Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Michigan Stars MDHL 08-09 Roster

Jersey # Last First School DOB Grade Position
2 Wahl Matt Cranbrook 5/15/1991 12th Defense
3 Sandmeyer Chris Portage Central H.S. 08/06/90 12th Defense
4 Hensley Steven Catholic Central 7/9/1992 11th Defense
5 Moore Evan U of D Jesuit 2/22/1992 11th Defense
6 DeBrincat Andrew Farmington Harrison 7/21/1993 10th Defense
7 Yanis Michael U of D Jesuit 6/15/1991 12th Defense/Forward
8 Brown Patrick Cranbrook 5/29/1992 11th Forward
9 Darnell Brent Catholic Central 3/23/1992 11th Forward
10 Brown Drew Chelsea 4/28/1992 11th Forward
11 Depp Brian Hartland 4/23/1991 12th Forward
12 Gruse Martin Trenton High School 9/15/1992 11th Forward
14 Kovacs Justin GP North 10/13/1991 12th Forward
15 Olson Mac U of D Jesuit 8/13/1991 12th Forward
16 Scarfone Benjamin Grosse Pointe North 3/2/1991 12th Forward
17 Spurlin Jonah Flint Powers 10/1/1990 12th Forward
18 Thomas Tony Catholic Central 11/16/1990 12th Forward
19 Wojtala Camden Trenton 8/29/1991 12th Forward
20 Hughes Christopher SMCC 7/27/1991 11th Forward
1 Kleinhans John DeLaSalle Collegiate 2/8/1991 12th Goalie
29 Rohrkemper Eric Grosse Pointe North 4/2/1991 12th Goalie

Malmo Redhawks 08-09 Roster

P # Name Birth Year
3 G 31 Alexander Bengtsson 90
4 G 35 Fabian Sivnert 92
6 D 44 Niklas Arell 90
7 D 38 Ziga Grahut 90
8 D 61 Anton Blomqvist 90
9 D 9 Rasmus Damgaard 91
10 D 10 Oliver Widding-Persson 91
11 D 4 Henrik Sandmark 91
12 D 7 Scott Nordh 92
13 D 5 Viktor Mångs 92
15 F 51 Adam Strandh 90
16 F 23 Linus Molin 90
17 F 11 Anders Poulsen 91
18 F 59 Robin Dahse 92
19 F 27 Andreas Ahlberg 91
20 F 86 Victor Öhman 92
21 F 40 Viktor Holmkvist 92
22 F 17 Sebastian Dyk 92
23 F 39 Roger Olsson 92
24 F 26 Axel Wemmenborn 92
25 F 15 Pontus Westerholm 92
26 F 33 Patrik Westerholm 92

Thursday, October 09, 2008

CCHA Preview

Notre Dame finds themselves in the same position Michigan State was last year. They come into the season following a fairly average year, ended with a fantastic run in the NCAA tournament. The Irish were one goal--strangely enough, one goal for, not against-- from not making the NCAA tournament last year, before finishing as runner-up in the national tournament. Which team is the real Notre Dame? I think the NCAA tournament-version of the Irish. The Irish lot some of their heart and soul due to graduation, with the loss of Mark VanGilder, but have yet to feel the sting of early pro departures of some of Jeff Jackson’s more talented recruits. This is the most talented team in the CCHA, and they should be able to take home a conference crown.

will have to recover from losing their entire top line of Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, and Max Pacioretty. It’s unlikely that any combination of players will replace their amazing goal totals of last year, but Michigan’s large freshmen class of last season is back—minus Pacioretty—and should be even better than last season. On the backend, Mark Mitera is back for his senior season and is a Player of the Year candidate. Billy Sauer’s struggles in the NCAA tournament have been well-documented, but his regular season play last year was very good. Michigan may lack the scoring to seriously compete for a national title, but their record NCAA tournament appearance streak should remain in tact.

This could be a defining year for the Miami program. With the departures of Nathan Davis, Ryan Jones, Alec Martinez and Jeff Zatkoff, Miami will need to prove that they can compete annually with the CCHA’s best, rather than the past few years being the result of a one good group of players. This group should be able to score goals, but their goaltending will have to prove itself for Miami to be a serious contender. The Redhawks have a good chance of sneaking into the NCAA tournament, but unless one of their goalies plays way better than expected, they likely won’t have much success in the tournament again.

Much like Michigan last season, Michigan State’s season will depend on how quickly their freshmen can adapt to college hockey, after a string of departures to the NHL this past summer. The Spartans bring in a lot of forwards that were among the very best in their respective junior leagues last season, but those leagues are less traditional recruiting grounds for top NCAA players. Goalie Jeff Lerg may need to carry this team early in the season while those players adjust for the Spartans to be successful. The Spartans could be on the NCAA tournament bubble, but a slump, either early in the season, or in the second half when the youngsters start to hit a wall, could keep them out of the tournament.

Even diehard college hockey fans would be hard-pressed to name more than a few players on Ferris State’s roster, but the Bulldogs have quietly been one of the better mid-tier CCHA teams, and would have been the near the NCAA tournament bubble last year, if not for a rough stretch in the middle of January. The Bulldogs finished 5th in most every statistical category. Goalie Mitch O’Keefe’s eligibility ran out at the end of last season, so Pat Nagle will need to improve his numbers in goal a little bit, but overall, this looks to be a very tough, gritty team.

Northern Michigan seems to be the trendy pick for surprise team in the CCHA this year, even ending up in the first national poll. But regardless of expectation, the Wildcats always seems finish in the middle of the pack in the CCHA, make a run to Joe Louis for the CCHA tournament, but end up a game or two short of making the NCAA tournament. Mark Olver should keep a family tradition alive by being the Wildcats leading scorer this year. He led the team in scoring as a freshman last year, while older brother Darin led the Wildcats in scoring in his first three seasons, before finishing second in team scoring as a senior. The key for the Wildcats will be the play of Brian Stewart in goal. Stewart’s numbers improved last season, but goaltending still isn’t a strength for this team.

Despite not having a lot of success recently, Bowling Green has managed some pretty decent recruiting classes, which should make them a difficult team to play against. Leading the way is sophomore Jacob Cepis, a leading scorer in the USHL who looks destined for big things. The Falcons have struggled in goal ever since the departure of Jordan Sigalet four years ago, but Nick Eno showed promise last season, and if he can hold Bowling Green in some games, they have a chance to be very successful.

This will be a make-or-break year for Ohio State head coach John Markell. He’ll have to hope for improved chemistry in the locker room, and a huge impact from his freshman and sophomore classes to save his job. Those newcomers will be a welcome addition to a powerplay that was the worst in CCHA play last season. There is a lot of talent on this team, but unfortunately this team is probably a year or two away from really competing.

Nebraska-Omaha has enjoyed enormous amounts of production from their top line recent years thanks to great forwards like Bryan Marshall, Mick Lawrence, Scott Parse, and Bill Thomas. This year’s UNO team will need to rely on a much more balanced offensive approach to be successful. The Mavericks have gone with a goalie-by-committee approach over the past three seasons, with no one ever stepping in and taking the reigns. Jeremie Dupont has the talent to be that goalie they’ve needed, and as a junior, will have to step up.

Dallas Ferguson will start his first season as the third head coach of Alaska in just three years. His team is a little thin on talent, but he’ll have a great first line with the Knelsen brothers and Dustin Sather, and will hope for a big freshmen year from Carlo Finucci. The Nanooks have the advantage of experience in goal with senior Chad Johnson, who could help keep his team in a few more games.

