A Good Name in Boston
5’10”, 175 lb. Chilliwack Chiefs forward Luke Esposito – the leading scorer in the BCHL -- has committed to Harvard for the fall of ‘13.
A 10/18/93 birthdate, Esposito is a Greenwich, Conn. native and graduated in the spring from the Brunswick School, where he was the third-leading scorer and co-captain of the team last year. Esposito plays a good all-around game, competes hard, and, as he’s grown stronger, has continually improved his skating. His strength is his ability to make plays. He has good bloodlines too. NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier is his uncle. Doug Messier, Mark’s father -- and recently coach of the Mid-Fairfield Blues U18s -- is his grandfather.
Last season at Brunswick, Esposito had a 14-33-47 line in 29 games played. In the BCHL this season, he’s played 27 games thus far, and has a 10-27-37 line.
Miami was recruiting him, as well as other Ivies. In addition to Harvard, Princeton and Cornell were reported to be in the picture.
By the way, 11 of the BCHL’s top 12 scorers sorted by points per game are now committed to Div. I schools. The only one who isn’t is West Kelowna Warriors LC Seb Lloyd, who we wrote about back in September from the BCHL Pre-Season showcase. A ’94, he’s a top student – look for him to go Ivy too.
Harvard sophomore defenseman Max Everson, who has played in all the Crimson’s games thus far this season, was added by the Omaha Lancers (USHL) to their protected player list this week.
Happy New Year, Everyone!
We just want to take a minute to wish all USHR readers our very best wishes for the New Year. Without you we wouldn’t exist, and that is something we deeply appreciate. Have a great 2013, and may the river be long, glassy-smooth, and frozen -- and the wind at your back.
BB&N Showcase All-Tournament Team
On Sunday afternoon host BB&N, in a back-and-forth championship game, tied Dexter, 4-4, on a Connor Hegarty goal with 15 seconds left in regulation. After a scoreless OT, the teams went to a shootout, which was won by Dexter 3-2, with Colgate recruit Tim Harrison notching the winner.
Trevor Fidler, Sr. F, Dexter
G: Pat Fraser, Dexter, Jr.
G: Matt DeLuccia, BB&N, Sr.
D: Nikko Markham, Tilton, PG
D: Charlie Donners, Dexter, Sr.
D: Connor Hegarty, BB&N, Sr.
D: Brian Rowland, BB&N, Sr.
D: Austin Rook, Rivers, Soph.
F: Miles Gendron, Rivers, Jr.
F: Tim Harrison, Dexter, Sr.
F: Ryan Donato, Dexter, Soph.
F: Blaise Healy, Tilton, Sr.
F: Brendon Kerrigan, BB&N, Sr.
F: Joe Czarnota, BB&N, Sr.
USHR's Top Juniors
Here is our second class list of the season: the juniors. Our methodology is the same as with the senior class list we published a little over two weeks ago. What we’ve done is simply combine what a player brings to the table right now – i.e., how much are they impacting the outcomes of prep/high school games -- with their potential. Some rankings are weighted a little more toward the former, others toward the latter. And when we talk about potential, we’re thinking primarily college.
Interestingly, there aren’t many goalies in the 11th grade this year. There are plenty of seniors and sophs, but juniors are few to be found. With that in mind, perhaps it will come as less of a surprise that we have ranked none. We can’t just stick players on here without a compelling reason. However, we have four goalies in the “honorable mention” section who could move up. The majority of the season lies ahead of us, after all.
1. Michael Ederer, F, ’96 (Nichols/St. Lawrence) — Ederer is following in the footsteps of former Nichols forward, Harvard recruit, and current NTDP forward Sean Malone in the sense that the NTDP might consider adding Ederer next season. The late-blooming forward is an explosive skater with a goal scorer’s shot release. Will be tracked by closely by NHL scouts next season. Keeps improving.
2. Joey Dudek, F, ’96 (Kimball Union/Boston College) — The former Pinkerton Academy star forward is ultra-skilled and dangerous on the man advantage. Has grown over the course of this season and as he fills out he will only get better. Is the top scorer on arguably the top high school team in the country.
3. Tyler Hill, F, ’95 (Hotchkiss/Uncommitted) — The 6’6”, 225 lb. forward was the #1 topic of discussion amongst scouts at the Flood-Marr tournament. For a big man, he has soft hands -- and it is very hard to come across players who combine those two attributes. One NHL executive swore to the moon and back that someone would take the Hagersville, Ontario native in the top two rounds of this year’s draft. Remains uncommitted.
4. Lewis Zerter-Gossage, F, ’95 (Kent/Uncommitted) — 6’2” forward is yet another big man with soft hands. The Montreal native has great poise, hockey sense, and knows how to protect the puck. If his pace improves NHL/NCAA teams will take notice. Is a project with a high upside.
5. Brendan Shane, F, ’96 (Gunnery/UConn) — Rochester, NY native can really fly and has the ability to make plays at top speed. The former Toronto Young National will be effective at the NCAA level because his feet are so good.
6. Andrew Gaus, F, ’95 (Taft/Yale) — Lanky forward is a smooth skater with a quick set of hands. Has begun to fill out and it is showing in his play as the Wexford, Pennsylvania native has produced a 6-8-14 scoring line through the Rhino’s first seven games. The next highest scorer on his team has seven points.
7. Evan Smith, F, ’96 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — Smith, the top marksman for the Crimson Knights so far this season, is a natural junior who has seven goals in his first nine prep games. The Stouffville, Ontario native has strong hockey sense, soft hands, and a quick release.
8. Nicholas Hutchinson, F, ’95 (Avon/Uncommitted) — The former Long Island Royal is currently the Winged Beavers’ top scorer. The 6’2”, 185 lb. Hicksville, NY native is elusive in traffic, protects the puck well, and could end up being a heck of a player should he add another step or two to his skating.
9. Conner Wynne, D, ’95 (Milton/Uncommitted) — North Jersey Avalanche product is an effortless skater who has excellent glide speed. Moves pucks up the ice effectively, has a great stick, and displays poise on the PP. Is only about 165 lbs. right now and will be much improved when he adds weight and muscle to his frame.
10. JC Brassard, D, ’95 (Nobles/Uncommitted) — Crafty defender was a depth defenseman last season and has come out of nowhere and is currently leading the Bulldogs in scoring from the back end. Scituate, Mass native sees the ice well and can really distribute the puck, especially on the PP.
11. Wiley Sherman, D, ’95 (Hotchkiss/Harvard) — At the end of the day, the Harvard recruit could be the next Hal Gill and have a long career in the NHL. As for now, the 6’6” defenseman still has a long way to go and must still be classified as a project — one who will likely hear his name called in the NHL draft.
12. RJ Gicewicz, D, ’95 (Nichols/St. Lawrence) — Puck-moving defenseman can play in all situations. Has represented the US in international play each of the last two summers. A good support player on the PP.
13. Will Toffey, D, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — It is not easy to find 6’2”, 200 lb. defensemen who are explosive skaters, defend well, and have some offensive upside —Toffey fits that bill. The Barnstable, Mass native currently has 11 points in nine games.
14. Richie Boyd, D, ’95 (Cushing/Uncommitted) — Character player who defends with an edge and has an absolute bomb of a shot. Thinks the game quicker than his brothers, both Cushing grads. Is a shoe-in to be the Penguins’ captain next season.
15. Charlie Corcoran, F, ’95 (Berkshire/Brown) — The Brown recruit had a fantastic summer and looked as if he was on the verge of a breakout season, but through nine games the New Canaan, Conn. native has yet to score a goal. When he plays with skill and grit he is a lot of fun to watch. Because he plays with Craig Puffer, who is a workaholic, Corcoran has found himself waiting for pucks instead of getting them himself.
16. John Zimmerman, D, ’96 (Culver/Uncommitted) — New England scouts will get a good long look at the Arlington, Texas native at the Cushing Tournament this weekend. The smallish (5’9”, 175 lb.) defenseman can be overlooked because of his size, but that would be a mistake. The natural junior is strong on his skates and as puck savvy as they come.
17. Jon Barry, D, ’95 (Thayer/Uncommitted) — Every time we have seen Barry at a showcase he has never really stood out. That said, when the 6’2” defender is in his comfort zone up at the Canton SportsPlex he can be downright dominant. A fast skater with a long stride who is very active on the offensive blue-line.
18. Corey Ronan, F, ’95 (St. Sebastian’s/Uncommitted) — “What is he at the next level?” “Can he be more than an energy guy?” These are the questions that surround the Arrows’ sparkplug. One thing we can say for sure is that there is no doubt he is a D-I player — and perhaps the quickest skater In prep hockey. Needs to add a little more finish.
19. Joey Caffrey, F, ’95 (Choate/Uncommitted) — With the exception of his size (5’9”, 170 lb.) there is nothing not to like about his game. The Ramsey, NJ native is smart, unselfish, quick, and can bury the puck when given an opportunity. The Wild Boars’ #1 center.
20. Trevor Yates, F, ’95 (Deerfield/Uncommitted) — Strong power forward takes care of the puck and is an excellent possession player. Is the top scorer and most consistent performer up front for the Big Green this season, posting a 7-5-12 scoring line in nine games played.
21. Daniel LaFontaine, F, ’95 (Avon/Uncommitted) — All by now know that Daniel is the son of Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine. The former Long Island Royal will likely never be the type of player his father was, but he is still smart, honest, and has a lot of skill. Producing at a point-a-game pace thus far this season.
22. Adam Tracey, F, ’95 (Berkshire/Uncommitted) — Right place, right time kind of player. The puck seems to follow him all over the ice. Is playing on the team’s second line in order to balance out the attack. His numbers would be better this season if the threesome of Tracey-Puffer-Corcoran were assembled.
23. Mitchell Allen, F, ’95 (Kent/Uncommitted) — 6’2” forward has improved an awful lot over the last 15 months, but you still walk away after watching him wanting to see a little bit more. Has the makings of a D-I player, just has to put it all together.
24. Tyler Bird, F, ’96 (St. John’s Prep/Uncommitted) — Tall forward has a lot of upside, but is still working on figuring out how to effectively use his size to his advantage. In one year’s time he could move way up this list and onto NHL scout’s radar.
25. Jake McCarthy, D, ’96 (St. Sebastian’s/Uncommitted) — When we watched the Dedham, Mass native last season we felt he was a bit of a wild stallion. That is no longer the case. The 6’0” defender is playing a much more composed game this season. McCarthy, along with sophomore Noah Hanifin, could be the top D pairing in the ISL.
26. James Winkler, F, ’96 (Berwick/Uncommitted) — Berwick’s top scorer is a tall and lanky 6’3”, 185 lbs. and has a great reach. Could get NHL interest in his draft year. Has six goals in seven games this season.
27. Tommy Besinger, F, ’94 (BC High/Uncommitted) — As smart a player as there is in the Catholic Conference. Crafty little forward will need to bulk up and add a gear before D-I schools come knocking.
