden and it should be a lot of fun.”
But what about the hockey?
“I really don’t know what to expect,” Young said. “I have not played in five years. Every so often I put the gear on and skate with my guys here at school, but it is obviously not the same thing as playing in a real game.”
We asked Young – assuming he does play well – if he will consider playing again next season.
“Hopefully, I play well and they will fly me over for spring break again next year,” Young said. “But I am fully committed to coaching and am not entertaining the idea of a comeback.”
The second-year bench boss has done an excellent job since taking over at St. Mark’s, going 29-20-1. St Mark’s had been in a down period since the ‘80s when Young, BC assistant coach Greg Brown, and NHL veteran Doug Brown (Greg’s older brother) put St. Mark’s on the map.
This year, the Lions are 14-7-1 to date, which is very impressive considering that just four years ago the team was 0-23-1. While Young is certainly a big piece of the resurgence, we would be remiss not to mention the impact of junior forward Mike Pontarelli, who leads the prep hockey scoring race with a staggering 41-26-67 scoring line in only 22 games played. The Laval, Quebec native is getting significant attention from ECAC and Hockey East schools.
The Top Uncommitteds (Part II)
Back in October we asked ourselves, “Who are the best players available who could step into a college lineup as soon as next season?” We did our best to rank our top 25 uncommitted players – and, since then, 17 of those 25 have made their college choice. Below is a look as to how things turned out.
1. Seth Jones (NTDP)-Uncommitted
2. Alex Kerfoot (Coquitlam-BCHL)-Uncommitted
3. Wesley Myron (Victoria-BCHL)-Boston University
4. Adam Tambellini (Vernon-BCHL)-North Dakota
5. Matt Benning (Spruce Give-BCHL)-Uncommitted
6. Reese Wilcox (Merritt-BCHL)-Cornell
7. Max Gardiner (Dubuque-USHL)-Penn State
8. Jacob Fallon (Indiana-USHL)- UVM
9. Paul Geiger (Stouffville-OJHL)-Clarkson
10. Alex Barron (Indiana-USHL)-Quinnipiac
11. Cody Bradley (Dubuque-USHL)-Uncommitted
12. Brandon Morley (Surrey-BCHL)-Uncommitted
13. Ben Hutton (Nepean-CCHL)-Maine
14. Mark Cooper (St. Michaels-OJHL)-Western Michigan
15. Matt Lane (NTDP)-Boston University
16. Kyle Baun (Cornwall-CCHL)-Colgate
17. David Goodwin (Sioux City-USHL)-Penn State
18. Drake Caggiula (Stouffville-OJHL)-North Dakota
19. Mike McKee (Lincoln-USHL)-Western Michigan
20. John Draeger (Shattuck)-Michigan State
21. Dalen Hedges (Nepean-CCHL)-Uncommitted
22. Eric Schurhamer (St. Thomas Academy)-Maine
23. Darcy Murphy (Wellington-OJHL)-Uncommitted
24. Austin Ortega (Cedar Rapids-USHL)-Nebraska-Omaha
25. Shane Omdahl (Bismark-NAHL)-Uncommitted
As the college season nears an end, NHL GM’s are preparing to sign many of college hockey’s best, some of whom have eligibility remaining. Losing players before you expect them to leave can, of course, create quite the headache for NCAA coaches. If it’s any consolation, we feel -- despite our October list being pretty well picked over -- that there are still players available who could step in and contribute. Below is a look at The Top Uncommitteds (Part II).
1. Seth Jones, D, ’94 (NTDP) 6-4/190—Has narrowed his decision down to North Dakota or Everett (WHL) – and we have the feeling the Dub will win out (but really hope we’re wrong). The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones is the likely #1 overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Will make an immediate impact wherever he decides to play.
2. Alex Kerfoot, F, ’94 (Coquitlam-BCHL) 5-9/155—Has decided to return to the BCHL for another season as the potential All-American will undergo surgery in the near future. Would he be an impact player next season? Without a doubt. Has 53 points in 39 games played in his rookie season. BC, Harvard and Yale are still the frontrunners.
3. Marc Biega, D, 94 (Salisbury) 6-1/195—Salisbury’s captain has led the team to an impressive 16-3 record while producing 27 points in only 19 games played. Has had three brothers play hockey at Harvard, but the Montreal, Quebec native will not be the fourth. Will quarterback a D1 power play in the future. A number of ECAC and Hockey East schools are interested.
4. Matt Benning, D, ’94 (Spruce Grove-AJHL) 6-0/210—Major contributor on the 41-5 Saints. Could probably benefit from playing another season of juniors, but if a team needs a d-man, Benning most certainly should be near the top of the list.
