Midwest Prep Kick Off Weekend
We’ve been hustling to get everything ready for the prep season, which means we have a backlog of things we’re still working on.
Here are our notes on the MPHL Kick Off Classic Weekend at Cairns Arena in South Burlington, Vt. Nov. 14-16. Last year’s event had high-profile players like St. Andrew’s College senior Warren Foegele, who was drafted in June and is now a UNH freshman; and Lake Forest Academy’s 5’7” sophomore Alex DeBrincat, a former UMass commit who signed with the Erie Otters and is putting up big numbers this year playing on a line with Connor McDavid. This year, we didn’t see anyone jump out at us as much as those two did last year, but there were plenty of strong prospects for Div. I and Div. III. Many are still on the young side, and will grow as players over the course of the season.
Word is that Stanstead College defenseman Filip Dusek, a 6’4”, 192 lb. ’99-born sophomore from Prague, Czech Republic, is a player to keep an eye on. He started the season injured, but is expected back soon.
We got to see each team play twice, and found a good number of close, competitive games.
The league is broken into two five-team divisions. The Bower Division has the stronger teams, headed up by Stanstead College (5-0) and St. Michael’s College School (4-0-1), the latter being a replacement for Saint Andrew’s College. The two teams following Stanstead and St. Michael’s in the Bower Division are the Edge School (4-1) and Ridley College (3-0-1-1). Rice Memorial is a step below the top four, but also has the youngest team in the league. The Malloy Division is led by Lake Forest Academy, who were 2-3-0 here. The other four teams in the division -- St. Francis, Gilmour Academy, Shady Side Academy, and Loyola Academy -- combined for only one win.
Following is a ranking of the tournament’s standouts.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (#11 Edge School, Soph., L, 5-9.5/170, ’99) -- The 1st round draft pick (#14 overall) of the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL Bantam draft was firing on all cylinders in Burlington. Last season, Anderson-Dolan played for Edge’s Bantam AAA team, amassing a 79-47-126 line in 59 games. At this level he is the youngest player on his team, with a Sept. ’99 birthdate, but you would have been hard pressed to know that unless you had a roster. Anderson-Dolan skates with great confidence and composure. He possesses quick and agile hands which he used to side-step defensemen and stickhandle his way through the neutral zone. While the hands, skating ability, and scoring touch are what jump out the most, his hockey sense, spacial awareness, and ability to read the play are well beyond his years. He has a potent shot that he gets off instantly and appears to have great control over, putting it exactly where he wants it to go. Anderson-Dolan has signed with Spokane for the 2015-16 season.
Connor Hill (#21 Ridley College, Jr., L, 6-1/185, ’98) -- Hill had a monster weekend with a 3-3-6 line, showing great consistency in creating scoring chances shift after shift. Hill and linemate Christian Girhiny are the best one-two punch in the league and find each other well. The duo, making beautiful passes back and forth, created countless 2-on-1 opportunities. Hill has size, slick, soft hands, and a hard shot. He’s a calculating, crafty type who is in complete control of the puck when it’s on his stick, knowing not only where he wants it to go but how to get it there. Hill could an effective skilled power forward at the next level if he can just improve his skating a bit. He led the Ontario Jr. Knights in goals last season but fell in the OHL draft to the 15th round where he was selected by Peterborough.
David Jankowski (#28 Stanstead College, Sr., R, 6-0/155, ’97) -- Jankowski is a tall, thin prospect from a great hockey family. His older brother Mark, a first round NHL draft pick of Calgary in 2012, is currently a junior at Providence College. The younger Jankowski has a lot of tools at his disposal: he has a long fluid stride, athleticism, soft hands, and a quick-release wrist shot. He has excellent hand-eye coordination that allows him to tip pucks and redirect one-touch passes. His best attribute is his hockey sense, as he reads the ice well, anticipates where the puck is going to go, and puts his teammates in position to make plays. Jankowski will need to grow into his body and get stronger and more physical to play at the D-I level.
Christopher Smith (#27 Stanstead College, Sr., L, 5-9/171, ’97) -- The leading returning scorer from last year’s squad, Smith picked up where he left off, finishing the weekend with an impressive 6-5-11 line in five games. Smith is fast, and is able to accelerate instantly from a stationary position. He uses a change of speed to create separation. He is quick and agile in small spaces and has excellent vision, which was on full display during the powerplay where he finds his teammates all over the ice. He showed some grit in the tough areas, which we haven’t seen much of before, and also a willingness to battle in his own end. A more complete player than he was last year. Definite D-I upside.
Christian Girhiny (#18 Ridley College, Jr., L, 5-11/155, ’98) – Girhiny, who was dominant at times, has an excellent set of hands and plays on arguably the top line in the league. What impressed us was his ability to make plays – many quite flashy – at full speed. He made a backhanded saucer pass at full speed, ditto for toe-dragging a defenseman. He makes quick juke moves in the corners and along the boards without ever slowing down. He works well with linemate Connor Hill. The two of them were a constant threat, feeding off each other almost every shift. The highly-skilled forward, who had a 3-3-6 line in five games over the weekend, could develop into a nice D-I player if he decides on that route. He was a late-round OHL draft pick by Erie.
Jacob Elmer (#14 Edge School, Soph., R, 6-1/168, late ’98) -- A December 31st birthdate, Elmer was a 6th round selection of the Regina Pats in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. He signed with them in June and had a good training camp, but has returned to the Edge School. He showed well here. He has great poise carrying the puck, slick hands, and a fluid stride. He never appears to be in a rush, values the puck, and makes good decisions. He can score from in tight or from the outside and has excellent hockey sense. He should grow to be a quality player in the WHL.
Josh McKechney (#7 Edge School, Sr., R, 6-0/170,’97) -- McKechney returns from last year’s squad where he played alongside Taro Hirose, who is now the second-leading scorer at Salmon Arm (BCHL). McKechney plays a controlled style -- he has the ability to slow the game down and use his soft hands and hockey instincts to create scoring chances. He sees the ice well, makes good decisions, and is able to use his size and reach to fight for space or dangle in tight spaces. We would like to have seen more effort away from the puck; regardless, he has D-I upside.
Charles Levesque (#16 Ridley College, Sr., R, 5-9/165, ’98) -- Levesque has speed, is shifty in small areas, and has an ability to find open ice, buy time and space, and make plays out of nothing. He is smart and precise in the neutral zone, makes smart decisions, and plays with a lot of pace. Currently plays on Ridley’s top line with Girhiny and Hill.
Kyle Haskins (#15 Rice Prep, Fr., L, 5-9/150, ’00) -- Haskins made a name for himself this summer at the New England Festival and again at the ECC Tournaments. He has good size, stick skills, and a rocket shot. He is tough, willing to throw his body around, and fight through checks. We loved the fight he showed playing against older players as he is one of the youngest players in the entire league. However, he is raw and immature at times, has tunnel vision, and doesn’t pass the puck. Overall, his upside is high as he can use his body to shield the puck and elusive hands to stickhandle through traffic to scoring areas. A center, he did well on draws, but was unfocused at times in his own end. A Div. I prospect, though he has a long way to go.
Drew Packman (#9 Stanstead College, Sr., L, 6-0/201, ’97) -- Packman is a strong skater who lacks high-end speed but is difficult to match up against because of his strength and skill. He and linemate Christopher Smith worked well off each other, creating a lot of scoring opportunities. Packman is a better distributor then he gets credit for, and he has a good head for the game. In the corners and along the wall he is able to use his size to outmuscle opponents and come out with the puck.
Will Lavezzorio (#11 Lake Forest Academy, Sr., L, 5-10/170, ’96) -- Lavezzorio left the tournament on a high note when he scored the last two goals for his team and added an assist in a 4-3 OT win over the Edge School on Sunday. He is a skilled playmaker with gifted hands, values the puck, and is crafty and hard to defend behind the net. He leads his team in points with a 4-2-6 line in five games. On his game-winning goal in overtime he beat the defenseman and deked the goalie left to right before backhanding it past him. As a ’96 his D-I upside is limited, but he would be a good get for a D-III school.
Austin Leduc (#16 Edge School, Sr., L, 6-0/149, ’98) – Leduc, with a good combination of puck possession skills and vision, is at his best on odd-man rushes because he can lure in defensemen and either take the shot or make the pass. He made a 10-foot behind-the-back saucer pass on a 3v2 that was perfectly timed and placed and while it wasn’t converted for a goal it did show his hockey sense and ability to read the defense’s vulnerabilities.
Patrick MacDonald (#22 Ridley College, Sr., L, 6-0/175, late ’97) -- MacDonald has a good build, uses his reach and size to protect the puck and power to the net. He made one really impressive move, splitting the D on a 1v2 and cutting to the net for a nice bid. He is not quick, but once he gets his feet under him he uses his long stride. He doesn’t look like he’s going particularly fast, but we saw him motoring wide around defensemen. He will need to improve his agility and process the game more quickly. But there’s potential here.
Marco Violo (#16 St. Michael’s College, Sr., R, 5-9/157, ‘96) -- A smart, crafty playmaker who always has his head up, looking for holes in the defense. He is slippery and skilled, and able to stickhandle his way out of a bind. Violo is a cerebral player who tends to play a perimeter set-up game but isn’t afraid to cut to the middle of the ice and shoot. He generated a lot of chances off neutral zone turnovers. He led the team in scoring last year and should do the same this year.
Erkka Vanska (#29 Stanstead College, Soph., L, 5-8/148, ’98) -- An Espoo, Finland native, Vanska is a smart player who controls the puck extremely well, and utilizes his quickness and agility in small areas. He avoids pressure with spins and quick side-to-side moves. He’s also a two-way guy. What we liked best was his compete level and his ability to fight through checks and win puck battles in the corners.
Wyley Veinot (#2 Gilmour Academy, Jr., L, 6-0/185, ’98) -- A tall, thin prospect with weak ankles. But he’s also surprisingly athletic, has smooth hands, and can skate with the puck. He had a beautiful rush on the powerplay where he was able to motor around two players, gain the zone, and set up a play. He’ll need to fill out and get more physical.
Michael Bryne (#26 St. Michael’s College, Sr., R, 5-11/162, ‘97) -- Bryne scored the game-winning goal with 45 second remaining to lead St. Michael’s to a 2-1 win over Gilmour. He is a graceful skater, with speed and finesse. He was a bit passive at times and didn’t get physically engaged but he is noticeable when he has control of the puck. He can make quick dekes at high speed and has the ability to isolate a defenseman and create odd-man opportunities for his teammates.
Matvey Skripchenko (#19 Rildey College, Sr., L, 6-4/210, ’97) – A Moscow native, Skripchenko is starting to adapt to the North American game and has taken great strides since last year. He has an imposing body, is tall and strong, and has plenty of room to grow into. He is improving his stickhandling ability and is able to create separation with his reach and body positioning. Once he maintains possession of the puck, it’s difficult to knock him off it, unless he tries to get cute. Skripchenko is also shooting the puck more and developing the strong net front presence one looks for from a 6’4” forward.
Michael Locatelli (#22 St. Michael’s Colllege, Sr., R, 6-3/186, ‘97) -- Locatelli brings size and physicality to the game and opens up the ice for his skilled linemates. He has deceptively smooth hands and is able to use his reach and strength to win puck battles along the wall and come out of the corners clean. He is also a purposeful forechecker and causes a lot of turnovers for his opponents. He has some north-south speed but agility and lateral quickness are a work in progress. We’d like to see him develop more of a net front presence and attack the goal more before we can label him as an effective power forward, which at 6’3” he certainly has the tools to be.
Cooper Norton (#9 Rice Prep, Jr., R, 5-8/175, ’98) -- Norton is small but smart, has an explosive first step, and an ability to find his teammates in the offensive zone. He competes, forechecking and backchecking hard without getting out of position.
Milo DeFay (#9 Shady Side Academy, Soph., 5-8/150, ’98) -- A pure goal scorer, shoots with his head up, has a quick release, and is able to shoot the puck in stride with something on it. He is a smart player, knows where to be on the ice, and competes in all three zones.
Renat Nigmatullin (#11 Rice Prep, Sr., L, 5-11/175, ’97) -- Rice’s leading scorer, Nigmatullin shoots it really well, has good hands -- especially in tight -- and knows his way around the slot. He isn’t overly skilled but he’s crafty and gets the most out of his talent. Worth a look.
Chase Sriprajittichai (#13 Gilmour Academy, Jr., R, 5-11/155, ’98) -- The Santa Barbara, Calif. native has quick hands and is able to find open ice. Needs to improve his strength in order to take his game to the next level.
Wyatt Glover (#23 Shady Side Academy, Jr., 6-0/190, ’97) -- Glover has good size and a long stride which allows him to go wide on defensemen. He had a hand in 60 percent of his team’s goals here, but we would have liked to have seen him play with more of an edge. He was too perimeter at times. Overall, though, he is a good prospect given his size and touch around the net. Speed and agility could use improvement.
Luke Court (#15 Ridley College, Sr., R, 5-9/155, ’97) -- Court is a shifty playmaker who is light on his skates and possesses quickness and agility. He made a quick juke on a defenseman on the offensive blue line and squeezed by the D and the boards to get around him and then cut to the net for a scoring opportunity.
AJ Oppenheimer (#19 Shady Side Academy, Sr., 5-8/168, ’96) -- Short but stalky, and strong on his skates, Oppenheimer has good speed up and down the ice. He stops on the puck, plays hard and forechecks with authority. He wasn’t able to get much going offensively but that should change as the season progresses.
Owen Ramsay (#10 St. Michael’s College, Jr., L, 5-10/168, ‘98) -- Ramsay is a two-way player who isn’t overly flashy but knows where to be on the ice and is efficient with the puck, rarely turning it over or forcing the play. He wasn’t noticeable in the offensive zone but was in the right places at the right times.
Antoine Belisle (#26 Stanstead College, Jr., L, 5-8/164, ’98) -- Belisle is young and undersized, but he played with a high compete level and scored a highlight top-corner goal in a blowout win over Shady Side.
Jonathan Blais (#22 Gilmour Academy, Jr., L, 6-0/180, late ’96) -- A smooth-skating, highly athletic player with some size and a determined effort in his own end.
Konsta Jaakola (#10 Rice Prep, Jr., R, 5-6/156, ’97) -- Jaakola is small but talented with the puck on his stick. He plays on Rice’s top line with Norton and Nigmatullin and, while he lacks size, he is compact and skates with a low center, which makes him tough to knock off the puck. He lacks the speed needed for his size, but he is quick in tight spaces and always seemed to come out of the corner with possession.
Mac Caruana (#17 St. Michael’s College, Jr., L, 5-7/143, late ‘98) -- At 5’7”, 143 lbs., he doesn’t look like much but his elusive stick skills, quickness, and hard shot allow him to stand out despite being his team’s youngest player.
Alex Herbert (#6 Ridley College, Sr., L, 6-3/220, ’97) -- Herbert is one of the league’s most physically imposing players at 6’3”, 220 lbs. He has great strength in the corners and along the boards. He is stiff and slow now, but, keeping in mind his size, if can iron that part of his game out then he could develop into a third or fourth line power forward at the next level.
Sean Remillard (#24 Rice Prep, Sr., R, 5-8/165, ’97) -- Remillard is small but fast and plays with a lot of energy. He scored one of the top goals we saw in the tournament, a bar-down snipe in gull stride.
Ian Socrates (#6 Gilmour Academy, Sr., R, 5-10/175, ’97) -- A small, shifty player with a nice blend of agility and quickness. Has an explosive first step from a stand-still position and is able to play at a high pace. Would have liked to see him get more involved offensively, but Gilmour didn’t have a lot of puck possession time as a team.