28. Matt O’Donnell, D, ’95 (Loomis Chaffee/Uncommitted) — Fountain Valley, California native is a big part of Loomis’s resurgence. The puck-wise defenseman leads the Pelicans in points and goals — an impressive feat for a d-man. Has seven goals in nine games played. Great on the PP.
29. Corey Moriarty, D, ’95 (NMH/Uncommitted) — A home-run defender at the prep school level. The Estero, Florida native has a reliable stick and makes a crisp first pass. At 5’10” tall he may not be dynamic enough for the D-I level, but he is certainly someone you want to take a look at.
30. Craig Puffer, F, ’95 (Berkshire/Uncommitted) — Someone you love to have on your team -- a tireless worker who hunts down pucks and spends a lot of his time in the tough areas of the ice, i.e. the corners and in front of the net. Has more offensive upside than he gets credit for. Quick stick.
31. David Storto, F, ’95 (St. Paul’s/Uncommitted) — Skilled, offensive-minded forward is still adjusting to his surroundings up in Concord, New Hampshire. Once the fourth round QMJHL draft pick gets comfortable he could really break out of his shell offensively. Won a midget national title last year in Canada.
32. Will Golonka, F, ’95 (Belmont Hill/Uncommitted) — Carlisle, Mass. native anchors the second line of an undefeated Belmont Hill squad. Smart player with a lot of skill. Knows how to find time and space for himself.
33. Sam Lafferty, F, ’95 (Deerfield/Uncommitted) — Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania native can really fly and has an explosive first step. Has the skill set to be much higher on this list, but he needs to get stronger and play with more of an edge or else he will be rendered ineffective.
34. Neil Robinson, F, ’95 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — Former Lac St. Louis forward plays hard and does not cut corners. Has produced a 6-4-10 scoring line in his first nine games. Has a good finishing touch around the net.
35. Michael Turner, F, ’95 (Cushing/Uncommitted) — Is very effective when playing a strong, north/south, crash-and-bang type game. The 6’3”, 205 lb. forward could make the opposition very uncomfortable in some of those smaller NCAA barns.
36. Liam Feeney, D, ’95 (Dexter/Uncommitted) — A smooth skater who makes a lot of simple yet effective plays. Is pretty good on the PP and has produced nine points in 10 games. Is tough to beat because his skating is so good.
37. Joey Fallon, F, ’95 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) — Small, wide-based skater who never gives up on plays. There are very few – if any -- high school players who play as hard as Fallon. Is an assistant captain in his first year on a veteran Gunnery team. That says something about his intangibles.
38. Carlos Fornaris, F, ’95 (NMH/Uncommitted) — Slick in traffic. NMH’s top scorer can make a lot of plays and he’d likely have far greater numbers if his supporting cast were a touch better.
39. Nick Quillan, D, ’96 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) — Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native is assertive offensively and wants the puck on his stick. Is playing for Team Atlantic at the World Under-17 Tournament.
40. Conner Collier, D, ’95 (Canterbury/Uncommitted) — New Jersey Devils product is sound defensively and pretty good with the puck on his stick. Has helped put Canterbury (5-1-1) back on the map while posting a point a game.
41. Matt Hoover, F, ’96 (Cushing/Uncommitted) — True junior can snap the puck off in hurry and plays a physical game. From Brantford, Ontario.
42. Conner Brassard, D, ’95 (Cushing/Uncommitted) — Has always been a productive player offensively, and this year is no different as the Fitchburg, Mass. native is producing at a point-a-game rate. Needs to limit his turnovers.
43. Jack McCarthy, F, ’96 (St. John’s Prep/Uncommitted) — Has a lot of talent and shows flashes of having upside. Effort level needs to be more consistent.
44. Matt Brazel, F, ’95 (Hingham High/Uncommitted) — Smart player who has a good sense of the game. Should light up the Mass High School loop this season.
45. Chris Cobham, F, ’96 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) — Big, strong, and raw. Is on a deep team and is therefore seeing limited ice time, but we feel if his situation were different and he was on the ice in key situations, a lot of scouts would be intrigued by him. Played for the Toronto Young Nationals last year.
F Cody Todesco (Nobles), D Alex Mann (Milton), F Mitchell Smith (Salisbury), F Cole Maier (Taft), G Christian Short (Canterbury), G Drew Michaels (Lawrence), G Zac Hamilton, Westminster, G Brian Forness, Delbarton, F Sam D’Antuono (Hingham), D Cullen Geary (Deerfield), F Shane Kavanagh (Cushing), F Tommy DeFelice (Cushing), F Mark Bowen (Canterbury), F Dylan McCrory (Kent), F Phil Klitirinos (Kent), F Conner Irving (Beverly HS), D Bryan Gerstenfeld (Berkshire).
At World Juniors, U.S. Too Much For Germany
Ufa, Russia – The U.S. opened play at the 2013 World Juniors with an 8-0 shellacking of an outclassed German squad.
The U.S. was in control from the opening faceoff, when Sean Kuraly scored on their first rush just 19 seconds in, a pretty play on which assists also went to Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Barber.
The U.S. added a pair of goals 1:24 apart just before the midway point of the first period, from Jacob Trouba, a low hard shot from the point, and Galchenyuk, who curled off the wall, around the top of the left faceoff circle and then, from the slot, picked the top right corner – a snipe.
The U.S. scored an even quicker goal to start the second when Barber made it 4-0 just 14 seconds in. That was pretty much it for Germany. Shayne Gostisbehere and Ryan Hartman made it 6-0 before the eight-minute mark. Germany had a 5x3 powerplay later in the period and actually got off five shots on US starting goaltender John Gibson, who faced 19 over his two periods, allowing nothing.
Jon Gillies started the third, faced seven shots, and also allowed nothing. J.T. Miller and Seth Jones added third period tallies to make it an 8-0 final.
The US outshot Germany, 46-26.
“Overall, we played a well-balanced game," said US Head Coach Phil Housley afterward. “We got the start we needed to build a good pace and flow to the game. One thing I was really proud of was that when we did have the lead we didn't get away from the team game. We realized what got us the lead and they really focused on being aware of that over the three periods so I was really pleased with that.”
The Galchenyuk (1g,2a)-Kuraly(1g,2a)-Barber(1g,2a) line was the top pairing for the US today. Galchenyuk was named player of the game.
Other lines – and defense pairings – for US coach Phil Housley’s squad:
Jake McCabe is the US captain this year, with Jones and Miller the alternates.
NHL Network is airing all U.S. games this year, along with select others. The schedule is below. The first time given is the time of the live broadcast, and the second time is when the game is rebroadcast at a more civil hour. The games involving the U.S. will also be streamed on nhl.com. Ufa, Russia, by the way, is 11 hours ahead of us in the Eastern Time Zone.
NHL Network TV Schedule
Thurs. Dec. 27, 9:00 am, USA 8, Germany 0 (8:00 pm)
Fri. Dec. 28, 4:30 am, Slovakia vs. Canada (5:30 pm)
Fri. Dec. 28, 9:00 am, USA vs. Russia (8:00 pm)
Sat. Dec. 29, 9:00 am, Russia vs. Germany (5:30 pm)
Sun. Dec. 30, 4:30 am, USA vs. Canada (8:00 pm)
Sun. Dec. 30, 9:00 am, Germany vs. Slovakia (5:30 pm)
Mon. Dec. 31, 5:00 am, USA vs. Slovakia (8:00 pm)
Mon. Dec. 31, 9:00 am, Canada vs. Russia (5:30 pm)
US Games will also be live streamed on NHL.com
QUARTERFINALS: Wed Jan. 2, 4:00 am & 8:00 am
SEMIFINALS: Thu Jan. 3, 4:00 am & 8:00 am
BRONZE: Sat Jan. 5, 4:00 am
GOLD : Sat Jan. 5, 8:00 am
(Medal Round Replays To Be Announced)
Flood-Marr Tournament Reviewed
The field at this year’s Flood-Marr Tournament – i.e., Andover, Deerfield, Hotchkiss, KUA, Milton, Nobles, Salisbury, and Westminster (same as the last 19 years) -- entered the weekend with a combined record of 25-8-2, thus setting up a nice challenge for all. There was no shortage of NHL, NCAA and junior scouts present as the rinks at Nobles and Milton were packed virtually all weekend long. And, of course, USHR was there as well. Below is a comprehensive review of each team, sorted according to their finish and with their won-lost record at the tournament in parentheses. Enjoy!
1. Kimball Union (3-1) — Ten years ago KUA was the doormat of the Flood-Marr Tournament, typically rising before dawn to play in the 7th place game on Sunday. Those days are long gone, though. Mike Levine’s Wildcats entered the weekend #1 in the USHR Prep Poll and lived up to the hype, winning their first ever Flood-Marr Championship. Senior forward and Tournament MVP Nick Roberto, a Maine recruit,was terrific all weekend, playing with skill, energy and passion. In the most-scouted game of the tournament -- Friday’s tilt with Salisbury -- the senior forward scored two third period goals -- one with 30 seconds remaining -- to lead his squad to a 3-2 victory. In Sunday’s title game, a 4-2 win over Westminster, the 5’9” right wing from Wakefield Mass. figured in three of his team’s goals. His center, UMass-Amherst recruit Casey Miller, stood out as well – the senior from Billerica, Mass. has stick skills, sees the ice, and is consistently effective in all three zones. He’s a pure playmaker who, if he can add a step to his skating, could end up being a steal for the Minutemen. JD Dudek, the third member of the line with Roberto and Miller, is KUA’s leading goal scorer thus far this season. While highly skilled, there were long stretches during which we didn’t notice the Boston College recruit, a 5’11” junior. That said, the Auburn, NH native appears to have grown a couple of inches (he’s listed at 5’11”) and, through strength and the maturation process – he was playing at Pinkerton Academy last year -- should have a bright future in the game. Dudek, the son of the New Hampshire football legend, just needs to add a little sandpaper to his game. 6’1” Providence recruit Niko Rufo is the key to KUA’s second line, which is as dangerous as virtually any other prep team’s top line. Rufo teams up nicely with 5’8” senior forward Jonathan Charbonneau, a Quebec native who might not be blessed with the flashiest skill set, but works his tail off and scored some big goals over the weekend. The backend is anchored by the senior quartet of Doyle Somerby, Alex Carle, Conner Evangelista and Brendan White. Somerby, a BU recruit and New York Islanders (NHL) draft pick, has the ability to totally dominate games at this level. The massive 6’5”, 220 lb. defender from Marblehead, Mass. is a fluid skater for a big man, and has a soft set of hands. He should make a seamless transition to Hockey East next year. Carle is simply a player who does everything well. The brother of Matt Carle (Philadelphia-NHL) is uncommitted, but we are told that will likely not be the case for much longer as Denver (where his brothers went) may be honing in. Evangelista, one of the top puck-moving defenders in all of prep hockey, has a reliable stick, rarely making a poor decision with the puck. At 5’9” playing D-I hockey might be a challenge, but he is certainly a topflight D-III recruit. White, a nephew of Brown assistant coach Mark White and a member of the Malden Catholic squad that won the Mass. Super 8 in March, played extremely well over the weekend, displaying poise under pressure and earning a spot on the all-tournament team. When all is said and done, the 6’1” Wakefield, Mass native could end up as a D-I defender. Not many prep teams have the luxury of having two goalies capable of carrying the load, but Kimball Union can rotate between senior netminders Eric Bogart and Ryan Lund. Both Bogart, who is 6’5”, and Lund, who is 5’11”, each looked strong here.