5. Brandon Morley, F, ’94 (Surrey-BCHL) 5-9/160—Uber-skilled forward has a brother, Tyler, who recently committed to Alaska-Fairbanks. Will the former Merrimack recruit follow suit?
6. Regan Soquila, F, ’93 (Merritt-BCHL) 5-10/178—Sits 16th in the BCHL in scoring with a 13-44-57 line in 48 games played. Has the ability to provide immediate offense.
7. Alex Iaffalo, F, ’93 (Fargo-USHL) 5-11/165—December ’93 DOB has produced 11 goals in 38 games played in his rookie season. The Eden, NY native, and former Buffalo Regal, projects to be a top nine forward at the next level.
8. Jordan Young, D, ’92 (Youngstown-USHL) 5-10/178—College ready. Could play in the top six for someone next season. The Cave Creek, Arizona native is in his second season in the USHL.
9. Nate Arentz, F, ’94 (Fargo-USHL) 6-1/185—Has produced a 6-9-15 scoring line in 33 games played in his second season in the USHL. A good skater who is capable of making high-end plays.
10. Ryan Renz, D, ’93 (Vernon-BCHL) 6-2/210—Big defender who plays with an edge. Is a safe pick to be a reliable defender at the NCAA level. Harvard and Northern Michigan have expressed interest. 1-19-20 in 43 games played. Was formerly committed to Northeastern.
11. Hunter Fejes, F, ’94 (Shattuck) 6-1/190—The Anchorage, Alaska native is the leading goal scorer on a very good Shattuck prep team. 26-26-52 in only 41 games played.
12. Cody Bradley, F, ’94 (Dubuque-USHL) 5-10/163—The son of NHL veteran Brian Bradley came out of the gates flying for Indiana, but his game cooled off and he was shipped to Dubuque. Since arriving with his new team he has produced 10 points in 14 games played.
13. Colin Sullivan, D, ’93 (Avon Old Farms) 6-2/210—The Avon captain recently decommitted from Yale as he was asked to play a year of juniors, and he feels he is ready for college. The seventh round selection of the Montreal Canadians has produced 7 goals in 16 games played this season. Could be playing in Hockey East. Boston College is interested.
14. KJ Tiefenwerth, F, ’92 (Junior Bruins-EJHL) 5-9/160—The former BC recruit sits third in the EJHL in scoring with a 24-41-65 scoring line in 35 games played. The captain of the top team in the EJHL, he has always been a point producer -- and all signs indicate that he could do the same in college. A bit older than most of the players on this list, he presumably will also be more ready to step in and help someone out.
15. Will Merchant, F, ’94 (Eagan High) 6-0/180—One of Minnesota high school hockey’s finest. Produced 33 goals in 31 games played last season. A fourth round draft of the Tri-City Storm (USHL) – and that’s where you’ll likely see him next season unless a school scoops him up at the last minute.
16. John Stevens, F, ’94 (Salisbury) 6-2/185—Reliable center possess a nice all-around skill set. Has good size and a lot of upside. If he develops a little more sizzle with the puck the son of LA Kings asst. coach John Stevens could become a steal.
17. Woody Hudson, F, ’92 (Indiana-USHL) 6-3/225—Recently decommitted from RIT. The former Milton Academy forward, now playing in Indiana, is a physical specimen who is extremely difficult to play against. Will make for a very effective third line player in college.
18. Nikolas Olsson, F, ’94 (NTDP) 5-11/192—NTDP product can skate and plays with an edge. Escondido, California native has yet to find his scoring touch, but could play a role for an NCAA team and has big game experience on his resume.
19. Dalen Hedges, F, ’94 (Nepean-CCHL) 5-8/165—Small, skilled forward is piling up the points this season. Has a 26-31-57 scoring line in 45 games played for the nationally ranked (8th) Nepean squad.
20. Darcy Murphy, F, ’92 (Wellington-OJHL) 5-9/174—Having a hard time trying to figure out why a school has not jumped on the Wellington Dukes’ sniper. Numbers don’t lie and this guy has 46 goals in 42 games played this season.
21. Zack Pryzbek, F, ’94 (Salisbury) 6-4/205—Big power forward has an excellent upside. Plays a big man’s game and is outstanding along the boards. Is a sure thing to be a third line player, but we feel he has top six potential.
22. Will Goss, D, ’92 (Exeter) 6-5/205—A lot to like about the 6’5” defender’s game. Skates well for a player his size and plays a pretty conservative game with the puck. Has been a big part of Exeter’s success this season and has produced 24 points in 21 games played. Played at Wellesley (Mass.) HS before going to Exeter as a junior.
