A Look at the Tier I U16s
USHR spent last weekend in West Chester, Pennsylvania, taking in the Tier 1 Elite League 16U Super Showcase. All 24 teams league teams were on hand, but, due to scheduling conflicts, there were a few we were unable to spend a lot of time with – the Colorado Rampage, Dallas Alliance, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, and Milwaukee Jr. Admirals, to be specific. Of the teams we did see, we were most impressed by the Colorado Thunderbirds, St. Louis Blues, and the LA Jr. Kings—each has a slew of D-I prospects. Here are the players who commanded our attention over the weekend. All should be of interest to NCAA, USHL, EJHL and prep school coaches.
(Note: One player we did not get to see was Belle Tire’s Ryan Moore, who was suspended for accumulating too many penalties. The ’97 born forward, a standout at the Select 15 Festival over the summer, will undoubtedly be one of the top players in the league this season.)
1. Fredrik Olofsson, F, ’96 (Colorado Thunderbirds) 6-1/185 — The younger brother of Green Bay (USHL) defenseman and Colorado College recruit Gustav Olofsson. The Boras, Sweden native is an elite talent who will be pursued heavily by NCAA schools, though one would think CC might have an edge. We feel Olofsson – a top USHL, NCAA and pro prospect -- would make for a better defenseman than forward. The big, skilled centerman plays the point on the PP and looks great controlling the play from the blue line. Is tied for second in league scoring with a 4-11-15 scoring line in eight games played.
2. Matthew Tkachuk, F, ’97 (St. Louis Blues) 5-9/150 — No secret here: the son of NHL veteran Keith Tkachuk is a ballplayer. Is only going to get better as he gets bigger, stronger, and faster. His hockey IQ is at the highest level. Processes the game quickly and has the hands to make elite-level plays. Has already been offered by numerous top D-I schools. Will certainly be included in the NTDP Final 40 camp and is a favorite to make the team. Tkachuk is torching the Elite League with a 6-8-14 scoring line in only four games played!
3. Luke Kunin, F, ’97 (St. Louis Blues) 5-9/150 — As skilled has they come. Was excellent this summer at the Select 15 Festival. Has great speed and is able to pick up steam with the puck on his stick. Plays on a line with Tkachuk and the two are dominant at the U16 level. Another NTDP prospect who will have the luxury of choosing a school of his liking.
4. Michael Eyssimont, F, ’96 (Colorado Thunderbirds) 5-10/173 — Top-notch stick skills. Is very dangerous on the PP when given time and space to operate. His feet are just OK and he is not physically developed. As such, he could be flying slightly under the radar. This season will be his coming out party. Would be surprised if Denver or CC let him out of Colorado. Leads the league in scoring with a 8-8-16 scoring line in eight games played.
5. Bailey Seagraves, G, ’97 (Ohio Blue Jackets) 5-11/174 — Reminds us a lot of Chris Birdsall (Cedar Rapids-USHL) one year ago. His physical tools are not off the charts, but he tracks the puck very well and makes good reads. Has a good feel for the game and can anticipate whether or not the shooter will shoot or pass. Has good posture in net. Was the top statistical goalie at the Select 15 Festival. Most likely a shoe-in for the NTDP Final 40 camp.
6. Jack Roslovic, F, ’97 (Ohio Blue Jackets) 6-0/155 — Very high skill level. Needs to improve his consistency as there are times he goes unnoticeable for long stretches. One of -- if not the most -- skilled player in the league. Could develop into a game changer. Another forward the NTDP will pay close attention to this season. His skill level alone will likely get him a tryout.
7. Michael Davies, D, ’97 (St. Louis Blues) 5-8/155 — Small, dynamic defenseman. His feet are exceptional and he can really zip the puck around. His pro potential might be limited due to his size, but he certainly has all the earmarks of an impact defender at the NCAA level. Will get strong consideration from the NTDP.
8. Brandon Carlo, D, ’96 (Colorado Thunderbirds) 6-4/178 — A pro prospect, no doubt about it. For a 6’4” defenseman he has a good stride, is coordinated and has a good stick. A first round draft pick of the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) in the 2012 futures draft and also a tenth round pick of the Tri-Cities Americans (WHL). Is not draft eligible until 2015.
9. David Ovsjannikov, G, ’97 (Oakland Jr. Grizzlies) 6-4/205 — Huge specimen from Plzen, Czech Republic. Competes hard in the net and for a big kid he gets from post-to-post quickly. There is a lot to like about his game -- and where it could go. Does not get much help as he is on a weak team.
10. Jake Coleman, F, ’97 (Pittsburgh Penguins) 5-7/140 — Quick, skilled, and makes a lot of plays. Could develop into an Austin Cangelosi (Youngstown-USHL) type forward. Has been productive at both the Select 14 and 15 Festivals.
11. Ben Baker, D, ’97 (LA Jr. Kings) 6-0/165 — Tall, lanky defenseman continues to improve each time we see him play. His game has come a long way in one year’s time. Still has a lot of filling out to do. In our opinion he has more potential than any other player on the Jr. Kings.
12. Luke Opilka, G, ’97 (St. Louis Blues) 6-2/158 — Did not get to see him tested much, but what we did see we really liked. Regarded by many as the top ’97 goalie in the country. Was at his best at Nationals last year, but followed that up with a below-average showing at the Select 15 Festival. That said, the stock of a player should be based primarily on how he performs in the winter, and, by that benchmark, Opilka is the man.
13. Michael Montambault, F, ’97 (Victory Honda) 6-3/180 — The first we have seen of the tall, skilled sleeper. Every shift we watched him we liked him more and more. For a big kid he has a soft set of hands and good offensive instincts. Is just figuring out how to use his size. If he keeps at it, he can only get better.
14. Laythe Jadallah, F, ’96 (Belle Tire) 6-1/175 — At the 2011 Select 15 Festival we were pretty high on the former Carolina Jr. Hurricane’s star forward. Last season, while playing for the Gunnery, we felt his game was out of sync. He looked disinterested and rarely engaged in physical battles. This past weekend, though, was the best we have seen him in quite some time. The good-sized forward has a long and smooth stride coupled with soft hands and good vision. We feel that NCAA schools should give him another look as his stock is once again on the rise. An Ivy League-level student.
15. Blake Siebenaler, D, ’96 (Belle Tire) 6-1/180 — Played for the Cleveland Barons U16 team last winter and has since decided to head north to the Mitten state. Has yet to commit to an NCAA school, but he is being courted by many and has made numerous unofficial visits. Would be a good get for anyone. A superb skater who is a sound defender with a touch of offensive skill.
16. Austyn Playfair, F, ’97 (Phoenix Jr. Coyotes) 6-3/185 — The best way we can describe the Scottsdale, Arizona native is to say that he is ‘a good project to have.’ We highly doubt a D-I school will take him as is, but he has a lot of potential and very likely will get there in time. We’ll be very interested to see what happens when he fills out and his coordination comes together.
17. Logan Fauber, D, ’97 (Colorado Thunderbirds) 5-9/165 — Very solid across the board. Has a good stick, a nice sense of the game, and is positionally sound. Will probably not get much bigger, but we see him as someone who will be a contributor at the USHL and NCAA level.
18. Nicholas Azar, D, ’97 (Belle Tire) 6-3/195 — Massive defenseman is a good skater for his size. Given time to develop, he could become a solid, physical, stay-at-home defender. We think he will get consideration for the NTDP Final 40 camp.
19. Alex Bates, D, ’97 (Colorado Thunderbirds) 5-9/150 — Heads-up defenseman can really zip the puck around. Makes plays. We feel the undersized defender would be more than capable of running a PP, but is not in that role on his current team.
20. Luke Radetic, F, ’97 (St. Louis Blues) 5-9/150 — Fun player to watch. Plays the game hard and with a lot of pace. Gritty forward is not afraid to get his nose dirty. Gets pucks back and has a quick set of hands. Has a knack around the net. 5’9” may be a touch generous.
21. Joseph Matthews, D, ’97 (St. Louis Jr. Blues) 5-8/150 — Small, crafty defender has an outstanding stick and makes a lot of plays in heavy traffic areas. Good on the PP as he exhibits vision and poise. Will need to get bigger and stronger in order to be able to defend at higher levels.
22. Nathan Krusko, F, ’96 (TPH Thunder) 5-9/160 — Not a burner, but is shifty and always seems to have the puck on his stick. Good offensive instincts and is dangerous below the tops of the circles. 6-5-11 scoring line through 10 games played.
23. Quin Foreman, F, ’96 (Boston Advantage) 6-1/167 — Not a pretty player to watch as his skating has a long way to go. We are told he has recently undergone a growth spurt and is still adjusting to his new-found size. That said, he knows how to play the game and makes a lot of plays when the puck is on his stick. When everything comes together he could turn out to be one heck of a player. Has posted a 4-5-9 scoring line through just four games played.
24. Cameron Spicer, D, ’96 (RM Rough Riders) 6-0/172 — Rough Riders captain does everything well, but nothing great. Logs a lot of minutes and is capable of playing in any situation at this level. Spicer is the team’s top defender as well as the leading scorer among blueliners with a 1-4-5 scoring line through eight games played.
25. Adam Roeder, D, ’96 (St. Louis Blues) 5-11/165 — Because the Ballwin, Missouri native plays on such a deep team he gets overlooked. Has great feet and makes a good first pass. Is gaining offensive confidence and has posted a 1-3-4 scoring line in just four games played this season.
26. Brian Williams, F, ’96 (LA Jr. Kings) 5-9/170 — Last season we saw Williams pursue pucks with reckless abandonment. He was tenacious, gritty and had the skill to make plays. Since then, we have not seen the California native play this style of hockey. At the Select 16 Festival in July -- and again this past weekend -- he floated around and tried to get by on skill alone. If he can return to form he will quickly become one of the top NCAA prospects in the ’96 age group.
27. Maxim Letunov, F, ’96 (Dallas Stars) 6-2/150 — Russian forward has a dangerous stick. At 150 lbs. there is still a lot of room to add muscle. Has produced a 3-7-10 scoring line in eight games played. Grew up playing for CSKA (Moscow), one of the top youth organizations in Russia.
28. Keoni Texeira, D, ’97 (LA Jr. Kings) 5-11/195 — Assertive and confident. Coming up through the ranks he was regarded as one of the country’s top defensemen in his age group, but he had also physically matured much quicker than his peers, an important point to keep in mind. Was drafted in the second round (26th overall) by the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) and will go that route.
29. Bryan Sienerth, F, ’96 (Pittsburgh Penguins) 5-10/165 — Dynamic and skilled. Is excellent in transition and effective in 1x1 situations. Has posted a 5-5-10 scoring line through eight games played.