2. Westminster (3-1) — Head Coach Tim Joncas, with a mix of old and new talent, has a team that we feel will be in the hunt for a berth in the Elite 8 tournament. While the Martlets lack the depth of KUA or even Salisbury, their top two lines are very dangerous and play with a ton of pace. Senior forward David Hallisey will likely take home team MVP honors at the end of the year, and deservedly so. The Princeton recruit had an excellent weekend and we feel that numerous Hockey East schools wished that they had shown him a little more love early in the recruiting process. The future Tiger is gritty, fast in transition, and displayed a quick release. Vincent Gisonti, a senior from Montreal, was nearly as impressive as Hallisey. If we could redo our list of top seniors the 5’9”, 178 lb. skilled centerman would find his way onto the list. Gisonti, who was named to the all-tournament team, is a top D-III recruit who will put up a lot of points this year. Another player who really jumped out at us was Ethan Holdaway, a PG from Glastonbury High School in Connecticut. Last season the Trinity (NESCAC) recruit posted a 33-26-59 scoring line in 25 games for Glastonbury. Holdaway is very fast, has good sense, and competes hard. First line center Sean Orlando shows flashes of having D-I potential, but does not give it to you on a consistent basis. While the senior forward is getting D-I interest, he may need some seasoning in juniors before he takes his game to that level. We also felt that senior forward Ryan Mowery was consistently noticeable. The San Diego, California native plays on a line with Gisonti and Holdaway and the trio created a ton of scoring opportunities. On the backend, Joncas has recruited a pair of blue-chippers in sophomore defensemen Will Brophy and Frankie Sullivan. Brophy is out of Fairfield Prep in Connecticut and has huge upside. The 6’3, 186 lb. defender is already running the Westy PP and looks as cool as a cucumber on the top of their pesky 1-3-1 set-up. The lanky sophomore has good vision, excellent instincts, and a great stick — he’s a surefire Hockey East candidate. Sullivan might not have the same pro upside as Brophy, but he will make an excellent NCAA player. The Fairfield, Conn. native played for Notre Dame Catholic last year and is a powerful skater who defends well and makes a solid first pass. Junior goalie Zac Hamilton, an Ottawa native who backed up Pat Spano last year, is now the #1 and came up with strong performances here, winning himself a spot on the all-tournament team.
3. Salisbury (3-1) — Andrew Will has assembled an army that is built to send out wave after wave of attack and wear teams down. The first thing you notice about the Crimson Knights is the slogan on their warmup shirts, “We Eat Now,” a clear statement that they expect nothing less than a championship season. On Friday, the first day of play, Salisbury was topped by KUA 3-2 in a potential prep championship preview, but the Crimson Knights were without arguably their best defenseman in 6’3” senior Mark Hamilton and a top returning scorer in 6’3” senior Jacob Hand. As for the players who did play, we felt that up front 6’0” sophomore Evan Smith really put himself on the map here. The Stouffville, Ont. native has great hockey IQ, a knack for being close to the puck at all times, and knows how to bury it when given an opportunity. New junior Neil Robinson from Lac St.-Louis has cemented himself as a scoring threat in the prep ranks. The 5’10” Point Claire, Quebec native has a good stick and plays with grit. 6’0” Matt Pugh, a PG from BB&N, is a solid, north/south power forward who can skate and is strong enough to hold his own at the D-I level. Another player who caught our eye on multiple occasions was PG forward Bryan Platt. The Turnbull, Conn. speedster is small at 5’7”, 160 lbs., but is very quick and his speed creates a lot of scoring opportunities. When UNH recruit Jason Kalinowski is playing with urgency and determination he is the team’s top forward. That said, the senior forward sometimes relies solely on skill – and becomes far less effective. The Salisbury blueline is seasoned, skilled, big, and fast. Junior Will Toffey played with a lot of jump and is a very fluid skater. The 6’2”, 200 lb. defender from Barnstable, Mass. also showed that he is effective on the PP. 6’1” senior captain Ryan Segalla is polished and ready to move on to the next level. The UConn recruit from Rockland, Mass. defends well, plays with an edge, and makes smart decisions with the puck. Arguably the most attractive uncommitted prospect in the Flood-Marr tournament, and quite possibly all of New England, is ’97-born sophomore goaltender Callum Booth. The 6’2”, 180 lb. netminder was expected to play this season behind PG Brandon Mueller, but it only took the Montreal native a handful of games to uproot his counterpart and take over the starting job. The ultra-athletic Booth will likely have a handful of full scholarship offers within the next couple of months, if not sooner. Booth has all the earmarks of a goalie capable of being a big-time D-I goalie, with pro potential to boot.
4. Milton (2-2) — Paul Cannata’s Mustangs are much improved from last year’s squad that finished tied for 7th place in the Flood-Marr. That said, their talent is centered on a small group of players, thus they lack the depth of each of the three teams mentioned above, which became evident as the tournament progressed. Much of the squad’s offense is generated by the all-senior line of Anthony Sabitsky, Elliot Vorel, and Cole Morrisette. Sabitsky, the Mustangs top player, really put on a show Friday afternoon, notching a goal and three assists in his team’s 4-3 win over Andover. The next day, the Sicklerville, NJ native potted the overtime winning goal and an assist in a 2-1 victory over Hotchkiss. We feel that the smart centerman, who was named to the all-tournament team, is one of the top uncommitted players in the Northeast. Vorel, a Wesleyan recruit, has quick hands and can really snap the puck off. The Boonton, NJ native is especially dangerous on the PP, but needs to develop a more profound defensive conscience. Morrisette is a stocky forward with a low center of gravity who is strong on the puck and has a soft set of hands in front, a solid NESCAC recruit. On the backend, junior defenseman Conner Wynne is the standout. The 5’11”, 170 lb. Pomona, NY native is an exceptional skater, very light on his feet, and has an explosive first step. Wynne, who exhibits poise under pressure and is a sure-fire D-I prospect, was injured in his team’s second game against Hotchkiss and missed the rest of the tournament -- the Mustangs were not the same team without him. Nova Scotia native Alex Mann also showed flashes of upside. The 6’0” junior rear guard was recently named to Team Atlantic for the World Under-17 Challenge taking place right after Christmas. In net, 5’10” Drew Hotte is one of the top sophomores in prep hockey. The Gwynedd, PA native still has a way to go, but in time we think he could develop into a nice D-I prospect.
5. Nobles (3-1) — Brian Day’s Bulldogs put on a good showing here, topping KUA and only losing to a very strong Salisbury team. Like Milton, lack of depth could prove to be an issue when facing the iron in the New England tournament, but the Bulldogs will definitely challenge for the ISL crown. Freshman sensation Colin White continues to improve. The ’97-born forward scored an NHL-level goal against Hotchkiss in the 5th place game on Sunday. A Hanover, Mass. native, White is the top skater in all of prep hockey and is an athletic specimen. We would be very surprised if the Boston College recruit – and potential first round NHL draft pick in 2015 -- is back at the Dedham prep school next season as he will be pressured to leave from all angles, i.e. NTDP, USHL and QMJHL. Another forward who really established himself as a high-end recruit was sophomore Miles Wood. This summer we saw the Manchester, Mass. native at the Select 17 Festival and he looked about 5’11” to us. Now, he is all of 6’2”, 185 lbs. and has firmly entrenched himself as a legit NHL draft prospect. The big forward can skate, makes plays, and is versatile in the sense that he could, at the D-I level, play as either a top six forward or as a north/south third line power forward. Playing at Brown with brother Tyler will be an option, but we are told that Hockey East schools -- starting with BC and BU -- are now recruiting him. A player who, because eyes tend to be fixed on White and Wood, gets a little bit lost in the shuffle is 5’11” sophomore Cal Burke. The Boxborough, Mass native has gotten stronger, faster, and is as smart as a fox with the puck. 6’1” senior Will Sleeper is the type of player who falls right on the D-I/D-III bubble. D-I schools will likely consider him as a depth forward. Failing that, Sleeper will make a nice addition to any D-III club. Junior forward Cody Tedesco is fun to watch as the plays the game extremely hard. The 5’9”, 165 lb. grinder sets the tone for the Bulldogs. On the backend, senior Tyler Wood has made a big step in the right direction. It was not long ago that the 6’3”, 205 lb. defenseman was turning pucks over left and right up at Governor’s. Every year, the Brown recruit, a son of former Yale and NHL forward Randy Wood, has made positive strides and right now, much like brother Miles, he has NHL scouts taking a long look at him. Another defenseman who has made a dramatic improvement is 5’11” junior JC Brassard. The Scituate, Mass. native posted a 1-1-2 scoring line in 29 games played last year for Nobles but this season is leading the team in scoring with a 3-8-11 stat line in just eight games played. The former BC High defender has the tools to play D-I hockey. 6’0” senior goaltender Conner Maher, a Brown recruit, was a bit shaky through his team’s first few games, but put on a show against KUA as his team was outshot by a 2-1 margin.
6. Hotchkiss (1-3) — First-year head coach Mike Traggio has some talent to work with, but it will likely take the former Brown University defenseman a few years to get the Bearcats to the point where they can compete for a Founders’ League title. And, while Hotchkiss is not a strong team this season, there was a strong contingent of NHL scouts at each of their games over the weekend, eyes focused on 6’6”, 225 lb. junior forward Tyler Hill. College coaches were eyeing him too, looking to make a decision on the massive Hagersville, Ont. native. Hill is obviously very big, has soft hands, and can shoot the park extremely hard. The downside is his feet. We feel that each scout left the building questioning whether or not the Ottawa 67’s (OHL) draft pick will be able to adjust to the pace of the NCAA, much less the pro level. We are told that the Hotchkiss star is attempting to accelerate his studies in hopes of arriving at a college next fall. In addition to Hill, NHL scouts were watching Harvard recruit Wiley Sherman, who will also likely hear his name called at the NHL draft in June. The 6’5”, 175 lb. junior defenseman from Greenwich, Conn. looks like a baby giraffe on the ice – he will be a much different player when he fills into his body and his playing weight is up around 230 lbs. There is no doubt that Sherman is a project, but his puck skills and hockey sense are both pretty good, and physical maturation just needs to take its course. Another player who caught our attention a couple of times was sophomore forward Greg Pezza. The 5’7”, 155 lb. Greenville, RI native is small, but crafty and skilled. Over time we think he will develop into a productive player.
