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WCHA Recruiting Preview: Alaska Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville

As summer and the NHL draft approach, OTB is back to recruiting previews for the next few months as college programs prepare for their incoming freshmen to start their careers. For this feature, I spoke with Alaska Anchorage assistant coach Josh Ciocco, as well as Alabama-Huntsville head coach Mike Corbett, about their incoming freshmen classes. I also touched briefly on the start both programs have made on recruiting for 2015 and further.

Alaska Anchorage

A year after Seawolves head coach Matt Thomas (RIT ’98) took the reins in Anchorage, he and assistants Josh Ciocco (New Hampshire ‘07) and TJ Jindra (Notre Dame ‘07) have quickly stockpiled a recruiting class they can feel proud about bringing to campus this upcoming season. I caught up with coach Ciocco, to talk about their incoming group of NLI-signed freshmen.

One of the early pick-ups of this ’13-14 recruiting season was Penticton Vees newcomer Olivier Mantha, a veteran goaltender out of Quebec that shared the lowest combined GAA in the BCHL with Minnesota-Duluth bound stopper Hunter Miska. Down the stretch, Mantha emerged to post three shutouts in seven post-season showings for the Vees, and Ciocco is excited about what Mantha can bring for the Seawolves, who graduated two goaltenders this season. On Mantha, Ciocco noted “I think [he] is extremely talented – very polished, very mature kid, very skilled goalie.

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I definitely think he can step in and play a lot of minutes, and losing two senior goalies it was very important to get a guy who can do that right away. It was also very good for us that Olivier is 21 – he’s got it together, and is pretty much exactly what we’re looking for.”

The Seawolves also bring in one of the AJHL’s star stoppers in Jared D’Amico, a 20-year-old veteran of the Alberta circuit who, at 5’9, compensates for a lack of size with quickness and smarts in the blue paint. The two help UAA to have a stable battery of experienced stoppers even in a year where they graduate two.

Moving up from the crease, defenseman Tanner Johnson is someone coach Ciocco thinks is “going to be a big time steal.” The Seawolves did their homework on Johnson, watching him emerge as a more premier talent in the BC circuit as the year went on. Ciocco noted, “We watched him a lot in the second half and for Langley, one of the most talented teams in North America, down the stretch he was one of their best defenseman. He’s grown about 2 inches, put on about 10 pounds and plays a physical game, defending well and making plays.” On the back-end Johnson is joined by defenseman Jarrett Brown of Cowichan Valley, an Alberta native who made the jump from midget to the BCHL two years ago.

Up front, Saskatchewan native Tad Kozun has been lighting it up for three seasons, posting 79 goals in 143 games, netting 38 tallies (to go with 27 assists) in his final season for Kozun’s hometown Nipawin Hawks. On Kozun, Ciocco noted, “Tad was a kid, he just kept scoring. He was really lighting it up at the start (22 goals in 23 games) and I thought, I gotta go watch the kid – if you’re scoring that much, you’ve gotta be doing something right. He’s going to come in and there will be an adjustment period, but since bantam hockey, he’s always got his points. So he definitely has the skill level, but what really attracted him to me is his compete, he’s got a little Andrew Shaw (Blackhawks) in him, certainly not afraid to work and fight for the puck.” More importantly, Kozun represents the type of older, experienced junior star out of Western Canada that can help UAA be successful, with Ciocco commenting “These are the kids we need, we need to have the right guys and I felt like Tad was one of those kids.”

Matt Anholt (West Kelowna) and Austin Azurdia (Langley) also join the 2014 forward group as freshmen, both second-year forwards in the BCHL who posted a combined 90 pts in 108 games. Anholt, another Saskatchewan native, captained West Kelowna’s squad and came fifth in team scoring. Azurdia is a Washington state native, a one-time Connecticut recruit who was fourth on the Rivermen in scoring.

The Seawolves also have Anthony Conti slated for 2015, a 1995-born forward that at 6’3, 200 lbs is “absolutely fearless”, commented Ciocco, continuing, “he’s younger than we would typically bring in but he has a lot of upside. I think [Conti] is somebody that is just going to get better everyday.”

Twenty-year-old forwards Jake Larson and Mason Mitchell are parts of that 2015 class as well. Larson, a former Minnesota high school star (STMA), is a skilled forward who put up prolific numbers for most of his career, coming off somewhat of an off-year in the AJHL. He could take a step and end up as one of the Seawolves top playmakers as an upperclassmen if all pans out. Mitchell is a 6’3 skater described as a physical “ball of energy” from Alberta. He spent the last two seasons in the BCHL with Nanaimo, and brings high-end skating ability and an intimidation factor with his frame and ability to impact the physical side of the game.

With a strong group pulled together in just one season from, primarily, Western Canada, Ciocco notes their staff will always do the diligence on other regions and junior circuits, but knows they can find the talent they need very close all the same. For example, lined up next season, the Seawolves have a potential star defensemen in Wyatt Ege, who skated for an in-state NAHL franchise, Fairbanks, but they’ve also lined up a nice mobile talent who calls Anchorage his hometown in Aaron McPheters, one of a number of Selects Academy (CT) defensemen to pick up Division 1 attention this year. Forward Alex Jackstadt is another recruit that only started playing hockey out of state this season, moving from Kenai River (NAHL), just three hours away from Anchorage, to below the border with the USHL’s Fargo Force. He’s set to arrive in 2015 alongside Penticton’s Cam Amantea.

Alabama-Huntsville

For a team that struggled offensively last season, the Chargers actually return a lot to look forward towards on roster. Returning sophomore Jack Prince (13 points) and up-tempo freshmen Regan Soquila (7 points), Matt Salhany (12 points) helped to lead the team in points, but as a whole the ice time situation last year saw a ton of underclassmen playing big roles. Coach Corbett sees the freedom in being able to provide serious ice time to whoever earns it as a boon, noting “we have those minutes available across the board. Whether it’s an underclassman or a freshman coming in, we need to improve our program and the best 20 guys are going to get those minutes. For next year and the following years: if you want them, grab ‘em.”

That means skaters who were offensive sparkplugs in junior hockey, like Soquila, see enough ice to measure out and improve themselves in all situations. Similarly, fleet-footed freshmen like Salhany, UAH’s rookie of the year, can have a baptism-by-fire introduction to college hockey, skating in key situations – often – and likely coming out all the more ready for the next three years and any professional seasons to follow. That available time on ice is another truth to keep in the back pocket as a recruiter at UAH right now, as any prospect that might be marginalized on a more high-profile program’s roster knows that the UAH staff isn’t kidding when they say serious ice time is available for those who can earn it.

With a schedule that included Notre Dame, St. Cloud and Wisconsin, the Chargers went with a battery of two freshmen goaltenders, Matt Larose (19 games) and Carmine Guerriero (18 games), and the roster got a good taste against all the top teams in the country to build on moving forward. Corbett sees that experience for returners as crucial, “[they] gained a ton of experience. The success of our program is going to be based upon our freshmen becoming sophomores, our sophomores becoming juniors, our juniors becoming seniors. That’s what it is for us, the kids we’ve got coming in, they’re gonna help us, they will, but it’s about what those guys gained last year. We gave those freshmen and sophomores a ton of ice time against a tough schedule.”

That experience is important, but it can only take the Chargers so far. With this new class, they wanted to remedy an issue that had nagged all season, game-to-game: team speed.

“What this class gives to us”, says Corbett, “as a whole, is we wanted to upgrade our speed. Whether it’s on the forward lines or even on the back line being able to upgrade our mobility. We’ve got a very good mix and our mobility will be that much better. All of our kids win races to pucks and add speed. Say what you want about the WCHA, Minnesota’s gone, North Dakota’s gone: these are hard working teams, they get the details. Night in and night out [this season], the WCHA was fast. Every night, everybody was competing in an entertaining, up-and-down the ice type of game. For us, when the game got a little faster, that’s where we struggled.”

The freshman class as a group is diverse, with some size, some speed, and some junior hockey experience all in varying amounts. From the Dubuque Fighting Saints, alternate captain Max McHugh will be looked to as one of those aforementioned freshmen that can make some real strides early on, potentially in the top six.

From the NAHL, Filip Starzynski (Bismarck), Cody Champagne (NAHL), Richard Buri (Minnesota Wilderness), Brandon Parker (Brookings) and Tyler Poulsen (Topeka) will all hope to prove themselves as one of those key freshmen as well. Starzynski hails from Poland, by way of Western Canada’s Okanagan Hockey Academy and four seasons in the NAHL. Buri, Champagne and Parker are all blue liners with different M.O.s: Buri, a Slovakian, stands at 6’5 and has been playing internationally for Slovakia since age 15, crossing the pond for his club hockey in 2012. Champagne is a prep school product (South Kent/Avon) from Connecticut who has produced on the back-end in the past as well as this season for Topeka, and Parker is a MN native who played for the high school team in Faribault, tallying 42 points in 25 games for the Falcons before moving on to AAA hockey with Russell Stover and ultimately landing in the NAHL for parts of three seasons. Poulsen, a 5’7 forward, rounds out the NAHL’s contribution to this class. A NORPAC product by way of Arvada, Colorado, Poulsen has skated in the NAHL for the past five seasons, posting 156 points in 219 games. All will start the season with UAH at 20 years of age or older.

