Masters, Tremblay Unveil Eastern ‘Superleague’
For years, veteran EJHL coaches Peter Masters and Sean Tremblay have been kicking around various ideas they felt would bring a higher level of junior hockey to the Northeast.
Today, in a move that is bound to shake things up throughout the junior hockey ranks, the pair officially unveiled a brand-new league – the U.S. Premier Hockey League (USPHL).
In addition to Masters’ Junior Bruins, and Tremblay’s Middlesex Islanders, the Jersey Hitmen and the South Shore Kings comprise the first four franchises in the Premier League. Play will begin plain September of ’13 – less than 10 months from now.
In Year One, the league will likely operate with 8-9 franchises, and then add 3-4 more for Year Two. Masters and Tremblay envision a 12-team circuit. With the deadline for applications Jan. 1, the league should come into focus fairly quickly.
The four above-named teams will keep their existing franchises in the EJHL, which is expected to continue as a 14-team loop. “The 22 best players in our organization will be in the USPHL,” Masters said, “but we expect our EJHL team to continue to be strong.”
Each of the four newly-minted Premier League teams also has U.S. Elite Hockey League (USEHL) teams currently playing at both the U18 and U16 levels, so will, in essence, simply be layering a junior team above the structure that already exists. The current U18 and U16-level U.S. Elite Hockey League name will be retired, and rechristened as the Premier League U18, U16 etc. Both of those leagues, planned as feeder systems, will expand significantly. The U18s are projected to go from its current 8 teams to anywhere between 12-18. There could also be as many as 20 teams at the U16 level, jumping from the current 7 teams.
In addition, the EJHL teams coming into the Premier League are expected to continue with their Empire League teams.
All organizations applying to enter a team at the new junior level will be required to ice teams at every level from mites to juniors in order to comply with USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM).
The Premier League, Masters points out, will be the first junior league to make this a requirement for membership. As for USA Hockey, the league is currently going through the bureaucratic hurdles necessary in order to become sanctioned.
There will be a lot of speculation about which organizations will apply for – and win – franchises in the new league. Look for two additional current EJHL organizations to win invitations. The Bay State Breakers and Portland Pirates will be candidates, and the Rochester Stars, Springfield Pics, and New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs are expected to apply as well.
Going outside the current EJHL, the Connecticut Yankees and Suffolk PAL, two well-heeled organizations that currently have teams in the U.S. Elite Hockey League at the U16 and/or U18 levels, look to be very strong candidates.
Team Comcast, the strongest organization in the Philadelphia area, is believed to have significant interest.
The Buffalo Jr. Sabres, currently committed to the Ontario Provincial League through ’13-14, might find a Northeast U.S.-based league more conducive to their goals. A brand new two-sheet facility, in the shadow of the First Niagara Center, is going to be ready by ’14 as well.
Other possibilities for the Premier League might include Youngstown, Ohio. The city’s USHL team is for sale and looks to be moving to Louisville, leaving an opening.
Time will tell exactly who gets franchises. Meanwhile, a layer of intrigue revolves around the opposition to the league, which is likely to come from most -- if not all -- other junior leagues, as they might see the new league as potentially choking off the supply of players from the East.
The impetus for the new league, Masters says, came from the USHL and NAHL pushing to get into the New England/Mid-Atlantic market. “That pushed us to offer upgraded alternatives for the elite players in the area.”
Another impetus, Masters says, revolved around battles within the EJHL, which will leave some longtime EJHL franchises on the outside looking in – and some bruised feelings. “There were disagreements over the direction of the league in the last couple of years. The main issues were team relocation, the league schedule, and expansion.”
While Masters and Tremblay did the lion’s hare of the legwork in putting the new league together, they will soon have to name a commissioner.
“Sean and I have been talking about this – an Eastern superleague -- in various forms for years,” Master says. “Until we name a commissioner we will continue to handle the applications, phone calls, and speaking out on behalf of the league.”
“But today,” he added, “it has all finally materialized.”
Older Freshman for the Bears
Brown has a commitment from 6’3”, 198 lb. Cedar Rapids (USHL) forward Davey Middleton for fall ‘13.
Middleton, in his third year in the league, has soft hands, a hard shot, and decent feet. The former Detroit Catholic Central HS forward from Novi, Mich. was #10 on our late September list of Top 25 Uncommitted USHL Players.
This season, Middleton, a late bloomer – he's a 5/21/92 birthdate who will arrive at Brown as a 21-year-old freshman – has a 2-7-9 line in 15 games played. He was suspended three games for his role in an Oct. 13th line brawl vs. Green Bay.
Speaking of that Oct. 13th line brawl, Green Bay defenseman – and UMass recruit -- Ben Gallacher, who had just returned to the Gamblers’ lineup the previous night after missing the first four games of the season due to injury, was suspended 10 games for a cross check to the face of a Cedar Rapids player in that game. The league later reduced it to eight games, and Gallacher, a Florida Panthers draft pick who had played one year at Ohio State, returned to action on Nov. 10th. On his third game back, same thing – cross-checking major, game misconduct -- and another eight game suspension from the league. When Gallacher is eligible to return – on Dec. 21-- he will have missed 20 of his team’s first 25 games (four to injury, and 16 to suspension).
-- Harvard goalie Steven Michalek reported to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders this week and made his USHL debut last night, losing 6-5 in OT to the Chicago Steel. Michalek, who has not appeared with the Crimson this season, reportedly due to academic issues, faced 27 shots and stopped 21, though he is said to have gotten little help from his d-men in his first official action since last winter. The winning goal was scored on a breakaway.
-- Cushing freshman forward Cam Askew, a ’97 birthdate, has decommitted from Northeastern. It's hardly surprising -- Askew committed to the Huskies last season, while just an 8th grader at St. Sebastian’s.
Founders' League Jamboree Results
-- @ The Taft School; Watertown, Conn.
Games consisted of 30-minute running time halves, with clock stoppages for penalties. All games were scrimmages.
Rink 1 (Mays Rink):
2:00 pm -- Avon 2, Kent 2
3:45 pm -- Westminster 5, Hotchkiss 0
5:30 pm -- Salisbury 4, Loomis 3
Rink 2 (Odden Arena):
2:00 pm -- Trinity-Pawling 1, Choate 1
3:45 pm -- Deerfield 2, Taft 0
5:30 pm -- Taft 7, Kingswood-Oxford 0
A Look at St. Paul's, Berkshire Jamborees
USHR was up in New Hampshire for the St. Paul’s School Jamboree on Sunday and then made it out to far Western Mass on Monday for the Piatelli Jamboree at the Berkshire School. In writing about players at these two events, we are trying to avoid repetition thus, while there were good players on hand that we have recently written favorably of, we instead focused our attention on the play of some prep newcomers. While doing so, some veterans forced our hand, allowing us to happily upgrade our opinions of their game.
Lewis Zerter-Gossage, F, Jr. (Kent) 6-2/178 — The big Montreal native has a lot of tools and garnered a lot of attention at Berkshire. His feet have a long way to go, but he has a great stick, sees the ice well, and has excellent poise. For our money he was Kent’s top player. Played last season in the Quebec Midget AAA loop for Laval and was one of the top scorers in the league. Reminds us of current Yale forward Antoine Laganiere at the same age, back when he was playing at Deerfield Academy.
David Storto, F, Jr. (St. Paul’s) 5-10/160 — Mascouche, Quebec native has a good chance to lead St. Paul’s in scoring this season. In a 2-2 tie against Loomis on Sunday night the former College Esther-Blondin forward had both goals. Has quick feet and an equally quick stick. Needs to add some weight to his frame, but should attract the attention of D-I schools.
Adam Tracey, F, Jr. (Berkshire) 6-2/196 — Is centering the Bears 2nd line, but we think it is only a matter of time before he is moved up. Does not have blazing speed, but is very intelligent and as head coach Dan Driscoll stated, “The puck just seems to find him. He could come out with a loose puck in a 20-car pile-up.”
Craig Puffer, F, Jr. (Berkshire) 5-8/165 — We noticed the small forward last season, but this year he is playing on the top line and is in a starring role. Was the top forward in the game we watched. Is a relentless forechecker who created numerous turnovers. Makes smart decisions with the puck and looks to set up his teammates more often than not. Fun to watch.
Mike Ederer, F, Jr. (Nichols) 5-11/166 — St. Lawrence recruit continues to improve. Can really shoot the puck. Has a goal scorer’s release. Is someone we think will attract NHL interest next season.
Mason Evans, D, Sr. (Nichols) 5-11/186 — Can really zip the puck around. Looked great on the Nichols PP. Is not someone who really jumps out at you, but the more you watch him the more you like him. Keeps his head up and makes a good pass.
Matt O’Donnell, D, Jr. (Loomis Chaffee) 5-10/180 — Part of an impressive group of new core players brought in by second-year head coach JR Zavisza. Has a good stick and distributes the puck with some zip. Looks right at home quarterbacking the PP. Might have some D-I limitations, but at this level is a very good player.
Alex Esposito, F, Soph. (Loomis Chaffee) 5-11/180 — Skilled forward is the likely candidate to lead the revamped Pelicans in scoring. With three seasons ahead of him, he may well become a D-I player.
Carlos Fornaris, F, Jr (NMH) 5-8/160 — Is probably a little small and slight right now to be offered a D-I scholarship, but boy is the Miami, Florida native crafty. Is as slippery as they come, and is very effective in high-traffic areas. Plays with an edge and is not shy to mix it up. Needs to get bigger and stronger, but will no doubt put up a ton of points over the next two seasons.
Corey Moriarty, D, Jr. (NMH) 5-10/165 — Is on the smaller side, but the Estero, Florida native is reliable with the puck on his stick. Is clearly the Hoggers #1 defenseman. Has good vision. Is a good skater and a solid defender.
Conner Collier, D, Jr. (Canterbury) 5-11/193 — Is one of those players who does everything well, but not one thing great. More of a ham-and-egger who can skate, defend, and make a good first pass. Has already found his way onto the top D pairing with senior Daniel Fritz.
Mark Bowen, F, Jr. (Canterbury) 5-8/165 — Most likely will end up at a NESCAC school, but this kid is going to have a good prep school career. Is already his team’s top playmaker. Creates a lot of offense, especially in tight.
Erik Foley, F, Fr. (Tabor) — We don’t have a height and weight on him yet, but we can tell you that the ’97-born forward is big and has skill. Is at his best when putting his shoulder down and driving to the net. Mansfield, Mass native is a good find by Tabor head coach Gerry Dineen.
Zach Sabatini, F, Sr. (Tabor) 5-9/160 — A very good recruit for Sacred Heart University and a strong candidate to be one of the top scorers in prep hockey. Was dominant in the game we saw against Canterbury. Can really fly. Makes plays at top speed.
Corey Mackin, F, Sr. (Northwood) 5-8/160 — First-year player at Northwood has found himself on the first line and is already being relied upon to generate a good portion of the offense. Does not have a lot of upside, but he does the best with what he has. Works his tail off, pursues pucks and has a quick stick.
Sebastian Foster, F, Jr. (Brunswick) 5-11/170 — We felt the ’96-born center was Brunswick’s top player. Competes in all three zones. Has skill.
Andre Masse, D, Sr. (Brunswick) 6-1/185 — With a 12/20/93 birthdate, he’s a bit on the older side. Has a good stick and makes plays consistently. Was Brunswick’s top defender.
Founders’ League Jamboree Rosters
Here, courtesy of host Taft School and head boys hockey coach Dan Murphy, is the roster book for Wednesday’s Founders’ League Jamboree.