23. Kyle Kramer, F, ’92 (Nanaimo-BCHL) 5-9/180—Productive forward in a very good league. Has scored 24 goals and 45 points this year.
24. Blake Leask, D, ’92 (Bonnyville-AJHL) 5-9/170—Need someone to run your PP? How does 47 points in 50 games sound? Leads the Alberta Junior League in scoring for defensemen. Could be a rock worth turning over.
25. Andrew Hunt, G, ’92 (Surrey-BCHL) 6-2/180—Surrey sits third in the BCHL standings and Hunt is a big reason why. The local product sports a 2.65 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
2012 NEPSIHA Playoff Schedule
On Wednesday Feb. 29, the NEPSIHA Playoffs begin with quarterfinal games at campus sites.
As has been the case in recent years, there will be four games played in each of three divisions, i.e. Stuart/Corkery Tournament (Open); Martin/Earl Tournament (Large Schools); and Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small Schools).
Wed. Feb. 29 (at campus sites)
Fri. March 2 (IceCenter Salem, NH)
5:30 pm -- Stuart/Corkery Semifinal (1-8 winners vs. 4-5 winners)
8:00 pm -- Stuart/Corkery Semifinal (2-7 winners vs. 3-6 winners)
Sat. March 3 (IceCenter Salem, NH
9:00 am -- Piatelli/Simmons Semifinal (1-8 winners vs. 4-5 winners)
11:30 am -- Piatelli/Simmons Semifinal (2-7 winners vs. 3-6 winners)
2:00 pm -- Martin/Earl Semifinal (1-8 winners vs. 4-5 winners)
4:30 pm -- Martin/Earl Semifinal (2-7 winners vs. 3-6 winners)
Sun. March 4 (IceCenter Salem, NH
10:30 am -- Piatelli/Simmons Final
1:00 pm -- Martin/Earl Final
3:30 pm -- Stuart/Corkery Final
All schools are eligible for the open tournament, but only large and small schools may be entered in the other two tournaments. Small schools include the following: Proctor, Rye CD, Brooks, Pomfret, New Hampton, KUA, Kingswood-Oxford, St. Mark's, Middlesex, Rivers, King-Low, Portsmouth Abbey, St. George's, Gunnery, Groton, Tilton, South Kent, Holderness, Winchendon, Dexter, Hamden Hall, Pingree, Millbrook, Kents Hill, Harvey, Hebron, Berwick, Vermont Academy, NYA, and Hoosac.
Wood to Brown
Noble & Greenough 6’2”, 200 lb. junior RD Tyler Wood has committed to Brown.
Wood, who played two years at Governor’s before transferring to Nobles this fall, is a 3/23/94 birthdate from Manchester, Mass.
He’s the son of former Yale and NHL forward Randy Wood.
Florentino Joins U17s for Europe Trip
South Kent School 6’1”, 205 lb. junior RD Anthony Florentino will be joining the U.S. Under-17 Team this week for the trip to Piestany, Slovakia to take part in the Vlad Druzilla Tournament Feb. 7-13.
A 1/30/95 birthdate and Providence College recruit, Florentino is the only player who is joining the team from outside the program. Florentino flew to Ann Arbor today, and will be traveling with the team to Slovakia on Monday.
“He’s top notch,” says his coach, Eric Soltys. “He’s one of the best players in the league at his age. He’s looking forward to showing the world what he can do. This couldn’t be happening to a better kid.”
Once Again, Nobles is #1
Noble & Greenough (18-1-1) just keeps rolling along, and once again tops this week’s USHR Prep Poll.
Only one team has been booted out of the top ten, and that would be Albany Academy. The Cadets, who sprinted out to a 16-2-0 start, have lost four of their last five and will be looking to rebound against Millbrook on Wednesday.