Out of the Greater Ontario circuit comes local Huntsville boy Josh Kestner, who tallied 40 goals in 47 games to lead the Sarnia Legionnaires.  The great thing about Kestner, says Corbett, is “you don’t just bring in kids because he’s local. He deserves to be here, he’s a kid we recruited and we liked. He has a knack for scoring goals – he’s a 40-goal scorer coming out of Sarnia. For a team that scored roughly one goal a game last season…” At 6’1, even coming out of a less than elite level of completion, Kestner could end up a hidden gem for the Chargers if he can seize some minutes in key situations early and prove his offensive prowess at the Division I level.

From the USHL, 5’7 forward Brandon Salerno (Waterloo) and goaltender Jordan Uhelski (Muskegon) join the program. Salerno had 25 pts in 46 games as a 16-year-old in the OJHL, though he posted just six through 35 showings this season at age 18. Uhelski backed up uncommitted prospect Eric Schierhorn in Muskegon and should add depth to the already-experienced tandem already installed in Huntsville.

Alberta league product Brennan Saulnier, by way of Nova Scotia and the Maritime Jr. A circuit, is the last member of the incoming class, a 6’ forward who played for oil boomtown franchise Fort MacMurray, one of the top Jr. A programs in Canada last season. His 8 points in 17 playoff games were good for fourth on the team, and Saulnier finished the regular season again fourth with 49 points, 33 of which were helpers. The Chargers will hope Saulnier can keep up his offensive magic in the NCAA.

Down the line, the Chargers have started to lay the foundation of their 2015, 2016, and 2017 classes. With the TPH Thunder program emerging as a premier club option for AAA hockey in the south, and UAH hockey alum Nathan Bowen (’00) at the helm of the program, it’s no surprise that coach Corbett and staff have tapped the Thunder pipeline. Forwards Austin Beaulieu and Connor Wood are the most recent recruits from TPH, but defenseman Teddy Rotenberger is on board for a few years out as well. Rotenberger is an efficient, strong skater with puck competence: he should make for a good, poised option with the puck on the blue in a few years. Beaulieu is one of those up-tempo additions that can be really dangerous with some speed behind the puck. He posted 70 points in 49 games this season, including 23 goals, second only on the team to Maine recruit Mitch Fossier. Wood, for his part, is a smaller forward at 5’7, but absolutely tenacious – a compact, energy forward who plays on the man advantage and isn’t afraid to make himself a presence at the net. On whether the Thunder program is a priority for them as a way to become the destination school for elite southern hockey talent, coach Corbett agreed, “We’d love to have that niche,” continuing to note that regions all over the south are producing talent, from Atlanta to Nashville, to Florida and Dallas. Florida recently produced an OHL first overall pick in Jakob Chychrun, while Dallas has had Seth Jones (4th overall, Nashville) and is witnessing the rise of young stars like Hank Crone (Boston University) and Max Gildon.

For the Chargers, TPH U18 teammates Logan Orem (1997), Nathan Krusko (1996) and Tyler Tate (1996) could all be intriguing looks, though there is plenty of talent coming up from the U16 and bantam ranks for TPH, such as 1999-born U14 captain Kyle Kawamura. That bodes well for Corbett if his program can keep some of that more-highly regarded talent committed to furthering their careers in the south.

Another scrappy, hard-working forward committed for a few years out is Joey Marooney, out of Minnesota high school program Holy Family Catholic. Marooney brings a game like fellow recruit Wood, and his 46 points in 25 games are pretty on-par with Wood’s production as well, despite being in pretty different leagues. Both seem tailor-made for the type of roster the Chargers are working towards, as never-say-die skaters who can play versatile roles within the framework of the top nine. With a brother on roster (Cody), and a talented younger brother (James, 1999) on Holy Family’s Varsity as well, Joey could someday end up the second of three Marooney brothers to play at UAH.

From New England, the Chargers have a pair of prospects in Lawrence Academy’s Cam Knight and Selects Academy’s Roberts Smits, both committed for a year or two out. Smits is a 6’1 center from Latvia with a nice power game and hockey sense that allows him to be dominant at times. Last but not least, the Chargers also have 17-year-old Ivan Bondarenko committed, a Russian forward who broke the 100-point ceiling in the Norpac this year, tallying 50 goals in 37 games in the process. The 5’9 forward from Moscow isn’t due to arrive on campus for a while, though how he’s able to perform at a higher level of junior hockey should give Chargers fans an idea of what level they can temper their expectations of Bondarenko to.

All in all, recruiting efforts are on the up-and-up for these two WCHA programs and if they can keep it up, it spells good things for parity in college hockey. Alaska Anchorage’s group addresses needs all over the roster, while the Chargers seem well positioned to become a team that could start to push the pace on opponents over the next few years with a combination of mobility, skill and work ethic.

Thanks for reading.

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College Hockey Recruiting Class Rankings

Well, the season is just over a month away and with that it’s time to release our College Hockey Recruiting Class Rankings. Like our Select 70, this list has been in the making all season long and weighs a number of factors. The list is just ten schools, but it’s a good amount of reading so I’ll keep the primer short.

The factors weighed were Collegiate Upside, which is fairly self-explanatory, alongside Four-Year Impact, or in other words, propensity to turn pro early. Lastly, but just as important, Positional Needs met or not met were a huge factor in differentiating some classes that would otherwise be too close to call. For example, if a team has one rising senior goaltender who played all the games and no potential starters sitting on the bench or coming the following year, the recruiting class takes a big hit if an adequate replacement isn’t in the class. For every class, I’ve also highlighted a Key Recruit. This is who has the chance to impact the class most with their play, be they inadequate or phenomenal.

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Feel free to share your opinion about the rankings with us via Twitter. On with the rankings…

1. Boston College

Key Recruit: 95 G Thatcher Demko

Why: Demko has plenty of hype, but it’s easy to forget he accelerated high school and won’t turn 18 until half of the Eagles regular season is in the books. It’s a measured gamble for York and company, but most have learned not to doubt such highly regarded freshman goaltenders in Hockey East.

Forwards: Chris Calnan (CHI, 3rd rd, 2012), Ryan Fitzgerald (BOS, 4th rd, 2013), Austin Cangelosi, Adam Gilmour (MIN, 4th rd, 2012), Evan Richardson and Matt Gaudreau

Defense: Ian McCoshen (FLA, 2nd rd, 2013), Steve Santini (NJD, 2nd rd, 2013) and Scott Savage

Goaltending: Thatcher Demko (2014 draft eligible)

How scary is Boston College’s freshman class to the rest of college hockey? A potential franchise goaltender in Thatcher Demko to replace Parker Milner and the best incoming defensive defenseman in the NCAA in Steve Santini were a good start. But don’t forget about the four other freshman all drafted in the fourth round or above, nor the other four undrafted freshman, all of whom are premier recruits as well. While this class might have more future pro signings than four-year players, no one touches the Eagles in either depth, positional needs met, or pure talent level this year. It’s almost no contest.

For a more in-depth look at this class, check out our Recruiting Preview.

2. Minnesota

Key Recruit: 95 F Taylor Cammarata

Why: Cammarata’s play seems tailor-made for the college game, and even if he gets so much extra attention from opposing defenders that he can’t convert, the rest of the team (and this class) are more than prepared to be beneficiaries of the resulting negligence.

Forwards: Taylor Cammarata (NYI, 3rd rd, 2013), Justin Kloos, Gabe Guertler,  Hudson Fasching (LAK, 4th rd, 2013) and Vinni Lettieri

Defense: Tommy Vannelli (STL, 2nd rd, 2013), Mike Brodzinski (SJS, 5th rd, 2013), Jake Bischoff (NYI, 7th rd, 2012)

About that ‘no contest’ – the Gophers could give the Eagles a run for their money when you consider that it’s entirely plausible that this entire class will be in school for four years. A number of shifty, deceptive forwards with a knack for making a difference in the final third will make the Class of 2017 tricky to contain, and big man Hudson Fasching seems poised to only get better as his career wearing the ‘M’ goes on. As far as positional needs go, the Gophers were already strong at every position (even with a number of pro departures), so this looks more like adding ammunition than solving a particular weakness.

For a more in-depth look at this class, check out our Recruiting Preview.

3. North Dakota

Key Recruit: 94 F Adam Tambellini

Why: The case could be made for a number of North Dakota’s eight freshmen, but coach Dave Hakstol himself said the SSAC product and Rangers draft pick will have “the opportunity to step in and contribute with [the team] right away,”, so that’s always a good sign. Twenty-six points in sixteen games after a trade to Surrey at the midpoint of last season, followed by a 10-8-18 line in seventeen high-stakes BCHL playoff games showed everyone that the son of Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is more than ready to make an impact in Grand Forks.