Lake Forest ’99 Forwards (Andrej Hromic, Reiss Jensen, Will Everett and Jacob Upshall) These four players are all very young and were unnoticeable for most of the games but they are all ‘99s, have potential, some size, and just need to adjust to the pace of the game while gaining strength and confidence. Hromic was the leading scorer for Team Illinois Bantam Major last season.
Noah Tooke (#24 Ridley College, Jr., L, 6-0/185, late ’98) -- Tooke appears to be the best overall defenseman in the league. While his offensive ability stands out, he is a much better defender then he gets credit for. He is strong in the tough ice and is able to strip the puck and immediately shield the opponent from it. When covering a player, he gets a stick on them but always keeps his head towards the puck carrier and reads the play. Often times he broke off of his guy to break up a play. On the offensive end, he is dynamic on the blue line, has smooth yet sturdy hands, and quarterbacks the umbrella powerplay. His stride is long and powerful which translates into speed, balance, and explosiveness. He gets his shot on net and picks his spots well – they are rarely blocked. A late-round selection of the Erie (OHL), Tooke should get a lot of interest if he decides to go the NCAA route.
Jeremy Descheneaux (#15 Stanstead College, Jr., L, 6-1/182, ’98) – Descheneaux, normally a centerman, made a name for himself this summer with a strong showing at the Road to College and the Beantown Summer Classic. Here, he was one of the guys we were most excited to see play, only to find him, due to injuries on his team, playing defense. Descheneaux is a gifted skater with an array of offensive abilities, but on the backend he looked out of place for much of the time. He is ranked as a ‘B’ here due to his ability and upside and taking into consideration that he is unfamiliar with the position. He still stands out, though. He had a few nice rushes and came into his own on the powerplay. But wait until he is back playing forward!
Jake Stevens (#4 Lake Forest Academy, Sr., R, 6-1/195, late ’96) -- A big, mobile defenseman who has great escapability in his own end and buys himself that extra second to make direct passes to break it out. He is tough to beat on the wall, keeps the puck in his zone, and is athletic on the offensive blue line. On the power play he shows the qualities of both a distributor and a shooter. On the defensive side he uses his size and strength to grind players down, has a decent reach, and uses his hockey instincts to put himself in the best position to break up plays.
Jordan Gonzales (#2 St. Francis HS, Fr., R, 6-2/165, ’99) -- Gonzales has a tall, slim build and although he was the youngest defenseman on his team, he appears to be their best prospect. He zips the puck across the ice and hits targets tape-to-tape in mid-stride. He has vision, great control of the game, and a long reach to keep forwards outside and off angle. He will need to fill into his body and iron out some of his stride issues. A wait-and-see approach must be taken here but Gonzales is certainly worth watching.
Nathan Sanderson (#20 Stanstead College, Sr., R, 6-3/232, ’97) -- Sanderson has great size and is able to swallow up opposing forwards with his strength and long reach. He has improved his skating since last year and makes a crisp and well-placed first pass. Has a cannon of a slap shot but struggled to get it off quickly. Has obvious potential but is still a raw prospect at this point. He was drafted late in the QMJHL draft by Rimouski.
Cole Cameron (#4 Ridley College, Jr., R, 5-11/165, ’98) -- Cameron showed off his speed with several end-to-end rushes and also demonstrated confidence on the first powerplay unit. Has poise with the puck on the offensive blue line, is able to walk it out from the boards and put himself in position to shoot the puck or make a pass. He makes sound decisions and doesn’t try to force passes that aren’t there. In his own end he is tough, plays the body, and takes away the angle with body positioning and stick work.
Austin Ehret (#20 Edge School, Sr., L, 5-11/150, ’96) -- We first noticed Ehret on the powerplay where he breaks the puck out of the zone and helps quarterback the play from the offensive blue line. Ehret has decent size, good mitts, and makes a firm, accurate pass. On the powerplay he is able to put just the right amount of touch on this passes, soft enough to enable his teammates to take one-timers but not so soft enough that his passes get picked off. When he decides to shoot, he is able to get it through traffic and on net, despite low velocity. In his own end he has an active stick. He gets outmuscled at times in the tough ice.
James Zanca (#4 Stanstead College, Sr., L, 6-1/185, ’97) -- Zanca continues to be a reliable, rugged defenseman who is tough to play against and has deceptive offensive capabilities. He uses his size well, is able to win battles along the wall and behind the net, and clears out bodies in front of his goalie. He logs a lot of ice time and is making the most of his increased role this year.
Axel Cote (#2 Stanstead College, Soph., 6-0/164, ’98) -- Cote is tall and has an active stick to break up passes and keep forwards off balance. He’s a pure skater who has the ability to take the puck and go at any time. An 8th round selection in the QMJHL by Baie-Comeau.
Mac Ference (#6 Shady Side Academy, Soph., 5-7/155, late ’98) -- Ference is rostered as a forward but we saw him playing defense on Sunday and he played well. He was quick, aggressive, moved the puck up ice well, and was able to take away opponents’ time and space. In addition, the sophomore out of Pittsburgh, PA likes to play a physical game.
Johnny Tomlinson (#43 Lake Forest Academy, Sr., R, 6-0/180, ’96) -- A strong weekend for Tomlinson, a native Californian with good size and a shot. Was at his best on the powerplay. His defensive play is solid but didn’t stand out, as he was beat on a few occasions where he over-committed and pinched at the wrong time. He logs a lot of minutes and will be counted on to produce offensively and hold down the back end throughout the season.
Nicolas Arel (#5 Stanstead College, Jr., L, 6-3/186, ’98) -- Arel was paired with Descheneaux on the Stanstead backend. Still growing into his massive frame, Arel’s footwork has a way to go, but he handles the puck decently, has good anticipation skills, stays in position and keeps the game simple. We’ll take a wait-and-see approach, but his combination of size and a good sense of the game makes him someone to keep tabs on.
Mark Paolini (#5 St. Michael’s College, Jr., L, 5-11/170, ’98) -- Paolini showed a variety of skills: he can skate with the puck and had a nice end-to-end rush, gaining the zone and making a cross-ice pass for a scoring chance. He can also stay back and play a shutdown role. He has some size, skates well, and moves the puck efficiently.
Devon Daniels (#7 Gilmour Academy, Jr., R, 6-1/170, ’98) -- Daniels made a lot of plays in his own end, is a willing shot blocker, and is physical in front. In the offensive zone he showed a powerful slap shot, the accuracy of which he will have to improve on.
Brandon Marinelli (#27 St. Michael’s College, Sr., L, 5-10/163, ‘97) -- An athletic offensive defenseman who has a slight build, but makes up for it with skill and finesse. He excels on the offensive blue line, particularly on the powerplay. However, his defensive zone game is underrated as he is able to play tight on the man and keep them away from the net. In the neutral zone he challenges the opponent and rarely concedes the blue line without pressure. He keeps the puck in the zone, makes a crisp first pass and plays sound, aggressive defense.
Jan Silvala (#12 Rice Prep, Jr., L, 5-10/165, ’97) -- From Tampere, Finland, Silvala is new to Rice but stands out as their top defenseman. He has decent size, moves the puck well and is a gifted skater. He can transition seamlessly from forward to backward and does a nice job defending the 1v1.
Nick Buchanan (#12 Lake Forest Academy, Sr., L, 5-9/160, ’97) -- An undersized D with an explosive first step, good change of speed, and an ability to stay with his man. Buchanan is able to play a tight gap and keep opposing forwards outside and off balance.
Kyle Rock (#33 Loyola Academy, Soph., L, 5-9/160, ’99) -- The bright spot for a weak Loyola team is this ’99 who gets ice time in all situations. In limited action we saw him shut down countless 1v1 opportunities while showing an ability to keep the puck in the zone on the offensive blue line. On the power play he keeps it simple, getting it and moving it quickly.
Paddy Mangan (#16 Rice Prep, Fr., R, 5-10/150, ’00) -- Mangan, from our study of the rosters here, is the youngest player in the league. He is on the weak side both in edge work and overall size, and he got rattled at times and threw the puck away. That being said, he has a good foundation to build off of, and he looks like he has room to grow. His stride is fluid and he isn’t afraid to take a few steps before moving the puck. He could be a very good player once he grows into his body and gains more experience playing against older guys.
Cabot MacKenzie (#7 St. Michael’s College, Jr., L, 5-11/174, ’98) -- MacKenzie quarterbacks the St. Michael’s power play, has vision and poise, and makes smart decisions with the puck. He grinds down the opposition in the corners and along the boards and makes quick, timely decisions on the breakout, usually skating it up a bit and making direct passes to exit the zone. He knows when to pinch and when to retreat on the offensive blue line and was always in position to make plays defensively.
Colin Lee (#4 St. Michael’s College, Sr., L, 5-8/155,’97) – An undersized, mobile, and puck- moving defender who is agile on his skates. He has great escapability, and once he steals the puck he can avoid pressure, find open ice, and make a play. His upside is limited due to size and not being overly dynamic.
Eric Lifvendahl (#20 Loyola Academy, Sr., L, 5-8/140, ’97) -- A small defenseman, Lifvendahl played on a team that only scored one goal all weekend so he saw a lot of action coming back his way. He makes a nice first pass and demonstrated good overall vision and awareness. He lacks size and strength to provide a physical presence in front of his net, but he used a quick stick and an array of spin moves to win battles in the corners.
Alex Butler (#30 Stanstead College, Sr., 5-11/160, ’97) -- Butler did not see much action in the shutout effort we saw, but his stats here speak for themselves: two shutouts over three games, one goal against on 51 shots, a .980 save percentage and 0.33 GAA. He isn’t the ideal size for a goalie, but he moves really well in net, has great reaction time and a quick glove hand. He reads the play, is able to see through traffic, make stops when screened, and does a nice job controlling rebounds. Arguably the most formidable goalie in the league but we didn’t get to see him tested much as Stanstead dominated in the game we saw.
Peyton Zern (#39 St. Francis HS, Soph., 6-0/150, ’98) -- Zern is slated to play the backup role this season, but in the one game we saw him play he was outstanding, keeping St. Francis in the game against a talented Ridley College team. He’s positionally sound, stays square, and rarely gives the shooter much to see. He also plays fairly aggressively and made some acrobatic stops when needed. We did not see him against Rice Memorial, a game in which he stopped 27 of 29 shots. Other scouts reported that Zern was the sole reason the game was a tie.
Cedric Hansen (#30 Gilmour Academy, Sr., 5-11/175, ’97) -- Had a big game against a talented St. Michael’s team, keeping his team in the game with 24 saves on 26 shots in a 2-1 loss. He was under attack all night and made several stops from point-blank range as well as post-to-post sliding saves on 2-on-1’s. He is quick, agile, and moves well in and out of the crease.
Matthew Chan (#33 Stanstead College, Jr., 5-11/165, ’98) -- A late round draft pick of the Guelph Storm (OHL), Chan is coming off an impressive season in Midget AAA in Ontario where he had a .937 save percentage and a 1.34 GAA. He is the backup to Alex Butler (see above) but in his two starts he allowed only one goal against on 37 shots for a .973 save percentage and 0.50 goals against average. He is graceful, always in position, and appears to have great flexibility and range. He was not challenged much in the 5-1 win over St. Francis despite stopping 21 shots, but he doesn’t give the shooter much to look at, swallows up rebounds, and pounces on loose pucks around the crease. He has good balance, moves well up and down as well as in and out of the crease.
Evan DeBrouwer (#30 Ridley College, Sr., 6-2/195, ’97) -- While the 6’2” DeBrouwer wasn’t tested much in the game we saw, he has size, his footwork is good, and, while he wasn’t called on to make any big saves, he was always in position, made himself big (he is anyway), and cut down angles well.
Aiden Ethier (#31 Rice Prep, Sr., 5-11/185, ’97) -- Ethier was solid in net in both games we saw him play, stopping 35 of 37 shots and never getting rattled. He is composed, plays his angles well, and has a calming presence. He didn’t have to make any really tough saves but stopped the ones he was supposed to.
***Alex Ziatek (#18 Shady Side Academy, Fr., 6-2/205, late ’99) -- Ziatek is a big, rugged power forward who we only saw for 2 ½ periods because he was ejected from the game -- and the following game -- for fighting. He is one of the youngest players in the league. His size and brute strength are impressive and while he isn’t the most graceful or agile skater, he has deceptive hands in tight and has a proven scoring touch (last season in the PIHL Middle School league he scored 26 goals in 15 games; the second-leading scorer had 10). Capable of a high rank but due to the fight and sitting out an additional game we had limited viewing.
*** Filip Dusek (#6 Stanstead College, Soph.,6-3/192, ’98) - Defense- We did not see him play because, as we mentioned above, he was injured. Other coaches, however, were impressed with his ability. He comes to Stanstead after playing with the Czech Republic U17 National Team. Definitely worth seeing when Stanstead plays New England Prep teams. He will be out of action until December.
*** Defenseman Jack Clarke (#21 St. Michael’s College, Sr., L, 6-0/210, ’96) and forward Massimo DeMarinis (#19 St. Michael’s College, Sr., L, 5-10/190,’97) – These two St. Michael’s players were kicked out of the Saturday night game for fighting, so did not play on Sunday. Consequently, we had a very limited viewing.
McDavid and Eichel: If Only We Had Known
This afternoon, before a packed Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada and the US will face off in a game that, due to the mano a mano meeting of sure-fire #1 and #2 draft picks Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, has the Canadian media hyperventilating and scalpers making enough money to take off after the tournament and spend the rest of the winter in Florida.
Yes, it is true that McDavid and Eichel faced off against each other at the World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden a year ago today. It was the third time they had faced each other, all in sanctioned international competition, and it was much different than what we are seeing now. Their draft year was still far enough in the future that everything was pretty low-key. McDavid, the baby of the Canadian team, played a bottom six role. Eichel played a bigger role for the U.S. Squad.
Nearly three years ago, in Boston, McDavid, then still 14, and Eichel, who had turned 15 a couple of months before, nearly faced off at the same tournament.
A few days in advance of the weekend of January 6-8, 2012, the headline in the U.S. Hockey Report, sounding as if it were written by a carnival barker rather than this typist, read, “Don’t You Dare Miss It!”
Here’s the first paragraph:
“The First Annual U.S. Hockey Report International Showcase faces off starting Friday at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena. There will be five teams: the Toronto Marlboros, Vaughan Kings, Selects Hockey Academy, Boston Advantage, and the Junior Bruins (Empire). You won’t want to miss this! Josh Ho-Sang (Marlies), Connor McDavid (Marlies), Michael Dal Colle (Vaughan), Roland McKeown (Marlies), and Jack Eichel (Junior Bruins) are potential first round NHL draft picks two or three years down the line but, just as importantly, there will be a slew of potential Division I college players on hand, some of whom are also interested in attending New England prep schools.”
Well, we were a little off on the Div. I angle – hey, we needed the college guys to show up – but we got it right on the NHL picks. Ho-Sang and Dal Colle were indeed first round picks last June. And McDavid and Eichel are locks for June. We did miss a tiny bit on McKeown. (He missed the first round last June, but the LA Kings took him in the second.) But we did not foresee first-round potential in Marlies’ RW Sam Bennett. We liked him a lot, had a batch of check marks next to his name, but there wasn’t much of a “wow factor” in his game compared to the others. Bennett was simply just good all-around, and kept working hard to get better. And thus he became a first-round pick of Calgary last June (#4 overall).