7. Deerfield (1-3) — Brendan Creagh’s squad had a tough row to hoe here – drawing Nobles, KUA, and Salisbury – en route to the 7th place game. In other words, the Big Green could turn out to be better than their record here indicated. For our money their top player over the weekend was 6’0” goaltender Jake Thoubboron. The Glen Rock, NJ native, who played against KUA and Andover, is aggressive in the crease, and can play the puck with the best of them. Senior netminder Adam Ellison, a 6’0” Shelburne, Vt. native being heavily pursued by NESCAC schools, played against Nobles and Andover, and also had a good weekend. Outside of the goaltenders we really like junior forwards Sam Lafferty and Trevor Yates. Yates, a 6’1” Beaconsfield, Que. native, is strong on the puck, has a good stick, and made a number of nice plays, but his pace needs to improve. Lafferty, a 6’1” Hollidaysburg, PA native, is quite the opposite — he has great pace, but needs to build up his strength as he tends to get muscled off of pucks in the corners. That said, both have the potential to be D-I players. 6’1” senior Alex Gonye is an interesting player. We can totally see why Union has scooped him up – the Dutchmen need skill at center, and Gonye has big-time potential. However, there are times when he needs a GPS to find the corners and the front of the net. If he fills out and adds some grit to his game we think the New Canaan, Conn. native will be very good for the Dutchmen and pro teams will begin to take interest in him. Junior defenseman Cullen Geary is a nice addition to the Big Green blueline. The 6’3” former Springfield Cathedral defender is strong on his skates and flattens oncoming forwards in the corners.
8. Andover (0-4) — Yes, Dean Boylan’s Big Blue did indeed go 0-4. That said, not a single team beat them by more than two goals and Andover could have easily gone 4-0 if their luck had been slightly different. There was not a single player who really jumped out at us, but there were a few solid prospects. 6’2”, 200 lb. Harvard recruit Eddie Ellis is the team’s most-scouted player and a lot is expected of him. We feel the senior forward will be much better when he is not relied on to score goals. At Harvard Ellis will be asked to simply go up and down the wing, finish his checks, and bang in the odd goal. 6’5”, 205 lb. senior defenseman Conner Light is an interesting prospect. The Sudbury, Mass native has been injured much of the last two years, but we feel there is something there. He is very raw right now and may require some seasoning in junior hockey but, because of his size and athleticism, he will have a chance to play at higher levels. A player we think will have a good prep school career is sophomore forward Zachary Weinger. The 5’10” Hollywood, Florida product has a crafty stick and creates offense. Look for him atop the Andover scoring charts for the next few seasons.
Askew Picks A College...Again
Cushing Academy 6’3”, 190 lb. freshman forward Cam Askew, who decommitted from Northeastern three weeks ago, has committed to Boston University for the fall of ’16.
Askew, watched by BU assistant Mike Bavis at the Lawrence-Groton Tournament over the weekend, is one of the top ‘97s in the country, a tall, lanky right-shot center who has terrifically soft hands and vision to match. His passes are right on the money, and he can finish too. He has good skating form, but is still growing into his body so that part of his game will only get better as he adds muscle to his frame. For now, he lacks explosiveness. Last season we compared Askew to a young Joe Thornton (San Jose-NHL), and we’ll stick with that comparison. If Askew continues to develop he could very easily go in the first round of the 2015 NHL draft.
Askew, who visited BU yesterday, is a 5/13/97 birthdate from South Boston, Mass. Last season, as an 8th grader at St. Sebastian’s, he posted a 12-13-25 line in 28 games. He also played for the über-talented Valley Jr. Warriors ’97 team that made it to Nationals. This season, skating for Cushing, Askew has, in 9 games, a 5-11-16 line.
Askew originally committed to Northeastern in the fall of his 8th grade year – on Nov. 19, 2011, to be precise. It is believed that Northeastern was the first school to offer him, and he jumped on it.
If and when Askew, who grew up a Boston University season ticket holder, arrives on Commonwealth Ave., all of the current Terriers will be gone, either via graduation, or through other routes.
Askew will almost certainly be drafted into the QMJHL this coming spring. The major question will be how high – and by whom -- he will be selected.
Over the past two seasons, Askew has had three different family advisors, two different prep schools, two different split-season teams and, now, two different colleges. Will there be a third? Or will there be no college at all?
A New #1 in This Week's USHR Prep Poll
Belmont Hill, returning from Lawrenceville, NJ with the Christmas Tournament hardware and an undefeated record (7-0-1), takes over the top spot from Flood-Marr champs Kimball Union in this week's USHR Prep Poll.
The next poll will be on the week of Jan. 7, 2013, at which point it will appear weekly until the end of the regular season.
USHR Prep Poll: Week of Dec. 17, 2012
USHR’s Top Seniors
Here’s our first “class” list of the season – the seniors. And, while we’re comfortable with the ranking today, a slew of tournament games are imminent, meaning things could change. Some kids will move up, others down, and a handful will emerge and play their way into it.
Our methodology? We’ve combined what a player brings to the table right now – i.e. how much are they impacting the outcomes of prep/high school games? -- with their potential. Some rankings are weighted a little more toward the former, others toward the latter. And when we talk about potential, we’re thinking primarily college – and that could mean D-I or D-III. Additionally, there are some projects – often PGs -- and sleepers at the bottom half of the list, as well as a few players we just want to see a bit more of.
1. Trevor Fidler, F, ‘95 (Dexter/Harvard) — The most productive player in prep hockey, plain and simple. The Harvard recruit is a buzzsaw who produces offense every time he jumps over the boards. Scored 55 points last season and will likely match or exceed that output in the current campaign.
2. Anthony Florentino, D, ’95 (Selects Academy/Providence) — Providence recruit is the complete package. Has turned down the NTDP two years in a row and has continued to improve while at South Kent. Could be the first New Englander to hear his name called at the NHL draft this summer.
3. Doyle Somerby, D, ’94 (Kimball Union/Boston University) — The New York Islanders (NHL) draft pick is the best player on the best team in New England. 6’4”, 210 lb. defender is just coming into his own. Will make the jump directly from prep hockey to BU next year.
4. Thomas Aldworth, F, ’95 (Cushing/Providence) — Dynamic forward has the ability to break games open single-handedly. Providence recruit has all the talent in the world and if he can improve his all-around game his name will shoot up NHL draft lists.
5. John Baiocco, F, ’95 (Delbarton/Yale) — Yale recruit had a strong showing at the Select 17 Festival over the summer. Thus far the crafty forward has posted a 7-7-14 scoring line in just four games played. Say what you want about NJ High School hockey, but those kind of numbers are impressive in any league.
6. Griff Martin, D, ’94 (Avon Old Farms/Union) — The Avon captain grows on us more and more each time we see him play. His game is going to translate very well to the next level. The future Dutchman defends well, can run a PP, and makes a great first pass.
7. Carl Hesler, F, ’94 (Belmont Hill/Dartmouth) — Is in his second year at Belmont Hill since transferring in from Middlesex. Hesler, the center on the top line of a team with a deep and talented group of forwards, has been the go-to guy from Day One.
8. Nathan Ferriero, F, ’94 (Governor’s/Northeastern) — There is no player in prep hockey with a more lethal shot than the Northeastern recruit. When he plays smart and stays out the penalty box he is a lot to handle.
9. Brian Pinho, F, ’95 (St. John’s Prep/Providence) — With Ryan Fitzgerald, Brendan Collier and Sam Kurker all having moved on, Pinho steps into the spotlight as the top player in the Catholic Conference. Providence recruit has quickly risen up the recruiting charts since last year’s Super 8 tournament.
10. Casey Miller, F, ’94 (Kimball Union/UMass-Amherst) — With newly-arrived JD Dudek and AJ Greer joining a strong group of returning forwards, Miller’s workload and point production may take a hit, but -- make no mistake about it --- when the Wildcats need a goal, Miller will be the guy they look to in order to make something happen.
11. Anthony Sabitsky, F, ’94 (Milton/Uncommitted) — Gets our nod as the top uncommitted senior in prep hockey. Scored at a goal-a-game pace last season and has been hot out of the gates with a 3-7-10 scoring line in just five games played this year.
12. David Hallisey, F, ’94 (Westminster/Princeton) — The Princeton recruit is a workhorse and a complete player. Projects as a third line forward at the next level, but for now he is Mr. Does-It-All at Westminster — kills penalties, finishes checks, blocks shots, and is the team’s most consistent scoring threat.
13. Alex Carle, D, ’94 (Kimball Union/Uncommitted) — Smooth-skating puck mover is the top uncommitted senior defender in prep hockey. The KUA captain will have a lot of eyes on him this weekend at the Flood-Marr Tournament as D-I recruiters look to shore up their back end.
14. Jason Salvaggio, F, ’94 (Selects Academy/UConn) — UConn recruit put himself on the map with a strong summer and fall. NHL scouts have been playing close attention to the skilled late bloomer.
15. Mark Hamilton, D, ’94 (Salisbury/UMass-Amherst) — The future Minuteman brings a little bit of everything to the table. Hamilton has size, can skate, makes a heads-up play, and has a bit of an edge. Has improved a great deal over the last two years.
16. Ryan Scarfo, F, ’94 (Governor’s/Union) — Governor’s head coach Leon Hayward has asked Santa Claus for a high-scoring forward for Christmas and he will get his wish as Scarfo is set to resume play after the holidays. The Union recruit will provide an immediate lift to the Governor’s offense.
17. Dalton MacAfee, D, ’94 (St. Sebastian’s/Boston University) — This summer, when BU committed to MacAfee, formerly committed to Notre Dame for lax, some were surprised. After watching him closely in the early going this season we think the Terriers have found themselves a good one. NHL scouts should be tracking the all-around athlete’s progress closely.
18. Niko Rufo, F, ’94 (Kimball Union/Providence) — The fourth Providence recruit ranked in our Top 20. The Stoneham, Mass. native would pile up more points this season if he were not on such a deep team.
19. Eddie Ellis, F, ’95 (Andover/Harvard) — Big, strong workhorse will make a case for himself to be drafted into the NHL. The Harvard recruit can really skate for a big man and projects as a solid power forward at the next level.
20. Zachary Sabatini, F, ’94 (Tabor/Sacred Heart) — John’s Creek, Georgia native is dynamic and skilled. Tabor is winless in five games this season, but the Seawolves have played arguably the toughest schedule in prep hockey thus far. Look for Sabatini & Company to break out of their shells soon.
21. Tyler Wood, D, ’94 (Nobles/Brown) — The Brown recruit continues to improve. With Tim Boyle, PJ Falvey and Phil Sciretta off to college the door is now open for Wood to be the #1 guy. Tyler and brother Miles Wood get our vote for top “sibling combo” in prep hockey this year.
