Top USHL Coach Drawing UMass Attention
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) head coach/GM Mark Carlson is reportedly a strong candidate for the open UMass job, according to our sources.
Carlson, 43, and also a part owner of the RoughRiders, has coached Cedar Rapids for 13 seasons. In his first season, ’99-00, Cedar Rapids had a losing record. That has never happened since, as Carlson has reeled off 12 consecutive winning seasons. In 10 of those years, the Roughriders have finished either first or second in their division. They’ve won the Anderson Cup twice and the Clark Cup once.
Carlson, a native of Lawrenceville, NJ, was a forward at UMass-Lowell, graduating in 1993. After a season as an assistant coach at the Lawrenceville School, Carlson returned to Lowell as an assistant on Bruce Crowder’s staff. When Crowder moved on to Northeastern, Carlson followed and spent three more years as an assistant there before accepting the head coaching position with Cedar Rapids.
Recentley, Carlson had been a candidate for both the Northeastern and UMass-Lowell jobs.
Interestingly, Francis Anzalone, the son of Frank Anzalone, who also has put in for the UMass post, was an assistant on Carlson’s staff this past season.
Jankowski Moves Up Timetable
6’2”, 170 lb. LC Mark Jankowski, who lit it up for Stanstead College last winter -- 53-41-94 in 57 games played -- and was selected by the Calgary Flames in the first round of June’s NHL draft, will be heading to Providence College this fall.
Hoping to add strength before taking on the college game, Jankowski was originally planning on playing in the USHL this season, even though Providence said there was a 50/50 chance that he might come to school right away -- and they were holding a scholarship for him. The Dubuque Fighting Saints rolled the dice and selected him with their first pick in May’s USHL Draft.
Jankowski, who won’t turn 18 until September 13th, did well at Calgary’s rookie camp, and the Flames reportedly nudged him toward going to college right away.
Yale Recruit Decommits
6’1”, 185 lb. Avon Old Farms LD Griff Martin has decommitted from Yale University.
Martin, who will be a senior this season – as well as team captain – originally committed to the Bulldogs 15 months ago. The plan was for him to play a year of juniors after Avon, and then arrive in New Haven in the fall of ’14.
Martin, from Fairfield, Conn., is the second Avon player to decommit from Yale in recent months, as he joins defenseman Colin Sullivan, who will be a freshman at Boston College this fall.
In 27 games with the Winged Beavers last winter, Martin posted a 4-9-13 line.
Beantown Summer Tour Underway
The Beantown Summer Tour is underway and will run through Sunday at the Rinks at Exeter as well as at UNH. There are ten teams ('95-97 birth years). Here is a link to the rosters:
Summer Beantown Rosters
-- For those looking ahead, the Summer Beantown Classic dates this year are Sun. Aug. 12th through Wed. Aug. 15th at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. The Pro Division gets underway on Sun the 12th at 3:00 pm. . The Futures will start on Mon. the 13th at 1:00 pm.
A partial list of those invited will be posted at www.beantownclassic.com this coming Tuesday, with full rosters to follow on Friday Aug. 10th.
News From About
Dartmouth College has received a commitment from Team Comcast U18 forward Kevin Neiley for the fall of 2014. The 5’10”, 174 lb. winger is the brother of current Dartmouth sophomore forward Eric Neiley.
The Warminster, PA native is a product of the Valley Forge Minutemen where last season he played for their U16 team and compiled a 36-38-74 scoring line in just 41 games played. A 3/8/95 birthdate, Neiley’s style of play is very similar to his older brother in that he has a slick set of hands, good vision and natural scoring abilities. His skating still has a way to go, just like his older brother. The younger brother, however, plays a grittier game.
Neiley will play one more season for Team Comcast and then head out to the USHL. Right now he is undrafted, though we expect after a season in the Tier 1 Elite League many teams will have him fairly high on their draft lists. Don’t count out Phillips Exeter head coach Dana Barbin attempting to bring Neiley in as a PG. Older brother Eric had a very positive experience at Exeter, posting 92 points over two seasons.
In early July, Cushing head coach Rob Gagnon lost probably the top player in all of prep hockey, Shane Eiserman, to the NTDP. Those are big skates to fill, but Gagnon feels he has turned a negative situation into a positive one as he will welcome 6’3”, 198 lb. forward Michael Turner to Ashburnham.
The 9/23/95 birthdate, who has 22 games of USHL experience under his belt. will enroll at Cushing as a junior. An Oak Park, Ill. native, Turner has a ton of potential, but has yet to put the pieces together. That could happen at Cushing.
Cushing will enter the season as an early favorite to make it to the Final Four in Salem, NH. Garrett Hehir, Shane Kavanagh, Thomas Aldworth, Richie Boyd, and Connor Brassard are all players who look to garner D-I interest. Add into the mix Turner, Cam Askew (Northeastern), Joel Daccord and Steve Windt and the Penguins are primed to make a run.
We should, however, point out that the Indiana Ice (USHL) are recruiting Askew. So keep an eye on that.
Jeff Hill, an assistant coach at the Rice Prep Hockey Program for the past three years, will be heading to Indiana to take over the head coaching job of the Culver Academy U16 Team.
Ryan Miller, a former captain at the University of Vermont, was the head coach at Kimball Union from 2007-11. Last year he returned to Culver, his alma mater, took over hockey ops at the school, and also coached the U16 Team. This year, Miller is moving up to the prep team, taking over from Al Clark, who has retired after coaching at Culver since 1976.
With Hill heading West, Rice Prep head coach Damian DiGiulian will be looking for an assistant coach. Rice, in South Burlington, Vt., plays a 50 game schedule with games both in the Mid-West Prep League and an independent prep schedule. If interested in the coaching position contact DiGiulian at damiand.ricehockey (at) gmail.com.
By the way, there’s a big UVM connection at play here. Hill was a backup goalie for the Catamounts, DiGiulian was an assistant coach under Mike Gilligan there, and Miller, as we mentioned above, is a former Vermont captain.
US Select 15 Camp Rankings
USHR wrapped up the USA Hockey Select Festival tour with our favorite of the bunch -- the Select 15s. We have always viewed the 15 Festival as an unveiling of the top players in the country. Sure, the Bauer Tournament in the fall – and several smaller tournaments -- allow us to see a lot of the country’s best ‘97s, but seeing the best of the best competing against each other in this kind of environment is an extremely useful barometer. And that’s why we hold it in high regard. We also like the fact that, at this age level, the kids have yet to become jaded about the experience. There is still that palpable sense of wonder that, over the next two years, tends to fade away.
Our overall impression of the ‘97s is positive. We feel it’s a strong group, particularly on the backend, where the high-end guys are extremely impressive. The forwards, however, are not as deep. Yes, the top-end guys are very talented, but there was no one forward in Rochester who stepped up and clearly separated himself from the pack. Instead, we saw a group of about ten forwards, any one of who could be the #1 guy at this time next year. Goaltending? It’s always challenging to get a read – especially in summer hockey. That said, we saw plenty of raw talent, athleticism and flawless technique among the ‘97s. As for who will emerge over time, that’s a tough one. Let’s just say we gave it our best shot.
Finally, as always, some top players were missing, as USA Hockey is still familiarizing themselves with this age group and, unlike the 16 and 17 camps, at-large players are not permitted at this age level. But, for college coaches focusing in on the top ‘97s, a list of guys we feel would have been right at home in Rochester would include Lincoln Griffin (Thayer), Grant Gabriele (Belle Tire), Luke Radetic (St. Louis Junior Blues), Louis DeNaples (Wilkes-Barre), Harrison Markell (Middlesex School), Christian Cakebread (Arizona Bobcats), Owen Green (Buffalo Regals), Keoni Texeira (LA Selects), Michael Joyaux (Chicago Mission), Auston Matthews (Arizona Bobcats), Kip Hoffman (Chicago Mission), and Elliot Gerth (Chicago Mission). All, for one reason or another, were MIA. And all have Div. I potential. So, too, do others lurking out there, and they will emerge over the winter. There’s always a significant turnover between the 15s and 16s, and it’s a fascinating process to watch.
Here then, with no further ado, are our rankings. Enjoy!
1. Brendan Warren (#16 Orange, 6-3-9) 6-0/170 — Right now the Compuware forward sits atop the charts. Impacts the game every time he steps on the ice. Has high-end speed, scoring ability, and playmaking skills. Does not shy away from the physical side and plays with an edge. Wants to score goals and has a swagger that exudes confidence. Tyler Seguin is a good NHL comp.
2. Luke Kirwan (#10 Gold, 5-7-12) 6-2/215 — We feel the Syracuse Stars product has already physically matured. Of course, we felt the same way about Adam Erne two years ago and suggested that some smaller, less-developed players would eventually pass the Quebec Remparts forward. That hasn’t turned out to be the case. Today, Kirwan’s situation is analogous, though we are not sure it will much matter as he just shoots the puck so well. A goal scorer, Kirwan, who will suit up this fall for the Middlesex Islanders (EJHL), plays an aggressive game and loves to drive to the front of the net. Was one of the top scorers in the Empire League last year and we think he will make the transition to the EJHL with no problem. His listed height of 6’2” appears a bit generous.
3. Jordan Greenway (#17 Orange, 5-3-8) 6-5/205 — If we could put our money on one forward we feel will surely play in the NHL, Greenway would be our guy. The Shattuck- St. Mary’s power forward oozes with potential. For a big man, the Potsdam, NY native skates well and gets up the ice in a hurry. Played on a line with Warren and displayed a good stick with finishing abilities. Has the diversity to play almost any role. Clearly, when paired with top players he has the skill to produce and makes plays, but given his size and skating ability could very effectively play the role of power forward/grinder. This versatility makes him a can’t miss pro prospect.
4. Dennis Yan (#14 Columbia Blue, 7-3-10) 6-1/165 — A Russian who played for the Lambton Junior Sting midget minor team last year. We first laid eyes on the skilled sniper at the Marlie Tournament (playing with all 96’s) and were curious as to how he would do against players his own age. We are curious no longer. Yan plays a similar style to Ilya Kovalchuk, but does not have the same game-breaking speed. Loves to score goals. The type of player who you may not notice for 90% of the game, but then he will score a pair of goals a minute apart. Led the camp in goals.
5T. Cameron Askew (#12 Columbia Blue, 1-2-3) 6-2/175 — Did not have a productive week statistically, but the potential is obvious. For a tall kid, the Valley Jr. Warriors product has a soft set of hands and makes a ton of plays. Is a natural center who makes the players around him better. Plays with an edge and is at his best when he is physically involved. Does not get up the ice well right now and lacks explosiveness in his skating. With increased leg strength that should change. Askew, who played for St. Sebastian’s last winter, projects really well and could end up right at the top of this list if that explosiveness comes. Will face a tough a decision in the coming month. While he is slated to play for Cushing, he made the Indiana Ice (USHL) and is being pursued hard by them. (Similar to the Robbie Baillargeon situation last year at this time.)
5T. Colin White (#18 Royal Blue, 4-1-5) 6-0/160 — Royal Blue was not loaded with high-end forwards, so the Nobles wing did not have the same supporting cast as some of the other players on this list. Still, he was his team’s go-to-guy and delivered some quality goals. The Boston College recruit does it all — he has size, speed, makes plays and can finish. Is an effortless skater with an explosive first step.
7. Brent Gates (#17 Grey, 5-4-9) 6-1/170 — Tall, lanky forward plays a complete game. We saw the Compuware product back in November and felt his skating would be an issue, but he appears to have made positive strides in correcting his form. Could be the whole package -- big, strong, and physical, along with good vision and scoring ability.
8. Koby Bender (#11 Grey, 2-3-5) 5-10/160 — Highly skilled forward played for Cloquet’s Bantam “A” team. Is a quick skater who is agile and shifty. Has a good stick and makes plays.
9. Jeremy Bracco (#17 Forest Green, 6-5-11) 5-8/142 — Produces everywhere he goes. The Long Island Gulls product simply puts up points. We will admit that we have doubted his speed, durability, and ability to produce at higher levels, but the Harvard recruit continually proves us wrong. Probably has better vision than any other ’97-born player in the country. Is able to slip through defenders and accelerate on his edges. Will play for the NJ Rockets (MET). We expect he will lead the league in scoring.
10. Matthew Tkachuk (#12 Grey, 0-4-4) 5-9/150 — The name should sound familiar as the St. Louis Jr. Blues forward is the son of long-time NHL vet Keith Tkachuk. Thinks the game like a pro and is exceptional with the puck on his stick. Right now his skating is pretty average, but when he matures and adds size and strength we think his game will take off. Is a December ’97 birthdate, making him one of the youngest players on hand.
11. Jacob Henderson (#10 Columbia Blue, 0-1-1) 6-3/185 — Was not productive on the stat sheet, but we can tell you that the St. Louis Jr. Blues forward has the potential to be a big-time power forward. A big kid with soft hands, Henderson led the Blues in scoring at Nationals this past season. We feel his development curve is similar to Blake Clarke (Brampton-OHL), another St. Louis Jr. Blues alum.
12. Ryan Moore (#18 Black, 3-4-7) 5-8/145 — The Belle Tire forward is a fun player to watch. Fast, skilled, always on the puck, and he makes a ton of plays. We were told he has already visited Michigan State. We would be surprised if the Spartans and Wolverines do not end up going head-to-head in this recruiting battle.
13. Luke Kunin (#17 Black, 3-3-6) 5-9/150 — St. Louis Jr. Blues forward has an excellent stick and a quick release. Is deceptively fast and can really turn it on when he spots a hole in the defense. Is creative and makes plays, but we see him more as a pure finisher. Will score a lot of goals as he progresses up the ranks.
14. Nolan Aibel (#8 Black, 5-4-9) 5-9/142 — Played on a line with Moore and Kunin and that trio could have been the top line in camp. A very fluid skater with mind for the game, Aibel needs to add a little bit of sandpaper to his game. Played for the Long Island Gulls last season and is moving over to the NJ Rockets (MET) this year. Is a stellar student who will be a top Ivy League recruit.
15. Rem Pitlick (#18 Kelly Green, 2-2-4) 5-3/120 — Is very small, but plays the game with some grit and is fun to watch. Reminds us of Cason Hohmann (BU) at the same age. On Wednesday he put on a show. Is incredibly agile and can turn on a dime. Below the tops of the circles he is difficult to contain. Slowed down as camp went on and other teams began to key on him. Prince George (WHL) 11th round pick.
16. Charlie Kelleher (#16 Kelly Green, 2-1-3) 5-8/145 — Brother of NTDP forward and UNH recruit Tyler Kelleher. Played for Longmeadow (Mass.) HS last season and will be with the Junior Bruins U16 squad this year. Needs to get bigger and stronger. Has a great mind for the game and a knack for finding passing lanes. Gives a consistent effort and makes an impact nearly every shift.
17. Jack Roslovic (#18 Navy Blue, 3-2-5) 6-0/150 — The Ohio Blue Jackets forward has a big-time set of mitts and makes eye-popping plays. Is very dangerous on the man advantage when he has time and space to operate. Needs to be more consistent. Is definitely soft and is not at his best when physically challenged. That said, his skill level is so high that when he matures physically he will become stronger on the puck. Does things you cannot teach.
18. Taarek Baker (#10 Purple, 2-3-5) 5-10/180 — We fell in love with this kids game. Played for Team Wisconsin last year and will be making the move to Omaha U16’s next year. (Omaha, by the way, will be one of the top U16 teams in the country.) Plays the game the way it was meant to be played: hard, smart and fast. Does the dirty work nobody else wants to do and seemingly does it with a smile on his face. Is not only a workhorse, but has a high skill level and makes plays.
19. Cal Burke (#15 Forest Green, 3-6-9) 5-10/160 — Had an excellent week and really established himself as a top Div. I prospect in the northeast. Fell under the radar last year as he played on the Nobles third line in a limited role. This season we expect him to be front and center playing with Colin White and forming the top young duo in prep hockey. Very intelligent.
20. Zachary Goberis (#9 Gold, 5-4-9) 6-0/180 — A top forward from the Colorado Thunderbirds organization. Does a little bit of everything. Good-sized kid with playmaking and finishing abilities.
21. Daniel Warpecha (#8 Columbia Blue, 1-2-3) 5-11/160 — Chicago Mission forward is someone you want on your team – a good, solid hockey player. Is skilled, strong on his skates, gets in the dirty areas and can score. His linemates are the beneficiaries of his work.
22. Alec Mehr (#9 Forest Green, 0-5-5) 5-10/168 — LA Selects forward has a top-notch skill set -- very dangerous in the offensive zone. We were told he attended Omaha’s (USHL) camp over the summer and was excellent. Could be a player who shoot up this list. Selected in the 12th round by Everett (WHL).
23. Samuel Miletic (#10 Navy Blue, 4-2-6) 5-11/156 — Plays for Cranbrook (Mich.) HS. Strong, sturdy forward who plays hard. Has a good stick and is dangerous in the scoring areas.
24. Ethan Price (#15 Orange, 3-4-7) 5-11/187 — Works incredibly hard and is as physical as they come. Not a fun player to play against. Punishes defensemen on the forecheck. Shoots the puck hard. Plays with energy and is always noticeable. May have peaked physically as he is certainly stronger than most of his peers right now. Plays for Omaha U16’s. A sixth round pick of the Portland Winterhawks (WHL).