The Marlies also had Jaden Lindo, a powerful forward who went in the sixth round to Pittsburgh last June. The Marlies had four draft picks last summer, and McDavid will make it five come June 26 in Sunrise, Florida.
The Vaughan Kings had two future draft picks. Dal Colle, and LW Dylan Sadoway, who was drafted in the third round by San Jose last summer. They also had the tournament’s best goalie in Cameron Hackett, a Cornell recruit now playing for the Lincoln Stars (USHL) and LW Robbie DeMontis, a Yale recruit currently with Muskegon (USHL).
The Toronto Marlies and Vaughan Kings were the best midget minor teams in the province of Ontario that year. It was our hope to get the weekend off to a flying start by having them face each other on the first day. But the two teams play each other regularly in the GTHL and had met the previous week in the finals of the Marlies’ Holiday Tournament, and felt it would be better to play the New England Teams in the tournament.
On the first day of play, Friday afternoon, the Vaughan Kings edged the Boston Advantage, whose top players were Liam Pecararo and Ryan Cloonan, 5-4 in double OT, and then the Marlies pasted Selects Academy, 12-2, the only mismatch of the entire weekend. We kept no game sheets, so we can’t tell you how many goals any of these future stars scored. It was Selects’ only game, as we also wanted to have the Junior Bruins Empire Team in. They had a league game Saturday, but that was OK. Saturday was a day off, anyway – a chance to allow our guests from Canada to check out Boston’s delights.
First, after Friday’s games, they headed over to Agganis Arena. Boston University was among the schools heavily recruiting both Dal Colle and Sadoway, so those two got a full tour of the facilities prior to the BU-Merrimack game that night. Saturday, as we mentioned, was an off-day so the players did some sightseeing and that evening went to the Hockey East doubleheader at Frozen Fenway. We hoped that seeing attractive young ladies all over the city, a pair of top college hockey games under the stars, the tang of salt in the winter air, and the recent capture of Whitey Bulger and his gun moll Catherine Greig would have them all dying to come to New England, enroll in Salisbury, Cushing, Avon et al and then move on to great college careers. Or a few of them, at least. We knew that DeMontis, who wrote on his questionnaire that he hoped to become a lawyer, would be a natural candidate. Vaughan’s Brandon Lukezic, we felt less sure about. On his questionnaire, asked what future occupation (other than hockey player) he would be interested in, the d-man wrote ‘Canadian Tire Dealer.’ While there is nothing wrong with kids operating with such a high degree of specificity, we must report that he’s only just now playing his first year of major junior, in the Q, with the Moncton Wildcats.
At any rate, after their day off, the teams were back at it Sunday morning. We did everything we could to induce Boston hockey mavens to come on down to Northeastern’s Matthews Arena, the finest classic hockey arena in existence. Just like on Friday, admission was free to all, as were the donuts and coffee. The first game was at 7:45 a.m. and this typist loaded up the back seat of the car with boxes of donuts and boxes of Joe, more than enough for all the families of players and college recruiters who showed up. Fans were virtually non-existent. Three years ago people just weren’t ready to crawl out of bed on a Sunday morning in early January to see McDavid and Eichel or any of the other future stars on hand. Even if admission and coffee were free.
Sunday is where we blew it. We had scheduled the Marlies against the Advantage at 7:45 am. It was a tight, well-played game, with the Marlies winning, 3-2. The next and final game featured the Vaughan Kings edging the Junior Bruins Empire Team 2-1 in a shootout. We had Dal Colle and Eichel going mano a mano. No reason to complain about that. But if we knew now what we knew then, we would have tweaked the schedule at the beginning of the tournament. Our only goal was to have a Canadian team vs. an American team in every game. There was no reason whatsoever that we couldn’t have worked things so that McDavid’s Marlies and Eichel’s Bruins would face each other. Instead, on Sunday, McDavid was getting off the ice just as Eichel was ready to go on. The media has been reporting that they didn’t meet until recently. If we had known that was going to be a big deal we could have arranged it. Perhaps even dragooned a photographer – or at least a parent with a cell phone – to take a picture. Maybe an old-style tale-of-the-tape picture with the two scowling at each other, and flexing their biceps at a weigh-in.
When the tournament was over we had to review the weekend for USHR. Here, in a much-condensed version, are our top five forwards and what we wrote about them at the time. “The two best forwards were – no surprise here – Marlies ’96 forward Josh Ho-Sang, who is sensational and compares favorably with Sidney Crosby at the same age; and Marlies ’97-born forward Connor McDavid, who is playing up, just as Ho-Sang did last year, and is a special player himself. For our money, Junior Bruins late ‘96 forward Jack Eichel looked to be the third best forward here, and a clear #1 among the U.S. kids. After Eichel, we’d go with Vaughan power forward Michael Dal Colle (’96), and Vaughan’s Dylan Sadoway.” We mentioned a few others – but not Marlies’ LW Sam Bennett. Either we missed him totally, or he just kept steadily growing and getting better in all facets of the game. Or maybe it was a combination of the two. At any rate, he was the surprise of the bunch, the one we would not have predicted for the first round, much less #4 overall.
Of the defensemen, we wrote, “The best d-man at the showcase – hands-down – was Marlies ’96 Roland McKeown, an excellent skater with a great stick.” The next were Vaughan’s Jonathan Duchesne (’96), who was a sensation in ’10-11, but peaked early. He was still good in ’11-12, but not the #1 guy anymore. Our third guy was the Marlies’ Jared Walsh, a ’96 who had expressed interest in New England prep schools. He never went to boarding school, but he kept an academic interest -- for a while. He was picked by Mississauga in the second round of the OHL draft five months later, but spent the following season playing Tier II with the St. Michael’s Buzzers. A year after his trip to Boston he committed to the University of Michigan (for fall ’14). However, he decommitted a year before he was to matriculate, and signed with Mississauga. A 5’10” blueliner, he was bypassed in last summer’s NHL draft.
Anyway, that’s the story of how, three years ago, we could have had McDavid and Eichel facing off against each other for the first time. It just never really occurred to us. Nobody even brought it up. After all, there was a lot of talent there anyway. It's true that they did play in back-to-back games, but today that doesn't seem like enough.
We wish they had faced off against each other for the first time in The First Annual U.S. Hockey Report International Showcase.
That would be something to tell the grandchildren.
Throughout this article I refer to us – and not because I have a mouse in my pocket. The truth of the matter was that this typist was, euphemistically speaking, a bit under the weather at the time of the tournament. So when I say “us” the lion's share of the credit goes to Josh Ciocco, who used his contacts from his brief period working as a player agent for Toronto-based Ian Pulver to pull everything together. Ciocco also secured the ice at Boston University and Northeastern, among many other things. I did the writing, promoting, bought all the donuts and coffee, and perhaps a couple other things I have forgotten. But it definitely wouldn’t have happened without Ciocco’s efforts.
This article, about Josh Ho-Sang, is from the Toronto Sun and was published a few days before last summer’s NHL Draft. We found the article, by Steve Simmons, to be of interest. It also raises more questions than it answers.
The Curious case of Controversial NHL Prospect Joshua Ho-Sang
Red Star Vorobyov, and Two Goaltenders
The Russian Red Stars will be playing at Babson College on New Year's Eve, Wed. Dec. 31, at 4:00 pm.
The Red Stars have at least a couple players of interest. Kirill Vorobyov, a left-shot D, has impressed NHL scouts with his play on the tour. Vorobyov is 6’1.5” and 205 pounds, a 2/11/95 birthdate, and is described as a smart player, with great skills, excellent hands, and strong passing and puck-handling skills. He sees his options, picks the best one, and zips lightning-hard passes. The 19-year-old, who played for Russia in the World Under-17 Challenge a few years ago, stood out against Harvard, which, translated, means he could jump right in and play for any Beanpot school. That won’t happen, of course. Russian hockey players don’t grow up dreaming of playing in the Beanpot. Anyway, he burnt his college eligibility by playing a full season with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) in 2012-13.
But he’s still eligible for the draft and NHL scouts who haven’t seen him might want to take a look.
The Red Stars goaltender, 6’2”, 185 lb. Sergei Korobov, has been getting good reviews, too. He’s played for Russia in the Hlinka Memorial and other international tournaments and is playing with SKA-1946 (St. Petersburg, Russia) in the MHL, the country’s top – only? -- junior league. He’s a 3-12-96 birthdate.
The team is a mixed bag, with three ‘93s, six ‘94s, eight ‘95s, and seven ‘96s.
After the game at Babson, they have one remaining, at Princeton on Sat. Jan. 3 at 4:00 pm.
Babson, by the way, is 11-0-0 and ranked #3 nationally in Div. III. Their junior goaltender, 6’3” 23-year-old Jamie Murray, is 11-0-0, has four shutouts, an 0.77 GAA and a .986 save percentage. Murray led Scituate High to back-to-back Eastern Mass Div. 3 high school titles and played for the South Shore Kings (EJHL) before arriving at Babson.
ECEL U14/U16/U18 All-Star Games Review
USHR traveled to Harvard’s Bright Hockey Center on Friday Dec. 19th -- a busy night, what with the prep tournaments going full-tilt and the U.S. National Junior Team playing an exhibition game vs. Boston University a couple miles away – in order to take in the East Coast Elite League All-Star Games, one each at the U14, U16, and U18 levels.
The games were a fundraiser for Hockey Fights Cancer, a charity created by the NHL and NHLPA dedicated to raising awareness of the disease. The six ECEL All-Star teams were each named for an NHL player who has either battled or survived cancer, or has a known connection to the fight against cancer.
The teams were: Team Phil Kessel and Team Jason Blake (14U), Team Saku Koivu and Team John Cullen (U16), and Team Mario Lemieux and Team Dominic Moore (18U).
The league provided a detailed program booklet, to which we have included a link below. The heights and weights we are using here (only a handful were missing) are taken directly from that book. Of the three games, the U16 tilt was the most entertaining, with a fast pace, several nice goals from each team, and a total of 11 different goal scorers in Team Cullen's 8-5 win over Team Koivu.
Below is a list of 20 players who, to our eyes, stood out. There is no formal order to the rankings. The players are simply ordered by team, and jersey number. Four are U14s, eight are U16s, and eight are U18s.
ECEL All-Star Game Program Book
Cooper Swift (#6 White/CT Wolf Pack , LD, 5-8/130, ’00) A two-way defender with a nice stride and a solid stick. No single attribute jumped out, but his overall game distinguishes him. Great in transition and on puck retrievals.
Harrison Roy (#15 White/ Boston Bandits, F, ’00) A slick right-shot forward with myriad ways to attack the opposition. Potted a pair of goals in the 3-3 tie. A dominant performance. In our book, he was the game's outstanding player.
Matt Gould (#9 Blue/Boston Bandits, F, ’00) A quick wing with a deadly shot in tight areas. Beat the goalie easily off of a catch-and-shoot coming off the half wall short-side high.Tends to get caught ahead of the puck on the breakout, but that is a habit that can be broken.
Nikita Krivokrasov (#13 Blue/Rocky Mtn. RoughRiders, F, 5-6/150, ’00) Showed the best hands in this game. Krivokrasov, a Moscow, Russia native, overhandles the puck at times, but also has the ability to stickhandle through traffic. He's the son of Sergei Krivokrasov, the Chicago Blackhawks first round pick in 1992 who went on to play 450 NHL games.
Joseph Cipollone (#8 White/CT Wolf Pack, F, 5-10/145, ’99) Mixes in equal parts speed and skill to create trouble for defenders. Can beat defenders wide off the rush, or slow the play down and make a creative pass through a seam.
Nicholas Ness (#15 White/Rocky Mtn. RoughRiders, F, 6-1.5/178, ’98) A force at this level with his combination of size, speed, and strength. Scored two nice goals by taking the puck to the net and beating the goalie cleanly with accurate shots.
Jordan Seyfert (#16 White/CT Wolf Pack, F, 5-7/145, ’99) A high-flying forward with the ability to create separation off the rush. Played on a line with Thompson (see below) and the two controlled play in the offensive zone. Supports the puck well through the neutral zone, and likes having it on his stick.
Tyce Thompson (#17 White/ CT Wolf Pack, F, 5-8/125, ’99) A high-energy player with hockey IQ and good vision. Was the most consistently noticeable player in the game. Has good speed, but could still spend some time working on his stride. Relentless when pursuing the puck, and willing to battle anyone. Younger brother of NTDP U-18 forward Tage Thompson, who sprouted to 6’2” in a very short period of time. His father, Bridgeport (AHL) head coach Brent Thompson, is also very big. So look for a growth spurt here.
Cody Christofferson (#1 Blue/ Rocky Mtn. RoughRiders, G, 6-4/190, ’98) A big goalie who moves well is someone who will always attract a scout’s attention. And the Longmont, Colorado native did just that. Still very raw at this stage of his development, but his is a name to watch for in the coming seasons.
Justin Bofshever (#8 Blue/Boston Bandits, F, 5-11/195, ’98) A rugged forward with a knack for the net. Has a nice set of hands, but doesn’t overhandle the puck. With two goals and an assist, Bofshever was the only player with three points in the game.
Brett Murray (#16 Blue/Hill Academy, F, 6-4.5/197, ’98) Monster forward from Bolton, Ontario was a physical presence. Isn’t overly skilled with the puck, but that’s not uncommon for a player of his size and age. It takes a while for all the parts to work together -- if they do, that is. An Oshawa Generals (OHL) 12th round draft pick last spring.
Jared Resseguie (#17 Blue/Rocky Mt. RoughRiders, F, 6-0/170, ’98) We first saw Resseguie last year at the USHL Atlantic Challenge. A tough, two-way forward with a high IQ and a plus shot. Is responsible in his own end, yet has the offensive ability be a threat on the power play. The type of player every coach would like to have on his team.
Douglas Connor III (#1 White/NJ Rockets, G, 5-11/155, ’00) The youngest player in the U18 All-Star game did not disappoint. He did yield three goals, but they were all off odd-man rushes. Connor also managed to make the save of the night with a strong left-to-right push on a 2-on-1, sliding across the crease in Jonathan Quick-like fashion to rob the shooter with his blocker. This was a highly athletic move for any goalie, and particularly so for a 14 year old.
Matt Cousino (#2 White/CT Wolf Pack, LD, 6-1/165, ’97) A plus skater with a deadly release and a good head for the game. Cousino, a Vermonter who played at Rice Memorial last season, is the definition of a high-risk, high-reward type of player. If he can pick his spots to join the rush a little more carefully he could be a force at the collegiate level.
Oliver Trachsel (#7 White/Iowa Wild, LD, 6-3/185, ’97) A Duluth, Minn. native, Trachsel makes a nice first pass and can really shoot it. Skating is good enough for a player of his size to make an impact at the next level.
Lee Bonner (#8 White/Iowa Wild, F, 5-6/157, ’97) Coming to Iowa via Hull City, England, Bonner is a small forward who can really fly. Will likely get passed over by D-I schools due to his lack of size, but could certainly be an impact player at the D-III level.
Kyle MacLean (#13 White/NJ Rockets, F, 5-10/150, ’99) Another of the young Rockets playing up on Bob Thornton’s U18 squad, MacLean, a Northeastern recruit, has an efficient stride and plenty of skill with the puck. An excellent player.
Jared Dempsey (#30 White/CT Wolf Pack, G, 6-3/178, ’97) Dempsey looked more comfortable in net here than he did in any of our viewings from last season. He’s 6’3”, played most of the game from the top of his crease, and gave up very few rebounds.
