Hitmen Take a Hit
5’11”, 163 lb. Jersey Hitmen (EJHL) RD Connor Clifton will be heading to Ann Arbor as a late add-on for this coming season’s U.S. Under-18 Team.
A 4/28/95 birthdate and Quinnipiac recruit for the fall of ’13, Clifton played primarily for the Hitmen last season (1-11-12 in 28 games played), but also filled in with the U.S. Under-17 Team for a lengthy stint.
Clifton had a strong performance at the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival in Rochester, NY this June, where we rated him #8 among the defensemen there. Here are our comments: “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.”
Clifton, off his play in Rochester, was named to the U.S. Under-18 Select Team heading to the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament Aug. 13-17 in Breclav, Czech Republic.
He is the younger brother of Tim Clifton, a ’92 forward with the Hitmen and also a Quinnipiac fall ’13 recruit.
Hitmen Happy to Host
The schedule for the 2012 Jersey Hitmen Classic has been released. The tournament, which runs from Thurs. Sept. 13 through Sun. Sept. 16, has doubled in size, growing from 25 to 50 teams, and as a result will be utilizing both the Ice Vault Arena (the Hitmen’s home rink) and the Floyd Hall Arena (@ Montclair State University). Both facilities house two sheets and are roughly eight miles apart. Look for a lot of EJHL/AJHL and Empire/MET games.
Click below for the full schedule (Excel doc).
Schedule: 2012 Jersey Hitmen Classic
A Pure Athlete for the Terriers
6’0”, 180 lb. defenseman Dalton MacAfee, who will be a senior at St. Sebastian’s this season, has committed to Boston University for the fall of ’13.
A year ago at this time, MacAfee, a 7/8/94 birthdate from Needham, Mass., had committed to Notre Dame for lacrosse. A midfielder, he had also been recruited by Maryland and Johns Hopkins.
At St. Seb’s last winter, MacAfee, who has played varsity hockey since his freshman year, posted a 1-15-16 line in 28 games played and was the Arrows’ second-leading scorer among d-men, trailing only BC recruit Noah Hanifin.
To be honest, this typist didn’t really notice MacAfee that much in his freshman and sophomore seasons, but last year felt that he really came on with a rush, a pattern frequently seen among kids who are multi-sport athletes. However, as MacAfee had committed to Notre Dame for lacrosse, we didn’t figure he’d be giving that up for hockey, especially considering that his father, Ken MacAfee, an oral surgeon in the Boston area, was an All-American football player for three consecutive years with the Fighting Irish. A tight end on Notre Dame’s 1977 National Championship team for which Joe Montana was the quarterback, the senior MacAfee – who finished third in the Heisman balloting that year -- went on to become a first round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, and played two years for them. However, in his third NFL year, MacAfee, who had been going to medical school in the offseason -- to the consternation of 49ers head coach Bill Walsh -- was asked to play guard, a position for which he reportedly felt ill-suited. MacAfee retired from football, went to medical school at Penn, and eventually returned home to the Boston area, where, in the 1970s, he had starred at Brockton High. MacAfee was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
Forgive the digression there. That may have added up to a bit more info on the dad than the situation warrants. After all, though it’s a good story, it’s still the son’s moment in the sun. With that in mind, what BU fans can look in MacAfee is a highly-mobile, puck-moving defenseman who is also very good in his own end. MacAfee played very well at Harvard’s camp a couple of weeks ago, where BU assistant Mike Bavis watched him closely. In short, MacAfee looks like one of those players who, now that his mind is centered on hockey, will just keep improving.
BU moved fast. MacAfee is a good student, and the Ivies were reportedly starting to move on him.
Fall Prep League Showcase Schedule
The New England Fall Prep Hockey League (NEFPHL) will be holding its showcase this coming weekend -- Fri. Aug. 31 to Mon. Sept. 3 -- at the IceCenter in Salem, NH.
The schedule can be found on the league's website at www.nefphl.org; ditto for rosters (complete with birthdates and schools).
-- Note that at 10:00 am on Sun. Nov. 11 at Northeastern's Matthews Arena, the First Annual Prep Fall Classic All-Star Game will be held, pitting the NEFPHL All-Stars against their counterparts from the Connecticut fall prep league.
East Coast Tier I Showcase Review
USHR was in attendance at Peter Alden’s East Coast Elite Tier I Midget Showcase (U16 and U18) at Brown University and Providence College on Monday. We were able to see all of the U16 games but, due to time restrictions, didn’t get a chance to see all the U18 games. Here are the players we felt stood out.
Chad Krys, D, ’98 (Connecticut Oilers U16) — Krys’s name has already begun to populate our site as the BU legacy is establishing himself as the top ’98 in the country. A big kid and a great skater with excellent offensive instincts, Krys has some bad habits – e.g. toe-dragging the puck in center ice -- that will get ironed out as he moves up through the ranks. A great talent, we feel Krys will either end up going to BU or playing in the NHL as a teenager via major junior.
Patrick Harper, F, ’98 (Connecticut Oilers U16) — Really small -- our guess is 5’3” -- but incredibly intelligent and a lot of fun to watch. Has a strong understanding of the game and creates a lot of offense. Dangerous when given time and space. We are just getting familiar with the ’98 age group so it is difficult to figure out exactly where Harper fits into the big picture, but there is no doubt that he has a D1 skill set.
Brendan Shane, F, ’96 (Neponset Valley River Rats U16) — Gunnery forward was very good at the Select 16 Festival where we placed him at #33 among the forwards. We are not sure who is recruiting him, but our guess is that he will be committed somewhere by the end of the year. The former Toronto Young Nat is an explosive skater with a good touch around the net. Will make an immediate impact in prep school hockey this year.
Grant Jozefek, F, ’97 (NJ Avalanche U16) — Played on a line last year with Jeremy Bracco and Nolan Aibel for the Long Island Gulls and was a bit overshadowed by them. This year, the Chester, NJ native is the center of attention for the Avalanche and proving he is a D1 prospect in his own right. Had a strong showing at the Select 15 Festival, where we ranked him #27 among the forwards. Made a lot happen here and was consistently the top player on his team.
Connor Moore, D, ’97 (Neponset Valley River Rats U16) — There was a very deep group of ’97 defensemen at the Select 15 Festival this summer and Moore did not crack our top thirty, but he easily could have and it may prove to be a mistake on our part that he did not. Played for the Atlanta Fire Bantams last year and will be at Brooks this season. Moore is a great skater who likes to join the rush and sneak into the play. Will play a ton at Brooks this season and could run the PP as well.
Jon Barry, D, ’95 (Neponset Valley River Rats U18) — Thayer’s top defenseman has a lot of ability and is piecing it all together. Has a good first step and loves to push the pace offensively. Barry needs to improve his play on the defensive side of the puck, but at 6’2” he could be someone that NHL Central Scouting takes a look at in the fall.
Trevor Yates, F, ’95 (Neponset Valley River Rats) — A big kid with a smooth set of hands and the ability to make plays around the net, Yates had a good season at Deerfield last year, averaging a point per game. Last season we ranked fellow Deerfield sophomore Sam Lafferty pretty high on the recruiting charts, but all the while Yates was out-producing him. The Quebec native needs to improve his foot speed, but if he does he will be an attractive prospect.
Joe Sacco, F, ’96 (Neponset Valley River Rats U16) — The son of Colorado Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco does not immediately jump out at you, but he is a smart player who makes a lot of good decisions. Played for a young Rivers team last season and put up respectable numbers. Will move into the limelight this season as expectations increase for Sean McEachern’s squad.
Mitch Nylen, D, ’94 (Neponset Valley River Rats U18) — Small, smart, puck-moving defender. Was Brooks’ leading scoring defenseman last season and we expect his numbers to increase this year when partnered with the aforementioned Connor Moore. Nylen may have a long road to D1 hockey, but he will certainly be right at the top of the charts of NESCAC schools.
Shamus Maloney, F, ’94 (Neponset Valley River Rats U18) — With the departure of Matt Salhany and Kevin Salvucci at Tabor, both Maloney and fellow Neponset teammate Zach Sabatini will have to step up and fill the void. The good news is that both appear to have made improvements in the offseason. They were certainly noticeable here.
Charles McAvoy, D, ’97 (NJ Rockets-MET) — Is a 12/21/97 birth date, meaning he is almost a ’98. Played last season for the Long Island Gulls U14 team and along with Jeremy Bracco, Nolan Aibel and Troy Conzo made the move to the Rockets. McAvoy may fly under the radar a bit, but the more you pay attention to him the more you like him. He’s a strong skater, and confident with the puck.