30. Owen Green, F, ’97 (Buffalo Jr. Sabres) 6-3/180 — Power forward with good hands. His feet have a long way to go, but if he can get them going he will be high-end. Currently leads the Jr. Sabres in scoring with a 3-3-6 scoring line in eight games played.
31. Michael Merulla, F, ’96 (Comcast) 5-11/176 — Comcast’s top player. Has a good stick and thinks the game well. Makes sound decisions with the puck and is capable of playing in all situations. Currently leads the team in scoring with a 2-7-9 scoring line through eight games played.
32. Anthony Song, F, ’96 (Russell Stover) 5-11/150 — His compete level has to come up a bit, but the Ames, Iowa native certainly has skill. Looked good playing the point on the PP.
33. Eric Szczecinski, F, ’96 (Buffalo Jr. Sabres) 6-0/175 — Interesting player. Tall and skilled. Has a lot of filling out to do, but there is something here. Someone to keep tabs on.
34. Dan Miller, F, ’97 (Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins) 6-3/200 — Big, strong, and can skate. Is still adjusting to the speed of the U16 level, but has displayed a scoring touch in the past. A power forward in the making.
35. Keenan Murray, D, ’96 (Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins) 6-2/175 — Effortless skater who is very light on his feet. Makes heads-up plays. Needs to add some grit to his game.
36. Alec Mono, D, ’96 (Las Vegas Storm) 6-0/185 — Is a bright spot on a fairly weak team. Handles the puck with confidence and has the ability to skate it coast-to-coast with regularity. Effective on the PP, but his supporting cast is limited.
37. Keanu Yamamoto, F, ’96 (LA Jr. Kings) 5-6/135 — Small, but at the U16 level he is very effective. Has quick hands and makes a lot of plays. Will need to become a more explosive skater in order to make the jump to the USHL.
38. Sean Ross, D, ’96 (LA Jr. Kings) 5-11/180 — Rangy defender makes a strong outlet pass. Has the ability to play a support role on the PP. Keeps improving.
Two Top ‘96s Commit
5’11”, 182 lb. US National Team Development Program U17 defenseman Nathan Billitier has committed to the University of Notre Dame for the fall of ‘14.
This past summer we gave the 5/20/96 birthdate high praise, ranking him #1 among all defensemen at the US Select 16 Festival. Here is what we wrote: “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 his 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.”
If we were an NHL GM we might prefer the likes of Ryan Collins (NTDP/Minnesota), Jack Glover (NTDP/Minnesota) or John Macleod (NTDP/BU), but in terms of college impact Billitier would be our pick. He will be an immediate contributor when he arrives in South Bend, Indiana.
Through five USHL games the left shot defender has posted a 1-0-1 scoring line and is a +1.
6’2”, 200 lb. Ridley College goaltender Cameron Hackett has committed to Cornell for the fall of ’14 or ’15.
The Vaughan, Ontario native will make a stop in Green Bay (USHL) before arriving in Ithaca, NY. The Gamblers selected the former Vaughan King in the 6th round of last spring’s USHL draft. The hulking netminder suited up for the Gamblers during the Fall Classic and even played one regular season game.
We have scouted the 6/1/96 birthdate on numerous occasions and ranked him #5 overall in our “Top 25 USHL Uncommitted Players” list, which can be found in the USHR News of 9/25/12. Here is what we had to say: “Played for the Gamblers in the preseason, but will be furthering his development back in Ontario at Ridley College this season. Excellent prospect played for the Vaughn Kings (GTHL) last season. Is a fourth round pick of the Owen Sound Attack (OHL) but Hackett has done everything to prove he is serious about playing US college hockey. Was at the Road to College Showcase this summer. Is big, technically sound, and really competes in the net.”
Hackett will look to add to an impressive run of goaltenders for the Big Red. With the BCHL’s top goalie, Mitch Gillam (Chilliwack), set to arrive next fall it would appear that the Cornell staff can take a deep breath knowing that their crease is in good hands for the next five or six years.
Vatrano Sticking Close to Home
Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) winger Frankie Vatrano visited UMass this afternoon and told the coaching staff he would be coming on board.
Vatrano, who was enrolled at Boston College for several weeks earlier this fall before running afoul of NCAA Clearinghouse problems that would have kept him from playing for the Eagles, will be leaving the Junior Bruins and enrolling at UMass for the second semester.
Under the standard NCAA transfer rules between Div. I schools, Vatrano must be in residence for one year – and have no contact with the hockey program, or play junior hockey – before being allowed to practice with and play for the Minutemen. He will be eligible to step on the ice at the Mullins Center in January 2014.
However, there is a possibility that he may be allowed to play before that, as UMass, once Vatrano enrolls, will be able to submit an appeal of the clearinghouse issue to the NCAA.
Vatrano is a native of East Longmeadow, Mass., about 30 miles southwest of Amherst.
In seven games with the Junior Bruins, Vatrano has a 4-2-6 line. He has also played five games, with an 0-4-4 line, for the U.S. Under-18 team. Four of those games were against college opponents. Vatrano also played in the USA Top Prospects game in Buffalo on Sept. 29th.
The Fall Beantown: 20 Names
USHR spent the past weekend at the Beantown Fall Classic. While always a good take, it is also a challenging tournament to cover, with 70 teams spread across seven different rinks. Forced to make a decision, we chose to spend the vast majority of our time at the Haverhill Valley Forum covering the U16 division, though we did manage to leave and see a couple of marquee games at the U19 level as well. In writing about the tournament, we have, instead of writing about players that we have previously covered, decided to focus on writing about players that are either new to us -- or at least fairly new – or players that we showed us something that we hadn’t seen from them before, the guys who forced their way into our consciousness.
Jakob Chychrun, D, ’98 (Little Caesars U16) — No height or weight was listed, but our guess is that he’s approaching 6’2” already. The son of NHL veteran Jeff Chychrun, a 6’4” enforcer who saw his career cut short due to concussions, Jakob is a different player. For a big kid he gets up and down the ice nicely and is not shy about getting involved in the offense. Will get a lot of attention from the NTDP in the coming years and will also likely be a top round OHL draft pick (his father played three seasons for the Kingston Rangers). While Chychrun may not be the top ’98-born defenseman we have seen -- that distinction would go to Chad Krys (Connecticut Oilers-Empire) -- his name is certainly in the conversation. Has all the physical tools needed to develop into a high-end prospect. Played his minor hockey in Florida for the Florida Jr. Everblades organization before making the move to Michigan.
Luke McInnis, D, ’98 (East Coast Militia U16) 5-8/145 — The son of former Boston College star and NHL veteran Marty McInnis. Does not have the same physical tools as Chychrun, and likely never will, but the Hingham High freshman is as smart as they come. Cool, calm and collected with the puck on his stick. Knows how to play the game and has clearly been schooled well. Reminds us a lot of Malden Catholic’s Casey Fitzgerald. A fluid skater who always has his head up, McInnis needs some time to physically mature, but once he does there is a good chance he will be on a short list of NTDP candidates.
Dante Palecco, F, ’98 (North Jersey Avalanche U16) 5-9/152 — Have seen the Avs play previously, but never realized the Whippany, NJ native was only a ’98. Possesses high-end skill and is very talented for a 14 year old. Has a soft set of hands and is very dangerous in 1x1 situations. Could stand to add a little more sandpaper to his game, but there is no doubt his is a name we will be hearing a lot more of over the next few years.
Brendan van Riemsdyk, F, ’96 (New Jersey Devils U16) 6-3/189 — We have written about the younger brother of James (Toronto-NHL) and Trevor (UNH) on a number of occasions, but his game has really taken a step forward. Over the course of the last six months his feet have improved significantly. He looked fantastic playing the point on the PP and in our opinion would be better served playing defense. His game is finally coming together and D-I schools definitely took note of it over the weekend. Would be very surprised if he is not the third van Riemsdyk to don a UNH sweater.
James Mainland, G, ’97 (TPH Thunder U16) 6-4/165 — Only got to see the massive netminder play one game, but in that game he was awfully intriguing. He obviously takes up a lot of net, but he also looked athletic and seems to have a good understanding of the game. He was able to read the shooter on a regular basis. Definitely worth taking a look at.
Kevin Hock, F, ’96 (Cape Cod Whalers U16) 5-11/165 — A good all-around player who will make a name for himself this year playing for Catholic Memorial. We are told that he has grown about five or six inches in the last year and that his game is really coming together. Will surely be heavily pursued by New England prep schools.
Sam D’Antuono, F, ’95 (East Coast Militia U19) 6-3/185 — The Hingham High junior is blessed with a lot of physical tools and natural ability. In the game we saw him play his team was skating with only five forwards, which allowed us to see an awful lot of him, though his pace was slowed as the game went along. D’Antuono is an interesting player who is worth keeping tabs on this season. If a prep school can get him to repeat his junior year he will make an immediate impact.
Ross Colton, F, ’96 (New Jersey Rockets U16) 5-8/155 — Crafty and smart playmaker. Is undersized and has been passed over for USA Hockey Select Festivals – a mistake, in our opinion. Colton has a good mind for the game and a great skill set. Once the physical maturity comes along he will be regarded as one of the top ‘96s in the Atlantic District.
Tim Laroque, F, ’96 (Cape Cod Whalers U16) 5-11/165 — Fluid skater who has a lot of upside. You can tell he is still growing and has a lot of filling out to do. Once everything comes together he could develop into a D-I player. Plays for BC High.
Robert Hampton, F, ’97 (New Jersey Rockets U16) 5-11/160 — Late ’97 forward is tall, can skate, and has a crafty set of hands. If he were just two months younger and thus a ’98 scouts would view him in an entirely different perspective. Has the earmarks of a D-I prospect.
Ryan Conlin, F, ’96 (Team Comcast U16) 5-11/180 — A power forward with an explosive first step, Conlin also possesses a good sense of the game. He’s a north/south player who gets the puck to the front of the net.
Elijah Harris, G, ’97 (Valley Jr. Warriors U16) 5-8/150 — Is not blessed with a lot of size, but the Austin Prep starter is lightning quick. You are not going to find a sophomore goalie that can get from post-to-post as fast as he does. Has a ton of athleticism and is technically sound. Extremely competitive. Will fight the size battle for the rest of his career.
Colin McCabe, D, ’98 (East Coast Militia U16) 5-8/150 — Is a freshman at Thayer and will quickly put himself on the radar of D-I coaches. Has excellent speed and is assertive in the offensive zone. Will be running the Thayer PP in the not-too-distant future.