Forwards: Adam Tambellini (NYR, 3rd rd, 2013), Luke Johnson (CHI, 5th rd, 2013) and Wade Murphy (NSH, 7th rd, 2013)

Defense: Keaton Thompson (ANA, 3rd rd, 2013), Gage Ausmus (SJS, 5th rd, 2013), Paul LaDue (LAK, 6th rd, 2012) and Troy Stecher

Goaltending: Matt Hrynkiw

This is just such a solid class from top to bottom. From high-end Anaheim prospect Keaton Thompson, to former Top Uncommitted Gage Ausmus (previously committed to Denver), to USHL All-Star Paul LaDue (who led the USHL in points from the blue line), this would be an intriguing group by itself. Then you add Penticton (BCHL) captain Troy Stecher, who nearly hit a point-per-game for the Vees on their blue, and this is going to be a fierce group of defensemen as upperclassmen indeed.

There are also three weapons up front in Adam Tambellini, Luke Johnson, and Wade Murphy, as well as an intriguing, talented goaltender in Matt Hrynkiw being added to an already deep (but soon to be less deep) crease. And in case you’re wondering, Coach Hakstol’s class next year is literally shaping up to be one of the best in college hockey. Ever. So there’s that.

For a more in-depth look at this class, our North Dakota Recruiting Preview comes out October 1.

4. Michigan

Key Recruit: 95 F JT Compher

Why: Talented, clever NTDP product with breakneck speed and hockey sense brings it all on every shift. Compher is about as close to a sure thing impact freshman as you can get. The only downside? The Sabres could come calling as soon as sophomore year.

Forwards: JT Compher (BUF, 2nd, 2013), Tyler Motte (CHI, 4th rd, 2013), Evan Allen, Alex Kile, Alex Talcott and Max Shuart

Defense: Michael Downing (FLA, 4th rd, 2013), Nolan De Jong (MIN, 7th rd, 2013), Spencer Hyman and Kevin Lohan

Goaltending: Zach Nagelvoort

Michigan’s class is good, for sure, but this is where it becomes much easier to debate teams up or down the list. Premier forward JT Compher is the equivalent of a ‘five-star’ commit, while NTDP teammate Tyler Motte is a deceptively quick forward who can contribute in every situation as well. Evan Allen and Alex Kile are terrific in-state prospects at forward as well.

Defenseman Michael Downing is a stellar skater and looks like he is going to be a great collegiate defenseman for potentially four years, considering how much his NHL-rights-holding Panthers have invested in college hockey prospects lately. Victoria Grizzlies defenseman Nolan De Jong is a six-foot-one, two-way defenseman out of the BCHL, formerly committed to Cornell, that THN Prospect Guru Ryan Kennedy dubbed a “Gentle Giant”.

5. Boston University

Key Recruit: 94 D Doyle Somerby

Why: The big (6’5, 225) defenseman coming straight out of high school will definitely be tested early, but looks to have the fortitude to make it through the early going and eventually become a dominant force on the back-end for the Terriers.

Forwards: Brendan Collier (CAR, 7th rd, 2012), Nick Roberto, Robbie Baillargeon (OTT, 5th rd, 2012), Kevin Duane and Tommy Kelley

Defense: Doyle Somerby (NYI, 5th rd, 2012), Dalton MacAfee and TJ Ryan

The youngest recruit here turns 19 in September, despite half of this class coming straight out of high school. That said, a big intangible here is that this class has a boatload of inherent chemistry from the past. Brendan Collier is a heart-and-soul forward who captained Malden Catholic (MA-HS) to back-to-back state titles, while Nick Roberto is an electric goal-scorer who put up 23 goals in just 29 games for KUA (NE-Prep) last season. Dalton MacAfee and Tommy Kelley are teammates from St. Seb’s (MA-HS), while Ottawa pick Robbie Baillargeon put on a clinic in prep school heading to the USHL for the past two seasons and produced quite a bit there as well, though his scoring did (predictably) drop off.

For a more in-depth look at this class, check out our Recruiting Preview.

6. Minnesota-Duluth

Key Recruit: 94 F Dom Toninato

Why: A natural leader and skilled pivot with a ton of offensive awareness, the Mr. Hockey finalist plays the game the right way and makes his teammates better. The hometown recruit led Duluth East (MN-HS) to a ton of success before a terrific year with Fargo this past season, where he broke the Force’s single-season scoring record.

Forwards: Dom Toninato (TOR, 5th rd, 2012), Alex Iafallo, Sammy Spurrell and Kyle Osterberg

Defense: Carson Soucy (MIN, 5th rd, 2013), Willie Raskob and Dan Molenaar

The Bulldogs class at the six spot almost feels like a slight for how strong this class is. From top to bottom, every player is a seasoned prospect who seems poised to really contribute at Amsoil Arena before they become upperclassmen. Alex Iafallo is another Fargo veteran who had a good year for the Force with Toninato, while Kyle Osterberg will help to push the pace for the Bulldogs. Carson Soucy is a huge defenseman with pro upside and Willie Raskob out of Faribault is a sharp defenseman with an elite skill-set who was born to run Coach Sandelin’s powerplay.

Of note, a thin prospect farm for the Maple Leafs has Toninato and current Bulldog star (sophomore) Tony Cameranesi near the top of the Leafs’ organizational depth chart at center. The better they play at Amsoil, the sooner they may be headed to the Great White North.

Ed. Note: I spent way too long trying to separate BU and UMD. The difference? Three goalies or not, only one on roster (Matt McNeely) has provided results (another is a senior) and what moved the Bulldogs down here is not addressing what I perceive to be a lack of depth in the crease. Otherwise, you can consider this a tie.

For a more in-depth look at this class, check out our Recruiting Preview.

7. Harvard University

Key Recruit: 95 F Sean Malone

Why: Forward with a high compete level and a developmental curve that has turned sharply north in the past few seasons, Malone went from ripping apart scoring sheets for Buffalo-area prep school Nichols to making a serious impact for the NTDP’s U18 squad in no time.

Forwards: Sean Malone (BUF, 6th rd, 2013), Alex Kerfoot (NJD, 5th rd, 2012), Phil Zielonka, Luke Esposito, Devin Tringale and Tyler Moy

Defense: Kevin Guiltinan, Clay Anderson, Alec McCrea and Victor Newell

Despite just a few (late-round) NHL draft picks, this is a pretty deep class for the Crimson. Sean Malone will have an immediate impact, while cerebral pivot Alex Kerfoot was having his way with the BCHL before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the year.

It would not be a surprise if prolific sniper Phil Zielonka were to score more goals than anyone on the Crimson roster did last season, as the Crimson’s new big gun already has serious chemistry with Kerfoot and Esposito from last season. Devin Tringale is an underrated talent up front who won a prep school championship with Lawrence Academy in 11-12, while big defenseman Kevin Guiltinan adds some snarl and raw ability to this class.

This class, too, is used to each other. While it’s tough to pinpoint an intangible such as how used to each other, last season alone Phil Zielonka alone spent time on rosters with Kerfoot, Esposito, Moy and Newell. Newell was later traded to Waterloo where he played with Alec McCrea. If anything, it’s noteworthy.

For a more in-depth look at this class, check out our Recruiting Preview.

8. Quinnipiac University

Key Recruit: 94 F Peter Quenneville

Why: Game-breaking forward will make a home for himself in the Bobcat’s offensive zone very quickly. Quenneville oozes (almost too much) confidence and has a knack for scoring timely goals. The only ‘downside’ is that the Quinnipiac coaching staff couldn’t commit Peter’s highly talented younger brother, David, who has signed with the WHL.

Forwards: Peter Quenneville (CBJ, 7th rd, 2013), Sam Anas, Tim Clifton, Jason Stephanik, and Tommy Schutt

Defense: Connor Clifton (PHX, 5th rd, 2013), Joe Fiala, Brayden Sherbinen, Devon Toews and Derek Smith

Goaltending: Brady Rouleau

From Quenneville to the Clifton brothers, who could make their presence known early and often, the top-end of this class is strong and it doesn’t drop off too much either. Undersized forward Sam Anas, who committed in 2010, has proved doubters wrong at every level and should continue to do so, while Jason Stephanik and most of the incoming defensemen look like potential core players as well.

9. Providence College

Key Recruit: 94 G Nick Ellis

Why: Heir apparent to future Calgary Flame Jon Gillies’ crease. Ellis will have some time to prepare as Nate Leaman’s recruiting efforts come to fruition before he has to produce any results on a regular basis, which is about as ideal as it can get for a goaltender. My only Honorable Mention of the day will be here: Anthony Florentino, who should be a staple on the Friars blue for years to come.

Forwards: Niko Rufo and Conor MacPhee

Defense: Anthony Florentino (BUF, 5th rd, 2013), Kyle McKenzie and Josh Monk

Goaltending: Nick Ellis and Tyler Kapp

The fact that Gillies basically landed gift-wrapped into the Friars’ lap last summer, now looks like a Coach Leaman master stroke, as incoming goaltender Nick Ellis and third netminder Tyler Kapp (recovering from a season lost to injury) will not have the pressure of having to providing results all year, though they will benefit from a D1 goaltending coach all season and be well prepared for the coming years. Forward Niko Rufo could be a collegiate star in the making, as is big blueliner Anthony Florentino.

For a more in-depth look at this class, check out our Recruiting Preview.