22. Charlie Donners, D, ’94 (Dexter/Uncommitted) — Smallish, competitive defender is limited in terms of upside, but at this level he is an all-league defenseman. Plays in all situations and has great feet. Will make a strong case for himself as a D-I prospect.
23. Jason Kalinowski, F, ’95 (Salisbury/UNH)—On a very deep team the UNH recruit has emerged as the star player and go-to guy up front. In just two games the gritty forward has posted a 3-5-8 scoring line. Is not slated to enroll at UNH until the fall of 2015.
24. Tim Harrison, F, ’94 (Dexter/Colgate) — Big, strong, north/south power forward recently committed to Colgate, a good get for the Red Raiders. Is skilled and plays with a bit of sandpaper. Stands a chance to be a late round pick in the NHL draft this summer.
25. Vincent Russo, F, ’94 (Avon Old Farms/Uncommitted) — Savvy puckhandler is one of the top uncommitted players in prep hockey. His feet and strength need to improve, both of which can, but he already possesses a D-I mind and hockey IQ.
26. Nick Roberto, F, ’94 (Kimball Union/Maine) — Gritty forward can really shoot a puck. The Maine recruit gets under opponents’ skin. Someone you love to have on your team and hate to play against. Will be a good fit for the Black Bears.
27. Tommy Kelley, F, ’94 (St. Sebastian’s/Boston University) — Will arrive on Commonwealth Ave. next fall. With the departure of Danny O’Regan, Kelley is now the Arrows’ top scoring threat.
28. Alex Gonye, F, ’94 (Deerfield/Union) — We will be very interested in following the Union recruit’s career. Has all the potential in the world, but has yet to put it together. Is producing at a two points-per-game pace in the early going.
29. Daniel Fritz, D, ’95 (Canterbury/Uncommitted) — The Harwood, Maryland native has a lot of raw talent. For a big kid he is a smooth skater and is confident with the puck on his stick. Has five points in his first four games for a revamped Canterbury squad.
30. Quin Pompi, D, ’94 (Berkshire/Princeton) — Another defenseman with a lot of ability. Is a powerful skater with a wide frame. Will continue to get bigger and stronger. Will develop into a reliable, meat-and-potatoes defenseman for the Princeton Tigers.
31. Anthony Bird, F, ’94 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) — One of the more underappreciated players in the prep hockey circuit. Does everything well, has good feet and can make a play. We are confident that he will be a D-I player at the end of the day.
32. Matt Pugh, F, ’93 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — Was BB&N’s top player last year. Is reliable defensively and is usually the hardest worker on the ice. Has success offensively, but projects as a defensive forward at the next level. We think because of his size and work ethic he would make an excellent fourth line player at a Hockey East school.
33. Ryan Segalla, D, ’94 (Salisbury/UConn) — All-around defenseman was UConn’s first ever Hockey East recruit. The future Husky has a reliable stick and plays with an edge.
34. Charles Alexandre-Plaisir, F, ’94 (St. Paul’s/Uncommitted) — The Laval, Quebec native has taken charge up in Concord, NH and has produced a 3-6-9 scoring line in his team’s first three games. Plays with a real edge and has a superb work ethic. Never gives up on plays. Should be a top NESCAC recruit.
35. Elliot Vorel, F, ’94 (Milton/Wesleyan) — The Mustang’s highly-skilled goal scorer committed early decision to Wesleyan a few weeks ago. Has D-I skill and is a scoring threat at all times at the prep level. Put up 41 points last season.
36. Garrett Hehir, F, ’93 (Cushing/Uncommitted) — Productive forward has excellent hockey sense and makes a lot of plays. Will look to get the Penguins to Salem in his final year of prep school hockey.
37. Mike Iovanna, F, ’94 (Malden Catholic/UMass-Amherst) — Played on a line last year with Ryan Fitzgerald and Brendan Collier. With both off to juniors MC will look to the UMass recruit to key their offense.
38. Jacob Hand, F, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — Big, strong forward has soft hands and is a smooth skater. If he can up his pace D-I schools will come knocking. Has talent.
39. Will Sleeper, F, ’94 (Nobles/Uncommitted) — Was named the MVP of the Flood-Marr Tournament a year ago. The opportunistic forward would love to have a repeat performance this weekend.
40. Mitch Nylen, D, ’94 (Brooks/Sacred Heart) — Small, skilled, puck-moving defenseman. Sacred Heart recruit is the captain at Brooks this year and will look to lead his squad to an Eberhart title.
41. Mike Najjar, F, ’94 (Belmont Hill/Middlebury) — Has combined with Carl Hesler to give Belmont Hill a dangerous first line.
42. RJ Bishop, D, ’94 (Trinity Pawling/Uncommitted) — Is hidden on a weak team, but the sleek puck mover would make for an excellent D-III recruit.
43. John Cross, F, ’94 (Exeter/Uncommitted) — With Brian Hart and Matt Beattie off to college Head Coach Dana Barbin will look for Cross to increase his offensive production.
44. Mike Graham, D, ’94 (Kent/Uncommitted) — Big, strong defender has a bomb of a shot from the point. Runs the Kent PP and has been a big part of their early season success.
45. Mitch Barrington, D, ’94 (Dexter/Uncommitted) — Tall and lanky defender is a smooth skater with good poise and vision.
46. Phil Johannsson, D, ’94 (Holderness/Uncommitted) — St. Lazare, Quebec native has popped up onto the radar of NHL teams.
47. Willie Brooks, D, ’94 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — The type of defenseman who rarely receives accolades, but eats up quality minutes and is a big part of overall team success.
48. Gregg Burmaster, F, ’94 (Kimball Union/St. Lawrence) — Has speed and some scoring abilities. Provides the #1 ranked Wildcats with quality secondary scoring.
49. Greg Zaffino, D, ’94 (St. Paul’s/Uncommitted) — Tall defender does not make many mistakes. Has a nearly perfect SAT score which will be attractive to Ivy League schools.
50. Aaron Titcomb, D, ’93 (Salisbury/Uncommitted) — PG defender out of Charlestown, Mass. and Brewster Academy has been intriguing in the early going.
Dan Doherty (Belmont Hill), Colby Cretella (Exeter), Cole Anderson (Gunnery), Cody Champagne (Avon), Danny Casey (Kent), Connor Evangelista (Kimball Union), George Hunkele (Lawrence/Williams), Shamus Maloney (Tabor), Sean Orlando (Westminster), Liam Coughlin (Catholic Memorial), Jay Mackie (St. Andrew’s), Josh Melnick (Delbarton/Princeton), Alex Hagerty (Delbarton), Liam McDermott (Salisbury).
1. Michael Pinios, G, ’94 (St. Paul’s/Uncommitted) — Has not been at his best in the early going, but we have seen him win games by himself. When he catches fire St. Paul’s will be difficult to beat.
2. Merrick Madsen, G, ’95 (Proctor/Harvard) — Sometimes he looks like playing D-I hockey will be a stretch, other times he looks like he could be an NHL draft pick. Tough to figure out, but there is no denying his potential.
3. Peter Cronin, G, ’94 (BC High/Uncommitted) — Led BC high to within a goal of a Super 8 Championship last season and will look for a title this year. Big and athletic netminder has a lot of tools to work with.
4. Shane Starrett, G, ’94 (Selects Academy/Uncommitted) — Tall netminder played for Catholic Memorial last season. Has shown flashes of having D-I capabilities.
5. Eric Bogart, G, ’95 (Kimball Union/Uncommitted) — 6’5” goalies are not easy to come by—especially one with some athleticism. Will likely require a couple seasons of junior hockey before he is college ready, but we think he will find his way into a D-I school.
6. Dawson Sprigings, G, ’94 (Gunnery/Uncommitted) — Gunnery is 5-0 so far this season and Sprigings has played every minute, posting a .933 save percentage.
7. Danny Tirone, G, ’94 (Loomis Chaffee/Uncommitted) — Played at Shattuck a couple of seasons ago. Is tutored by goalie coach Mike Buckley, a UMass alum. Now plays for JR Zavisza, a UMass alum — connect the dots. Has been a big part of Loomis’s quick turnaround. Will need to turn in an MVP-like season to keep the Pelicans above .500 with a difficult Founders’ League schedule approaching.
8. Adam Ellison, G, ’94 (Deerfield/Uncommitted) – Was excellent all fall, leading the Neponset Valley River Rats to the U18 Nationals. Has also been excellent in the early season, with a .940 gaa to date. Trending upwards.
9. Gryphon Richardson, G, ’93 (Brunswick/Uncommitted) — Is small and physically limited, but gets the absolute max out of what he has to work with. Sports a .944 save percentage thus far.
Wildcats #1 in First USHR Poll of Season
Kimball Union, 4-0-0 on the young season, tops the first USHR Prep Poll of the season.
It’s early and the statistical sample is small, so look for a lot of movement by next week’s poll, which will be ready on Mon. Dec. 17 – after all the Christmas tournaments.
Prep Poll: Week of Dec. 10, 2012
New Turn in the Life of Riley
Rob Riley, a scout for the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) and a former college and pro head coach, has been named Athletic Director at Regis College in Weston, Mass.
Riley, the former head coach at Babson and Army, has been, for the past three seasons, the head coach of the Springfield Falcons, the Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate. Last spring, Riley led the Falcons to their first winning season in 13 years.
Regis, a D-III school, is small, with just 1,100 undergrads and 600 plus students in graduate programs. For the school’s first 80 years – until 2007, to be precise – it was a women’s-only school. This is the sixth year that it has been coed.
Regis wishes to increase enrollment and sports is one avenue to that end. The school does not own a rink but, should they decide to add hockey, could play out of one nearby.
Regis could not ask for an athletic director better suited toward starting up a college hockey program. College hockey is the lifeblood of the Riley family. Riley’s father, Jack Riley, now 92 and living on Cape Cod, was head coach at Army for nearly four decades and became nationally known for coaching the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team to the gold in Squaw Valley.
Rob Riley was co-captain of the 1977-78 Boston College team that reached the NCAA championship game -- only to lose to a BU team that would finish the season 30-2. He began his head coaching career as an assistant at BC and St. Lawrence, before getting hired as head coach at Babson. There, in 1983-84, his first season, Riley won a D-III NCAA title and Coach of the Year honors.
Two years later, in the fall of 1986, Riley took over the Army program from his father. He would stay at West Point for 18 years -- until 2004, when he handed the job off to his younger brother, Brian, and moved back to the Boston area, settling in Needham.
By the way, another generation of coaching Rileys is coming along, and Rob's son Brett, a junior forward for the currently undefeated Hobart Statesmen, is actively involved in coaching summer teams.