Chris Gratton, D, ’98 (Valley Forge Minutemen U16) 6-0/180 — Would have liked to watch him a little bit more, but in our brief viewing we can tell you that he has good size and uses it to his advantage. Gratton, who has a good stick and can get pucks on net, is considered to be one of the top ’98-born defenders in the country.
Matt Hoover, F, ’96 (Greater Boston Jr. Bruins U16) 5-8/165 — Brantford, Ontario native is a junior at Cushing this year. Plays the game hard, is extremely competitive and can really shoot it. Will need to improve his foot speed to attract the attention of D-I coaches, but our guess is that he will score a good amount of goals this season for the Penguins.
Corey Moriarty, D, ’95 (Greater Boston Jr. Bruins U19) 5-10/170 — We have seen GBL Bruins play a number of times and have never really honed in on the junior from Northfield -- Mt. Hermon. That said, the more you watch him the more you begin to appreciate his game. Moriarty has a great stick, makes crisp outlet passes, and never complicates the game. He has good feet and is capable of quarterbacking a PP. Could end up playing D-I hockey, but if he doesn’t he will be a top NESCAC recruit.
Richie Boyd, D, ’95 (Greater Boston League Jr. Bruins) 6-2/170 — Has had two brothers graduate from Cushing, RJ (Michigan State) and Sam (Connecticut Oilers-EJHL) and we can confidently say that Richie is far and away the best of the Boyd brothers. He is big, can skate, plays with an edge and processes the game much more quickly than either of his brothers. Will play D-I hockey. Right now he is playing a PP/offensive role, which we feel is likely not what he projects as. We see him as a physical, shutdown defender at the next level, but one who can really shoot a puck and will chip in with the odd goal.
Liam Feeney, D, ’95 (Neponset Valley River Rats U19) 6-2/195 — Keeps improving. Continues to grow and has excellent feet for a 6’2” defender. Plays a simple and subtle game, but is effective. Is a junior a Dexter.
Trevor Yates, F, ’95 (Neponset Valley River Rats U19) 6-1/195 — Watched the junior from Deerfield on Friday night against the GBL Bruins and the power forward was difficult to contain. A Montreal native, Yates is learning how to use his size and strength to his advantage.
Nolan Vesey, F, ’95 (Neponset Valley River Rats U19) 6-0/185 — A smart hockey player -- and also one who keeps getting bigger -- Vesey has a strong center of gravity and is difficult to move from the front of the net. It is difficult to ignore how much better his older brother, Jimmy, got between the ages of 17 and 20 and not think that Nolan could also be a late bloomer. By the way, Jimmy, the EJHL MVP last year, scored two goals and had an assist for Harvard in his college hockey debut on Saturday.
RJ Bishop, D, '94 (Connecticut Wolfpack U19) 6-0/185 – A senior at Trinity-Pawling, he led all blueliners on his team in scoring last season. Look for him to do the same again this year. Bishop has a good head on his shoulders, moves the puck up ice effectively, has good vision, and is capable of running a PP. Will likely fall right on the D-I/NESCAC bubble, but will be one of the top defensemen in prep hockey this year.
Lee to UMass
5’9”, 155 lb. LW Patrick Lee of the Brooks Bandits (AJHL) has committed to UMass for the fall of ’14.
A 10/8/94 from Calgary, Alberta, Lee has an 8-7-15 line in 13 games this season for Brooks. A late bloomer, Lee scores highlight reel goals – he’s a shooter. He needs to work on playing at a higher tempo, however, so he’ll be playing juniors again next year.
Lee, who visited UMass over the weekend and saw the Minutemen play BC, was also recruited by Ohio State and Mankato State.
This is his second year of juniors. Last year he didn’t make the Calgary Royals Midget AAA team – and wound up playing juniors for the whole season.
Ries Steps Down
New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association (NEPSIHA) President Dave Ries is stepping down after one and a half years.
This had been in the works for a while, and a new president should be named soon.
Ries, who works at Raytheon, says that, “Over the last ten months I have taken on significant new responsibilities at work, and my wife had our second child, who is now eight weeks old. There is no way I would have the time and energy to give the NEPSIHA job what it deserves, and also both coach at Brooks and be there for my family. Something had to give.”
Cornell’s Loss is Michigan’s Gain
6’2”, 180 lb. Victoria Grizzlies defenseman Nolan DeJong has decommitted from Cornell, opting for the University of Michigan instead.
This may appear like the classic modern “hockey decision,” i.e. a young kid choosing a Big 10 school and noted NHL production factory over an Ivy League education and the extra hours in the library that entails. However, that’s not exactly the case here, as the Victoria, BC native’s first choice all along was Cornell. The hitch lies in the fact that DeJong’s father owns his own business and, over the course of the last year his finances have seen a considerable improvement. This is great for his wallet, but under the Ivy system it means he can afford to pay more for his education. It came down to simple economics — pay a lot to go to Cornell, or take a full scholarship elsewhere. DeJong is taking the full scholarship elsewhere.
The suitors lined up quickly for the services of the left-shot defender and we are told he made his final decision between Michigan and Boston University. At the BCHL Showcase last month we ranked him #4 among BCHL defenseman and had this to say about him: “A Cornell recruit and Victoria, BC native, DeJong is big and has an excellent stick. He delivers the puck with authority and could be running the Big Red’s PP in the not too distant future. An adequate skater, he still has a lot of filling out to do. He could also be the first BCHL defenseman to hear his name called at the 2013 NHL draft (he’s a slightly safer pro prospect than Bo Pellah).”
Through 15 games this season the 3/25/95 birthdate has posted a 2-9-11 scoring line. NHL Central Scouting has him pegged as “B” prospect, meaning they feel he will likely be selected in the 2nd or 3rd round.
UConn Goes Back to the Farm
6’0”, 155 lb. Selects Hockey Academy U16 forward Karl El-Mir has committed to the University of Connecticut for the fall of ‘15.
The Quebec native as seen his stock rise since returning to the South Kent boarding school this fall. When asked to describe the left shot forward head coach Devin Rask says, “He’s agile and has great speed. He competes hard every game and has improved exponentially over the last year. He is one of our top scorers and is a leader on and off the ice.”
The 3/14/96 birthdate made his final decision between UConn and St. Lawrence. Providence and Quinnipiac also expressed interest in the junior forward. The Huskies have had a lot of success recruiting players out of Selects Hockey Academy landing El-Mir, Jason Salvaggio and Anthony Siderio all within the last two months.
Given UConn’s shift to Hockey East and the direction Selects Hockey Academy is headed in, we feel this is a wise strategic move by David Berard, a veteran recruiter.
A Nice Haul for the Gophers
Big blueliners Jack Glover and Ryan Collins, teammates last season at Minnesota Class AA champs Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and this season with the U.S. Under-17 Team have committed to the University of Minnesota for the fall of ’14.
Both are right shots. Glover is 6’3”, 173 lbs., a 5/17/96 birthdate, and a native of Golden Valley, Minn. Collins is 6’4”, 179 lbs., a 5/6/96 birthdate, and from Bloomington, Minn. Collins’ father, Dan, attended Connecticut College and played hockey for the Camels in the early ‘80s. His uncle, Jim Warner, was a forward at Colorado College in the ‘70s and reached the NHL, playing with the New England Whalers (WHA) and the Hartford Whalers (NHL) in the late ‘70s.
We ranked the two defensemen #3-4 at the U.S. Select 16 Camp this summer at Rochester, NY. This is what we had to say of Collins: 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.
Of Glover we wrote: 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.
Plenty New in Newington
Over the weekend, USHR headed down to Newington, Conn. to take in the action at what is officially known as the New England Prep League (NPL) but referred to by pretty much everyone as the Connecticut Fall Prep League. It was a good weekend, too, with the league putting on a two-day showcase. Not only did we get a look at the top new recruits from the Founders’ League and the Western Mass boarding schools but, to make the weekend more competitive and diverse, U16 and U18 teams from the US Elite Hockey League (Junior Bruins, Middlesex Islanders, Selects Academy, Hill Academy, Suffolk PAL, and the Jersey Hitmen) were brought in to spice things up. The U16 teams played strictly against each other while the U18 teams played each other on Saturday and then, on Sunday, faced the prep teams. And the games, we’re happy to report, were hard fought and played at a fast pace.
One observation from this showcase that we can’t avoid mentioning – it’s really the elephant in the room – is the fact that one of the NPL teams, The Big Green, is comprised entirely of players from Avon Old Farms. Yes, you heard that correctly: 23 players from Avon are playing games together, as a group, on weekends, throughout the fall. Furthermore, all of the Winged Beavers’ top players were on hand – or at least 95%. This was not the Winged Beavers JV.
Surely the above statement will raise the eyebrows of numerous prep coaches within New England. Some may accuse Avon head coach and former NEPSIHA president John Gardner of breaking the rules. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. Gardner, before entering his entire team in the fall league, asked for – and got – approval from current NEPSIHA president Dave Ries. And while the Big Green are the only team in the NPL composed solely of players from one school, they are not alone in deviating from NEPSIHA’s long-held gentlemen’s agreement dictating that only a small percentage of players from any one particular school could skate together on a single team in the fall. That’s all out the window now: The Black Bears (NPL) have 16 players from Salisbury, the Purple Eagles (NPL) have 14 players from Gunnery, and the Falcons (NPL) have 13 players from Kent.
What does this mean for the future of prep school hockey? It’s an important question, and a topic we plan to cover in extensive detail once we finish speaking with different coaches, ADs, and heads of schools over the next month or so. That said, we can almost guarantee that in the near future – likely next fall – Avon and perhaps other prep teams will be skating together as U-18 teams affiliated with the nearest local youth organization (Avon Youth Hockey, in this case) up until the official start of prep play in mid-November and then, if qualifying for Nationals, once again in March. No longer will players from schools adopting this model need to be fanning out across New England in order to play for split-season teams like the Connecticut Bobcats, Greater Boston Junior Bruins, Mid-Fairfield, etc.
Is this a good thing, a bad thing, or just an inevitable – perhaps necessary -- reaction to the specialization that is taking place in youth sports, and one dictated by the marketplace? Right now, prep schools, in competing for players with top U16 and U18 programs are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to hockey. Obviously, top prep schools offer an entirely different experience than a player can get back home, but, to get the top players from around the country, it’s necessary to offer something similar to Shattuck-St. Mary’s. What will be interesting to see is how the various heads of school and athletic directors respond to all this. Nothing happens without their imprimatur. We feel that the heads of more hockey-driven schools will probably sign on quickly, while the St. Grottlesex faction won’t even consider the notion, which could ultimately result in the creation of a de facto Div. I/Div. II split. The truth of the matter is that, wonderful exceptions like Brian Hart aside, hockey players rarely play fall sports anymore. They’re in a conditioning program at school – and then they head out to their midget teams on the weekends. So yes, it is very much within the realm of possibility that a prep school could win a NEPSAC championship in March and then, a few weeks later, a national U18 championship.