25. Jordan Mitchell (#15 White, 3-3-6) 5-5/145 — A buzz saw. The Chicago Mission forward is all over the puck and competes hard. An energy player who has a good stick and playmaking abilities. Led his team in scoring. Noticeable all week.
26. Tanner Tweten (#15 Black, 4-1-5) 6-2/172 — Big, strong forward who can absolutely fire the puck. Feet need to improve – they are a bit heavy right now. Scored 53 goals in 60 games for the East Grand Forks Bantams.
27. Grant Jozefek (#8 Forest Green, 3-4-7) 5-9/160 — Just a good all-around hockey player. Fast, skilled and plays on both sides of the puck. Played on a line with Jeremy Bracco here all week and the two had obvious chemistry. Played last season for the Long Island Gulls. Will be with the New Jersey Avalanche U16’s this season.
28. Thomas Novak (#16 Purple, 2-4-6) 5-11/155 — From River Falls, Wisc. and plays for St. Thomas Academy. Has quick hands; can make plays in tight spaces.
29. Gordie Green (#14 Grey, 2-5-7) 5-7/148 — Compuware forward is unselfish and highly skilled. Played with Brent Gates – they were teammates last season -- almost all week. The two were great together.
30. JC MacLean (#8 Gold, 0-3-3) 6-2/195 — Son of NHL veteran and current NHL coach John MacLean. Plays for Delbarton in New Jersey. A big kid with a wide frame. Has a soft set of hands and can make plays when given time. Problem is his feet – they are really slow and he struggled getting up ice this week. If they improve he will be a prospect to an eye on.
31. Chase Pearson (#9 Columbia Blue, 2-2-4) 6-2/165 — Son of NHL veteran Scott Pearson. Plays for the Atlanta Fire. Tall, with above average skills. Our guess is that as time goes on he will climb up this list.
32. Christian Fischer (#17 Kelly Green, 1-3-4) 5-11/177 — Strong, wide-based skater is very good at possessing the puck and getting to the front of the net. A top player for the Chicago Mission, Fischer scored 49 goals in 60 games played last season. May have had an off week here because we did not have him pegged as a goal scorer. Still, he’s a player we will circle back to.
33. Alec Baer (#16 Navy Blue, 3-1-4) 5-9/140 — Is a bit of a wild skater, but has a slick set of hands and is very slippery in traffic. Scored some opportunistic goals here. Plays for NHL veteran Shjon Podein at St. Louis Park HS in Minnesota.
34. Garrett Hallford (#11 Navy Blue, 2-4-6) 5-7/150 — Gritty little player who just makes a ton of plays and creates a lot of turnovers. Played for Little Caesar’s last year and scored 47 goals in 56 games. Will play for Honeybaked this year.
35. Jason Dhooghe (#11 Orange, 3-4-7) 5-6/140 — Small, crafty forward is fun to watch and makes a lot of things happen with the puck on his stick. On the final day he played on a line with Warren and Greenway and was the straw that stirred the drink. Played for the Chicago Mission last year. In the program it says he only scored 10 points in 45 games played. This puzzles us as he looked like a pure point producer over the week here. (For future reference, his little brother is arguably the top ’99 in the country. At the pee-wee nationals the younger Dhooghe put up a 10-10-20 scoring line in just six games en route to winning a national title.)
36. Robert Jackson III (#11 Red, 0-4-4) 5-9/160 — Skilled player who never got into a groove over the week. We are told he is an impact player and one of the top ‘97s on the west coast. Scored 185 points last season for the LA Selects and was selected in the seventh round of the WHL draft by Tri-City.
37. Troy Conzo (#12 Royal Blue, 0-1-1) 5-9/170 — Did not have a good week offensively, but those who have watched the Long Island Gulls forward play in the past know he is a good, honest player. A natural center and a great skater, Conzo really shines on the defensive side of the puck.
38. Troy Terry (#8 Purple, 1-4-5) 5-6/120 — Small, crafty forward has good offensive instincts and a quick stick. Plays for the Colorado Thunderbirds.
39. Jacob Coleman (#8 Grey, 0-3-3) 5-7/138 — Has a lot of speed and makes plays happen. Excellent in transition. Played for the Pittsburgh Hornets last season and will play for Pittsburgh Elite this season.
40. Connor Sundquist (#9 Black, 2-2-4) 6-0/155 — Good skill level. Creates offense. Father played hockey at Providence College. Headed to Selects Hockey Academy.
41. Donovan Ott (#10 White, 3-2-5) 6-1/185 — Was very average up until the final day. Has a reputation of being a top forward, but went through the motions for most of the camp. Has skill, but not enough to get by on that alone. Needs to play with energy and pace. Headed to Selects Hockey Academy.
42. Tyler Augustinsen (#15 Navy Blue, 2-4-6) 5-10/164 — Not a good skater, which could be an understatement. Having said that, he is always around the puck and puts up points wherever he goes. Smart player who is always in the right place at the right time. Also headed to Selects Hockey Academy.
43. Alex King (#14 White, 1-3-4) 5-11/155 — Hard-working player who pays attention to detail. Summer hockey does not cater to his game. Someone you want on your team come playoff time. Played for Belle Tire last year. Headed to Compuware this season.
44. Casey Dornbach (#17 White, 1-2-3) 5-4/122 — Small, crafty forward has yet to mature physically, but when he does he could be very good. Played for Edina’s Bantam squad last season and posted an eye-popping 84-116-200 scoring line.
45. Joshua Biasillo (#16 White, 2-1-3) 5-11/175 — Strong skater. Takes the puck hard to the net. Played for the Buffalo Regals last year and will be with the Junior Sabres U16 team this fall.
46. Daniel Miller (#12 Black, 0-4-4) 6-3/200 — Big, strong kid who can make plays. Will play for the Penguins Elite U16 team this year.
47. Mason Kohn (#16 Forest Green, 2-4-6) 5-10/160 — Very noticeable; had a productive week. Seems bigger than 5’10”. Plays for Shattuck.
48. Garrett Jenkins (#12 Kelly Green, 0-5-5) 5-7/145 — Brother of Ian Jenkins, arguably the top ’95 goalie in the world before passing away over a year ago. Is slippery in traffic and has a good stick. Plays for Compuware.
49. John McDermott (#8 White, 3-1-4) 6-1/165 — Big, strong power forward. We have seen the Mid-Fairfield product play better than he did here. In fact, he was quite impressive at Nationals this past spring. Has a way to go, but is certainly worth keeping an eye on. Will play for the Connecticut Oilers (Empire) this year.
50. Alexander Overhardt (#11 Columbia Blue, 1-1-2) 5-11/156 — The son of NHL agent Kurt Overhardt. A powerful skater who is not afraid to muck it up and get his nose dirty in front of the net. Will be a solid role player as he progresses up through the ranks.
A few other players who caught our eye at various points were: Taggert Corriveau (#11 Black/Westminster School), George Sennott (#15 Columbia Blue/Austin Prep), Luke Stevens (#10 Black/Duxbury HS), Chase Jungels (#11 Gold/Benilde-St. Margaret’s), Colin Rutherford (#17 Gold/Buffalo Regals), Charles Olson (#17 Navy Blue/Fargo Freeze), David Cotton (#15 Red/Dallas Ice Jets), Brody Stevens (#11 Royal Blue/Compuware), Robert Hampton (#9 White/NJ Rockets), Christiano Versich (#8 Royal Blue/St. Thomas Academy), and Karch Bachman (#15 Royal Blue/Culver).
1. Noah Hanifin (#3 Orange, 0-2-2) 6-3/195 — What more can we say about the all-world defender that we have not said in the past? He just does everything so well. Has outstanding feet, defends like a pro, has a great stick and makes plays. Is the top ’97 prospect in the US and could be best defenseman in the world for his age group. If we were an NHL team we may trade for some first round picks in the 2015 NHL draft as Jack Eichel (NTDP), Connor McDavid (Erie-OHL) and Hanifin all have the potential to be franchise players. Boston College recruit will be returning to St. Sebastian’s for his sophomore year.
2. Zachary Werenski (#2 Gold, 0-2-2) 6-2/190 — Some people prefer Werenski over Hanifin, but it is definitely a minority. Nonetheless, the Belle Tire product is a stud. Defends with and edge and is intimidating to play against. Is assertive offensively and is involved in the play whenever he is on the ice. Has a wide frame and appears to have a lot of room for growth. Certainly has the potential to be a first round NHL draft pick. We are told he is leaning towards major junior, but that is hearsay.
3. Casey Fitzgerald (#7 Black, 0-2-2) 5-10/165 — The only thing separating the Malden Catholic defender from the players above him is four inches. From an intelligence perspective he could be the smartest player here. Very slick with the puck. The faster the pace of the game the better he plays. Is not a burner right now, but if he becomes one it will push him over the top. Headed to BC in three years where we expect him to run the PP.
4. Christian Evers (#3 Grey, 2-2-4) 6-2/190 — We were told before we got here that the Waukee, Iowa native was in the same class as Hanifin and Werensky and were a little bit disappointed the first couple times we saw him. That said, we are glad we stuck around until the final day because he was great -- really showed us what he is capable of. Tall kid, smooth skater and passes the puck like a pro. Does not have the same offensive upside as the three d-men above him on this list, but has the ability to develop into a mean, shut-down type defenseman. Will play for the Omaha U16 team.
5. Vas Kolias (#3 White, 1-1-2) 5-9/140 — A fun player to watch -- so fluid and smooth. There is not a doubt in our minds that he will run a power play at the Div. I level. Handles the puck just as well skating backwards as he does forwards. Confident with the puck on the offensive blue line and has ice in his veins. He just does not get rattled. Has grown a few inches since we last saw him. Plays for the Chicago Mission.
6. Zachary Osburn (#5 Navy Blue, 1-3-4) 5-9/170 — The most offensively assertive defender here. Took over a few games and controlled the play from the backend. Probably has topped out physically, but is strong and dynamic enough to be effective at the college level. Plays for Honeybaked. Committed to Michigan State.
7. Joseph Masonius (#7 Orange, 2-1-3) 5-11/175 — Phenomenal skater, just a fantastic stride. Raw defensively, but has so much natural ability. Played on the same team as Noah Hanifin and we could tell he was OK with taking a back seat and not trying to do too much. Would have liked to see him take over the game and attempt to be the go-to-guy, because he has that ability. Will play for the NJ Hitmen U18 team this year.
8. Tory Dello (#2 Forest Green, 0-3-3) 6-0/163 — Notre Dame recruit possesses a well- rounded game. Has good size, defends well, and brings a touch of offense. Does a good job of getting pucks through traffic. Can really fire it. Plays for the Chicago Mission.
9. Michael Davies (#7 Red, 1-3-4) 5-8/155 — Dynamic defender with sensational feet. Brings a ton of speed to the game and also showed gap control. Size could become an issue down the road. Plays for the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
10. Liam Darcy (#3 Gold, 0-3-3) 5-10/165 — Has a great stick and makes consistently smart plays. Already has a Div. I hockey mind, just needs to get bigger, stronger and faster. Plays for Berwick Academy (Maine) where he was named team MVP as a freshman.
11. Anthony Stillwell (#4 Forest Green, 1-3-4) 5-6/134 — If the Team Wisconsin product were four or five inches taller he would be nestled into the top group of this list. Smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman who is elusive in traffic and defends well given his size. Reminds us of Notre Dame recruit Bobby Nardella at the same age.
12. Logan Fauber (#7 Forest Green, 0-1-1) 5-10/162 — Was partnered up with Stillwell and the two rarely played in their own end because they moved the puck up the ice so efficiently. The Colorado Thunderbirds defenseman is very smart -- and has a good stick to boot.
13. Jack Ahcan (#6 Orange, 0-1-1) 5-5/135 — One college coach said to us, “At this age group you could make an entire all-star team of small, puck moving d-men.” He was not whistling Dixie. Ahcan is diminutive, but has a great mind for the game. He was just too much for oncoming forecheckers to deal with. Was very good on the PP, though he was not much of a shooting threat. From Savage, Minn. and will play for Burnsville HS.
14. Charles Raith (#5 Black, 0-3-3) 5-10/150 — Has fast hands and processes the game quickly under pressure. Is very good on the PP. Is thin right now and needs to fill out and become stronger. Plays for the Chicago Young Americans.
15. Troy Henley (#2 Grey, 1-0-1) 6-0/205 — Thick, physically mature defenseman. Has a good stick and defends with an edge. We feel he is a touch heavy right now and his speed will benefit from sacrificing some muscle mass. Played for Comcast U16’s last season. Is expected to play for the Oakville Rangers midget minor team in Ontario in the upcoming season.
16. Nicholas Azar (#3 Kelly Green, 1-1-2) 6-2/185 — Big defensive defenseman projects well. Right now, the Belle Tire product is still growing into his body. When his coordination comes together we think he will be a nice pro prospect.
17. Spencer Young (#3 Navy, 0-1-1) 5-9/155 — Probably the most pleasant surprise in camp. Showed a ton of confidence for someone who was playing for Exeter High School in New Hampshire just a few months ago. Is a legitimate Div. I prospect. Has great feet and is effective offensively. Will play for Dana Barbin at Exeter Academy this year. Should make an immediate impact.
18. Benjamin Finkelstein (#6 Purple, 1-2-3) 5-6/147 — Yet another under-sized, intelligent. and savvy puck mover. Very shifty and poised. Plays for Cardigan Mountain School. Will be a top prep school recruit in New England. If we had to bet a dollar we’d say he ends up at Lawrence Academy where his former coach, Robbie Barker, was recently hired.
19. Ben Newhouse (#2 Black, 0-3-3) 5/8/150 — Short and stocky defender who is strong on his skates and aggressive defensively. Played for Benilde-St. Margaret’s varsity as a freshman last season.
20. Tyler Sensky (#7 Black, 1-1-2) 5-11/173 — Smart defender who has a good stick and creates offense off the rush. Will need to improve his skating and add a step in order to move into the top group of defenseman. Plays for Compuware.
21. Chaz Switzer (#6 Forest Green, 1-0-1) 5-11/178 — Solidly built, meat-and-potatoes defenseman. Takes care of business in his own end and makes a good first pass. Plays for Compuware.
22. Ben Baker (#5 Orange, 0-1-1) 6-0/160 — Tall defenseman with a good, long stick has improved a great deal since we last saw him in Chicago at the Bauer tournament. Keeps things simple, but is very effective, and has some upside. Playing for the LA Junior Kings this year.
23. Caleb Jones (#6 Kelly Green, 0-0-0) 5-11/175 — The younger brother of Seth Jones, the front-runner to go #1 overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Because his brother is so elite, Caleb is often underestimated. While he may not be his brother, the Dallas Stars defender is a good player and needs to be judged on his own terms. His feet certainly need to improve, but he has great stick skills and makes a lot of heads-up plays. Is still growing and will end up much taller at the end of the day.
24. Jacob Gingell (#2 Orange, 1-1-2) 6-0/175 — Flew under the radar a bit because he was on the same team as Hanifin, Masonious and Ahcan. The Compuware product is the invisible man, the one you never notice because he does not wow you. Gingell is very unselfish and makes a ton of subtle, simple plays.
25. Austin Rook (#4 Royal Blue, 1-1-2) 6-2/185 — Has a great stick. Loves to make plays and is excellent on the PP. Also has pro size. However, he lacks mobility. If he can improve his feet he will pursued hard by Div. I recruiters. Plays for Shawn McEachern at the Rivers School.
26. Maxwell Hood (#7 Grey, 1-1-2) 6-0/160 — Has the look of a classic late bloomer. Skinny, tall, lean and long -- and he possesses a good stick. Plays for Culver.
27. Steven Ruggiero (#4 Grey, 0-2-2) 6-3/170 — Big, stay-at-home defender is solid in all areas. Will play for the Metro Moose (MET) this year. Some of our readers may not be familiar with the Moose, but this is the same team on which we uncovered Dom Sacco (Omaha-USHL) last fall. The Moose are doing a good job recruiting as they are also bringing in Paul Vella, one of the better ’96 forwards in the Northeast.
28. McKay Flanagan (#4 Orange, 1-0-1) 6-1/191 — Not sure what the issue was with the Mid-Fairfield defender, but he had a rough week and did not play up to his potential. Some kids do not react well to being thrust into the pressure cooker with scouts lined up around the glass. Or maybe he was simply intimidated by the other top-end defenders on his team. Whatever it may be, we know Flanagan has more to offer. He was a stud throughout the course of last season and we feel he will reestablish himself as an NTDP candidate this season. Will play for the Connecticut Oilers (Empire).
29. Doug Blaisdell (#7 Purple, 0-1-1) 6-1/190 — Strong skill set. Plays with a physical edge and is competitive in all 1x1 situations. Takes pride in not being beat. Played for Belle Tire last year and is undecided as to where he will play this season.
30T. Nicholas Boka (#2 Red, 0-0-0) 6-0/175 — We saw the Compuware defenseman playing forward at the Bauer tourney in the fall and really felt he was a physical presence in that position, hammering defenseman on the forecheck. He Kept things simple here. Good feet.
30T. Jacob Paganelli (#2 Columbia, 0-2-2) 5-10/145 — Good hands. Smart with the puck. However, he needs to become more dynamic and faster. Played for the New Jersey Devils U16 team last season. Is headed to Shattuck this year.