Lake Superior may not be a team with a lot of household names, but they have a very experienced group up front with players like Nathan Perkovich, Zac MacVoy, Troy Schwab, and Josh Sim. It’s not elite level talent, but it also isn’t as bad as things were during the Anzalone 2.0 disaster. Brian Mahoney-Wilson showed promise in goal last year as a freshman, and Lake Superior may need him to help carry the team, the same way LSSU had moderate success with Jeff Jakaitis in goal.

Last year was another abysmal year for Western Michigan and things don’t look to be getting much better. The Broncos had the worst offense in the league last year, averaging less than two goals per game. They were also near the bottom of the league in goals against. The offense may improve, with good scorers like Patrick Galivan and Max Campbell returning, but none of their newcomers look like they will make an immediate impact in the same way Mark Letestu did two years ago, and it’s hard to see much improvement in this year’s WMU team.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wisconsin Preview

Thanks to a change by the NCAA Rules Committee, the 07-08 Wisconsin Badgers will go down in history as the only team to make the NCAA tournament with a losing record. The Badgers won an NCAA tournament game on their home ice, before losing a third period lead to North Dakota in the regional final. This year's Wisconsin team returns most of the players from last year, including star defenseman Jamie McBain and Ryan McDonagh, but minus superstar forward Kyle Turris.

Who is Gone?: The Badgers had a very young team last year, so they didn't lose too much, but did lose one of their top forwards in Kyle Turris. They lost two top defenseman in Kyle Klubertanz and Davis Drewiske. Depth players Josh Engel and Matt Ford also graduated.

Who is New?
: The Badgers bring in a strong freshman class, who beat out a cast of thousands of other players committed to the Badgers for the right to play college hockey this year. Forwards Matt Thurber, Jordy Murray and Derek Stepan should make an immediate impact. First round NHL draft pick Jake Gardiner is talented, but could need some time to adjust to college hockey. Eric Springer and Ryan Little should add depth on defense.


Projected Forward Lines

Mike Davies-Ben Street-Derek Stepan
Josh Turnbull-Blake Geoffrion-Pat Johnson
Matt Thurber-Sean Dolan-John Mitchell
Jorday Murray-Ben Grotting-Tom Gorowsky

Kyle Turris was the Badgers' leading scorer last year as a freshmen, but unfortunately for Badger fans, one year is all he would play in Madison. The Badgers don't have a flashy offense, but do return a few proven scorers in Ben Street and Mike Davies. Blake Geoffion had a 24-point increase between his freshman and sophomore seasons, and could be an offensive catalyst for the Badgers this year. Wisconsin also has the advantage of being able to count on some offense from their talented blueline.

Wisconsin finished 6th in league scoring last year, and without any bonafide superstars, they'll likely finish in the middle of the league again this year in scoring. If anything, I'd expect an inconsistent offense that looks very good some nights, but is shutdown on other nights.


Projected Defensive Pairings

Jamie McBain-Ryan McDonagh
Brendan Smith-Cody Goloubef
Jake Gardiner-Craig Johnson

This should be one of the more talented groups in the country. Last year, the Badgers had three 18-year-old freshmen defenseman playing nearly every night, and there were some hiccups as they learned the ropes. This year, those three are a year older and should be much better. Jamie McBain and Ryan McDonagh are both All-American candidates, and are likely playing their last year of college hockey.

While this is a talented unit, most of their defensemen are known for their offensive prowess. They could chip in some offense, but I'm not convinced that they will absolutely shut teams down the way their national title winning team did 3 years ago.


Shane Connelly
Scott Gudmanson
Jeff Henderson

After struggling mightily at the start of his career, Shane Connelly proved that was a capable starting goalie in his first full year as a starter, but he'll likely never be a dominating star in the way his predecessor Brian Elliott was. Scott Gudmanson played sparingly last season, and could see more action this year to prepare him for Connelly's graduation at the end of this year.


The Badgers finished in the middle of the pack in just about every statistical category last year in conference play(except for penalty kill, where they weren't very good). That means the Badgers should be in the hunt in the WCHA this year, but will probably lack the game-changing offense or goaltending to really compete amongst the best in the league. Their defense will be very good, but probably not enough to make a huge difference offensively or defensively. A little puck luck--and avoiding Randy Schmidt as an official--could make a big difference, but the lack of great goaltending will probably move them down towards the bottom of the middle of the pack.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Other Shattuck Rosters

Midget AAA
Jasper Aasa
Paul Barral
Brandon Beneduce
Billy Bruggeman
Ethan Caple
Peter Clements
Paul Enders
Geoff Ferguson
Karlis Kalvitis
Nick Kolz
Truman Landowski
Josh Little
Cody Marooney
Colin McCarthy
Ben Murphy
Dom Racobaldo
Alex Seyb
Guan Wang
Charles Wilson
Marcus Zelzer

Boys U16
Cory Bastian
Nick Bruneteau
Dennis Dalidovich
Daniel Elser
Ken Gillespie
Anthony Greco
Ben Grenier
Reid Jackson
Keegan Lowe
James Mullin
Nick Oswald
Canon Pieper
Ben Roush
Bryan Sinz
Tanner Sorenson
A.T. Terenzio
Peter Traber
Nicholas Weberg

Midget AA
Tyler Bruneteau
Mik Bushinski
Clayton Curwin
Jacob Davidson
Brody Decker
John Domina
John Draeger
Hans Drawbert
Victor Estoque
E.J. Faust
Aaron Forgaard
Castrenze Fricano
Orri Haman
Brian Harrison
Kyle Lee
Caleb Neal
Archie Ogani
Paul Parisot
Michael Rodriguez
Joseph Roelle
Trevor Stewart
Kevin Szopa
Tadas Tsibulskis
Nick Weiler
Zach Wolff
Spencer Wright

Bantam Tier 1
Zack Aman
Peter Barrel
Teddy Blueger
Oscar Dansk
Teddy Doherty
Hunter Fejes
Kyle Hayton
Noah Henry
Jordan Jancze
Miles Koules
Sebastien Lemm
Zack MacQueen
Ian McCoshen
Jake Montgomery
Trey Olson
Bo Pieper
Truman Reed
Ryan Schwalbe
Zach Stepan
Quinton Vitek

Bantam A
Liam Biard
Colin Biebel
Alex Birk
Spencer Carter
Michael Chuinard
Jake Curwin
Andrew Farney
Matt McCardel
Nick Mosher
Taylor Parkinson
Cal Perry
Justin Pirard
Kirk Reeve
Caleb Sevier
Andrew Sprang
Jack Strommen
Ben Tegtmeyer
Danny Tirone
J.T. Walters
Noah Westphal

Girls Prep
Dru Burns
Jessica Cohen
Brianna Decker
Kellie Dineen
Alyssa Gagliardi
Nicole Germaine
Kristine Horn
Lauren Joarnt
Kinzey Johnson
Amanda Kessel
Madison Kolls
Courtney Langston
Heidi Martin
Madison Marzario
Logan Murray
Madi Murray
Elena Orlando
Kathleen Rogan
Elena Ruegsegger

Girls U16
Rachel Bellio
Lexi Bender
Camille Biard
Jessica Brown
Courtney Burke
Molly Byrne
Megan Cox
Alexis Crossley
Kim Drake
Lauren Eberwein
Brook Garzone
Makeena Keil
Erin Krichiver
Kelly Murray
Aimee Rupp
Breanna Simon
Kayla Sullivan
Dana Trivigno
Jorie Walters
Ellie Williams

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Select 17 Camp Report

Team Black

Drew Shore(DU recruit)-Finished with a very respectable 7 points and was really a catalyst for this team. One of the most talented forwards at the camp.