It’s a downloadable PDF document, which you can print at home and/or open directly onto your laptop/tablet/smartphone.
This is a forward-looking approach, one we’ll be seeing increasingly from schools and colleges that rightly want to avoid printing up reams of documents that eventually wind up in the trash somewhere.
For scouts, it’s great. You can study and mark-up your rosters well in advance of game time. And, best of all, you don’t have to worry about arriving and finding an empty table on which, shortly before, a neat pile of rosters stood.
2012 Founders' League Jamboree Rosters (PDF)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
On Thanksgiving week NHL Central Scouting released its North American Preliminary Rankings List as well as Players to Watch list.
The Preliminary Rankings rank the top 25 skaters as well as 5-7 goalies in the OHL, QMJHL, WHL, and USHL (including the U.S. U-18 Team).
The Players to Watch List covers North American Junior, High School, and Midget Leagues and/or programs.
In addition, Central Scouting released a Players to Watch Tracker (effective 11/20), which periodically adds and upgrades players.
Central Scouting has also changed its ranking criteria this season, tightening up and putting a finer point on the letter grades traditionally assigned.
In the new system, an “A” rating is reserved for a 1st round candidate, a “B” rating indicates a 2nd/3rd round candidate, and a “C” rating is for potential 4th/5th/6th round candidates.
The 2013 NHL Draft, hosted by the New Jersey Devils, is scheduled for June 28th (1st round) and 29th (rounds 2-7) at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The Philadelphia Flyers will host the 2014 NHL Draft.
The links below are to printable PDF docs.
North American Preliminary Ranking Lists
Players to Watch List
Central Scouting Players to Watch Tracker
A Pair of Commitments
St. Sebastian’s 5’10”, 185 lb. senior forward Tommy Kelley has committed to Boston University for the fall of ’13.
A 9/15/94 birthdate from Natick, Mass., Kelley was the Arrows’ second-leading scorer last season, playing 28 games, and posting a 19-15-34 line, 20 points behind team leader and current BU freshman Danny O’Regan.
Kelley is a hard-working, well-rounded player who has proven that he can finish at the prep level – his shot and nose around the net is his strong asset. At the D-I level, he projects more as a solid third/fourth line winger.
Holy Cross was recruiting him hard early, along with St. Lawrence, Providence College and, of course, BU.
5’11”, 175 lb. Tri-City Storm (USHL) forward Tim Lappin has committed to Brown for ’13 or ’14.
Lappin, a 1/19/94 birthdate from Chicago, Ill., has a 2-2-4 line in 19 games thus far this season. He is the cousin of current Brown freshman Nick Lappin, a teammate last season at Tri-City.
He is also the son of Tim Lappin, one of four Lappin brothers to finish their college careers at St. Lawrence University in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The others were Pete Lappin, the school’s all-time points leader (with 187), Mike, and Chris. (Mike and Chris played their first two years of college hockey at Boston University.) Lappin is also a nephew of former BU Terrier David Sacco.
Sat. 11/24 Note: The results of today's prep jamboree games are now posted in the Prep News section.
A Trio of Commitments
Colorado College has received a commitment from 6’1”, 185 lb. Colorado Thunderbirds U16 forward Fredrik Olofsson for the fall of 2014 or 2015.
The Boras, Sweden native is the younger brother of Colorado College recruit and current Green Bay Gamblers defenseman Gustav Olofsson. Back in October we watched the Tier-I Elite league teams and felt that the younger Olofsson was arguably the top player in the league. Here is what we wrote about him: “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.”
The 5/27/96 birthdate has kept up his rapid scoring pace and currently sits 1st in points-per-game and 4th overall in league scoring with a 10-22-32 scoring line in only 16 games played. Olofsson made his final decision between CC, Denver and Harvard.
5’10”, 160 lb. Boston Junior Bruins U18 forward Bryan Lemos has committed to Providence College for the fall of 2015.
Playing close to home was priority for the East Providence, Rhode Island native and the Friars were more than willing to accommodate the homebody. The former LaSalle Academy star was pursued heavily by New England prep schools last season, most notably Cushing and Kimball Union, but again elected to stay in his own home and work his way up through the Junior Bruins organization. Next season the ’96 born center will likely play for Peter Masters’ top team in the newly minted US Premier League. Last month we watched Lemos in action at the US Elite Hockey League showcase and here was our thoughts, “Always makes plays and has a quick stick. Works hard and thrives in the tough ice. Is physically limited in terms of upside.”
We project Lemos to be a 3rd line energy forward for the Friars who could work his way into a top six role as a junior and senior. Naturally, in the end it came down to Providence College and Brown, but playing in Hockey East proved to be too much to pass on.
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell has received a commitment from 5’11”, 195 lb. Sioux City (USHL) defenseman Michael Kapla for the fall of 2014.
We view this as a significant acquisition for the Riverhawks and feel that the Eau Claire, Wisconsin native could quarterback their PP for the full four years. After watching the 9/19/94 birthdate at the USHL Fall Classic we ranked him #6 on our “USHL’s Top Uncommitted Players” list and had this to say about him, “Has an exceptional stick and a great mind for the game. Last season he played for Eau Claire (Wisc.) Memorial HS - ‘the Old Abes' -- and posted a 4-34-38 scoring line in just 21 games played. His skating is not very good, but his hands and PP skills more than compensate.”
Through 11 games played this season the puck moving defender has only posted a 1-0-1 scoring line. Making the jump from Wisconsin high school hockey to the USHL is a difficult transition and one that takes some getting used to. Once Kapla gets a feel for the pace we expect his numbers to increase. A good comparison for U-Lowell fans would be former UNH All-American Brian Yandle.
Providence Building Momentum
Providence College has received a commitment from 5’10”, 171 lb. Cedar Rapids (USHL) forward Dylan McLaughlin for the fall of ‘14.
The Lancaster, NY native opened a lot of eyes at the Fall Classic and quickly became one of the top recruited forwards in the USHL. We felt that the 6/5/95 birthdate was the RoughRiders top uncommitted player and ranked him at #11 on our “USHL’s Top Uncommitted Players” list back in September. Here is what we wrote about his game at the time: “Was committed to Northeastern, but has since decided to test the college free agency market. The former Buffalo Regal played last season as a 16 year old for Sioux Falls (USHL) and posted a 1-6-7 line in 48 games played in a limited role. We feel this season will be a breakout year for the talented centerman with high-end vision. Is producing at nearly a point-a-game pace throughout the preseason. Is a hockey player, someone you can put on the ice in any situation and know he will get the job done for you. Will be a hot commodity after his performance at the Fall Classic.”
McLaughlin wanted to play in Hockey East and the majority of Hockey East schools recruited him. Through 14 games played this season the centerman has posted a 4-0-4 scoring line on a very deep team. Projects as a second line center for the Friars and should be an immediate contributor when he arrives on campus.
We give head coach Nate Leaman and his staff a lot of credit for what they have done in a short period of time. The culture of the program has changed dramatically and there is a excitement in Friarville for the first time in a long while — as there should be. PC is currently 5-4-1 and three of their top four scorers are Leaman recruits: Calgary Flames 1st round pick Mark Jankowski (freshman), BCHL scoring kingpin Paul de Jersey (freshman) and possibly the top recruited walk-on in the country in Ross Mauermann (sophomore).And don’t forget about their starting goalie, freshman Jon Gillies, who has played every game and sports a .924 save percentage. Factor in top incoming recruits like McLaughlin, Thomas Aldworth (Cushing), and Anthony Florentino (South Kent) and you’re looking at a team that will be competing for Hockey East titles in the near future.
Cushing & Yale Showcase Results
The Cushing and Yale Showcases were held Saturday and Sunday, respectively. For results please go to the USHR Prep Page. Thank you.
Wildcats Complete van Riemsdyk Trifecta
The University of New Hampshire has received a commitment from 6’3”, 189 lb. New Jersey Devils U16 forward Brendan van Riemsdyk for the fall of ‘15 or ‘16.
“BVR” is the third van Riemsdyk to commit to the Wildcats, joining his brothers James and Trevor. James van Riemsdyk (Toronto-NHL) was drafted 2nd overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft and played two seasons at UNH before heading directly to the NHL. UNH sophomore defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, NJ and had every intention of playing D-III hockey at Babson where head coach Jamie Rice had been recruiting him. Before that came to pass, UNH Associate Head Coach Scott Borek suggested to Trevor that he play a season of juniors for Sean Tremblay’s New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) to see how his game developed. Well, his game took off and, after two months in the EJHL, Trevor committed to UNH and is now well on his way toward becoming an All-American and signing an NHL contract.
Brendan’s development mirrors Trevor’s, in that he’s a long-term project with high upside. Here is what we had to say about the Middletown, NJ native just a few weeks ago when we saw him at the Fall Beantown Classic; “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.”
BVR, a junior in high school and a ’96 birthdate, made his final decision between UNH and Harvard. UNH, though, was the frontrunner all along, as the family ties run deep in Durham, NH. Next season, van Riemsdyk will likely play for Sean Tremblay’s Middlesex Islanders (EJHL).
Jr. Coach Arrested for Attempting to Seduce Boys
Anthony DeSilva, 41, the head coach/GM of the Mass Maple Leafs, a junior team in the Eastern States Hockey League (ESHL), was arrested this week, charged with attempting to seduce two 16-year-old Florida boys online.
The Fall River Herald-News is reporting that DeSilva, from Acushnet, Mass., is alleged to have sent naked photos of himself to the teenage boys -- actually undercover detectives in Polk County, Florida -- explaining in explicit detail what he wanted to do with them sexually.
According to an affidavit, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department began investigating the case in July after being alerted by the mother of one of the boys, who said that a man named Tony was trying to seduce him via Facebook.
De Silva, who was also assistant hockey coach at Taunton High last year and reportedly works at a group home for the mentally challenged, was arrested Wednesday evening at his home, and arraigned Thursday in New Bedford District Court on a fugitive from justice charge. Today, he will be extradited to Florida where he faces 10 counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and one count of transmission of material harmful to a child. Further charges may be pending.
DeSilva has owned the Mass Maple Leafs since the program started in 1997. The team practices and plays out of arenas in Raynham and New Bedford, Mass. According to the team’s website, DeSilva’s squads have made seven National Junior Championship appearances, and won three titles.
The USHR Prep Page has been a little slow getting cranked up this year, mainly because we’re ushering in a new and much-improved interface which, in the long run, will be a real boon for the site. However, it’s a work-in-progress, and we’ve been working hard to get it all nailed down this week. We think it will be worth it, though, and hope you feel the same way.
Over the past several days, coaches have been uploading their schools’ schedules. Hopefully tomorrow, the system will be ready to accept rosters and then, game results and box scores. We want to thank the coaches – and everyone -- for their patience.
The last time we looked, which was late this afternoon, the following schedules had been entered into the system: Avon Old Farms, BB&N, Canterbury, Choate, Cushing, Governor’s, Hotchkiss, Northfield-Mt. Hermon, Thayer, Westminster, Winchendon, Berwick, Brunswick, Groton, Harvey, Hoosac, Kingswood-Oxford, North Yarmouth Academy, Portsmouth Abbey, Proctor, Rivers, St. Mark’s, The Hill School, Bridgton, and St. Andrew’s College.
USHR Pre-Season Prep All-Star Team
First Team All-Stars:
Trevor Fidler, F, Sr., Dexter — Produced a 24-31-55 scoring line through 26 games played last season, and there is no reason to think the Harvard recruit won’t improve on those impressive numbers. The Dexter sniper will likely have two top linemates in sophomore Ryan Donato and senior Tim Harrison, which could give Dexter the most lethal threesome in prep hockey.