10. Northeastern University

Key Recruit: 92 F Mike Szmatula

Why: In June, it looked like Szmatula might be another in an alarmingly long list of recruits who abandoned their commitments to Jim Madigan’s Huskies, as the Dubuque stand-out attempted to follow his junior coach Jim Montgomery to Denver. Madigan stood firm on holding his players to their NLI this time, and it should pay dividends. Szmatula, a tough, tough (yes, twice) opportunistic forward with tenacity and skill plays a game that should translate terrifically to the collegiate level. Szmatula scored 44 goals in his first and only USHL season after spending a season in the relatively unheralded MHL (Maritimes Jr. A). No reason to think he won’t have a similar transition to Hockey East.

Forwards: Mike Szmatula, John Stevens, Zach Aston-Reese, Dalen Hedges, Nathan Ferriero, Mike Jamieson, Will Messa and Tanner Pond

Defense: Matt Benning (BOS, 6th, 2013), Gus Harms and Jake Schechter

Northeastern has quietly assembled one of the best recruiting classes in the country, and slides in at ten to complete a Beanpot sweep here. Matt Benning is a stand-out from the Alberta league who played for Dubuque this past season. A rugged, efficient defenseman, Benning should be a rock for the Huskie’s blue line in the coming four years, while big EJHL defenseman Gus Harms brings some offense and Jake Schechter could bring some as well. Both are one year departed from stellar prep school seasons and had very respectable outings in their brief junior careers.

John Stevens is a former Salisbury (NE-Prep) captain who had a great first-year (with Matt Benning) on Dubuque this past year, and Nathan Ferriero is a prep scorer straight from Governor’s (NE-Prep) and joins brother Cody Ferriero (a senior) on the ice at Matthews this year. Ed. note. Forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Dalen Hedges are also members of this class, Aston-Reese a big forward from the USHL via Staten Island, and Dalen Hedges a prolific, undersized scorer from the CCHL.

2014 Preview

A lot of reading led up to this, so I’m going to do my best to keep myself to two sentences per team. Compared to the effort put into the list above, this is basically an after-thought and not necessarily indicative of 2014′s eventual rankings.

1. North Dakota

Why: Most recruiting classes have one marquee recruit, maybe two. UND has six: Nick Schmaltz, Austin Poganski, Ryan Gropp, Shane Gersich, Ryan Mantha and Chris Wilkie. Trevor Olson and Winnipeg Jets draft pick Tucker Poolman are no slouches either. Suffice it to say the last thing UND is going to be thinking about next season is an identity crisis.

2. Notre Dame

Why: North Dakota might have ‘best class’ all but locked down, but humor me when I say Notre Dame is biting at their heels with blue chips Sonny Milano, Connor Hurley, Cal Petersen and NTDPers Nathan Billetier, Joe Wegwerth as well as a number of other commits.

3. Boston University

Why: Jack Eichel. Two sentences, right?

4. Boston College

Why: Tanner MacMaster, JD Dudek, Zach Sanford, and Alex Tuch are a strong nucleus of players but some of them may instead arrive in 2015 with a little known prospect named Noah Hanifin.

5. Harvard

Why: A number of strong forwards including Dexter (NE-Prep) star Trevor Fidler, and a talented trio of D in Brandon Fortunato, Adam Plant and Wiley Sherman will all finally matriculate in Cambridge this year as the Crimson resurgence hits full swing. Big goaltender Merrick Madsen’s development this year will be a big factor for this class.

Henrik Borgström – A Hidden Gem for the 2016 NHL Draft

Henrik Borgström – A Hidden Gem for the 2016 NHL Draft

HIFK U20 center Henrik Borgström might be the most underrated Finnish prospect for the 2016 NHL draft. He was passed over in last year’s draft after playing only U18 hockey, though he was one of the top prospects on that HIFK team that reached the finals. A 1997 birthyear, he’s currently playing for the U20 team and has been an impact player on the first line. He has currently 25 points in 15 games, including nine points over the last three games.

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Borgström has been a very notable player in each of the six games I have seen from HIFK U20 this season. He’s an entertaining player to watch because he can slow the game down and will make plays that no one could anticipate. Borgström can dangle with the puck even when there are two or three players around him. Has great hands and playmaking skills –  makes timid, heady passes in the final third. Also, he has a good wrist shot with a quick release. It’s difficult to defend against him because he can and will also shoot the puck. He’s a quick thinker and anticipates a lot of plays.

An area where he could improve is his physical game. He isn’t a particularly physical player but relies more on his stick and positioning. At times Borgström tries to do too much which can result in some mistakes, but in general he’s efficient and his skill level is much higher than many other U20 players. He’s a good skater as he gets where he needs to, plus his separation speed is impressive. He’s tall but could add some more muscle over the next years, meaning that he could become even more dominant.

At the moment I believe Borgström has a chance to be drafted in the late rounds of 2016 NHL Draft. I prefer him over some first-time Finnish draft eligibles as I think he is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.

Select 70: Top 10 Uncommitted College Hockey Prospects, January 2014

Select 70: Top 10 Uncommitted College Hockey Prospects, January 2014

The season’s absolutely flown by since our last Select 70 uncommitted ranking in October, and as we move towards releasing an updated edition later next month, we’re going to be highlighting plenty of the top uncommitted talent around the country in preparation. Our refreshed top 20 newsletter this month saw a number of prospects make their commitments, including Jordan Greenway (#2, BU), Tyler Nanne (#9, Ohio State) and Ted Hart (#15, Providence), so we’ve got a new top ten. The Goji krem is a revolutionary new cream that not only prolongs signs of ageing but also makes the face and the skin of the neck soft and supple. The ingredients used in it are absolutely herbal and therefore there are no side effects at all. This is precisely the reason why the sports fraternity is keen to recommend this product to its athletes who are exposed to the sun all the time. you can read the benefits of using this cream at https://szespeg-egeszseg.com/goji-krem/ Other top prospects who recently committed include AJ Greer (BU), James Sanchez (Michigan), Jake Walman (Providence), David Cotton (BC) and Brandon Hickey (BU), but there’s still plenty of high-end talent available. It’s worth noting that top prospects Jakob Chychrun, Chad Krys, and Max Jones, all 1998s, remain omitted as we haven’t caught them live yet. Chychrun, skating with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, would likely be our #1 in the country, while Krys and Jones are thought to be potential top five talents throughout the nation. With that, here are our top ten uncommitted prospects in the country.

1.    97 D Zach Werenski – NTDP U17

Height: 6’1, Weight: 201

Projected Role: #1 Defenseman – All Situations

London Knights (OHL) 2nd round draft pick shines all over the sheet and has been our top uncommitted prospect since summer. Among Boston College recruit Noah Hanifin (NTDP U17) and Swedish phenom Oliver Kylington (Färjestad BK), who is already playing pro hockey, the 2015 group of top-end blue liners is an exciting group. Where Werenski falls among them is still up in the air, but should he head to the NCAA, one has to expect he’d be in a top pairing role as early as 2015.

2.    97 F Luke Kirwan – NTDP U17

Height: 6’1, Weight: 232

Projected Role: Top Line Power Scorer

The 2016 draft eligible has a huge frame and the heaviest, most lethal wrist shot around right now. Very hard on the puck and comfortable with a frame that defines “imposing”, Kirwan’s highly regarded by the OHL (Guelph). He gets up the ice straight-away with velocity and has hands not often seen in a skater of his figure. Very effective in the offensive zone because he brings a combination of assets rarely seen and an undeniable nose for the net.

3.    96 F Ryan Donato – Dexter School

Committed: Harvard

Height: 6’1, Weight: 180

Projected Role: Top Line Scorer

Noted Active Schools: BU, BC, Harvard

No cerebral, game-breaking forward has seen their stock rise faster over the past year than the son of Harvard coach Ted Donato. At one point leading prep school in points as a sophomore, this year he’s taken it to another level. With 21 goals and a matching 21 assists to go with that, in just 16 games, Donato has Dexter already up 1 or 2 goals going into every game – and he’s even got a goal of the year candidate under his belt already, too. At the collegiate level, his uncanny ability to get past defenders and bring it to the net is going to translate well, as is his finesse in handling and firing the puck, and his deceptive playmaking vision.

4.    98 F Logan Brown – Indiana Jr. Ice U16

Height: 6’4.5, Weight: 200

Projected Role: Top Line Playmaker

The skater with the highest upside on our list, especially without Jakob Chychrun ranked, has to be Brown. Unless he gives a commitment soon, the son of NHLer Jeff Brown is earmarked to be our number one prospect soon and stay there for a while. He’s smart and skilled in the offensive third, making some really eye-opening plays right now and is an excellent skater for a prospect his size and age. With the Jr. Ice, he’s on pace for a big season offensively, at a goal-per-game pace and will be looked at to make offensive magic at every level.

5.    97 D Ivan Provorov – Cedar Rapids Rough Riders

Height: 6’0, Weight: 193

Projected Role: #1 Defenseman – All Situations

Noted Active Schools: Penn State, Yale, Cornell  (Jim Ecker, MetroSportsReport.com)

The former Wilkes-Barre Scranton U16 stand-out made the decision to jump up and play the best amateur competition available to him this season in the USHL, and he’s likely going to come out a much stronger player for it. He’s tough to play against, and he skates hard for his build, getting up the ice with pace. Brings an edge to his play off the puck, and highlight reel playmaking ability on it. In 51 games for WBS last season, Provorov tallied a 42-55-97 line in 51 games. With two of those old WBS teammates already committed to Penn State, Provorov too has talked to the Nittany Lions and would be a great pull for them, though other programs are in the mix too, and Major Junior will never be out of the conversation.