Our game is changing, that’s for sure. Stay tuned because this will be a hot-button issue for the foreseeable future.
Now, back to the business at hand. Here are the players who stood out in Newington this weekend:
Callum Booth, G, ’97 (Salisbury) 6-2/170 — “Great teams don’t rebuild, they reload.” It’s a cliché, but one that holds true when referring to Salisbury. When Justin Nichols left for Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) last spring head coach Andrew Will was left with a serious hole to fill. Well, consider it filled – and by one of the top ’97-born goalies in North America, no less. Booth was one of six goaltenders selected to participate in the NHLPA’s Allstate Insurance All-Canadians mentorship program — the Canadian equivalent of USA Hockey’s NTDP Final 40 camp. A Montreal, Quebec native, Booth will be a top pick in the QMJHL draft this spring and will then, just like Nichols, be forced to decide between the NCAA and the CHL. We only were able to see the athletic netminder play a 1/3 of a game, but his skill set is obvious and we are confident that he will see the majority of the minutes for Salisbury this season.
Nick Hutchinson, F, ’95 (Avon Old Farms) 6-2/180 — The former Long Island Royal is all about potential right now. Far a tall kid he has a nice set of mitts, sees the ice well, and is not shy about mixing it up and playing a gritty game. If he can add some strength and explosiveness to his skating, his game could really take off. A D-I prospect, Hutchinson will likely be listed by NHL Central Scouting and be tracked by NHL teams as a potential late-round pick.
Anthony Florentino, D, ’95 (Selects Academy) 6-2/217 — Passing up playing for the NTDP two years in a row to play prep and, now, U18 hockey certainly shows that Florentino is cut from a different mold than most of his contemporaries. The Providence College recruit is likely a lock to be drafted into the NHL in June and, along with Ryan Fitzgerald (Valley Junior Warriors-EJHL) and Tyler Hill (Hotchkiss), will compete to be the first New Englander to hear his name called. He did not play particularly well in the game we saw, but we have seen him enough over time to know he is a ball player. Florentino does it all. He can skate, he can shoot, he plays with his head up -- and he can be aggressive when needed.
Jason Salvaggio, F, ’94 (Selects Academy) 5-11/195 — We did not get a chance to see South Kent’s late bloomer last season but we were impressed with his skill level over the weekend. With his upside, UConn could have a steal on their hands. The 10/1/94 birthdate is in his draft year and is another player who will generate NHL interest.
Joe Masonius, D, ’97 (Hitmen U18) 5-11/160 — We have written a lot about the UNH recruit over the last few months in this space, so there is no need to repeat ourselves with another detailed report. Suffice to say, his command for the game at such a young age is impressive. Masonius will develop into a dynamic, offensive-minded, power play defenseman.
John Deroche, F, ’98 (Jr. Bruins U16) 5-3/120 — Here’s one to keep an eye on over the next few years. Deroche is small and has yet to physically mature, but his skill level is very good and there is a strong chance he will develop into a D-I player.
Adam Tracey, F, ’95 (Berkshire) 6-2/190 — Will make an immediate impact this year. Has a slick set of hands and a knack for scoring goals. Strong around the net and in scoring areas. Will likely be paired with Brown recruit Charlie Corcoran -- and the two will put up a lot of points.
Vincent Russo, F, ’94 (Avon Old Farms) 6-1/190 — Elite hands and vision. Very dangerous when he has the puck on his stick and the play is in front of him. Led Avon in scoring last season and will likely improve on his numbers this season. Has D-I skill. The Team Comcast alum needs to improve his speed and add a step.
Joe Caffrey, F, ’95 (Choate) 5-10/170 — Will be one of the top scorers in the Founders’ League. Intelligent player who has good speed and vision. Could end up making more of an impact for the Wild Boars than Alex Rauter (Omaha-USHL/Cornell) did last year as Caffrey is sound in all three zones. Should be on the recruiting list of Ivy League schools.
Daniel LaFontaine, F, ’95 (Avon Old Farms) 5-10/160 — The son of NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine is going to be a nice addition at Avon and will likely end up at a D-I school. Played with more grit this weekend than we have grown accustomed to seeing from him. Players on the other teams really seemed to be riding him and he responded well, finishing all of his checks, and scoring a few goals, too. He does have a bit of a temper and was goaded into taking some penalties. Plays a complete game, pays attention to detail, and is effective on the PP.
Matt Pugh, F, ’93 (Salisbury) 6-1/190 — A PG who graduated from BB&N last spring. Put up a 17-23-40 scoring line in 28 games for the Knights, and will be looked on to provide immediate offense for Salisbury. We feel the Watertown, Mass. native has a future in D-I hockey. He is big, strong, fast, and absolutely works his tail off. Has the ability to really grind opponents down. Pugh is someone you hate to play against — relentless.
Griff Martin, D, ’94 (Avon Old Farms) 6-1/195 — Was formerly committed to Yale and is now a free agent. The Connecticut native is getting D-I interest and with good reason. Passes the puck firmly and tape-to-tape. Will be able to play a complementary role on the PP at the next level. Will be Avon’s top defenseman this season.
Shane Starrett, G, ’94 (Selects Academy) 6-5/190 — Towers over the opposition. We did not get to see him in action as long as we would have liked, but there is no doubt that he is interesting. Played for Catholic Memorial last season and stood on his head against St. Sebastian’s, leading them to a 2-1 victory in a game we were in attendance at. Tons of upside here. His older brother, Peter, played defense (sparingly) at Harvard, and graduated this past spring.
Christian Short, G, ’95 (Canterbury) 6-3/180 — Did not start at Canterbury last year, but the Woodbridge, Ontario native appears ready for that role now. Moves well for his size and takes up a lot of net. Was impressive over the weekend.
Thomas Parizek, D, ’94 (Middlesex Islanders U18) 6-2/200 — We can’t quite figure out why Parizek is playing U18 instead of in the EJHL. We have seen him on at least three occasions now and each time he’s impressed us. For a big kid he can really skate, he carries the puck with confidence, and he makes a good first pass. We feel that he has D-I potential. Time will tell.
Evan & Mitchell Smith, F, ’96 (Salisbury) 5-11/180 — The twins from the Toronto Young Nationals (GTHL) are smart hockey players who can really hunt pucks down. They play well together and have a knack for finding one another. They play hard in all three zones and are complete players. There is not much that separates the two; it’s challenging to tell them apart on the ice.
Nicholas Quillan, D, ’96 (Gunnery) 5-11/185 — Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native and 3rd round pick of the Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL). Has a good stick and pushes the pace offensively. Makes a heads-up first pass and is good in transition. Is a bit of a wide-base skater. Will help fill the void left by the early departures of Dakota Ford (Middlesex-EJHL) and Cam Romoff (Portland-EJHL).
Hamilton Whyte, F, ’95 (Jr. Bruins U18) 6-2/180 — Big, strong, and can really fire the puck. Needs to work on his quickness; if he succeeds at that he will become a player to track closely. Right now he is a raw power forward with a scoring touch.
Robert Smits, F, ’95 (Selects Academy) 6-2/190 — An ox of a center. Good in the faceoff circle, protects the puck well, and is difficult to move when planted in front of the net. Will make for a good two-way shutdown forward at the next level.
Max Luukko, D, ’95 (Gunnery) 6-1/180 — Probably bigger than 6’1” and pretty smooth for his size. Right now, he is a bit of a project, but a good project to have. Has potential. Brother of Gunnery alum and current UVM defenseman Nick Luukko.
Wade Novak, F, ’97 (NJ Hitmen U16) 5-10/140 — Interesting player. High skill level. Good skater with a quick set of hands. Our guess is that his name will be one we hear a lot in the coming years.
Robert Demontis, F, ’96 (Hill U16) 5-9/158 — Played for the Vaughan Kings (GTHL) last year and was one of their top forwards. Good all-around skill level. Works on both sides of the puck. A coach’s player.
Bobo Carpenter, F, ’96 (Middlesex Islanders U18) 5-10/170 — Son of former St. John’s Prep and NHL star Bobby Carpenter, and younger brother of BC women’s star forward Alex Carpenter. Good bloodlines, we’d say. Bobo can really fire the puck. Plays with a lot of energy and is as tenacious as they come.
Dylan Bengston, F, ’94 (Selects Academy) 6-1/190 — Big, strong power forward who made plays. Just kept noticing him.
Danny Moynihan, F, ’95 (Middlesex Islanders U18) 6-0/175 — Had a nice goal while we were watching. Has a good stick and can really pick corners when shooting.
Jack McCarthy, F, ’96 (Junior Bruins U19/St. John’s Prep) — No doubt there is something here. Has a nice combination of size and skill—he just has to play with more consistency.
Bryan Lemos, F, ’96 (Jr. Bruins U18) 5-10/160 — Always makes plays and has a quick stick. Works hard and thrives in the tough ice. Is physically limited in terms of upside.
Joey Fallon, F, ’95 (Gunnery) 5-7/170 — A heart and soul player. Works extremely hard and will be a big piece of the Gunnery team. Will fight the size battle for the rest of his career. Was a big part of the Long Island Royals national championship team last year.
Cam Burke, F, ’99 (Jr. Bruins U18) 5-5/120 — Yes, we wrote that correctly—he’s a ’99 playing U16 hockey! The younger brother of Nobles sophomore forward Cal Burke is similar to his older brother in that his best attributes are his stick and his mind for the game. It was tough to get a read on his upside as he is not capable of creating a lot of offense against players two and three years older than he. We would like to see him with his own age group, and we are sure we will have plenty of time to do that in the upcoming years.
Dylan McCory, F, ’95 (Kent) 5-8/157 — Energy forward with a touch a skill. Should be a productive player at Kent this season. Along with Anthony Rinaldi, who was not here, the two should make an immediate impact.
Cody Champagne, D, ’94 (Avon Old Farms) 5-11/180 — Transferred from South Kent. Has excellent feet and will add some experience to the Avon blue line. Gets up and down the ice very well.
Willie Brooks, D, ’94 (Salisbury) 5-11/190 — Plays textbook defense and is difficult to beat in 1x1 situations. An underrated player who goes about his business without getting much recognition.
Tucker Weppner, G, ’96 (Avon Old Farms) 6-2/170 — Big goaltender from Amherst, NY has some big shoes to fill with all-league goaltender Michael Santaguida having graduated. The young netminder fills the net well and has some tools to work with.