Brendan Russ, D, ’96 (Connecticut Wolf Pack U16) — A smart, smallish puck mover, Russ has a good stick and will be right at home on the PP. Played for Eaglebrook last year. Heading to Choate this fall, where he will look to fill the spot on the blue line vacated by the graduation of Joe Depietto.
Alex Esposito, F, ’96 (Connecticut Wolf Pack U16) — Loomis-Chaffee will be much improved this season as head coach JR Zavisza has added a number of solid recruits, with Esposito potentially being the cream of the crop. A good skater with a slick set of hands, Esposito skated on a line here with fellow Loomis recruit Stephen Marsico and the two were consistently noticeable.
Dominic Franco, F, ’96 (Rhode Island Saints) — A tall, lanky forward with a good set of hands, Franco played for Pomfret last season where he was listed at 5’10”. He appears to have grown quite a bit over the summer. We are also told he played quite a few games for the Pomfret JV team last year. At any rate, Franco looks to have improved and could be someone to keep an eye on.
Matt Kidney, F, ’97 (NJ Titans U16) — A smart hockey player who does not immediately grab your attention, but just quietly goes about the business of creating offense. We also liked Kidney at the Liberty Bell games earlier in the summer.
Brendan Leach, D, ’96 (Neponset Valley River Rats U16) — The son of former NHLer Steve Leach is a long term project, but he is already 6’1” and still has some growing left to do. Is not very polished right now, but we think he has a chance to develop into the same type of player as his cousin, former Providence Friar Jay Leach. Played for Reading HS last year and has transferred to Austin Prep.
5’5”, 137 lb. right-shot C/W Patrick Grasso, who will be playing for the Omaha U16s this season, has committed to the University of New Hampshire for the fall of ’15 or ’16.
Grasso, a ’96 who played for the NPI Leafs (Des Moines Youth Hockey AAA) last winter, was a standout at the Select 16 Festival last month in Rochester, NY, where we ranked him #23 among forwards. Here’s what we wrote at the time: “[Grasso] is 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.”
Grasso’s father, Mike, coached him last winter.
We also watched Grasso at the Marlies Holiday Tournament in Etobicoke, Ont. and wrote about him in the USHR News of 1/3/12: “[Grasso] is small and physically immature, but he can play the game. Is tenacious and makes a lot of plays. Will surely grow, and when he does he could be a difference maker.”
Other schools in the picture for Grasso included Colorado College and Minnesota-Duluth.
If you’re looking for a comp BU’s Cason Hohmann would be a good one, ditto for former UNH forward Jacob Micflikier.
Look for Grasso to play ten games for the Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) this season.
It will be a busy weekend, what with all the prep tournaments in full swing, but you may want to squeeze this one onto your itinerary: Don Bosco (NJ) will face off against BC High, and Delbarton will take on Malden Catholic in a twinbill tentatively scheduled for Sat. Dec. 15th at Harvard's Bright Hockey Center.
Sudbury Comes Out on Top
6’3” goaltender Joel Vienneau kicked out all 29 shots he faced to lead the Sudbury Wolves (OHL) to a 2-0 shutout of the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) in the championship game of the 2012 Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia.
Vienneau, you may recall, was a University of Minnesota recruit who played in the USHL in ’10-11, posting a 3.70 gaa and .889 save percentage in 39 games with the expansion Muskegon Lumberjacks. However, the Gophers lost interest in the native of Hearst, Ontario and the Lumberjacks, after he failed to fulfill a couple of the team’s summertime off-ice obligations, let him go prior to the start of last season. Within days, Vienneau signed with Sudbury.
The game was 0-0 until 7:56 of the third, when Josh Leivo, a Toronto prospect, beat Waterloo goalie Eamon McAdam on a breakaway. Just 34 seconds later, with Waterloo’s Kyle Schmidt off for tripping, Frank Corrado, a Vancouver draft pick, notched a power play goal, scoring on a wrist shot from the slot.
The Wolves were 1-for-4 on the power play, while Waterloo went 0-for-5.
Waterloo outshot Sudbury, 29-24.
Sudbury forward Michael Kantor, a ’92 right wing from Lake Forest, Ill. who played for the Albert Lea Thunder (NAHL) in ’09-10, was named tournament MVP (4-4-8 in five games).
Waterloo’s McAdam, a 6'2" Penn State recruit from Perkasie, PA, was named the tournament’s top goaltender (.920 save percentage).
USHL vs. OHL on Tap
Set your clocks early for Sunday morning, as the championship game of the 2012 Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia will feature a USHL vs. OHL matchup.
At 8:30 am EST the Waterloo Black Hawks will face off against the Sudbury Wolves. You can watch it online at the Kontinental Hockey League video site on YouTube -- www.youtube.com/khlofficialvideo
Waterloo earned their way into the title game, beating Linkopings (Sweden) 5-4 in a shootout Saturday.
With 1.7 seconds left in regulation and an extra attacker on the ice, Waterloo's Vince Hinostroza scored to tie the game at 4-4. After a 10-minute 4x4 OT, the game went to a shootout and Hinostroza, a sixth round Chicago pick in June's NHL draft and a Notre Dame recruit, came through again, scoring twice in the four rounds, including the winner.
Waterloo head coach P.K. O'Handley, referencing tournament rules that allow teams to give their top players multiple shootout opportunities after the first three rounds, said, "(Hinostroza) is usually our first or second shooter. It was certainly to our benefit today to be able to use him again."
After a scoreless first period, the Black Hawks scored three unanswered goals in the second period -- by Jake Horton, Justin Kloos, and Kyle Schmidt -- to take a 3-0 lead. Linkopings came out in the third period with four straight goals to take a 4-3 lead, all goals coming within the first 10:15 of the period. Then Hinostroza, a Bartlett, Ill. native, came through to tie
In the overtime Waterloo had to kill off a kneeing penalty (plus game misconduct) to Horton.
Waterloo outshot Linkopings 39-24. Penn State recruit Eamon McAdam had 20 saves for the Black Hawks.
Here's how the shootout went:
Linkopings -- Russell (no)
Waterloo -- Cammarata (no)
Linkopings -- Pettersson (yes)
Waterloo -- Hinostroza (yes)
Linkopings -- Blomberg (yes)
Waterloo -- Papa (yes)
Linkopings -- Pettersson (no)
Waterloo -- Hinistroza (yes)
A new U16/U18 Showcase will be held this weekend at the brand new Chelsea Piers Rink in Stamford, Conn. There will be seven U16 Teams and eight U18 Teams.
Please note that there are different tabs at the bottom of the Excel document, one for each age group.
Aug 24-26 Chelsea Piers Tournament (Excel doc)
Kevin Magnani, the head coach at Worcester Academy, is hosting his fifth annual Prep Prospect Hockey Invite Tournament at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro, Mass. this weekend (Sat. and Sun. Aug. 25-26).
Ten squads – all ‘98s and ‘99s -- will be on hand. There will be about 15 prep school coaches in attendance and, in addition, a prep fair and seminar will be held on Saturday.
Aug. 25-26 Prep Prospect Tournament (PDF file)
Peter Alden and the Connecticut Wolf Pack are hosting a one-day showcase at Providence College and Brown University this coming Monday, August 27th. There will be six U16 Teams and eight U18 teams participating. Each team will play two games, one at PC and one at Brown.
Aug. 27 -- PC & Brown Showcase (PDF file)
The Neponset Valley River Rats are hosting a U16, U18, U19 Jamboree next Tues. and Wed. (Aug. 28th and 29th) at the Foxboro Sports Center.
Aug 28-29 River Rats Jamboree (PDF file)
This year’s Woodchuck Classic (Burlington, Vt.) will run from Thurs. Sept. 6th through Sun. Sept. 9th. Here’s the schedule:
Sept. 6-9 Woodchuck Classic (Excel doc)
A Latecomer for the Terriers
The Terrier Hockey Fan Blog is reporting that 6’2”, 185 LD Ahti Oksanen, a native of Espoo, Finland, will be coming in right away to help fortify the Terriers defensive corps this fall.
Oksanen, a puck-moving offensive defenseman with size, was the top-scoring d-man for the Espoo Blues U20 team in the Jr. A Super-Liga. In 47 games played, Oksanen posted a 14-25-39 line with an impressive +42.
A league all-star, Oksanen, a 3/10/93 birthdate, was passed over by NHL teams in both the 2011 and 2012 draft. However, he was ranked #66 in Central’s Final Rankings of European skaters, and will be draft-eligible for the final time in 2013.