6.    97 F Wade Allison – Omaha AAA U16

Committed: Western Michigan

Height: 6’1, Weight: 200

Projected Role: Top Line Scorer

The Manitoba native is a dominant, athletic goal-scorer for the orange buckets down in Omaha this season, coming down after skating with now-Western Michigan recruit Colt Conrad last season for Pembina Valley (MB). The Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings (who drafted Allison) will want the smart, strong skater especially because he doesn’t get pushed around and has the ability to take over games. Allison would be a premier talent up front for a D1 program in just a few years.

7.    95 F Tyler Sheehy – Waterloo Black Hawks

Committed: Minnesota

Height: 5’10, Weight: 185

Projected Role: Top Line Versatile Threat

Noted Active Schools: BU, Denver, Minnesota, North Dakota, Western Michigan (Andy Baggott, Madison.com)

The former OSU commit has been playing on another level since this fall’s Elite League, where we named him our Elite League MVP, and hit the ice running in the USHL with 24 points in 21 games already. What’s most impressive about Sheehy is his versatility as his game is grounded in hockey sense and offensive instincts, so his compact frame limits his ceiling less than it otherwise would. He’s tough to play against and unselfish, rarely making the wrong play and getting into scoring position in a blink to pierce the opposing crease.

8.    99 F Sean Dhooghe – Chicago Mission U14

Height: 5’3, Weight: 120

Projected Role: Elite Playmaker

We didn’t expect to have a 1999 within our top ten, let alone one that stands sub-5’5, but Dhooghe’s a special player in our eyes. The younger brother of OSU recruit Jason Dhooghe has a natural feel for the puck and off-the-charts hockey sense, anticipating everything on the sheet and using his quick feet to get where he needs to be before everyone else. Even if he grows to only 5’6, the younger Dhooghe is arguably the fastest, smartest skater in the 1999 age group and tough as nails to boot. If he ends up a Buckeye, it should be viewed as a major coup for the program and the Big Ten. Has 20 points in 12 games, including 11 goals, to lead the HPHL’s Bantam Major division.

9.    95 F Alex Rodriguez – SSM Prep

Height: 6’0, Weight: 185

Projected Role: Top Line Playmaker

Hard-nosed forward plays the game fast and intense, using poise on the puck and a willingness to make plays in the hard area to great effectiveness. The late 1995 isn’t an elite playmaker, but his work rate on a shift-to-shift basis and vision serve him extremely well and allow him to wear other teams down. As a whole, the long-time Shattuck product is 5th-leading scorer on the countries top U18 team and plays a style of hockey that seems like it will translate beautifully to the D1 level.

10.    96 F Anthony Petrella – SSM Prep

Height: 5’9, Weight: 186

Projected Role: Top Line Finisher

The Fargo Force just acquired the USHL rights to the Sabres leading goal-scorer (24) for next season, and he’s already got serious interest from major programs through Big Ten and Hockey East. Not unlike Rodriguez, he hits the ice like he’s been fired out of a cannon and has advanced offensive timing that gets him into scoring position to bury with a wicked wrist shot. He’s a lethal threat with sustained possession, where he can slip through lanes as an unignorable threat, or on the transition. Isn’t afraid to throw his body around in the hard areas and make a play.

Thanks for reading. We’ll have a number of previews of top uncommitted prospects around the country as we get closer to our new Select 70 release in late February.

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Shattuck Bantam Phenom Ryan Lindgren commits to Minnesota

Shattuck-St. Mary’s defenseman Ryan Lindgren, a top ’98 in the country, has committed to Minnesota.

Faribault, MN – One of the top 98s in the country committed to the University of Minnesota today. Ryan Lindgren, a 6’1 defenseman with an excess of talent and no shortage of sandpaper to his game, has committed to Don Lucia’s program after two years of success on the SSM-Bantam squad. Lindgren’s commitment caps a successful weekend for him which included stellar performances at the select 15 festival in Edina, where he wowed scouts yet again and dominated his peers, leading us to name him our top prospect out of the age group.

He posted a 3-4-7 line in 5 games at Nationals earlier this month, and posted 80 points in 50 games this year, including 59 assists – but don’t let yourself underestimate his ability to put the puck in the net himself, with a wicked shot that seems to rings off of the post more often than it does the pad.

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A regular wearing of the black mask can highly improve the quality of the skin and also improves the complexion of the person by a few degrees. The mask has been trending big time on social media and has garnered a lot of fans. However, there are also critics of the mask who say that the mask is a big hype. We can smell a rat in their opinion. They are probably the ones who have not used the face mask yet but they are competitors who have been given stiff competition by this particular mask.

The removal of the mask:

The black mask is easier to apply because it is a cream formulation and needs to be applied as a thick coat over the affected area but the peeling can be a tad difficult because e it has been painful for people with extra sensitive skin. The website https://szepseg-egeszseg.com/black-mask/ will tell you exactly how to apply it and how to peel it off. The site particularly recommends that the mask not be applied on the entire face if the skin is extra sensitive. On the other hand, one must wear it on the T area of the face which is the forehead and the nose which incidentally is also the problem area of the face!

The high-end defenseman has improved every aspect of his game over the past two seasons and projects extremely well. Over at OTB Elite, we said this about Lindgren:

With an excess of both natural talent and strength, Lindgren possesses a powerful stride that gets him down the ice alarmingly fast for such a hulking skater. That said, we hesitate to call him ‘explosive’. Instead, Lindgren grits his teeth and simply makes things happen all over the ice with force of will. With a hell of a shot and maturity far ahead of his years, Lindgren has the strength to make forwards regret crossing him and the ability to keep the puck away from them on retrievals.

We had Lindgren at #21 on our Select Seventy Uncommitted Prospect ranking (to come out in full next week), and eyes now turn to Lindgren’s teammates James Greenway and Edquist. Goaltender Ryan Edquist, from the same Minnesota suburb as Lindgren, will also have a number of suitors after yet another stellar showing at the Select 15s.

Needless to say, Lindgren’s talented squad will be heard from again before long, but the question now might be: will any of them join him?

Your Home for College Hockey Recruiting and Amateur Hockey Scouting

Hitting The Links: Bracket Week, Top Three 1999s, Rising Prospects, College UFAs

College Hockey Pickem

Fill out your own bracket here and join our official group, if you want. The group name is ‘OTB’ and password is ‘BracketWatch’. If you end up with the best bracket out of the group, we’ll start this summer’s college hockey recruiting preview with the Division 1 program of your choice. Here’s my bracket in case you want to make fun of it.Top Three 1999s 

This week, our top 25 1999 prospects are going up on the site, but here’s a preview of our top three. We saw an exhaustive number of teams, but nowhere near all the teams in the country. To give you an idea of the teams surveyed to help provide an introduction, we saw 7 of MyHockeyRanking’s top 10 teams (all of the top six), and 14 of the top 20, as well as many all over the rankings. We saw other stars play on all-star or tournament showcases to help fill in the blanks on more talented teams we hadn’t seen yet (such as Team Comcast’s Evan Barratt), while in Minnesota alone we saw 17 of the top 25 Bantam AA teams per YouthHockeyHub’s rankings. As there always seems to be an elite talent who we missed – most recently it had been Chad Krys (#4 S70) and Max Jones, who is still unseen – this time around it’s reportedly Syracuse Jr. Stars U16 defenseman David Farrance, an offensive-minded star playing up and dominating. He could very well be #1 the next time around we rank these skaters. We’ll see more at Nationals, USA Hockey Player Development Camps and other events before next season gets going – but this is what we have as it stands now.

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1. 99 D Max Gildon – Dallas Stars U16 – 6’2 – 171

Elite, fluid defenseman is a star in the making – slick with the puck and carries confidence beyond his years. A cerebral skater, Gildon processes the game quickly, reading and jumping the play when appropriate. Strong on his skates and tough to play against, escapes his own end with ease and adept at moving the puck on. A natural on the powerplay, though he isn’t a flashy handler of the puck, Gildon analyzes his opportunities with clinical attention-to-detail and makes the smart play. Effective on every shift and dictates the tempo, able to slow the game down at will and skate with it when it the pace ticks up a few notches. Should be a major WHL target.

2. 99 F Sean Dhooghe – Chicago Mission U14 – 5’3 – 120

We’ve written on Dhooghe plenty here – a top 10 uncommitted prospect for us when we were including the Bantams in the Select 70. The HPHL’s leading scorer owns a 15-15-30 line that highlights his ability to make cerebral plays as well as bury the puck at key times. His speed and toughness put him at a high level, but his hockey sense and the razor-sharp clip at which he processes the game make him elite – even at 5’3, if that’s still his height. Brother Jason (1997) is committed to Ohio State.