1. Vaughan Ahrens (#1 Grey, .872%, 4.40 GAA) 6-2/180 — Very big goaltender who takes up a lot of net and is positionally sound. Pucks seem to always hit him in the chest and he plays his angles well. Makes the game look easy. Played last year for Wayzata’s Bantam “A” team. Will make the jump to Wayzata HS this season.
2. Luke Opilka (#1 Kelly Green, .855%, 4.80 GAA) 6-2/160 — Did not have his best performance here. That said, the St. Louis Jr. Blues netminder has a ton of talent and does a lot of things that are difficult to teach. Was very mechanical here, almost to a fault as he relied on technique as opposed to athleticism.
3. Ryan Larkin (#1 White, .919%, 2.08 GAA) 6-1/175 — Almost the complete opposite of Opilka in the sense that he is very unorthodox and is overly reliant on athleticism. However, he moves quickly laterally and is someone who could easily end up at the top of his age class when he refines his fundamentals. Plays for Honeybaked.
4. Nicholas Vilardo (#1 Royal Blue, .857 GAA, 4.40 GAA) 5-8/152 — Led Wilkes-Barre U14’s to a national title last year. Has a reputation for winning wherever he goes. Did not have a great week here, but you can tell that the Clarence, NY native is sharp, quick and pays attention to detail. Could be the next Andy Iles (Cornell-ECAC).
5T. Bailey Seagraves (#30 Forest Green, .963%, 1.21 GAA) 5-11/165 — Was rock solid here, only allowing three goals all week. Was statistically the top goalie. Plays for the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets U16 team.
5T. Kris Oldham (#1 Black, .913%, 2.40 GAA) 6-1/188 — Played for the Alaska All-Stars last season for former UAA defenseman Matt Shasby. Is undecided for next season. Would be a good addition to any team.
Mass Hockey Founding Father Dies
Duke Kumpel, one of the driving forces behind the founding of Mass Hockey back in the early ‘70s, and a member of the Mass Hockey Hall of Fame, died Sunday in Wakefield, Mass.
Visiting hours will be held on Wednesday from 4-8 pm at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield, Mass.
A private funeral service will be held at a later date.
Duke’s son, Mark Kumpel, was a star forward at Wakefield High and Div. III University of Lowell before joining the ’84 U.S. Olympic Team and then embarking on a pro career that included over 300 NHL games with Quebec, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. Today, the younger Kumpel, who coached in the AHL and the ECHL, is now head coach/GM of the Walpole Express (ACHL). Following in his father’s footsteps, Mark has been a USA Hockey volunteer, coaching at Select Festivals as well as with numerous US international teams.
Brown Kicked in the Head
With the start of school just six weeks away Brown University head hockey coach Brendan Whittet today received a call from the Roy brothers -- super recruit Kevin Roy and his older brother, goaltender Derick Roy. It was the call Whittet hoped would never come.
The brothers, who committed to Brown two summers ago, told Whittet they were decommitting. There was no talk of any other school(s) and Whittet didn’t press the brothers. Whittet knew all he needed to know: when school starts in September the Roy brothers will be elsewhere, and the Brown head coach will have a hole in the middle of his top line large enough to sail the Titanic through.
Rumours that Kevin Roy was being courted by other schools have been swirling throughout college hockey circles for months, increasing in both frequency and intensity as the younger Roy, skating for the Lincoln Stars (USHL), mounted his assault on a pair of ‘modern’ USHL single-season scoring titles. Back in the USHR News of Thurs. 12/8/11 we questioned whether Roy, who had given up his senior year at Deerfield Academy in order to play in the USHL, could continue his ferocious pace and break the USHL marks set by Miami sophomore-to-be Blake Coleman (92 points in 59 games played in the ’10-11 season) and Buffalo Sabre Thomas Vanek (91 points in 53 games played in ’01-02). Going into last season, Coleman and Vanek were the only 90-point scorers in the USHL over the last 10 years. Perhaps you know how that story turned out: Roy obliterated both those marks, finishing with a 54-50-104 line in 59 games. Among many other honors, Roy was recently named the USHL Player of the Year and the USHL Forward of the Year.
Lost in the shuffle was the fact that the ante had been upped a little earlier when Roy, who previously had no family advisor, signed on with Eddie Ward in February. (Ward works for Newport Sports Management, owned by Don Meehan. Wade Arnott would likely be the listed agent for Roy.)
A month ago, Roy, a ’93 from Lac-Beauport, Quebec who was bypassed in his first year of NHL eligibility, was selected in the fourth round of the NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks.
However, as June turned into July it began to look as if there was a chance that the Roy brothers might actually stand by their commitment to Brown, which reportedly had full financial aid packages for both brothers, making money a moot point in this whole situation.
For the Brown staff, this is a blow. It’s July 22nd and the coaching staff, which had to spend all season essentially re-recruiting a player they had initially recruited two years ago, has nowhere to turn. It’s fair, though perhaps idealistic, to say that the brothers should have shared their thoughts about decommitting with Whittet and his staff earlier. They didn’t, hence they have put the aspirations of Brown’s hockey program, which stood by their side before anyone else, in jeopardy.
Whittet, for one, is extremely upset – “livid,” in the word of one familiar with the situation. However, living in the world of NCAA hockey, which is rife with gentlemen’s agreements that don’t seem to amount to a hill of beans, Whittet was reluctant to point fingers.
We asked if he felt that the Roys had been tampered with by other schools.
“I don’t know,” Whittet replied. “I don’t want to speculate. I have no idea where they are going to end up. I just want people who want to wear the Brown uniform.”
We asked Whittet whether tampering with committed players would be something he would bring up next April at the coaches convention in Florida.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I represent Brown and we want to win championships. College hockey is a big business. It’s very cutthroat.”
What will happen next with the Roys? We expect a decision as to what college the brothers will attend to be announced shortly, with the requisite fanfare. However, the decision has almost certainly been made already. Nonetheless, because it is our job, we will have to watch the two brothers visit a handful of schools in a dog-and-pony show designed to drape a veneer of respectability over what is really a rather seamy process.
Pretty nauseating, if you want our opinion.
Naturally, the school that winds up with the Roy brothers will be under the microscope, and subject to intense scrutiny. For one thing, it is exceedingly rare for a school to have a full scholarship available this late in the summer, the one allowable exception that we can think of being the University of Vermont, which has just lost Zemgus Girgensons to the Buffalo Sabres. If any other school takes him, the method that school would employ would likely involve taking a kid who expects to matriculate in school in six weeks – and pushing him back for another year. We will be interested in finding out who that player is – and how he feels about being a pawn in this game. We also fully expect that the school that takes Roy will obfuscate the facts in the case enough so that nothing can be proved.
The wheels in this are already in motion. If a school has a scholarship available for Roy, you can count on the fact that they have been holding it for the talented forward. Whatever they say should be regarded with the deepest suspicion. This could get ugly. College hockey has always prided itself on its small fraternity of coaches, and how, despite the intensity of the competition, they are always there for each other. Don’t count on it in this case. We see friendships getting shattered.
Florentino Says No to NTDP -- Again
Providence College recruit Anthony Florentino, a 6’1”, 205 lb. RD from the Selects Academy U18s, was recently invited to join the U.S. Under-18 Team and spend his senior year in Ann Arbor, but has decided to stay east and graduate with his class at South Kent.
This is the second straight year that Florentino, a West Roxbury, Mass. native who is described as a homebody, has been asked to join the National Program -- and the second straight year he has opted to stay east.
-- Both the Selects U16 and U18 Teams will be eligible for Nationals, skating under the banner of the Central Connecticut Youth Hockey Association. In games that have a bearing on Nationals, they will be wearing the uniforms of the CCYHA Capitals. In other games they will be wearing their Selects Academy jerseys.
-- Former Providence College forward and assistant coach Devin Rask will be returning to coach the U16 Team. Matt Plante was hired in June to take over the U18 Team. Plante, 35, was with the Indiana Ice (USHL) last year, as an assistant on Kyle Wallack’s staff. Before that, he was the head coach at Hebron Academy for four years. A former forward at Quinnipiac, Plante has also served as an assistant at Wesleyan and UConn.
NTDP Adds Pavelek
Ohio State recruit Dylan Pavelek will be joining the NTDP.
A right-shot center and a 1/16/96 birthdate, Pavelek played last winter for the Belle Tire U16s.
Pavelek, who is 5’11”, 160 lbs. and a Marysville, Mich. native, had a strong showing at last week’s Select 16 Festival (we ranked him #15 among the forwards there). Our comments on him read as follows: Elite skater, elite vision, and elite hands. Not a bad package to have. Distributes the puck well, but has the ability to make things happen out of nothing. He manufactures offense. Is undecided as to where he will play this season.
Well, he’s undecided no more.
The Place to Be
If you are looking for something fun to do tomorrow night (Sat. July 21), consider taking a trip up to Manchester, Vermont.
It’s a great town, with three separate historic districts, beautiful architecture, a bucolic setting nestled among the Green Mountains – and great fishing on the Batten Kill.
But on Saturday night, it will be all about hockey as the First Annual Green Mountain Hockey Pro-Am Hockey Fundraiser faces off at 7:00 pm at the Riley Rink (capacity: 1,000).
The proceeds – admission is free, but there is a suggested donation of $5 -- will be split between the Bennington Autism Task Force – a number of players in the game have had their lives touched directly or indirectly by the disease -- and the Riley Rink’s Jonathan Lavin Scholarship Fund, which provides hockey equipment and free tuition for needy hockey players in southern Vermont.
So who will be there? Well, the man of the hour will certainly be Stephen Gionta, who a little over a month ago was skating in the Stanley Cup Finals for the New Jersey Devils.
Mathieu Perreault, F, Washington Caps (NHL)
Graham Mink, F, ex UVM, currently with the Hersey Bears (AHL)
Mason Graddock, F, ex Middlebury, currently an assistant there
Nick Kuiper, D, ex-UMass, currently playing Europe
Barry Goers, D, ex-Umass-Lowell, currently in AHL
Jaroslav Modry, D, former NHLer just retired from Czech League
Greg Mauldin, F, ex-UMass, now in Colorado Avalanche organization
Martin Wilde, D, ex-UVM, Swedish National Team
Brett Zeggil, Castleton State’s captain-elect
Corey Milan, G, ex of Union
Connor Stewart, G, Burr and Burton Academy (Vermont HS)
Local players, from high school kids like Connor Stewart to 50+ year old beer leaguers, will also be skating in the game. In addition, there may be some surprise guests.
Spearheading the project is Ron Marcellus, a Stratton, Vt. resident and a former Bowdoin hockey player (class of ’82). Marcellus, whose 12 year old son is autistic, has, along with his wife, Mary Kate, been very involved in fund-raising for autism in Southern Vermont.
If anyone reading this article can’t get up to the game, but would like to make a donation, please make out a check for whatever you can afford (payable to BATF) and send it to:
PO Box 308
Bondville, VT 05340
(FYI, BATF stands for ‘Bennington Autism Task Force’. They are not set up as a 501C yet, so it is not tax-deductible.)
The key ‘recruiter’ for this event has been NHL scout Keith Sullivan, who lives in Stratton, Vermont and was a Phoenix Coyotes scout before moving over to the Winnipeg Jets prior to the start of last season. Sullivan has a ton of friends in the game, and mined his contacts to help bring this all together. It was all done on really short notice, too. A number of top players who couldn’t make it this year have already committed for next year.
Sullivan won’t be skating in the game, but he will be circulating, helping to raise funds.
Paul Stewart will be coming up from Boston with his whistle -- and a second official. Stewart, the only American to officiate over a thousand games in the NHL, is currently the director of officiating for the ECAC. Stewart, from an illustrious hockey – make that athletic -- family, was also once a player, lacing them up for the Groton School, the University of Pennsylvania (during the Quakers’ short-lived stint as a Div. I hockey program), numerous minor league teams, the WHA, and the NHL.
Stewart and Kuiper are both experienced auctioneers, and will be auctioning off some nice items including:
-- A pair of round trip tickets between Boston, Mass. and Rutland, Vt. on Cape Air.
-- A Stephen Gionta signed jersey
-- Autographed pictures of Wayne Gretzky
-- Autographed sticks from Montreal prospect Louis Leblanc.
-- A round of golf at the Equinox Hotel & Country Club in Manchester, Vt.
For more info please check out:
The Riley Rink
Yale’s Goaltender of the Future
Choate goaltender Sam Tucker, a rising sophomore, has committed to Yale University for the fall of ’15.
Last year, as a freshman, the 4/16/96 birthdate was a key to the Wild Boars’ 16-8-3 season. His .930 save percentage was among the leaders in New England prep play.
Tucker drew interest from a lot of schools, but Yale began following him early and offered him in February. Tucker, a Wilton, Conn. native, grew up playing in the Mid-Fairfield organization for Mike Backman, and Choate is just 15 miles north of Yale, so it wasn’t a hard sell. The fact that Yale coach Keith Allain is a former goaltender -- and a former goalie coach for the St. Louis Blues – also helped.
As for Yale, it’s rare these days for a Div. I school to commit to such a young goaltender – Tucker has three years of prep school in front of him – so they certainly must have felt very strongly about their decision.
“He was a difference-maker for us last season,” says Choate head coach Patrick Dennehy. “He has good size at 6’0” and is very athletic, but he’s also different than today’s prototypical butterfly goalie in that when the puck is on the perimeter he stands up straight, looking over players, and makes effortless saves on those kinds of shot. As the play gets closer he gets much lower and becomes more of a butterfly goalie. He sees the puck better than a lot of goalies because of that. He’s smart.”
“He’s also humble, and very poised,” Dennehy adds. “That poise, in combination with his style, is impressive. I think it was demoralizing for other teams -- you just can’t get under his skin. For a kid of that age, he was just a rock back there.”
Harvard’s Goaltender of the Future
6’4”, 178 lb. Proctor Academy goaltender Merrick Madsen has committed to Harvard for the fall of ’14.
Madsen, a sophomore at Proctor last season, posted an .861 save percentage in 748 minutes played. For the upcoming season he will accelerate, graduate next spring, take a year in juniors, and matriculate at Harvard in the fall of ‘14.
Last month, at the Select 17 Festival in Rochester, NY, Madsen put on a strong showing, and was USHR’s #5-ranked goaltender in the camp.
Madsen truly ‘came out of nowhere’ and when we saw him in preseason action last November at the Belmont Hill and Lawrence Academy Jamborees we were surprised to find such a gem. At the time we – and many others -- had never even heard his name.
Here’s what we wrote in the USHR News of Tues. Nov. 29, 2011:
Over the weekend, this typist took in the Belmont Hill and Lawrence Jamborees. It should come as no surprise that we found some interesting new players.
For us, the most interesting of all was Proctor Academy’s 6’4” sophomore goalie Merrick Madsen, who played last year for the California Heat program. Madsen, an Ivy-level student according to Proctor head coach Mike Walsh, is a home-schooled kid from the mountains north of Los Angeles who came to Proctor on the recommendation of former Boston College forward John Devereaux, who coaches in the Heat organization. We got to see Madsen, an 8/22/95 birthdate, over the course of two days, as Proctor was in both jamborees. And we can tell you that Madsen has all the tools – great size and athleticism, quick feet, quick glove hand, and poise. Against Belmont Hill on Saturday, the 16-year-old faced waves of odd-man rushes and was forced to come up big -- time and time again. And some of the saves were spectacular. Check him out. There’s some serious upside here.
Tonight we caught up with coach Walsh, who had just come in from walking with his kids on the beach in North Falmouth, Mass. Walsh, the former St. Seb’s, Colgate, and, briefly, New York Islanders forward, was in a good mood, as anybody walking on the beach in July should be.
Of Madsen, he said, “This is a great thing for all those kids who don’t make AAA teams to see. Being a AA kid doesn’t necessarily mean your options are limited. You just have to hang in there and, when you get a chance, take advantage of it. That’s what Merrick did. He came east, was seen, was written about, and now he’s going to Harvard. It’s a phenomenal story.”
“Merrick is a really nice kid and a great student -- really, really bright. He was home schooled but in what would have been his freshman and sophomore years in high school he also took community college courses. He came to Proctor as a repeat sophomore only because there were a few gaps in his core courses. He’s involved in a lot of academic clubs at Proctor, so he’ll flourish in the Harvard environment.
“As the season went along people became more and more interested, particularly given how raw he is. He’d never really had a goaltender coach until he got to Proctor. He just had that natural ability. The Harvard guys, to their credit, recognized that right away.
“He has that pro frame, and he is very, very rarely beat on the first shot. We were young last year, in a rebuilding phase, and he had guys from Nobles, Exeter, Lawrence – really talented forwards – just ripping shots at him. And he never got beat on the first shot. That’s huge. And he doesn’t let soft ones in, either. He’s very, very special.
US Select 16 Camp Rankings
USHR spent last week in Rochester, NY scouting the Select 16 Festival. Just like last year, the ’96s are very deep up front, and, while we ranked the top 40, we feel that there are plenty of kids beyond that who will go on to play Div. I hockey. This group of forwards, one of the best we have seen in over a decade and a half of attending USA Hockey summer camps, was a treat to watch.
The defensemen were strong as well, though we didn’t feel there was a can’t-miss kid – think Seth Jones, Derek Forbort, etc.
In goal, the story was Chris Birdsall and Blake Weyrick.
Our rankings are based off of performance at camp, combined with prior knowledge of the player pool and potential upside. We hope you enjoy it.