Alex Wideman(Miami recruit)-Played with Shore and was a great playmaker all week. A little small, but excellent offensively.

Tyler Pitlick(Minnesota State recruit)-Has all the physical tools; a great skater, good hands, good size. He just needs to put it all together to become a great player.

Collin Bowman(WHL)-Had a great year with Kelowna last year, and looked very good here. He’s added a lot of strength recently and should be an excellent prospect to watch next year.

Eric Johnson-Played really well on Wednesday. Not flashy but a very solid defender.

Zach Marginsky-He’ll get a lot of looks because he’s a very legitimate 6’6” tall. He can move around fairly well for his size.

Gold Team

Tyler Brickler-Had a very brief stint with the Lincoln Stars last year. He should have a big year next year in the USHL. Very talented forward.

Stephen Obarzanek-Had a great week statistically. He’s got good size and can throw his weight around, and showed some nice scoring touch this week.

William Wrenn(DU recruit)- Excellent defender. Good shot. Plays with a bit of temper. I thought he played very well.

Nick Oliver(St. Cloud recruit)- Skating still needs a lot of work, but he’s always working hard.
Sean Casey-Big defenseman from Florida that has some potential.

Lee Winston-Not the most skilled player, but always willing to get his nose dirty.

Green Team

Zach Budish(Minnesota recruit)- Physically dominated everyone at the camp.

Tyler Voight-Excellent along the boards.

Eamonn McDermott- Very small for a defenseman, but extremely quick and smooth with the puck.

Mike Montrose-Showed the ability to jump into the play occasionally. Good talent, but got caught out of position a few times.

Grey Team

Joey Zarbo(Clarkson recruit)-Very speedy, good offensive talent.

Matthew White-I was a little surprised he didn’t score more points. A big power forward with a lot of skill.

Kenny Ryan(BC recruit)-Played pretty well on Wednesday. Injured and didn’t play on Saturday.

Joe Rogalski(OHL)-Big stay-at-home defenseman.

Josh Birkholz(Minnesota recruit)-A ton of talent. Attitude has been the biggest question with him.


Brad Smith(OSU recruit)- Played very well. His lack of size may keep him from being an NHL prospect, but he should be an excellent college player.

David Valek-Was playing with a soft cast on his wrist, but still one of the best power forwards at the camp. It’s surprising that he hasn’t chosen a college yet.

Sam Alfieri-Played with Smith and Valek on Wednesday and the line was nearly unstoppable.

Dan Furlong-Good skater that moves the puck well.

Sam Calabrese(Notre Dame recruit)-Not as dominant as he was at the Select 15s, but still very good. He’s grown a little bit, so he’s not as quick, but he’s still very agile. Probably not a superstar, but a very good player.

John Ramage-Big defenseman that skates really well. Of the defenseman that played Jr. A last year, Ramage was probably the best.

Joey Rehkamp-Quick and skilled, but still very small.

Navy Team

Brad Robbins-A little guy, but he’s not afraid to go to the front of the net to score goals. Played very well both days.

Paul Phillips(DU recruit)-Played solid both days, but didn’t really stand out to me.

Nick Mattson(North Dakota recruit)-Not very flashy, but played well all week. Moved the puck well and did a nice job on defense.

Caleb Herbert-Very speedy and scored a couple of goals on the week.

Brendan Rempel-Very big defenseman. If he improves his skating a little bit, he could be an excellent player.

Patrick Wey-Didn’t play his best on Wednesday, but looked good on Saturday.

Orange Team

Ryan Walters(Minnesota recruit)- Always making things happen in the offensive zone.

Kevin Cole(Cornell recruit)-One of the best players on Wednesday. Very fast.

Blake Coleman-Scored a lot of points over the course of the week.

Nick Lovejoy(Clarkson recruit)-Big, young defenseman with a lot of ability

Tyler Amburgey-Great size and strength. Still a little raw defensively but has a lot of potential.

David Johnstone(Michigan State recruit)-Kind of a quiet week, but chipped in a couple of points. Comfortable in the offensive zone with a decent snap shot.

Purple Team

Garrett Orhn-Good defenseman, but needs to add a lot of strength to play at the college level.

Brad Walch-Not a dominating performance, and got called for a few bad penalties, but plays pretty good defense. A good combination of size and skating.

Cody Murphy-Never really able to put things together and score like he is capable of, but is still incredibly talented. A good skater with excellent finishing ability.

Jay Camper-Played very well. Good poise with the puck.

AJ Treais(Michigan recruit)-Lack of size is starting to catch up to him a little bit, but still an amazing stickhandler.

Kit Sitterley- Very impressive. He’s underrated because he comes from a non-traditional hockey area, but is a very solid player.

Red Team

Brian Dumoulin- Big defenseman that can really skate.

Nate Schmidt(Minnesota recruit)-Not as impressive as he was at the Select 15s since he doesn’t physically dominate over everyone anymore, but he’s still a very good player, and looks more comfortable playing defense now.

Richie Crowley-Surprised he hasn’t made a college commitment yet. Very poised and responsible on the blueline all week.

Chris Brown(Michigan recruit)-Played like a bull in a china shop, which didn’t work well with the tight officiating, but a very impressive prospect. He skates extremely well for his size and isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. One of the more impressive forwards at the cap.

Nick Widing-Didn’t stand out much for Hill-Murray last year, but was more of an offensive threat here.

Anthony Hamburg-Consistently the most dangerous offensive threat for his team. Very skilled.

Royal Team

Mark Alt(Minnesota recruit)-Huge defenseman that is incredibly athletic. Should be a very high draft pick in 2010.

Mac Bennett(Michigan recruit)-Always calm, cool and collected. Had the most poise with the puck of any defenseman at the camp.

Beau Bennett-Leading scorer at the camp thanks to a big game on Saturday. Not flashy, but very effective.

Michael Pereira-Always in the middle of things offensively.

Teal Team

Beau Schmitz(OHL)-Great skater. Played the game a higher level than everyone else. Didn’t play on Saturday and his team really struggled without him.

Torey Krug-A small defenseman, but works hard and plays smart defense.

Ryan Reilly-One of the smaller forwards at the camp, but very speedy and a good playmaker.

Matt Tabrum-A solid player that understands the game very well.

Kevin Lynch(Michigan recruit)-Not incredibly flashy skillwise, but he always seemed to be in the middle of the play in the offensive and defensive zones, and always seemed to be making things happen.

White Team

Nick Leddy(Minnesota recruit)-One of the best skating defenseman at the camp. Really starting to develop into an excellent player.

Ben Hughes-Smart, poised defenseman with decent size and excellent skating. Should do well at the Jr. A level next season.

Kyle Beattie-Needs to add a little weight, but once he does, he should be an excellent player. Great skills and hockey sense.

Shane Berschbach- Doesn’t get a lot of hype because he’s so small, but always finds a way to score points.

Steven Whitney(BC recruit)-Not a dominating performance like the past two Select camps, but still one of the most skilled players on the ice.

Nate Heng(Nebraska-Omaha recruit)-Great stickhandler and playmaker. Can make something happen every time he touches the puck.