Oksanen was also recruited by UMass-Lowell and St. Cloud State.
By the way, former BU d-man Peter Ahola, a teammate of current Terriers assistant Mike Bavis, is part-owner of the Espoo Blues. However, Ahola’s group only recently took ownership and Bavis has been watching Oksanen since last December.
BU has had success with the Finns who have come over – Ahola, Kaj Linna, and Tommi Degerman all played on Frozen Four teams. Surely, the BU staff hopes Oksanen can help them get back there.
Walker Takes A Hike
5’8”, 150 lb. Edina High School LD Jack Walker has given up his NCAA eligibility in order to go major junior with the Victoria Royals (WHL).
A 7/30/96 birthdate, Walker was a standout at last month’s Select 16 Festival -- we ranked him #13 among d-men there – and was named to the Under-17 Select team that went undefeated at the Five Nations Tournament a couple of weeks ago.
Last season at Edina HS, Walker posted a 2-12-14 line in 29 games played. Lincoln drafted him in the fifth round of this spring’s USHL Futures Draft.
At Victoria, Walker will be a teammate of his older brother, Ben, a ’93 forward who went major junior last year.
UConn’s ‘First Recruit’
6’1”, 174 lb. Salisbury School defenseman Ryan Segalla has committed to UConn for the fall of ’14.
A 12/29/94 birthdate, Segalla will be a senior at Salisbury this season. After a year of juniors, Segalla will join the Huskies for their first year of play in Hockey East.
Segalla, the Huskies first scholarship player ever, is also the school’s first recruit since they were officially accepted into Hockey East in June.
Segalla, in 28 games played, had a 6-6-12 line at Salisbury last winter, his second year at the school.
A hard-nosed, physical defenseman with mobility, Segalla has, in his time at Salisbury, transformed himself from a high-risk/high-reward type with great physical tools into a more mature defenseman who excels at both ends of the ice. The Salisbury staff expects the senior from Rockland, Mass. to be a key to their defensive corps in the coming season.
Segalla is eligible for the NHL draft next June.
UConn will be playing their home games at the 15,635 capacity XL Center (formerly the Hartford Civic Center) until they either upgrade their on-campus rink or build a new one from the ground up.
Harvard Gets Big and Mean
6’2”, 192 lb. LD Kevin Guiltinan, a London, Ont. native who played at the Hill Academy last season and will be joining the Vernon Vipers (BCHL) this fall, has committed to Harvard for the fall of ’13 (possibly ’14).
A native of London, Ontario, Guiltinan played in ’10-11 for the London Jr. Knights midget minor squad, posting – in 29 games -- a 1-0-1 line with 84 pims. Last fall, he took his game to the Hill Academy (Vaughan, Ont.).
In October, we watched Guiltinan at the East Coast College Cup (see USHR News, 10/19/11) and this is what we had to say: “The London Knights (OHL) draft pick plays an old-time style of hockey — solid defensively, and mean. Kept things simple here, but was physically involved. Not someone you want to have catch you with your head down.”
Other schools reported to be in the picture for Guiltinan were Cornell, Princeton, Union, Michigan, and North Dakota.
A 4/25/95 birthdate, Guiltinan is eligible for next June’s NHL draft.
The Rich Get Richer
5’11”, 175 lb. forward Joey Dudek has committed to Boston College for the fall of ‘14 or ‘15.
Dudek, a 1/29/96 birthdate from Auburn, NH, will be heading to Kimball Union Academy this fall. He is the second incoming KUA player to commit to a Div. I school this week as he joins Quebec native A.J Greer, who chose Penn State.
USHR was told that BC head coach Jerry York made the trip to the Five Nations Tournament in Chomutov, Czech Republic earlier this month to make a decision on two promising prospects on the undefeated U.S. Under-17 Selects: Dudek and goatender Chris Birdsall. The trip was worthwhile, as both will be suiting up for the Eagles. When you string together the success that BC has had recently – i.e., four of the last 11 national championships -- you pretty much have the luxury of picking the players you want. And BC is certainly cashing in on their position of power.
Dudek, a right shot forward who played for Merrimack alum Casey Kesselring at Pinkerton Academy last season, posted a 21-34-55 scoring line in 24 games en route to a Division I New Hampshire state championship. Dudek combined with incoming Middlesex Islander (EJHL) forward Zach Sanford to form the most dangerous high school duo in New Hampshire.
At June’s Select 16 Festival in Rochester, NY we ranked Dudek #17 among forwards after he posted an impressive 4-4-8 scoring line. After the Festival a batch of schools tried to get into the mix for the New England district’s top forward, but in the end it came down to BC, UNH, Maine and Brown. While it was difficult for the son of Plymouth State Heisman finalist and NFLer Joe Dudek Sr. to pass on staying home and playing at UNH, BC’s string of success was simply too enticing.
This season, Dudek will be a sophomore at Kimball Union and will be looking to strengthen the Wildcats. Mike Levine’s squad, which finished 25-4-3 last year, will feature NCAA Div. I committed players Casey Miller (UMass-Amherst), Niko Rufo (Providence), Nick Roberto (Maine), A.J Greer (Penn State), Greg Burmaster (St. Lawrence), Joey Dudek (BC) and Doyle Somerby (BU) along with top prep defenseman Alex Carle and Connor Evangelista.
Vickers Takes Over at Rice
Earlier this week, Rice Memorial (Midwest Prep Hockey League) head coach Damian DiGuilian moved on, taking the head coaching position at Div. III St. Michael’s College. With that, Rice’s newly-appointed associate principal, Gino Riffle (ex of Kimball Union) had to move quickly, and he did, naming Dennis Vickers as the new boys prep hockey coach. Vickers, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, played his hockey at NCAA Div. III St. Mary’s (Winona, Minn.). After his college career, Vickers moved on to Miami-Ohio where he coached the club team. From there, he moved on to Nashville to take over hockey ops at the Nashville Predators practice facility.
Rice Memorial will be getting their season underway very soon – Sept. 6-9 at the Woodchuck Classic in Burlington, Vt.
Merrimack fall '13 recruit Wade Murphy, a right wing from the Penticton Vees (BCHL), has decommitted.
Murphy, a 10/22/93 birthdate, committed to Merrimack last October
A Big Change at Hotchkiss
Hotchkiss head coach Damon White, a key part of the school’s hockey program for a long time – and head coach for the last 14 seasons -- has taken an early retirement from the school so that he and his wife can help with his in-laws’ care.
Mike Traggio, an assistant under White for the last nine years, will be the Bearcats new head coach. Traggio will also continue to direct the school’s Mars Athletic Center.
Traggio’s assistants will be Mark Knapp and Nat White.
Traggio, a defenseman, was a 1991 graduate of Hotchkiss who went on to star at Brown University where he was All-Ivy and First Team All-ECAC as Brown, which had endured their 14th straight losing season when Traggio arrived as a freshman, peeled off three straight winning seasons under head coach Bob Gaudet. After Traggio graduated, Brown immediately embarked on a string of seven more consecutive losing seasons, but that's a story for another day.
Hotchkiss has not had many head coaches over the past four decades or so. Blair Torrey was succeeded by Jeff Kosak. Then, when Kosak, after 14 years behind the bench, retired in 1998, White, whose father was a headmaster as well as a basketball and baseball coach at Hotchkiss, took over. We expect Traggio, highly respected in the game, will be around for quite a while, too.
Nittany Lions Pounce
Penn State University has received a commitment from 6’2”, 185 lb. winger A.J. Greer for the fall of ‘15. The Repentigny, Quebec native will be a sophomore this season at Kimball Union Academy.
Penn State assistant coach Matt Lindsay was on Greer early as he made the trek north of Montreal to see the 12/14/96 birthdate play for the College Esther-Blondin Phenix (Quebec Midget AAA) back in November. After a strong showing at the Summer Beantown last week Lindsay moved in and quickly snatched up the forward.
Greer is a low-risk, high-reward type for Penn State. In a worst-case scenario he will be a big, strong, north/south power forward who is very effective on the 3rd or 4th line. In a best-case scenario he will become a pro. Greer is not draft eligible until 2015, but we feel he will be a draft prospect.
Last season College Esther-Blondin won the Telus Cup, the Canadian Midget National Championship and Greer put up a 15-13-28 scoring line in 42 games played. In seven games played at the Telus Cup he dished out a 0-5-5 scoring line.
Greer also visited St. Lawrence University.
5'8”, 168 lb. C/LW Dennis Kravchenko, a fall ’13 recruit for the University of Vermont, has decommitted from the Catamounts.