Speaking of Army hockey, senior defenseman Cheyne Rocha was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship this fall. The son of former Berkshire School head hockey coach Larry Rocha, Cheyne attended St. Paul's School and played a PG year in the EJHL with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. An engineering major, he is currently carrying a 4.0 GPA.
Big D for Tigers
Berkshire School 6’2”, 195 lb. senior RD Quin Pompi has committed to Princeton University for the fall of '13.
A 9/21/94 birthdate from Springfield, PA, a Philadelphia suburb, Pompi has size, strength, and skating ability. Sometimes overcomplicates the game. Is playing the PP at Berkshire, but doesn’t project as that kind of player at the D-I college level.
Pompi will be playing for the Mid-Fairfield U18s at Nationals in the spring.
Is said to be an excellent lacrosse player as well.
In addition to Princeton, Pompi visited Harvard, Yale, and Brown.
Standouts at Quebec Midget AAA Showcase
The struggle US colleges face in attracting high-end French-Canadian players was exemplified last season when top prospects Jonathan Drouin (Halifax-QMJHL), Frederik Gauthier (Rimouski-QMJHL), and Anthony DeLuca (Rimouski-QMJHL) used NCAA schools as a bargaining chip with the QMJHL. This low yield per hour invested goes a long way toward explaining the lack of US colleges recruiters on hand in Quebec City for this past weekend’s Reebok Cup, a showcase involving every midget AAA team in Quebec, as well as a few from Nova Scotia.
USHR, however, made the 400-mile trip, because there are good prospects there. Sure, most will likely head to the “Q” next year, but there is also a layer of players right under that top group who are considering prep schools and the NCAA route — we will include both in our report.
Forestiers d’Amos’s 6’4”, 168 lb. forward Nicolas Roy is the frontrunner to be taken #1 overall in the QMJHL draft next spring, but he was injured so we didn’t get to see him. However, we have been told that for a big kid his skill level is top-notch -- comparisons have been made to Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay-NHL) at the same age. Because we did not see Roy play we do not know exactly where he stacks up against the top New England players (the Q’s region in the US). However, we saw enough of the top Quebec kids to say without a doubt Noah Hanifin (St. Sebastian’s), Colin White (Nobles), Casey Fitzgerald (Malden Catholic), and Cam Askew (Cushing) would all likely be top 10 picks if they stated their intentions were to play major junior hockey.
We have separated the top players into two separate groups. The first group (List A) is simply the best players we saw, regardless as to whether they are planning on going to the Q or to college – or are undecided. The second group (List B) includes players who are reportedly looking south to New England prep schools and colleges.
On our lists, we have NOT included players who have compromised their NCAA eligibility by playing games in the QMJHL.
List A: Top Players Overall
Jeremy Roy, D, ’97 (Collège Antoine-Girouard) 5-11/179 — The latest of French-Canadian talent to state an interest in going to a US college. We are told that both Harvard and Yale have expressed interest in him. A local QMJHL scout chimed in on that, however, informing us there is but a slim chance he will wind up in the US as he will be selected either 2nd or 3rd overall in the QMJHL draft. Roy is an offensive minded defender who loves to join the rush and is very active in the offensive zone. Defensively, he is all over the map, but his self-confidence is very high -- and it is far easier to reel in a player than let one loose. If an NCAA school were able to land him it would be a coup. Roy is the top scoring defenseman in the league — as an under-ager.
Daniel Sprong, F, ’97 (Tigres du Lac St-Louis) 6-0/165 — The case of Daniel Sprong is an interesting one. If you recall, he was our #1 ranked player at the U14 Nationals last spring as he helped the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins win the national title. This year, Sprong is playing in the Midget Espoir circuit, which is essentially midget AA. There was an Espoir all-star team here over the weekend and Sprong was easily their top player. The reason he is not in the QMAAA is because he is not a Canadian citizen and thus did not meet the citizenship requirements to play midget AAA. His father and mother are both Dutch, born in Amsterdam. The younger Sprong played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last year under his own visa and therefore had to leave midway through the season and return to Canada. He is now working on getting Canadian citizenship. Hockey Canada included Sprong in the Allstate All-Canadians mentorship camp over the summer, which is Canada’s equivalent of the NTDP’s Final 40 Camp. Hockey Canada certainly wants to make sure Sprong is wearing the maple leaf on the front of his sweater when the time comes for international tournaments. Sprong is said to be a lock to be in the QMJHL next season and is expected to be selected #2 or #3 overall. The Tigers star forward is explosive and skilled, a high-end talent with NHL potential.
Emile Bourque, D, ’98 (Commandeurs de Lévis) 5-7/145 — One of the top ’98 born-defenseman we have seen. While he is not in the same class as Sean Day (Compuware) or Chad Krys (Connecticut Oilers) he is elite, and a lot of fun to watch. As a 14 year old playing with predominantly 16 and 17 year olds, Bourque is as cool as a cucumber with the puck on his stick. It has taken him some time to settle in and get comfortable, but over the weekend he established himself as the power play quarterback. His skills are increasingly moving to the forefront. Bourque is surely going to be a name we will be hearing more as he gets older.
Jason Bell, D, ’97 (Rousseau Royal Laval Montreal) 6-1/161 — Laval was the first team we watched over the weekend and Bell was the first player to really grab our attention. The big defender is a decent skater, but his vision and puck skills are extremely good. Will be a top 10 pick in the Q draft this spring. Once he fills out there is a good chance NHL teams will start to track him closely.
Guillaume Brisebois, D, ’97 (Collège Antoine-Girouard) 5-11/144 — While teammate Jeremy Roy gets most of the attention on the Antoine-Girouard blueline, we feel that Brisebois is right there with him and very well could end up being the better defenseman in the long run. He is very light on his feet and is an effortless skater, but the best part of Brisebois’s game is his stick, which he uses extremely well on both the offensive and defensive side of the puck. He’s just 144 pounds, and sure to fill out so there’s a high upside here.
Anthony Beauvillier, F, ’97 (Collège Antoine-Girouard) 5-10/148 — Was one of six Quebec players selected to attend the Allstate All-Canadians mentorship camp along with Nicolas Roy, Jeremy Roy, Sprong, Julien Gauthier (see below), and Salisbury goaltender Callum Booth. The Antoine-Girouard star forward is 2nd in the league scoring race with a 24-14-38 scoring line in just 26 games played. For a smaller forward he protects the puck very well, has outstanding vision/poise and knows how to finish around the net. Will put up a ton of points in the Q.
Julien Gauthier, F, ’97 (Rousseau Royal Laval-Montréal) 6-2/204 — The sky is the limit in terms of potential. His skating form is excellent and for a big man his hands are very soft. In addition, he knows how to use his size to his advantage. While all of those are tangible assets his intangible assets are a question mark to us. His pace and compete level need to be raised a great deal in order to experience success at higher levels.
James Povall, G, ’97 (Lions du Lac St-Louis) 5-11/137 — With Callum Booth adamant about going to college, Povall may be the top goalie selected in the Q draft. The athletic netminder is quick and reads the play well. Technically sound, he passes the “look test” with flying colors: he just looks like a gamer.
Jeremy Bouchard, F, ’97 (Grenadiers de Chateauguay) 5-6/159 — A fun player to watch. Reminds us a lot of Boston College forward Steven Whitney. Has a high skill level and competes extremely hard. Is producing at a point-a-game rate and is said to be a 2nd round Q prospect. Would make for a fantastic college player.
Julien Nantel, F, ’96 (Rousseau Royal Laval-Montréal) 6-0/183 — Laval’s top scorer is the only player in the QMAAA loop to be named to Team Quebec for the World U17 Challenge. Through 27 games he has posted an 18-16-34 scoring line. Is a 2nd round pick, 30th overall to Rouyn-Noranda where he will likely suit up next season. Has a good stick and a nose for the net.
Gabriel Gagne, F, ’96 (Vikings de Saint-Eustache) 6-3/166 — The 26th overall pick to the Moncton Wildcats in last year’s draft. Played in the Espoir league last season and is a late bloomer with a ton of potential. Is very long and gangly, but a smooth skater. Once he fills out and acclimates himself to the pace of AAA hockey -- and then the Q -- he will emerge as a top NHL prospect.
David Henley, D, ’97 (Forestiers d’Amos) 6-3/166 — A big d-man who keeps it simple, Henley could prove to be very useful at the next level. A good skater with a good stick, he does not complicate the game and makes a good first pass. Is playing on his team’s top PP right now, but likely projects as more of a shutdown defenseman. Is a 1st round prospect for the Q draft.
Brandon McCulloch, F, ’96 (Grenadiers de Chateauguay) 5-8/151 — Was passed over in the Q draft last spring, but it will likely not happen again this year. That said, he does speak English, is on the smaller side, and may consider the NCAA. He is lethal with the man advantage and has exceptional vision.
Maxime Fortier, F, ’97 (Lions du Lac St-Louis) 5-10/165 — Smart and crafty. Will get better as the season progresses and he settles into the league. Is projected to be a 2nd round pick this spring. Would make for a nice college player should he choose to head to the NCAA.
Nicolas Meloche, D, ’97 (Vikings de Saint-Eustache) 6-1/196 — Big, steady, shutdown defender. Has good feet and makes smart decisions with the puck. Has a heavy shot. Could be selected as high as the 1st round in the QMJHL.
Gabriel Fontaine, F, ’97 (Cantonniers de Magog) 5-10/145 — Light on his feet and has a lot of room to get bigger, stronger, and faster. The skill level is already there. Was Magog’s top player and should be a top two round pick in the Q.
Samuel Blais, F, ’96 (Estacades de Trois-Rivières) 5-9/160 — English isn’t spoken much in Trois-Rivieres so the NCAA might not be an option. That said, this kid has all the earmarks of a late bloomer. He is not very big and went undrafted in the Q, but Blais has excellent hockey sense and holds his stick with those really high hands that scouts love to see. He can really handle the puck.
Brandon Gignac, F, ’97 (Phenix du Collège Esther-Blondin) 5-8/130 — Small forward has some jump to his game and is leading Esther-Blondin in scoring this season. Has a ’96 brother, William Gignac, who is pretty crafty and the two play well together. College Esther-Blondin is not the team they were one year ago when we they boasted a handful of top players from the province.
Xavier Desy, F, ’97 (Alabatros du College Notre-Dame) 6-0/135 — Tall and lanky with a very long stride. Is only 135 pounds and will be a much different player when he fills out.
Maxime Presseault, F, ’95 (Forestiers d’Amos) 5-9/154 — Is one of the older players in the league, but can really scoot and has a high skill level. Is someone we think NCAA schools should take a look at. Is a Val-d’Or (QMJHL) draft pick, but has never suited up for a game.
List B: Players of particular interest to prep schools and NCAA coaches -- there is a strong chance members of this group are looking to play college hockey.