Casey Miller, F, Sr., Kimball Union — Had an 18-24-42 scoring line in 31 games played last season. His entire line returns from a year ago as seniors Niko Rufo and Nick Roberto will once again be flanking him. The offense of KUA’s top line will funnel through the UMass-Amherst recruit.
Thomas Aldworth, F, Sr., Cushing — The Providence recruit has displayed game-breaking speed which could make him an attractive NHL draft prospect. A Keller, Texas native, Aldworth put up a point a game last season and has the talent to dramatically improve on his 29 points — and the Penguins need him to.
Noah Hanifin, D, Soph., St. Sebastian’s — The Arrows #1 defenseman is the most talented player in prep hockey, hands down. The only question will be, “Can a 15 year old dominate high school games?” If so, look for Hanifin to do it.
Doyle Somerby, D, Sr., Kimball Union — 6’5”, 223 lb. Boston University recruit has the potential to have a Robby O’Gara-like impact this season. The New York Islanders 5th round draft pick could physically take over games this year. It will be tough to score against the Wildcats with big #27 on the ice.
Michael Pinios, G, Sr., St. Paul’s — Could see every minute of action for St. Paul’s this year. Has the ability to win games by himself. The Pelicans star has yet to earn a scholarship, but D-I schools will be watching closely.
Second Team All-Stars:
Colin White, F, Fr., Nobles — The only freshman on our list. Could be his last year playing prep school hockey as the NTDP is bound to come calling. The explosive skater raised eyebrows last year when he produced a 16-28-44 scoring line in 29 games played. With Adam Gilmour (Muskegon-USHL), Chris Calnan (South Shore-EJHL), Andrew Doane (South Shore-EJHL) and Max Franklin (Babson) all departed, White will be the go-to guy for Nobles.
Vincent Russo, F, Sr., Avon Old Farms — Led Avon to the New England tournament with a 17-21-38 scoring line in only 27 games played. His supporting cast of forwards should be stronger this year than last, so look for those numbers to improve. The Winged Beavers’ potent offense will run through the poised winger.
Anthony Sabitsky, F, Sr., Milton — Under-rated forward scored 23 goals in 24 games played last year. Will return as the Mustangs first line center and will be looked at to perform in all situations. A top uncommitted senior in the New England prep loop.
Griff Martin, D, Sr., Avon Old Farms — Avon tri-captain is our bet to take home team MVP honors at season’s end. Will log a lot of minutes and is the leading candidate to quarterback John Gardner’s top PP unit. Just committed to Union.
Charlie Donners, D, Sr., Dexter — Does it all at the prep school level. Is tough, defends well, moves pucks and will run the PP. Small, hence limited in terms of upside, but there is no question that he’s an all-league defender right now.
Dawson Sprigings, G, Sr., Gunnery — 6’0, 200 lb. netminder will have a very good team in front of him, which means he is likely to see his .921 save percentage improve. Played 75% of the minutes last season en route to leading the Gunnery to the New England quarterfinals.
Eddie Ellis, F, Sr., Andover; Garrett Hehir, F, Sr., Cushing; David Hallisey, F, Sr., Westminster; Matt Pugh, F, PG, Salisbury; Niko Rufo, F, Sr., Kimball Union; Ryan Donato, F, Soph., Dexter; Ryan Scarfo, F, Sr., Governor’s; Nathan Ferriero, F, Sr., Governor’s; Carl Hesler, F, Sr., Belmont Hill; Charlie Corcoran, F, Jr., Berkshire; Tyler Hill, F, Jr., Hotchkiss; Cam Askew, F, Fr., Cushing; Andrew Gaus, F, Jr., Taft; Elliot Vorel, F, Sr., Milton; Tommy Kelley, F, Sr., St. Sebastian’s; Liam Darcy, D, Soph., Berwick; Mitch Nylen, D, Sr., Brooks; Alex Carle, D, Sr., Kimball Union; Daniel Fritz, D, Sr., Canterbury; Tyler Wood, D, Sr., Nobles; John Barry, D, Jr., Thayer; Mark Hamilton, D, Sr., Salisbury; Sam Tucker, G, Soph., Choate; Merrick Madsen, G, Sr., Proctor.
A Busy Week for Union
The Union Skating Dutchmen, who just received a commitment over the weekend from Deerfield senior forward Alex Gonye, have now committed to Avon Old Farms senior defenseman Griffyn Martin.
A 6-0, 185 lb. left shot and a 3/19/94 birthdate, Martin is a tri-captain at Avon this season and appears to be the top candidate to quarterback the Winged Beavers’ powerplay. At the Div. I level, he’ll be called on to play a more stay-at-home role. He’s a solid defender who makes smart, simple plays. He doesn’t complicate the game.
Martin, who had a commitment from Yale that fell by the wayside last summer, started being watched closely by Union shortly afterward.
At the Fall Prep League All-Star game at Northeastern University on Sunday, Union College head coach Rick Bennett was in attendance watching Martin, who had visited Union earlier this fall. Martin committed today, and will be suiting up for Union in the fall.
He is one of three freshmen defensemen who will be at Union next season, as he will join Jeff Taylor, formerly of Albany Academy and now playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL), and Matt Krug of the Indiana Ice (USHL).
KUA The Team to Beat
The 2012-13 prep season is right around the corner. Here’s our pre-season Top 10:
1. Kimball Union - There is no denying that the Wildcats are the frontrunners to take the crown this season. Head coach Mike Levine has assembled a throwback to a ‘90s-style prep powerhouse. Seniors Casey Miller (UMass-Amherst), Niko Rufo (Providence), Nick Roberto (Maine), Gregg Burmaster (St. Lawrence), Doyle Somerby (Boston University), junior Joey Dudek (Boston College) and sophomore AJ Greer (Penn State) have already locked in D-I commitments. And it is only a matter of time before someone jumps on senior defenseman Alex Carle. 6’5” senior netminder Eric Bogart could generate D-I interest depending on how he performs this year. Factor in top D-III recruits in seniors Connor Evangelista and Jonathan Charbonneau and you have yourself a wagon. It is feasible that every single player we mentioned above could be gone next season either to graduation, the USHL or the NTDP. If there was ever a time to get it done in Meriden, New Hampshire it would be now.
2. Dexter - It was not long ago that head coach Dan Donato was leading Salisbury to prep championships. It has taken some time, but Dexter is now poised to take a run at the title. Their returning core of players is very strong. Seniors Trevor Fidler (Harvard) and Tim Harrison, along with sophomore Ryan Donato are three of the top forwards in New England. Seniors Charlie Donners, Mitch Barrington, Andrew Neary and junior Liam Feeney are as good as -- or better -- than any other team’s top four defensemen. Junior Pat Fraser played the majority of the minutes last year and is back, looking to improve on his .898 save percentage.
3. Salisbury - An awful lot of talent was lost to graduation and the OHL, but head coach Andrew Will has brought in a mixture of old and new blood to keep them in the hunt. Look for senior Liam McDermott (Cleveland Barons U18), PG Matt Pugh (BB&N), and repeat junior Derek Barach (Albany Academy) to step right in and be immediate contributors. Mitchell and Evan Smith (Toronto Young Nationals-GTHL) have proven throughout the summer and fall that they will be good two-way threats. Senior Jacob Hand and junior Jason Kalinowski (UNH) will both be top six scorers and have already shown that they can score at this level. Sophomore Matthew Muzyka was hidden on the fourth line last season and only produced 1 point -- look for him to break out this year as he has displayed D-I tools over the fall. On the back end, seniors Willie Brooks, Ryan Segalla (UConn), Mark Hamilton (UMass-Amherst), and junior Will Toffey will be the go-to guys. PG Aaron Titcomb (Brewster Academy) and James Goebetz (Long Island Royals) will likely round out the D corps. PG Brandon Mueller (Nichols) and top sophomore Callum Booth (Montreal Royals) will be a very strong tandem in net.
4. Cushing - Head coach Rob Gagnon will likely have the most potent offense in New England should he get them to gel. The Penguins will be led by leading returning scorer Garrett Hehir (48 points) and NHL draft prospect Thomas Aldworth (Providence). Losing Shane Eiserman (NTDP) in the middle of the summer surely hurt, but replacing him with freshman Northeastern recruit Cam Askew (St. Sebastian’s), junior Matt Hoover (Brantford Minor Midget-Ontario) and senior Michael Turner (Chicago Young Americans U18) could make the pain go away rather quickly. Junior Richie Boyd and Connor Brassard will be the go-to guys on the backend and newcomer Steven Windt (NJ Devils U16) will be looking to make a name for himself. In net, senior Mike Dion will be given the reins to start. If he doesn't get it done, incoming sophomore goaltender Joel Daccord (North Andover High School), the son of goalie coach Brian Daccord, will get a shot.
5. Gunnery - Head coach Chris Baudo has his team in the hunt every season and this one will be no different as the Gunnery has enough talent to beat anyone on any given night. Up front look for seniors Marc Cibelli, Robert Darrar and Anthony Bird to be the leaders. UConn recruit Brendan Shane (Toronto Young Nationals-GTHL) and repeat junior Joey Fallon (Long Island Royals) will both step right in and be expected to shoulder a heavy load. The defense will be led by seniors Kai Frankville, Matt Williams, and Max Freeman. Sophomores Max Luukko (Springfield Quakers-Tier-II) and Michael Lee (Hamden High School) and junior Nicholas Quinlan (Dartmouth Midgets-Nova Scotia) will replace Dakota Ford and Cam Romoff, who were lost unexpectedly to the EJHL. Senior Dawson Sprigings has D-I potential and will assume the reins in net.
6. St. Paul’s - Last season head coach Mark Bozek’s crew finished 15-12 and if not for a poor finish they could have been playing in the New England Championship tournament. This year they will stand a chance to win every game as senior netminder Michael Pinios is the pre-season favorite to take home MVP honors in the ISL. He played all but seven minutes last year and posted a .933 save percentage. Up front seniors Brendan Boyce and Charles-Alexandre Plaisir should be the top scoring threats. Sophomore Austin Ricci is poised for a breakout year. Look for incoming junior David Storto, a 4th round pick of Chicoutimi (QMJHL), to be a point machine right from day one. The Pelicans’ defense is in good shape as they return five defenders led by big 6’4” senior Greg Zaffino.
7. Avon Old Farms - John Gardner expects his teams to compete for championships every year and we think he has enough talent to keep the tradition going. Senior Vincent Russo is the team’s leading returning scorer and his job will be made easier with the help of two top recruits in juniors Daniel LaFontaine (Long Island Royals) and Nicholas Hutchinson (Long Island Royals), both D-I prospects. Seniors Mason Krueger and Brennan Kee will provide scoring depth. The #1 defenseman will be senior captain Griff Martin, who was formerly committed to Yale, but has since become a college free agent. Rounding out the top four will be seniors Sam Loizeaux and South Kent transfer Cody Champagne along with repeat junior Aidan Salerno (Long Island Royals). The starting job is up for grabs in net, but our money is on 6’2”, 170 lb. Tucker Weppner, an incoming sophomore from the Amherst Knights U16 team.
8. Deerfield- Brendan Creagh should have no issues scoring goals this season. Senior Alex Gonye (Union) and juniors Trevor Yates and Sam Lafferty are D-I prospects who will likely be among New England’s top scorers. Senior Jordan Jancze is a top NESCAC recruit who will also be a consistent scoring threat this year. The defense will be bolstered with the arrival of 6’3”, 205 lb. junior Cullen Geary (Springfield Cathedral). Senior goaltenders Adam Ellison and Jake Thoubboron will compete for the starting job — both have shown promise.