Kai Frankville, D, ’94 (Gunnery) 5-9/185 — Good feet; makes a good first pass. A solid NESCAC-type recruit.
Heart of a Champion
Anyone who was lucky enough to see Tommy Cavanagh (March 24, 1982--Jan. 6, 2011) play – be it at Toll Gate High School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard, the AHL, or the NHL – will want to see this excellent, and moving, video.
U.S. Hopes for World Jr. A Challenge
The U.S. Roster for the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, which will be held Nov. 5-11 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, was released today.
Of the 22 players, 21 are from the USHL, and one, Valley Jr. Warriors forward Ryan Fitzgerald, is from the EJHL. Fitzgerald was named MVP of the USA Top Prospects game on Sept. 29 and was also a factor while playing for the US Under-18 Team in games against NCAA competition. Fitzgerald is the first EJHL player -- that we are aware of -- to have played in this tournament. (For the record, the BCHL has sent three: Mario Lucia and Mike Reilly last year, and Beau Bennett in ’09).
The U.S. won the tournament for three straight years -- 2008 in Camrose, Alb.; 2009 in Summerside, PEI; and 2010 in Penticton, BC – but last year, in Langley, BC, had to settle for the bronze medal.
Here’s the roster:
Goaltenders (2): Michael Bitzer (Lincoln), Eamon McAdam (Waterloo).
Defensemen (7): Ian Brady (Cedar Rapids), Mike Downing (Dubuque), Blake Heinrich (Sioux City), Dan Molenaar (Sioux City), Ian McCoshen (Waterloo), Jaccob Slavin (Chicago), Justin Woods (Lincoln).
Forwards (13): Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana), Taylor Cammarata (Waterloo), Austin Cangelosi (Youngstown), Sheldon Dries (Green Bay), Thomas Ebbing (Chicago), Ryan Fitzgerald (Valley Jr. Warriors – EJHL), Vince Hinostroza (Waterloo), Luke Johnson (Lincoln), Alex Kile (Green Bay), Justin Kloos (Waterloo), Nick Schilkey (Green Bay), J.T. Stenglein (Youngstown), Zach Stepan (Waterloo).
Click here for:
Printable roster with heights/weights, birthdates, and more
This is the seventh year of the tournament, and the sixth year the U.S. will be competing. After a couple of practices, the team will play an exhibition game on Nov. 3 before starting the tournament two days later. Head coach Brett Larson (Sioux City) and his assistants, Derek Lalonde (Green Bay) and R.J. Enga (Chicago), won’t have a lot of time to get the team to jell.
Up front, the squad is fast and tenacious, but small -- no player is over 6’0”. Among the forwards, Cangelosi and Hinostroza are returnees from last year’s team. Seven other forwards – Baillargeon, Cammarata, Dries, Johnson, Kile, Schilkey, and Stenglein are USHL vets who had success in the league last year. The forwards that ‘came out of nowhere’ and played their way onto the team were – and we’ll give you the teams they played on last season – Ebbing (Brother Rice HS – Michigan), Fitzgerald (Malden Catholic HS – Mass.), Kloos (Lakeville South HS – Minn.), and Stepan (Shattuck-St. Mary’s).
On the blue line, there were three easy picks in McCoshen, a returnee from last year’s team, Downing, and Slavin. McCoshen and Downing are both big, tough, defensive d-men. Slavin has size and smarts. Molenaar, who’ll help on the power play, and Brady (over 100 games) are both USHL vets. The defensemen who ‘came out of nowhere’ are Woods, a late bloomer who last year was playing for Fairbanks (NAHL); and Heinrich, who stepped out of Hill-Murray HS, adjusted quickly to the USHL and, in the early going, has been Sioux City’s best defensemen.
Of the two goaltenders, Waterloo’s McAdam, now in his second full season in the league, is the vet, the known commodity. The rookie is Bitzer, who, playing for the Moorhead Spuds, was the best goalie in Minnesota high school hockey last year.
The U.S. Schedule
Sat. Nov. 3 -- Canada West (exhib.)
Mon. Nov. 5 -- Canada East
Tues. Nov. 6 -- Switzerland
Thurs. Nov. 8 -- Quarters
Fri. Nov. 9 -- Semifinals
Sat. Nov. 10 -- 5th Place & Bronze medal game
Sun. Nov. 11 – Gold Medal Game
The U.S. is in a pool with Canada East and Switzerland.
The opposite pool consists of Canada West, Russia, and the Czech Republic.
Hockey Canada will be approaching the World Jr. A Challenge differently this year, opting for a pair of pre-tournament tryout camps, one in Toronto and one in Calgary – and both running simultaneously. The Canada East camp will feature the top 55-60 Jr. A players from the Maritimes, Ontario, and Quebec. They will start camp in Toronto on Sun. Oct. 28, and cut down the squad over the ensuing days. Those making the cut will head to Nova Scotia. The same thing will be going on in Calgary, with the top 55-60 players from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia fighting for spots on the Canada West team. You can be sure that just about every NCAA Div. I school will be sending one of their assistants to Calgary, and the other to Toronto.
Yet Another Commit From Team Comcast
5’11”, 170 lb. Team Comcast U18 forward Dylan Plitt has committed to the University of Vermont for the fall of ‘14.
The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native has posted a 6-7-13 scoring line through nine games played this season, good for 11th overall in the Tier 1 Elite League. A 5/1/94 birthdate, Plitt is in his second season with Comcast’s U18 team and was one of their top offensive weapons last season. He is a bit of a later bloomer as just two years ago, then playing for Comcast’s U16 team, he only managed a 1-6-7 scoring line in 29 games played. In a nutshell, he has gotten significantly better in a short period of time.
This is what we wrote about Plitt in March when he skated at the Spring Beantown Showcase: “We’d venture to say he is probably more like 5’10” as opposed to 6’0”, but he is fast and skilled. Will eventually be a D-I player, but is probably two years away from doing so.”
Plitt was rated as a “C” player in NHL Central Scouting’s “Players to Watch” list, meaning their staff feels he has the potential to be drafted in rounds 5-7.
Saints Land Buccaneer
5’9”, 165 lb. Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL) forward Michael Marnell has committed to St. Lawrence for the fall of ‘14.
The 5/18/95 birthdate and native of Huntington Station, New York won a national championship last season playing the Long Island Royals U16 team coached by Pat LaFontaine.
Marnell emerged in the second half of last season, becoming the Royals’ most consistent scoring threat down the stretch run. At Nationals in March, the diminutive forward was lights-out, scoring the biggest goal of the season, an OT winner over tournament favorite Chicago Mission. Had a tournament MVP award been handed out Marnell would have been the obvious choice. Here is what we had to say about him six months ago, “Came through with his best weekend of the season when it mattered most. Was productive, posting a 4-4-8 scoring line through six games played—including scoring his team’s 4th and 5th goals in an exciting 5-4 OT win vs. the Chicago Mission in the semifinals. Is on the small side, but has a quick first step, above-average vision and the ability to make plays at top speed.”
The strength of the Bucs rookie forward is the quickness of his hands and feet. He is ultra-shifty, can turn on a dime, and has the ability to make plays in tight spaces. To emerge as an impact player at the NCAA level he will need to get bigger, stronger and develop pull-away speed, something he lacks right now.
Through six games this season he has posted a 1-1-2 scoring line with nine shots on goal. A number of schools expressed interest, but the Saints were the first to make a significant offer. Marnell adds to an impressive recruiting coup up in Canton that features NHL prospect Gavin Bayruether (Cedar Rapids), USA U18 & U17 Selects alum RJ Gicewicz (Nichols) and up-and- coming star Michael Ederer (Nichols).
How Perfect Is This?
The wake for Chris Serino will be held at Malden Catholic High School; 99 Crystal St.; Malden, Mass. on Sun. Oct. 21 from 1-6 pm.
If we may say so, this is perfect. It’s home. Serino may be a Saugus guy who starred at Saugus High, but sometimes it’s about where you end up. And Serino, who had a way of making home wherever he was at the moment, ended up in style at MC. It was there where he rebuilt the hockey program to the point where, in a month or so, the Lancers will be getting ready to go after their third straight title. Quite a nice legacy to leave. Plus, on a purely practical level, it’s a large venue, hence everyone will be more comfortable.
The funeral will be held the following day, Mon. Oct. 22, at 10:00 am at St. Joseph’s Church; 790 Salem St., Malden, Mass.
Burial will be at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Mon. 10/15/12-- Updated Wed. 10/17/12
Minutemen Get Their Man
When John Micheletto and Joey Gasparini were assistants at the University of Vermont, they had their eyes on Ben Gallacher, a puck-moving power play defenseman playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. This was in the fall of ‘09 – three years ago. Things didn’t fall UVM’s way, however, and, several months later, the Calgary native, then playing for the Camrose Kodiaks, committed to Ohio State, then in its final year under John Markell.
After one more year in Camrose, Gallacher, a fourth round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL draft, arrived at Ohio State. But the Buckeyes staff that had recruited him was gone, and new head coach Mark Osiecki reportedly challenged the freshman, who had played for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, to be a key part of the Buckeyes blueline. Gallacher was not quite ready for the challenge, and took it the wrong way.
After the season, Gallacher, who is 5’11”, 185 lbs. and a 9/11/92 birthdate, left Ohio State and signed on to play this season in the USHL with the defending champion Green Bay Gamblers.
On Saturday, the night after the Minutemen’s home-opening win over UConn before 7,123 fans at the Mullins Center, Gasparini was in Green Bay to see Gallacher who, coming off shoulder surgery, was only playing his second game of the season. After watching the game (and after seeing Gallacher get a cross-checking major and a game misconduct in the third period), Gasparini got a commitment from the defenseman, who, as a 4-2-4 transfer, will arrive at UMass as a sophomore next fall (’13) and be eligible to play right away.
Not surprisingly for fourth round NHL draft pick with a full year of Div. I play under his belt, Gallacher was getting a lot of attention. Boston College, Michigan, Western Michigan, and Michigan Tech were among the schools onto him.
Gallacher, in his year at Ohio State, saw a lot of different campuses, but UMass wasn’t one of them. And he still hasn’t seen the UMass campus, but things are looking up there, there’s excitement in the air, and it has filtered down to the student body. Over 7,100 were on hand for the opener and the Mullins Center (capacity: 8,373) is already sold out for the next two weekends, for games against BC (Fri. 10/19) and BU (Sat. 10/27).