Vimal Sukumaran, F, ’96 (Lac du St-Louis) 5-9/187 — Could very well be the most realistic and viable prep school/NCAA player in the QMAAA. Was drafted by Victoriaville (QMJHL) last year and did not even attend their camp. Is a strong student who has been very clear about wanting to head to the US. Lac St-Louis has been known to send a couple of players a year to US prep schools and Sukumaran will be heavily pursued for multiple reasons. First, he is the Lions’ top scorer with an 18-17-35 scoring line in just 24 games played. Secondly, he is of Indian decent and anyone familiar with prep school admissions knows this, on the diversity front, is a huge plus. At the NCAA Div. I level Sukumaran projects more as a 3rd line energy player who can chip in some offense.
Jeremy Davies, D, ’96 (Lac du St-Louis) 5-11/157 — Lac St-Louis’ top-scoring defenseman is another player on the Lions squad who wishes to attend a US prep school. Makes some questionable decisions, but there is no doubt that he has tools. Has good feet and runs the PP. A player NCAA schools should be paying attention to.
Daniel Sarracco, F, ’95 (Lac du St-Louis) 5-9/166 — An older forward who has every intention on doing a PG year in prep school next year. Applied to three schools last year and was wait-listed, but all of the schools were a reach for him academically. For prep school this kid is a no-brainer. He may not have D-I upside, but he would fit right in at a NESCAC school. Is the Lions’ top center and 2nd on the team in scoring.
Charlie Roy, D, ’97 (Vikings de Saint-Eustache) 5-7/152 — Smart, skilled, puck-moving defenseman. Has the ability to run a PP. His coach told us that the young defender goes to an English-speaking school, is a top student, and would be open to going to a prep school.
Jack Patterson, F, ’95 (Halifax Titans) 6-2/185 — A power forward with upside. Is a big kid who protects the puck well and has a pretty good stick. Would have to be a PG, but his coach informed us that he is keeping his options open and is a strong student.
Brett McNeil, D, ’95 (Halifax Titans) 5-8175 — Another PG candidate who is said to be a top student and interested in coming to the U.S. Is excellent on the PP. Has quick hands, good vision, and is active on the offensive blue-line. Is on the small side and is not a burner, which will likely limit his D-I options. That said, he would put up a lot of points at the prep level and find a home in college hockey somewhere. Is producing over a point-a-game from the backend.
Skylar Strumas, D, ’97 (Lions du Lac St-Louis) 6-0/143 — Right now the lanky defender is keeping his options open and is listening as prep schools make their pitch. He is someone who projects well and has a lot of upside. Uses his long stick to his advantage. Could end up being a D-I defenseman should he pass on the Q.
Trevor Butler, D, ’97 (Espoir Tigres) 5-7/155 – Smart and skilled. Very offensive minded, but responsible defensively. An excellent skater -- light on his feet. Will be playing prep hockey next winter. Shares the same advisor, Chad Levitt, as Salisbury goaltender Callum Booth. Levitt is someone with a good reputation for guiding his players toward the NCAA route.
Going to the Q – and Some Commitments
5’6”, 150 lb. forward Conor Garland, a Penn State recruit for fall ’15, has left Muskegon (USHL). Look for him to sign with the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL).
A 3/11/96 birthdate, Garland had a 1-2-3 line in six USHL games this season. A Scituate, Mass. native, he went out west and put up 116 points in 52 games with Shattuck’s Bantam Team in ’10-11, then returned home to play for the Junior Bruins Empire Team last year, where he scored 94 points in 40 games. This season, in going out to the USHL, he skipped a necessary step – he should probably be playing in the EJHL right now. Instead, with Moncton, he’ll be playing on his fourth team in three years – and turning down a college scholarship.
St. Cloud State has received a commitment from 5’7”, 140 lb. California Titans U16 forward Brendan Harris for the fall of ‘15 or ‘16.
A 7/10/96 birthdate, Harris has been pretty much an unknown. That will not be the case for much longer as the Las Vegas, Nevada native is one of the most skilled ‘96s that we have seen. Back in September USHR headed out to Minnesota to scout the Minnesota High School Elite League as well as the North American Hockey League. It just so happened that in another rink, in the same facility, the NAPHL was having a league showcase and we stumbled upon the super-skilled forward. While we were watching the Titans star forward we couldn’t help but notice that St. Cloud assistant coach, Mike Gibbons, was also in the building — and watching like a hawk. The Titans head coach, Peter Torsson, is a St. Cloud alum and clearly gave his alma mater a heads up.
Harris has elite hands and scoring ability. When he turns it on he is very difficult to contain. Right now he is very small and frail, but when he fills out a bit we think he will be a lot of fun to watch. In time he could be a dominant player at the NCAA level.
The Indiana Ice, who are 7-16-1 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, are changing head coaches again, yesterday replacing head coach Ron Gay with former NHL defenseman Jeff Brown, who was named head coach/GM.
Brown, 46, played major junior and was a second round Quebec Nordiques pick who went on to play for seven NHL teams between 1986-98.
Last season, Brown, originally from Ottawa, coached the St. Louis Bandits to an NAHL title.
6’1”, 170 lb. Team Comcast U18 forward Eric Robinson has committed to Princeton for the fall of ‘14.
The 6/14/95 birthdate has posted a 6-15-21 scoring line through 21 games played this season while skating on Comcast’s top line with Dartmouth recruit Kevin Neiley and Dwyer Tschantz. The two schools he visited were Princeton and Lake Superior State, but in the end an Ivy League education proved too much to pass on. Robinson has an older brother, Buddy, who is a sophomore at Lake State.
Robinson is the sixth player on Comcast’s U18 team to make a D-I commitment, joining the aforementioned Neiley, Dylan Plitt (Vermont), Kenny Citron (Colgate), Kevin Kerr (Penn State) and Tommy Panico (UMass-Lowell).
6’0”, 178 lb. Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL) center Sean Gaffney, the leading scorer in the NAHL, has committed to UConn for the fall of ’13. Gaffney, a Plymouth, Michigan native, played at Detroit Catholic Central HS before starting his junior career two years ago. A 9/29/92 birthdate, Gaffney has played 24 games with Topeka this season, posting a 15-18-33 line. He will begin play next season as a 21-year-old freshman. He also reportedly received offers from Holy Cross, Niagara, Bemidji State, Air Force, and Army.
U.S. National Junior Team Preliminary Roster
USA Hockey released its 27-man roster for the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team training camp, which runs for three days in Tarrytown, NY (Dec. 16-18) before continuing in Helsinki, Finland Dec. 19.
The final 23-man roster will be announced on Dec. 23, and the U.S. will play its first tournament game – it's in Ufa, Russia this year -- on Dec. 27.
There are three returnees from the 2012 U.S. National Junior Team: G John Gibson; D Jacob Trouba; and F JT Miller. Trouba, a '94, will be eligible again next year.
As for birthdates, there are 17 ’93s on the preliminary roster, and 10 ‘94s. The d-men are particularly young – there are five ‘94s among the nine blueliners chosen.
Of the 27 players chosen, all but two – forwards Riley Barber and Rocco Grimaldi – were at August’s evaluation camp in Lake Placid. Grimaldi was still recovering from a knee operation.
Here’s the 27-man roster:
Goalies (3): John Gibson ’93 (Kitchener – OHL); Jon Gillies ’94 (Providence); Garret Sparks ’93 (Guelph – OHL).
Defensemen (9): Shayne Gostisbehere ’93 (Union); Matt Grzelcyk ’94 (BU); Seth Jones ’94 (Portland – WHL); Jake McCabe ’93 (Wisconsin); Connor Murphy ’93 (Sarnia – OHL); Mike Reilly ’93 (Minnesota); Patrick Sieloff ’94 (Windsor – OHL); Brady Skjei ’94 (Minnesota); Jacob Trouba ’94 (Michigan).
Forwards (15): Cole Bardreau ’93 (Cornell); Riley Barber '94 (Miami); Tyler Biggs ’93 (Oshawa – OHL); Alex Galchenyuk '94 (Sarnia – OHL); John Gaudreau ’93 (BC); Rocco Grimaldi ’93 (North Dakota); Ryan Hartman '94 (Plymouth – OHL); Sean Kuraly ’93 (Miami); Mario Lucia ’93 (Notre Dame); Stefan Matteau '94 (Blainville-Boisbriand – QMJHL); JT Miller ’93 (Connecticut – AHL); Stefan Noesen ’93 (Plymouth – OHL); Blake Pietila ’93 (Michigan Tech); Vince Trocheck ’93 (Saginaw – OHL); Jim Vesey ’93 (Harvard).
-- There were 20 players at the Evaluation Camp who did not make the team. Fifteen were ‘93s; they will not have another chance to make the team. Five were ‘94s, who will have one more crack at it next year.
D Brian Cooper – Nebraska-Omaha
D Garrett Haar – Western Michigan
D Mike Paliotta -- Vermont
D Robbie Russo – Notre Dame
D Joakim Ryan -- Cornell
D Jordan Schmaltz – North Dakota
D Andy Welinski – Minnesota-Duluth
F Colin Blackwell – Harvard injured
F Reid Boucher – Sarnia (OHL)
F Travis Boyd -- Minnesota
F Alex Broadhurst – London (OHL)
F Steve Fogarty – Notre Dame
F Brian Hart -- Harvard
F Logan Nelson – Victoria (WHL)
F Adam Reid -- Northeastern
G Anthony Stolarz – Nebraska-Omaha
D Connor Carrick – Plymouth (OHL)
F Thomas DiPauli – Notre Dame
F Nicholas Kerdiles – Wisconsin
F Henrick Samuelsson – Edmonton (WHL)
-- Phil Housley (Stillwater HS) is the head coach of this year's US National Junior Team. Assistant coaches are Mark Osiecki (Ohio St.), Grant Potulny (Minnesota), and David Lassonde (Denver). Video coordinator is Dan Muse (Yale). Director of Player Personnel is Tim Taylor.
-- The U.S. will play in the same pool as Canada, Russia, Germany, and Slovakia at the World Juniors.
-- Here’s the schedule. All games will be broadcast live on the NHL Network, some well before breakfast time.
Thurs. Dec 27 – Germany (8:00 pm/9:00 am EST)
Fri. Dec. 28 – Russia (8:00 pm/9:00 am EST)
Sun. Dec. 30 – Canada (3:30 pm/4:30 am EST)
Mon. Dec. 31 – Slovakia (4:00 pm/5:00 am EST)
Wed. Jan. 2 – Quarterfinals
Thurs. Jan. 3 – Semifinals
Sat. Jan. 5 – Bronze and Gold medal games
A Look at The Founders' League Jamboree
We are loath to jump to conclusions off the Founders’ League Jamboree, given that they are scrimmages played in running-time halves – hockey’s equivalent to speed-dating (not that we’d know anything about that).
We did gather up a few impressions, however.