It’s difficult to judge the goalies over such a short time, but a couple that stood out to me were Max Fenkell, Cab Morris, Matthew Skoff, Branden Komm, and Eric Ferber

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sioux Falls Tryout Camp

Sioux Falls camp this year didn't have as much star power as last year's camp with Jake Hansen and Jack Connolly giving impressive performances, but it was another very fast-paced camp. It was pretty well-attended too. It looked like some fans had made the trip from Sioux Falls which is pretty impressive.

The Navy team was the most impressive at the camp, led by Harvard recruit Luke Grenier. Grenier was the most impressive player of the day. He's filled out over the past 12 months, and should be due for a huge year for the Stampede. Returning player Matt Farris also had a nice game. St. Cloud recruit David Eddy looked talented, but was kind of all over the place. A year in the USHL refining his game a little bit should serve him very well. Also, former Blaine HS forward Mike Schaber played an excellent second half of his game and was rewarded with a goal. He was recruited by some WCHA teams over the high school season. Former Texas Tornado forward Adam Mitchell also looked very good, and has very good size.

On defense, Randy Cure recently committed to Mercyhurst. He's a big guy that skates well. He's a little unpolished, but has a lot of potential. Another intriguing defenseman was '91 birthdate Drew Scurfield. He played a couple games in the MJHL last year. In another couple years, he could be very good.

Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel looked pretty good for the Green team, as did returning forward Dane Walters.

On the Gold team, Anthony Raiola had a pretty impressive camp and he should have a solid year for Sioux Falls. Cretin-Derham Hall's Ryan Bohrer also had a good game. The Gold team also had a couple nice power forwards in Ryan Kesti and Duncan McKellar.

The most impressive player for the Red team was former Texas Tornado forward Sam Goodwin. Goodwin was great, but he might have trouble making the team because he's an '88 birthdate. The Stampede have '88s Kris Reinthaler, Max Grover, Terry Broadhurst, and Joe Knoepke all returning, so one of them would have to go for Goodwin to make the team. If Goodwin didn't make it in Sioux Falls, I'm sure somebody would pick him up.

'91s Andy Simpson and Travis Belohrad both looked pretty good for the Red team.

Among the goalies, Eric Hartzell will likely be returning unless he commits to a college. Sioux Falls also had two of the better '91 goalies out there in camp with C.J. Motte and Clay Witt. Both are talented, but maybe a little raw right now, though they'd potentially make nice back-ups to Hartzell. Also at the camp was a goalie named Matt Ray, a '92 from Andover, Minnesota. I wasn't familiar with him, but he was outstanding.

Tri-City Storm Camp

As you might expect, Tri-City's returning players were, for the most part, the top players at the camp.

For the Gold team, Mike Cichy played pretty well. He should have an exceptional year in the USHL next year before heading to North Dakota. Another returning forward, Josh Berge, also played pretty well. Kyle Politz of Apple Valley, played in the NAHL last year, and he looks like he's ready to make the jump to the USHL this year. Returning defenseman Danny Heath has made a huge jump in terms of strength over the past 12 months and looks like a much more solid defenseman.

For the second straight year, I though Nick Oliver looked great at this tryout camp. He drew some criticism for his play during the high school season, but I still believe he's better suited for a league like the USHL or in college hockey which is more physical. Former Hill-Murray forward Andy Singerhouse was another player that didn't blow me away during the high school season, but played extremely well at the camp. I think he's got a decent shot of making the team.

Chicago Young Americans defenseman Charlie Dodero was the only '92 birthdate(that I recognized, the roster didn't have birthyears). He struggled a little bit with the faster pace, but he should be pretty good in a few years.

Jordan Van Gilder was playing for the Navy team, which implies that he won't be going to Alaska next year. Twins Matt and Joe Zarbo looked very good for the Navy team, though passing and team play was understandably sloppy with everyone at the camp, so they definitely had an advantage playing together.

Off the Red team, New York defenseman Sean Escobedo tried out for Sioux Falls' team last year and I thought he was very close to making the team. He looked good at this tryout camp too. The Red team also had three recently graduated defenseman from the Minnesota high school ranks in Grant Fahnhorst, Rob Vannelli, and Zach Tolkinen. Vannelli is probably good enough to play right now, while the other two are bigger defenseman that could be very good USHL defenseman with a little more development.

Anthony DeCenzo played a few games for Tri-City last year and with a full season for the Storm this year, he should be one of their best scoring threats. Troy Power is another returning forward that had a surprising(at least to me) lack of points last year, but with a year under his belt, should score more next year.

St. Cloud Tech's Jared Maetche played at forward at the camp after experimenting on defense during the high school. He played well at forward and continues to remind me of St. Cloud Tech alum John Swanson.

New Jersey forward Colin Markison was one of the best forwards at the camp. I thought he had made a commitment to somewhere, but then couldn't find anything. In any case, he was excellent.

The Grey team had Minnesota recruit Brandon Martell. Martell lost most of last year due to injury, and some Minnesota fans have raised their eyebrows about his potential future with Minnesota. Martell played pretty well at the tryout camp, but wasn't head and shoulders above the competition. He'll likely be what Minnesota expected when they recruited him, which is a solid defenseman that can add some depth and fill in if the team gets beset by injuries.

The Grey team also had some nice performances from players I wasn't familiar with before the camp. Forwards Nick Curry, Doug Clifford, and JT Osborn all played pretty well.

Roseau's Tyler Landman also had an excellent camp. He scored the goal of the day when he dove past a defender to deflect a centering pass into the net, and added a nice assist through hard work.

The goalies at the camp were: Ryan Benitez, Tyler Bruggeman, Owen Collette, Nick Holmes, Kyle Jendra, Nick Maricic, and Sean McClure. Nick Hopper was supposed to be coming back this year, but he wasn't at the camp. The Storm probably needed an overhaul at the goalie position anyway. Bruggeman and Collette both played pretty well. Bruggeman stopped 7 straight breakaways between the game and the post-game shootout. Both goalies will likely go back to high school and compete for the honor of top senior goalie in the state next year.

Jendra is still a tremendously quick goalie, and has a shot at making the team. It's really a shame that he wasted his college eligibility by signing with the Plymouth Whalers and then only playing three games for them. Nick Holmes and Yale recruit Nick Maricic are two other '90 born goalies that played well and have an excellent shot at making the team.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The 2011 Recruiting Board

I've tried to be as thorough as possible in creating this list, but given the difficult nature of maintaining a list like this, there are always going to be players that should be on this list that are missing. If you think I have missed a player that should be listed, or have any other comments on the list, please email me at westerncollegehockey@gmail.com

Committed Forwards

Seth Ambroz-Omaha(USHL)-Committed to Minnesota-Big power forward with good scoring ability.

Nick Bjugstad-Blaine(MN HS)-Committed to Minnesota-Big forward with excellent shot

Austin Czarnik-NTDP U17-Committed to Michigan State-One of the top scorers at 2008 Select 16 Festival.

Uncommitted Forwards

Shane McColgan-LA Kings AAA-Likely signing with Kelowna of WHL.

Colin Jacobs-Texas Attack

Brandon Saad-Mahoning Valley(NAHL)-Visited Michigan, among other schools

Brett Benson-Weyburn

Cason Hohmann-Dallas Ice Jets-

Colton Hargrove-Dallas Penguins-Big, power forward. Visited UMass and Denver.

Vince Trochek-Little Caesar’s

Travis Boyd-Hopkins HS(MN HS)-

Dan Carlson-Maple Grove Bantam-

Max Birkinbine-White Bear Lake(MN) Bantam-

Danny Elser-Shattuck-

Craig Duinick-St. Cloud(MN) Bantam

Committed Defenseman

Robbie Russo-Chicago Mission-Committed to Notre Dame-

Uncommitted Defenseman

Justin Sefton-Notre Dame Prep

Eric Preston-Little Caesar's U16-Good skater. Right-handed shot.