Update -- Wed. 10/17/12: As a result of the two third period cross-checks to a Cedar Rapids player referenced above, Ben Gallacher has been suspended 10 games by the USHL (Attempt to injure/Deliberate injury of opponents), and won't be eligible to suit up again until Nov. 16th. Gallacher was one of four Green Bay players to be suspended today. Forward Seth Blair (5 games), forward Sheldon Dries (3 games), and forward Ryan Siroky (1 game) will also be sitting. One Cedar Rapids player, forward Davy Middleton (3 games), was suspended. Most of the suspensions stemmed from a second-period line brawl.
Chris Serino Dies at 63
Chris Serino, a star three-sport athlete at Saugus (Mass.) High School who went on to make his mark as a head coach at Northfield-Mt. Hermon, as an assistant at UNH, and as head coach/AD at both Merrimack College and Malden Catholic High School, died peacefully shortly after 8:00 pm this evening at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, surrounded by his family. He was 63. The cause was complications from the same throat cancer that he courageously fought and overcame during the 2001-02 season, his fourth season as head coach at Merrimack.
Serino, after getting through the arduous treatment, would continue on at Merrimack for three more years before stepping down after the 2004-05 season and immediately embarking on a ‘second career’, taking over as AD and head hockey coach at Malden Catholic. While there, he was able to coach two of his sons, all the while steadily builing the program up. In 2010-11 the Lancers won the State Championship, edging St. John's Prep 4-3 in OT.
But several months later, in the summer of 2011, Serino, who was losing weight rapidly, was diagnosed with a serious case of double pneumonia, and was unable to go behind the bench for the ’11-12 season. John McLean took over on an interim basis for the year. Serino still came out to some games, but, between Christmas and New Year’s, his throat cancer, in remission for a decade, returned. The Malden Catholic team, who had dedicated the season to their coach, went on to repeat, with the title game taking place within the setting of their coach’s illness. Malden Catholic, with Serino in attendance, topped BC High, 3-1, putting an emotional exclamation point on Serino's career.
Funeral plans are being worked on and we’ll have more information tomorrow afternoon. Right now, it looks like the wake could be held either Friday or Saturday at Bisbee’s Funeral Home in Saugus, with the funeral service to follow.
Sun. 10/14/12 Updated
Record Number of Yanks in the CHL
We have completed our annual census of Americans playing major junior and, with 122, believe we have a new record. Last year we counted 110 at this time, and the year before, in ‘09-10, we counted 115 (at least two more U.S. players headed to the CHL during that season, setting the previous record.)
This season, breaking it down by leagues, we counted 42 Americans in the WHL, up from 29 last year. In the OHL, the numbers are down --- last year at this time there were 73 Americans in the league; this year it’s dropped to 64. In the Q, however, the numbers have doubled, from 8 to 16.
One other thing: this is a pretty strong group of players at the top end, and boasts depth as well. It could well be the strongest group of Americans ever playing in the CHL at one time.
Brandon Saad (on Saginaw's roster), and J.T. Miller (on Plymouth's roster) are both in the AHL, so we've removed them. We've also removed Eric Comrie (Tri-City) because, even though he played his youth hockey in the U.S. and his family lives in Newport Beach, California. So the number is down to 119. Rosters are fluid things, really just a snapshot in time, so let us know if you see anything else amiss.
Brandon Wheat Kings (0)
Calgary Hitmen (0)
Edmonton Oil Kings (2)
Henrik Samuelsson, ’94, F, Scottsdale, Arizona
Cody Corbett, ’93, D, Lakeland, Minnesota
Everett Silvertips (0)
Kamloops Blazers (1)
Chase Souto, ’94, F, Yorba Linda, California
Kelowna Rockets (2)
JT Barnett, ’92, F, Scottsdale, Arizona
Colten Martin, ’94, D, Arlington, Texas
Kootenay Ice (0)
Lethbridge Hurricanes (0)
Medicine Hat Tigers (4)
Steven Owre, ’96, F, Rocklin, California
Jacob Doty, ’93, F, Billings, Montana
Miles Koules, ’94. F, Los Angeles, California
Matt Staples, ’95, D, Coppell, Texas
Moose Jaw Warriors (0)
Portland Winterhawks (9)
Paul Bittner, ’96, F, Crookston, Minnesota
Chase De Leo, ’95, F, La Mirada, California
Keegan Iverson, ’96, F, St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Alex Schoenborn, ’95, F, Minot, North Dakota
Dominic Turgeon, ’96, F, Cherry Hills, Colorado
Seth Jones, ’94, D, Plano, Texas
Josh Hanson, ’94, D, Eagle River, Alaska
Brendan Burke, ’95, G, Scottsdale, Arizona
Mac Carruth, ’92, G, Shorewood, Minnesota
Prince Albert Raiders (0)
Prince George Cougars (3)
Zach Pochiro, ’94, F, Las Vegas, Nevada
Colin Jacobs, ’93, F, Coppell, Texas
Michael Mylchreest, ’95, D, Gilroy, California
Red Deer Rebels (1)
Brandon Underwood, ’92, D, San Marcos, California
Regina Pats (1)
Henry Hardarson, ’94, F, Phoenix, Arizona
Saskatoon Blades (1)
Shane McColgan, ’93, F, Manhattan Beach, California
Seattle Thunderbirds (3)
Tyler Alos, ’93, F, Spokane, Washington
Seth Swenson, ’93, F, Parker, Colorado
Kevin Wolf, ’96, D, St. Paul, Minnesota
Spokane Chiefs (3)
Liam Stewart, ’94, F, Hermosa Beach, California
Tanner Mort, ’93, D, Post Falls, Idaho
Adam Power, ’95, D, Post Falls, Idaho
Swift Current Broncos (3)
Tri-City Americans (4)
Beau McCue, ’95, F, Missoula, Montana
Justin Gutierrez, ’95, F, Anchorage, Alaska
Brian Williams, ’95, F, Claremont, California
xxx -- Eric Comrie, ’95, G, Newport Beach, CA
Vancouver Giants (2)
Trevor Cheek, ’92, F, Vancouver, Washington
Taylor Vickerman, ’96, F, Kennewick, Washington
Victoria Royals (6)
Ben Walker, ’93, F, Edina, Minnesota
Logan Nelson, ’93, F, Rogers, Minnesota
Austin Carroll, ’94, F, Scottsdale, Arizona
Taylor Crunk, ’95, F, San Jacinto, California
Brandon Fushimi, ’96, F, Thornton, Colorado
Jack Walker, ’96, D, Edina, Minnesota
Barrie Colts (1)
Alex Lepkowski, ’93, D, West Seneca, New York
Belleville Bulls (0)
Brampton Battalion (2)
Blake Clarke, ’96, F, Wildwood, Missouri
Dylan Blujus, ’94, D, Amherst, NY
Erie Otters (7)
Nick Betz, ’95, F, Clinton Township, Michigan
Mitchell Eisenberg, ’94, F, Raleigh, North Carolina
Nathan Glass, ’94, D, Weston, Florida
Jimmy McDowell, ’93, D, Dimondale, Michigan
Travis Wood, ’95, D, Hudson, Wisconsin
Troy Donnay, ’94, D, Fenton, Michigan
Devin Williams, ’95, G, Saginaw, Michigan
Guelph Storm (1)
Garrett Sparks, ’93, G, Elmhurst, Illinois
Kingston Frontenacs (2)
Trevor Morbeck, ’93, F, Jackson, Wisconsin
Ryan Hutchinson, ’95, D, Bloomingdale, Illinois
Kitchener Rangers (5)
Nick Czinder, ’92, F, West Bloomfield, Michigan
Darby Llewellyn, ’96, F, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Justin Bailey, ’95, F, Williamsville, New York
Max Iafrate, ’94, D, Livonia, Michigan
John Gibson, ’93, G, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
London Knights (2)
Alex Broadhurst, ’93, F, Oak Lawn, Illinois
Miles Liberati, ’95, D, Cheswick, Pennsylvania
Mississauga Steelheads (0)
Niagara IceDogs (1)
Aaron Haydon, ’96, D, Plymouth, Michigan
Oshawa Generals (5)
John Urbanic, ’95, F, Overland Park, Kansas
Tyler Biggs, ’93, F, Loveland, Ohio
Cole Cassels, ’95, F, Columbus, Ohio
Chris Carlisle, ’94, D, Fort Lee, New Jersey
Colin Suellentrop, ’93, D, Plantation, Florida
Ottawa 67’s (1)
Taylor Davis, ’95, D, Trenton, New Jersey
Owen Sound Attack (1)
Brandon Hope, ’95, G, Canton, Michigan
Peterborough Petes (2)
Chase Hatcher, ’94, F, Haddonfield, New Jersey
Greg Betzold, ’95, F, Bel Air, Maryland
Plymouth Whalers (11)
Cody Payne, ’94, F, Weston, Florida
Stefan Noesen, ’93, F, Plano, Texas
xxx -- JT Miller, ’93, F, East Palestine, Ohio
Danny Vanderwiel, ’95, F, Island Lake, Illinois
Ryan Hartman, ’94, F, West Dundee, Illinois
Alex Aleardi, ’92, F, Farmington Hills, Michigan
Nick Malysa, ’93, D, Bridgewater, New Jersey
Mitch Jones, ’95, D, Rochester, Michigan
Austin Levi, ’92, D, Aurora, Colorado
Connor Carrick, ’94, D, Orland Park, Illinois
Matt Mahalak, ’93, G, Monroe, Michigan
Alex Nedelijkovic, ’96, G, Parma, Ohio
Saginaw Spirit (8)
Garrett Ross, ’92, F, Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Jimmy Lodge, ’95, F, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
xxx -- Brandon Saad, ’92, F, Gibsonia, Pennsylvania
Vincent Trocheck, ’93, F, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sam Povorozniouk, ’95, F, Northbrook, Illinois
Brandon Archibald, ’92, D, Port Huron, Michigan
Grant Webermin, ’94, D, Novi, Michigan
Dalton Young, ’93, D, Marysville, Michigan
Ramon Lopez, ’95, D, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sarnia Sting (4)
Reid Boucher, ’93, F, Grand Ledge, Michigan
Bryan Moore, ’94, F, Indian Trail, North Carolina
Craig Duininck, ’93, D, St. Cloud, Minnesota
Anthony DeAngelo, ’95, D, Sewell, New Jersey
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (1)
Mark Petaccio, ’94, F, Sicklerville, New Jersey
Sudbury Wolves (2)
Michael Kantor, ’92, F, Lake Forrest, Illinois
Charlie Dodero, ’92, D, Bloomingdale, Illinois
Windsor Spitfires (6)
Ben Johnson, ’94, F, Calumet, Michigan
Brady Vail, ’94, F, Palm City, Florida
John Bowen, ’94, D, Auburn, New Jersey
Patrick Sieloff, ’94, D, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nick Ebert, ’94, D, Livingston, New Jersey
Saverio Posa, ’92, D, Grand Blanc, Michigan
Acadie Bathurst Titans (1)
Myles McGurty, ’94, D, Weehawken, New Jersey
Baie-Comeau Drakkar (1)
Chris Kravtchouk, ’93, F, Chicago, Illinois
Blainville Armada (1)
Stefan Matteau, ’94, F, Chicago, Illinois
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (0)
Chicoutimi Saguenéens (0)
Drummondville Voltigeurs (0)
Gatineau Olympiques (0)
Halifax Mooseheads (1)
Anthony Terenzio, ’93, G, New Canaan, Connecticut
Moncton Wildcats (0)
PEI Rocket (1)
Patrick McGrath, ’93, F, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Quebec Remparts (3)
Brandon Shea, ’95, F, Marshfield, Massachusetts
Adam Erne, ’95, F, West Haven, Connecticut
Duncan MacIntyre, ’96, D, Chicago, Illinois
Rimouski Océanic (0)
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (0)
Saint John Sea Dogs (1)
Steven Duda, ’94, D, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shawinigan Cataractes (4)
Alex Pawelcyzk, ’95, F, Richmond, Virginia
JC Campagna, ’93, F, Dallas, Texas
Dillon Donnelly, ’93, D, Amherst, New York
William King, ’94, G, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sherbrooke Phoenix (0)
Val-d'Or Foreurs (1)
Skyler Spiller, ’93, F, Pleasanton, California
Victoriaville Tigres (2)
Vytel Cote, ’95, D, Hollywood, Florida
Troy Vance, ’93, D, Goshen, New York
‘Mayor of Langley’ Coming to UConn
6’0”, 180 lb. Langley Rivermen (BCHL) RW Austin Azurdia has committed to UConn for the fall of ‘13.