The most pleasant surprise was Loomis Chaffee. The group head coach JR Zavisza inherited last year was pretty awful, finishing 2-23, so we were a little bug-eyed watching a youthful, high-energy squad fighting for every square inch of ice against a deeper Salisbury team. At the half, Loomis held a 2-1 lead and, while they eventually succumbed 4-3, at game’s end we had checks and comments next to a half dozen skating Pelicans – probably more than over the last decade combined. The key? The vast majority of the squad’s best players are newcomers.
5’9” Cory Swift, a new junior from West Seneca, NY, was a constant presence, working hard, creating opportunities, and pushing the Salisbury D back on their heels. Ditto for 5’11” sophomore RC Alex Esposito, a newcomer from Notre Dame-West Haven. That duo alone gives Loomis a brand-new look. The squad had no players even remotely like those two up front last season. The only forward we even remembered from Loomis last year was 6’2” junior Kristofer VanGameren (St. Lazare, Que.), and we remembered him more for size/potential than anything else. So here we are a year later, and VanGameren has improved. His feet are still a bit heavy, but you can see he’s growing into his body, and is not afraid to use his size – he put some heavy hits on Salisbury players and gives the squad a big, physical presence up front. For good measure, he blasted a short-handed goal from the top of the right face-off circle – top shelf.
On defense, we liked 6’2”, 195 lb. PG Max Harrington, formerly of the Blake School. Harrington has a lot to like, and could be a real find for the right school. A left shot, he can move the puck, will key the Loomis power play (he scored the first goal on Wednesday), and uses his size effectively in his own end.
A new junior we liked was 5’10” Matt O’Donnell, a savvy right-shot D from California who was able to consistently move the puck up ice to Swift, Esposito, et al.
In net, 5’11” senior Danny Tirone, who was the squad’s best goalie last season and blanked Tabor on Monday, was in net for the first half against Salisbury – and again allowed nothing to get past him. We are in an era when everyone is looking for the athletic goalie who stands 6’0” or better. Tirone isn’t that, but he’s not small either, and he stops the puck. He’s worth following.
Will the Pelicans jump from 2-23 to .500 this year? We’re not betting on it, as they are young and it’s a tough league. But these are not your father’s Pelicans.
-- Westminster was another team that looked very good, blanking Hotchkiss 5-0. The Martlets have lost talented senior Chris Izmirlian and his 48 points to graduation but Princeton recruit David Hallisey is back for his senior year and the offense will flow through him. He’ll need help though, and head coach Tim Joncas will look to guys like 6’0” 187 lb. senior Sean Orlando, who came out of AA hockey in the Philadelphia area and had a strong junior season last year, to be a key contributor. Orlando is a Div. I prospect who will be watched closely. Hallisey and Orlando were linemates on Wednesday, along with 6’2” returning junior Mario Benicky, from Slovakia.
5’10” PG Ethan Holdaway, who lit it up at Glastonbury High last season, is a nice little buzz bomb who made the Fall Prep League all-star team that played at Northeastern a couple weeks ago.
On the blue line we were intrigued by 6’3”, 186 lb. sophomore Will Brophy, who was at Fairfield Prep last season. He’s gawky and still growing into his body but showed poise with the puck and certainly has upside.
Westminster has another excellent new sophomore defenseman in 5’11’” right shot Frankie Sullivan, who was at Notre Dame-Fairfield last season. Sullivan can skate and handle the puck – a good Div. I prospect.
Westminster looks like, well, Westminster. They move the puck well, and work well as a unit. As for goaltending, they lost Yale recruit Patrick Spano to graduation. We are not very familiar with goalie Zac Hamilton – Spano’s backup last season – but he looked fine on Wednesday against Hotchkiss. We’ll just have to see how that plays out over the season.
-- And Hotchkiss? Not a good day. They just couldn’t get untracked against Westminster, who won the battles, kept the pressure on – and had better goaltending.
As everyone knows, 6’6”, 225 lb. junior LW Tyler Hill, a ’95 birthdate from Hagersville, Ontario, is getting a lot of attention for the NHL draft and is going into the season as the highest-ranked pro prospect in prep hockey, getting a B ranking (i.e. potential second/third rounder) from Central. While it’s hard to overlook a kid that size who can skate a bit, we really didn’t see much hockey savvy from him on Wednesday. Unless he’s paired with someone who can get him the puck, not much is going to happen. There are tools, for sure, but he has a way to go.
We watched 6’6”, 195 lb. LD Wiley Sherman, a Harvard recruit and a C prospect for the NHL draft, and noted that he’s grown into his body a bit. Sherman has legs like a giraffe and a nice long stride, but last year seemed to have difficulty with pucks around his feet. The distance was just too great. He has made progress there. There’s more fluidity to his game.
As we already mentioned, the Bearcats had a bad day. We’ll reserve judgment for another day, and hope that it’s a better one.
-- Choate lost 53-point scorer and Cornell recruit Alex Rauter to Omaha (USHL), which leaves a gaping hole in their attack. Senior Luke May is the squad’s leading returning scorer (21 points) and was on the top line with new junior Joe Caffrey, from the North Jersey Avalanche, and sophomore Charley Borek (son of UNH assistant Scott Borek) from Cardigan Mountain. A lot will be needed from those three.
The Wild Boars are very strong in goal with sophomore – and Yale recruit -- Sam Tucker, a ’96 from Wilton, Conn.
-- T-P could be a little better this season, as many of their top players from last year – small forwards like 5’6 junior Charlie Zaccarini and 5’9” senior Andrew Zona as well as 6’0” senior defenseman RJ Bishop – are back.
-- Taft’s skill is found among their younger players, which head coach Dan Murphy will look to be building upon for the future. Yale recruit Andrew Gaus, the team’s leading scorer as a soph last season, will have to lead the way. He didn’t actually jump out at us much on Wednesday, but certainly has in the past. New junior Cole Maier, a forward from the NY Saints, and new sophomore James Anderson, a forward from Suffolk PAL, caught our eye. They will have to mature into key players as the season goes along. Returning junior Matt Liebers will have to take a larger role on the blue line. Joseph Lissak, a big sophomore, is the Rhinos’ incoming goalie.
-- For Salisbury, a lot of the big names from last year are gone, like leading scorer Philip Zielonka, top-scoring defenseman Marc Biega, forwards Zack Pryzbek, John Stevens, Aaron Berisha, and Anthony DiFruscia…goalie Justin Nichols, defenseman Thomas Welsh.
In addition, Salisbury was missing returning seniors Mark Hamilton and Jake Hand, and PG forward Matt Pugh (from BB&N) -- all out with injuries.
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? And it is. But it’s also Salisbury we’re talking about here, and head coach Andrew Will has brought in plenty of new players.
Of special interest to us was 6’4”, 195 lb. right shot PG defenseman Aaron Titcomb, a Charlestown, Mass. native who notched an 11-18-29 line on the blue line last year at Brewster Academy where he was co-captain. Titcomb, a 5/16/93 birthdate hence a bit on the old side, was at Austin Prep a few years back and then left for the EJHL where he broke his neck in an early-season game – and wound up missing an entire season. Titcomb, who scored Salisbury’s final two goals, both on low shots from the point, in Salisbury’s 4-3 win over Loomis Wednesday, has definite upside. We liked his athleticism, and his ability to both make and attempt plays. Sometimes he gets ahead of himself – he committed a careless turnover in his own end – but, that said, Titcomb has assets that can’t be taught and deficits that can be worked on. He could quickly mature into a nice Div. I prospect under Will, who was a textbook defenseman in his years at Union.
The most polished players on the Salisbury blueline – and the top pairing -- are senior Ryan Segalla and junior Will Toffey, both returnees from last season. Each scored a goal on Wednesday, which means that, along with Titcomb’s pair, all the scoring came from the point. Which brings us to this: despite the fact that a couple of veteran forwards were sitting out with injuries, we don’t really see a pure goal scorer in the current Salisbury lineup, someone like Zielonka who had a 26-24-50 line last season. It will be interesting to see how all that shakes out.
6’2” late ’94 senior Liam McDermott, who played for the Cleveland Barons U-18 team last year (he’s the brother of CC’s junior d-man Eamonn McDermott), put up points last year in the MWEHL, and could do the same in prep hockey. As for the Smith twins, new juniors from Stouffville, Ontario, and new junior Neil Robinson, from the Lac-St. Louis Lions, the three were linemates on Wednesday, but we didn’t get a strong sense of what they could do.
We also didn’t get a strong feel for the goalie situation. All three played on Wednesday. ’97 sophomore Callum Booth, a Montrealer, comes highly touted, but he only played one half of one half – i.e., 15 running times minutes. PG Brandon Mueller, from the Nichols School, played the first half of the game and let in two, with one being a short-handed blast from above the faceoff circle that he had a clear look at.
-- Kent and Avon played the first game of the day, and at a nice tempo, too. There was a lot to look at.
Starting with Kent, 6’2”, 178 lb. new junior Lewis Zerter-Gossage, a 5/23/95 birthdate who played Quebec midget AAA for Laval last winter and was one of the team’s leading scorers, is hard to miss. We wrote about him at the Berkshire tournament Monday, where we found him pretty intriguing. He’s drawing attention from NHL and college guys alike. Kent’s powerplay, with Zerter-Gossage, 6’2” junior Mitch Allen, new junior 5’11” Phil Klitirinos (from the Lac-St. Lions), and forward Danny Casey and d-man Mike Graham playing the points could be tough to defend against.
And once again, Kent has size, particularly on the blue line. Both goalies are returnees – junior Stephen Morrissey and senior Charlie Fennell.
-- Avon has several ‘95s from last year’s Long Island Royals U-16 team coached by NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine. All are new juniors, too. One, 6’2” Nick Hutchison, make his presence felt right away, scoring Avon’s first goal on a rebound. He’s a strong Div. I prospect. Ditto for 5’10” RC Daniel LaFontaine, who’s not flashy or fast, but is a smart, efficient player who could really develop under John Gardner and his staff. Ex-Royal Aidan Salerno, a 6’2” late ’95 defenseman, played well, too. Senior Cody Champagne, a 5’11” ’94 who was formerly at South Kent, is a great skater – fast in both directions and highly mobile. Union recruit and senior Griff Martin, who we have written about, anchors the blue line, which is the team’s strong suit. If he has a great season, so might the Winged Beavers, because a lot flows through him.
Up front, 5'10", 170 lb. uncommitted senior Vincent Russo led the Winged Beavers in scoring last season with 38 points. Not many teams are able to return thier leading scorer so Russo, a tri-captain, will be a key to Avon's season.
The goaltending? Junior Cody Doyle started, and new sophomore Tucker Weppner, a 6’2” ’96 from East Amherst, NY played the second half. Each allowed one goal.
There’s talk about next year playing the Founder’s League Jamboree on the first Monday after Thanksgiving, which would allow for a longer day and give scouts and recruiters a chance to see all teams for a full game. Sounds like a great idea to us.