1. Jack Eichel (#15 Columbia Blue, 5GP 4-4-8) 6-2/180 — Cemented his status as the top ’96 player in the US here -- and by a fairly wide margin. Our #1-ranked forward at the Select 17 Festival in late June was Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) and, despite the hefty 18-month difference in age, we feel that Eichel is the better player…and by that we mean right now. Eichel is just that good. Because of his 10/28/96 birthdate, the Chelmsford, Mass. native is not draft eligible until 2015. While much can happen twixt cup and lip, we feel that Eichel and Erie Otters (OHL) phenom Connor McDavid could well be the top two North American prospects in that draft (we give the early edge to McDavid, but expect Eichel to give him a run for his money). Because Eichel is not draft eligible until 2015, that means Boston University will get him for at least one year, but we would be surprised if he is in college longer than that. Our only knock on the Junior Bruins product is that he does not give 100% effort throughout the game, but when he turns it on he is a treat to watch. Will play for the NTDP this coming season.
2. Shane Gersich (Kelly Green, 5GP 5-6-11) 5-11/170 — Was outstanding all week long. Led the camp in scoring and had at least one point in every game. Is the top uncommitted ’96 forward in the country. An excellent skater who is able to pick up steam with the puck on his stick, Gersich makes plays while accelerating and is very agile and tough to check. We do not know who is recruiting him (everyone perhaps?), but our guess is that the Holy Family Catholic High School product, who has All-America potential, ends up at Minnesota or North Dakota. In 21 games played last season, the Chaska, Minn. native put up a 30-30-60 scoring line. We can only imagine what he will do next season as a junior.
3. Chris Wilkie (#8 Grey, 5GP 2-6-8) 5-11/180 — A constant threat, the North Dakota recruit is worth the price of admission. Will pile on the points in college. While he is of average size, we think Wilkie has a real shot to be a pro because his skill level is so high. The Omaha, Nebraska native had 150 points last season for the Omaha Lancers AAA team. Will play for the NTDP this season; there is a good chance he will lead the team in scoring.
4. Seamus Malone (#10 Orange, 4-2-6) 5-10/170 — Is not very big or fast, but his stick skills were far and away the best here. Carries the puck on a string. When paired with skilled players the Wisconsin recruit does nothing but make plays. Really elevates the play of his teammates when he is on the ice. Is the type of player who everyone wishes they had on their line. Will be an excellent college player. The Chicago Mission alum is slated to play for Dubuque (USHL) this coming season and we feel he will flourish under Jim Montgomery.
5. Ryan Hitchcock (#15 Red, 5GP 3-5-8) 5-10/160 — Defines what it means to be a “skill guy.” All of his skills -- skating, shooting and stick handling – are top notch. The Yale recruit was quiet until Wednesday when he put on one of the best individual performances this typist has ever seen at a Select Festival, lighting up Columbia Blue for six points (2-4-6). Will fight the size battle when it comes to being a pro, but is very similar to Chris Higgins (Yale/Vancouver) and Ryan Shannon (BC/Ottawa) at the same age. Will play for the NTDP in the upcoming season. Yale has had some good players come through in recent years, but we feel that Hitchcock has the potential to be the best forward the Bulldogs have had since the aforementioned Higgins.
6. Alex Tuch (#8 Royal Blue, 5GP 1-1-2) 6-3/225 — Our guess is that the BC recruit was unhappy with his statistical performance, but that does not change our opinion of him as a player. A massive forward who skates well and can really shoot it, Tuch will score a lot of goals in college. Has a realistic chance of getting drafted in the top two rounds of the 2014 NHL draft. Headed to the NTDP this fall.
7. Blake Clarke (#18 Black, 5-5-10) 6-2/191 — Big power forward is headed to the OHL next season to play for the Brampton Battalion. Had a very strong camp, displaying soft hands and an excellent shot. We feel, as soon as he adjusts to the speed, that he will score a lot of goals in the OHL. The St. Louis Jr. Blues product is a bit heavy-footed right now, but it does not hold him back because his shot, puck skills and ability to use his body to control the puck are elite. If he can add a step to his skating he will be a high NHL draft pick.
8. Dylan Larkin (#16 White, 6-2-8) 6-0/175 — Michigan recruit is very dangerous with the puck on his stick. Knows how to score goals, but is equally strong at setting up his linemates. Had an excellent week. Can really skate. Will play for the NTDP in the coming season.
9. Austin Poganski (#18 Kelly Green, 4-2-6) 6-1/195 — We did not have a ton of prior knowledge of the St. Cloud Cathedral forward, but he really jumped out at us. A tall, lanky winger with great legs and an explosive first step, we are told that the NTDP is considering him for the final forward spot on the U17 Team. Was named to the Five Nations U17 team. A top uncommitted college prospect who is only going to get better as he fills out.
10. Keegan Iverson (#16 Orange, 2-4-6) 6-2/215 — A man-child. Will play for the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) this season. During one of the games we were watching Iverson was hammered by big defender Aaron Hayden—just a clean, hard hit. Prior to that, Iverson was not a factor, but the hit awoke the sleeping giant and, for the rest of the game, the Breck School product put on one of the most physically dominating performances we have seen in a long time. He punished anyone in his path and protected the puck with tenacity. For a big guy he can skate well and at 16 shoots it like a pro. If he can consistently give that type of effort he will be a high NHL draft pick in a couple of years.
11. Kyle Connor (#8 Red, 4-3-7) 6-0/165 — We really enjoy Connor’s game because his skill level is so high and he gives an honest effort on both sides of the puck. The Michigan recruit is the type of player who makes those around him better, and a necessary ingredient on championship teams. We are surprised he is not in the NTDP. Was named to the Five Nations team. Will play for Youngstown (USHL) this season.
12. Jake Wahlin (#16 Red, 6-3-9) 5-8/160 — Probably does not project for pro hockey as well as a lot of players on this list, but the White Bear Lake product was sensational here, doing nothing but making plays and scoring goals. Was on a line with Will Harrison and Ryan Hitchcock and that trio was the top line in camp -- by a good margin. The fact that he is small and not a burner will limit him in the future, but his stick and hockey sense are so good that we feel he could be a point machine even at the Div. I level. Was passed over for the both the NTDP and the Five Nations team.
13. Ryan MacInnis (#14 Gold, 1-2-3) 6-3/215 — The son of long-time NHL veteran Al MacInnis came into camp with the reputation as being a top three forward in the ’96 age group, and not far behind Eichel. Unfortunately, the St. Louis Jr. Blues product, after a good first game (two points), accomplished very little the rest of the week, adding just one goal -- and no assists. We do not want to get too down on MacInnis, but he was probably the biggest letdown at camp. We’ll consider it an aberration, as he was sensational at the NTDP final 40 Camp when he was partnered up with Sonny Milano. MacInnis’ pro potential is very high as he is huge, can skate, and has soft hands. He just needs to play with urgency and be consistent no matter what type of game it is -- even if it is just summer hockey. Will be joining the NTDP this fall.
14. Alex Jasiek (#12 Columbia Blue, 5-5-10) 5-8/148 — Had an outstanding week. Is small, but competes hard and hangs onto the puck in traffic areas. Could have the quickest sets of hands here. Is a sniper who possesses a quick release to his shot. Will score a lot of goals at the Div. I level. Is a high-end student who will likely end up at an Ivy League school. His father is the former CFO of the St. Louis Blues (NHL). Will likely play U18 next season for the St. Louis Jr. Blues. Made the Five Nations team.
15. Anderson Bjork (#15 Kelly Green, 2-1-3) 6-0/163 — Much like the aforementioned Kyle Connor, Bjork is someone you win games with. Will play for the NTDP this season and we feel he is a strong pick. The Chicago Mission product is a great skater and someone we envision playing against Canada and Russia’s top lines during international play. Has enough skill to play a top six role and complement traditional skill guys.
15. Dylan Pavelek (#11 Orange) 5-11/180 — Elite skater, elite vision, and elite hands. Not a bad package to have. Distributes the puck well, but has the ability to make things happen out of nothing. He manufactures offense. Is undecided as to where he will play this season.
16. Nolan Stevens (#18 Grey, 2-3-5) 6-2/180 — We have seen a lot of Stevens over the last couple of seasons and we love his game. He is big, strong, unselfish and very smart on both sides of the puck. Having said that, he did not stand out much here. It is always interesting seeing what happens to players when you put a bunch of all-stars in one dressing room. Who will emerge as the star? The son of LA Kings assistant coach John Stevens seemed content with allowing Chris Wilkie to be the go-to guy. Stevens is at his best when he takes over games. We would have liked to have seen more of that here.
17. Joey Dudek (#8 White, 4-4-8) 5-11/175 — This was the New Hampshire native’s coming out party. Played for Pinkerton Academy last season and we feel many people had their doubts as to whether or not he could produce at the national level. Well, those questions are now answered. Dudek can get his shot off from anywhere and makes an intelligent decision every time the puck is on his stick—especially in the offensive zone. Will play for Mike Levine at Kimball Union Academy this coming winter and will likely be a first line player from Day 1. His father, Joe Dudek, Sr., was a Heisman Trophy finalist for Plymouth State in 1985—Bo Jackson was the eventual winner – and went on to play for the Denver Broncos. His 79 TDs at Plymouth State broke Walter Payton’s previous NCAA mark of 66. He rushed for 5,570 yards. And according to Rick Reilly, writing in Sports Illustrated, Dudek cleaned up the stadium after Plymouth State home games – for minimum wage. We can guarantee that the young Dudek will not be skating for Plymouth State.
18. Dylan Gambrell (#10 Columbia Blue, 1-3-4) 5-11/168 — Denver recruit is dangerous in the offensive zone, particularly from behind the net. Played for the Colorado Thunderbirds last season. Has a slick set of hands and the ability to make defenders look foolish. From Bonney Lake, Washington, near Tacoma.
19. Charlie Graaskamp (#12 Forrest Green, 1-0-1) 6-2/175 — And unknown coming into camp, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin native opened a lot of eyes here. Did not produce a lot of points, but the one goal he scored was highlight-reel worthy. As the week went on you could just see him getting increasingly comfortable. Played for Eau Claire Memorial HS this past season – the Old Abes. FYI, Jake Dowell (NTDP/Wisco/Dallas Stars) is a former Old Abe. Furthermore, in case you are wondering, the original Old Abe was a tame bald eagle who became a mascot of 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War, and was present at 37 engagements. As for Graaskamp, he is tall and lanky with a really nice set of hands and good playmaking abilities. We feel he is a sleeper who will turn it on over the next couple of years.
20. Cody Milan (#18 Forest Green, 1-2-3) 6-2/175 — Projects well -- is tall, has a long/wide frame with plenty of room for growth, is a good skater, and has a quick stick. Played for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS (Mich.) last season
21. Ryan Donato (#14 Orange, 2-5-7) 6-0/178 — We have written a lot about the Dexter forward in recent months, but we would like to reiterate that we enjoy the direction his game is headed. The son of Harvard coach Ted Donato is very intelligent and is someone you want on your line. Started the week off on fire with five points in his first two games and proceeded to cool down. Spent a lot of time on the wing which is not his natural position -- you could tell he was not comfortable in that role. Named to the Five Nations squad.
22. Patrick Newell (#15 Forest Green, 2-1-3) 5-8/140 — When we watched the Thousand Oaks, Calif. native throughout the year with the LA Junior Kings he never really grabbed our attention like some of his teammates – e.g., Nolan Stevens, Garrett Gamez. However, watching him here changed our opinion. We think St. Cloud State has a good one and a lot of schools will be kicking themselves for letting him get away. Newell may be small, but he is highly skilled and has great vision. When he gets stronger and more mature physically he is going to be tough to handle. Our guess is that he will be right at the top of St. Cloud’s scoring charts for at least a couple of seasons.
23. Patrick Grasso (#8 Orange, 0-2-2) 5-5/137 — Really fun to watch. The Ankeny, Iowa native plays the game with a ton of pace. He just flies around the ice. Can turn on a dime and has the ability to break the ankles of anyone trying to defend against him. Makes a lot of plays. Right now he is just so small and skinny that he really struggles shooting the puck (we are pretty sure he uses a junior stick) and being effective in the scoring areas. However, he will not be this size for his whole life -- some kids mature much later than others. His father, Michael Grasso, is a New York, NY native who left home to play in the USHL and settled in Iowa.
24. Christian Dvorak (#18 Red, 2-3-5) 5-11/155 — Has a gifted set of mitts and is lethal on the man advantage. Right now the Chicago Mission product is a touch one-dimensional. Has to get bigger and stronger. Has a difficult time holding onto the puck when being checked. But he has a dimension in that when he touches the puck you know something is going to happen. Will return to the Mission.
25. Nick Magyar (#18 Royal Blue, 3-3-6) 6-2/175 — Strong power forward can play in any situation and in any role. Ohio State recruit played for the Cleveland Barons U16 team this winter and will play for their U18 team next season. Works hard, and battles on both sides of the puck. Reliable.
26. JJ Piccinich (#18 Orange, 2-2-4) 5-11/170 — Every time we see the NJ Avalanche product he creates offense and makes plays. Is always in the thick of things. Here, he was predominantly on a line with Patrick Grasso and Ryan Donato and the three played at a high tempo and were constantly in the offensive zone, though they didn’t combine for many goals (4). Was tendered by Youngstown (USHL) and will likely play there this season.
27. Ryan Tait (#14 Columbia Blue, 2-2-4) 5-10/170 — Quick and crafty. Excellent in tight spaces and can stickhandle in a phone booth. Is a threat from below the tops of the circle, but does not have a shot that makes him a threat from outside the traditional scoring areas. Plays for Shattuck.
28. Michael Booth (#11 Columbia Blue, 3-2-5) 5-10/170 — Great skater who plays with a lot of energy. Is good in transition. Is all over loose pucks and creates turnovers. Played for Team Illinois U16s last year and will be in Fargo (USHL) this year. Was named to the Five Nations team.
29. Andrew Zerban (#14 Royal Blue, 3-0-3) 6-0/170 — A finisher. On one goal we saw here, Zerban, the right shot wing came down the right side of the ice, received a pass on a 2x1, and was able to one-time the puck over the goalie’s shoulder. The majority of players here would have handled the puck before getting the shot off. Plays for Elk River HS where he had 24 goals in just 26 games played.
30. Michael Ederer (#10 Kelly Green, 4-2-6) 5-11/162 — Another sleeper from upstate New York. We noticed the Nichols School winger in the fall playing on a line with Harvard recruit Sean Malone and liked him then. Well, we like him more now. Ederer is an explosive skater who can really turn it on when he wants to. Will be back at Nichols for the upcoming season.
31. Brian Williams (#8 Black, 2-5-7) 5-10/165 — Did not play his game here. Appeared noticeably concerned about getting on the score sheet. We have seen Williams enough to know that he can be an incredible talent when he wants to be. Is at his best when playing with energy, pace and aggressiveness. Not many players can do what he does. Plays for the LA Selects.
32. Jared Fiegl (#14 Kelly Green, 1-1-2) 6-1/195 — Did not have a good week offensively here, but will be effective at higher levels because of his size and skating ability. Will not be a prolific goal scorer, but will be difficult to play against. Good down low and along the walls. A Denver recruit, Fiegl will be playing for the NTDP this year.
33. Brendan Shane (#14 Forest Green, 0-2-2) 5-10/170 — Did not end up on the score sheet a lot, but no one on his team did, despite the fact that they had quality players and created a lot of offense. A fluid skater who is able to push defenders back using his speed, Shane was very noticeable here all week. A Pittsford, NY native, he played for the Toronto Nationals last season. Will play for the Gunnery this season.
34. Will Harrison (#14 Red, 3-7-10) 5-11/185 — Statistically, the DC Capitals product had a great week, finishing tied for second in scoring. Has a solid center of gravity and is able to get to the front of the net. Rode shotgun with Ryan Hitchcock all week and the two showed a certain chemistry.
35. Brett Gruber (#11 Black, 4-6-10) 5-8/163 — Is not very big or fast, but the Notre Dame Academy (Wisc.) forward is always around the puck and knows how to score. Had a great camp finishing near the top of the scoring chart. Is someone to track. Our hunch is that he will always put up points.
36. James Winkler (#10 Red, 1-4-5) 6-2/182 — Is very long and has a great reach. Is good in the corners, protects the puck well, and has soft hands around the net—a classic late bloomer. Our only reservation is his skating. If the Berwick Academy forward can lengthen his stride and add a step he will shoot up recruiter’s lists.
37. Dylan Malmquist (#16 Grey, 1-2-3) 5-10/155 — Edina HS product has a little bit of Gino Guyer to his game. Very smart and patient with puck. Good poise around the net. Would have liked to see him be more assertive here and take control. He never seemed to find his rhythm.
38. Joe Wegwerth (#12 Gold, 0-2-2) 6-3/215 — Did very little all week until the first half of his final game on Thursday. During that half the Brewster Bulldogs power forward was excellent, using his size to get to the net, dominating puck battles and showing some stick skills. Problem is, during this game he injured his knee pretty badly and we are told it is a recurring injury. We feel Wegwerth is either going to be a homerun or a complete strike out. Playing for the NTDP this season.
39. Ryan Norman (#8 Kelly Green, 4-2-6) 5-11/180 — Always involved. Doesn’t do any one thing that really jumps out at you, but consistently makes good plays and by the end of the game the Shattuck forward has a lot of check marks next to his name.