9. Belmont Hill - Last year Jeremiah McCarthy took over a team that was built from the net out and finished with an impressive 21-6-4 record. This year will be quite different as all-league netminder David Cunningham as well as the top four defensemen from a year ago were lost to graduation. The 2012-13 edition will be led by the offense – and there is no shortage of players capable of scoring. Seniors Carl Hesler (Dartmouth), Mike Najjar, and Dan Doherty along with junior Will Golonka form an impressive core group of players. On defense, sophomore Charlie Barrow was impressive at the Select 16 Festival and will be right at home quarterbacking the powerplay. The x-factor will be whether or not junior goaltender Ryan McConnell can take over as the team’s starter. In 324 minutes of play last season the 5’10”, 170 lb. backstop was pretty good, posting a .912 save percentage.
10. St. Sebastian’s - The Arrows went on an 8-1-1 run to finish up last year. Look for head coach Sean McCann to build on that success as he has some of the top young talent in prep hockey in his stable. Senior Tommy Kelley scored 19 goals a year ago and will have to at least match that this year to keep Seb’s in the picture. High-flying junior Corey Ronan produced over a point a game last year and could explode if given Danny O’Regan’s (BU) ice time. Sophomore Will D’Orsi, a transfer from Belmont Hill, will be slotted into the top six. The Needham, Mass prep school’s top three defenseman could be the best in prep hockey. Senior Dalton MacAfee (BU), sophomore sensation Noah Hanifin (BC) and sophomore Jake McCarthy will produce a lot of offense from the back end. All of this sounds great, but they will only go as far as unproven junior netminder Tedy Loughborough will carry them.
Darcy Leaves Northeastern
Northeastern University freshman forward Cam Darcy is leaving Northeastern effective today.
The South Boston native, who played at the Dexter School before heading out to the U.S. National Program for two years, has reportedly been struggling academically as well as on the ice. In nine games, he has an 0-2-2 line, with both assists coming on October 13th vs. BC.
The Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) have added Darcy to their roster and the forward will likely be suiting up for them on Friday night.
Darcy is expected to play the rest of this season as well as next in the USHL. Under the terms of the 4-2-4 rule, he will then be able to transfer to another Div. I school and begin play in the fall of ‘14.
There are two major showcases this coming weekend – at Cushing Academy on Saturday, and at Yale’s Ingalls Rink on Sunday.
Here are the schedules:
Sat. Nov. 17, 2012
@ Cushing Academy
9:00 am – NMH vs. Northwood
11:00 am – Cushing vs. Berwick
1:00 pm – KUA vs. Pomfret
3:00 pm – Culver vs. Tabor
Sun. Nov. 18, 2012
@ Yale University
New Haven, Conn.
8:00 am -- Williston vs. Pomfret
10:00 am -- Northwood vs. Gunnery
12:00 pm -- Milton vs. NMH
2:00 pm -- Hill Academy U-18 vs. Culver
4:00 pm -- Selects U-16 vs. Hill Academy U-16
6:00 pm -- Selects U-18 vs. Jr. Rockets
From Deerfield to the Dutchmen
6’1”, 180 lb. Deerfield senior forward Alex Gonye has committed to Union for the fall of ’13.
A 2/10/94 birthdate, Gonye led all Deerfield scorers last season with an 18-15-33 line in 25 games played. He has skill to spare and decent size, but as a senior this season, the Big Green will need the New Canaan, Conn. native to take his game to another level by adding some consistency and grit to go along with the skill package.
Gonye is a left shot center, and the Dutchmen, who will lose Kyle Bodie to graduation after this season, will be looking for immediate help in the middle.
Gonye, who also visited some Ivies, has been followed by the Union staff for some time.
New England District Champs Crowned
Mid-Fairfield, behind the shutout goaltending of Choate’s Sam Tucker, defeated the Connecticut Wolfpack yesterday at the Berkshire School to win the New England U18 title Sunday at the Berkshire School.
Mid-Fairfield, which only gave up three goals all tournament, will advance to Nationals in the spring.
In the U16 final, a Charlie Borek overtime goal lifted the Connecticut Wolfpack to a 4-3 win over Selects Academy.
U.S. Junior Selects Take Gold
The U.S. Junior Selects won their fourth gold medal in the last five years with a 6-3 win over Canada West at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, NS tonight.
Vince Hinostroza led the attack with two goals and two assists, and J.T. Stenglein had two goals. Austin Cangelosi and Alex Kile each added single goals for the U.S.
Eamon McAdam kicked out 26 of 29 shots he faced to pick up the win. The U.S. outshot Canada West 33-29.
After the U.S. broke out in front 2-0 on goals by Stenglein and Hinostroza (on the pp) in the first period, Canada West roared back with three goals – by Seb Lloyd, Evan Richardson, and Brandon Morley – in the first ten minutes of the second period to take a 3-2 lead. But that was all the scoring that would come from Canada West. The U.S. tied it up at 3-3 on a Cangelosi goal at 12:40, and then Stenglein notched the game-winner at 15:15.
Kile and Hinostroza added insurance goals in the third, and McAdam took care of the rest in net.
Neponset wins U18s; GBL Takes U16s
The Neponset Valley River Rats won the Mass. District U18 championship with a 4-1 win over the GBL Bruins tonight in Foxboro, Mass.
In the U16 division the GBL Bruins are the state champions.
Here's the box score for the U18 final. Times given are time remaining in period.
14:34 (River Rats) Niko Rufo ('94; KUA/Providence) from Derek Barach ('95; Salisbury)
11:07 (River Rats) Barach from Rufo and Zach Sabatini ('94; Tabor/Sacred Heart)
3:00 (River Rats) Gregg Burmaster ('94; KUA/St. Lawrence) from Casey Miller ('94; KUA/UMass Amherst) and Nolan Vesey ('94; Austin Prep)
1:07 (GBL) Thomas Aldworth ('95; Cushing/Providence) unassisted
0:31 (River Rats) Tommy Newton ('94; Lawrence Academy) from Liam Feeney ('95; Dexter) and George Hunkele ('94; Lawrence Academy/Williams)
Goaltenders: Adam Ellison ('94; Deerfield) got the win with an 18-save performance. Ben Csernik ('94; NMH) played in net for GBL making 28 saves on 32 shots. Ellison finished the season 14-0-2, Drew Michals ('95; Lawrence Academy) helped get the River Rats to the final with a 5-0 semifinal win over the Boston Jr Bruins U18.
Kelley’s Pair Lift NEFPL
St. Sebastian’s forward Tommy Kelley scored his second goal of the game with 1:31 remaining in regulation to lift the New England Fall Prep League (Salem, NH) to a 3-2 win over the New England Prep League (Newington, Conn.) this morning at Northeastern University’s Matthews Arena.
On the game-winner, off a 2-on-1, Belmont Hill’s Will Golonka made a nice cross-crease pass right onto the stick of Kelley, who picked the top right corner on Canterbury goalie Christian Short.
The two teams matched up well, so it was a competitive tilt, though a little short of flow as 16 penalties were called, a bit more than necessary in an all-star game such as this.
The visitors from Connecticut got on the board first as Ethan Holdaway, a Westminster PG out of Glastonbury HS, drove hard to the net and jammed the puck past KUA goaltender Eric Bogart for an unassisted goal. The NEFPHL team almost tied it up with about seven minutes left when Dexter’s Mitch Barrington rang one off the crossbar.
In the second, Kelley tied the game at 1-1 with his first goal of the game, gathering up a loose puck in the slot and wristing it by Gunnery goalie Dawson Springings. Governor’s Nathan Ferriero and BB&N d-man Brian Rowland picked up assists on the goal.
Connecticut went up 2-1 late in the second when Salisbury defenseman Willie Brooks, trailing the play, snapped one by Hebron goalie Alex Bitsakis (he’d come in midway through the second).
The score remained 2-1 until Mass tied it up when Belmont Hill’s Dan Doherty, off a flurry in front, tucked a rebound past Short.
Less than two minutes later, Kelley scored his second for the game-winner.
Bauer Invite, Part II: The U16s
As promised, here is Part II of our Bauer World Invitational review. Today we’re going to be looking at the U16 division, which was won, deservedly so, by the hometown Chicago Mission – a simply excellent team. Looking deeper, there were other teams we liked, but we just want to mention a few, like the Arizona Bobcats who, by attracting top talent from all over the Pacific and Rocky Mountain districts, are fast becoming a team to be reckoned with out west. Compuware probably has the most talent; if they can gel as team they will be very tough to beat. And finally, we reported extensively on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights last year and would like to give our readers an update on the U14 National Champions. They are still a good team, but they are not what they were. Their top player from a year ago, Daniel Sprong, has returned to Quebec and is playing Midget AAA hockey there. A couple other faces are also missing including Cody Petawabano, who at 6’3”, 210 lbs. intimidated the heck out of opponents. This will likely be the final year this team skates together as their top talent, shipped in from Russia, will become top prospects in the USHL and other junior leagues. It will be hard to keep the group together, much less replicate what they had last year.
Here are the players who stood out for us at the U16 level:
Ryan Wagner, F, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — Was absolutely fantastic here over the weekend. Was named tournament MVP en route to leading the Mission to the championship. Plays on a star-studded team, but there was no question as to who was the team’s #1 forward here. This is a kid who did not make it out to the Select 15 Festival over the summer as the Central District cut him. While Wagner lacks size -- he’s probably about 5’9”, 160 lbs. -- he more than compensates. He is tenacious, intelligent, and has a knack for scoring goals. He is always creating plays, and constantly creating turnovers. Quite simply, he was a pleasure to watch. Is a USHL/D-I prospect, though he does not have the upside of some of the players that will be following him on this list. All we can say is that, in Chicago last weekend, Wagner was the man.
Matt Berkovitz, D, ’96 (Team Wisconsin U16) — The University of Wisconsin recruit has seen his stock rise significantly over the last couple of months. For a 6’2” kid his skating is effortless and his stride is executed with perfect form. Berkovitz is someone we think the NTDP will consider adding at certain points this season -- and potentially on a full-time basis next year. If he continues to develop at his current rate there is a good chance he will be drafted in the upper rounds of the 2014 NHL draft. A good in-state get for the Badgers.
Nikita Pavlychev, F, ’97 (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton U16) — High upside. Was the first line center on last season’s Bantam AAA championship squad. Has continued growing and is probably about 6’5” right now. He’s not an awkward 6’5” either — he can skate, has a great stick and, like many Russians, shows exceptional poise with the puck. His challenge over the course of the next couple of years will be adding some explosiveness to his skating and edge to his game. If he can improve in those two areas there is no reason to think he can’t be a 1st round NHL draft pick in a couple years. Is reminiscent of Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) forward, and Buffalo Sabres 2012 1st round pick, Mikhail Grigorenko.
Denis Smirnov, F, ’97 (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton U16) — The offensive catalyst for the Knights. Has the innate ability to slow the game down whenever the puck is on his stick. Is on the small side, 5’8” or so, and does not appear as if he’s ever going to be a big kid. That said, he is as skilled as they come. He also plays with an edge, is strong on the puck, and is at his best when the game is on the line. Will be a big-time point producer in the CHL should that be the route he chooses.
Ivan Provorov, F/D, ’97 (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton U16) — Does not stand out as much this year as he did last year, but that is likely because there is no longer as much of a gap between he and his peers physically. He still stands out, however, and is one of the top ‘97s in the country. Can really hammer the puck. The Wilkes-Barre powerplay is all about teeing the puck up for Provorov, who isn’t shy about burying his head and letting his 95 mph one-timer go, whistling the puck by the necks of those standing in front. Provorov is also a good skater who is explosive, and strong as an ox in 1x1 situations. Not too many Russians make it to the NCAA, so our guess is that a USHL team grabs him next season before a CHL team drafts him in the 2014 Import Draft. Ditto for Smirnov and Pavlychev.