Kevin Liss-Pittsburgh Hornets-Talented puck-moving defenseman

Ben Marshall-Mahtomedi(MN HS)-Invited to 2008 NTDP tryout camp. Capable of playing forward or defense.

Max Everson-Edina HS(MN HS)-

Andrew Ryan-Victory Honda-Very big for his age. Lots of potential

Uncommitted Goalies

Monday, March 03, 2008

Thursday HS Preview

Game 1: Cloquet-Esko-Carleton vs. #2 Edina

How C-E-C wins:

It's going to be extremely tough for Cloquet to pull off this upset, but they are on a serious roll right now, beating two excellent teams during sectional play. David Brown played amazing hockey for the Lumberjacks during sectionals and will need to continue to score goals. They also have to stay out of the penalty box to avoid Edina's great powerplay.

How Edina wins:

Edina has such an advantage in terms of strength and physicality that they sometimes look like men amongst boys. I think they'll use that size to create a few turnovers in the Cloquet zone, and any time Edina gets the puck deep in the other team's end, they always seemed poised to make a great pass for an easy goal.

Bottom line: Cloquet is good enough to avoid being blown out, but Edina is just too strong of a team and should win easily.

Game 2: Woodbury vs. #3 Benilde-St. Margaret's

How Woodbury wins:

I think Woodbury has a chance to play with BSM 5-on-5, but if they take too many penalties, BSM's powerplay will kill them. Woodbury put up 8 goals in the sectional final, and they'll need that offense to continue in St. Paul to have a chance.

How Benilde wins:

Benilde has a talented goalie in sophomore Jacob Meyers, who has already played in some important games, but he's still young, and there's always a chance he could be rattled. Defenseman Chris Student will be the best player on the ice, and should be able to control the game.

Bottom line: I don't see Meyers struggling, and I think BSM's senior forwards will find a way to score, be it at even-strength or on the powerplay. Woodbury should keep it close for a while, but I think the Red Knights will pull away.

Game 3: Blaine vs. #1 Roseau

How Blaine wins:

Blaine did a great job of keeping the game close against Roseau earlier this year. They play strong defense and they might be able to keep Roseau to the outside of the rink and help goalie Danny Harper look good. This time around, they'll need senior forwards Mike Schaber and Ryan Johnson to step up and score a couple goals to give Blaine a chance to win.

How Roseau wins:

Roseau just needs to play the type of hockey that they have all year, and not get caught looking ahead to Hill-Murray or Edina. They've been the best, most talented team all year, and have more than enough ability at forward, defense, and goal to win this game.

Bottom line: This should be the best game of Thursday. I'm expecting another game like the outdoor game that ended in a 1-0 Roseau win. Blaine will give Roseau a serious run for their money, but come up just short.

Game 4: Lakeville South vs. #4 Hill-Murray

How Lakeville South wins:

Lakeville will need an amazing game from goalie Hakan Yumusaklar to have a chance in this game, and I think he might be capable of pulling it off. If Lakeville can keep this game low-scoring, and then get a few lucky bounces, they might really surprise some people.

How Hill-Murray wins:

The more wide-open and high-scoring this game is, the better for Hill-Murray. If they do get a lead, they need to keep up their intensity and not let the lead slip away like they did last year against Rochester Century.

Bottom line: I don't think Hill-Murray will get upset two years in a row, but I do think this game will be closer than most people expect. I like Hill-Murray to win a low-scoring game.

Wednesday's HS Preview

Game 1: Mankato West vs. #2 Duluth Marshall

How Duluth Marshall wins:

Mankato West has never played in the state tournament, or in a venue as large as the XCel Center, while most of the Marshall kids are making their second or third trip. If Marshall can score a few goals early, they might be able to knock Mankato West out of contention before the Scarlets can get their feet under them. The longer West stays in the game, they better chance they have of pulling off an upset. Marshall also has much more depth than West, and will have to exploit some of the mismatches that creates.

How Mankato West wins:

Mankato West got great goaltending in the section final against Rochester Lourdes and that has to continue. West has been a bit penalty-prone this year, and if they spend too much short-handed, Marshall will make them pay with their powerplay. Mankato West probably won't get too many chances, so they will need to capitalize on them when they come.

Bottom line: The southern part of the state still has a long ways to go in terms of earning the respect of the rest of the state. A win or two at the XCel would go a long ways in helping that, but Duluth Marshall is a tough first-round match-up. I think West will keep this game closer than people think, but the Hilltoppers will have too much deep and experience for Mankato West to handle.

Game 2: Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato vs. #3 Warroad

How Warroad wins:

Warroad has a number of high-end players that LDC will have a tough time matching up against. Warroad needs their star players like Bryce Ravndalen to step up and score a few goals to put LDC away.

How Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato wins:

LDC is probably the weakest team in the tournament, but they're also a bit of an unknown, and have played some good hockey recently to make the state tournament. In order to pull off the big upset, they need to play strong defensive hockey to keep Warroad off the board and then hope a bounce of two goes their way.

Bottom line: I'd really like to see LDC make this a close game and earn some respect, but their Cinderella story probably stops here. Warroad should win big.

Game 3: Little Falls at #1 St. Thomas Academy

How St. Thomas Academy wins:

The Cadets need to find a way to neutralize Little Falls top line, led by the Hanowski brothers. The Cadets should have an advantage in terms of depth that they should be able to exploit as the game goes on.

How Little Falls wins:

Little Falls likes to play a wide-open style of hockey, but I don't know that it would benefit them against St. Thomas, because St. Thomas just has more goal scorers. I think they'll need a great game from their top line, and need their top defenseman to really step up and log a lot of ice time.

Bottom line: This is the second straight year Little Falls has drawn the top seed in the state. I think this game could go in much the same way as last year's did, with Little Falls jumping out to an early lead, but St. Thomas having a little too much depth and taking the lead later in the game and winning.

Game 4: Blake at #4 St. Cloud Cathedral

How Cathedral wins:

Blake is a tough team to play because they're always a very deep, well-coached team. I think Cathedral will need a great game from defenseman Nate Schmidt to shutdown Blake's scoring lines. I'm not sure where Schmidt's conditioning is at since he's missed so much time this year due to illness and injury, but two years ago, Cathedral wasn't afraid to play defenseman Matt Crandell 75% of the game, and I could see them doing the same with Schmidt.

How Blake wins:

Blake is an experienced tournament team, making their third straight trip. They lost to Duluth Marshall in each of their last two trips, so seeing Cathedral should be a breath of fresh air. Blake has some excellent seniors that they will need to carry them to victory.

Bottom line: This should be the best, closest game of the first day. I could definitely see this game heading to overtime, but I think Blake will prevail and finally make it into the second round of the tournament.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Michigan Tech at St. Cloud

Michigan Tech came out playing great in the first period, and as a result, got a few powerplays and had some great scoring chances early.