40. Liam Pecararo (#11 Gold, 1-3-4) 5-10/165 — The Maine recruit has too much skill to be left off of this list completely, but he coasted through the week and appeared very disinterested. At times showed flashes of what he can do. Has great puck skills and because we have seen him play so much we know his compete level can be high. It just wasn’t this week.
1. Nathan Billitier (#5 Gold, 1-0-1) 5-11/182 — A prize recruit who is uncommitted. Whoever lands the Spencerport, NY native is going to get a serious injection of talent. Does not have the size that makes you immediately think “first rounder,” but he just does everything so well. Is an excellent skater who likes to join the rush, is physically rock-solid and wins all the 1x1 battles. Skilled enough to run a PP and defends well. Played for Rochester (EJHL) last season as a 15 year old and is on his way to Ann Arbor this year. Right now, Billitier is the best, most polished defenseman in this age group. We are told he is not committed to going the college route and is definitely considering major junior after he graduates from the NTDP. Brampton took a flyer on him in the ninth round of this year’s OHL draft.
2. Jonathan MacLeod (#2 Orange, 0-1-1) 6-2/185 — If there is one player this typist would not enjoy playing against in the ’96 age group it would be the big Kimball Union defender. Physically imposing and downright nasty in his own end. MacLeod makes the life of opposing forwards just miserable. The NTDP has a good one here — someone you want in the trenches with you. He has a pretty good stick and a good shot and as he gains confidence we think he will bring more to the table than just being a physical, stay-at-home defender. A Boston University recruit and potential NHL first round pick.
3. Ryan Collins (#7 Red, 0-2-2) 6-5/180 — A 6’5” beanpole right now. Has a ton of upside and by the time he reaches pro hockey the Benilde-St. Margaret’s product could weigh 225. Skates well and is pretty smooth for a guy his size. Do not know if he will have the same nasty edge, but reminds us of Jared Tinordi (NTDP/London Knights-OHL) at the same age. Will play for the NTDP this season. A top uncommitted defender who certainly has top two round NHL draft potential.
4. Jack Glover (#4 Columbia Blue, 1-2-3) 6-3/170 — Played on the same team as Collins at Benilde last season. Is probably further along than Collins at this point in time and is certainly more confident and offensively assertive. A big defenseman who skates very well and likes to have the puck on his stick. Headed to the NTDP this fall. Uncommitted.
5. Keegan Ford (#7 Royal Blue, 0-4-4) 5-9/177 — Listed at 5’9”, which could be a generous. Small, dynamic defender who is excellent with the puck and will be an impact defender at the D1 level. Very similar to Denver’s WCHA Rookie of the Year Joey LaLeggia. Is strong on his feet and skates well enough to defend against bigger forwards. Will play for Dubuque (USHL) this season and it would not surprise us one bit if he ran their PP. Played for Waunakee HS in Wisconsin last year and put up a 34-40-74 scoring line in just 27 games played—eye popping numbers for a defenseman at any level. Earned a spot on the Five Nations team. Is the son of former Wisco centerman (’84-88) and college coach Pat Ford.
6. Brandon Fortunato (#6 Orange, 0-3-3) 5-9/145 — Since seeing the slick, puck-moving defender back in September at the Junior Bruins Shootout we have been trumpeting how good the Long Island Royals defender is. NCAA schools had their doubts about Fortunato due to his size, and the NTDP did not invite him to the final-40 camp. However, after seeing him do his thing against the top players in the country Harvard nabbed him, and then the NTDP offered him the final defenseman spot after just three games here – and he accepted. Is thin and weak right now; has yet to mature physically. But Fortunato has a mind for the game that is rare and you cannot teach. Named to the Five Nations team.
7. Blake Siebenaler (#4 Grey, 1-1-2) 6-1/175 — Could be the most fluid skater in camp. The Cleveland Barons product transitions from forward to backwards and vise versa with such ease --just makes it look so effortless. Has excellent gap control and is difficult to beat simply because his skating is so good. Plays within himself and does not try to do too much. Named to the Five Nations squad. Will play for the Indiana Ice (USHL) this season.
8. Tyler Nanne (#4 Kelly Green, 2-4-6) 5-10/165 — Plays both forward and defense, but looked right at home this past week on the back end as the Edina HS product finished as one of the top scoring defenders. Was invited to the NTDP Final 40 camp as a forward. Have not seen a player play two positions at such a high level in a very long time. Is uncommitted and would be a useful player to get into the stable. Was tendered by Lincoln (USHL) for the coming season.
9. Ryan Bliss (#3 Columbia Blue, 0-4-4) 6-1/185 — When the St. Paul’s School defender committed early to the NTDP we questioned that decision, but he looked really good here and put some of our doubts to rest. A very fluid skater who is at his best when he makes the simple, logical play. At times during the year he may have been over confident and tried to do too much, but it appears he has learned that sometimes less is more. A Cornell recruit.
10. Louis Belpedio (#19 Kelly Green, 1-3-4) 5-11/170 (our best guess) — Was an at-large player who really impressed and will play for the NTDP this season. The Miami-Ohio recruit has a slick stick and is very effective in the offensive zone. Played for Culver last season and we expect that he will see a lot of time on the PP in the future.
11. Jack Walker (#2 Red, 1-2-3) 5-10/170 — Edina HS defender has excellent feet and is a powerful skater. Gets the puck up the ice in a hurry and has the ability to lug the mail himself. Solid defensively and strong on his feet. Is rarely out of position and makes few mistakes. Uncommitted. Named to the Five Nations team.
12. Kevin Kerr (#7 Forest Green, 1-0-1) 5-11/162 — A great skater who is very confident with the puck on his stick. Loves to get up into the play and often creates odd man rushes. Gets running around a bit defensively, but his legs are so good that he is able to quickly recover. Will play this season for Comcast U18. Could be a difference maker for Penn State when he arrives.
13. Bradley Johnson (#3 Orange, 1-0-1) 5-9/165 — Saw him during the year and felt he was the top defender on a strong St. Louis Jr. Blues squad, but he really upped his stock here. Is aggressive on the offensive blueline and makes a lot of positive plays on the PP. Is not very big or fast, which means he struggles at times defensively. At the higher levels, Johnson will find his niche as an offensive- minded defenseman who makes a good first pass.
14. Jake Linhart (#5, Royal Blue, 2-1-3) 5-10/160 — Very light on his feet and nimble. Smart defender who makes plays. When the Chicago Mission alum weighs 180+ pounds, which is inevitable, he will be a game breaker. Wisconsin recruit will play for Green Bay (USHL) this fall.
15. Adam Baughman (#3 Forest Green, 0-1-1) 6-3/190 — Reliable, stay-at-home defender. Having said that, the Chicago Mission product does have skill as he skates well for a big man and makes a good outlet pass. Chooses to play a conservative game. We think Baughman will be someone who will eat up a lot of minutes in college and play against the opposition’s top lines in a shut-down role.
16. Daniel Willet (#7 Black, 0-2-2) 5-6/160 — For a small defenseman he brings a lot of energy to the game. Knows how to defend and competes hard – he’s a pit bull. Has good offensive instincts and can really fire the puck. Reminds us of former University of Maine defenseman Brett Tyler. The Northeastern recruit played for the NJ Rockets (MET) last season and is undecided as to where he will play this year.
17. Butrus Ghafari (#4 Gold, 1-1-2) 5-11/182 — Had an excellent showing here—a good get for Western Michigan. Plays the game the right way—hard and smart. Takes no short cuts and plays textbook defense. Did not lose 1x1 battles and played with a physical edge. Will play for Fargo (USHL) this year. Named to the Five Nations team.
18. Robert Nardella (#5 Red, 0-3-3) 5-8/155 — Notre Dame recruit has the potential to be a power play quarterback during his time in South Bend. A small defenseman, Nardella has an excellent stick and a very effective poke check. Rarely puts himself in vulnerable positions. Yet another high-end player from the Chicago Mission U16 team.
19. Brandon Carlo (#3 Red, 0-3-3) 6-3/176 — The Colorado Thunderbirds defender is someone who could shoot right up this list when he fills out and gets stronger. The foundation is in place as he is a smooth skater for his size and makes smart decisions with the puck. Would not be the least bit surprised if he were an NHL draft pick in a couple years. Uncommitted. Could be a high reward for the school that lands him.
20. Josh Wesley (#2 Columbia Blue, 1-2-3) 6-2/185 — Still trying to figure out how Wesley, Bliss and Glover—three NTDP defensemen – all ended up playing on the same team here. The son of 20-year NHL defenseman Glen Wesley, the Raleigh, NC native is solid defensively and skates well for his size. Kept things simple here. Moved pucks efficiently.
21. Aaron Hayden (#6 Royal Blue, 0-4-4) 6-4/187 — Is listed as undecided for this year in the program, but we are told the Belle Tire product is headed to the OHL where he was the Niagara Icedogs first round selection. Was all over the map here as he tried to do too much offensively. Has the tools to be a mean, physical, meat-and-potatoes defenseman. Hits like a train. As we mentioned earlier, he really hammered Keegan Iverson in open ice -- the hit of the week.
22. Peter Tischke (#4 Royal Blue, 2-1-3) 6-1/190 — Is a tough defenseman to figure out. Shows flashes of having a high upside, but we did not see it on a consistent basis here. The Wisconsin recruit is a wild card in our opinion—he could turn out to be very good as he matures.
23. Carson Vance (#4 Black, 0-1-1) 5-9/178 — Smart, intelligent puck-moving defender who falls in the same category as Fortunato, Johnson, Linehart, and Nardella. However, he is not as ready as those guys. We saw him during the year playing for Junior Coyotes U16 team and he looked really comfortable. He never found that same level of comfort here in Rochester, though. Needs to get bigger, stronger and faster. Will play Div. I hockey and will almost certainly be a fixture on the PP.
24. William Scherer (#5 Forest Green, 0-2-2) 5-10/180 — Steady defender who was sharp all week. It is a bit of a cliché when describing players, but the St. Louis Jr. Blues product does everything very well, but doesn’t do one thing great. He is the type of defenseman coaches love to have: conservative, reliable and trustworthy.
25. Jack Dougherty (#6 White, 1-2-3) 6-1/185 — Good stick. Makes plays. At times fell into the high risk/high reward category. Plays for St. Thomas Academy. Made the Five Nations team.
26. Nick Wolfe (#7 Gold, 3-2-5) 6-4/187 — Was one of the top scoring d-men in camp. A big kid who is still a bit of a project, but has a lot of upside. Plays for Eagan HS.
27. Jake McCarthy (#4 Forest Green, 0-2-2) 6-0/190 — Is very wild right now and will need to settle down in the defensive zone -- is always thinking offense. The St. Sebastian’s defenseman does make a lot of plays happen, however, and loves joining the rush. Once he acquires a better feel for the game defensively, his stock will rise. The good news is you can teach defense, but you can’t teach offensive. And McCarthy has a lot of confidence in that aspect of his game.
28. Nathan Kwiecinski (#6 Black, 1-0-1) 6-0/185 — Played for Little Caesar’s last season. Was noticeable for positive reasons. Does not jump out at you, but consistently makes good, subtle plays.
29. Charles Manley (#7 Columbia Blue, 0-2-2) 5-10/160 — Appears to be getting taller and filling out. Has great feet. RPI recruit who plays at Selects Hockey Academy.
30T. Charlie Barrow (#4 Red, 0-1-1) 5-10/155 — Was a pleasant surprise. Is from Belmont, Mass and listed only the NEFPHL as his team last season. Will be at Belmont Hill this fall and should make an impact. Smooth with the puck and a good candidate for the PP.
30T. Jerad Rosburg (#6 Kelly Green, 1-6-7) 6-0/170 — Was the top-scoring defenseman in camp. Is from Clarksville, Maryland and played for both the TPH Thunder and the Ohio Blue Jackets U16 teams. Did not have a goal this season in the Tier 1 Elite League. Will have to track him to see if his offensive explosion was puck luck or a sign of things to come.
1. Chris Birdsall (#1 Red, .952 Save %, 1.00 GAA) 5-11/160 --- Did not let in a goal through the first four games of camp, something we have not seen here before. Was far and away the top goalie here and would have likely taken home the camp MVP award should one have been given out. The NTDP staff was surely kicking themselves as they watched the display the NJ Avalanche netminder put on here. Is a winner who can single-handedly steal games. Will play for Cedar Rapids (USHL) this year. Is uncommitted, but something tells us the scholarship offers will be rolling in. Was named to the Five Nations team.
2. Blake Weyrick (#1 Grey, .902 Save %, 2.67 GAA) 6-3/200 — If we had to win a game today we would probably start Birdsall, but if we were drafting a team for the future we’d have to go with Weyrick. Fundamentally sound and makes the saves look easy. When pucks consistently hit the goalie in the chest you know he is doing his job — and that is how the Shattuck goal keeper plays 95% of the time. From Ojai, Calif. Will be with the NTDP this year. Uncommitted.
3. Logan Halladay (#30 Royal Blue, .853 Save %, 4.00 GAA) 6-1/175 — Cary, NC native has loads of potential and is a great skater with excellent lateral quickness. Statistically speaking, he had an underwhelming week, but these games are seldom defensive struggles. Oftentimes, the goaltender is left out to dry. Played in the All-Star game. Will play for the Chicago Young Americans next season.
4. Eric Schierhorn (#30 Red, .889 Save %, 3.00 GAA) 6-0/175 — Schierhorn, along with Birdsall, formed the top goaltending duo in camp. Not only were they on the same team here for the week, both of them were named to the Five Nations team. Led the Red team to a championship. Plays for Russell Stover.
5. Joseph Lissak (#30 Black, .922 Save %, 2.42 GAA) 6-2/200 — Big upside and was excellent here with the exception of one game. Trimming down and getting quicker will help his game a lot, but all the physical tools are present. Was in the All-Star game. Headed to prep school, where he will be playing at Taft for head coach Dan Murphy.
Mick’s The Man
University of Vermont associate head coach John Micheletto will be named the next University of Massachusetts head hockey coach, perhaps as early as Monday.
Micheletto, who interviewed on Tues. July 10, was a bit of a surprise choice, especially considering that Vermont has had a rough go of it the last two seasons – 8-20-8 and 6-27-1 respectively. For that reason, his candidacy flew totally under the radar.
That said, this typist has known Micheletto since his days coaching prep school hockey and, if he is able put together a strong staff, he could have real success at UMass. Micheletto is a good communicator, a patient, analytical person who really cares about the welfare of his players – and everyone around him. The UMass community will be very comfortable with him. He enjoys talking to people, has strong opinions on the state of the game, and is more than willing to explain his points of view to anyone with an open mind and a willingness to listen. We expect the UMass players will be happy with the choice, too -- Micheletto is good at keeping things in perspective. As a coach, his strength is as a teacher.
Micheletto, 46, grew up in Chicago where he played for Team Illinois. A blue-collar kid, he was recruited east to Milton Academy and Dartmouth, where he was a defenseman in the ‘80s. After five years of coaching at the Hill School in Pennsylvania he joined Stan Moore's staff at Union in 1996, where he shared assistant coaching duties with Kevin Sneddon. Micheletto was later an assistant on Dave Poulin’s staff at Notre Dame for four years before reuniting with Sneddon, when the latter took over as head coach at Vermont in the fall of 2003.
Top Recruit to St. Botolph St.
Northeastern has received a commitment from 6’3”, 180 lb. forward Jason Cotton. The Parker, Texas native was our 14th-ranked forward at the recent Select 17 Festival where he was named to the U.S. Under-18 Select Team competing at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic. Below is what we had to say about him:
“Is still a project, but the Parker, Texas native is a good project to have. One of the top uncommitted players in camp, Cotton is tall and lean right but could be a much different player when he fills out. Has good offensive instincts and a soft set of hands. Has not quite figured out how to use his size to dominate down low. Could be a player who really turns it on over the next few years.”
Cotton will arrive in the fall of 2014 after playing a couple of seasons in the USHL for Tri-City. The Colorado Thunderbirds product is eligible for the 2013 NHL draft and we think the 2/7/95 birth date will be watched closely.
Northeastern has also received a commitment from 6’2”, 180 lb. Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) defenseman Josh Couturier for the fall of 2014.
The 3/3/95 birthdate recently made Des Moines (USHL), but has elected to stay at home for another year. Couturier is a big defender with a long wingspan and good feet for a player his size. His decision-making will need to improve, but he has a ton of raw talent and a lot of upside. Couturier made his final choice between Northeastern and Union.
Another Top '95 for the Crimson
Harvard has received a commitment from 6’2”, 200 lb. Phillips Andover power forward Eddie Ellis for the fall of 2014.
This past season the Burlington, Mass native led Andover in scoring with a 19-24-43 scoring line in just 26 games played. The 1/12/95 birthdate had a strong showing at the Select 17 Festival where he was chosen to appear in the all-star game. This is what we had to say about Ellis, who was our 29th-ranked forward at the camp.
“Big and surprisingly fast. Phillips Andover power forward does not have much sizzle with his stick, but he gets to loose pucks and is difficult to handle in scoring areas.”
Ellis joins an impressive group of ‘95’s headed to Cambridge which includes Sean Malone (NTDP), Tyler Moy (Omaha-USHL), Trevor Fidler (Dexter), Wiley Sherman (Hotchkiss), Alex McCrea (Waterloo-USHL), Riley Hunt (Vernon-BCHL) and Adam Plant (Westside-BCHL).