3. 99 F Vanya Lodnia – Belle Tire U14 – 5’8 – 145

A sensational talent who earns his keep in the offensive zone. No skater in the age group that we’ve seen plays the wide-open, east-west style that Lodnia does quite as well. Dictates the flow of the game with his ability to slow it down at will and seek out a gap defensively or find a teammate to pass to. Has some Patrick Kane in his fluid, horizontal-to-diagonal streaks towards the net – attacks in sequences with flashy moves, toying with defenders and showcasing his talents – at some point his high skill could shift over into being cute and less undeniably effective, but his IQ and ability to make plays all over the sheet will take him very far. Quick release and possesses a nose for the net.

Three Big Commits

1. 96 F Anthony Petrella – UMass – #9

Coach Micheletto’s gain is the Fargo Force’s loss, as future USHLer Anthony Petrella, now Shattuck-St. Mary’s leading goalscorer, has committed to enter UMass as a true freshman. Whether Petrella has all-american type upside in college seems like it’ll be dictated by him, but with unrivaled work ethic and an ability to conjure goals almost at will, Petrella could draw comparisons to Salisbury star Derek Barach – both game-breaking, smaller skaters that you want out on the ice with a minute left.

2. 97 G Zach Driscoll – St. Cloud State – #10 G

St. Cloud locked down a local goaltender in Eastview’s Zach Driscoll. The 5’11, 165 lb. goaltender came onto the radar in a big way with a legendary playoff performance in 2013, and followed it up with a nice year for the Lightning in 2014-15.

3. 95 F Alex Rodriguez – RPI – #10

RPI picked up a skater who likely won’t leave campus early as a pro, but under the prowess of coach Seth Appert could come out a highly regarded college UFA if this summer’s draft doesn’t see the late-1995s name called. Rodriguez brings relentless work ethic that wears down the opposition and an ability to capitalize on open space and offensive opportunities.

Five Rising Uncommitted Prospects

1. 98 F Kieffer Bellows – Edina

Bellows has been great over the past year and a half, but his body of work is only strengthened as this season has gone on. Emerging into a premier power forward talent with serious offensive upside. Reportedly having a strong showing at the NTDP camp among a number of other 1998s

2. 97 F Robby Jackson – Chicago Steel

Tied for 9th in the USHL for goals with 25. Tallied 10 goals in the 8 games prior to this past weekend, where he was blanked, but is really starting to find his away around the league despite being one of the youngest players.

3. 97 D Zach Werenski – NTDP U17

7 points in the 8 USHL games coming into this past weekend, for a skater that’s got most aspects of the game down, the offensive game is beginning to truly emerge against top-end players a few years his senior. In the 20 games prior, Werenski had 5.

4. 96 F Nathan Sucese – The Gunnery

The 5’8 forward may be slight, but his excellent season for New England runner-up The Gunnery has D1 interest peaked. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Sucese was one of, if not the most effective forward all over the sheet that we had seen in high school hockey this year.

5.  99 F Zach Pellegrino – CT Wolfpack 99s

An incisive, poised skater, Pellegrino was a constant offensive threat when we were surveying the east coast – makes some really impressive plays on and around the puck. Only a month from being a 2000-born forward, Pellegrino is headed to The Gunnery this fall and could come out a terrific player under their staff.

 

Must-Read/Watch

Last Word On Sports took an interesting look at the College Free Agents class of 2014. Here’s part 1 — there are four parts.

Big Ten Hockey Recruiting Analysis, Pt. 3 (Ohio State)

Big Ten Hockey Recruiting Analysis, Pt. 3 (Ohio State)

Continuing our Big Ten recruiting feature this summer, I took a look at some of Ohio State’s recent additions, current recruits, and potential recruiting targets. To see the first two parts of the feature, highlighting Minnesota and Wisconsin, click here.

Ohio State

OSU, as well as Penn State, who I’ll highlight next, each added forwards who dominated high school level competition this year and could be nice college players in a few years. The Buckeyes added Miguel Fidler out of Edina, their second get from the legendary Hornets program after recruiting co-captain Tyler Nanne earlier this year. Both were both up for the draft this year and garnered back-to-back selections in the 5th round, with Nanne going to the New York Rangers and Fidler seeing a selection from the Florida Panthers, who have a heavily stocked pipeline of NCAA prospects. USHLer Dakota Joshua – the third player the Buckeyes committed in 2014 who saw a draft selection within six months – was taken earlier in the fifth, by Toronto.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, credit where credit is due: it’s really been a 180 for Ohio State recruiting since a year ago, when they were feeling the losses of Tyler Sheehy, Jack Dougherty and a number of others. In a recruiting environment where commitments are coming younger and younger, Ohio State salvaged some future classes that should have been a disaster into a pretty solid group. As the famous Bill Parcells quote goes “You are what your record says you are,” and from a standpoint of bringing in recruits with a good pro ceiling a few years away (so that they won’t lose them soon), the Buckeyes ‘record’ looks real good as of late. That should translate to a few more wins in an intensely competitive conference over the next few years. Inversely, the now-future Gopher, Sheehy, wasn’t even drafted, so it played out fairly well for the Buckeyes, but that likely means Sheehy spends four years in Dinkytown and the Big Ten, which would sting any way you look at it.

It actually looks even better down the line, though. Since that summer of lost recruits the Buckeyes have lined up a real nice stable of prospects. Tanner Laczynski, Sam McCormick and Jason Dhooghe are all Wisconsin/Chicago-area prospects who should be terrific college players. Laczynski was one of the better forwards in the HPHL U16 – a strong circuit – he has great hands that are very effective and is intuitive around the zone, slips his man and finds his way to scoring areas. He should be a producer before long. McCormick is an intuitive scorer like Laczyski who can wheel up the ice and make decisive offensive plays. He is a natural finisher who finds a way to play very alert, aware and unselfish hockey. Dhooghe is a product of the Mission program, a smooth skater who is both quick and fast with separation-quality pull away. He can slow it down with the puck and make plays, off the puck he’s not afraid to throw what weight he has (5’7) around on the walls. He too should contribute to an interesting dynamic up front.

On the back-end, Gordi Myer (Cleveland Jr. Barons) and Mike Davies (St. Louis AAA Blues) are recent gets that should be on campus before too long. Myer is a good look not just for his solid size at 6’0, and faculties on the ice, but also as he is an in-state AAA hockey product. Davies especially is a highly competent defenseman at 5’8 or so who does real well on the puck, played up at 18 hockey this year for a good St. Louis program. He should step in with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints as a 97 this year and do well before making his way to Ohio State.

The laying of the ground a ways out for the Buckeyes has a great start as well in the brother of Jason, Sean Dhooghe, one of America’s top 1999-born forwards and a player who should definitely be in the NTDP mix come March. Dhooghe, at 5’3-5’4 – and most likely staying somewhere between that height and 5’7-5’8 – is going to be smaller in college yet still projects as a key contributor in Division 1. We’ve highlighted Dhooghe plenty on the site but his key traits are situational awareness, elite speed, vision and playmaking ability. He doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff and regularly wins his battles against some of the best in the country. Dhooghe is a terrific start for a 2017 class, and he helps to give the Buckeyes an early step-up in that race without recruiting someone who could be a really questionable look at a young age.

Potential Recruiting Targets – Ohio State

OSU have a large-in-number group coming to campus over the next three years – about fifteen guys committed already – and the graduation numbers don’t seem favorable for so much more space to open up, but there may be a few spots left to recruit for. A lot of players will graduate in 2015, but the Buckeyes have quite a few potential options committed for that year and there aren’t a ton of key prospects left to pick up for that year as of right now.

It should be noted that I have no knowledge of whether Ohio State are actually recruiting any of these players, but all seem like logical targets based on publicly available recruiting information.

At forward, if the Buckeyes are looking for someone that could be really high-end, Walker Duehr and Tage Thompson are both late-1997 forwards who could be on track for anywhere from 2015 to 2017 – highly dependent on their respective developments over the next year. Josh Dunne especially is a skater we can’t see the Big Ten looking off, an athletic, 6’1 forward from St. Louis. The coaches and the medical officers in the team recommend strongly that the team members take detoxic in order to stay healthy. The parasites in the intestines contribute greatly to the increase the weight of the team members because it is important that the players maintain their form to be able to bring in laurels for the team. For more information log on to https://szepseg-egeszseg.com/detoxic/ . With a late 1998 birthdate and a frame to grow into as well as a game that should translate well to college hockey (potentially even the pro ranks), Dunne would be a nice addition to a group of 2017 or 2018 forwards with excellent puck skill and pace. He played in the same STL program as aforementioned star defense recruit Davies, and that program has produced some serious Big Ten-bound talent as of late. Just getting another foot in the door with a program producing the quality of players that STL have been would make this a clever look by the Buckeyes. STL Teammate Zach Solow is a forward with a physical side and scoring ability that, if he emerges as a consistent offensive threat this year, would be a player worth keeping an eye on for similar reasons. He would bring a nice compliment of physicality and offensive prowess that the Buckeyes 2016/2017 group doesn’t have in spades yet.

Duehr is a South Dakota native out of CYA’s 16s this past season who sounds like he will be in the USHL this winter with Sioux City. He’s not got the body control or playmaking upside of Dunne or Thompson, who I haven’t gotten to yet, but Duehr could add a power game to the offense with real speed and intensity. He’s really come on this season as he put weight on a 6’2 frame and could catch a lot of recruitment heat in the USHL.