Cary Eades, the new head coach of the Sioux Falls Stampede tweeted the news last night, saying that Kravchenko ‘s decision was “due to coaching staff turnover” at Vermont.
A 3/30/94 birthdate from the Los Angeles area, Kravchenko played his sophomore and junior seasons at Kimball Union Academy, leading the team in scoring both seasons with, respectively, 54 and 58 points. Kravchenko left KUA for his senior season, playing the first half of the year with the Wichita Falls Wildcats (NAHL). On Jan. 7, he joined the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL).
Kravchenko was originally recruited to UVM in October ’10, right before his junior year. The Vermont assistants at the time were current UMass head coach John Micheletto and current UMass assistant Joey Gasparini.
The early money is on Kravchenko following Micheletto and Gasparini to UMass.
Vecchione Finds a Home
Former Malden Catholic RW Mike Vecchione has committed to Union College for the fall of ’13.
Vecchione, a 5’11”, 209 lb. 2/25/93 birthdate, originally committed to UNH for the fall of ’12 after his junior season at Malden Catholic. In his senior season, the Lancers, with Vecchione leading the way as captain, went 20-2-2 and won the school’s first Super 8 title with a 4-3 OT win over St. John’s Prep. Vecchione, along with BU recruit Brendan Collier and BC recruit Ryan Fitzgerald formed a potent top line, potting 68 goals on the season. Individually, Vecchione put up a 26-44-70 line.
Last season, Vecchione went to the USHL, where he played for the Tri-City Storm. In 49 games, Vecchione had a 10-19-29 line with 28 pims. In December, after UNH had let the Saugus, Mass. native know they felt he needed another year of juniors, Vecchione decommitted from UNH, announcing publicly that the Wildcats had overrecruited for this fall. Vecchione also said that when he had originally committed to UNH it was for the fall of ’12 and, furthermore, he was ready to play NCAA hockey this fall.
Union began watching him closely at that time, and, while Vecchione won’t be playing college hockey as he had hoped this fall, he has landed with a top-flight program at Union, where he will matriculate in the fall of ’13, after one more season with Tri-City.
Vecchione is a hard-working grind-it-out power forward who will fit in well with the Union style. He competes hard, plays both ends of the ice, and will chip in offensively.
Following in Brother’s Footsteps
5’8”, 145 lb. right-shot forward Charlie Kelleher has committed to UNH for 2015.
Kelleher, a 2/4/97 birthdate and the younger brother of UNH recruit Tyler Kelleher (US NTDP), played last winter for Longmeadow (Mass.) HS and, as a freshman, led the team in scoring with a 24-32-56 line in 23 games played. Kelleher, who projects as a center, will be playing the upcoming season with the Junior Bruins Under-16 Team.
Kelleher is along the same line of development as his brother. If there is a difference between them it’s that Tyler is more of a finisher, whereas Charlie is more of a pass-first guy – he’s quick, has a quick stick, can make plays in tight spaces, and has a good mind for the game. He plays hard in all three zones. He is also young, and over the next few years will need to improve his strength, shot, and explosiveness.
We had Kelleher ranked #16 among forwards at last month’s Select 15 Festival in Rochester, NY.
Prior to the festival Kelleher had visited Yale University.
U.S. Under-18 Selects Finish 7th
Breclav, Czech Republic -- The U.S. Under-18 Select Team, after going winless in round-robin play, beat Slovakia 5-3 in the seventh-place game at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup here today.
Adam Erne (2g,1a) and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (3a) led the U.S. attack.
“We learned to play together and really accomplished for 60 minutes today,” said U.S. head coach Matt Herr. “We didn’t let down. We capitalized on the power play and were successful on the penalty kill to say focused on what we needed to do to win.”
The U.S. scored three of their six goals on the power play. Slovakia capitalized on two of eight power play chances. The U.S. took 15 penalties (69 total minutes), while Slovakia took 14 penalties (26 total minutes). With 55 seconds left, a Slovakian player was called for roughing, while three U.S. players, Trevor Moore (major/slashing/game misconduct), Vinny Lettieri (roughing/double minor), and DeAngelo (leaving bench/game misconduct) were all banished.
U.S. Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Roster:
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 School).
Head Coach: Matt Herr (Kent School)
Assistant Coaches: Bob Corkum (University of Maine) and Nick Fohr (NTDP).
-- U.S. Results
Sat. Aug. 11 – U.S. 6, Slovakia 0 (exhib.)
Mon. Aug. 13 – Russia 2, U.S. 1 (SO)
Tues. Aug. 14 – Czech Republic 5, U.S. 2
Wed. Aug. 15 -- Finland 8, U.S. 6
Fri. Aug. 17 -- USA 5, Slovakia 2 (7th Place Game)
-- U.S. Scoring
Demko 103/115 (.896)
Williams 7/11 (.637)
U.S. Players of the Game:
Mon. 8/13 – Thatcher Demko (38/39)
Tues. 8/14 – Drew Melanson (0g, 1a)
Wed. 8/15 – Adam Erne (2g,1a)
Fri. 8/17 – Adam Erne (2g, 1a)
Birdsall to BC
5’11”, 160 lb. ’96 goaltender Chris Birdsall, who played last season for the North Jersey Avalanche U-16 Team as well as Glen Rock (NJ) High School, has committed to Boston College for the fall of 2015.
Birdsall, who went to the NTDP 40-man camp in March (he didn’t make the team) and then went to Nationals with the Avalanche, has parlayed all of that into a tremendous summer.
At the USA Hockey Select 16 Festival last month, Birdsall was USHR’s #1-ranked goalie – and it wasn’t even a contest. The native of Glen Rock, NJ (it’s near Paramus) did not allow a goal through the first four games and finished with a 1.00 gaa and a .952 save percentage.
Off his play at the tournament, Birdsall was named to the Under-17 Select Team that just finished first at the Five Nations Tournament in Chomutov, Czech Republic. Birdsall finished 3-0-0, had one shutout, and stopped 54 of the 58 shots he faced (.931). Boston College head coach Jerry York was in attendance at the tournament.
The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders signed Birdsall to a tender prior to last spring’s USHL Futures Draft, and that is where Birdsall will be playing the upcoming season. Birdsall, an 11/24/96 birthdate, will be entering his sophomore year of high school.
Birdsall is technically sound, strong positionally, and extremely competitive. He plays an aggressive style, and likes to make himself bigger by challenging shooters.
New Blood at the Beantown
At this summer’s Beantown Classic, held earlier this week in Marlborough, Mass., we saw a lot of the usual top local prospects, guys we have been writing about here at USHR for quite a while now. However, for this write-up, we’re going to take a different tack and, rather than stomping over well-trod ground, will instead turn our attention to those players who we feel 1) either used the tournament to put themselves on the map or 2) played in such a way that we changed -- or revised -- our opinions of them. So here goes:
Tyler Bird, F, ’96 (St. John’s Prep) 6-2/196 — We recently saw Bird at the Select 16 Festival and although he was intriguing he did not stand out as one of the top players in his class right now. The big forward is instead more of a long-term project, a kid who could develop along the lines of BC recruits Chris Calnan and Adam Gilmour, neither of whom were standouts at 16. Bird has a lot of tools and if he can put them all together he will be an NHL draft prospect in two years time. With the departure of Sam Kurker (to BU) Bird will be taking on a bigger role at St. John’s Prep this season. It will be interesting to see how he handles it.
Brian Pinho, F, ’95 (St. John’s Prep) 6-0/175 — A player who continually impresses, but will never blow you away. Pinho has good offensive instincts, makes the players around him better, and has a knack around the net. Will certainly be a DI player, but we have not yet been able to put our finger on his upside with any degree of confidence, so we will keep watching closely. Pinho was SJP’s first line center last season and will surely fill that role again in his senior year.
Charles Corcoran, F, ’95 (Berkshire School) 5-10/155 — Similar to Pinho in that he will never blow you away, but he continually makes plays when the puck is on his stick. Is versatile and could fill a lot of different roles in college. Has a slick set of hands. Will be interesting to see how he performs in a starring role this season.
Harrison Markell, D, ’97 (Middlesex School) 5-11/183 — Played for the Valley Junior Warriors ’97 team and flew under the radar as all eyes were fixated on BC recruits Noah Hanifin and Casey Fitzgerald. The Middlesex sophomore is tall, thin, skates well and makes a lot of heads-up plays. Is a high-end student and will be an attractive Ivy League recruit.