Malone Called on by NTDP
5’11”, 178 lb. LC Sean Malone, a Harvard recruit, has been added to the NTDP roster and will play for the U.S. Under-18 Team for a year before arriving in the fair city of Cambridge, Mass. in the fall of ’13.
A 4/30/95 birthdate from West Seneca, NY, Malone is a smart, skilled centerman who makes plays and finishes equally well. On top of that, he’s physically involved and highly competitive.
Playing for Jamie Printz at the Nichols School this past season, Malone had a 34-36-70 line in 32 games. He also played for the Buffalo Saints U18 team where he had a 27-27-54 line. Harvard assistant Jerry Fortin was the key guy in recruiting him to Harvard.
Malone, whose stock has skyrocketed in recent months, had planned to return to Nichols for his senior season, but will instead spend it in Ann Arbor.
Other candidates for the forward slot in Ann Arbor included ’95 centers Justin Bailey, a Michigan State recruit who played last winter for the Long Island Royals, and Gabe Guertler, a Minnesota recruit who played last season for the Fargo Force (USHL).
Malone, who was named to the U.S. Under-18 Team headed to the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in the Czech Republic next month, was USHR’s #2 ranked forward at last month’s Select 17 Festival. (For more on Malone please scroll down to USHR News of Mon. 7/2/12 -- Select 17s Top 50.)
Malone is the second Harvard recruit to be added to the NTDP in the last week as ’96 defenseman Brandon Fortunato (LI Royals) was added to the Under-17 Team midway through the Select 16 Festival.
Carlson Staying Put
The Cedar Rapids Gazette is reporting that head coach/GM Mark Carlson, a candidate for the UMass job, is staying put.
"I went out and visited (UMass)," Carlson told Gazette reporter Jeff Johnson. "It is a very nice place, a great campus, great facilities, a terrific athletic director and associate athletic director. But I love Cedar Rapids and our ownership and our community and our fans. This is the best junior hockey league in North America, and I want to be here."
The article does not say whether or not UMass officially offered the job to Carlson.
Select 16 All-Star Rosters
After the conclusion of this morning’s championship game at the USA Hockey Select 16 Festival – it’s Kelly Green vs. Red – an all-star game will be held with the goal of narrowing down candidates for selection to the US Under-17 Select Team that will be representing the U.S. at the Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic Aug. 2-12.
Coaching the Five Nations Tournament Team will be Barry Smith (assistant coach, Vancouver Canucks), Pat Mikesch (associate head coach, Green Bay Gamblers), and Jim Hunt (Atlantic District ADM Manager).
Naturally, players on the two teams in the championship game are not allowed to also participate in the all-star game.
Goaltenders: Joseph Lissak, Stefanos Lekkas.
Defensemen: Nick Wolfe, Jack Dougherty, Keegan Ford, Blake Siebenaler, Butrus Ghafari, Jake Linhart.
Forwards: Alex Jasiek, Michael Booth, Joey Dudek, Ryan Donato, Ryan Tait, Brett Gruber, Taylor Vickerman, Dylan Gambrell, Nick Magyar, Cullen Munson, Cody Milan, Keegan Iverson.
Coaches: Ty Hennes, Tyler Walsh.
Goaltenders: Logan Halladay, Drew Hotte.
Defensemen: Ryan Bliss, Josh Wesley, Nathan Billitier, Jack Glover, Brandon Fortunato, Jonathan MacLeod.
Forwards: Dylan Larkin, Ryan MacInnis, Alex Tuch, Nolan Stevens, Jack Eichel, Christopher Wilkie, Blake Clarke, Seamus Malone, JJ Piccinich, Paul Della, Brian Williams, Dylan Pavelek.
Coaches: Corey Laylin, Colin Martel.
Girgensons Signs With Buffalo
UVM recruit Zemgus Girgensons has signed with the Buffalo Sabres, who selected him in the first round (#14 overall) of last month’s NHL draft.
This is a tough break for college hockey in general, and UVM in particular, as the Catamounts staff worked hard to keep him on track for Burlington, Vermont this fall.
A 6’2”, 198 lb. left-shot center, Girgensons clearly won’t be playing major junior. It’ll be the Rochester Amerks (AHL) or the Sabres. Girgensons had a strong camp and word is the Buffalo brass gave him a strong indication he would be able to make the big club (when and if the CBA gets done).
U.S. Under-17 Select Team Named
The U.S. has named its 20-man roster for the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.
All players were selected from the Select 16 Festival, which ended today in Rochester, NY. Five of the selected players were from Minnesota, with three apiece from Michigan and Illinois.
U.S. Under-17 Five Nations Roster:
Goaltenders (2): Chris Birdsall (Cedar Rapids-USHL), Eric Schierhorn (Russell Stover U18).
Defensemen (7): Jack Dougherty (St. Thomas Academy - Minn.), Keegan Ford (Waunakee HS – Wisc.) Brandon Fortunato (LI Royals), Butrus Ghafari (Compuware U16), Robert Nardella (Chicago Mission U16), Blake Siebenaler (Cleveland Barons U16), Jack Walker (Edina HS – Minn.).
Forwards (11): Michael Booth (Team Illinois U18), Kyle Connor (Belle Tire U16), Ryan Donato (Dexter School), Joey Dudek (Pinkerton Academy – NH), Shane Gersich (Holy Family Catholic HS – Minn.), Alex Jasiek (St. Louis Blues U16), Seamus Malone (Chicago Mission U16), Cullen Munson (Edina HS – Minn.), Dylan Pavelek (Belle Tire U16), Austin Poganski (St. Cloud Cathedral – Minn.), Taylor Vickerman (Cleveland Barons U16).
Click here for:
Official Roster with birthdates, hometowns, heights, weights, etc.
August 7-11, Chomutov, Czech Republic.
Sun. Aug. 5 – Czech Republic (exhib.) -- 5:00 pm local/11:00 am EST
Wed. Aug. 8 – Germany -- 6:00 pm local/noon EST
Thurs. Aug. 9 – Switzerland -- 6:00 pm local/noon EST
Fri. Aug. 10 – Czech Republic -- 6:00 pm local/noon EST
Sat. Aug. 11 – Slovakia noon local/6:00 am EST
Report: Shea Traded
Québec news sources are reporting today that former Nobles forward -- and NTDP and BC recruit -- Brandon Shea has been traded from the Moncton Wildcats to the Québec Remparts for a third round pick in the 2013 draft.
Shea left Moncton during the season last year and returned home to Massachusetts.
In March, Shea committed to play the upcoming season for the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) but decommitted a week or two ago.
As for Shea’s trade to the Remparts, no deal can be officially consummated until August 1, as the league trading period is closed until that date.
Scarfo to Dutchmen
6’0”, 180 lb. Ryan Scarfo, a left shot center at Governor’s Academy, has committed to Union College for the fall of ’14.
A 3/3/94 birthdate from North Chelmsford, Mass., Scarfo had a 15-14-29 line in 29 games at Governor’s this past season.
An agile, strong skater, Scarfo is best known for his shot. He has a great release and accuracy to match. He should be one of the most dangerous players in prep hockey in the upcoming season.
“He has a ton of upside,” Governor’s coach Leon Hayward says. “This is a tribute to Rick Bennett and his staff, who have been following him for a long time. When they made the offer, Ryan didn’t have to think long before taking it.”
Hayward says Scarfo is a great leader and a three-sport captain at Governor’s – soccer, hockey, and baseball. He was voted junior class athlete of the year at Gov’s, and was also named senior class president
A center fielder, Scarfo was recruited by Dartmouth for baseball, but decided that his future lies in hockey.
UMass Interviews Micheletto
University of Vermont associate head coach John Micheletto interviewed for the vacant UMass position yesterday. Perhaps because Vermont has had a rough go of it the last two seasons – 8-20-8 and 6-27-1 respectively – he hasn’t gotten the buzz, but we can confirm that Micheletto did indeed officially interview.
A strong teacher of the game, Micheletto, 46, grew up in Chicago and came east to Milton Academy and Dartmouth, where he was a defenseman in the ‘80s. After five years of coaching at the Hill School in Pennsylvania he joined Kevin Sneddon’s staff at Union in 1996. He later was an assistant on Dave Poulin’s staff at Notre Dame for four years before reuniting with Sneddon, when the latter won the Vermont job in 2003.
In addition to his on-ice responsibilities – primarily working with the forwards and power play unit – Micheletto oversees the Catamounts’ recruiting efforts.
Fortunato Accepts NTDP Invitation
5’8” LI Royals/Portledge School LD Brandon Fortunato, a Harvard recruit for the fall of ’14, has accepted the NTDP's offer of a spot in the program.
Fortunato, who will play for the US Under-17 Team this fall, wasn’t invited to the program's March tryout camp, but after three strong days of play at the Select 16 Festival in Rochester, the diminutive, puck-moving blueliner impressed the NTDP staff enough to earn the slot.
Fortunato had been scheduled to play the upcoming season with the Junior Bruins (EJHL).
UMass’ Dark Horse From the West
To casual college hockey fans, the name Mike Corbett might not ring a bell, but insiders know the 40-year-old Air Force Academy associate head coach extremely well because if there’s a rink in North America he hasn’t set foot in, or a player he doesn’t know about, we’d be very surprised. Not only does he know where the players are, but he’s dogged in his pursuit of players who can fit the Air Force mold. It’s worked, too, as he and Air Force head coach Frank Serratore have strung together six consecutive winning seasons, not easy at a school where the service commitment and stringent admissions requirements force the staff to recruit players who are not stars but, rather, can fill well-defined roles and outwork their opponents. With one of the most geographically-diverse rosters in college hockey, the Falcons, by hewing to a stingy defense-first game plan, have pulled off some shockers in the NCAA Tournament, blanking #1 seed Michigan 2-0 in March 2009, and in other years losing to Minnesota by a goal, and bowing to Miami and Yale -- both in overtime.
Corbett, who interviewed at UMass on Monday, has to be considered a strong candidate. The UMass job search, which endured a wobbly couple of weeks, seems to have become much more focused, honing in on just a handful of candidates. Extensive head coaching experience has taken a back seat to finding guys who are detail-oriented, know how to recruit, and have an extensive network they can reach out to for players.
A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Corbett, a defenseman, was recruited to the University of Denver when Serratore was head coach there, and was an assistant captain as a junior and senior. Corbett himself became a head coach/GM in 1997 at Butte in the America West Junior Hockey League (he was coach of the year in his rookie season). After several years in Butte, he took over the Billings Bulls (AWHL). From there he moved on to the USHL, as an associate head coach of the Sioux Falls Stampede. In 2003-04 he was reunited with Serratore at Air Force. He’s paid his dues. He also gives good intelligent answers to questions, brings a ton of energy, thinks outside the box, and has the personality that will go over really well in any community.
Corbett was a candidate for the Princeton job that opened up in 2011 when Guy Gadowsky moved on to Penn State.
UMass Going for Broke
After a couple of weeks of false starts, things are suddenly looking rosy for UMass fans as school AD John McCutcheon is zeroing in on candidates for the head coaching position that has been vacant since June 19.
USHR has confirmed through well-placed sources that UNH associate head coach Scott Borek interviewed at UMass today. Borek, an NCAA coach since a shoulder injury prematurely ended his playing career at Dartmouth in the early ‘80s, has been a key figure in UNH’s string of perennial success. Until a slight dip this past season, UNH had enjoyed 15 straight winning seasons, the last ten of which came with Borek on board as chief recruiter. And in those ten years, the Wildcats have been to the NCAA Tournament nine times. That string should continue, as UNH’s recruits for the next few years – Shane Eiserman, Tyler Kelleher, et al -- are right there with BC and BU.
In refocusing their search UMass is clearly going after candidates who have their hands on the pipeline of players, and in that area Borek is legendary, a road warrior who knows the player pool inside out, loves to battle for players, knows seemingly every coach in North America, and wears down coaches far younger than he.
Borek could be an appealing choice for UMass and its fans because, in addition to knowing where the players are and being aggressive in recruiting them, he also has head coaching experience, principally at Lake Superior State where, from 1996 to 2001, he posted two winning seasons and three losing seasons. At Lake State, a geographically remote school that is extremely difficult to recruit players to, Borek was named CCHA Coach of the Year and a National Coach of the Year finalist in 1999-00. In addition, Borek has also had stints as head coach at Colby College, where he was a finalist for the Eddie Jeremiah Award, and at New England College.
At UNH, when Borek is not on the road, he works with the team’s forwards and power play units.
UNH has been criticized at times (by their quite vocal and passionate fan base) for not winning ‘The Big One,’ but the bottom line is that every single year UNH is in the hunt. Like a small handful of NCAA schools, UNH doesn’t ever have to rebuild – they just reload. And there’s no reason UMass can’t be in that same position someday. Massachusetts is a hockey state and UMass, like UNH, is a state school. As many have said over the years, UMass is a sleeping giant of a program. They just need to string a number of winning seasons together. It’s a cliché, but success begets success.
This is the most important week in UMass hockey history, so stay tuned.
Junior Chowder Cup Review
USHR spent this past weekend, hard on the heels of the 4th of July, at the Junior Chowder Cup in Foxboro and Walpole, Mass. Outdoors it was 90 degrees and sunny each day, with players showing up at the rink with sand on their feet -- and minds. The mind-boggling number of teams participating – 76!? -- made it impossible to come even remotely close to seeing everyone. And parity? Forget it. When you walk into the rink and see a score of 16-0 you just shrug and move on. To add to the frustration, it seemed that about half of the teams on hand featured players wearing incorrect jersey numbers. No scout likes sitting in the stands trying to guess who’s who, especially on a languid July day, but that’s summer hockey. But we are not here to complain, as we were able to achieve what we set out to do. That is, find some players. Particularly, new players. Yes, there were a lot of ‘name’ players on hand, many of whom we have written extensively about and, with the USA Hockey Select Festivals underway, will be parsing their game further in the coming weeks. We can tell you that Noah Hanifin (BC), Colin White (BC), Jeremy Bracco (Harvard), Nolan Aibel, Daniel Willet (Northeastern), McKay Flanagan, John McDermott, Donovan Ott, Nick Vilardo and Joseph Masonius all participated and all looked good. But we have written about all of them before. Here, then, are some more guys we liked, some a whole lot. And, best of all, we haven’t written extensively about them before. A few, yes, but definitely not all.
1. Brendan Warren, F, ‘97 (East Coast Kings-Grey) 5-11/165— High-end forward who played for Compuware last season. Has already visited Michigan, and we are told Michigan State and Notre Dame are also in the hunt for the prized recruit. High, high skill level. Great set of mitts, and has a knack for making something out of nothing. Strong candidate for the NTDP.
2. Sean Day, D, ’98 (East Coast Kings-Grey) 6-2/185— With the exception of Hanifin, Day was probably the top prospect here in terms of pro potential. Played bantam minor for Honeybaked last season, but will be jumping ship to Compuware this year and playing for their U16 team. The only other ’98 in the US we have seen thus far that we feel is probably better would be Chad Krys of the Westchester Express. Day is highly mobile and was the best skater on hand. In terms of natural ability he could have more than Hanifin. Having said that, he really needs to learn how to play the game. Does not make the easy play, instead electing to try and skate the puck coast to coast every time he touches it. Positionally, he gets lost at times and also exhibits poor body language if a teammate does not give him the puck. All of these habits will need to be broken, and likely will be -- unless he just flat-out lacks hockey sense, which we doubt is the case. Right now, Day is just better than everyone and thus gets away with some poor habits.
3. Jordan Greenway, F, ’97 (Ottawa River Rats) 6-5/208— Played for Shattuck this past season and we ranked him highly at the U14 Nationals, but he is not someone we have covered much, so hopefully we can give him some press heading into the Select Festival. The Potsdam, NY native is every bit of 6-5/208---which is scary for his age. Greenway did not play his best here, as we did not see much (if any) urgency to his game. That said, you just do not find players of his size who can skate like he does. Greenway has a nice long stride and a smooth bounce to his game. Has a good stick and crafty hands. If he plays with a little bit of snarl and urgency we think he will be a pro. Does play a big man’s game and already knows how to use his body and protect the puck. If he chooses to go the college route he will be a big get for whichever school lands him. We think he will be a high NHL draft pick.
4. Jack Roslovic, F, ’97 (East Coast Kings-Red) 5-11/155— Probably is not on the same level as the above-mentioned players, but we think in time he has a chance to be. Is not physically mature right now, but we think when he gets bigger and stronger the Ohio Blue Jackets forward will impress. Certainly has a mind for the game to go along with a nice all-around skill set. Made a lot of plays here.
5. Charlie Kelleher, F, ’97 (East Coast Kings-Red) 5-8/145— Brother of UNH recruit Tyler Kelleher. Plays for Longmeadow HS. Very crafty and knows how to create offense. Has extremely quick set of hands to go along with good feet. Has a weak stick right now and will need to get much stronger.
6. Steven Ruggerio, D, ’97 (Hockey Essentials)— Height/weight not listed, but we would guess the Long Island Gulls mainstay is about 6-2/180. Big defender who has good feet and projects to be a solid defensive defenseman at the next level. Has DI potential.