Thompson is a 6’2 center who has been injured for good parts of the past three seasons, so he has a ton of development ahead of him and recently made some noise when it was announced he would join the National Program’s U18 team instead of Salisbury School this fall. It could be a bit of a reach to pick up Thompson, as he’s a player who makes his home out east now but originally was from Alaska, so really has no ties to the mid-west until he moves to Ann Arbor this winter. What Thompson would bring is size and scoring ability down the middle of the ice, something that is certainly a template for a lot of successful teams and a trend reflected in the Buckeyes recruits – the aforementioned Dakota Joshua is a 6’2 center, and Alberta league recruit Tyler Busch is a 6’2 center as well who looks to have his best hockey ahead of him. I doubt the Buckeyes would dislike having an Ohio State recruit coming out of the Development Program again either.

On defense, another St. Louis name stands out: 97 D Joey Matthews. That fit might be temperamental as the Buckeyes will have an active, offensively capable defenseman from St. Louis in Mike Davies already as a 1997, but Matthews would likely be for a bit further out – maybe 2017 or 2018. He’s got great speed and a big time shot at the blue line. Looking at another program that the Buckeyes have tapped, Chicago Mission 98s Alec Semandel and Brett Callahan are two of the safer variety who make sound plays on both sides of the blue and could be real steady collegiate players. Semandel is 6’3 and plays a strong defensive game, while Callahan is smaller, probably a little bit more confident on the puck. Callahan played for the Mission’s 18s this year as a late-1998 against much older competition and didn’t look out of place at all. Semandel was probably defending against a higher skill level shift-to-shift at the U16 level and seems a lot more projectable when you factor in the size.

For the 1999s, continuing the idea of looking at recent recruiting grounds, I’ll highlight someone from three recruiting grounds they’ve looked to lately. Edina, for one, have a wealth of 1999-born talent. Shattuck-St. Mary’s star forward Grant Mismash is a Hornet by birth, our top uncommitted 99-born forward (4th overall) and could be a terrific fit in Columbus. He and Dhooghe would be a really high-powered start to the offense in three years. Mismash brings serious speed and a power game with no lack of skill or scoring ability. Potential future Edina high schooler Ben Copeland would bring speed and skill up front as well. Copeland especially could compliment Dhooghe’s game very well.

Out of St. Louis, Brady Tkachuk could be a reach with brother Matt already committed to Notre Dame, and father Keith being a one-and-done star at BU, but that would be another seriously talented addition to the offense.

From the Mission, forward Cole Coskey has killed it over the course of the year. He’s got a great build already at 6’1 and a knack for scoring goals all sorts of ways – he pays the price for his real estate in the offensive zone and could be one of the top American forwards out of this age group when all is said and done.

Thanks for reading.

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Scouting the High School Elite League | Part 3

We continue our scouting coverage of the Upper Midwest High School Elite League, here. This report again features  contributions from the newest OTB contributor, Gunnar Olson, in addition to myself. We’ll start covering the regular MN-HS circuit, as well as some other tiers and levels of play, such as U16 and U18 AAA, as well as a few other junior circuits, and New England Prep School league play, after we feel we’ve hit most of the UMHSEL bases.

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All commitment information is as of 10/18/2012, and should definitely be confirmed elsewhere. If we have the incorrect college commitment status for a prospect, please e-mail us at sources@overtheboards.net.


Max Becker – Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep, Junior – F
Committed: None
The second-leading scorer on the prep team as a junior, Becker’s offensive instincts are evident every time he touches the puck. He’s got a great feel for how the defense reacts to his every move and takes advantage of their willingness to step to him to set up his teammates. The Orange, CA native stands at 5’10, 180, and jumps around the ice like a fireball.

Tyler Vesel – Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep, Senior – F
Committed: None

It’s really, really tough to find a part of Vesel’s game not to like. He’s not absolutely outstanding in any thing, but he can score (leads the prep team), he competes well in his own zone, and he has a good stick. His speed isn’t top-end, but he’s far from slow, and if he can fill out his 5’11 frame any more and adds some grit to his game, he’ll be an even hotter prospect.

TJ Moore – Benilde St. Margaret’s, Senior – F
Committed: None
Last year’s State Champion squad returns Grant Besse (Wisco), Dan Labosky (Colorado College) and TJ Moore: the uncommitted leading scorer of the UMHSEL. The 5’7 forward is currently on a goal-per-game clip through 18 games (17 goals), with 12 assists to match that. A trend we’re gonna continue to see here are the smaller guys who will always have size on the ‘con’ side of the pro/con list, but I will take a small guy who battles, scoots, and has a scoring touch like Moore’s over a 6’3 forward who can’t make a decent play through the neutral zone ten times out of ten.
Frankie Mork – Holy Angels, Senior – D
Committed: None
For a kid that stands at 5’7, he’s about as physical as he can get, and has a great head for the puck. He kicks off the rush well, and his puck distribution abilities in the offensive zone are as good as anyone in the league. His size might be a real roadblock in finding a college hockey home, but whoever takes the chance on him will really reap the benefits.
Avery Peterson – Grand Rapids, Junior – F
Commited: None
Peterson is a kid with serious size that can skate. He’s tough and strong at the puck standing at 6’2 and nearly 200 lbs. He doesn’t always make an impact when he’s on the ice, but when he does, it’s tough to miss.    He projects to be a serious top-six forward in college if he can put it all together this year. I’d be surprised if he spent a senior year in MNHS hockey, but pleasantly so.

Honorable Mention:
Jordan Greenway, SSM U16, Sophomore, F
We’ll cover Greenway in serious depth later on this winter, but let’s put it this way: the 6’5 sophomore alone makes us excited to watch the U16 squad play, and his younger brother, who already stands at 6’3, could end up eve

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Scouting the Elite League – Forwards

NEW HOPE ICE ARENA – We made the early morning wheel up to New Hope, MN, this Saturday morning and left well after sunset with a lot to re-consider from our last viewings of most of these players. As with any large group of prospects, developmental curves tend to tilt every which way when you give them a good set of months without a viewing, and we came away very impressed with the Elite League. Considering (at least, by our count) over 25 of MN-HS’ best have already departed for other routes, including the USHL, NAHL and the respective AAA circuits in this off-season alone, the forwards and defensive crop were very strong. Here’s who caught our eye up front – we’ll have the defense and goalies later this week.

1. 95 F Steven Spinner – Eden Prairie – 5’11.5 – 196 – Elite – Nebraska-Omaha

Spinner was a deceptively effective presence in the Elite League this time last year, seeming to switch from a gritty, energy role to a more patient, cerebral, offensive role at times. Even then, his play seemed to be a shade one-dimensional. He really forced us to pay attention during sectional playoffs towards the end of the 12-13 season and was a constant impact in the action shift-to-shift, and that’s when he really grew on us.

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Here (at 9 in the morning no less), Spinner blew us away. He now looks as though he processes the game at a greater level, and at a higher speed, growing into a multi-dimensional scorer who can deliver a big hit and out-race most of the other team to the puck as well. Continues to add skill and refine his scoring touch, pushes the tempo with his ability to scoot down the ice and make plays at great speed.

2. 96 F Dylan Malmquist – Edina – 5’10.25 – 180 – Elite – Video (#20) – Uncommitted (#5) 

We expected Malmquist to take number one here, but between Spinner and Malmquist it was very tight. The fact is Spinner could do no wrong here and Malmquist spent more time lowering himself into after-the-whistle antics than scoring goals, and ended up taking four penalties on the day. With that, we felt one prospect added a lot to their game, and one introduced an aspect that we simply don’t think helps him. It’s a fine line between the hard-nosed, high energy, physical but still guided by sky-high hockey IQ game that Malmquist showcased at the end of last season and what he did here.

While Malmquist’s game has gotten flashier (and better), he just isn’t as effective when other players are making it their job to annoy him, and that was a downside. One scout noted “the puck just seems to follow him around”, and we’d agree, but it doesn’t hurt that Malmquist flies in and out-skates most of the competition, out-working defenders in the hard zones and simply getting it done. He can’t do that from the box, and with Connor Hurley gone this season you can bet this isn’t the last time someone will be making it their game to knock Malmquist off of his.

A hard-working forward with great puck distributions. Malmquist just exudes hockey sense and doesn’t telegraph a thing. At times, he skates around the ice in an unassuming manner, but even then he quietly dominates the whole sheet.

3. 97 F Tanner Tweten – East Grand Forks – 6’2 – 198 – Elite – Uncommitted (LV)

Tweten is looking a lot like “the next one” in MN-HS, though we’re probably the last ones to this party. The already huge skater is coordinated and plays a skilled power forward-type game with an excess of talent and craftiness. Tweten consistently makes plays, be it from disrupting the break-out on an aggressive forecheck to advancing the play with a simple but necessary pass on the tape. Back-checks hard, his long reach and footspeed are enough to get back and break up the play before it becomes a threat. Only going to get better and is smart enough to really adapt his game to what is going to work for him.