Matthew Muzyka, F, ’96 (Salisbury School) 6-1/185 — Was buried on the fourth line at Salisbury last season where, in 28 games played, the Cheshire, Conn. native was only able to muster a 0-1-1 scoring line. That will not be the case this season. Muzyka did nothing but score goals here. Our guess is that he will play in top six this time around. Muzyka has good size and a strong stick.
AJ Greer, F, ’96 (Kimball Union) 6-2/185 — A Montreal-area native who played for College Esther-Blondin -- the Canadian national midget champs – last season. In the process, Greer put himself on the map and has had quite a bit of buzz surrounding him. He’s still a bit of a project and quite raw, but he certainly is an appealing prospect. He has that pro look to him. Is going to Kimball Union, where it will be interesting to see how he blends in with Casey Miller (UMass), Niko Rufo (Providence), Nick Roberto (Maine) and Joey Dudek, clearly a potent group.
Josh Henke, F, ’94 (Jersey Hitmen) 5-10/200 — Has been committed to Ferris State for nearly two years. Played last season in the USHL with Muskegon and Tri-City where he put up a 6-12-18 scoring line in 41 games played. At 14-15 years old Henke was one of the elite scorers in the Michigan AAA loop. He still has great offensive instincts and finds the net in scoring areas. Henke could be one of the top scorers in the EJHL this season.
Tommy Kelley, F, ’94 (St. Sebastian’s) 5-11/190 — A complete player who brings a lot to the table. Will be excellent for St. Seb’s this year. Is gritty and physical, but also has a hard shot and a nose for the net. Potted 19 goals for the Arrows last season. We do not know how much better the Natick, Mass native will get, but he could play a role at the next level.
Tyler Drevitch, F, ’95 (Boston Bandits) 5-11/149 — Something tells us that Drevitch is going to be a late bloomer and a lot of colleges will kick themselves for not tracking him more closely. He has a great stick, is slippery in traffic, and makes a ton of plays. While he is very thin and weak right now, he still finds a way to compete. Will undoubtedly get bigger, stronger and faster. What kind of player will he be when all of that comes together? Time will tell.
John Carlson, D, ’96 (Hingham HS) 6-2/175 — Carlson caught our eye at the Mass High School Super 8 tournament and again this week at the Beantown, where he held his own. While making the jump from Mass high school hockey might take a little while, Carlson possesses physical tools that you cannot teach. Has a hard shot and makes simple plays. Good reach.
Kyle Lemelin, F, ’96 (Lewiston HS) 6-0/170 — With a good first step and a nice skill set, Lemelin should light up Maine high school hockey this season. We expect prep schools and EJHL teams to recruit him hard for the following season.
Charlie Barrow, D, ’96 (Belmont Hill) 5-10/155 — Barrow, who stood out for us at the Select 16 Festival, played for the Belmont Hill freshmen last season. We are told he has grown about six inches in the last 12 months. While he still has a long way to go strength wise, he has a really good stick and will be right at home on the Belmont Hill PP this season.
Nick Bingman, F, ’93 (NH Jr. Monarchs) 6-1/185 — Played for Jamestown (NAHL) last season and Compuware U18’s prior to that. First time we have seen him. Looked good here. Curious to see how the Bedford, NY native performs in the EJHL.
Nathan Ferriero, F, ’94 (Governor’s) 5-8/165 — Is a little bit shorter than his brothers Benn and Cody, which may limit his draft potential. That being said, he may also have the best stick skills in prep hockey. He has that same shot that his older brothers both have. If he can play a composed game this season he could be one of, if not the, most lethal scorer in New England.
Austin Ricci, F, ’96 (St. Paul’s) 6-1/195 — Is not very fleet of foot, but he has a quick set of hands and can really get his shot off in a hurry. Has always scored goals and will surely score a ton this season. Is a little too bulky for our liking. If he trims down we think his skating will improve, thus elevating his whole game.
Philippe Johansson, D, ’94 (Holderness) 6-2/190 — Will be a senior at Holderness this year. Put up 24 points in 29 games last season. Caught our eye on numerous occasions.
Reed Harper, F, ’93 (CT Oilers) 5-9/160 — Was Proctor’s leading scorer last season where he compiled a 23-23-46 scoring line in 22 games played as a PG. Prior to heading to Proctor he played on Salisbury’s JV team. We are told the reason for that was his attitude. We view Harper as a high risk/high reward type player. The rumors could be true, but even if they are a quality coach could break through to him. Is on the smaller side, but has excellent vision and is a big-time playmaker. Could be a star at a NESCAC school.
Garland Chooses Nittany Lions
5’6”, 150 lb. Junior Bruins (Empire) forward Conor Garland has committed to Penn State for the fall of 2015.
Garland, a 3/11/96 forward from Scituate, Mass., lit it up in the Empire League last winter, putting up a 42-52-94 line in 40 games to lead the Junior Bruins in scoring (he finished eight points ahead of linemate Jack Eichel) as the Chris Masters-coached squad finished the regular season with a 34-4-1-1 record. In addition, Garland’s 94 points placed him third in the league in scoring.
The previous year, ’10-11, Garland, who had long been in the Junior Bruins organization, went west and played for the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Bantam A team.
In May, the Muskegon Lumberjacks selected Garland in the USHL Future’s Draft. Garland had a strong camp and made the team.
Garland, who will be a sophomore in high school this fall, has a good stick and a knack for scoring. A gifted offensive player, he finds a way to finish off his scoring opportunities, and makes plays – always has, at every level. Though Garland is on the small side, he uses it to his advantage – he’s slippery and elusive.
UNH Camp Draws Top ‘98s
USHR recently spent a few days up in Durham, NH at the Fourth Annual UNH Team Camp. In the past this camp has seen the likes of Connor McDavid (1st overall pick in the 2012 OHL Draft), Aaron Ekblad (1st overall pick in the 2011 OHL Draft), Josh HoSang (Windsor-OHL), Rowland McKeown (Kingston-OHL), Sonny Milano (NTDP/Notre Dame), Brandon Fortunato (NTDP/Harvard), Ryan Hitchcock (NTDP/Yale), Chris Birdsall (Cedar Rapids-USHL), JJ Piccinich (Youngstown-USHL), Jake Linhart (Chicago Mission/Wisconsin), Robert Nardella (Chicago Mission/Notre Dame), Noah Hanifin (St. Sebastian’s/BC), Casey Fitzgerald (Malden Catholic/BC), Cam Askew (Cushing/Northeastern), Jeremy Bracco (NJ Rockets/Harvard) and Luke Kirwan (Middlesex-EJHL). In short, each and every year there are high-end players in attendance -- and this year was no different.
(Note: There were eight teams on hand split up into ’98 and ’99 divisions.)
-- There were four players in camp that we felt were absolute standouts. If you are looking for difference-makers in the ’98 age group, you will want to watch the following:
Chad Krys, D, ’98 (TC All-Stars) — Right now the son of BU alum Mark Krys sits atop the charts in the ’98 age group. Krys is a big kid for his age -- roughly 6’0”, 165 lbs. -- but he does not appear to be physically topped-out. He could still grow some. A powerful and fluid skater, Krys carries the puck end-to-end at will. BU head coach Jack Parker made the drive up I-95 to the Whittemore Center to get a look at the ’98 sensation --- and Krys had a goal and an assist in his first two shifts. We have a hunch Parker was impressed. Krys is in the same class as Noah Hanifin – i.e. he’s as close as you can get to a can’t-miss prospect. It’s completely understandable that BU would want to lock him up ASAP.
Adam Fox, D, ’98 (Long Island Gulls) — Played for the ’97 Gulls last season. Is not a physical specimen like Krys, but at this age level he can be just as effective. Fox, who can really dangle with the puck, is very slippery in traffic. He’s excellent on the PP, too. His pro potential is not off the charts as he is probably about 5’9” or so, but there is no doubt he will be a high-end DI player. We are told that schools are already on him.
Sam Sternschein, F, ’98 (Long Island Gulls) — A player we were not previously familiar with. A big kid – 6’2” -- with a soft set of hands, Sternschein needs to add some quickness and tenacity to his game, but his potential is very high. It is not easy to find players with his frame – and an elite skill set. Sternschein will be followed closely over the next two years, but we think he will be someone the NTDP takes a long look at.
Liam Murphy , F, ’98 (Connecticut Wolf Pack) — Murphy is a big, powerful forward who is very productive. He’s always around the puck, he makes plays, and he is strong in the scoring areas. While he is not a pretty player -- his skating is very raw – he has upside and we feel he could be in the mix for the NTDP in a couple of years.