7. Francois Lemelin, F, ’96 (Ottawa River Rats) 6-3/195— Big kid who protects the puck well and has a good understanding of the game, i.e., he made plays. Played last winter for the Ottawa Valley Titans midget minor team, one of the best squads in Ontario. Feet need to get quicker. Is slated to play for the Kanata Stallions of the CJHL, where he was drafted in the first round, #6 overall (the CJHL draft is just two rounds).
8. Andrew Tucci, G, ’96 (Burlington Cougars) 5-9/160— Was excellent here over the weekend. Was the only goalie on his team and Burlington lost in the semi-finals. Headed to Choate next season and will start behind sophomore Sam Tucker. Tucker is a DI goalie, but Tucci will push him and not allow him to get comfortable. The Don Mills Flyers product may be a bit limited, so the DI coaches won’t be salivating at the drop of the puck, but he will certainly be a very good goalie at the prep level. Choate will have a great 1-2 punch between the pipes -- maybe the tops in prep hockey.
9. Cody Todesco, F, ’96 (Shamrocks Elite Hockey) 5-11/175—Played a limited role on a star-studded Nobles team this past winter, but we were really impressed with his game here and think he could be coming up on a breakout season. The junior-to-be plays the game hard and with a lot a lot of pace. Has a good chance of playing in Nobles’ top six.
10. Jordan Oshawy, D, ’96 (Canadian Future Pros ‘96) 5-11/165—Could not dig up much information in regards to where he played or is playing next year. Was good here. Fluid skater. Good feet.
11. Zach Balodis, D, ’96 (Burlington Cougars) 5-11/185—From Ontario and will be playing for the Cleveland Barons U18 team next season. Good all-around defender. Makes a good first pass. Nothing flashy.
12. Tyler Augustinsin, F, ’97 (Connecticut Yankees) 6-0/175—Goal scorer. Good hand/eye. Will play for Selects Hockey Academy in the fall.
13. Ben Freeman, F, ’96 (East Coast Kings-Grey) 6-2/177—Big kid who makes plays. Was noticeable. Will play for Northfield-Mount Hermon next season.
14. Ted Hart, F, ’96 (East Coast Kings-Grey) 5-9/150—Brother of USHR Prep Player of the Year Brian Hart of Exeter. Plays for Greely HS. Has improved over the last two years. Could be a late bloomer.
15. Sam Field, F, ’98 (East Coast Selects Q) 5-10/135—For a ’98 we thought he looked good. Is probably bigger than 5’10”. Scored a highlight reel goal while we were watching, going bar down from the slot. Can shoot it. Will play bantam major for the New Jersey Devils.
16. Mason Kohn, F, ’97 (East Coast Selects ‘97)—Height/weight was not available. Big, strong power forward. Has a nice touch and can make plays. Plays for Shattuck.
17. Eric Theander, F, ’97 (Firstar Canada West-Black) 5-7/135—Small, crafty forward from Okotoks Bantam AAA team. Quick stick. Good in traffic.
18. Ryan Heeps, F, ’97 (Metro East ‘97) 5-10/155—Crafty stick and has a nose for the net. Good on the man advantage. Good speed. Plays a bit too much on the perimeter.
19. Marcus Crawford, D, ’97 (Metro East 97) 5-11/165—Puck-moving defender. Smart, but not dynamic. Someone to keep an eye on.
20. ***#58***(East Coast Selects ‘97)—The Mystery Man. We know that he plays for the powerhouse Wilkes-Barre club that took Nationals at the U14 level. We know that he is a small, physically immature defender who is really light on his feet and makes good decisions with the puck. We know that when he fills out he could be a good one. But we just don’t know his name. A little help, anyone?
Cavanaugh Opts Out
Less than a month ago, UMass hockey, in the wake of Jonathan Quick’s Stanley Cup heroics, was getting some rosy attention.
Since then, not so much.
As of tomorrow, three weeks will have passed since Toot Cahoon and UMass went their separate ways. Shortly afterward, we were told that the search committee for Cahoon’s replacement was being inundated with piles of resumes from every level of hockey, and how wonderful it was for UMass hockey to be able to pick from such a group of worthy candidates.
Well, the ones UMass has been picking – i.e., Rand Pecknold and Paul Pearl -- turned down offers from UMass. Strangely enough, at the end of last week, UMass AD John McCutcheon told Daily Hampshire Gazette reporter Matt Vautour, “We have not made a formal offer to anyone at this point.”
The search committee, hobbled by a shortage of hockey guys and saddled with a pronounced lack of imagination, is going to meet tomorrow (Monday). They are not on a roll. To the contrary, they are running out of time and can’t afford to keep going after guys and getting turned down. Not good from a PR standpoint – or any other standpoint.
Potential candidates are frustrated. Boston College 17-year assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh, who talked to McCutcheon by phone early in the process but never made it to campus for a formal visit, has dropped out of the process.
“I have told UMass I am not interested in the job,” he told USHR today.
It’s getting to the point whereby McCutcheon might just be better off hiring Len Quesnelle, at least for the one year remaining on his contract. He does, after all, have four years of Div. I head coaching experience, at Princeton, and he knows the players. We don’t think that will happen, but it wouldn’t shock us if it does.
At any rate, a lot will happen this week.
One surprise name that popped up in relation to the job is that of former St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne. We don’t have anything substantial on this, and have a hard time seeing it happen, mainly because Payne has zero experience coaching at the amateur level. It is just something that popped up on Twitter.
For those who don’t know, Payne, 41, is a British Columbia native, a forward who played his college hockey at Michigan Tech, but since then has been strictly in the pro world. Payne, with the exception of 22 NHL games over the course of a couple of seasons with the Boston Bruins in the ‘90s, played eight years of minor pro. Following that, he coached for nine plus years in the coast league and the AHL. In January 2010 the Blues fired Andy Murray and hired Payne, then coaching at St. Louis’ AHL affiliate in Peoria, to take over the big club. In November 2011, 13 games into the season, Payne was fired by the Blues, replaced by Ken Hitchcock. And he is looking for work, so one never knows.
Change of Plans for the Eiserman Brothers
6’2”, 198 lb. power forward Shane Eiserman will be leaving Cushing Academy and joining the NTDP for next season. The UNH recruit was second in scoring for the Penguins last season, posting an 18-26-44 scoring line in just 30 games played. The 10/10/95 birthdate is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2014. Right now, we project him as a top three round selection.
Surely NTDP Director of Player Personnel Peter Ward has had his eye on Eiserman since he was playing for St. John’s Prep. The West Newbury, Mass. native’s performance last week in Rochester, NY put a stamp on the fact that he is an elite player who could potentially be playing in the World Juniors in a couple of years. Eiserman was offered a spot in the USHL, but turned it down as he fully intended to return to Cushing. But playing for his country was not something he felt he could pass up.
This will inevitably create an unexpected hole in Rob Gagnon’s lineup and Eiserman is not a player who is replaceable. What is scary is that senior Thomas Aldworth and incoming freshman Cam Askew both made their respective USHL team’s 30 man rosters (Tri-City and Indiana). Will Eiserman’s departure impact their decisions? It’s certainly possible. That said, we feel both players would be better served heading back to Ashburnham, Mass. as there will be even more ice for them. Playing in a top six role, and being a key to the PP and PK is far better for player development than playing a limited role in the USHL. That’s our opinion, though we understand others may feel differently.
While we are on the subject of the Eiserman family we felt it should be noted that Shane’s brother, Chris Eiserman, will be heading back east and will suit up for Bridgton Academy in the fall. The 6’2”, 215 lb. goaltender played for the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL) last season.
Three years ago, Chris, a massive netminder, was a hot commodity as he led Newburyport HS to a DII Massachusetts state championship as a freshman. Shortly thereafter he made a verbal commitment to UMass-Lowell. However, the three years since then have been difficult as he has had stints in Tri-City (USHL), Amarillo (NAHL), the Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL), and Nanaimo.
With a complete overhaul of the staff at Lowell, Eiserman was told he likely would not play if he decided to come, hence his decommitting from the River Hawks. A big goalie who takes up a lot of net and has a high compete level, Eiserman is now a free agent. We feel he is someone who could surprise a lot of people. He just has to regain his confidence – important at any position, but doubly so for a goaltender. This summer he will be working with goaltending guru Mike Buckley and refining his technique. He is someone to keep an eye on.
Gendron Visits UMass
Well, perhaps Red Gendron doesn't neeed to visit the campus. He was, after all, an assistant there for six years before joing the Yale staff last fall, when Kyle Wallack departed for Indiana (USHL).
However, Gendron was reported to have visited UMass today, as the Minutemen move their search for a new head coach into a new phase. Gendron, a Berlin, NH native -- and a Francophone who reads heavily in history -- began his claim to fame while coaching Bellows Free Academy (St. Albans, Vt.) during that school's powerhouse era. Later, Gendron moved on to the Maine Black Bears and served on the staff of Shawn Walsh during the golden era of Maine hockey, culminating in Maine's '93 NCAA championship. From there, Gendron moved on to the New Jersey Devils organization, serving in a number of capacities over an 11-year period.
UMass Back to Square One
Quinnipiac College head hockey coach Rand Pecknold used the weekend to mull over what one source described as a “very generous and lengthy” offer by UMass.
Earlier this afternoon, spurred by what no doubt was at least an equally generous counteroffer from his current employer, Pecknold decided to stay behind the Bobcats’ bench, a position he has held for the past 18 years. Pecknold, who has taken the program from Div. II to the MAAC to Atlantic Hockey to the ECAC, is the only coach the program has ever had. The Bedford, NH native has been coaching under an annually-renewable five-year contract.
Word is that Pecknold decided that staying put in Hamden, Conn. was the right move for himself and his family. And that’s pretty much the end of the story. Quinnipiac, out of deference to UMass, will not be releasing any statements on the matter, nor will Pecknold be giving any quotes.
Pecknold, who played both forward and defense, played prep hockey at Lawrence Academy and college hockey at Connecticut College. After his graduation in ’90, he stayed on as an assistant coach on Doug Roberts’ staff for three years before being hired, in 1994, by Quinnipiac, which was starting a Div. II program. In 1998-99, the school's hockey program went Div. I. Since then, Pecknold's current total of 337 wins puts him at #9 among all active Div. I head coaches. Pecknold has led the Bobcats to 14 twenty-win seasons, and the school has never had a losing season as a Div. I program.
Select 17s Top 50
Like most college coaches, junior coaches, NHL scouts and agents, USHR was in Rochester, NY this past week to take in the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival. Our first observation? The Minnesotans were really good. Every single one of them – and a bunch are still uncommitted -- will likely end up on a Div. I roster. And many will be high-end players. Secondly, we were impressed with the amount of talented major junior players who showed up, most likely in hopes of being named to the U.S. Under-18 Select Team going to the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. One side effect of not sending NTDP players to the Hlinka tournament is that it affords USA Hockey a vehicle through which they can keep the major junior kids in the U.S. pipeline. Specifically, the folks in Colorado Springs can use the Hlinka tournament to evaluate the major junior kids up close for possible use in future international play, i.e. the U.S. National Junior Team.
Getting back to Rochester, Team Gold came away with the championship, defeating Columbia Blue by a score of 4-2. Below is a look at our Top 50. We used a mixture of camp performance, potential, and prior knowledge of the player pool to determine the order. Enjoy!
1. Adam Erne (#10 Kelly Green) 6-1/197—Was the best player here. A couple of years ago this typist felt the Quebec Remparts forward had physically peaked and his stock would begin to fall. Erne, however, has proved us wrong as his game has continued to progress. A lot of scouts like to compare his game to that of Keith Tkachuk and we think that is pretty spot-on. Erne passes and shoots the puck like a pro. The North Branford, Conn. native is especially dangerous walking the puck off the half wall on the PP. We feel Erne’s skating needs to be a step faster to reach the NHL, but he makes plays and, with the way he shoots the puck, he will score goals at every level. Erne’s career has had a large number of whistle stops. Off the top of our head, there’s the Westchester Express, Top Gun, LA Selects, Indiana Ice and finally the Remparts. Will have an excellent chance to be drafted in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft. Posted a 4-1-5 scoring line in five games here. Will play on the Under-18 Selects going to the Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
2. Sean Malone (#16 Gold) 5-11/185—Some may consider this to be a lofty ranking for the Nichols School center, but we are 100% sold on his game. Was probably the top player in the faceoff circle as he wins draws on a regular basis. Plus, every time the puck is on his stick something happens. Malone just thinks the game extremely well – he’s a two-way player who can score goals or shut down the opposition. His game reminds us of Mike Morris, a first round pick of the San Jose Sharks back in 2002 who went on to star at Northeastern before concussions ended his career. Malone, a Harvard recruit, keeps getting better: he looked stronger and faster here than he did when we saw him back in December. Was named to the U18 Selects team headed overseas.
3. Connor Hurley (#17 Columbia Blue) 6-1/175—The Edina HS product put up 48 points in just 25 games played last season. Uncommitted prospect has a high skill level and has the puck on his stick a lot. Finished with a 1-6-7 scoring line in six games played, good for second overall in scoring. Is a 9/15/95 birthdate, thus making him eligible for next year’s NHL draft. We think teams will track him closely throughout the season.
4. Chase Deleo (#16 Black) 5-9/179—Was not able to get it going on the score sheet here as the Portland (WHL) center only posted a 1-2-3 scoring line in five games played -- low for him given his skill level. Deleo can really skate and make plays. It is a shame that the La Mirada, California native opted for major junior because we feel he would have made for an electric college player. Plays with grit and determination and is a versatile player. Posted 30 points as a 16 year old in the WHL playing on a deep Portland team that lost in the league finals. Is not eligible until the 2014 NHL draft.
5. Vinny Lettieri (#10 Gold) 5-10/175—Another player who, given his talent level, under-produced, posting a 2-0-2 scoring line in six games played. That said, his puck skills are extremely good and the University of Minnesota recruit is a threat to score from everywhere inside the blue line. Is not very big or fast, but knows what to do when he has the puck. Is Lou Nanne’s grandson. Will play for the Lincoln Stars (USHL) next season. Headed overseas with the U18 Select team.
6. Shane Eiserman (#9 Kelly Green) 6-2/198—Was very quiet the first few days of the tournament and was out of sync with his line mates, but on Wednesday that appeared to change. Began to take over the game like we had grown accustomed to seeing this past season at Cushing. When the UNH recruit gets the puck on his stick, has his feet moving, lowers his shoulder, and drives the net there is not much opposing defenders can do to stop him. Will be a difference-maker at the next level. Will not be returning to Cushing as he has accepted an invitation to join the NTDP next season.
7. Garrett Gamez (#12 Royal Blue) 6-1/175—Once the Chino Hills, California native settled into his surroundings he looked really good. Last season was Gamez’s first playing Tier I hockey, meaning the Denver University recruit is improving at a rapid rate. Possesses a quick release and is going to be a goal scorer at higher levels. Will play for Tri-City (USHL) next season. Would not be surprised one bit if he heard his name called at the NHL draft next year.
8. John Baiocco (#15 White) 5-7/150—This week was the best we have seen the Yale recruit play. Put on a clinic Tuesday afternoon. Has improved his explosiveness a great deal. Finished #2 overall in scoring here with a 4-3-7 scoring line in five games played. Will return to Delbarton for his senior year.
9. Drew Melanson (#8 Kelly Green) 5-11/160—RPI recruit may have had the best feet here—his skating is effortless. Is on the slight side, but his speed, quickness and agility make him extremely hard to contain. Was quiet at the start of the tournament, but exploded for five points in his final two games. Was a teammate of Baiocco’s at Delbarton, but will not be returning as he has chosen to play his senior with the Omaha Lancers (USHL). Was named to the U18 Select team headed overseas.
10. Gabe Guertler (#17 Grey) 5-9/178—Playing in the USHL this past season may have been a year premature for the Plantation, Florida native as he did not appear to have the same confidence he did last year, when he produced a 9-7-16 scoring line in six games at the Select 16 Festival. That said, the University of Minnesota recruit is still exciting and fun to watch. Is small, but tenacious and strong on his skates. After producing 28 points as a 16 year old in the USHL we think Guertler will return to form this season and challenge fellow Gopher recruit Taylor Cammarata for the USHL scoring title.
11. Daniel Vanderwiel (#18 Gold) 5-11/205—Has an explosive first step that he uses to beat defenders wide. Has filled out, and was strong on the puck. Created offense, though it did not manage to translate to the scoresheet -- he finished with a 0-3-3 scoring line in six games played. Played a limited role for the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) this past season, managing only nine points through 42 games.
12. Joel Lesperance (#15 Columbia Blue) 6-2/200—Big, strong and thick. A good get for Michigan Tech. Uses his size effectively and has a very hard shot. Finished with a 3-3-6 scoring line in six games played and was very noticeable. Will be an attractive pro prospect if he can gain a step. Will play for Tri-City (USHL) this coming season.
13. Justin Bailey (#11 Kelly Green) 6-3/190—For the first couple of days of camp, Bailey appeared uninterested. But after a slow start he began to show flashes of what could become a very interesting career. You just do not come across 6’3”, 190 lb. athletes like Bailey very often. You look at him and think of what he could become, not what he is now. Given that, we feel the Michigan State recruit will be a high NHL draft pick next year. The Kitchener Rangers (OHL) hold his rights and they will surely do everything they can do to get him to the O. Finished with a 2-2-4 scoring line through five games played. Is slated to play for the Indiana Ice (USHL) next year. Will be headed overseas with U18 Select team.