On Tech's first powerplay, Jimmy Kerr got the puck down low with a lot of net to shoot at, but wasn't able to pull the trigger and score. It was the start of a long night for him. The next shift, he got a great pass from behind the net, and with Jase Weslosky looking over the wrong shoulder, Kerr fired the puck into Weslosky's chest. Midway through the period on the powerplay, Tech worked the puck around beautifully and got St. Cloud out of position. The puck got passed over to Kerr in the exact same spot, where he fired a one-timer, only to have Jase Weslosky make a ridiculous acrobatic save. In the second period, Kerr got a pass on a two-on-one that he tried to one-timer, only to have the puck bounce off his stick and into the corner. By that point, Kerr snapped his stick and threw it across the ice, and really, who could blame him? To cap off the night, he got hurt in the third period.

Anyway, Tech had some great chances in the first period, but couldn't get the lead. If they had, I think it would have been a much different hockey game. Instead, St. Cloud got a powerplay at the end of the period, and capitalized. With less than 20 seconds left in the period, there was a loose puck at about the top of the left circle. A Tech penalty kill dove at it to try and knock it out of the zone, but missed. St. Cloud got control of the puck, and Tech had to scramble with one of their players out of the play. The puck quickly got moved down to Andreas Nodl on the goalline to the left of goalie Rob Nolan. Nolan had just about all the angles covered, but Nodl fired a wrist shot and bounced off the post, landing on the other side of the crease where Ryan Lasch was able to knock it in.

You might say it was a little bit of puck luck for St. Cloud to escape that period with a 1-0 lead, after Tech had so many great chances, and St. Cloud needed a lucky bounce off the post to score. But I think it highlights the difference between the two teams right now. Tech doesn't have a player like an Andreas Nodl that can take nothing and turn it into something. Instead, they were a few times where they had something, and turned it into nothing.

A lot of credit for the first period also goes to Weslosky. Weslosky hasn't played poorly this year, but he was also wasn't making many huge saves at critical times, which has been bad news for a team that struggled defensively and has needed a goalie to bail them out on several occasions. On Saturday, he made a couple of those huge, momentum-turning saves which I think was a huge boost for St. Cloud.

I should also mention that this was Marco Hunt's first series since his bungling of the DU/UND series. I thought he was really bad in the first period, but not that noticeable in the last two periods, which is pretty good for an official. I didn't get a great look at either of the two checking-from-behind majors handed out within 45 seconds of each other, so I can't comment on those. One thing I've noticed with Hunt this year, and it's not a major thing, is that he makes some bizarre choices in the naming of penalties.

The perfect example came in the first period. A Michigan Tech player came rushing down the ice with the puck, with St. Cloud's Garrett Raboin defending. Raboin tried to stand him at the blueline, so he stopped and tried to check at the player rushing at him. He maybe got his elbow up a little bit high. Hunt gave Raboin a two-minute penalty for hooking. Wait, what? I've never seen a player get a hooking penalty while standing face-to-face with an opponent.

At the start of the second period, the game really had a feel to it that whoever scored the next goal would probably win. If Tech scored and gained back the momentum, I thought they would have been able to roll the rest of the night. If St. Cloud scored again, I didn't see Tech being able to score three times to win. Tech's odds looked pretty good when St. Cloud took a 5-minute checking-from-behind major, but as I mentioned, Tech answered back with a check-from-behind about 45 seconds later, meaning a good chunk of the period was played 4-on-4. In kind of an odd choice, Tech had freshmen Jordan Baker serve the five-minute major. I could maybe understand the logic of that if Tech was going to be shorthanded, but four and a half out of the five minutes were going to be played 4-on-4, and Tech voluntarily took one of their fastest, most creative players off the ice. Later that period, Tech did play Baker in a 4-on-4 situation and seemed to do pretty well with him out there.

About midway through the period, St. Cloud extended their lead to two. John Swanson showed an amazing burst of speed to get around a Tech defenseman. He didn't score on the initial shot, but the puck got worked back out to the point, and after Robbie Nolan failed to cover a rebound on the shot from the point, Swanson was able to knock it back in. It kind of makes me wonder how a player as talented as Swanson only has five goals on the season. I know he spent a lot of time playing defense this year because St. Cloud was so weak back there, but it still seems like he should be contributing more offensively.

Things felt pretty comfortable for St. Cloud with a two goal lead. I was interested in seeing how St. Cloud would play in the third period with a lead, since that area has been one of their biggest problems all year. For the most part, I thought they did a decent job of locking things down. They gave up a few rushes, but Tech didn't have the firepower to make them pay for it. St. Cloud's fourth line put together a couple nice shifts, and was rewarded with a goal late in the game. Mary Mjelleli picked up an assist, doubling his season point total.

This was really a make-or-break weekend for Michigan Tech, and unfortunately, I think it may have broken them. A sweep would have moved them ahead of St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Duluth and kept them in the race for home ice. Now they're looking like a good bet for 9th place in the league.

St. Cloud on the other hand, has put themselves in a great position. They're back in position for an NCAA tournament bid, and are tied for 5th place in the WCHA. Their series against Wisconsin this weekend will be huge, especially since points will be tough to come by in the last weekend of the season against North Dakota. The Huskies now become huge fans of Michigan Tech. A good performance by Tech against Mankato would give St. Cloud a great shot at home ice, and St. Cloud needs Michigan Tech to stay in the top 25 in the RPI, or St. Cloud will lose their four wins against Tech in the TUC category of the Pairwise.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Section 8AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

Basically all you need to know is that this is the section with undefeated, top-ranked Roseau.

There are two other pretty decent teams in this section in Moorhead and Brainerd, though one will knock out the other before they reach Roseau. Brainerd lost their only meeting of the year with the Rams 7-0. Moorhead lost twice, 7-2 and 4-0.

That said, I think everyone has Roseau penciled in as the top seed at the state tournament, but I think this section final could be closer than people anticipate. Moorhead certainly won't lie down for the Rams and give them a free pass. Last year, Moorhead beat Roseau twice during the regular season, before the Rams upset them in the sectional final. Still, this Roseau team is on a different level than everyone else in the state, and I would be incredibly shocked if they didn't make it to the state tournament. Growing up in Roseau, those kids are fed a steady diet of the town's hockey history, and they realize they have a chance to write another important chapter, and I don't see them letting that opportunity go by.

Section 7AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

This is traditionally a very deep section, and this year is no exception. The 4/5 match-up between Cloquet and Elk Rapids should be an intense one. Even the 3/6 match-up between Grand Rapids and Forest Lake should be interesting, since Forest Lake beat Grand Rapids early in the season at Grand Rapids. Forest Lake goalie Paul Moberg is capable of stealing a game.

Second seed Anoka should come out of the bottom half of that section. They've a great top line with John O'Neill, Cory Belisle, and Berkley Scott.

I think Duluth East will be the team to make it to the state tournament, however. The Greyhounds are a well-coached team with an amazing first line that moves the puck about as well as any high school team I've seen. They're pretty solid on defense too, with two big, up-and-coming defenseman in Joe Arbour and Derek Forbort. You can also add that they will have a home-ice advantage playing at the DECC in Duluth.

Section 6AA Preview

The Bracket.

These could be the best two semifinal games in the state. On the top half of the draw, top seed Minnetonka will play a surprising Hopkins team that spent much of the year in the top ten of the state. Goalie Alex Fons should keep Hopkins in the game and make things interesting, but I think Minnetonka will prevail.

On the other half, Benilde-St. Margaret's will play Eden Prairie. I'll take Benilde just because they are a team that relies a little more on seniors, while Eden Prairie's most talented players are a little younger.

In the final, in what will be one of the best games of sectionals, I think Benilde will pull out the win. It's a lot of pressure on a sophomore, but goalie Jacob Meyers has proven that he's capable of stealing big games for Benilde. Minnetonka won their only meeting of the season, and has received way more press, but I think Benilde is flying under the radar as a great team.