-- If Krys, Fox, Sternschein, and Murphy were the cream of the crop – the “A” players – then the following would be a very strong “A-/B" group.
Jake Rathbone, D, ’99 (South Shore Kings) — The son of former BC forward Jason Rathbone is quite small, but then again he is only 13 years old. Rathbone is someone we will be hearing about over the next four years. Has a nice skill set and really controls the game from the back end.
Jake Ryczek, D, ’98 (TC All-Stars) — Was partnered up with Krys and was therefore overshadowed on most shifts. That being said, Ryczek is solid in all facets. He’s a good-sized kid who can skate and make a good outlet pass.
Phil Kemp, D, ’99 (TC All-Stars) — Plays for Mid-Fairfield during the season. Kemp is a good skater who is already approaching 6’0”. Projects nicely.
Danny Petrick, D, ’99 (TC All-Stars) — Handles the puck with confidence. Skilled and involved offensively.
Jay O’Brien, F, ’99 (South Shore Kings) — Small, but very skilled. Has quick hands and can make plays in tight spaces.
Joey Cipollone, F, ’99 (Connecticut Wolf Pack) — Cipollone is not very big, but exhibited excellent poise with the puck. He made plays and was consistently noticeable.
Derek Osik, F, ’98 (EC Wizards) — A strong, complete player. Works hard in all three zones and has some skill with the puck.
John Scala, F, ’98 (Long Island Gulls) — A strong, stocky forward, Scala is a powerful skater who, at 14 years, shoots the puck like a man.
Eric Linell, F, ’98 (Long Island Gulls) — The younger brother of BC’s Danny Linell. He’s very small right now, but has a good stick and makes plays.
John Wojoiechowski, F. ’98 (TC All-Stars) — An absolute manchild. It is surprising he is only a ’98 in that he could well be 6’3”, 190 lbs. right now. Wojoiechowski has a pretty good set of hands, plays with grit and can shoot it. His skating has a long ways to go, but he is certainly worth keeping tabs on.
Justin Grillo, F, ’98 (TC All-Stars) — Skilled. Quick hands. Makes plays.
Jimmy Scannell, G, ’99 (South Shore Kings) — Kind of a stand up goaltender – and you do not see many of those anymore. Extremely competitive; good net presence.
Big Changes at St. George’s
Ryan Mulhern, newly-promoted to director of admissions and financial aid at the St. George's School, is stepping down from coaching after 12 years (five as an assistant and seven as a head coach).
The new head coach will be Justin Cerenzia, a 2001 St. George’s graduate. Cerenzia has spent the last seven years years at the Hill School, where he was primarily an assistant on the boys team -- coached by Matt Mulhern, Ryan’s brother --- though he also pitched in and was head coach of the girls team last year.
“I was able to lure him away and back to St. George’s,” said Mulhern, who coached Cerenzia when he played for the Dragons. Cerenzia will also be teaching history.
Mulhern, who played his prep hockey at St. George’s before starring at Brown in the early to mid-‘90s, says he will be working to find athletes to round out all the teams at St. George’s. As for hockey, he says, “We want to find kids who are smart, play the game at a high level, and want to come to St. George’s.” Mulhern turns over a lot of stones – he had players from Quebec to Texas, Maryland, and Florida on his roster last season.
Former Yale defenseman Jeff Dwyer has also been hired by St. George’s and will work as an assistant director of admissions. “I am not yet sure what his role will be with the hockey program,” Mulhern said. Dwyer has worked at College Hockey, Inc. for the past two years. Prior to that he was an assistant coach in the Coast League and in the USHL.
Under-17s Place First at Five Nations
Chomutov, Czech Republic -- The U.S. Under-17 Select Team defeated Slovakia, 4-2, in the finale of the Five Nations Tournament here this afternoon.
With the win the U.S. Selects, drawn from the top players at last month’s Select 16 Festival in Rochester, NY, finished the tournament in first place at 4-0-0, outscoring their opponents 20-6 in the process.
In today’s action, Seamus Malone and Dylan Pavelek each had a goal and an assist, while Joey Dudek and Austin Poganski added single goals. The U.S. outshot Slovakia, 41-18. Eric Schierhorn, in his first game action of the tournament, had 16 shots.
“The term we came up with was ‘relentless’ and we were just that,” head coach Barry Smith said. “Our work ethic was second to none, and when you combine talent with work ethic, that’s tough to beat.”
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 – US 6, Czech Republic 2 (exhib.)
Wed. Aug. 8 – US 6, Germany 2
Thurs. Aug. 9 – US 5, Switzerland 0
Fri. Aug. 10 – US 5, Czech Republic 2
Sat. Aug. 11 – US 4, Slovakia 2
Birdsall 54/58 (.931) with one shutout and a 3-0-0 W-L record
Schierhorn 16/18 (.889) with a 1-0-0 W-L record
US Players of the Game:
Wed. 8/8 – F Austin Poganski (2 goals)
Thurs. 8/9 – G Chris Birdsall (20 save shutout)
Fri. 8/10 – D Brandon Fortunato
Sat. 8/11 – F Seamus Malone (1g,1a)
Pratt to Play in EJHL
6’2”, 180 lb. Northfield-Mt. Hermon defenseman Derek Pratt will take his senior year with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.
Pratt, a Div. I prospect who had a strong camp this summer with Muskegon (USHL), is a ’94 birthdate from Mt. Hermon, Mass.
He has been playing for his father, NMH head coach Tom Pratt, a former Div. I defenseman.
“It’s time for Derek to be coached by someone who is not his dad,” said the senior Pratt, who added, “It’s a little bit of a conflict in that the team is poised to take a step forward this season even without Derek, but, yes, he would have helped.”
The younger Pratt, a steady, consistent defensemen with size and good skating ability, will attend Concord High School.
2013 Maccabiah Games Tryouts Coming Up
In the summer of 2013 ice hockey is returning to the Maccabiah Games – often referred to as the Jewish Olympics -- and the U.S. is now recruiting top Jewish hockey players at the Junior (’95 through ’98), Open (all ages, generally 18+), and Master (40 and over) levels.
This is a great opportunity. The Maccabiah Games – the third largest sporting event in the world with over 7,000 participants – are held every four years in Israel and draw top Jewish athletes from all over the world. Over 35 sports are represented. The countries participating in ice hockey are the United States, Russia, Canada, Israel, and France.
Tryouts for all USA Divisions will be held next weekend -- Aug. 17-19, to be precise – at The Rink (Warwick, PA). An official application and tryout registration form must be filled out in advance. The form can be found at the “Ice Hockey” page in the ‘Sports Explorer’ section at www.maccabiusa.com
There will be no Women’s ice hockey at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, female athletes are invited to participate in the tryout weekend.
Maccabi USA can also be reached by phone at 215-561-6900
Players selected will leave for Israel on or around July 10, 2013. The tournament takes place July 17-30.
Compuware Quartet Commits
Four players from last season’s Compuware U14 team have made their college choices: 6’1”, 170 lb. forward Brent Gates will be headed to Notre Dame; 5’7”, 148 lb. forward Gordie Green chose Miami-Ohio; 6’0”, 170 lb. defenseman Nicholas Boka picked Michigan State and the prize of the bunch, 6’0”, 170 lb. forward Brendan Warren will suit up for the maize and blue at the University of Michigan. All four players will play for Compuware’s U16 team this season.
Warren, our #1 ranked forward at the Select 15 Festival last month, is dynamic and crafty. The Carleton, Mich. native, who started out with Belle Tire last year, had an 8-5-13 scoring line in his ten games with Compuware later in the season. The Wolverines staff will have to recruit Warren until September of 2015 as he will be ranked high on OHL draft lists and it would be naïve to think the usual suspects – i.e. London, Kitchener and Windsor -- will not try to lure the top American forward north of the border. We are told he has already been offered a spot on the NTDP.
While Warren certainly is the flashiest of the bunch, Brent Gates is not far behind in terms of pro potential. The Notre Dame recruit’s skating has been significantly improved and he is well on his way to becoming a premiere power forward. Last season the Grand Rapids, Mich. native registered a 13-16-29 scoring line in 22 games of HPHL play. Overall on the season he posted a 38-33-71 scoring line through 62 total games. Gates was our #7 ranked forward at the Select 15 Festival. His hands are soft for a big man and he knows how to use his reach to his advantage in the scoring areas. Gates is a front-runner to play for the NTDP, and will also be pursued by the OHL.