USHR Prep Poll; Week of Feb. 6, 2012
A Great Night for Mass. High School Hockey
We watch a lot of games here at USHR, and every now and then we stumble into a rink and witness hockey in its purest form, which is what happened last night in Malden, Mass. as #1-ranked Malden Catholic topped #2-ranked St. John’s Prep, 5-2, with an empty-netter at the end. The Valley Forum was filled -- standing room only – and the pace of the hockey was excellent, with two teams just going after it hard. It is games such as this that have us wondering why everyone is in such a rush to play in the USHL, EJHL, etc. It just seemed like such fun to be playing in that game. High school/prep hockey has taken its licks over the last decade, which is too bad because it is games like this one that make us realize that some kids are being cheated out of an amazing experience, a time of their life that just won’t come again. There was a time when junior hockey was primarily for players who needed another year or two after high school to prepare themselves for college hockey and, quite frankly, that is the way it should be. In the meantime, we would encourage any elite 14 or 15-year-old kid to watch a Malden Catholic -- BC High game, or an Andover — Exeter, or a Nobles -- St. Sebastian’s game and tell us it is not a game he would want to be playing in. There is nothing quite like having the students you go to school with pile into a building and shout themselves hoarse cheering for you. Talk to the kids who played in last night’s game, and also talk to the Minnesota high school kids. As a matter of fact, talk to any player who has won both a prep/high school championship along with a junior hockey championship and ask them which was the fonder memory. Believe us, we are not knocking junior hockey here. The USHL and the EJHL are both excellent leagues and both have developed great players. And if a player can look in the mirror and say to himself, “I have accomplished everything I possibly can at the high school level” then he should just go right ahead and move on to juniors or the NCAA. No problem. However, far too many players are leaving schools early — long before they have accomplished all they can, or are even ready -- and are cheating themselves out of great memories, memories which they will never be able to get back. Believe us in this: if you’re good enough, juniors will still be there – and they’ll still want you. There’s no rush.
Back to the MC vs. St. John’s Prep game. For top-ranked Malden Catholic, the player who impressed us the most was ’97 born freshman defenseman Casey Fitzgerald. In fact, he impressed us more than any other player in the entire game. The BC recruit is going to be a good one. We have watched him play with his own age group and were very impressed, but when he plays with older players at a faster pace his game is elevated to another level. As a 5’10” defenseman he will have to fight the size battle when it comes to playing pro hockey, but there is zero doubt in our mind that he will be a slam-dunk at the NCAA level. The tandem of junior forward Ryan Fitzgerald and senior forward Brendan Collier is also really fun to watch. It seems like they control the puck 80 percent of the time they are on the ice. Ryan Fitzgerald appears to have been born to play at Boston College, as he fits the stereotype of a BC forward to a T. With one year left in high school, the older Fitzgerald brother is the perfect example of a player who will be able to look himself in the mirror and say, “I have gotten everything I can out of playing high school hockey.” As for Collier, he’s an old school throwback. You can tell he just loves playing the game. BU has an excellent prospect in Collier, and, if he can add another step, he could play on the top two lines as a freshman. A player with whom we were less familiar is junior Mike Iovanna. Playing on a line with Collier and Fitzgerald will make most players look good, but Iovanna is not just riding shotgun. He contributes a lot, and possesses an excellent stick. Iovanna will have a great chance to prove himself as a player next season when he is not playing with perhaps the two best linemates in the Catholic Conference. We think he will surprise a lot of people. Also, ’96-born freshman forward Ara Nazarian played with a lot of jump and determination. He was hungry for the puck, and displayed more grit than we have seen from him in the past. Nazarian, combined with sophomore forward Tyler Sifferen, gives the Lancers two lines that are threat to score every shift.
For St. John’s Prep, the clear-cut star is BU recruit Sam Kurker. The senior forward can really shoot it and is very difficult to knock off the puck in scoring areas. The 6’1”, 198 lb. winger was ranked #41 on NHL Central Scouting’s Mid-Term Rankings, which makes him the second-highest rated high school/prep player, trailing only Kent’s Boo Nieves. We believe Kurker will need to get faster in order to make an impact at BU early in his career, but in this particular game he was very dangerous when he had the puck. That said, we would have liked to have seen him play with more urgency in a couple of areas, e.g. getting the puck back and creating turnovers. His linemate, junior forward Brian Pinho, scored both of the Eagles’ goals last night and stood out -- he has a solid skill level and finishes his opportunities. Prep’s senior captain, Nick Pandelena, is an interesting story. The huge defenseman has a scholarship locked up and has signed a national letter of intent with Boston College. There is just one catch: the scholarship is not for hockey, but golf. Pandelena is a player we feel could also make a contribution to the BC hockey team. He may not crack the lineup on any kind of regular basis, but he is certainly someone capable of practicing with the team and, should the need arise, step into the lineup on an emergency basis. If Pandelena can significantly improve his speed, he could be a player at some point. Finally, senior goaltender David Letarte gives St. John’s Prep an opportunity to win every night. The four-year starter has a brother who is an Army Ranger and hopes to follow in his footsteps one day. It may not be a bad idea for West Point head coach Brian Riley and his staff to come and check out the aspiring GI.