Marc Del Gaizo (#4 Blue/NJ Rockets, LD, 5-9/155, ’99) A solid defenseman in every sense of the term. His positioning all over the ice is impeccable, his skating is solid, and he never tries to do too much with the puck on his stick. He slows the game down when necessary, and is excellent on puck retrievals.
Logan Drevitch (#11 Blue/Boston Bandits, F, 5-9/153, ’98) Speed is the name of the game for this waterbug forward. Drevitch is equally comfortable going full speed north-south or east-west with the puck on his stick. Was truly difficult for defensemen to contain off the rush and on the power play. Like his older brother, Tyler, he's committed to Merrimack.
Pete Frates Tournament
USHR stopped in at the Pete Frates Tournament at Merrimack College’s Lawler Rink last night. Here are our thoughts.
Game #1 – Springfield Cathedral 6, Central Catholic 0
This was an intriguing matchup in the sense that Jake Wise, Central Catholic’s freshman center and a Boston University recruit (for fall ’18) would going up against a powerhouse team with six Div. I recruits (and likely more to come).
Naturally, we wondered how Wise, a ’00 birthdate, would do. The answer: not very well. But that’s more of a testament to Cathedral’s skill. Every time Wise touched the puck there was a body on him. Halfway through the first, Cathedral’s 6’2” senior defenseman Bryce Peritz tagged the young centerman with a hard but clean center-ice hit, that said, “Welcome to the big time, kid.” For the rest of the period, Wise was out of sync. He wasn’t seeing the ice. He was missing open lanes. His passes were getting picked off. And his shots were getting blocked or missing the net.
In the second period, Wise began to adjust. Midway through the period, while playing the right point on the power play, he used a good burst of speed and awareness of where the coverage was -- and wasn’t -- to sneak into the low slot and get a good shot off on Cathedral’s 6’6” sophomore goalie Keith Petruzelli. From that point forward, Wise played with more confidence. But clearly, he’d never played a game against a team as remotely powerful as Cathedral, who were certainly aware of his skill, and weren’t going to give him – or anyone, for that matter – room to operate in. Despite being kept in check, Wise’s skill is obvious and he was his team's best player. He’s an extremely smooth skater, has good size for a 14-year-old (he’s listed as 5’10”), moves the puck extremely well, and sees the ice. Manning the PP from the point, there’s a lot of zip to his passes, which, against lesser teams, must be devastating. Going forward, it’s going to be fun watching his development. We'd chalk up tonight's game as a learning experience for a superb prospect. It will benefit him going forward.
As for fun-to-watch right now, Cathedral LW John Leonard, who, with a hat trick and two assists, figured in five of his team’s six goals, was the dominant player last night – by far. Leonard, whom we have written about a lot, doesn’t have blazing speed, but he has a hard, accurate shot and quickness in all areas. His hands are extremely quick and down low he makes magical plays that happen in the blink of an eye. It’s remarkable how he suddenly appears in exactly the right spot at the right second and buries it, or finds an open teammate even in the tightest of areas. He’s a pure quick-twitch player. Watching him is a bit like watching Martin St. Louis in his years at UVM. With St. Louis it made no difference what the situation was – every time he stepped on the ice, he was a constant threat, the one guy you had to be aware of and, even if you were, he’d still burn you. You couldn’t stop St. Louis; you’d just hope to limit the damage. That’s the way it is with Leonard. And, by the way, he’s two inches taller than St. Louis, so, yes, he does have NHL potential. Quite a lot of it, actually.
Leonard, besides being an exceptional player, is one of those guys who just keeps getting better every time we see him. With all due respect to Avon’s Patrick Harper, Leonard is the best ’98 forward in New England right now.
Among his uncommitted teammates, 5’8” sophomore Cam Peritz, a late ’98 playing wing on a line with Peter Crinella and Riley Prattson, has strong skills, and despite his size, could, before too long, be the seventh Div. I commit from this team. 6’1” uncommitted senior Zac Prattson -- the older brother of Riley Prattson-- was very effective and, at the very least, is a solid Div. III prospect.
Getting back to Central Catholic, 5’9” senior center Christian Thompson, an excellent skater, would make a very nice NESCAC player. ’99 freshman Cameron Gendron, a right-shot wing with strong skating skills, is someone to keep an eye on.
Game #2 – BC High 4, St. John’s Prep 3
In this one, the guys you would expect to be good were good. Junior LD Ryan Shea, a Northeastern commit and certain NHL draft pick come June, played within himself, and was that much more effective for doing so. As expected, 6’1” senior center Patrick Kramer, a Merrimack recruit, was solid and consistently noticeable. BC High also has a pair of young players who should definitely be watched closely. One is sophomore LW Jack Nisbet, a ’99 playing on the top line with Kramer and Thayer transfer Christian Simeone. Nisbet played a limited role as a freshman last season, but it looks like coach John Flaherty is expecting much more this year. Nisbet has speed and scored the game winner in this one, flying down the left wing and firing a hard shot short side that the Austin Prep goalie could barely react to. 5’11” freshman LD Jayson Dobay, also a ’99, is another Eagle to keep an eye on.
St. John’s Prep, outside of their top line and one defenseman, are all underclassmen. No one really stood out for us, but they were tough to play against, and resilient, coming from two goals down to tie it at 2-2 in the third. After Nisbet and Shea scored to but BC High up 4-2, St. John’s Prep came back with a late goal to make it a one-goal game, adding interest at the end.
5:00 pm -- Consolation: Central Catholic vs. St. John’s Prep
7:00 pm – Championship: Springfield Cathedral vs. BC High
Jumping from Preps to the World Junior Championship
Noble & Greenough forward Miles Wood is the first New England prep player in 19 years to play for the U.S. National Junior Team while still enrolled in prep school. Before Wood, you have to go back to Cushing Academy defenseman Tom Poti, who played on the ‘96 squad.
And it was on this day – Dec. 26, 1995 – that the Jack Parker-coached U.S. Team, in the same pool as Canada, opened world junior play against their neighbors to the north in Worcester (Poti’s hometown) and got shellacked 6-1 as Jarome Iginla ran roughshod over the U.S. One thing that sticks in this typist’s mind from that day was the enormous contingent of Canadians who’d come south and guaranteed a sell-out at the Centrum (now DCU Center). It seemed like a road game for the U.S., and more so given that the U.S. was never in the game.
At any rate, Wood deserves a lot of credit for making this year's team for the simple reason that it’s a huge jump to go from preps one week to the World Junior Championship the next. In that game 19 years ago, Poti was overwhelmed, as were most of his teammates. But it was also a very young U.S. Team that year – half of the U.S. roster consisted of ‘76s (19-year-olds), while the other half consisted of ‘77s (18-year-olds) and a few '78s (17-year-olds), i.e. forwards Jeff Farkas and Mike York, and defenseman Ben Clymer. Farkas was playing for the Niagara Scenic, York was already at Michigan State, and Clymer was making the jump from Bloomington Jefferson High School. Seven of Canada’s players that year were under 19, too, including Iginla (’77) and Chris Phillips (’78). While the WJC is considered by many 'a 19-year-olds’ tournament' now, this year's U.S. team is quite young, with five '96s -- Jack Eichel, Nick Schmaltz, Sonny Milano, Alex Tuch, Dylan Larkin -- and three '97s, Auston Matthews, Noah Hanifin, and Zach Werenski. The big difference between now and 1996 is that most of the players on this year's U.S. National Junior Team have appeared in numerous international competitions. Wood has played no international tournament of significance.
Incidentally, many of the WJC games in 1996 were played at Northeastern's Matthews Arena, which resized their ice surface for the occasion. A few games were even played at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough (you can be sure that will never happen again).
Prior to Poti, and the simultaneous emergence of the NTDP, it was far more common to see players enrolled in prep school spending their Christmas/New Year’s break playing for the U.S. National Junior Team. Craig Janney (Deerfield), Chris Biotti (Belmont Hill), Scott Young (St. Mark’s), Greg Brown (St. Mark’s), Brian Leetch (Avon Old Farms), Jeremy Roenick (Thayer), Tony Amonte (Thayer), Ted Crowley (Lawrence Academy), Ryan Sittler (Nichols School), and Ian Moran (Belmont Hill) are among those on the list. Most played in the '80s, and a few in the early '90s.
While the bulk of high school players that played on early U.S. National Junior teams came from Minnesota, a notable group representing the U.S. came out of New England, including Bobby Carpenter (St. John’s Prep), Brian Lawton (Mount St. Charles), Tom Barasso (Acton-Boxborough HS), and Steve Leach (Matignon). All played in the '80s.
The above list was drawn primarily from this typist’s memory and a few reference sources, and includes many of the better-know names (a number of the guys above played for the Junior Team two or even three times). If we missed anyone, please send players' names to information(at)ushr.com. If we get any more we will add them to the list after fact-checking. Just note, we are only interested in players who played for the U.S. World Junior Team while playing prep/high school hockey. We are not including former prep/high school players whose first appearance with the U.S. Junior Team came after they had moved on to college or major junior. That would be another list – and it would be long.
We’ve heard that scalpers (oh, sorry, secondary market sellers) are getting ungodly prices for tickets to the New Year’s Eve US-Canada matchup. Seems a little hard to believe. All through the ‘80s this was a pretty obscure tournament, primarily of interest -- even in Canada -- to a relatively small group of amateur hockey mavens and NHL scouts. In the early ‘90s, the tournament just exploded, particularly when games started appearing on TV, at first in Canada and,more recently, in the U.S. And that's where we're at today.
Two more who played for the US National Junior Team while still in prep school are Perry Florio (Kent) and Jason Zent (Nichols).
A reader brought up the achievement of David Jensen, a Newton, Mass. native who was as skilled as any other hockey player his age in the U.S. at the time, and probably faster than the whole bunch. Jensen, a first-round draft pick of Hartford after his junior year at Lawrence Academy (89 points in 25 games), went on to play his senior year for the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1984 games, which were played in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-Herzogovina). Jensen, along with fellow 18-year-olds Ed Olczyk (142 points in 40 games with the Stratford Cullitons -- Ont. Tier II) and Pat LaFontaine (230 points in 70 games in the Q, with Verdun), made up the Yanks' top line in Sarajevo. Despite their eye-popping skills, it was a little hard to believe the U.S. would put three teenagers on the top line, and even harder to believe in hindsight.
The team had a difficult time, perhaps exacerbated by the expectations that came with following the 1980 'Miracle on Ice' team. From the get-go, absolutely nothing went right -- and the Lou Vairo-coached team finished seventh. There were no parades when they landed back on U.S. soil. A couple of days later, David Jensen was back playing at Lawrence Academy.
The next year Jensen was in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers and, mostly, the Binghamton Whalers (AHL). He might have had an NHL career equal to Olczyk's and LaFontaine's, but injuries dogged him and, just as was the case with the '84 Olympic Team, he never reached the level of confidence a teenage pro player needs in order to have success playing a man's game.
Anyway, since we were on the subject of players who, like Miles Wood, have jumped from prep school to the US National Junior Team, we just thought we'd recall for you the story of Jensen, who made a much larger jump in the '83-84 season.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
We would like to take a minute to wish the happiest of holidays to all USHR readers. Without you we wouldn’t exist, and that is something we never take for granted. Have a great Christmas, a great 2015, and may the river be long, glassy-smooth, and frozen -- with the wind always at your back.
Checking in on the Top ‘00s
USHR took a step away from the prep tournaments last weekend and drove up to Hudson, N.H, to catch a few of the top ’00s at the Northern Cyclones Showcase. We did not see all of the teams – there were many there -- but we wanted to check out Matthias Samuelsson and Patrick Giles, both of whom we mentioned last week.
We also stopped in at that night’s Central Catholic at Billerica High School game to check in on the progress of Boston University (fall ’18) recruit Jake Wise.
In addition, we had stopped in at the ECEL All-Star Games Friday night at Harvard – and we’ll have something on that shortly.
Jake Wise (#87 Central Catholic HS, 5-10/170, ’00) LC – As complete a player as we have seen at this age. A freshman, Wise has a great stride, impeccable vision, a heavy shot with a quick release, and a top-notch hockey IQ. Deadly on the power play off the half wall. A great distributor, but more than capable of shooting in tight areas. Had a 4-1-5 stat line in a 7-3 win over a veteran Billerica squad on Saturday night. ‘Nuff said.
Mattias Samuelsson (#18 Northwood Prep, 6-2/190, ’00) LD – A physically mature defenseman, with a good stride and an excellent understanding of the position. Listed on the roster at 6’2” but appears to have grown past that already. Not flashy by any means, but has all building blocks one would expect from a player with an upside like his. Samuelsson, the son of former NHL d-man Kjell Samuelsson – who grew to 6’6” -- makes excellent passes on the breakout and totally locks down his half of the ice in the defensive zone. Has a rocket of a shot, but frequently used his quick snap shot to simply get pucks on net. Had a minimum of seven shots in the game we saw.
Patrick Giles (#19 Richmond Generals, 6-3/175, ’00) RC – He’s not at the same level as the two players listed above, but by no means should that diminish him, as his skills are formidable. At 6’3”, he is a force and very difficult for defenders to contain. Uses his frame well to protect the puck and has a nice stride for someone who has grown so much in such a short time. Will be an instant impact player on whichever team he ends up on next winter.
Here, we also have a ’99 and a late ’98 who caught our eye.
MacIntyre Wiseman (#77 Richmond Generals, LD, 5-9/160, ’00) – A thick defender with very good wheels. Plays physically along the boards, and can take the puck end-to-end with ease. Will garner some serious interest from D-I schools if he grows just a little bit. And, given that he’s a ’00, that’s pretty likely to happen.
Christian Thomas (#8 Northern Cyclones, RC, 5-9/150, ’99) – A high-flying playmaker with good vision and a willingness to take the puck to the net. Has the extra gear to create separation when the opportunity presents itself. Has posted a 44-33-77 stat line in 46 games played this season.
Viljami Kanerva (#26 Northwood Prep, LD, 6-2/185, ’98) -- The late ’98 sophomore from Turku, Finland is a skilled two-way defender. He makes excellent outlet passes and uses his size well, keeping opposing forwards to the perimeter in the defensive zone.
Pelicans Take Top Spot in USHR Prep Poll
Loomis-Chaffee, the winners of this past weekend's Avon Tournament, have taken over the top spot in this week's USHR Prep Poll.
Click here to see the rest of the Top 10 teams:
USHR Prep Poll, Week of Dec. 22, 2014
The next poll will be in two weeks, on Jan. 5th, the night that the New Year's Tournaments come to a close.
The team that is bubbling under this week is Gunnery. After a lackluster 2-2 start, last season's prep runners-up have won four of their last five. While goals are still a little hard to come by, team defense is tight, as the Highlanders have held their opponents to two goals or fewer in seven of their last nine games. Jr. G Trevin Kozlowski (.929) has been strong as the last line of defense.
Rider Cup at Albany Academy Review
USHR traveled to Albany Academy last weekend to cover the Rider Cup round-robin games on Friday night and Saturday morning; then returned Sunday afternoon for the championship game, in which the Hill, behind a 36-save effort from junior goaltender Jake Cerullo, topped Winchendon 4-1.
The eight teams in this tournament do not get as much exposure throughout the season as the traditional powerhouses, hence this effort to highlight those players who stood out for us. The list below is dominated by Div. III candidates, but there are also a few younger skaters who have D-I upside, and they are ranked as B’s. The first few “C” players are tweeners, but likely high to mid-level D-III players.