Miami-Ohio could have the steal of the group and we will be the first to admit we may have underestimated Gordie Green. The Ann Arbor, Mich. native was our #29 ranked forward at the Select 15 Festival where he played on a line with Brent Gates and Koby Bender, two high-end forwards, and showed himself to be an excellent playmaker. Our initial reservations surrounded the fact that he is on the small side -- and not a burner, either. However, Green was Compuware’s leading scorer last season, posting a 21-14-35 scoring line through 24 HPHL contests and a 44-44-88 scoring line through 59 total games. He’s clearly a productive player. And he possesses an elite stick to go with great vision.
Michigan State went with big and physical Nicholas Boka. We first saw Boka back in November as a forward and liked him at that position as he simply punished defenders on the forecheck. At the Select 15 Festival he played a simple and composed game and we pegged him at #30 in a deep group. Has good feet for a big guy and plays a pro-style game. Boka is a bit of a projection pick by the Spartans, but a good project to have. The Plymouth, Mich. native put up a 14-22-36 scoring line through 61 games played -- at both forward and defense.
5’10”, 154 lb. Cleveland Barons U16 forward Sonny Milano has committed to Notre Dame for the fall of ‘14.
Milano, the leading scorer in the Tier I Elite Midget Minor League last season with a 44-43-87 line in 40 games, will be playing the next two seasons for the National Team Development Program.
A 4.0 student, Milano made his final choice from among Michigan, Yale, Cornell, and Notre Dame.
Milano, a left-shot and a 5/12/96 birthdate, is a native of Massapequa, Long Island who played for the LI Gulls before going out to Cleveland last fall.
A fun player to watch, Milano is a swift, graceful skater and, with his stickhandling and playmaking skills, is extremely tough for opposing defensemen to deal with. In other words, he’s an excellent college prospect.
Don’t Forget These Guys!
This past week, when USA Hockey released the roster for the first annual All-American Prospects Game (Buffalo, NY; Sept. 29), we countered with an article discussing why we were perplexed by the fact that nearly 25 percent of the 40-man roster consisted of overage players – i.e., guys who, just six weeks ago, had been passed over by all thirty NHL teams in June’s NHL draft.
We certainly understand that players who are a year older might be “better right now” but this is all about projecting. And USA Hockey seems to share this view – at least on paper – as the press release accompanying the roster boasted that “40 of the top American prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft” would be on hand.
We can put ourselves in the shoes of a hockey fan in Buffalo who lays out $20 for a ticket to the late September game and then feels cheated when June 2013 rolls around and he or she realizes that a number of highly-drafted U.S. kids were not invited to the All-American Prospects Game – and we’re not talking about total unknowns either.
In Canada, for two decades now, the CHL has held an annual Top Prospects Game featuring the top draft-eligible players from the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL. It’s a huge success, and attended by nearly every NHL GM and battalions of scouts. For the All-American Prospects Game to reach this level of success we felt it necessary for USA Hockey to hit the ball out of the park on the first go-round. On this point, we are skeptical.
One NHL scout remarked that the roster looked “like an advertisement for the NTDP.” It is true that over half the roster consists of NTDP players. Add the USHL kids to the Ann Arbor boarders and the two groups combined account for roughly 80 percent of the roster. Then keep in mind that the weekend before (Sept. 19-22) all of those kids will be facing off against each other at the USHL Fall Classic in Sioux City, Iowa. There, on the banks of the Missouri River, scouts will be able to see each team at least three times. Taking that into account -- along with the fact that the U.S. Under-18 Team is perpetually scouted -- and the “must see” aspect of the game is diminished considerably. For the CHL’s Top Prospects Game you have players coming in from Victoria, BC in the west to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the east. Up there, a geographical imperative nudges scouts toward the Top Prospects Game. That won’t be the case in the U.S., thus making this game a harder sell.
Below, we have listed players who were not invited to Buffalo on Sept. 29th. We have broken them down into two groups: The “A” pool consists of players we feel with 100% certainty should have been invited. To our eyes, they are potential high NHL draft picks. The next group – the “B” players – consists of players we feel are interchangeable with a handful of players in the game — especially the overagers.
Thomas Vanelli, 1/26/95, 6-2/170 — The sky is the limit for the Minnetonka HS product. Was our #1 ranked defenseman at the Select 17 Festival this summer. It’s extremely difficult to find defenders with his size and skating ability — he simply has great feet. We expect Vanelli to boost his draft stock at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this month. Going in the first round of next June’s NHL draft is not out of the question.
Connor Hurley, 9/15/95, 6-1/175 — Is eligible for the 2013 draft, but had he been born on September 16th the Edina HS star would have had to wait for 2014. Has size, can skate and definitely makes plays—all good indications that he will be a high NHL draft pick. Is being advised by CAA, the same agency that represents the likes of Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Evgeny Malkin and Jonathan Toews. CAA tends to go for high profile players who are all but locks to be high draft picks -- and Hurley fits that bill.
Teemu Kivihalme, 6/17/95, 6-1/167 — Recently committed to Colorado College, which was a huge get for the Tigers. Plays for his father at Burnsville HS and is a flawless skater. We had him ranked as our #4 defenseman at the Select 17 Festival. Like Vanelli, Kivihalme was also selected for Team USA for the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
Brett Pesce, 11-15-94, 6-2/175 — Late ’94 could be the top player in New England to be drafted next summer. Will be a freshman at UNH where he was brought in a year early after an impressive stint with the NTDP. The New Jersey native is a smooth, puck-moving defender who has the ability to run a power play. Should make an immediate impact for the Wildcats. Was injured most of last season and may have fallen off the radar a bit.
Anthony Florentino, 1/30/95, 6-1/205 — In hopes of upgrading their defensive corps the NTDP asked Florentino to join the program for the second year in a row, and Florentino declined for the second year in a row. Seven defensemen from the NTDP were asked to play in the All-American Prospects game. If all seven of those defensemen are better “prospects” than the South Kent defender than why was the NTDP recruiting him? The West Roxbury, Mass native is a strong skater who plays with an edge and has a bomb of a shot. The Providence College recruit will likely be the top New England prep player selected at the draft.
Tyler Hill, 4/13/95, 6-6/225—There are some players who will be playing in the All-American Prospects game who are long shots to be drafted. Hill, though, is pretty much guaranteed to be selected. The question is simply how high. Hill has soft hands and, for a 6’6” forward, pretty good feet. He scored a highlight reel goal at the Select 17 Festival that would have made ESPN’s top 10 plays -- if the video had been sent in. Played for Hotchkiss last year and is undecided as to where he will be this fall.
Michael Brodzinski, 5/28/95, 5-11/195 — Tough as nails. Plays a shutdown style of defense and opposing forwards find him unenjoyable to play against. Does not get beaten in 1x1 situations. Has a good stick and makes a good first pass, but the future Minnesota Golden Gopher will likely never be running a PP. We think an NHL team will want him in their system. Plays for Blaine HS.
Connor Clifton, 4/28/95, 6-0/180 — The Quinnipiac recruit is arguably the top prospect the Bobcats have ever landed. Has great legs and really pushes the pace of the offense. Is equally effective at passing the puck up ice or skating it coast to coast. Will be joining the NTDP for his senior year. Played last season for the Jersey Hitmen (EJHL).
Garret Gamez, 2/17/95, 6-1/175 — Played his first season of Tier 1 hockey last year with the LA Junior Kings U16 team. A late bloomer, Gamez has the potential to win the Rookie of the Year award in the USHL – he’ll be suiting up for Tri-City. The Denver recruit is a big kid with great hands and a high-end release. Will score a lot of goals throughout his career.
Jason Cotton, 2/7/95, 6-3/180 — Too intriguing for NHL teams to overlook. Has a high skill level for a 6’3” forward. We think the Tri-City (USHL) forward has only shown us a glimpse of what he can actually do. When the Northeastern recruit fills out and gets bigger and stronger we think he will be a much different player. This will be a telling year for him as we will get to see how he reacts to the pace of the USHL.
Drew Melanson, 1/10/95, 5-11/160 — Delbarton product is an exceptional skater who is really light on his feet. Is very slight right now which could affect his ability to hold off opponents in the USHL this season as he will suit up for Omaha. NHL teams are looking five to six years down the road, and surely by then the RPI recruit will have bulked up and enhanced his game-breaking speed.
The date of this game should be a topic of discussion. Players need time to emerge and show the progress they have made during the off-season. We can almost guarantee that there is a player out there who is relatively unknown now but who will hear his name called in the top two or three rounds of the draft. It happens every year (see Mark Jankowski). By holding this game in September there is no chance that the “player who comes out of nowhere” will be present, much less able to show what he can do. And who is this year’s Jankowski? We have no clue, but here is a bonus -- a few players who merit a look: Zach Sanford (Middlesex-EJHL), Tim Harrison (Dexter School) and Merrick Madsen (Proctor Academy).