Christian Evers, D, ’97 (Omaha U16) — A raw, uncut piece of filet mignon — just the way the North Dakota Fighting Sioux like their recruits. Evers has a fluid stride for someone who is roughly 6’3”, 200 lbs. and just 15 years old. In terms of pro upside, Evers, along with Noah Hanifin and Zach Werenski, are the best USA Hockey has to offer. There is a strong chance he will be skating for the NTDP next season.
Austin Matthews, F, ’97 (Arizona Bobcats U16) — We wrote about Matthews one year ago, stating that we felt he was one of the top ’97-born forwards we had seen. We also noted in our wrap-up of the Select 15 Festival that we were surprised he was not in attendance. After doing some digging we found out that Matthews and his teammate, Christian Cakebread (see below), passed on attending the Festival due to the cost. Matthews stands about 6’1” or 6’2” and has great hands and a quick release to his shot. Our guess is that he will be included in the NTDP Final 40 camp in March and he very well could make the team. However, we are also told there is a good chance he will be playing for the Everett Silvertips (WHL) where he was their 3rd round pick in last year’s bantam draft. His lack of urgency to put his skills on display in front of USA Hockey last summer may indicate that his heart is in Everett.
Christian Cakebread, D/F, ’97 (Arizona Bobcats U16) — Was playing forward when we saw him last year, but was lined up on the back end this time around. We prefer him up front. Cakebread hasn’t grown much in the last 12 months and likely has topped out around 5’10” or 5’11”. Is fast, explosive, competes hard, and make plays. Was drafted in the 4th round of the WHL’s bantam draft by the Kelowna Rockets. Is another player who would compete for a spot on the NTDP should he choose that route. Would make for a great player at the NCAA level and we think that’s the route he should choose as his pro upside might not be as high as some of the above-mentioned players. He certainly has a memorable name.
JR Gates, F, ‘97 (Compuware U16) — Notre Dame commit continues to get better. His skating has greatly improved over the course of the last year and he uses his big frame to get to the front of the net and create scoring opportunities. The NTDP is not allowed to release the names of any players they have offered contracts to for the 2013-14 season, but we have heard that Gates is one of the early commits. Does not have high-end/flashy scoring capabilities, but for a 6’2” forward he’s an honest worker with a skill set that will enable him to be an effective power forward for years to come. Is off to a slow start in HPHL play this season as he has only produced a 2-2-4 scoring line through nine games played. He did, however, score two goals against Omaha in a fast-paced, high intensity game here.
Mitchell Vande Sompel, D/F, ’97 (London Jr. Knights) — The Knights’ captain was dominant at times. Has the ability to single-handedly take over games. Has dynamic speed, is creative in traffic, and has a goal scorer’s release. Plays both forward and defense and was equally effective at both. Was excellent on top of the PP. Will likely be a top round pick in the OHL draft this spring.
Gordie Green, F, ’97 (Compuware U16) — A smart cat. Is playing chess while most of his peers are playing checkers. Knows how to play the game and has that sixth sense of putting the puck where his teammates are going as opposed to where they are. Could end up being a fantastic college hockey player -- he’s committed to Miami-Ohio – and will likely be included in the NTDP’s Final 40 camp. If he does not make the team he will be a top pick in the USHL draft. Is leading Compuware in scoring with an 8-8-16 scoring line in nine games played.
Brendan Warren, F, ’97 (Compuware U16) — We only saw Compuware play once, against Omaha, so it is very possible that Warren just had an off game, but in that game he was invisible. Seemed disinterested, just going through the motions. Warren was our #1 rated forward at the Select 15 Festival and is a Michigan recruit. Is also rumored to be committed to the NTDP. We have only really seen Warren playing summer hockey, at the Pro-Am tournament in Boston and at the Select Festival — and at both showings he was nothing short of dominant, with a skill set that was off the charts. We even compared him to the Bruins’ Tyler Seguin at the same age. At any rate, time will tell what he really is. Has posted a 3-4-7 scoring line through nine HPHL games, below-average numbers given his skill set.
Trent Fox, F, ’97 (London Jr. Knights) — Big, strong, power forward with a soft set of hands and some finish around the net. Is probably about 6’3” and is still getting his coordination, but when his game comes together he could be a good one. Will likely be a top two round OHL draft pick this spring. Is the younger brother of Erie Otters (OHL) forward Dane Fox.
Patrick Grasso, F, ’96 (Omaha U16) — UNH recruit was absolutely fantastic against Compuware. While his team lost 5-3, Grasso showed up ready to play and scored two of his team’s three goals. Was all over the ice, competing extremely hard and making his presence felt each time he hit the ice. It is a good sign of things to come, because 85%, maybe 100% of Compuware’s D-corps will end up playing D-I hockey and Grasso managed to be highly effective against them. Right now, he is probably about 5’6”. 135 lbs. -- it is only a matter of time until he grows.
Kip Hoffman, F, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — Before seeing the Mission ’97 team for the first time a year ago we inquired as to who their top forward was. Hoffman’s name was given to us. When we watched him, though, we quickly wrote him off as someone who may have peaked early. This weekend Hoffman forced us to change our opinion. In the past he may have gotten by because he was big and strong, but he no longer has the edge in that department. He is only 5’8” or 5’9” and has to rely on skill and tenacity, which he did here. Has quick hands and feet. Made a lot of crafty plays in traffic and exhibited good hockey sense. Was another casualty of the Central District as he did not make it out to the Select 15 Festival, but we assure you that he belongs with the top ’97 forwards.
Nick Boka, D, ’97 (Compuware U16) — Michigan State recruit is developing into a big, two-way defender who plays with an edge. Has good feet for a big kid and seemed more confident with the puck on his stick this weekend than at the Select Festival over the summer. Will likely be in the conversation when it comes to piecing together the NTDP.
Vas Kolias, D, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — Plays very freely right now, which is nice to see. You can see he just loves playing the game. For every two scoring chances he creates he may give up one, but at the end of the day he’s usually a plus defender. Is a dynamic skater who displays a ton of puck confidence — nothing scares him. Is a top D-I prospect and also stands a good chance of making the NTDP.
Tarek Baker, F, ’97 (Omaha U16) — Plays with energy, pace, grit and has a fairly high skill level. Is uncommitted right now, but we do not think that will be the case for too much longer. Baker is a safe player to bring into your program because he has a chance to develop into a top six forward, but at worst he ends up being a third line energy guy who can chip in a goal here and there.
Brett Gruber, F, ’96 (Team Wisconsin U16) — Is not a player who exudes potential, but he’s someone you just know will always score goals. Is not very big – he’s around 5’8” -- but will do just about anything to score. Plays much bigger than he is and wears his heart on his sleeve. Is likely going to have to prove he can score at the USHL level before a D-I school jumps on him, but we are confident he will accomplish that.
Mitchell Vanderlaan, F, ’96 (Rothesay Netherwood) — If you missed him this weekend you may have to make the trek up to New Brunswick to see this lanky and talented forward. Projects well and is very smooth with the puck on his stick. Is very elusive in traffic. Is a draft pick of the PEI Rockets (QMJHL). Played for Canada Atlantic at the World U17 Hockey Championship last winter.
Tyson McLellan, F, ’96 (San Jose Jr. Sharks U16) — The son of San Jose Sharks (NHL) head coach Todd McLellan. Decent size kid (5’11”) with great puck skills. Makes a ton of plays, but is on a rather weak team. Not sure what his citizenship is as his father is from Melville, Saskatchewan and was coaching in Swift Current (WHL) when he was born, but has now been in the US for over 10 years. Whatever the case, the younger McLellan is a D-I/WHL prospect.
Nick Heid, D, ’97 (Minnesota Blades U16) — Arguably the top ’97-born defenseman from the state of Minnesota, at least that we have seen. That said, as it always is with hockey players from the frontier states, the best often tend to surface a little later than in other parts of the country. Heid has good size at 6’1” and has a raw skill set, but it’s clear that he thinks the game well, especially on the offensive side of the puck. Will likely be invited to the NTDP Final 40 camp.
Brett Huebner, F, ’96 (Minnesota Blades) — Had not seen or heard of the Andover (Minn.) High School forward prior to this tournament, but he was without question his team’s most consistent scoring threat. Has good hands, gets a lot of pucks to the net and has pretty good wheels. Our guess is that, playing Minnesota high school hockey, he’ll put himself on the map this season.
Ethan Szypula, F, ’97 (London Jr. Knights) — Crafty and skilled forward. Is not very big at 5’9”, but his hands and hockey smarts match up with the best of them. If an NCAA school can get through to him he’d make for an excellent college hockey player. If he decides to head to the OHL our guess is that he ends up being a 2nd or 3rd round pick this spring. Is currently leading the Jr. Knights in scoring.
Tory Dello, D, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — Notre Dame recruit is well rounded and makes a positive impact on both ends of the ice. Is 6’1” but has not really filled out yet. There are some who would make the argument that he is the top defender on a very good Mission team. Is a safe pick for the NTDP Final 40 camp.
Tony Stillwell, D, ’97 (Team Wisconsin U16) — A fun player to watch. Is a very small defenseman, our guess would be 5’7”, 140 lbs. but as sharp as a knife. Moves the puck up ice very effectively and defends well. Doesn’t seem to get himself into too many physical battles for the puck, mainly because he wins most of them with his stick. Will mature in time and his hockey IQ should remain intact. Will end up being a D-I player.
Christian Fischer, F, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — Fischer is a tough player to figure out. We feel he is someone who could go on to put up minimal points in the USHL and be a role player in college -- or he could end up right near the top of this list and be drafted into the NHL. Shows flashes up being a power forward capable of scoring goals and then goes through long stretches unnoticed.
Ethan Price, F, ’97 (Omaha U16) — Team captain and heart-and-soul player. Plays with 100% effort every shift – really wants to win. Can really fire the puck and has one of the best one-timers in his age group. Because of that he will likely always scores goals. Needs to work on becoming a more fluid skater.
Brody Stevens, F, ’97 (Compuware U16) — Someone who gets overlooked a bit because of the talent surrounding him. Is not very flashy, but his name always ends up on the score sheet. Has good hockey sense and is one of those “right place, right time” kind of players. Confident in scoring areas and has finishing abilities. Has compiled a 4-7-11 scoring line in nine games played this season, more than highly-regarded prospects Brendan Warren and JR Gates.
Grant Gabriele, D, ’97 (Compuware U16) — Last season we saw Gabriele playing for Belle Tire’s bantam team and would have had him pegged as an NTDP-caliber defender. This season he seems less confident on the #1 ranked U16 team in the country. Did not make it out to the Select 15 Festival, but we think he is one of the better defenseman we have seen at the ’97 age group. Has outstanding feet and is difficult to beat because he skates so well. Would like to see him take control of the game because we feel he has that type of ability.
Jason Dhooghe, F, ’97 (Chicago Mission) — Diminutive forward has a slick set of hands and is creative when given time and space. Is not quite as physically mature as his peers but when he catches up he will begin to attract D-I interest.
Ryan Langford, G, ’97 (London Jr. Knights) — An imposing figure in the net. Stands 6’4” and has athletic ability — a scary combination. Takes up the entire net and leaves very little to shoot at. There is a lot of work with here. Could be molded into a top netminder.