Section 5AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

This section is filled with a lot of pretty good teams that maybe aren't as well known as some of the teams in the southern Twin Cities suburbs. Teams like Champlin Park, Osseo, and Maple Grove quietly put together pretty nice seasons, without a lot of big name talent, and they are all capable of making some noise in this section.

All year, however, it has seemed destined that the trip to the state tournament will come down to the winner of a game between Centennial and Blaine. It should be a great game between two intense rivals, but I like Blaine to make it to the state tournament. Centennial has some talented players, though most are still juniors, while Blaine relies on senior talent. I think that extra experience and maturity will give the Bengals the slight edge in the big game.

Section 4AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

Hill-Murray headlines this section as one of the top team's in the state. Nobody else in this section really has had a great year. Roseville is seeded second, but the Raiders really lack depth this year. Third seed White Bear Lake has had kind of an up-and-down year, that included having one of their better players kicked off the team.

I think White Bear will make it to the sectional final, setting up another classic White Bear/Hill sectional final, but I'll take Hill-Murray to win. The Pioneers have had White Bear's number the past few years, and Hill-Murray has won some very big, very close games in recent weeks, and I think that confidence will really help their team.

Section 3AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

A few weeks ago, I came across an old message board thread about how Rosemount had a number of talented players in their hockey system, and there was a good deal of debate about which ones would stay at Rosemount, and which would move to St. Thomas Academy. It ended up being about 50/50 staying vs. leaving. Those that went to St. Thomas have had a great deal of success at the state tournament, while those that stayed in Rosemount haven't. That could change this year, however, as the Irish are the section's top seed.

They'll likely meet a talented Cretin-Derham Hall team in the semifinals that has some excellent players on their team, but have really had a disappointing season.

On the other half of the bracket, Eastview is a potentially dangerous team. Forward Rob Maloney, doesn't get a lot of press, but is a very dangerous player.

Like Section 1AA, I think this section has the potential for a big upset, but I'll play it safe and take Rosemount to earn their trip to St. Paul.

Section 2AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

This is going to be a very fun section. I think the first thing that jumped to everybody looking over the brackets was the potential match-up between Edina and Holy Angels in the semifinals. After years of playing the role of the heavy favorite, Holy Angels gets to come into a game as the underdog to a powerful Edina team. The Stars should give Edina a huge test, but I think Edina will be too strong.

Third seed Bloomington Jefferson has experienced a bit of a renaissance after really struggling last season. I think Burnsville's top line of Barnes/Hendrickson/Perisic will be too much for them, however.

This section final should be a great game regardless of what combination of the top four teams make it. But I don't think we'll see a major upset here. Edina is just too good not to make it back to St. Paul for another shot at a state title.

Section 1AA High School Preview

The Bracket.

Last year was a banner year for Section 1AA when upstart Rochester Century shocked everybody with a come-from-behind overtime win over Hill-Murray in the first round of last year's playoffs, and when they followed that performance up two days later with another OT win over Burnsville to take third place. It was a great performance from a team that is from traditionally the weakest section in the state.

Unfortunately, this year is much more of a return to reality for the section that covers the southeast part of the state. Lakeville South earned the top seed, despite finishing the year with a losing record. Owatonna has the best record in the section, though most of those wins came against Class A cupcakes in the southern part of the state. They also got hammered by some good Class A teams.

It's a down year for all three Rochester schools in this section. This year was the first time since 1993 that a team from Rochester failed to win the Big 9 conference, and while that means the Section 1A tournament is very competitive, it is bad news for Section 1AA.

It's not safe to count the Rochester schools out, however. Whoever wins the 4/5 match-up between Rochester Century and Rochester Mayo will provide a very stiff test to Lakeville South. Mayo tied South, while Century lost a one-goal game.

The winner of that semifinal game should be the one that advances to the state tournament. I think goalie Hakan Yumusaklar will carry Lakeville South to the win, though in a very close game.

Section 8A High School Preview

The Bracket.

Warroad has dominated this section, and this year is more of the same, with the Warriors as the top seed. It won't be a walk in the park for them, however. They're facing a potential match-up in the semifinals with Thief River Falls. The Prowlers have a goalie in Zane Gothberg that is capable of stealing a game, and will be playing Warroad in their home rink.

On the other side of the bracket, Park Rapids, led by Mr. Hockey candidate Zach Lehrke, has had a great season, though they haven't played much of a schedule.

My head says a lack of big game experience will hurt Park Rapids if they make it to the final against an experienced Warroad team, but I'll still take Park Rapids. Two years ago, Mike Forney led Thief River Falls to an upset victory over Warroad in the sectional final, and I think Lehrke will pull off the same magic for Park Rapids.

Section 7A High School Preview

The bracket.

This could be one of the best sections in all of Class A, with the two best Class A team; Duluth Marshall and International Falls. Third seed Hibbing is also a talented team, but I Falls and Marshall should be meeting in the section final in Duluth.

International Falls should have the most exciting offensive player in the section with Jake Youso, but Duluth Marshall is very strong defensively. Marshall also has a lot more playoff experience, so I'll pick the Hilltoppers.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Section 6A High School Preview

The Bracket.

This section has quickly become Little Falls' section to lose, and the Flyers are becoming a fixture at the state tournament. They're back as the favorites again this year. They'll likely meet St. Cloud Apollo in the semifinals, and Apollo's first year in Class A hasn't brought much more success than they had in Class AA.

On the other side of the bracket, second seed Fergus Falls isn't the most talented team in the state, but very tough to beat, while Alexandria is led by goalie Matt Hemingway, who is capable of stealing a game.

I think Little Falls will be playing their best hockey, and they've got talent that no one in the section can match.

Section 4A High School Preview

The Bracket.

This section should be all about top seed St. Thomas Academy. The Cadets are technically a Class A school in size, but they wouldn't be hurt if they followed Hill-Murray or Benilde and played up in Class AA. They do lose to the occasional Class A team, but usually it is to one of the top Class A teams in the state, like Duluth Marshall.

The Cadets could face a potentially challenging game in the semifinals against fourth seed Totino-Grace, who has a couple talented forwards, but don't have the depth to keep up with St. Thomas over a full game. Whoever comes out of the other semifinal should be a tough challenge in the final as well. Second seed South St. Paul has quietly put together a pretty nice year, including a tie over Hill-Murray. Mahtomedi also has a pretty solid team, and should be looking to avenge a disappointing upset loss last year.

Section 3A High School Preview

The Bracket.

As expected, this is the state's weakest bracket. It should tell you something that Hutchinson, with a record of 11-12-1 is the section's second seed.

New Ulm is the heavy favorite in this section, led by a trio of great juniors in defenseman Beau Bergau, Cody Kohn, and forward Kyle Reinarts, who moved to New Ulm from Sleepy Eye.

Fourth seed Marshall is led by Tony Krogen, who is among the state's leading scorers. He finished behind only Park Rapids' Zach Lehrke in goal-scoring with 43 goals. Krogen's older brother Cory helped lead Marshall to a shocking upset victory over top-seed Albert Lea two years ago in the section semifinals, but it's unlikely that another miracle upset is in the works. New Ulm destroyed Marshall 9-0 earlier in February.

I'd be pretty surprised if anyone other than New Ulm came out of this section.

Section 2A High School Preview

The bracket.