Harvard Lands a Blue-Chipper
5’9”, 155” Coquitlam Express (BCHL) LC Alex Kerfoot has committed to Harvard for the fall of ’13.
Kerfoot has been at the center of a lengthy recruiting battle between Harvard, Yale, and Boston College. In the final stages, the battle was narrowed to Harvard and Boston College.
Kerfoot represents a major get for the Crimson – a blue-chip recruit who, along with fellow fall ’13 forwards like Sean Malone and Tyler Moy will make the Crimson a potent offensive team.
Kerfoot is one of those players that every school in the country would have liked to have been able to get in on recruiting. For instance, last October (10/25/11), we had Kerfoot #2 on our list of top uncommitted players in North American, trailing only NTDP defenseman Seth Jones. When we re-did that list in February (2/7/12), Kerfoot was again at #2, and once again trailed only Jones, who, of course, is the presumptive #1 (possibly #2) pick in next June’s NHL draft. Jones, of course, recently opted to go major junior for the upcoming season.
That left Kerfoot, who chose to play another year of juniors in order to get stronger for NCAA play, as the top available recruit for the fall of ’13.
Last November, at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Langley, BC, Kerfoot, the second youngest player on his team, scored an OT goal to lift Canada West to a key win over Sweden. In the championship game, a 4-2 win over Canada East, the West Vancouver, BC native notched a highlight reel goal and added an assist. He was named to the tournament’s all-star team.
In 51 games for Coquitlam last season, Kerfoot posted a 25-44-69 line and cleaned up at the BCHL post-season award banquet, being named Coastal Conference Rookie of the Year, First Team All-Star, and Most Sportsmanlike Player (he had 24 pims). In June, Kerfoot, an 8/11/94 birthdate, was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round of the NHL Draft.
In ’10-11, Kerfoot, playing for the Vancouver Northwest Giants of the BC Major Midget league, posted a 36-72-108 line in 38 games, smashing the record previously held by Edmonton Oilers C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had a 40-47-87 line in 36 games with the ’08-09 Northwest Giants. In the ’10-11 Telus Cup, Canada’s national midget tournament, the Giants finished fourth. Even so, Kerfoot, who had notched 26 points in seven games, was named tournament MVP.
Kerfoot’s coach in midgets, Jon Calvano, is also his coach with Coquitlam, where Kerfoot will be returning for the upcoming season before matriculating at Harvard. Former Salisbury defenseman Marc Biega will also be playing for Coquitlam in the upcoming season, hoping to improve his game and test scores and perhaps become the fourth Beiga brother to suit up for the Crimson.
For Harvard, Kerfoot is a key recruit in another sense. The Crimson have never had a great deal of success in British Columbia, where they have traditionally been trounced by schools like BC and UNH. This may open up fertile ground for their staff out there.
Kerfoot, who is creative and elusive, has excellent hockey sense, great wheels, and skill to match. A dynamic offensive player he really pushes the pace, and makes plays at high speed.
Kerfoot’s father, Greg Kerfoot, is a major Vancouver businessman who heads up the ownership group of the Vancouver Whitecaps (Major League Soccer). The senior Kerfoot, who is building a 32 story office building overlooking Vancouver Harbor, is, variously, described by the Vancouver press as "shy," "mysterious," "media-shy," and "unassuming," owns a mansion that is far from unassuming: it comes complete with an NHL sized rink.
Speaking of rinks, when Kerfoot arrives at Harvard, he will be playing at a spiffed-up Bright Hockey Center as the university, over the next year, will be putting 12-14 million into bringing the 1980 rebuild of the old Watson Rink up to date. Much of the effort will be down below, where new locker rooms, video rooms, and a weight room will be constructed. Upstairs, the lobby will be expanded, and the concession area will be improved. Now, it is up to the players. If they live up to their potential, Bright could again become as lively as it was in the ‘80s, when tickets could be very tough to come by.
Roy Brothers to Northeastern
High-scoring forward Kevin Roy and his older brother, goaltender Derick Roy, who decommitted from Brown University on July 22nd, officially committed to Northeastern University this afternoon.
A Northeastern source contacted USHR this afternoon stating that the two brothers, natives of Lac-Beauport, Quebec who prepped at, respectively, Deerfield and St. Paul's before playing juniors, have decided to play for the Huskies starting this fall.
There are a lot of issues here (see USHR News of 7/22/12) and the coaching staff, due to the fact that the two players have yet to be formally admitted into the university, were unwilling to address our questions on the record.
It is expected that the brothers will be accepted at the school, and that the paperwork will be wrapped up by Monday or Tuesday of next week. At that point, coach Jim Madigan is expected to discuss the Northeastern side of the story.
Gasparini Hired as UMass Assistant
Joey Gasparini, who has spent the past three years as an assistant at the University of Vermont, where he worked along with John Micheletto on Kevin Sneddon’s staff, has been accepted Micheletto’s invitation to join his staff at UMass.
Gasparini, a forward for the Catamounts from 2002-06 and an assistant captain his senior year, is a native of Grand Forks, ND. He is the son of former University of North Dakota head coach and USHL commissioner Gino Gasparini, and the younger brother of Los Angeles Kings scout Tony Gasparini (who, by the way will get his day with the Stanley Cup on Aug. 28th).
One other important fact: Joey skated for the world-famous USHR.Dotcoms at the Prospects Tournament in the late ‘90s.
Sneddon to Hire Two Veterans
Look for University of Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon to name Kevin Patrick and Kyle Wallack as assistants on his staff.
Both were head coaches in the USHL last year, with Muskegon and Indiana respectively. Both were fired in-season, though it would be unfair to draw any conclusions from that.
Sneddon and Patrick go way back, as Patrick was an assistant on Sneddon’s staff at Union from 1998-2002. A 43-year-old native of Schenectady, NY, Patrick went on to serve as an assistant at Bowling Green for three years and Wisconsin for five before accepting a head coaching position with the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) in the ‘10-11 season.
A former defenseman at Notre Dame, Patrick got his start in coaching at Deerfield Academy from 1993-97, where he also taught science.
Wallack made his name during his five years as an assistant at Yale (’06-11). During his last two seasons there, the Eli led the nation in scoring.
Before Yale, Wallack worked at Holy Cross. In this second and final season on Paul Pearl’s staff, the Crusaders went 27-10-3 and knocked off the University of Minnesota at the 2006 West Regionals.
Before that, from ’02-04, Wallack was an assistant at UConn.
USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game Rosters
Today, USA Hockey unveiled the 40-man roster for their All-American Prospects Game, to be held on Sat. Sept. 29 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.
The rostered player are, according the press release, "40 of the top American prospects eligible for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft."
At this moment, we don't want to get into analyzing and second-guessing the choices. But we will. We just have to deal with the great white shark off Truro first. This time of year, our priorities lie with the Massachusetts beachcombers.
That said, we do have a few quick observations. First of all, the stats: 22 of the 40 players (55%) are from the NTDP, nine (22.5%) are from the USHL, four (10%) are from the CHL, and five (12.5%) are from prep/parochial schools.
Of special note is the fact that nine of the 40 players on the roster are overagers, passed over in last month's NHL draft. We find it extremely curious that nine players who couldn't get selected among the top 210 NHL draft picks last month can, a mere five weeks later, shoot up the charts and suddenly be among the top 40 US-born prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft. Those players must have had an unbelievable July!
All facetiousness aside, there will be overagers who have great seasons in 2012-13 and force their way into the picture by next June. It happens every year. The process, however, starts in September. Jimmy Vesey, for example, started the past season strongly, kept it up throughout the season and it all paid off for him when he was drafted by Nashville in the third round in June. We just don't think there are nine of them among the top 40. Three or four? Maybe. But let the season unfold before making that call. There are plenty of first-year eligibles out there who deserve first consideration.
One other key point we noticed is that there will not be a single player -- excepting NTDP kids -- from a Minnesota high school appearing in Buffalo. Anyone who was at the Select 17 Festival in Rochester, NY a few weeks ago can tell you that there are Minnesota high school kids who will go extremely high in next June's NHL draft. And not one has been invited to the game in Buffalo. That's too bad, as they have far more to gain from a strong performance there than the NTDP kids, who can be seen in numerous high-profile events throughout the season.
Anyway, we will have more on this shortly. For now, here is the roster:
USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game Roster