4. 96 F Tyler Sheehy – Burnsville – 5’9 – 180 – Elite – Video – Uncommitted (N/A)

Sheehy, too, showed us a different game than we were used to. While before we loved that Sheehy was capable of single-handedly willing Burnsville to success on the ice, Sheehy just didn’t need to do that here. He reined in himself just enough to become a very effective forward plugging away on the offense. He showed scouts that the fire is still there when an opportunity arose, but was content to position himself cleverly and generate chances. The former Ohio State commit is a player indeed.

5. 97 F Matthew Freytag – Wayzata – 5’11.25 – 180 – Elite – Video (#15) – Wisconsin

Freytag is a well-rounded offensive threat who is constantly in the mix. He’s got the build to take a beating driving the net but his heavy shot, uncanny understanding of where to position himself and when to release make us think he projects more like a sniper than a power forward. It’s no wonder Freytag threw twenty-two darts into the twine this season – the Trojan can really lean into a shot and keep goalies guessing. Creeps up into the play – before you know it, he’s in scoring position. Deft, poised passer as well. Player comparison would be a smaller version of former Michigan Wolverine (and current Montreal Canadien) Max Pacioretty.

6. 97 F Max Zimmer – Wayzata – 5’10.25 – 162 – Elite – Video (#6) – Uncommitted (#29)

When we put Zimmer at the #29 slot on our Select 70 uncommitted list last season, we wrote “high-end forward will shoot up these rankings as he continues to make a name for himself in MN-HS. Smooth, fluid skater is clever and knows how to get a goalie to bite first,” and he made us feel very good about that today, picking up three goals and an assist in his first two games in the Elite League. As a sophomore, Max is going to make the Zimmer-Freytag tandem one of the best one-two scoring punches in high school hockey. Just a sharp player in every aspect of the game.

7. 97 F Jared Bethune – Warroad – 5’11.25 – 180 – Elite – Uncommitted

Hard-nosed pivot has a lot of skill and character. His game projects extremely well as Bethune is a dynamic, strong skater who always seems alert and engaged with the play. Drives the net with intent and is a terrific puck distributor as well. Honestly, Bethune has a ton of potential and could end up the best player out of this whole group. He’s ranked ‘low’ here because he took a hard spill into the net in the morning and didn’t take part in the evening’s games, so he’s got one less game’s worth of viewings going for him than the rest of the group here.

8. 98 F Austen Long – Spring Lake Park – 5’9.75 – 165 – Elite – Uncommitted

Loves to prop himself right on the crease and is remarkably effective there, giving even the more competent defenders nightmares and keeping everyone honest down low. Looks to have maybe gotten used to his body a bit faster than his peers but has an undeniable knack for capitalizing around the net with great hands in tight and great hockey sense. When Long can get loose around the crease, it’s not a question of if he’ll score – just when.

9. 96 F Charley Graaskamp – Eau Claire Memorial (WI-HS) – 6’1 – 175 – Elite – Uncommitted

Graaskamp is a big, high-end forward but he looks to be a ways away from the player he’s going to be and that raw ability makes him a tough player to gauge. The physical tools are all there, and Graaskamp is coming into his frame, but if he really turns the corner we think he might, he’s going to be a lot more than a good college player.

10. 96 F Jake Wahlin – White Bear Lake – 5’9.25 – 161 – Elite – Video (#20) – UMass

Wiry, explosive skater brings a frenzied pace to his game every shift but Wahlin is a lot more effective when he cools down. Doesn’t particularly push the tempo of the game because his play can get so hectic that no one else can read/react to him, which works for and against him at times. Would like to see him focus more on the game and less on getting under the skin of other players as he is the most exciting player to watch out of the group when he is concentrating on creating offense. Whistler of a shot that can really punish. Great hockey sense but tries to do too much with it sometimes, underestimated his competition here.

11. 95 F Michael Wilson – Fond Du Lac (WI-HS) – 6’1 – 187 – Elite – Video – Uncommitted
12. 96 F John Peterson – Holy Family Catholic – 5’10 – 159 – Elite – Video – Uncommitted
13. 97 F Koby Bender – Cloquet – 5’11 – 172 – Elite – Uncommitted
14. 97 F Christiano Versich – St. Thomas Academy – 5’7 – 158 – Elite – Uncommitted
15. 95 F Logan Speelman – Colorado Rampage – 5’10 – 155 – Elite – Video – Uncommitted
16. 95 F Spencer Naas – Benilde-St. Margaret’s – 5’9.25 – 175 – Elite – Uncommitted
17. 98 F Joey Anderson – Hill-Murray – 5’10 – 175 – Elite – Minnesota-Duluth
18. 96 F Mitch Slattery – Hill-Murray – 5’10.5 – 185 – Elite – Uncommitted 
19. 97 F Tom Novak – St. Thomas Academy – 5’11.5 – 172 – Elite – Minnesota
20. 97 F Kobe Roth – Warroad – 5’7 – 140 – Elite – Uncommitted

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Select Seventy Uncommitted Skaters, May 2013

After over a year of research and scouting, we’re happy to share our Select Seventy Top Uncommitted Skaters with our readers. Before you scroll down the list, however, we’d like to share some context and some inherent biases in the making of this list.

Like we said, this list was started a year ago. During the process, essentially every player we put on the list committed within a few months. Skaters like Jack Dougherty (Ohio State), Tyler Gjurich (Maine), Ian McCoshen (Boston College), and Matt Salhany (Alabama-Huntsville). This was a major setback during the process as we just couldn’t hang onto players on the list for the life of us before publishing time. For example, we closed this list up on May 1st and already graduated Clark Kuster from Cedar Rapids (USHL), via a commitment to St. Cloud just three days later. The athletes are asked to include goji cream in their grooming routine because the product is sans any side effects as it is absolutely made with only herbal ingredients such as those that are generally used by people in their kitchens, the cream is very effective in warding off harmful ultraviolet rays and consequently delay the signs of ageing. The website talks in great detail about the harmful effect of exposure to the sun and the ingredients, read https://szespeg-egespeg.com/goji-krem/ Consequently, we began to focus on the younger age groups a few months in so that we would actually have something to publish at the end of the season. While we still have some skaters from the top junior circuits, we’re certain we’re missing some college-ready skaters nearing the end of their time in juniors.

 LIMITED OR NO VIEWINGS

1.     97 F Auston Matthews –Arizona Bobcats U16 – 5’10, 146
Everett Silvertips (WHL) 3rd round selection makes things happen in the final third of the ice, especially in the slot. Might have the best offensive vision of all uncommitted prospects, but skating is an issue to some.

2.    97 G Callum Booth – Salisbury School – 6’2, 180
Sophomore goaltender out of Montréal opened eyes this year for Salisbury, winning a prep championship and is garnering looks from a few major powers – don’t be surprised to see the Crimson Knight go Ivy.

3.    98 D Chad Krys – CT Oilers U16 – 5’11 – 165
Krys is apparently the whole package and we’re told that he might be a threat to Ryan Lindgren as top defenseman in the age group.

4.    97 G Luke Opilka – St. Louis AAA Blues U16 – 6’2 – 158
Goaltender lost just two games this year playing on an extremely talented Blues U16 squad, will get quite a bit of attention with the NTDP next year.

Committed: Wisconsin

5.    94 F Anthony Sabitsky – Milton Academy – 5’11 – 170
Milton assistant coach Josh Ciocco calls Sabitsky an “all character” skater who “works hard, has great hockey sense, is reliable” and “can make plays…a very complete player that does everything well.”

6.    97 D Toby Sengvongxay – Luverne HS – 5’9 – 160
Sengvongxay took MN-HS by storm last season, notching 43 points in 22 games from the blue-line and we’re told some teams think he could be the real deal.

7.    97 F Luke Kunin – St. Louis AAA Blues U16 – 5’10 – 150
Came in second on his talented squad (behind Notre Dame commit Matt Tkachuk) with 68 points in 34 games, including 30 goals. To NTDP.

Committed: Wisconsin

8.    95 D Connor Light – Phillips Andover Academy – 6’5 – 205
We haven’t seen Light play in over a year, but he’s had the potential that comes with both being able to play and being massive for a while – NHL Central Scouting seems to see something in him, as he made the final rankings.

9.    97 F Tanner Tweten – East Grand Forks HS – 6’2  – 190
We’ve seen Tweten, we just don’t have a good enough feel for him to accurately rank him yet. Big power forward.

10.   97 F Jacob Henderson – St. Louis AAA Blues U16 – 6’2 – 185
Big skater is tendered to Omaha of the USHL and we’re told he’s a budding power forward with high-end collegiate upside. We really regret not getting a look at this St. Louis Blues U16 squad this year.

11.   98 F Nick Pastujov – Honeybaked U14 – 5’11 – 185

Skater who, like Tanner Tweten, we’ve seen and made a note to check back on to get a better feel for. A casualty of making a list this extensive is not being able to linger long on judging a player like Pastujov, who has real offensive potential and alongside brother Mike made a real contribution for Honeybaked this season.

12.   95 D Keenan Shaw – Knights of Columbus Pats – 6’5 – 230

Intimidating defenseman is headed to Sherwood Park (AJHL) next season and reportedly has realistic Ivy League aspirations.

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