Here is our ranking of the tournament’s top 34 skaters.
Rider Cup Tournament Rankings
Kevin O’Neil (#22 Albany, Jr., R, 5-10/165, ’98) -- Our pick for tournament MVP, O’Neil was a constant force offensively. He has great control of the puck, he quarterbacks the Albany umbrella powerplay, skates well with the puck, showcased some nifty stick tricks, and releases the puck quickly in stride. A D-I prospect. Leads Albany in points with a 5-6-11 line over the first 7 games.
Ben Thomas (#19 Winchendon, Fr., R, 5-8/155, ’99) -- One of the youngest players in the tournament, but also one of the most intelligent. He makes the right decisions, has impressive poise and confidence carrying the puck, and possesses a keen hockey sense. He reads the play very well for his age and uses his high hockey IQ to put himself and his teammates in positions to score goals. Small and young but balanced and strong on his skates. 2-6-8 line in 7 games, second on his team.
Josh Sanchez (#2 Albany, So., R, 5-7/155, ’99) -- Sanchez impressed us over the summer at the Select 15 Festival in Buffalo, NY and continues to impress us. He is still adjusting to the pace of the game, but his speed and moxie allow him to stand out. Sanchez has a well-rounded game, i.e. a strong shot, quick hands, and a willingness to do the little things to help his team win.
Brian Brooks (#9 Winchendon, Sr., L, 5-9/170, ’96) -- A small, skilled playmaker who is fluid and agile. Possesses a mature hockey sense coupled with a slick set of hands. The puck always seems to wind up on his stick. He can stickhandle or skate his way out of a jam and doesn’t mind – despite his size -- mixing it up physically. He leads Winchendon with a 4-6-10 line over 7 games and was their best player over the weekend. A high end D-III prospect.
Guillaume Beaulieu (#8 Hoosac, Sr., L, 6-0/175, ’96) -- A power forward in every sense of the word. Has a powerful stride and often plows right over opponents while driving hard to the net. He competes for loose pucks, is physical, and literally took opponents off their feet around the boards. His feet are a tad heavy and he can be tunnel visioned with the puck, but he scores goals, is tough to play against, and has deceptively efficient hands. Leads Hoosac in points with a 4-3-7 line in 4 games. Should get solid D-III attention.
Brandon McCullough (#10 Wyoming, Jr., L, 5-10/175, ’96) -- McCullough was not on the program roster, but was Wyoming’s most potent offensive weapon. He has a good burst of speed, soft hands, and creative instincts. A 9th round pick by Rimouski in the 2013 QMJHL Draft.
Jack Riley (#3 Albany, Sr., R, 6-3/180, ’96) -- Riley has plenty of size, skates well north- south and showed a nice finishing touch. He plays with some jam, isn’t afraid to throw his body around or block shots when called upon, and has a good overall skill set. Likely D-III but should have many suitors. He's the cousin of his coach, Brett Riley, and the son of Jay Riley, who played at Harvard in the early '70s.
Joey Piccinini (#19 Wyoming, Jr., L, 6-0/185, ’97) -- Coming off an impressive season 2013-14 season where he averaged nearly three points per game with a 27-61-88 line in just 32 games. He is the only returner off his line from last season. Of the other two, one is playing in the QMJHL and the other is at Castleton State College in Vermont (NCAA D-III). Piccinini has good size, is smart both with and away from the puck. Has a strong and efficient stick.
Nick Boyagian (#11 Albany, Sr., L, 6-2/170, ’97) -- An intriguing prospect who has both height and a gifted set of hands. Was stickhandling his way through, around, and past nearly everyone who came near him. However, his skating is a work in progress -- both in speed and edgework. Appears to have a good head for the game and exceptional poise once he gets possession.
Steven Bray (#7 Lawrenceville, So., L, 6-2/195, late ’98) -- A big, rugged power forward who drives to the net and also finished off a left-to-right breakaway with a nice deke, lifting the puck over the goalie’s pad on a backhander at top speed. Definitely worth a look given his build, youth, and intensity.
Jacob Kamps (#25 Wyoming, Jr. L, 6-2/200, ’97) -- Kamps is a dual-threat forward with a long, smooth stride and slippery hands. Also has a big frame and the ability to drop his shoulder and force his way to the net. Could have more upside than several players ranked ahead of him here, but just didn’t play at a consistently high pace, instead showing flashes of skill and speed.
Colton McMenamin (#17 Hill, Sr., L, 5-7/169, late ’95) -- McMenamin is Hill’s leading scorer but was given a misconduct for a check from behind only a few minutes into the championship game, so we didn’t see him as much as we would have liked. However, we saw him as much as most others here. McMenamin is a small, cerebral playmaker who finds openings in the defense and has the skill to exploit them. He has quick hands and even quicker feet and is perfectly willing -- despite being a small body -- to fight for position in the tough ice. Has a 4-2-6 line over the first 5 league games.
Michael Novello (#19 Hill, Jr., R, 5-8/173, ’97) -- Novello is not quite as dynamic as McMenamin but, being two years younger, has more upside. He’s also a little bigger and plays a simple but efficient style. He scored a nice goal going hard to the net, stick down, stopping on the puck to receive a pass from behind the net -- and burying it.
Connor Leach (#7 Brewster, Soph., R, ’99) -- No height or weight listed on the roster but we guess he is about 5-11/180. He is strong, tough to knock off the puck, and exhibits control and patience with the puck. He made a few nice passes into space, showing he sees the ice well and is aware of his surroundings. What we like best is that at his age – he’s a ’99 -- he is blocking shots, finishing checks, picking up traffic on the backcheck and doing all the behind-the-scenes work to make his team more competitive. Keep an eye on him going forward.
Cooper Norton (#9 Rice, Jr., R, 5-8/175, ’98) -- We wrote about Cooper at the MPHL Showcase and he was much the same here: small, crafty, and skilled around the puck. Plays a high-energy game. Not much in the size department, but has a ton of jam.
Misha Mrotchek (#10 Lawrenceville, Jr., L, 5-3/120, ’98) -- The most dynamic forward for Lawrenceville and their leading scorer with a 2-2-4 line over 4 games. However, he is so small it’s hard to imagine him playing at a higher level. He is lightning-quick and both instinctual and creative at the same time.
David Null (#7 Hill, Jr., R, 5-11/186, ’97) -- A strong skater who doesn’t try to do too much, plays a physical game, and opens up room for his linemates. Had a crucial assist in the championship game and always seemed to win battles along the boards and in front of the net.
Brett McHale (#17 Hoosac, Sr., 6-3/185, ’96) -- McHale is a PG from Pennsylvania who is just starting to hit his stride. He is tall, slightly lanky, but has a long, powerful stride and a touch around the goal. He made a nice coast-to-coast rush on the power play where he gained the zone and made a brilliant backdoor saucer pass that hit his teammate on the tape. A good D-III prospect.
Anthony Scarcella (#10 Winchendon, Jr., L, 5-7/155, ’97) -- Scarcella stands out because of his speed and pace. He’s constantly moving and can hit another gear that most other kids cannot reach. His hockey sense is still developing and he doesn’t yet know how to use his speed to full advantage.
Renat Nigmatullin (#11 Rice, Sr., L, 5-11/175, ’97) -- A pure goal scorer with 14 goals on the season, more than twice that of the #2 goal scorer on his team. He is not the most skilled, but he is dangerous in tight spaces, has a touch around the net, and knows how to read the defense and find openings.
Logan Stanislas (#17 Rice, So., R, 5-11/185, ’99) -- Stanislas, a ’99, is far from being a complete package but he scored a nice wrist shot goal in the game we saw, his first of the season. Looks to be developing nicely at Rice since we first saw him at the MPHL Showcase last month. A young talent who caught our eye throughout the game, he has a long stride and strong hands along the wall.
Jack Moran (#8 Winchendon, So., L, 6-3/210, ’98) -- Jack Moran has been all over the map since we first saw him last year at the Belmont Hill Jamboree, where he made an instant impression despite the fact that he had just coverted to defense. He has been closely watched since then and the opinions are varied. Here, he had flashes of both good and bad. He has the body of an NHLer, has above-average mobility for his size, and a lot of offensive capabilities. On the negative side, he is undisciplined, and lacks hockey sense and vision. He had six power play rushes in the championship game, but on each he failed to even look to make a pass, and wound up turning the puck over all six times before getting to the far blue line. His upside is unquestionable. We wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him picked in the 2016 NHL draft. However, Moran needs to play within himself, and understand is strengths and limitations. If he does that, he could go far.
Matt Fuller (#4 Brewster, Jr., L, 6-2/175, ’98) -- We first caught a glimpse of Fuller at the New England Festival this past summer. He has vastly improved since then. He’s a pure skater with balance, speed, and agility. He has size, plays smart, doesn’t try to do too much, is defensively reliable and focused, and makes a nice first pass. Emerging as a potential D-I prospect.
Adam Desgagnes (#3 Hoosac, Jr., R, 6-0/170, ’97) -- Desgagnes is an acquired taste. He is not the prettiest skater and sometimes pivots the wrong way. He also has a bit of an unconventional stride but he has a lot of talent. His size and strength jump out when he grinds down opposing forwards along the boards, and shows a strong net-front presence, moving bodies out away from his goalie, and eliminating second-chance opportunities. When he gets possession of the puck he has a great set of hands and is able to quick cradle or finesse his way around the defense to set up scoring chances for either himself or his teammates. He scored a goal and an assist in the first half of the game we saw (the tournament format consisted of two 25-minute halves).
Julien Choiniere-Denicourt (#10 Brewster, Sr., L, 5-9/170, ’96) An athletic, highly- mobile defenseman who excels on the breakout and at the top of the umbrella power play. He is decisive with the puck, makes a firm accurate pass, and keeps his head up-ice at all times. His skating ability allows him to play a tight gap, and he doesn’t shy away from the physicality of the game. A mid to high-end D-III prospect.
Alexander Vukota (#12 Albany, Sr., R, 5-11/170, ’97) -- A rugged, old-school type of defender who plays the game tough, takes the body, and hits with authority. He is tough to go up against because he takes away space, physically engages, and keeps his balance and body positioning. A solid defensive defenseman who lacks flash but gets the job done.
Jeff Fasegha (#27 Albany, Sr., R, 6-0/195, ’97) -- Fasegha has an array of abilities. He is mobile, tough to beat on 1v1’s and is comfortable skating with the puck up-ice and making plays in the offensive zone. He had a beautiful end-to-end rush where he used his reach and slick hands to bait a defenseman and then blow right by him before feeding a cross crease pass to O’Neil who rifled it into the net. Can play on the power play and penalty kill -- and is equally effective at both.
Anthony Gandolfi (#8 Wyoming, Sr., R, 5-11/185, late ’95) -- As a late ’95 his upside is limited but he is a good-sized, well-rounded offensively-inclined defender who is smart and skilled with the puck on his stick. He stands out rushing the puck or in the offensive zone on the powerplay, but his defensive game is equally strong.
Andrew Troy (#15 Hill, Jr. R, 6-1/165, ’98) -- Troy has a good frame to grow into, plays sound defensive hockey, blocks shots, and has a strong presence around his net. In the corners he gets down and uses his lower-body strength to pin forwards to the wall and gain puck possession. Simple and solid in all three zones.
Trent Thomas (#20 Hill, Jr. R, 5-11/182, ’97) -- Thomas is a gifted skater. He can pivot and change direction instantly, he walks the offensive blueline, and is balanced in the tough ice. Thomas stayed within himself in the championship game, making some plays offensively but not over-extending and neglecting his role as a d-man. Thomas is likely a D-III player as he is a tweener ---not quite dynamic enough to be a power play defenseman at the D-I level and not big enough or rugged enough to be a shutdown d-man at that level either.
Jan Silvala (#12 Rice, Jr. L, 5-10/165, ’97) -- Silvala is a highly intelligent player with a smooth set of hands and mature hockey instincts. He moves the puck quickly and to the right areas, he knows when to pinch and when to hang back, and he is excellent on the breakout. Plays with poise and grace.
Jake Cerullo (#1 Hill, Jr., 6-1/184, ’97) -- You could make the case for Cerullo as the tournament MVP with his brilliant championship game performance in which he stopped 36 of 37 shots. He has good size at 6’1” and moves well in net, but he really didn’t face a lot of second-chance opportunities and Winchendon took a lot of shots from the outside, in large part because his teammates played excellent team defense in the championship game. He currently has a .915 save percentage on the season.
Jordan Elwood (#30 Hoosac, Sr., 5-9/165, late ’96) -- Elwood is one of the quickest goalies we have seen in a while. He is very small which will hurt his college recruitment but he has great rebound control, is athletic and acrobatic, and flashes a quick glove at the last second. He uses every inch of himself to make the stop -- and he had some excellent ones, keeping his team in games. He has a .933 save percentage which is really impressive for his team, which lacks depth. Highly-skilled.
Brandon Graf (#31 Winchendon, So., 5-10/160, ’99) -- Graf had a shaky championship game. He made a few really nice stops but also let in a real softie in the first period on a wrist shot from the point that beat him five-hole. He showed his age at times, but is someone to keep an eye on as there aren’t many ’99 goalies at this level and, despite being small in net, he has good reflexes and is able to play outside his crease and challenge shooters.
Fri. Dec. 12 -- Rider Cup Day 1
Game 1 – Winchendon 4, Albany Academy 3 (OT)
Game 2 -- Rice 5, Brewster 2
Sat. Dec. 13 -- Rider Cup Day 2
Game 3 -- Wyoming Seminary 3, Hoosac 2
Game 4 -- Hill 4, Lawrenceville 3 (OT)
Game 5 -- Losers Games 1&2 – Albany 7, Brewster 3
Game 6 -- Semifinal: Winners Games 1&2 – Winchendon 8, Rice 2
Game 7 -- Losers Games 3&4 – Lawrenceville 6, Hoosac 1
Game 8 -- Semifinal: Winners Games 3&4 – Hill 5, Wyoming 4 (OT)
Sun. Dec. 14 -- Rider Cup Day 3
Game 9 -- Losers Games 5&7 – Brewster 4, Hoosac 3 (OT)
Game 10 -- Winners Games 5&7 – Albany 4, Lawrenceville 1
Game 11 -- Losers Games 6&8 – Rice 3, Wyoming Seminary 2
Game 12 -- Championship Game: Winners Games 6&8 – Hill 4, Winchendon 1
Hosts Albany Academy, under first-year head coach Brett Riley, may not have won their own tournament, but several days later would go on the road and upset Salisbury, 4-2. Junior goaltender Giancarlo Ventre, a '98, stopped 36 of 38 shots to lead Albany past the defending prep school champions.
ECEL All-Star Rosters for Harvard on Friday
As part of the East Coast Elite League Showcase taking place over the coming weekend at several different venues, there will be three All-Star games – U14, U16, U18 -- held Friday Dec. 19 at Harvard University’s Bright Hockey Center.
Players will be drawn from all six full-season ECEL members. In partnership with the All-Star event, ECEL co-founder Peter Alden has announced that Friday’s games at the Bright Center will be a fundraiser for Hockey Fights Cancer, a charity created by the NHL and NHLPA dedicated to raising awareness of the disease, and money to be put to use in cancer research.
Each of the six ECEL All-Star teams are being named after an NHL player who has either battled or survived cancer, or has a known connection to the fight against cancer.
The teams are: Team Phil Kessel and Team Jason Blake (14U), Team Saku Koivu and Team John Cullen (U16), and Team Mario Lemieux and Team Dominic Moore (18U).