Grant Jozefek, F, ’97 (North Jersey Avalanche U16) — A smart hockey player who makes good decisions with the puck. Is rarely out of position and gives an honest effort every time he touches the ice. Is not an NTDP-level player, but he will end up in D-I hockey.
Charlie Raith, D, ’97 (Chicago Young Americans U16) — Does not have the same physical tools as some of the other top ’97-born defensemen. Is likely in the #10-20 group nationally. Has a good stick, makes an excellent first pass, and is poised on the PP. If he grows a couple inches he could shoot up this list.
Jordan Mitchell, F, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — He is what he is — a 5’9” forward who plays hard, will kill penalties, and can chip in offensively on occasion. Every D-I team needs this type of player, but they are generally not the first ones you give your scholarships to.
Elliot Gerth, G, ’97 (Chicago Mission U16) — May never be a pro, but we enjoy his game and love how aggressive he is. Is quick and athletic. If he were two or three inches bigger he’d likely be under consideration for the NTDP.
Lawton Courtnall, F, ’96 (Omaha U16) — A native of West Lake Village, California who played for the California Titans U16 team last year. Has a good all-around skill set and shows flashes of becoming a late bloomer.
Zed Dietrich, F, ‘96 (Team Wisconsin U16) — Played for the Waukesha HS in Wisconsin last year and posted an impressive 43-40-83 scoring line in 23 games played. His feet move at 100 mph. Not sure if he ends up playing D-I hockey, but he sure is an exciting player to watch.
Kevin Charyszyn, F, ’96 (NJ Rockets U16) — Smart hockey player who has a heavy shot. Would be an effective player in the New England prep school ranks.
Mason Appleton, F, ’96 (Team Wisconsin U16) — A high-end talent who we were looking forward to seeing play again. Unfortunately, he was not here with his team over the weekend. A top ’96 forward, Appleton is really coming into his own. Is growing – he’s 6’0” -- and has superb vision. Finds the man on the backdoor on the PP with regularity. Attends Notre Dame HS in Wisconsin and is someone you should make a point of getting out to see. Appleton was not at the Select 16 Festival either.
U.S. Junior Selects Advance to Title Game
In semifinal action at the World Junior A Challenge in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, the U.S. Junior Select Team topped Switzerland 7-4 last night to advance to Sunday night’s championship game against Canada West.
Nick Schilkey and Vince Hinostroza each scored two goals for the U.S., which broke out to a 5-0 lead at the 15:13 mark of the first period, leading Switzerland to replace their starting goalie, Luca Boltshauser, with Melvin Nyffeler, who fared better, stopping 17 of 19 shots the rest of the way.
Alex Kile, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Blake Heinrich also scored for the U.S.
In the U.S. net, Eamon McAdam played the first 40 minutes and stopped 23 of 24 shots; Michael Bitzer played the third and was beaten on three of the 12 shots he faced.
Sunday’s matchup against Canada West – they edged the U.S. with a 4-3 shootout win in a pre-tournament exhibition game last Saturday -- will mark the fourth time in five years that the U.S. has reached the gold medal game. The U.S. won three straight games from 2008 to 2010 before settling for the bronze last year.
Bruins Draft Pick to the Huskies
Northeastern University has a commitment from 6’0”, 200 lb. RD Matt Benning of the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL).
A 5/25/94 birthdate, Benning has played 12 games this season with a 2-4-6 scoring line with a +9 for the first place Fighting Saints.
In the USHR News of 9/25/12 we had Benning ranked #4 on our Top 25 USHL Uncommitted Player List. This is what we had to say.
The sixth round pick of the Boston Bruins (NHL) has played the last two seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League for Spruce Grove. Does everything well. Plays solid defense, but also has a good stick and makes a hard, tape-to-tape first pass. Is the son of former NHLer Brian Benning, and the nephew of Jim Benning, also a former NHLer and now the assistant GM of the...Boston Bruins.
Benning is the third member of the Dubuque squad to commit to Northeastern, joining John Stevens and Mike Szmatula.
McCoshen a Major Coup for Boston College
Maybe it isn’t exactly a ‘coup’ when you’ve won three of the last five NCAA titles, but it’s still major news: Boston College has just received a commitment for fall ’13 from 6’3”, 207 lb. Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) LD Ian McCoshen.
Most of the speculation around McCoshen, a Wisconsin native whose family now lives in Faribault, Minn., has centered on his staying in the Midwest – or even going major junior. We’d heard he was interested in North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth. Earlier, we had heard he was interested in Nebraska-Omaha and Ohio State. But we’d never heard any eastern school mentioned. Meanwhile, the 17 year old was entering his senior year – and his draft year. But nothing definitive was happening.
Early last week, McCoshen, who is reported to be a strong student with deep Irish-Catholic roots, visited Boston College – and liked it. Early this week, Eagles’ head coach Jerry York took a trip that was once commonplace for top recruits, but, due to early commitments, is now a thing of the past, and flew out to Minnesota to visit the boy’s family.
It must have gone well because now McCoshen, an 8/5/95 who would be up at the World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia right now but for a case of mono, is a future Eagle.
In late September, after the Fall Classic, we rated McCoshen #1 on our Top 25 USHL Uncommitted Player List. This is what we had to say at the time:
What more can we say about the Black Hawk’s franchise defender that has not been said already? Is arguably the most-coveted college prospect in the world. Has a good chance to be selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Is not likely to be a PP defenseman at the NHL level, but what he will do is log a lot of minutes, play against the opposition’s top lines and be a mainstay on the PK. Has good hockey sense, doesn’t complicate the game, and would be a top four defenseman on any college roster next fall. For our money he is the top ’95 defenseman in the US and could compete for a World Junior roster spot. We are told he has not selected an NCAA school because, much like Seth Jones (Everett-WHL) last year, he’s leaving the major junior option open.
Well, the major junior option is reportedly very much closed now, if it were ever really open, and McCoshen will join Steve Santini and Scott Savage to form an extremely potent freshman trio of blueliners for the Eagles next fall. Up front, Boston College will be bringing in Chris Calnan, Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, Evan Richardson, and Adam Gilmour, et al. A very strong freshman class has just been made even stronger.
McCoshen, who also played in USA Hockey’s Top Prospects game in late September, has a 1-3-4 line with a team-leading +13 in eight games played with Waterloo this season. He is in his third full season in the USHL, meaning he has been a USHL regular since one month after he turned 15 years old. Prior to joining Waterloo, McCoshen was at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Day, Brown, Krys Top ‘98s
This past weekend, USHR traveled out to Chicago, negotiated O’Hare Airport’s baggage claim area -- a sea of hockey bags and sticks – and made it on over to the Bauer World Invite. It’s quite a spectacle, with 404 teams -- from ’03s to U16’s -- competing in 26 different rinks all over the Windy City. Hockey completely takes over the town for the weekend. The tournament is well run – at its size, it better be – and they no longer charge admission. They do charge $5 for a program, but it’s about the size of a phone book. Our only gripe is the fact that it contains no heights, weights or birth years. For us, it would be quite handy to know if, for example, an ’00 or a ’99 was playing up in the ’98 division. We hate to think we might have possibly overlooked an exceptional player because we lacked such info.
In Part I of our report we focus on the ‘98s, while Part II, which will focus on the U16 players, will follow shortly. One of the things we really enjoy about this weekend is that it has become a sort of preview for the Select 15 Festival -- a coming-out party, if you will. Our first realization, while preparing for the trip to Chicago, was that the top three teams in the age group -- Honeybaked, Shattuck-St. Mary’s, and Team Comcast – would not be out there. Too bad. We were looking forward to seeing top prospects Clayton Keller, Ben Lown, JD Greenway, and Ryan Lindgren from Shattuck; AJ Drobot, Conner Matsinger, and David Melaragni from Team Comcast; and Nick Pastujov, Ryan Bederka, and Noah Lalonde from Honeybaked. All of those players would likely have landed somewhere in the top portion of the list below. It looks like we may just have to wait until either Nationals or the Select 15 Festival to see them.
That said, we are confident that the top three players on the list below – Sean Day, Logan Brown, and Chad Krys -- are the top three ‘98s in the country. Players of their caliber do not come along every year. Each is a special player, fun to watch, and with an excellent chance of having a long career in hockey.
While Day, Brown, and Krys are the prodigies, the group of 45 players we’ve ranked below contains some exemplary talent. It’s also a very deep group, which bodes well for USA Hockey.
1. Sean Day, D (Compuware U16) — This was our second viewing of the former Honeybaked defender as we saw him over the summer when his game was clearly in summer mode. That is not what we saw here. When Compuware played Omaha, two of the top teams in the country, Day was the best player on the ice. At about 6’3” his skating is just effortless and his form is near perfect. Not only that, but he defends well, has a good sense of the game and -- when he needs to be -- he can be downright mean. We saw him absolutely flatten an Omaha forward with his head down, an NHL-level hit that took the breath out of the entire building. Right now we feel that the Compuware defender is the top ’98 prospect we have seen, and has 1st round NHL draft potential. We also feel that if he chooses to play in the CHL and applies for exceptional player status, he will be the first American to given the honor. Only three players have been granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada—John Tavares (New York Islanders- NHL), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie-OHL) and Conner McDavid (Erie-OHL). We had the opportunity to see Ekblad as a 14 year old and feel that Day is step ahead of him in his development. We have seen some good American defenders in recent years, Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones, and Noah Hanifin. Day is right in that mix.
2. Logan Brown, F (St. Louis Blues U14) — In recent years the top American forward prospects have been Patrick Kane (Chicago-NHL), James Van Riemsdyk (Toronto-NHL), Colin Wilson (Nashville-NHL), Alex Galchenyuk (Sarnia-OHL) and Jack Eichel (NTDP). Logan Brown will join this list. The son of former NHL defenseman Jeff Brown is a physical specimen who, at 14, is already 6’3”, 190 lbs. or so – a budding Eric Lindros/Rick Nash hybrid. He bulls his way around the ice, protects the puck, shoots like a pro and, most importantly, thinks the game at a high level. Is on a completely different level than his peers. There are really no holes in his game and, as he fills out, he will only get better. A no-brainer for the NTDP, Brown will be pursued hard by the OHL where he very well could be a top pick. His father played four seasons for the Sudbury Wolves (OHL) so it will be interesting to see in which direction he goes.
3. Chad Krys, D (Connecticut Oilers U16) — Having Krys #3 on this list is a very good sign of things to come for USA Hockey because the BU legacy – he’s the son of Mark Krys, a former d-man for the Terriers -- is pretty exceptional is his own right. Krys is a different player than Day in the sense that he is more offensive, takes more risks, and is not quite as polished right now. When you look at pro upside the Westchester Express product oozes with potential, but he is also probably two or three inches shorter than Day, thus giving the Compuware defender the nod. We are told that Krys will likely be going the college route where his short list of schools includes BU, BC, Harvard and Yale. Our sources tell us he has firm offers on the table, but is in no rush to make a decision. A converted forward, Krys is an effortless skater who can single handedly take over games. Lives in Connecticut and falls in the QMJHL’s territory, which bodes well for the NTDP as the Quebec League never seems to present the same challenges for USA Hockey as does the OHL or the WHL.
4. Zach Walker, F (Colorado Thunderbirds U16) — We don’t want to take anything away from Walker, but we should note that after the top three players on this list there is a bit of a drop-off. That said, Walker is a skilled forward -- an explosive and powerful skater who plays a complete game and is not afraid to get his nose dirty to score a goal. Right now he is bigger and stronger than most players his age, so a lot of his development will hinge on whether or not he continues to grow. Played Tier II hockey last year for the Idaho Jr. Steelheads. Will likely be a high WHL draft pick and an NTDP prospect.