A 7/27/93 birthdate from Wenatchee, Wash., Azurdia has a 7-4-11 line in 10 games played, which ties him in team scoring with Langley’s highly touted duo of ’92 forward Mario Puskarich and ’95 defenseman Bo Pellah.
Azurdia was the BCHL Player of the Week last weekend, and the must-see game-winning goal with under one second left that you will see in this clip is part of the reason why. And how about the Langley play-by-play man? He is the one who should run for mayor. Can you imagine the city council meetings? Scary.
Azurdia Highlight-Reel Goal
New England Fall Prep Hockey League
The U.S. Hockey Report traveled up to Salem, NH over the past weekend to get a taste of the New England Fall Prep Hockey League (NEFPHL). We left with mixed views. On the plus side – and of no small importance -- is the fact that there some talented players on hand. In addition, the league is well organized and gives the kids an excellent opportunity to get ice time before the season begins in November. The negative side? Well, compared to the positives, some fall on the picayune side of the ledger. Nonetheless, we have to point out that we felt the compete level to be low at times, player attendance was hit or miss and, at last on some teams, players’ jersey numbers didn’t match up with the names in the program – always an irritant to scouts and recruiters. Looking to future years, we also feel that, one way or another, the talent must be spread out more evenly through the league. If you look at the list below, it’s hard to miss the fact that half of the players we felt to be the best were drawn from just one of the league’s teams – i.e. Mass North, coached by league president Peter Ferriero. Two other teams, Mass East, comprised mainly of Belmont Hill and St. Sebastian’s players and coached by Dan Ronan; and Mass South, coached by Randy Wood, and featuring both of his sons, were solid. Breaking it all down, 17 of the 21 players we ranked came from those three teams – ten from Mass North, four from Mass East, and three from Mass Central. We understand the logistics of getting kids to and from boarding schools creates difficulty, but, somehow, for the league to truly reach its potential, a serious effort at creating parity must be undertaken.
The NEFPHL will be assembling an all-star team to play the Southern New England Fall Prep League All-Star Team at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena on Sun. Nov. 11 at 10:00 am. What we have done here is take a stab at predicting the league’s all-star team. Our methodology? We simply took what we saw this past weekend and combined it with our prior knowledge of the players. Please note that we were able to see each team play at least once (except Ulysse Prep), and have only ranked players who we got a chance to see over the weekend. We chose 21 players (13 F, 6 D, 2 G). Some are young and, when it comes to all-star consideration, may get overlooked in favor of older players who need a showcase viewing. We should also point out that there were some fine players who were missing from the weekend’s action. Examples would include Governor’s senior Ryan Scarfo, Kimball Union senior Doyle Somerby (Round 5, NY Islanders), Cushing senior Garrett Hehir, and ’97-born sophomore Austin Rook (Rivers). Since they were not here, they are not ranked. No doubt other players talented enough to make the all-star team were also missing. We understand they likely had other obligations, but we can only go with what we see. At any rate, here’s what we came up with. Enjoy.
1. Carl Hesler, 6/17/94, Sr. (Belmont Hill/Mass East) 5-11/185 — Dartmouth recruit looks to be on the verge of a breakout season. Belmont Hill was strong last season and Hesler led the team in scoring with a 12-18-30 scoring line in 31 games played. We feel he will approach the 40-50 point plateau this season and be one the ISL’s top scoring threats.
2. Brian Pinho, 5/11/95, Sr. (St. John’s Prep/Public-Catholic) — Providence’s most recent recruit will look to lead the Catholic Conference in scoring this season. Keeps improving. NHL scouts will keep an eye on him this season, but being drafted could be a long shot.
3. Nathan Ferriero, 8/28/94, Sr. (Governor’s/Mass North) 5-9/175 — Northeastern recruit has a lot of skill and will pile up points in his senior year. Does not have the size of his older brothers Ben (San Jose-NHL) and Cody (Northeastern), but everything else is very comparable. If he can play smart and consistently throughout the entire season he too will be atop the scoring charts in prep hockey.
4. Miles Wood, 9/13/95, Soph. (Nobles/Mass South) — The top newcomer to prep hockey that we saw at the NEFPHL. We saw the 9/13/95 birthdate at the Select 17 festival this summer and liked him there, but it appears he’s already grown an inch or so since then. Has high-end potential. The former Salem Icedog (Empire) will look to fill a void at Nobles created by the departures of Adam Gilmour (Muskegon-USHL) and Chris Calnan (South Shore-EJHL).
5. Nick Roberto, 4/4/94, Sr. (Kimball Union/Mass North) 5-9/170 — Maine recruit is a gritty forward who can really shoot a puck. Will likely not play a skill role up in Orono, but he certainly will this season at KUA. Is at his best when playing with a lot of energy and getting to loose pucks.
6. Tommy Kelley, 9/15/94, Sr. (St. Sebastian’s/Mass North) 5-10/185 — All-purpose forward will be very valuable to the Arrows this season. At the prep level he will play in every situation. Plays with a lot of heart and energy. A borderline D-I player who will certainly get a lot of looks this season.
7. Will Golonka, 2/2/95, Jr. (Belmont Hill/Mass East) 5-10/165 — Has a good head on his shoulders. Is not blessed with blazing speed or superior size, but he thinks the game well and has a quick stick. Created a lot of offense with Hesler; the two will likely do the same all season long. Will likely get D-I consideration, but could also be a great NESCAC player.
8. Dan Doherty, 4/28/94, Sr. (Belmont Hill/Mass North) 6-2/185 — A solid hockey player with some upside. For a big kid he is a fluid skater and is figuring out how to use his size to his advantage. Was good around the net and protected the puck well.
9. John Cross, 11/19/94, Sr. (Exeter/Mass North) 5-10/170 — Is Exeter’s leading returning scorer (26 GP, 17-15-32) as head coach Dana Barbin has lost his top five point producers from last season’s squad. Smart, crafty and skilled. The Quebec City native will be a top recruit among the NESCAC schools.
10. Tyler Bird, 8/14/96, Jr. (St. John’s Prep/Mass North) 6-2/194 — Tall, lanky forward is a work in progress. Did not look particularly great on Sunday when we saw him, but his potential is obvious. Has raised his stock significantly since the end of last season and will be watched closely this winter by Hockey East and ECAC schools.
11. Mike Najjar, 10/19/93, Sr. (Belmont Hill/Mass East) 5-11/177 — 19-year-old senior is entering his fourth season on the Belmont Hill Varsity team and has played a part in 61 wins over his first three years. Was second on team scoring last year producing a 13-15-28 scoring line through 31 games played.
12. James Winkler, 4/22/96, Jr. (Berwick/Mass Central) 6-2/175 — Tall forward has a very long wingspan and a soft set of hands. We think he could develop into a D-I player when he fills out and figures out how to use his size and reach to be a power forward. Very intriguing.
13. Colby Cretella, 12/4/94, PG (Exeter/Mass North) 5-10/170 — Looked out of sync here. Was working hard but not accomplishing a lot. That said, the Connecticut high school state MVP has some skill and potential. Led Notre Dame-West Haven to a state title last year. Certainly will not fill the shoes of Matt Beattie or Brian Hart, but it will be interesting to see how he performs once he settles into the much faster pace of New England prep hockey.
1. Alex Carle, 5/26/94, Sr. (Kimball Union/Mass North) 5-11/190 — The best defender we saw here by a wide margin. Very surprised a D-I team has not scooped him up yet. Polished rear guard has decent size, poise, and vision with the puck -- and quick-twitch muscles. Certainly will be a candidate for USHR Prep Defenseman of the Year.
2. Philippe Johansson, 9/8/94, Sr. (Holderness/Northern New England) 6-1/185 — Put himself on the map with a strong showing at the Summer Beantown. With Gavin Bayreuther (Cedar Rapids-USHL) out the picture it will be up to the St. Lazare, Quebec native to lead Holderness’s D-corps. Is big, strong and can skate. Will get D-I interest this year.
3. Charlie Barrow, 4/11/96, Soph. (Belmont Hill/Mass East) 5-10/155 — Played on the Belmont Hill freshman team last year. Has excellent puck skills and vision. Will likely run the PP for the next three seasons for the varsity team. Just has to get bigger and stronger, which will come in time.
4. Liam Darcy, 2/26/97, Soph. (Berwick/Mass Central) 5-11/160 — UNH recruit exhibits a ton of confidence for a 16-year-old kid. Has a great sense of the game and an excellent stick. Berwick’s MVP as a freshman last year.
5. Tyler Wood, 3/23/94, Sr. (Nobles/Mass South) 6-2/200 — Brown recruit has the physical tools to be a pro. Has improved dramatically over the past two years. Puck skills and decision-making still need work. Will be interesting to see how he handles being the Bulldogs’ top defender with the departures of stalwarts Tim Boyle, Phil Sciretta and PJ Falvey.