14. Jason Cotton (#18 White) 6-3/180—Is still a project, but the Parker, Texas native is a good project to have. One of the top uncommitted players in camp, Cotton is tall and lean right but could be a much different player when he fills out. Has good offensive instincts and a soft set of hands. Has not quite figured out how to use his size to dominate down low. Could be a player who really turns it on over the next few years. Had a good showing at camp producing a 1-4-5 scoring line in five games played. Will play for Tri-City (USHL) next season. Was named to the U18 Select team going overseas.
15. Tyler Hill (#15 Red) 6-6/225—A 6’6” forward with a soft set of hands and pretty good feet. We can see the scouts salivating. Scored a highlight reel goal on Monday night late in the third period with the game tied. Another top uncommitted player. There is a catch, though: Hill has no clue how to use his size and plays the game as if he is 5’10”. We cannot quite figure out if he is soft, or if he just hasn’t filled out and learned to play a big man’s game. Played at Hotchkiss this past season, but it does not appear that he will be returning to the Connecticut boarding school as his plans for next season were listed as “undecided.” Is a draft pick of the Ottawa ‘67s (OHL).
16. Karson Kuhlman (Forest Green #10) 5-11/170—Cloquet (Minn.) HS star forward is a powerful skater and consistently involved all three zones. Does not have the high end upside as some of the players listed above, but is more of a sure thing to end up as a second or third line player on a strong DI team. Has the ability to complement skilled players or play a shut-down role. Will be headed to the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Uncommitted.
17. Tyler Moy (#15 Forest Green) 6-1/188—Could be the best 1x1 player here. The Harvard recruit has a lethal set of mitts with the ability to undress defenders. Will play for the Omaha Lancers (USHL) next season and will likely have an immediate impact.
18. Avery Peterson (#18 Black) 6-2/190—Intriguing prospect who we think could turn out to be a real steal for whichever college scoops him up. Did not have an offensively productive camp -- the Grand Rapids, Minn. product only registered one measly assist. However, that does not mean he didn’t create offense. Peterson is a tall kid with a smooth stride and playmaking abilities. Last season in Minnesota high school hockey he registered 48 points in only 26 games played. He’s a player to keep an eye on.
19. Andrew Oglevie (#16 Columbia Blue) 5-10/170—Notre Dame recruit is a solid two-way player who, at the Div. I level, projects as a role player with a scoring touch. Posted a 4-1-5 scoring line in six games played here. Was named to the U18 Select team headed overseas.
20. Jimmy Lodge (#14 Columbia Blue) 6-1/165—Saginaw Spirit (OHL) forward has elite all-around skills and appears to be filling into his body. Had a productive camp and showed a lot of confidence while producing a 3-4-7 scoring line in six games played. Was on a veteran team last season and will look for an increased role this upcoming season. Was named to the U18 Select team.
21. Joseph Widmar (#12 Columbia Blue) 6-1/195—Powerful player who is strong on the puck and is at his best in the corners and along the wall. We question whether the Northbrook, Ill. native has enough pop in his skating to create time and space for himself at the next level. Will play for Chicago (USHL) next season. Uncommitted prospect who is getting DI interest.
22. Brandon Shea (#17 Royal Blue) 6-2/200—Expectations have been extremely high for Shea, the first round pick of the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) who decommitted from Boston College in favor of major junior. While his stock may have taken a hit this past season as he registered a 3-7-10 scoring line in 45 games for Moncton, we still feel there is something here. The Marshfield, Mass. native will play this season for Dubuque (USHL). Hopefully, he will regain the confidence he displayed in his days at Nobles. Shea, a powerful skater, is strong on the puck and can really shoot it. Looked a bit heavy-footed at times in Rochester, but we think he will be a nice addition to Jim Montgomery’s squad.
23. Matt Weis (#18 Red) 5-11/186—Led the camp in scoring with a 3-5-8 line in five games played. Does not have a flashy skill set that jumps out at you, but the Ohio State recruit just goes about his business, which is making one smart play after another. Has a good stick and can finish around the net. Plays for Green Bay (USHL).
24. Trevor Moore (#11 White) 5-10/170—A smart hockey player from Thousand Oaks, California, Moore, a Denver recruit, makes players around him better. Put up 32 points in 49 games played for Tri-City (USHL) last season, impressive numbers for a 16 year old in the USHL. Makes plays at top speed. Produced a 0-4-4 scoring line in five games played here. Named to the U18 Select team.
25. Daniel Labosky (#9 Royal Blue) 5-8/158—Colorado College recruit wants the puck on his stick at all times. Is small, but quick and tenacious. Has torched Minnesota high school hockey for the past couple of seasons. Will return to Benilde-St. Margaret’s for his senior year. 4-2-6 in five games played here.
26. Alex Schoenborn (#11 Orange) 6-1/205—Minot, ND native played U16 hockey in Omaha last season; is headed to Portland (WHL) this fall. Big, strong and possesses a heavy shot. Feet need to get faster in order to create time and space for himself. Had a four point game on the final day and finished with a 3-3-6 scoring line in five games played.
27. Dylan McLaughlin (#19 Royal) 5-10/160—Late addition to the festival. A Northeastern recruit from the Buffalo Regals, McLaughlin was impressive – just an all- around solid hockey player. Produced a 1-2-3 scoring line in just three games played. Had he played every game he may have pushed for a spot on the U18 Select team.
28. Trevor Fidler (#8 Black) 5-8/165—Dexter forward is highly active at all times. Is a pest on loose pucks and has the ability to make skilled plays when the vulcanized disc is on his stick. Harvard recruit produced a 2-1-3 line in five games played.
29. Eddie Ellis (#9 White) 6-2/200—Big and surprisingly fast. Phillips Andover power forward does not have much sizzle with his stick, but he gets to loose pucks and is difficult to handle in scoring areas. 4-0-4 in five games. Uncommitted.
30T. Corey Ronan (#9 Grey) 5-7/165—Fast and never stops moving his feet. Is a dog on the puck. Has a quick stick and creates offense in transition. Will return to St. Seb’s next season. 3-1-4 in five games played. Named to the Under-18 Select Team. Uncommitted.
30T. Alec Marsh (#12 Gold) 5-10/175—Smart player. The puck seems to follow him around the ice. Created a lot of offense. Penn State recruit played for the NJ Rockets (MET) last season and is undecided on next year. 1-5-6 in six games played.
Other forwards who easily could have been slotted into the top 30 include Tyler Sheehy (#15 Black), Connor McGlynn (#11 Forest Green), Michael Turner (#11 Grey), Michael Babcock (#17 Forest Green), Max Becker (#9 Black), Mitchell Allen (#12 Grey), Tyler Drevitch (#16 Orange), Dwyer Tschantz (#8 Red), Jacob Pritchard (#11 Royal Blue), and Michael Marnell (#12 White).
1. Thomas Vanelli (#4 White) 6-2/170— Big-time defender immediately grabs your attention. Has all the earmarks of a potential first round NHL draft pick. Tall, lanky and light on his feet. Makes a good outlet pass, but is equally effective lugging the mail up the ice himself. Led all defensemen in scoring with a 1-5-6 line in five games played. Named to the U18 Select team. Was the top uncommitted player here. We will be surprised if the Gophers let him out of their sight.
2. Michael Downing (#7 Columbia Blue) 6-3/198—Big and physically imposing. Was assertive here, at times too assertive. Another defender who is likely to hear his name called in the top two rounds of the NHL draft next year. Plays for Dubuque (USHL) and with Michael Matheson off to Boston College, the University of Michigan recruit will have an expanded role. For a 6’3” defenseman he can really skate. Was 2-2-4 in six games. Headed overseas for the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
3. Anthony DeAngelo (#19 Gold) 5-11/168—Smallish defender who is an absolute wizard with the puck on his stick. There was not a single player on hand here who was more entertaining to watch than the Sarnia (OHL) defenseman. His game will need to be simplified to have success at the pro level, but his puck skills are special. Sometimes the NJ native will beat the same defender two or three times before moving past him. High risk/high reward type. Displayed a lot of confidence and his team relied on him, looking for him to deliver when they needed offense. Produced a 3-2-5 scoring line which included two goals in the championship game. His other goal was a late third period goal which tied the game. Named to the U18 team headed overseas.
4. Teemu Kivihalme (#5 Columbia Blue) 6-1/167—Do not know which schools are recruiting him, but whoever lands him is going to be getting a real gem. Was the most fluid defenseman on hand. He is just so smooth with the puck and his skating is absolutely effortless. Plays for his father at Burnsville HS in Minnesota. Could be a late bloomer and a high NHL draft pick. Named to the U18 team headed overseas.
5. Anthony Florentino (#3 Black) 6-1/205—Was a little surprised by his omission from the U18 team going overseas. Does everything at a high level. Efficiently moves the puck up the ice, skates well, has a bomb of a shot and plays with an edge. Will be an impact defenseman for Providence College and will likely be selected in the NHL draft a year from now.
6. Michael Brodzinski (#3 Red) 5-11/195—Minnesota recruit plays the game hard and does not get beat in 1x1 battles. Not someone you want to play against. Blaine HS product will probably not quarterback the Gopher PP, but he has the ability to play in all situations.
7. Alexander Robert (#6 Orange) 6-0/180—Does not have a high profile, but we think he should. The Compuware product was really good here. Good size, skates well and makes a good outlet pass. Probably has the hardest shot of all players here. Was at Green Bay’s (USHL) camp and we are told he had a strong showing. Uncommitted.
8. Connor Clifton (#5 Royal Blue) 6-0/180—Great feet. Elusive with the puck. Right when you think you have him he manages to escape and head up ice. A huge get for Quinnipiac; has the ability add a new dimension to their team. Produced a 1-4-5 scoring line in five games played.
9. Jordan Gross (#5 Grey) 5-11/175—Notre Dame recruit will run a PP in college. Maple Grove product exudes confidence with the puck on his stick on the offensive blue line. Produced 48 points in 30 games played last season.
10. RJ Gicewicz (#7 White) 6-0/183—Puck-moving defender who is poised under pressure. Good feet enable him to get up ice and into the rush. St. Lawrence recruit was selected to represent the U.S. at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
11. Willie Raskob (#7 Black) 5-10/190—Has a great stick and makes a ton of plays on the offensive side of the puck. Minnesota-Duluth recruit will likely step into a PP role upon his arrival. A touch one-dimensional. Plays for Shattuck-St. Mary’s. Led Team Black in scoring with a 2-3-5 scoring line in five games played.
12. Parker Reno (#2 Gold) 6-2/195—Big Edina HS defender does everything well. Quietly goes about his business and is rarely caught out of position or makes a bad decision with the puck. Named to the US U18 Select team. Uncommitted.
13. Alec McCrea (#6 Forest Green) 6-3/205—Huge Harvard recruit is a meat-and- potatoes defender who gets the job done. Nothing flashy about his game. Defends well and moves the puck. Good feet for a big man. Will play for Waterloo (USHL) next season.
14. Garrett Cecere (#2 Red) 5-10/170—Colorado College recruit has a slick set of hands and makes plays from the back end. Played for the Janesville Jets (NAHL) last season.
15. Wiley Sherman (#2 White) 6-6/195—Hotchkiss defender still has a long way to go, but if he can put it all together he will have a career in hockey. We feel an NHL team will step up and draft the Harvard recruit next year. Kept things simple here.
Other standouts on the backend were Alex Smith (#6 White), Stuart Pomeroy (#3 Royal Blue), Anthony Walsh (#6 Kelly Green), Dakota Ford (#2 Grey), Timothy Shoup (#4 Gold), and James Schuldt (#2 Columbia Blue).
1. Devin Williams (#1 Grey) 5-11/165—Erie Otters (OHL) goaltender was rock solid. Statistically, he was the top goalie here, putting up a 1.61 gaa and a .947 save percentage. The Saginaw, Michigan native will likely start next season for Erie. Athletic and has good presence in the net. Was named to the US U18 team and will likely start the Ivan Hlinka tournament as the #1 goalie.
2. Thatcher Demko (#30 Royal) 6-4/186—Statistically, Demko did not have an impressive outing (4.00 gaa and an .851 save percentage). That being said, his potential is pretty clear. He’s a big kid with a lot of tools to work with. Plays for the Omaha Lancers (USHL). Was the top uncommitted goaltending prospect here. Heading overseas with the U18 team.
3. Tyger Howat (#1 Gold) 6-4/190—Another massive netminder who takes up a lot of net. Led Team Gold to a championship behind a 2.01 GAA and a .925 save percentage. Played for Compuware last season and is slated to move over to Victory Honda this season.
4. Jason Pawloski (#1 White) 6-0/168—Omaha U16 goaltender was good here and made a lot of saves. Statistically was second only to Williams with a 2.00 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Still looking for a home for next season.
5. Merrick Madsen (#30 Red) 6-4/178— Acton, California native showed up at Proctor sight unseen this past season – a nice find for Hornets head coach Mike Walsh (see USHR News, 11/29/11 -- Madsen Impresses in Jamborees). Madsen has a ton of potential and could turn out to be very good. He needs to work on his technique, but as far as physical tools go, you couldn’t ask for more.
U.S. U18 Selects Named
Here is the 22-man roster for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team which will represent the U.S. at the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament Aug. 13-17 in Breclav, Czech Republic.
The squad's head coach will be Matt Herr (Kent School). Assistant coaches will be Bob Corkum (University of Maine) and Nick Fohr (U.S. NTDP).
Goaltenders (2): Thatcher Demko (LA Jr. Kings U16/Omaha-USHL), Devin Williams (Metro Jets–NA3HL/Erie-OHL).
Defensemen (7): Tommy Vannelli (Minnetonka HS), R.J. Gicewicz (Nichols School), Parker Reno (Edina HS), Michael Downing (Dubuque-USHL), Teemu Kivihalme (Burnsville HS), Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia-OHL), Connor Clifton (Jersey Hitmen-EJHL).
Forwards (13): Trevor Moore (Tri-City-USHL), Jimmy Lodge (Saginaw-OHL), Andrew Oglevie (Cedar Rapids-USHL), Karson Kuhlman (Esko HS/Dubuque-USHL), Jason Cotton (Colorado Thunderbirds U16), Justin Bailey (Long Island Royals U16/Indiana-USHL), Vinny Lettieri (Minnetonka HS/Lincoln-USHL), Sean Malone (Nichols School), Drew Melanson (Delbarton School), Gabe Guertler (Fargo-USHL), Adam Erne (Quebec-QMJHL), Matt Weis (Corpus Christi-NAHL/Green Bay-USHL), Corey Ronan (St. Sebastian's).
-- On the final day of the camp, Thurs. June 29, a Select 17 All-Star Game was held at Rochester. All players were eligible except for those playing in the championship game, in which Team Gold topped Columbia Blue, 4-2. The following is a list of players who were selected for the All-Star Game but didn’t make the final cut for the U18 Select Team heading overseas for the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. Despite their not making the final cut, we want to give these guys credit for a strong camp showing. The competition for slots was tough.
Goaltenders: Jason Pawloski (Omaha U16), Merrick Madsen (Proctor Academy).
Defensemen: Jordan Gross (Maple Grove HS), Alec McCrea (Janesville-NAHL), Willie Raskob (Shattuck-St. Mary’s), Mitch Jones (Plymouth-OHL), Michael Brodzinski (Blaine HS), Garrett Cecere (Janesville-NAHL), Anthony Florentino (South Kent School), Blake Heinrich (Hill-Murray), Alex Smith (Muskegon-USHL).
Forwards: Dan Labosky (Benilde-St. Margaret’s), John Baicco (Delbarton), Kiefer Sherwood (Ohio Blue Jackets U16), Eddie Ellis (Phillips Andover), Alex Schoenborn (Omaha U16), Mitch Allen (Kent School), Connor McGlynn (Oakville-OPJHL), Shane Eiserman (Cushing Academy), Zach Evancho (Buffalo Jr. Sabres U18), Jacob Pritchard (Little Caesar’s U16), Drew Callin (Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18).
-- Here's the schedule for the Hlinka Tournament:
Location: Breclav, Czech Republic & Piestany, Slovakia
Mon. Aug. 13 -- Russia (Breclav) -- 3:30 pm local/9:30 qm EST
Tues. Aug. 14 -- Czech Republic (Breclav) -- 8:00 pm local/2:00 pm EST
Wed. Aug. 15 -- Finland (Breclav) -- 3:30 pm local/9:30 am EST
Fri. Aug. 17 -- Semifinals TBD
Sat. Aug. 18 -- Championship/Third Place Games TBD
Breaking News on UMass
Things are moving quickly on the UMass front, and tonight we are hearing from trusted sources that the school is focusing its attention on Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold.
We have confirmed that UMass did indeed reach out to Pecknold a couple of days ago – that is something we are 100% certain of. We are also certain that UMass AD John McCutcheon and his committee are “coming after Pecknold hard,” in the words of our source. We cannot, however, confirm that a formal offer has been made.
We have put in a call to Pecknold, but have not heard back.
Experience with these situations has taught us to believe that where there is smoke there is fire, and the possibility is now very real that Pecknold could become the next head coach of UMass. It certainly appears that McCutcheon and his committee have moved on from Mark Dennehy. The word on that is simply that Merrimack values Dennehy -- and weren’t going to budge on the hefty buyout.
Now, Pecknold has to decide – if he hasn’t already -- whether or not this is something he wants to pursue. If he decides it is a fit for him and his family, UMass could have a new head coach very quickly.