This year, Blake and Breck get their own section, and thus avoid meeting up with Totino-Grace in sectionals. Not surprisingly, these two teams are the top two teams in the section, with Blake getting the top-seed, but third seed Mound-Westonka should also provide tough competition.

Mound started out the year very strong, but struggled midway through the season while one of their top forwards, Riley Horgan was out. They do have some impressive results, however, including a win over Rochester Lourdes last week.

Breck is a very intriguing team. They are a team loaded with kids that have the potential to be college prospects, but the problem is that they are all extremely young. They've got the talent to beat just about anybody in the state, as they proved when they beat St. Thomas Academy earlier this year, but I don't think the consistency is there yet, and this team might be a year away from truly making it.

I'm going to go with the top seed Blake, even though they lost to Breck on Saturday. The Bears weren't dominant this year, and at times, they struggled to keep the puck out of their net, but they've proven the past two years that they can pull it together when it matters most and make it out of the section.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Section 5A High School Preview

Here is The Bracket.

This section looks to be a four-horse race between the top four seeds. St. Cloud Cathedral is the top seed in the section, but they have been without one of their best players, Minnesota recruit Nate Schmidt, for nearly a month due to a bout with mono.

The second seed, Sauk Rapids-Rice has been one of the more confusing teams to follow this year. They have some great wins over some good teams, including a 3-2 win over St. Cloud Cathedral, but also have a couple head-scratching losses to some teams out west.

Sauk Rapids will likely meet 3rd seed Duluth Denfeld in the semifinals. Sauk Rapids won their previous meeting this year at home, with a 5-goal third period burst, and with the game being played in Cloquet, closer to home for Denfeld, I think Denfeld will prevail.

Last year's state champ, Hermantown, is the fourth seed. It's been a rough year for the Hawks, after losing some key seniors off last year's team, and losing Drew Leblanc to junior hockey. I think their playoff experience should carry them to the final.

In the end, however, I'll take Denfeld to win the section. Senior Jake Johnson passed on the USHL for one last shot at the state tournament, and I think he'll lead his tema there.

Section 1A High School Preview

The Bracket.

This may be the deepest section in the entire state. Any of the top 5 seeds has a legitimate chance at making it to the state tournament. Usually it's out of the question for a team that plays in the first round to have a chance at winning the section, but 5th seed Red Wing could win four straight games.

Rochester Lourdes had the most impressive resume in the section and earned the number one seed. Mankato West and Alberta Lea avoid what should be a grueling quartfinal between the 4 and 5 seeds, but Albert Lea's game against Northfield and Mankato West's game against Faribault should be tough in their own right.

Mankato West and Albert Lea split during the regular season, with each team winning at home. On a neutral site, I think Albert Lea will prevail, and meet Rochester Lourdes in the final. I'll take Albert Lea to make it to the state tournament. They are one of the best-coached teams in the section, and have pretty good depth. The semifinals and finals have the potential to be some great games.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Q&A with Travis Morin

Q & A with Travis Morin

By DJ Powers

Former Minnesota State Mankato Maverick Travis Morin has gotten off to an outstanding start to his pro career as a member of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. He has played in 36 games and currently ranks tied for third in the league in rookie scoring with 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists). He is also tied for the league in shorthanded goals with five.

Travis Morin shared his insights about the pro game and his days at Minnesota State Mankato, after the ECHL All-Game at Stockton Arena earlier on Wednesday night.

Q: How were the All-Star Game festivities for you these last two days?

TM: It was good. I met a lot of guys that I play against, getting to know them a little bit and just going out there, playing some hockey and just having a good time.

Q: You scored the first goal for the American conference tonight. So take me through that.

TM: I tried to make a pass, then their defenseman blocked and it bounced right back to me. I just pulled it in quick, shot it and beat the goalie.

Q: Was there something that you took out of this event that you’ll be able to take back to South Carolina with you?

TM: It’s just something that you’re going to remember because it’s your first All-Star game. It’s a way to meet some guys that you play against all the time that you’ll see for the rest of the year and just say ‘hi’. Other than that, it’s just a little springboard to the second half of the season.

Q: I know that this is your first year as a pro. How has it been for you in terms of the learning experience?

TM: I think that it’s been pretty easy adjustment. I came down last year after my senior year and played a couple of games with South Carolina. So that was good to get acclimated that way and going down there just gave me more confidence for this season. So far, it’s been pretty good.

Q: Did you go to either the Capitals or Hershey’s camp back in the fall?

TM: Yes. I went to the Capitals camp for a couple of weeks. Then I went to Hershey’s camp and they sent me down to South Carolina.

Q: I would assume that you being Capitals property and having been in the camps that they’ve been keeping tabs on you in South Carolina.

TM: Yes. I know that our coach sends in the (player) reports every day about how their guys are doing down in South Carolina. I got called up (by Hershey) for a couple of games earlier in the season and just looking to maybe get another chance up there.

Q: So how was the experience of playing in Hershey?

TM: Everything was a little faster and quicker. But it’s good to get your feet wet in there. I’m looking forward to next year and hopefully I’ll be up there the whole time.

Q: How was the adjustment for you going from the college game to the pro game?

TM: I think the biggest adjustment for me coming from the WCHA, were the rinks. Most of the rinks in the WCHA are Olympic-sized ice. When you come up to the pros, the guys are bigger, quicker. Things happen a little bit faster and you also don’t have as much time. So I think that’s the biggest adjustment that I had to make.

Q: You played for a wonderful coach in Troy Jutting at Mankato. What were some of the things that he taught you that you’ve been able to bring to the pro level?

TM: The thing that I had to learn the most was that I had to compete all the time. I probably didn’t do that early in my college career and he’d say it. It’s just something that you learn as you get a little bit older. You learn patience and when you have to choose your times. You’ve got to come to play every day because you never know what tomorrow holds.

Q: What do you feel are some of the areas that you’ve improved in since coming up to this level?

TM: I’d say my patience in making plays and taking my time out there. You think that you don’t have a whole lot of time but you can stop it for just a split second, figure everything out and make your play. I think that’s the biggest key to having success.

Q: Has the rigorous pro schedule been a real challenge for you as well?

TM: Yeah, it’s definitely a lot different from college, where you have practices during the week and games on the weekends. But it hasn’t been bad. We’ve had a couple of long road trips, but it’s nice to be able to get away and hang out with the guys sometime. You can’t really argue when you’re playing pro hockey.

Q: What are your best memories that you’ve taken with you from Mankato?

TM: I’d say that the guys that I graduated with are probably the best memories. I still keep in contact with them. They keep up with me and I see that they’re all playing in other places and try to keep tabs on them. It’s something that you don’t forget.

Q: Well the one player that I have to ask if you keep in close touch with is David Backes because you guys were so great together when the two of played at Mankato.

TM: Yeah, he’s doing really well for himself. St. Louis is an up and coming team. They’re young but they’re showing some good signs. He’s part of what they wanted and build around. I hope that he’ll have a long and distinguished career.

Q: Are you two still in contact with each other?

TM: Yes. He was one of my grooms at my wedding and I’ll be one of his grooms at his wedding this summer. Yeah, we still keep in touch and get together on the fourth of July every year.

Q: Finally, when are we going to be seeing you with the Caps? I know that you’re still their property, so I would imagine that you have contact with them.

TM: Yeah. I’m still (property) with them this year and next year. I’ll see what I can do and finish out this year, hopefully have a good summer, and then go out there and showing them what I can do.

Q: Do you plan to attend their camp next fall?

TM: Yes. I’m definitely going to be going out there for the camp and we’ll see what happens when I get out there.