While there will be no admission fee to the games, there will be donation boxes for Hockey Fights Cancer set up at the entrance to Bright.
The game times, which are approximate are:
14U, 5:15 pm (two 22-minute periods)
16U, 6:30 pm (three 17-minute periods)
18U, 8:15 pm (three 17-minute periods)
One other thing: Paul Stewart (a Groton grad who, by the way, played for coach Bob Crocker at Penn) will drop the puck at each game. And here, quite movingly, he tells his story: Paul Stewart
Here is the program book for Friday, with complete rosters.
ECEL All-Star Game Program Book
Northern Cyclones Winter Showcase
The Northern Cyclones Winter Showcase runs from Fri.-Mon. Dec. 19--22 at Cyclone Arena in Hudson, NH.
We have a link to the schedule below.
We have no rosters for you, but teams have been instructed to bring line charts for all their games.
Here are a couple of 2000-born players to watch:
Northwood (Prep Team) 6’2” defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, the son of 6’6”, 235 lb. ex-NHL d-man Kjell Samuelsson and the only ’00 playing on his team, has been described to us by an NHL scout who has seen him as, “Someone to go out of your way to see. He’s a five-tool player who projects as an NHL first round pick.”
The other player is Richmond Generals ’00 forward Patrick Giles, who will be making his way to prep school next season. We haven't seen him yet, but intend to. Needless to say, he's higly-coveted.
Here’s the schedule. Note that it is done by rink, not by age group. It's a little counter intuitive, but it's all there.
Northern Cyclones Winter Showcase Schedule
Saturday Morning Notes
If you’re heading out for the Exeter @ Cushing game today (4:45 pm), you should know that the game will be a fundraiser, with proceeds split 50/50 between the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Robin Cook-Milligan Breast Cancer Foundation. These two organizations deserve all the support they can get. Dana-Farber is well known, and this typist can attest to the great work they do there. The latter foundation is smaller and less widely known, but is very personal to the Cushing community, as it was started in honor of Cushing’s Head of Security, Richard Cook. There will be all sorts of raffle prizes – at least 40. If you can’t make it, you can donate by sending a check to April Boettcher, Pink the Rink, 39 School St., Ashburnham, Mass. Christmas is a time of giving, and we often wind up both buying and receiving far too much overpriced junk that nobody truly needs. Many people need – and will continue to need – organizations such as these.
The U.S. National Junior Team opens camp this Tuesday at BU’s Walter Brown Arena. Practices are open to the public. Here is the schedule:
Tues. Dec. 16 – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Wed. Dec. 17 -- 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Thurs. Dec. 18 -- 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Fri. Dec. 19 -- 10:00 am to 11:00 am
On Friday night, the Junior Team will face off against Boston University – sans Jack Eichel – at 7:30 pm at Walter Brown Arena. Tickets are $19.
Here is a link to the Junior Team’s preliminary roster:
US 30-man Preliminary Roster
After Boston, the team will move on to Kitchener, Ontario, where they will have four additional days of practice as well as exhibition games vs. Germany and Sweden. The team then moves on to the Bell Centre in Montreal, where they will practice on Christmas Day, and begin tournament play the following afternoon, Dec. 26, against Finland (3:00 pm). Preliminary round play continues on Dec. 28 (Germany, 8:00 pm), Dec. 29 (Slovakia, 4:00 pm), and the biggie, Dec. 31 (Canada, 4:00 pm).
Exeter Invitational Notes
The Exeter Invitational had a different look this year. Specifically, it was smaller, with just four teams this year, each playing two games. The field was strong, so all the games were a good test.
If we were to pick an MVP for the tournament – and it looks like we are – we’d go with Gunnery right-shot junior defenseman McKay Flanagan, who, at 6’2”, has impressive size and strength, has vastly improved his skating ability, and looks more confident and composed with the puck than ever before.
The Goaltender MVP goes to 6’4” Gunnery junior Trevin Kozlowski, a native of Santa Clarita, Calif. Kozlowski came up with some big saves against Tabor on Saturday night, and was just as tough vs. Exeter on Sunday. For the weekend, he stopped 59 of 61 shots, good for a .967 save percentage and a 1.50 goals against average.
The Hero of the Day Award goes to Exeter senior forward Stanley Brenner. The native of Boca Raton, Florida scored both of Exeter’s goals in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Gunnery. The first of the two goals came on a terrific shot – a bar-down laser to the top corner blocker side of Trevin Kozlowski, who had absolutely no chance whatsoever.
Exeter 7, Kent 4
Gunnery 4, Tabor 1
Kent 4, Tabor 4
Exeter 2, Gunnery 1
(Exeter went 2-0-0, Gunnery went 1-1-0, Kent went 0-1-1, and Tabor went 0-1-1.)
A Look at the Teams & Players:
The Team: This weekend was Exeter’s first test, as entering weekend play they had only played unranked teams – and rolled over them with a 31-5 goal differential. Here, Exeter knocked off two strong teams without top line center Devin Moore, who was injured on Saturday and will be out for at least the immediate future. Exeter is a three-line team lacking the offensive firepower they had last year with PGs David White, Henry Hart, and Kevin Neiley, who were good for 70 goals amongst them. Their forwards are not overly dynamic but they are mature, two-way players who compete for loose pucks and are opportunistic scorers. In the Kent game, we counted 10 blocked shots. As for the blue line, Providence recruit Spenser Young departed for the USHL, but the remaining D are, as a group, very solid. They have enough size to play a physical game and wear down opponents, and enough skill to move the puck and contribute on the powerplay. The team as a whole is difficult to play against. We expect Exeter to compete for a spot in the Elite 8.
The Players: Exeter’s best player up front is – no surprise – 6’1” senior Teddy Hart, a Providence recruit whose skill and skating ability are top shelf, though his work ethic, especially away from the puck, needs improvement in order to play in Hockey East. His new linemate, 5’10” sophomore Bradley Ingersoll, filled in nicely when junior Devin Moore went down on Saturday, showing poise with the puck and excellent skating ability. Ben Solin, a 5’10” repeat junior out of Div. II Hand HS in Connecticut, brings a variety of qualities to the table and rounds out their top unit. The second line more precisely embodies the character and style of the team with Andy Espinoza-Max Roche-Stanley Brenner who are all seniors, and all two-way players who competed hard and took advantage of their opportunities. Brenner, a fourth-year player at Exeter, has already matched his point total of a year ago. In addition, he finishes checks, blocks shots, and does all the little things to make his team better. Roche is a tenacious energy player who never stops moving his feet and plays to the whistle. They have three veteran defenseman who all stood out. 6’0” junior Peter Christie made some nice passes out of the zone and was tough to get around. 6’1” junior Trevor Cosgrove moves well for his size, can skate with the puck, has a heavy shot. He won a lot of battles along the boards and in the tough ice. 5’11” junior D Jordan Haney was not as constant a force as Christie or Cosgrove but is highly athletic and made some nice plays with the puck. He is also difficult to beat because he has both size and quickness. 6’0” PG goalie Bryan Botcher, out of the University School of Milwaukee, was very tough, especially against Gunnery.
The Team: Kent is not the team they were last year, having lost six of their top seven scorers to graduation. Nonetheless, they scored four against Exeter and four against Tabor here, which is enough to keep you in games. The blue liners are Kent’s strength -- they have a lot of different weapons. The weak area was goaltending, as they allowed 10 goals over two games (not including an empty-netter). Kent does not look like an Elite 8 team right now, but there are a lot of new faces in their lineup and they will get better as the season goes on.
The Players: 5’8” senior Max Kaufman, a UVM recruit, is the team’s top forward, the engine that will make everything go. 6’2” senior Andrew Provost is a big, strong power forward who is scored a nifty in-tight backhand goal vs. Tabor, putting it top shelf short side. Kevin Hill, a 6’1” PG out of Suffern, NY HS has a nice burst of speed and was able to create separation in open ice but can get a little perimeter once he enters the zone. It’s a big jump from Suffern High to the Founders’ League, but his skating makes him interesting. 6’0” junior Satchel Clandenin has raw ability, but needs to be more consistent shift to shift. 5’9” junior Teddy Simson is a smart player who lacks size but not heart, and finds himself in position to make a lot of plays. Kent was depleted up front as Connor Landrigan got a misconduct and a game for a hit from behind on Saturday, so couldn’t play Sunday’s game. And Dillon Gatto was on the shelf with an injury. When all is added up, it looks like secondary scoring could be a problem area.
Kent’s strength is on the blue line. 5’10” junior Greg Krisberg is the team’s offense from the back end, and he’s one of the very best in prep school hockey at running a powerplay. He is quick, but lacking in straightaway speed, which means he’s not going to skate it out much by himself. That’s not a major problem: his passes are on the money. He moves the puck on the power play really well, and has fast hands. If there’s a player in prep hockey this year with a quicker release to his shot this typist has yet to see him. Krisberg is not getting much D-I attention, and will likely need a year of juniors after finishing at Kent next season, but he’s on the right track. There are aspects of his game that need working on, but he has a dimension that a lot of teams are looking for. 6’4” Josh Hardiman and 6’2” Keanu Hilaire – both seniors -- fill the role they are expected to, i.e being big bodies, prototypical defense-minded guys who like to use their reach and physical attributes to keep opponents to the outside. 6’0” junior Kyle Delmaestro got hurt half way through their second game, though he should be OK for Wednesday. We were very interested in 6’2” sophomore Carter Dwyer, who struggled against Exeter, but played much better vs. Tabor. He’s a multi-dimensional guy who is still searching for his identity as a player but has the foundation: he has size, mobility, contributes on both the PP and PK, and makes good decisions with the puck. In goal, new sophomore Peter Negron, who we liked at the National Festival in Buffalo, had a tough start to the weekend against Exeter. Junior Jackson Norris shut out Exeter in relief of Negron, but didn’t standout in the 4-4 tie against Tabor. Filling the shoes of Stephen Morrissey (.923), who graduated, will not be easy for Kent and will likely take a little time.
Keep an Eye On: Soph D Carter Dwyer and Jr. F Satchel Clandenin.
The Team: Gunnery will be one of the deepest teams in prep school hockey with players like late ’99 freshman Zach Pellegrino and junior Cameron Donaldson – high-skill D-I upside guys -- on their fourth line. Along with depth, they have balance, and their defense has size and moves the puck well. All in all, Gunnery is a team that has the depth to wear teams down and, when they are off their game, the goalie is good enough to bail them out. In Sunday’s loss to Exeter, Gunnery had difficulty moving the puck into scoring areas, and took more shots from the perimeter than one would expect. We are accustomed to Gunnery getting in fast on the forecheck and swarming their opponent’s net. They couldn’t do that against Exeter. In their own end, defensive zone coverage was not up to snuff. The forwards tended to run around and coughed up the puck several times. That will likely improve as more games are played, and the team gels. This is a high-skill group. There’s a lot of talent. We feel Gunnery will once again finish in the Elite 8 and could make a late season run as they did last year.
The Players: Gunnery has depth at forward and D, and a top goalie in 6’4” junior Trevin Kozlowski, who, as we wrote at the top, was the best goalie here. Up front, Gunnery has depth. Their top line is led by two Albany Academy transfers, 5’9” Jake Marello and 5’8” Shawn Knowlton, as well as returner Noah Bauld. Bauld is a quality player who didn’t have his best weekend here. Marrello is the workhorse of the line, a pest on the forecheck with quick hands and strong hockey sense. Knowlton is a savvy player who finds open ice, makes a lot of plays in the offensive zone, and knows how to score. The second group was highlighted by 5’10” Berwick transfer Alex Hopkins, who has speed in open ice and a willingness to throw his body around. 5’11” Clarkson commit Jordan Robert, who is strong on the puck and had a few nice scoring chances, is on the third unit. The defensive corps is led by 6’2” junior McKay Flanagan (our choice, as mentioned above, for tournament MVP). Against Exeter he carried the puck end to end, deked a defenseman, and created a quality scoring chance for himself. 5’11” senior Nick Quillan, who we wrote about at this tournament last year, describing him as a smooth offensive defenseman, is all of that, and will have to pick up some of the slack that Mike Lee’s early departure to juniors created. Quillan has dramatically improved his acceleration, playing with more confidence and urgency. The Nova Scotian can turn up ice instantly and rush the puck, and he can also shut down guys on 1v1 situations and win races to the puck. Underrated defenseman Connor Dahlman was strong at both ends of the ice, playing a complete game and really showing he has taken another step forward. They do miss Mike Lee, who is spending his senior year in the BCHL.
Keep an Eye On: Jr. F Jordan Robert, Jr. F Cameron Donaldson, and Fr. F Zach Pellegrino.
The Team: Tabor is going to be better than their record. Why? They may have the hardest strength of schedule in prep hockey, certainly among non-Founders’ league teams. They are only three games into the season and have had to face Loomis, Gunnery and Kent, all of whom we ranked within the top 16 in our pre-season rankings.
Tabor is a good skating team and they use it to their advantage with an aggressive forecheck and relentless pressure. They have three lines that play, but really only two lines that will score many goals. On the back end they have skill and skating ability, rarely will they get beat 1v1, but they lack size and physicality. In net, Riley Whitham is a good goalie who can make most saves and keep the team in the game. They have a tough road coming up against a lot of talented teams, but if they are able to make the large school playoffs they could upset teams. They are difficult to play against.
The Players: The team is led by 6’2” junior center Ben Taylor. He doesn’t get the attention he deserves because on Tabor he is their top guy so he is playing a lot of powerplay situations and is expected to score goals which is not really his strength. At the collegiate level he will be a strong two-way forward who can chip in some offense and be difficult to play against. Playing with Taylor is 5’10” Nick Godin, a junior out of Buffalo, NY with a slick stick, and 5’7” freshman Max Sauve. Sauve is interesting, a speedster who, just when you think he is at full speed, finds another gear. As impressive as his speed is his shiftiness. He can move a few inches left or right while blazing down the ice, thus crossing up opposing d-men before blowing past them. He’s fun to watch. Ed Hannon, a 6’3” sophomore forward from Warwick, RI, is an intriguing prospect. He has great size and a long and powerful stride. He made a few moves below the goal line but wasn’t able to create much offensively. That could change. The other player who stands out -- at times, anyway -- is 5’11” senior power forward David Marshall. He needs to improve his speed and agility but has deceptive skill with the puck. Tabor’s strongest attribute may be their d-corps, which is led by 5’11” offensive defenseman Bobby Stickles who controls the play with his smooth hands, skating, and ability to move the puck up ice to his forwards. 5’10” junior D Michael Ryan is a transfer from New Hampton and a highly athletic offensive defenseman with good speed and acceleration. He is dangerous in transition as he breaks up plays because he has the anticipation to know where the puck is going, and the speed to get there. 6’2” David Almeida is the only real big-body defenseman they have, and Brett Dineen, who is coming back after a baseball injury this spring which took him out for most of the summer hockey, is multi-dimensional with both offensive and defensive capabilities.
Keep an Eye On:Fr. FMax Sauve, Soph. F Ed Hannon, and Soph. D Simon Leclerc.
2014-15 New England Prep Preview
OK, this is it. No more scrimmages, no more jamborees, please. Time for the rubber to meet the road.
Here’s our prediction for the upcoming season. One through sixteen, with a little bonus at the end. One thing that has caught our attention amongst all these jamborees is simply the fact that there are a lot of impressive teams out there and, between the Elite 8, the Large School Tournament, and the Small School Tournament, there will be no lack of good hockey when this all comes to an end Sunday March 7 at a site to be determined (Boston University or Holy Cross, most likely).