6. Conner Evangelista, 7/21/93, Sr. (Kimball Union/Mass North) 5-9/170 — A top-notch prep school defenseman. Will give KUA head coach Mike Levine a lot of good miles this season. Moves the puck well and is capable of playing in every situation at this level. May get some D-I interest, otherwise he will be a top D-III recruit.
1. Eric Bogart, 6/5/95, Sr. (Kimball Union/Mass South) 6-5/189 — London, Ontario native is certainly interesting. Played the majority of KUA’s minutes last season. Takes up a lot of net.
2. Brendan McMenimen, 4/5/95, Sr. (Governor’s/Mass North) 6-2/200 — Big, thick netminder is improving. Held his own at the Select 17 Festival over the summer. Will play a lot of minutes this season and Gov’s will only go as far as he takes them.
Out West This Weekend
The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs USHL Showcase is set to begin today in Hooksett, NH, but two of the league’s marquee players will be missing, as forwards Ryan Fitzgerald (Valley Junior Warriors) and Frankie Vatrano (Junior Bruins) will be out west, with the U.S. Under-18 Team, preparing to play at the University of North Dakota Friday and Bemidji State Saturday.
Both Fitzgerald and Vatrano are ‘94s, thus are not Under-18s. In games against college teams – and junior teams, too, for that matter – that is a moot point. However, it is a new tack for the NTDP. In these situations in the past they limited their call-ups to Under-18s.
Fitzgerald is actually playing his second weekend with the Under-18 team, having skated with them at Wisconsin on Oct. 6, a 5-0 loss, and at Notre Dame on Oct. 7, a 1-1 tie. The BC recruit will return to the Valley Warriors after this weekend’s games.
Vatrano, who spent two years with the NTDP, is arriving for this weekend’s games and will stay through next weekend, so he’ll be in uniform when the Under-18 Team comes east for the first time this season. They’ll be at Cornell on Fri. Oct. 19, and at Oswego State the following night. Vatrano has a 3-2-5 line in four games with the Junior Bruins so far this season.
Also playing with the Under-18 Team on an interim basis is Edina HS forward Connor Hurley, a ’95. He joined the team Oct. 1 and, like Fitzgerald, will be returning home after this weekend.
All of this shuffling comes as a result of injuries to forwards J.T. Compher, Dawson Cook, and John Hayden.
By the way, in case you missed it, Fitzgerald, who has a 1-7-8 line in five games with the Valley Warriors this season, was named MVP of the USA Hockey Prospects game in Buffalo, NY on Sept. 29, assisting on three of his team’s five goals and winning 10 of 14 draws.
“People haven’t seen me play against these type of kids and I just wanted to show I can hang with the big boys out here and just play with the best,” the former Malden Catholic star said afterward. “You don’t have to move away to showcase your skills.”
Masonius to UNH
5’11”, 175 lb. Jersey Hitmen U18 left shot defenseman Joe Masonius has committed to the University of New Hampshire for the fall of ’15.
A 2/17/97 birthdate and a native of Spring Lake, NJ, Masonius also plays for Christian Brothers Academy.
Masonius is one of the top ’97 d-men in the U.S., which is saying something because we’re talking about a deep group, with guys like Noah Hanifin, Zach Werenski, Casey Fitzgerald, Christian Evers, Vas Kolias, et al. Some of those guys are obvious slam dunks should they choose to go to Ann Arbor, but there should be some good battles for spots, and it’s always possible that a contender or two comes out of nowhere as the season moves along. At any rate, Masonius is legit.
In July, at the Select 15 Festival in Rochester, we ranked him #7 among all defensemen. His strength is his skating, which is phenomenal. He has a great stride, exceptional agility, plays physically, with confidence, and has a ton of offensive upside. Right now, he’s a wild horse who is all over the ice. He'll have to rein in his game as he goes up against stronger competition. Right now, with his skating, he can get back and cover a lot of his defensive mistakes. He’s very athletic, and spends as much of his summer surfing on the Jersey Shore as he can. He's reported to be quite good, too. And his hometown is right on the ocean.
A number of schools were interested in Masonius, but his final choice came down to UNH, Penn State, and Quinnipiac.
Two Commit, and One Decommits
Today, we have two commitments, and one decommitment – a proportion that seems to reflect the times we live in.
Both the commitment and the decommitment come from UMass-Lowell.
Committing to the RiverHawks -- for either the fall of ‘14 or ‘15 -- is 6’1”, 185 lb. Team Comcast U18 defenseman Tommy Panico.
The 3/24/95 birthdate from Manasquan, NJ, who played for the New Jersey Titans U16 team last season, has flown under the radar for a while – e.g., he’s never made it to a USA Hockey Select Festival. However, he’s improved by leaps and bounds over the past year. We first took note of the rangy blueliner at the Liberty Bell Games over the summer, writing at the time:“ (Panico) is a good-sized defender with a long stride and the ability to move the puck up the ice efficiently. Is a bit raw right now and still has a long way to go, but is certainly worth keeping an eye on. Will play for Team Comcast U18 in the fall.”
Panico has posted a 3-4-7 scoring line through eight games played this year. Next season, he will take his talents to the junior level where he wishes to play in either the USHL or the BCHL. The big defender is someone who will likely pop up on NHL Central Scouting’s radar because of his size, skating ability and the fact that he is rapidly improving. Other schools in the mix for his services were UMass-Amherst and Providence.
It should be noted that Comcast it set up to make a run at a national championship. With Panico, Ken Citron (Colgate), Kevin Kerr (Penn State) and Kevin Neiley (Dartmouth) already committed to D-I schools and Dylan Plitt, Dwyer Tschantz, Keith Calvaruso, and Ron Greco all getting interest, the shelves are as stocked as they ever will be in Voorhees, NJ. Long time Comcast head coach Jared Beach lost in the national title game at the U16 level back in 2009 and has been itching to get back on the big stage ever since. Shattuck, the defending champs, are usually the favorite to take the crown at the U18 level, but Comcast might be able to give them a run for their money.
-- Decommitting from UMass-Lowell is 6’0”, 200 lb. Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) forward J.T. Stenglein, a fall ’13 recruit who is currently second in scoring in the USHL (5-2-7 in four games), trailing only teammate Austin Cangelosi, who has 10 points thus far.
A native of Greece, NY, a suburb of Rochester, Stenglein committed to Lowell this past January. A 7/11/93 birthdate, he finished up with 51 points last season. This is his third year in the league. Before going to the USHL, he played in the Maksymum organization.
5’11”, 180 lb. West Kelowna (BCHL) forward Brett McKinnon has committed to Holy Cross for next fall.
McKinnon is a significant get for the Crusaders as the Kelowna, BC native will make an immediate impact. So far this season the 10/16/92 birthdate has posted a 4-6-10 scoring line in only nine games played. After watching the BCHL Showcase last month we felt he was among the league’s top forwards. Our notes: “Plays the game hard. (McKinnon) is a tough player who is tenacious on the puck. Had a monster weekend and currently leads the league in scoring with a 2-4-6 scoring line in two games played. Will have a hard time keeping his current scoring pace up.”
Holy Cross assistant coach Jason Guerriero was on hand at the showcase and moved quickly in recruiting him before others could really get involved. McKinnon, a third year BCHL veteran, is also reported to have strong leadership abilities
A Defenseman for Colgate
6’1”, 190 lb. Team Comcast U18 defenseman Ken Citron has committed to Colgate for 2015.
The 5/19/95 birthdate is the third member of his team to commit to a D-I school, joining Kevin Kerr (Penn State) and Kevin Neiley (Dartmouth). So far this season the former Lawrenceville School defender has posted a 1-4-5 scoring line through eight games played.
A native of Hartsdale, NY, Citron has a lot of talent, but is very raw. A powerful skater, he plays an up-tempo game and is aggressive in his own end. While he plays an offensive role at the U18 level, we see him as more of a puck-moving, shutdown defender at the college level.
Citron will either play his junior hockey in the USHL or the BCHL. Other schools he visited were Princeton, Union, Yale and Dartmouth.
A Point Machine
5’7”, 182 lb. RW Michael Pontarelli, who led New England prep schools in scoring last winter with a 45-31-76 line in 27 games while a junior co-captain at St. Mark’s School, has committed to Union College for the fall of ’14.
Pontarelli, who was asked to leave St. Mark’s in June due to an incident involving the purchasing of alcohol, is a 12/22/93 birthdate from Laval, Quebec. This season, Pontarelli is in Ontario playing Tier II for the Cornwall Colts (CCHL). He has missed seven games in the early going with a case of mono, but he is still his team’s second-leading scorer with a 5-5-10 line in only four games played. (If measuring on a points-per-game basis, Pontarelli is the #1 scorer on the Colts – and, for that matter, the league too.)
A pure offensive player, Pontarelli has really quick hands and can stickhandle in a phone booth. His shot is not hard, but he has a quick release and great accuracy – he does not miss the net. On the powerplay, he’s lethal.
Pontarelli has to learn how to become better defensively. His skating is not great, but in the smaller rinks of the ECAC he will be fine. After he finishes his senior year this season, he will have another year in which to continue working on his skating, his strength, and his defensive play.
All the qualities he lacks are things he can work on. What Pontarelli has in his favor is a dimension: a proven ability to put up a lot of points. Union is betting on that skill carrying over to ECAC play.
Reportedly, the Union staff did due diligence on checking out Pontarelli in light of his dismissal from St. Mark’s and found that everyone speaks highly of the 18-year-old. His coach at St. Mark’s, former NHLer Scott Young, is a huge supporter. Pontarelli wasn’t a co-captain as a junior for nothing.
Sacred Heart reportedly recruited him hard as well.
Salvaggio's Fast Start Gets Desired Result
6’0”, 187 lb. senior LW Jason Salvaggio of the South Kent Selects U-18 Team has committed to UConn for the fall of ’14.
A 10/1/94 birthdate from Hanson, Mass., Salvaggio played for Xaverian HS before arriving at South Kent as a true junior last year.
In the early going this season, Salvaggio has been on fire, and leads the prep team in scoring with a 17-7-24 line in 13 games played.
“He’s an up-and-down the wing type with pretty good size,” says his coach, Matt Plante. “He plays a very good north-south style of game and possesses a wicked release to his shot. This year he’s really identified his strength as a player. He’s looking to shoot more and to get in good shooting areas. He can grind, he’s physical, he’s around the puck a lot, and he plays with energy and jam. He flew under the radar for awhile, but now he's really started to blossom. UConn got him at the right time.”
In NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list, released two weeks ago, Salvaggio was ranked as a “C” prospect, meaning Central sees him as a having 4th to 7th round potential.
Salvaggio will play in the USHL for a year before matriculating at UConn.