5. Adam Fox, D (Long Island Gulls U14) — His mind and skill set are exceptional. Is very elusive and has the puck on a string. Is at his best when under pressure and has mastered the art of sucking forecheckers in before moving the puck up ice. Is not very big -- 5’9” or so -- and is not exactly a dynamic skater, which could limit his pro potential, but there is no doubt that he is a blue-chipper in eyes of NCAA schools. Will be a favorite to make the NTDP in a couple of years. We are told he is considering two schools: Harvard and Yale. By the way, it has been interesting to watch Harvard and Yale battle for Long Island talent. In recent years Rob O’Gara (Yale/Milton Academy), Ryan Hitchcock (NTDP), Nolan Aibel (NJ Rockets-MET) and Frankie DiChiara (Dubuque-USHL) have chosen the Eli while Pat McNally (Harvard/Milton Academy), Brandon Fortunato (NTDP) and Jeremy Bracco (NJ Rockets-MET) have opted for the Crimson.
6. Trent Frederic, F (St. Louis Blues U14) — An all-around player who does everything at a pretty high level. Is tall and lanky right now and has a good mind for offense. Knows what to do in the scoring area and keeps his head up in traffic. It appears he still has some growing and filling out to do. Has the earmarks of a D-I and NTDP prospect.
7. Keenan Suthers, F (Compuware U14) — A big, strong, fast, north/south forward whose best hockey is ahead of him, Suthers has a good set of hands on him and can make a play, but does not complicate the game. Keeps things simple and plays hard. Is someone who is effective in all situations and will likely be on the ice when his team is up or down by goal at the end of the game. Defected over to Compuware from Honeybaked this year. It’s a bit early to tell, but we feel he will make a strong bid to play for the NTDP.
8. Alec Mahalak, D (Compuware U14) — The younger brother of RJ and Matt Mahalak, both of whom chose to play in Plymouth (OHL) rather than taking the NCAA route. If Alec reaches the size of his two older brothers, 6’2” and 6’3” respectively, he will skyrocket up this list. Right now he is on the small side, but he’s a smart puck mover with an excellent stick, so manages to stand out. Plays his position well and is very savvy with the puck on his stick. Wherever he ends up our guess is that he will be running the PP.
9. Cole Hults, D (Team Wisconsin U14) — Has a lot of natural ability. Gets up and the ice very well for a tall kid and enjoys jumping into the rush and creating offense. Has a lot of confidence which bodes well for his future. Our guess is that Hults develops in a D-I and NTDP prospect.
10. Ty Farmer, D (St. Louis Blues U14) --- A good skater with a fantastic stick. Has that “quick twitch” that scouts love to see. Is able to make intelligent decisions under pressure. While Farmer is not very tall, there is no doubt that D-I schools are going to love his game when they see him. Runs the St. Louis PP. Is aggressive defensively and plays bigger than his size.
11. Tommy Mohs, G (Team Wisconsin U14) — We have never claimed to be experts when it comes to evaluating goalies, but some kids have obvious talent and Mohs is one of them. Has a fluidness to his game, thus making the position look very easy. We did not spend a lot of time evaluating netminders as there were a ton of players to see, but if we could pick one ’98 goalie here Mohs would be our guy. Has good size and projects well.
12. Keeghan Howdeshell, F (Compuware U14) — Regarded as a top ’98 forward within the hockey community, Howdeshell has good size at 5’11” and is a strong skater. His best qualities, though, are his hands and shot, both of which are advanced for his age. When given time and space Howdeshell can be lethal on the PP. Reminds us a little bit of former Compuware forward Brady Vail (Windsor-OHL) at the same age. When Vail was 14 we questioned whether or not he had peaked early, but the Spitfires forward has proven that not be to be the case as he was recently drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 4th round and currently leads the Spits in scoring. Time will tell if Howdeshell can follow that same progression.
13. Blake Bargar, F (Arizona Bobcats U14) — Part of a recent surge of talent coming from the Arizona Bobcats organization, Bargar played last season for the LA Jr. Kings ’97 team. Is going to score a lot of goals because his hands and release are extremely quick. Plays with a good amount of grit and energy and enjoys being in high traffic areas. Our guess is that he will be watched closely by the NTDP staff over the course of the next 17 months. That said, the WHL is doing their best to tap into top talent from the dessert and Bargar will likely be drafted this spring.
14. Keegan Mantaro, D (Colorado Thunderbirds U14) — Could be the most intelligent defenseman we saw in this age group over the weekend. Mantaro is on the small side and is not a burner, but his mind and hands make him a top prospect. Makes an outstanding first pass and can really zip the puck around the ice. Makes rink-wide tape-to-tape passes with ease. Will find his way onto D-I recruiters’ lists in the near future.
15. Luke Martin, D (St. Louis Blues U14) — Martin is raw right now, but has a ton of upside. Has good size -- 6’1” -- and the first thing that will catch your eye is his skating, which is very smooth and fluid. Has not figured out how good he is and does not have that instinct to take over games, or at least we did not see it. Uses a small stick -- when he lengthens it out it will give him a more advantageous reach. Martin is a high-end prospect who could end up near the top of this list in a couple of years.
16. Carson Bergstrom, D (Arizona Bobcats U14) — Big, strong and physical -- a meat-and-potatoes defenseman who plays with an edge. Has good feet for someone his size and is pretty coordinated overall. Defends well, makes a good first pass, and keeps things simple. Bergstrom is someone you want on your team; not someone you want to play against. Will be another kid that we think will attract the attention of WHL scouts. Played for the Wenatchee Jr. Wild Bantam AAA team last season.
17. Jonathan Precopio, F (Compuware U14) — Big, strong, and shoots the puck like a pro. Is only in his second season of Tier I hockey as just two years ago he was topping the scoring charts for the Allen Park Huskies. There is a lot to work with here and our guess is that Precopio is only going to get better. He’s someone we think the NTDP and OHL will be watching over the next two seasons.
18. Sam Sternschein, F (Long Island Gulls U14) — There is a lot to like about the Long Island product. When you see him skating around the first word that will pop into your head is “pro.” He has that tall, lanky frame – he’s 6’2” – and a nice long stride that makes scouts drool. That said, our knock on him is that there are long stretches of games where he is not involved. With his talent he should be dominant at this age, but there are times when he is not even the most productive forward on his own team.
19. Cal Foote, D (Colorado Thunderbirds U14) — The son of NHL veteran and likely Hall of Fame defenseman Adam Foote, who is also the head coach of his team. We did not see the same physical edge as his father, but as he matures and adds muscle that will likely come. Other than that he plays the game similarly to his dad. Takes care of business in his own end, makes smart/conservative decisions with the puck, and has a reliable stick. Will probably not develop into a PP quarterback type, but is good enough to play a support role.
20. James Sanchez, F (Chicago Young Americans U14) — A rangy forward with a good stick, Sanchez creates offense and works hard. Appears to be pretty thin right now and will likely be a much different player once he fills out. Was the leading scorer for the Chicago Mission’s ’98 team last year, but made the move to CYA for this season. It should be noted that the Mission have really seemed to miss a beat with the ’98 group. Their bantam major teams have traditionally been nationally contenders, but that will likely not be the case with this group.
21. Michael Alfaro, D (Team Wisconsin U14) — A small defender with good vision. Does not try to do too much, just effectively moves the puck up ice. Has a soft set of hands and looks right at home on the PP. Alfaro probably won’t get a lot of attention at a young age, but our money is on his developing into a puck-moving defender at the D-I level.
22. Brendan Less, D (New Jersey Devils U14) — A graceful skater who is as smooth as they come on his edges. Is on the small side, but his feet are so good that he rarely puts himself in physical battles for the puck. The top ’98 team two years ago was the NJ Colonials, a team won Nationals and has since scattered across the Atlantic District. Less was a big part of that squad.
23. Davis Bunz, D (Team Wisconsin U14 — The younger brother of Jake Bunz, a top ’95 in Wisconsin. A big kid who can really skate and will play a shutdown role at higher levels. We don’t know how high-end he is, but he is a safe bet to be in the upper echelon of ’98-born defenseman. We did not see him get beat in any 1x1 situations.
24. Jack Kopacka, F (Compuware U14) — A tall kid with a smooth set of hands and good hockey sense, Kopacka does not have the best feet, but he appears to be in the right spot and the puck seems to find him. Played for Honeybaked last year and is another one of the defectors. Has always played on a top team and thus has never been in a starring role. Could end up being someone who gradually moves up this list.
25. Kailer Yamamoto, F (LA Jr. Kings U14) — The younger brother of Keanu Yamamoto, a top player on the LA Jr. Kings U16 team. We think Kailer will end up being the better of the two brothers. Plays the game at a fast pace, has a quick set of hands and is a faster skater than his brother. Played for the Wenatchee Jr. Wild bantam AAA team last year and posted a 12-25-37 scoring line in just 23 games played.
26. Austin Osmanski, D (Buffalo Regals U14) — Is a project right now and far from polished, but has a lot of upside. Is very tall (6’2”) and when he gets going he has a really nice stride. Needs to add leg strength and explosiveness to his skating, but once he does Osmanski will be a top prospect. His head coach is former NHLer Matthew Barnaby.
27. Ethan Frank, F (Omaha AAA Hockey Club U16) — A 14 year old playing on one of the top U16 teams in the country -- and contributing, too. The only game we were able to see him play was against Compuware, which featured some of the best ‘97s in the country. It was not a game in which Frank had a lot of time and space to make plays. While we can see his skill and smarts, we will be able to get a better feel for his game once we see him as a go-to guy.
28. Trenton Bliss, F (Team Wisconsin U14) — Quick hands, good vision, and makes play after play. Bliss is an intelligent player who knows how to possess the puck. Skating needs to improve, but we felt he was Team Wisconsin’s top forward nonetheless
29. Matthew Novo, F (Buffalo Regals U14) — Is small and an awkward skater, but Novo’s hands and shot are top notch. When you watch him you know he’s going to score goals. Reminds us a lot of Brett Sterling (NTDP/Colorado College) at the same age. Sterling went on to have a great career, but when he was younger everyone was waiting for his size and skating to slow him down, but it never quite did. Sterling reached the NHL and is currently leading the Chicago Wolves (AHL) in scoring.
30. Sam Field, F (New Jersey Devils U14) — Has a good skill level to go along with pretty good size. Does not have one attribute that really grabs your attention, but Field is a solid player across the board. Has a good release on his shot and can light the lamp when left unattended in scoring areas.
31. Mitchell Mendonca, F (Southern Tier Admirals U14) — Plays both forward and defense, but we found him to be most effective on the back end. Is not that big (5’9”), but has a high skill level and is really good when the play is in front of him. Was very effective playing the point on the PP – very poised. When he was playing forward he seemed a bit tentative and perimeter for our liking.
32. Joseph Woll, G (St. Louis Blues U14) — Is athletic, skilled and aggressive—all good qualities for a goalie. The top goalie on arguably the top team in the country. Gets from pipe-to-pipe quickly and is not shy about challenging shooters if it means coming out his net to cut down the angle. We have not seen the entire pool, but our guess is Woll’s name will be in the conversation when the NTDP begins making short lists of goalies to watch.
33. Nick Woodward, D (Russell Stover) — A heads-up defenseman who makes a good outlet pass. Steady and consistent. Has a good stick and appears to make good decisions with the puck.
34. Nicholas Caamano, F (Hamilton Bulldogs U14) — Has a lot of talent, and is a great skater. Uses his speed to create time and space for himself. We would like to see him add more grit to his game and compete a little harder in the tough ice. If Caamano rounds out his game he could become a top OHL/NCAA prospect.