So good luck to all.
One new twist this season is the addition of four ‘affiliate’ schools to the picture. Games against The Hill School, Lawrenceville, Stanstead College, and Academie St. Louis will be factored into the NEPSIHA post-season computations, even as those schools are, not being NESCAC members, ineligible for the playoffs. The reason for their additon, albeit a limited one, is that, since those schools share common ground with the New England Preps, it seemed unfortunate that NEPSIHA schools have been historically reluctant to schedule them simply because NEPSIHA schools -- and the various leagues under that umbrella -- limit the number of total number of games, and teams were reluctant to use their open dates playing schools in what really amounts to exhibition games. So now they will count.
Anyway, more on that later. For now, drop the puck!
Last Season:(24-1-4) NEPSIHA Champions
F Derek Barach Mercyhurst (23-33-56);F Evan Smith Yale (12-40-52); F Mitchell Smith Yale (23-11-34);D Will Toffey Vanderbilt Baseball (8-29-37); F Neil Robinson (19-15-35); D Adam Baughman Harvard (2-14-16); D Griffin Luce (3-4-7) to NTDP; F Matt Muzyka (5-9-14) expulsus ad Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (EHL).
Sr. F Vimal Sukumaran (13-20-33); Sr. F Kale Kane (15-16-31).
FORWARDS: Thomas Lee (Jr./’97) Edge School; Edgars Treigs (Jr./’98) Sweden; Luke Israel (Jr./’98) Culver; Cole Poliziani (Jr./’97) OJHL; Jordan Kaplan (Jr./’97) Lawrenceville. DEFENSEMEN: Dayne Finnson (Jr./’97) Manitoba; Nathan Ellis (Jr./’98); Henry Girardi (Jr./’97). GOALTENDER: Bailey MacBurnie (PG/’95).
The Crimson Knights were terrific last season, losing just one game en route to their second New England title in a row. It’s virtually impossible not to put them in the #1 slot going into the 2014-15 season. Yes, they lost their entire first line – and much more. Coach Andrew Will is going to look to his solid supporting cast from last year – senior forwards Vimal Sukumaran and Kyle Kane, junior F and Cornell commit Michael O’Leary, and big senior D James Gobetz, who has gotten steadily better in his time at Salisbury. Of the new faces we expect some to be very good. Actually, we know some will be very good, because we’ve seen them in other settings. Also of interest will be a pair of new juniors coming from western Canada in F Thomas Lee (The Edge School in Calgary), and D Dayne Finnson (Arborg Interlake Lightning – Manitoba). We have not seen them. PG goaltender Bailey MacBurnie (St. Mary’s of Lynn), and sophomore Nick Sorgio will compete for playing time in net.
The Bottom Line: Not only is Salisbury the defending champion, but they have reached the Elite 8 for five consecutive seasons. Thus they are the gold standard – until they aren’t. That said, we expect that they will lose more than one game this time around, and will have to work that much harder to gain the #1 spot again come March.
Last Season: (20-7-1) NEPSIHA-Runner Up
F Nathan Sucese Penn State (17-22-39); F Kevin Darrar Holy Cross (12-21-33); F Joey Fallon Princeton (12-21-33); D Mike Lee UVM (7-21-28) – to BCHL; F Ryan Dmowski (18-8-26) UMass-Lowell; USHL; F Alec Mehr (13-14-27) to USHL; Max Luukko (0-3-3) to USPHL.
Sr. F Noah Bauld (10-13-23); Sr. D Nick Quillan (2-15-17).
FORWARDS: Daniel Haider (Jr./’97); Matt Danner (Jr./’98); Alex Hopkins (PG/’96) Berwick; Zach Pellegrino (Fr./’99); Jordan Robert St. Lawrence Thunder (Jr./’98); Cam Donaldson (Jr./’98) Dallas Stars; Evan Johnson (Sr./’97) LA Jr. Kings; Shawn Knowlton (Sr./’96); Jake Marrello (Sr./’97). DEFENSEMEN: McKay Flanagan (Jr./’97) Conn. Oilers-EHL; Taylor Slade (Jr./’97) Junior Bruins; Keelan Ulnick (Soph./’98); Josh Gagne (Jr./’97) Toronto Marlies. GOALTENDER: ZacK Kinard (Fr./’99).
Coach Chris Baudo’s squad lost a lot in the offseason. While every team loses a few key seniors, Gunnery also lost four underclassmen to junior hockey – forwards Alec Mehr and Ryan Dmowski, and defensemen Mike Lee and Max Luukko . Thus, seniors Noah Bauld and Nick Quillan will look to provide senior leadship to a group that features a bevy of talented newcomers. Forward Jordan Robert, a recent Clarkson commit and an eye-opener at the USA Select 16 Camp, is one of seven new juniors on campus. A PG to keep an eye on is Alex Hopkins, the leading scorer at Berwick last winter. New senior forwards include Shawn Knowlton and Jake Marrello coming over from Albany Academy, and Evan Johnson arriving from the LA Jr. Kings. McKay Flanagan, a rugged right-shot D from the Connecticut Oilers (EHL) has played well this fall, and, along with incoming junior Josh Gagne (Toronto Marlies), will help bolster the blue line. We can report that 6’3” junior goaltender Trevin Kozlowski has looked excellent this fall, and ’99 freshman Zack Kinard will wait for his chances.
The Bottom Line: Gunnery, notable every year for their bevy of swarming forwards who just keep coming over the boards, has been to the Elite 8 tournament five of the last six years. Baudo and his staff keep coming up with players to fill holes. Even though they lost several key players, expect this year’s team to look similar to last year’s.
Last Season: (22-10-0) Quarter Finalist – Elite 8
F Matt Hoover (15-26-41); D Richie Boyd (10-30-40) UNH; F Tommy DeFelice (11-16-27); D Malcolm Hayes (5-9-14) Maine.
Jr. F David Cotton BC (19-32-51); Sr. F Jake Simons (21-25-46); Sr. F Bailey Conger St. Lawrence (14-27-41); Sr. G Joey Daccord.
FORWARDS: Marc McLaughlin (Soph./’99); Mike Mahan (Jr./’97); Jeff Morgan (Jr., ’96) Wall HS (NJ). DEFENSEMEN: Brian Scoville (Soph./’99); Ethan Roswell (Jr./’98); Matt Dillon (Jr./’97); Dominic Cormier (Soph./’98).
Cushing is coming off of a heart-breaking 3-2 loss in a Double-OT thriller against eventual champions Salisbury in the Elite 8 quarterfinals last season. But they also have their entire top forward line – Conger, Cotton, and Simons – returning. Cotton, you may recall, scored both goals in that game, and Daccord almost stole the game, kicking out 55 of 58 in a losing effort. So you get the idea: the foundation is there for coach Rob Gagnon to build upon. Returning forwards Max Brainin, Danny Eruzione, and Stephen Marsico have all looked good this fall, and should provide sufficient secondary scoring. Cushing loses a pair of key defensemen in Boyd (UNH) and Hayes (converted to a forward at Maine). There is a pair of ’99 sophomores to keep an eye on in Ashburnham this winter with Marc McLaughlin up front and Brian Scoville on the back end. Both have both played very well this fall. Also, new junior D Matt Dillon (Islanders Hockey Club U18s) should contribute right away.
The Bottom Line: You know that the top line will put up points and that Daccord is a proven goaltender. That’s money in the bank. Cushing’s soft spot is the fact that the best d-men are also the youngest and most inexperienced. How quickly they come along, especially with the loss of Boyd and Hayes, will be crucial to the Penguins’ success.
Last Season: (20-7-1) Quarter Finalist Elite 8
D JC Brassard Union(11-32-43); F Cal Burke (19-26-45) to USHL and Notre Dame.
Sr. F Miles Wood (29-25-54) BC/NJ Devils; Sr. F Cody Todesco (10-29-39); Jr. F Michael Fahie Brown (12-18-30); Sr. D Billy Sweezey Yale (8-20-8); Jr. F Luke Stevens Yale (15-7-22): Sr. D Alex Hreib (3-15-18).
Ryan Heath (Soph./’98); Danny Jacobs (Jr./’97).
Noble & Greenough returns the majority of the squad – including five committed Div. I players -- that reached the Elite 8 last season. With Boston College recruit and 4th round NHL draft pick Miles Wood set to come back for his senior season, the Bulldogs will boast one of prep schools’ top lines as Wood will be surrounded by Ivy recruits Luke Stevens and Michael Fahie. Cody Todesco can also be counted on to put up points. Also, look for sophomore Cam Burke to step into a bigger role this season. The defensive unit, with Yale commit Billy Sweezey and senior Billy Carrabino, will have a much different look without J.C. Brassard, who is at Union College.
Note: Luke Stevens is out of the lineup with an injury and may not be back until after the Flood-Marr Tournament.
The Bottom Line: Cal Burkeforegoing his senior year to join Cedar Rapids (USHL) hurts, but there’s still plenty of depth up front and others will likely step up. Ultimately coach Brian Day’s squad will need a big year from junior goaltender Brendan Cytulik (.887 last season).
Last Season: (15-10-3) Champions – Large School
F Corey Swift Conn. College (10-9-19); D Matt O’Donnell UVM (6-13-19).
Sr. F Ben Sharf Colgate(6-28-34); Sr. F Alex Esposito UVM (14-15-29); Sr./F Eric Benshadle (6-16-22); Sr. D Zach Giuttari Brown (3-10-13).
FORWARDS: Lucas D’Antuono (PG/’95); Shamus Fenton (Jr./’97); Justin Grillo (Soph./’98); David Troiano (PG/’96); Griffin Welch (Jr./’97); Cam Toohey (PG/’96). DEFENSE: Jacob Bryson (Jr./’97) PC; Michael Greenberg (Soph./’98). GOALTENDERS: Tim Biarelli (Jr./’97); Adin Farhat (Soph./’98).
Coach J.R. Zavisza has turned the program around at Loomis very quickly. The Pelicans capped off a great run last season by winning the Large School Championship over St. Paul’s. The scary thing is that -- on paper, anyway -- Loomis appears to be a much better team this time around. The offense will be lead by the trio of seniors – Sharf, Esposito, and Benshadle -- augmented by sophomore Eric Esposito (UNH); and the slew of newcomers listed above. Incoming juniordefenseman and recent Providence College commit Jacob Bryson has been excellent this fall. From the London Jr. Knights Midget AAA, Bryson will run Loomis’ power play. Senior D Zach Giuttari is a strong two-way force on the blue line. Tim Biarelli, who led Beverly High to the Mass. Div. II state championship in March, looks to be the starter in net, with new sophomore Adin Farhat, from Bishop Guertin (NH)HS, battling for time as well.
The Bottom Line: This team is deeper and playoff-tested. Bryson, who can run the PP and a lot more, will provide a dimension the Pelicans lacked last season. Both goalies, however, are new to prep hockey. How quickly they adapt will be a key.
Last Season: (17-8-3) Semi-Finalist – Large School Tournament
F Joey Caffrey (24-13-37); F Owen Powers (10-24-34).
Sr. F Jeremy Germain (10-26-36); Sr. G Sam Tucker Yale; Sr. G Andrew Tucci; Sr. F Charley Borek (DNP last season; 17-12-29 as a soph).
FORWARDS: Jack Hoey (Fr./’98) Fairfield Prep; Jake Smith (PG/’96) Nichols; Alex Kolowrat (Jr./’98); Bobby Goggin (Soph./’98). DEFENSEMEN: Billy Overby (Soph./’98) Fairfield Prep; Faisal Alsaif (Fr./’99); Brendan Less (Jr./’98); Craig Uyeno (Soph./’98);
Coach Pat Dennehy took his injury-plagued team to the semi-finals of the large school tournament last March. This year seniors Charley Borek and Nick Sanchez, who only played six combined games last season – with only one from Borek -- could be help push them over the top. Borek was a budding star with his 17-12-29 line games in 21 games as a sophomore, while Sanchez was averaging a point a game before his injury last season. We expect both of them are burning to get after it. Look for incoming PG Jake Smith, the leading scorer at the Nichols School last winter, to provide an instant scoring impact up front. Choate has defensemen galore: they are rostering ten. Returnees include Vincent Ditmore, Brendan Russ, and Turner Upgren along with newcomers that include Billy Overby, Brendan Less, and Craig Uyeno. Most importantly, Choate has, in Yale recruit Sam Tucker and last year’s save percentage leader Andrew Tucci, the best goaltending duo in prep hockey.
The Bottom Line: Choate has had really good teams the last few years, but they have faded at the end. One would suspect the Wild Boars have something to prove, and might be playing with a huge chip on their shoulders. They have the potential to go far, but no one’s going to make it easy for them.
#7 Kimball Union Academy
Last Season: (26-6-5) Champion-- Small School
F AJ Greer BU (24-39-63); F JD Dudek BC/NJ Devils (9-35-44); F Tyler Bird Brown/Columbus Blue Jackets (33-27-60).
Jr. D Ben Finkelstein (7-18-25); Jr. F Brendan Riley (12-12-24); Sr. F Jack McCarthy (11-9-20) Brown.
FORWARDS: Patrick Shea Maine(Jr./‘97); Thomas Samuelson (Fr./’99); Bobby Young (Soph./’98); Conner Jean (Sr./’97); Michael Lombardi (Soph./’98); Kyle Shero (Soph./’98). DEFENSEMEN: JJ Layton (Jr./’97); Jake Massie (Jr./’97). GOALTENDER: Elijah Harris (Jr./’97); Oscar Flory (PG/’95).
Coach Tim Whitehead’s squad has quite the void to fill after graduating prep school’s dominant line. A very solid group of newcomers led by Maine recruit Patrick Shea and former Austin Prep goalie Elijah Harris should help ease the pain. The Wildcats, who were thin on D last season, will be much stronger this time, with one-man breakout Jake Massie (John Rennie High - QJHL)and steady blueliner JJ Layton (Austin Prep) joining returning juniors Dennis Cesana and Ben Finkelstein.
The Bottom Line: Losing Bird, Dudek, and Greer gives an opportunity to seniors Brendan Riley and Jack McCarthy, along with junior George Sennott to really put their stamp on the team. This Wildcats team will have a more balanced look this year. There’s more speed, the defense is vastly improved, and so is the goaltending.
Last Season: (22-6-2)Runner Up – Small School Tournament
D Liam Feeney (3-35-38); F Mark Webber (16-16-32); F Ian Sheridan (7-20-27); F Jake McDonough (11-15-26).
Sr. F Ryan Donato Harvard/Boston Bruins (37-41-78); Sr. F Matt Brazel (8-19-27); Sr. F Sam D’Antuono (18-16-34); Jr. F Kevin Hock (15-21-36).
FORWARDS: Patrick Daly (Jr./’96) Andover transfer; Jay O’Brien (Fr./’99). DEFENSEMEN: Luke McInnis BC(Jr./’98); Jack Rathbone (Fr./’99). GOALTENDER: Liam Moore (Soph./’98) Governor’s transfer.
Last season, Dexter’s offense flowed through Ryan Donato, our choice for top player in prep school hockey, and it will surely be the same this year. Coach Dan Donato also has some strong complementary players coming back in Matt Brazel, Sam D’Antuono, Kevin Hock, all a year older. Winger Jack Donato could develop into a nice power forward over the course of the season. Dexter also features intriguing young defensemen with Sean Keohan, who, coming off an impressive freshman campaign, will get major help from newcomer Luke McInnis. A couple of freshmen who could be a big help once they get adjusted are forward Jay O’Brien and defenseman Jack Rathbone. Ex-Governor’s goaltender Liam Moore, a junior, will take over between the pipes.
The Bottom Line: As great as Ryan Donato was last year, no one player can single-handedly beat a strong prep team, as was illustrated in the loss to KUA in the small school final last March. Look for seniors Matt Brazel and Sam D’Antuono, and junior Kevin Hock to raise their game another notch and take some of the load off Donato. In addition, McInnis’ skating and offensive skills will make the Dexter powerplay that much more difficult to defend. Goaltending is a question mark, as the 6’3” Moore (.811 last season) has always been intriguing for his potential, but has not yet proven he can be a top prep goaltender.
One thing we know: this is the best Dexter team we have ever seen. (Of course, there was no upper school until about 10-15 years, so that's not as grand a pronouncement as it seems.)
Last Season: (12-11-3) Quarter Finalist – Small School
F Mario Benicky (9-9-18); G Zac Hamilton Colgate (.911), D Frankie Sullivan (4-10-14) – to Jersey Hitmen (USPHL).
Jr. F Taggart Corriveau St. Lawrence (18-12-30); Sr. F Anthony DiPlacido (5-15-20); Sr. F Jack Fitzgerald (9-8-17); Jr. F Johnny McDermott BU (5-9-14); Sr. D. Will Brophy Holy Cross (3-6-9). Brophy and Fitzgerald will be co-captains.
FORWARDS: Jack Flanagan (Soph./’98); John Hunt (Soph./’98); Cal LeClair (Soph./’98); Connor Lloyd (Jr./’97); Mike Ventricelli (Jr./’97). DEFENSEMEN: Patrick Dawson (Fr./’99); Peter Horsfall (Soph./’98). GOALTENDER: Hunter Chaisson (Fr./’99).
The Martlets look to bounce back after a disappointing early departure from the playoffs last season. On paper, this is one of the deepest and most talented teams in prep hockey, with most of the key players returning, despite D Frankie Sullivan leaving for the Jersey Hitmen (USPHL) and G Zac Hamilton graduating and playing now at Colgate. Returning forwards Taggert Corriveau, Anthony DiPlacido, and Johnny McDermott will be tough for defenses to handle. Add to that a nice mixture of grit and skill in newcomers Mike Ventricelli, Cal LeClair and Connor Lloyd and the Martlets should be a tough team to contain for a full fifty four minutes. The trio of experienced – and big -- defensemen Joe O’Connor, Will Brophy, and Kevin O’Leary will play a big role in the team’s success. Freshman D Patrick Dawson has shown a lot of potential this fall and will be a big factor down the road. Ultimately, the brunt of the load will land on the shoulders of junior goaltender Stephen Gasior (.892 in limited minutes last season). Gasior has shown flashes of strong play this fall but is still untested over the course of a season.
The Bottom Line: This is still a young team, as there are not a lot of key seniors, so how far they go will depend on how much the underclassmen step up. Key players like Corriveau, McDermott, and O’Leary are all still juniors – as is Gasior, who has big shoes to fill, as Hamilton was the team’s backbone last season.
#10 Avon Old Farms
Last Season: (9-15-1) Missed Playoffs
F Jackson Tucker (8-13-21); F Liam Murphy to Moncton-QMJHL(7-14-21)
Sr. F Chase Zieky (7-17-24); Jr. F Tyler Carangelo (6-13-19); Sr. G Tucker Weppner (.891).
FORWARDS: Jamie Armstrong (Jr./’98) Northeastern; Patrick Harper (Soph./’98) BU; Josh Vertentes (Soph./’98) Portsmouth Abbey; John Giatrelis (Soph./’98); Cam Klein (PG/’96). DEFENSE: Andrew Cross (PG/’96)Austin Prep; Brendan Kilroy (Jr./’97); Ben Mirageas (Fr./’99). GOALIE: Jon O’Donnell (Fr./’98)
The Winged Beavers historically underperformed last year, but head coach John Gardner wasn’t going to suffer through that again. So he reloaded. On paper, Avon looks eerily similar to last year’s Westminster squad – talented and young. The new trio of ’98 forwards, Jamie Armstrong, Patrick Harper and Josh Vertentes, along with returnees Chase Zieky and Tyler Carangelo, should help catapult them into a playoff spot, possibly even the Elite 8. But the new forwards aren’t the only part of the team that will be fun to watch this winter. ‘99 defenseman Ben Mirageas, who canfly, will earn his stripes playing alongside senior defensemen Austin Jadovich, the Winged Beavers’ top returning defenseman, and Andrew Cross – a top Mass high school player out of Austin Prep. Much will be expected from senior goaltender Tucker Weppner, who has looked strong this fall.
The Bottom Line: Patrick Harper comes ready-made for prep hockey. A Boston University recruit from New Canaan, Conn., Harper, who is 5’8”, is a nifty player who will put up a ton of points, and feed players around him, such as 6’1” power forward and Northeastern recruit Jamie Armstrong. Those two -- and the speedy Ben Mirageas on the back end -- will make Avon hockey exciting again.
Last Season: (23-5-3) Semi-Finalist – Elite 8
F David White (32-26-58); F Henry Hart (19-39-58); F Kevin Neiley (19-39-58); D Spencer Young (4-23-27) to Dubuque-- USHL; D Matt Foley (3-8-11) Merritt –BCHL.
Sr. F Teddy Hart PC (10-15-25); Jr. F Devin Moore (4-12-16); Jr. D Trevor Cosgrove (3-11-14); Jr. D Peter Christie (4-8-12), Jr. D Jordan Haney (0-6-6)
FORWARDS: Max Roche (PG/’96) Team Illinois; Ben Solin (Jr./’97) Hand HS (Conn.); Mitchell Shennette (PG/’96) Toronto Jr. Canadiens; Robert Durst (PG/’96); Bradley Ingersoll (Soph./’98). DEFENSE:Jacob Dupont (Jr./’97). GOALTENDER: Bryan Botcher (PG/’96).
Coach Dana Barbin has a much different looking squad than the one he rolled out last season. His first line of PG forwards – good for 70 goals -- is gone. How new players such as repeat junior Ben Solin, Div. II Connecticut HS player of the year -- and others -- can fill that void, will be the #1 thing to keep an eye on. Of the returners, captain Teddy Hart, who doesn’t lack for skill, will have to, well, play like a captain. Look for senior forwards Andy Espinoza and Stanley Brennar to be used in bigger roles this season. Jr. D Derrick Spencer will be out until mid-January which thins out a d-corps that’s already taken a hit as top d-man Spenser Young left for the USHL. PG goaltender Bryan Botcher, from the University School in Milwaukee, will be the #1 guy in net.
The Bottom Line: Losing all that firepower will make replicating last season’s success a major challenge. The games against Kent and Gunnery Dec. 6-7 will make for a good barometer – and good hockey, too.
Last Season: (21-5-1); Quarter Finalist – Elite 8
F Neil Conway (17-31-48); D Jon Barry (5-29-34) Northeastern; F Christian Leahy (12-16-28); D Steven Cochrane (9-18-27); F Adam Gaudette (29-38-67) USHL, then Northeastern; G Robert McGovern (.911).
Sr. F Lincoln Griffin Northeastern (23-32-55); Sr. F Ryan Pfeffer (15-16-31); Jr. F Ty Amonte (8-19-27), Jr. D Colin McCabe (2-9-11).
Although Gaudette, the focal point of the team’s offense, has chosen to spend his senior year in the USHL, and top d-man Barry has graduated, the shelves are hardly bare. Lincoln Griffin, a Northeastern recruit (like Gaudette and Barry), is back and will be the go-to forward. Junior F Ty Amonte appears to be physically stronger, which adds a new dimension to his game. He, along with fellow juniors Monte Graham and Robert Carmody and sophomore Casey Carreau, will be counted on for more of the offense this year. Junior D Colin McCabe looks like he could blossom this season. He’s played well every time we’ve seen him over the summer and fall.
The Bottom Line: Top line center Gaudette and big d-man Barry are tough to replace. But if the returnees can step up and take a bigger role, Thayer will be fine. Junior goaltender Mike Royer, though small, has been excellent this fall. He will be every bit as good – and quite possibly better -- than Rob McGovern, who graduated.
#13 St. Paul’s
Last Season: (20-9-1) Runner Up – Large School
F David Storto (23-22-45); F Cam McCusker (11-29-40); F Luke Babcock (18-14-32); D Nick Romanov (1-6-7).
Sr. F Connor Sodergren (17-28-45); Sr. F John Laurito Army (17-14-31); Sr. F Austin Ricci (15-13-28); Sr. G Nathan Colannino.
FORWARDS: Markie Campbell (Jr./’96); Karl Risley (Soph./’97); DEFENSEMEN: Simon Loiselle (Soph./’97); Matt Zandi (Soph./’98).
Coach Mark Bozek took his team to within one goal of a Large School championship last season, even with his top scorer, senior David Storto, taking a powder (Storto is now playing in the Q, by the way). Bozek lost three top point-producers, and needs his three senior forwards – Sodergren, Ricci, and Laurito -- to take over for the guys who graduated, and help to fill in from below. There will be five returning defensemen from last year’s squad, including the top three scorers in Cam Bando, Giacomo Messina and Vincenzo Renda. Having seasoned goaltender Nathan Colannino, who played all but 19 minutes last season,back for his senior season helps keep the Pelicans in the hunt.
The Bottom Line: Most of the components that led to their success last year are still in place. Our question concerns the secondary scoring. If SPS can get that, they will be tough to beat.
#14 Northfield-Mt. Hermon
Last Season: (19-10-2) Quarter-Finalist – Large School Tournament
F Kevin Dazkevich (10-19-29); F Bradley Allen (10-11-21); F Corey Moriarty 5-14-19).
Sr. F Ben Freeman UConn (20-26-46); Sr. F Peter Owen Hayward, Sr. D Luke Harer (0-1-1); Sr. G Conor O’Brien (.924).
FORWARDS: Casey Hoban (PG/’96) Notre Dame-West Haven; Oliver Chau (Jr./’97) Governor’s transfer; Ben Barton (PG/’96); DEFENSEMEN: Michael Yablong (PG’96) CYA.
Coach Tom Pratt saw twelve seniors graduate off last season’s team. While the Hoggers have some work to do to repeat the success of last season, they are returning some key players. 6’4” forward Ben Freeman, a UConn commit who racked up 46 points last season, should have another standout season. Freeman has looked good in the early going, as has 6’1” senior forward Peter Owen Hayward. Casey Hoban, a PG from Notre Dame – West Haven (Conn.) Look for defensemen Alden Weller, Jamie Dorsey, and Owen Sandercox to have more of an impact this winter. Incoming PG defenseman Michael Yablong comes to NMH via the Chicago Young Americans, and will help the blueliners. Look for 6’2” Conor O’Brien, a fourth-year goaltender from Florida who has quietly gotten better every year he’s been at NMH, to finally get the attention he deserves. O’Brien will steal some games for the Hoggers. And he will be closely watched by college recruiters and NHL scouts.
The Bottom Line: Although twelve seniors graduated last year, this remains an older experienced team. There are seven PGs on the roster. Everyone else, except for 6’2” freshman goalie Eric Green, who’ll be backing up O’Brien, is either a ’95, ’96, or ’97 – and a senior or junior. There are no sophomores at all. NMH has experience and an excellent goaltender. They will sneak up on people, and have the potential to vault into the Elite 8.
Last Season: (20-4-1) Quarter-Finalist – Elite 8 Tournament
Lewis Zerter-Gossage Harvard (9-31-40); Brendan Soucie Army (11-24-35); Phil Klitirinos Colby (14-15-39).
Returning Leaders: Sr. F Max Kaufman (15-19-34) Vermont; Jr. D Greg Krisberg (8-18-26), Sr. D Keanu Hilaire; Sr. D Josh Hardiman.
FORWARDS: Evan Gray (Soph./’98); Teddy Simpson (Jr./’97); Kevin Hill (PG/’96); Connor Landrigan (PG/’96) WB/Scranton --EHL. DEFENSEMEN: Carter Dwyer (So/’98). GOALTENDER: Peter Negron (Soph./’98) Bergen Catholic; Jackson Norris (Jr./’97).
Coach Dale Reinhardt graduated twelve seniors off his Elite 8 squad of last season. The Lions will rely on junior forward Satchel Clendenin and junior defenseman Greg Krisberg to help senior forward Max Kaufman carry this team through the early part of the season. Look for some new players to make an impact early on. PGs Kevin Hill and Connor Landrigan should contribute right away. If Evan Gray continues to play like he has this fall, he could play a significant role. On the blue line, Krisberg, Hilaire, and Hardiman are all back, so there’s a solid core there. New goaltender Peter Negron, out of Bergen Catholic, was one of the better goaltenders at this summer’s Select 16 Camp. Junior Jackson Norris, a Minnesotanwho played at The Blake School, will battle for playing time
The Bottom Line: Kent lost a lot to graduation. How quickly the newcomers get integrated into the team will be the major determining factor in their ultimate won-lost record.
Last Season: (19-7-3) Semi Finalist – Elite 8
F Craig Puffer (23-16-39); F Charlie Corcoran (11-25-36); F Tipper Higgins (11-9-20); F Nick O'Connor (12-9-21); D Bryan Gerstenfeld (3-13-16); G George Blinick (.931)
Barclay Gammill Sr. F (11-7-18); Dan Driscoll Sr. D (0-8-8); Jimmy McKee Sr. D (2-5-7); Spencer Cookson Sr. G.
FORWARDS: Matt Koopman (Soph./’98) Marblehead HS; Ryan Keelan (Soph./’98) CVU; Jack Lloyd (Soph./’98); Zack Hale (PG/’96) Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Reid Lemker (PG/’96) Duluth Denfeld. DEFENSE: Kyle Koopman (Soph./’98) Marblehead HS; Sam Topham (PG/’96) BC High; Chris Maratea (PG/’96); Andrew Pitcher (Soph./’97) CVU. GOALTENDER: Jimmy Graham (Jr./’97) Upper Canada College.
Coach Dan Driscoll graduated 14 seniors from last year’s Elite 8 semi-finalists, most notably the entire Puffer-Corcoran-Higgins line, as well as F Nick O’Connor and D Bryan Gerstenfeld. That’s a lot, but others are in the same boat. It’s not who you lose, it’s who you add. Berkshire will be competitive. Look for returning top line forward Barclay Gammill to help new sophomores like Northeastern recruit – and Marblehead High star -- Matt Koopman and Vermonter Ryan Keelan to adjust quickly to the strength and speed of the league. A pair of PGs from Minnesota, Zack Hale and Reid Lemker, should alleviate some growing pains for the young forwards. The defense has a trio of returnees in Jimmy McKee, Dan Driscoll, and Henry Manley. There are three goalies on the roster. We’ll see who is #1 amongst last year’s backup, Spencer Cookson, newcomer Jimmy Graham (an Upper Canada College transfer), and Sam Merrill (on Berkshire’s roster last year; did not see any action).
The Bottom Line: While this doesn’t appear to be a team poised to make another deep run through the Elite 8, the Bears will rely on their experience on the blue line, fresh faces up front, and solid goaltending. And they will win more than they lose.
We feel that up to 5-6 Large Schools and an equal number of Small Schools will wind up playing in March.
These are the teams we are keeping an eye on:
1. Belmont Hill
3. St. Sebastian’s
4. Vermont Academy
6. St. Mark’s