35. Christopher Berger, F (Buffalo Regals U14) — The captain of the Regals. Plays hard and competes in all three zones. Can really skate and has the ability to make plays.
36. Brandon Morgan, F (Compuware U14) — A complete player, strong in all three zones. Does not have the same offensive flair as some of his teammates, but is very useful and someone you want on your team. A good-sized kid who skates well and competes. Tracks pucks and knows how to protect it too. Will get better as he progresses through the ranks.
37. Eric Linell, F (Long Island Gulls U14) — An exciting little player to watch, the younger brother of BC forward Danny Linell is a spark plug with quick hands and a creative mind. Has good feet and is very quick out the gates. Very small right now; needs time to physically mature.
38. Just Cmunt, D (Buffalo Regals U14) — A puck-moving defenseman who does not immediately jump out at you, but if you watch him closely you will begin to value his game. Makes good plays and is responsible defensively. Gives you good minutes when he’s on the ice.
39. Brendan D’Agostino, F (Hamilton Bulldogs U14) — We would not have guessed that Hamilton would win this division. We also would not have guessed that D’Agostino would be named tournament MVP. A productive player, he really came through in the clutch — there is a lot to be said for that.
40. Augie Burkhardt, F (New Jersey Devils U14) — Does not have a flashy skill set -- in fact, quite the opposite. One of those players who does not look pretty doing it, but is always creating offense and finds his name on the score sheet. Good hockey sense; knows what to do when he gets the puck.
41. Colin Swoyer, D (Chicago Fury U14) — Good stick. Crafty. Looks comfortable quarterbacking a PP.
42. Jeffrey Rymarcyk, D (Buffalo Regals U14) — Tall defenseman with a good stick. Makes a lot of heads-up plays. Skating has a long way to go, but if he can iron it out he will quickly move up this list.
43. Taylor Schneider, F (Russell Stover U14) — Small, but crafty and fun to watch. Makes plays. Tough to defend against in tight spaces.
44. Evan Pace, F (San Jose Sharks U14) — Good-sized forward who can skate. North/south winger who could develop into a power forward.
45. Jonathan Schafer, D (Hamilton Bulldogs U14) — Serves as captain of the Bulldogs. A good skater who is physical, defends well, and is involved offensively. Does everything well. Is on the small side and will need to grow in order to remain an elite defender at this level.
Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) forward Mike Szmatula, who committed to Sacred Heart University in May, and decommitted last month, has committed to Northeastern University.
Szmatula, who totally flew under the radar, was the MVP and scoring leader of the Maritime Junior Hockey League last season. In 12 games with Dubuque this season he has an 8-7-15 line.
This is what we wrote after watching Szmatula at the USHL Fall Classic in September:
The Sacred Heart University coaching staff – C.J. Marottolo, Lou Santini, and Scott McDougall – all have keen eyes when it comes to evaluating players, and they have come up with a diamond in the rough in Dubuque Fighting Saints 5’10”, 183 lb. forward Mike Szmatula, a ’92 from Commerce Township, Michigan who, last winter, was plying his trade way up on Prince Edward Island, playing for the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League where he led the league in scoring with a 36-51-87 line in 52 games played.
Szmatula is good enough to be playing right now for Sacred Heart, which has won only six games in each of the last two years. We expect that Szmatula, playing for Jim Montgomery’s squad, will continue to develop by leaps and bounds. We also expect that other big conference NCAA schools will start sniffing around, and we could have another potential Kevin Roy situation in the making. In the NCAA, it’s the Wild West.
Kevin Roy, you may recall, committed to Brown -- for this fall -- while playing for Deerfield Academy two years ago, then went out and lit it up in the USHL last season. He and his brother, Derick, a goaltender who had played at St. Paul’s and in the EJHL and had also committed to Brown, both decommitted from the Ivy League school in late July. Less than two weeks later, a month before the start of school, the brothers then committed to Northeastern, drawing angry reactions from the Brown coaching staff and many in the college hockey community who felt that the forward had been recruited by the Huskies staff while under his commitment to Brown, which, like all Ivy League schools, does not utilize signed letters of intent.
Like we said, it really is the Wild West out there.
UConn's Marshall Taking Medical Leave
In a press release this morning the University of Connecticut Athletic Department announced that head coach Bruce Marshall is taking a medical leave of absence.
Here is the announcement, in its entirety:
STORRS, Conn. -- University of Connecticut men’s ice hockey head coach Bruce Marshall will take a personal medical leave of absence effective immediately. UConn assistant coach David Berard will assume Marshall’s responsibilities during his absence. The University or Marshall will have no further comment on this matter.
Mass District Tournament
Here are the schedules for the Mass. District U18 and U14s this weekend at the Foxboro Sports Center in Foxboro, Mass.. We'll add in the U16s as soon as we receive it.
Yale Showcase Schedule (Revised)
Here is an updated schedule for the Yale Showcase, scheduled for Sun. Nov. 18 at Ingalls Rink; New Haven, Conn. The matchups are the same as we reported a couple of days ago, but the times of most games have been changed.
8:00 am -- Williston vs. Pomfret
10:00 am -- Northwood vs. Gunnery
12:00 pm -- Milton vs. NMH
2:00 pm -- Hill Academy U-18 vs. Culver
4:00 pm -- Selects U-16 vs. Hill Academy U-16
6:00 pm -- Selects U-18 vs. Jr. Rockets
Fitzgerald Hat Trick Leads US Jr. Selects
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia -- Ryan Fitzgerald of the Valley Jr. Warriors (EJHL), the only non-USHL player on the roster, scored three first period goals -- two even strength, and one on the PP -- to lead the U.S. Under-18 Select Team to a 9-1 victory over Canada East in their opening game at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge at the Mariners' Center here tonight.
Zach Stepan scored two goals for the U.S., while Taylor Cammarata (ppg), Vince Hinostroza (shg), Dan Molenaar, and Justin Woods (ppg) each added one goal.
Hinostroza was named U.S. Player of the Game.
Eamon McAdam stopped 26 of 27 shots in the U.S. net, and came up big in the first period, when Canada East had five power play opportunities. The U.S. outshot Canada East 43-27.
Canada East went 0-for10 on the powerplay, while the U.S. Jr. Selects went 3-for-10.
"In the first period, goaltender Eamon McAdam made a number of big saves and helped us kill five penalties; without that it's a totally different game," said Brett Larson, the U.S. Jr. Selects head coach. "It started with solid goaltending and defense. Then we played the right way by using our speed on offense and we got rewarded for that."
Next up for the U.S. -- on Tuesday night -- is Switzerland, which will complete group A play.
Here’s the U.S. 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-- out with mono, replaced by Justin Wade -- Fargo), 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
The U.S. Schedule
Sat. Nov. 3 -- Canada West (exhib.), L 3-4 (SO)
Mon. Nov. 5 -- Canada East, W, 9-1
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 Group A with Canada East and Switzerland.
The opposite pool consists of Canada West, Russia, and the Czech Republic.
DiChiara to Yale
Dubuque Fighting Saints forward Frankie DiChiara, who had committed to Princeton in May but decommitted in early September, has now committed to Yale.
Di Chiara, who has good hands and sees the ice very well, is a 9/22/93 birthdate from Ronkonkoma, NY. In September, right after the USHL Fall Classic, we had him ranked #16 on our Top 25 Uncommitted Players in the USHL list (USHR News, 9/25/12). This is what we had to say about him at the time: “DiChiara is a big, strong power forward with a heavy shot. When he is playing hard and getting his nose dirty the Ronkokoma, NY native is very effective. The pace of his game seemed to tail off a bit as the weekend progressed -- our guess is that the hulking winger may be carrying a touch too much weight.”
DiChiara played last season for the St. Louis Bandits (NAHL). The year before, ’10-11, he played for the Long Island Royals (MJHL), where he put up an eye-popping 57-45-102 line in 34 games and was named league MVP.
Bay State Breakers (EJHL) 6'2", 200 lb. goalie Ben Halford, meanwhile, has committed to Princeton.
A 5/16/93 birthdate from Lenox, Mass., Halford is in this second year in the EJHL, having previously starred at Albany Academy.
In 14 games this season, he has a 2.08 gaa and a .948 save percentage.
Shea Leaves Q Again
Brandon Shea has left the Québec Remparts (QMJHL), packing up during Thursday’s practice and returning home to his Massachusetts home. The 17-year-old forward told Québec media that he was leaving for “personal reasons.”
Shea, a first round pick of Moncton in 2011, had two goals and two assists in 14 games for the first-place Remparts. His head coach, Patrick Roy, told Le Journal de Québec that, “We had a good discussion and Brandon returned home. He wants to take time to think and question. He did not get the results he had hoped for here.”
“When he feels ready to play well, we will try to gradually reinsert him into the lineup,” Roy continued. “There is no deadline.”
Shea, a ’95 from Marshfield, Mass., is the son of former Boston College forward and current NHL scout Neil Shea. After playing varsity at Nobles as an 8th and 9th grader between ‘09-11, the younger Shea committed early to Boston College. He also committed to the NTDP, but switched course and went to Moncton instead, giving up his NCAA eligibility. However, in late February of last season, Shea left Moncton, where he had a 3-7-10 line in 45 games, and returned home.
Over this past summer there was much talk about where Shea would play this winter. The Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) and the South Shore Kings (EJHL) were mentioned, along with a possible trade within the Q.
While the Q prevailed then, now it’s the EJHL’s turn. South Shore Kings coach Scott Harlow, a Boston College teammate of Shea’s father, hopes to get his friend’s son back on track.
“The kid has been hammered by all the social media and everything for two years now,” said Harlow. “I think he needs someone who believes in him.”
“Everyone is saying he quit,” Harlow continued. “The kid liked it up there, but between Patrick (Roy) and him…well, Patrick feels there are issues he has to deal with.”
“I just want him to get the passion back, and the love of hockey back. He needs to have fun playing hockey again. He’s extremely talented, but he’s been through a lot.”
“I’m going to give him every opportunity to show what kind of hockey player he is. I feel I have been able to get a lot out of high-end forwards here, whether it’s Jimmy Vesey or Charlie Coyle or Chris Calnan. I’m hoping to do the same with Brandon.”
Shea, who is in his draft year but has obviously seen his stock plummet, will practice Friday with the Kings and be in the lineup next Wednesday when they play the Middlesex Islanders.
Advantage Hosting Tier I Showcase
The Boston Advantage is hosting a Tier I Midget Major Showcase this weekend (Nov. 2-4) at the Pilgrim Arena in Hingham, Mass. There will be eight teams on hand – the Boston Advantage, Team Comcast, Jr. Flyers, Little Caps, Cleveland Barons, Belle Tire, Oakland Grizzlies, and Victory Honda.
Fall Prep All-Star Rosters
On Sunday November 11, the inaugural all-star game between the two fall prep hockey leagues – the New England Fall Prep Hockey League (Salem, NH) and the Western New England Fall Prep Hockey League (Newington, Conn.) – will be held at Matthews Arena, on the campus of Northeastern University. Game time is 10:00 am. If you’ve never been there, Matthews Arena, one of the truly historic college hockey arenas, is at 238 St. Botolph St., Boston, Mass. 02115. So set your GPS. And if you’re too old to be using a GPS, well, you’ve probably been there dozens of times and could make the trip blindfolded, not something we suggest.
This, by the way, should be a great way to kick off the 2012-13 prep hockey season. We fully expect, unlike an NHL All-Star game, that these two teams will be playing to win.
Rosters (Excel File)