I am excited to take in my first USHL game on Saturday night when the Muskegon Lumberjacks head to Chicago (actually Bensenville) to take on the Chicago Steel. Although both teams are battling it out for last place in the USHL’s Eastern Conference, it will be a great opportunity to watch some future HE talent on both squads. With over 250 college commitments from the 2011-2012 season and 165 alumni in the NHL, the USHL (the only tier 1 Junior League in the United States) has become THE eminent player development league.
Saturday’s USHL game will afford me the opportunity to get my first glimpse at UMaine commit, F Ryan Lomberg who has put together a fine season so far in Musekgon (13G 12A 25P). The Muskegon Lumberjacks also feature two players who will be calling Durham, NH home in the coming years, diminutive F Jordan Masters and C Mike McNicholas (5’10” 180 lbs, El Segundo, CA). Masters helped the U17 National Team capture the 5 Nations Tournament in Switzerland last summer finsihing second on the team with 7 points.
This year’s surprise team, UMass Lowell will be adding another talented, young forward to their roster as current Chicago Steel F Michael Fallon (Glenview, IL) has committed to the Riverhawks. Despite being buried at the bottom of the USHL standings, Fallon has amassed 33 points on 13 goals for the Steel this season.
Maine has been one of the hottest teams in the country in the last month but it wasn’t too long ago that Maine-iacs were calling for Tim Whitehead’s job. Not only did Whitehead recruit one of the top lines in all of college hockey this year (Abbott, Flynn, Diamond) but he has also pegged some prize recruits, in addition to Lomberg whom I have mentioned above, for the 2013 season. Nathan Fournier of the Maine Hockey Journal wrote a piece about Whitehead’s fortunes in successfully recruiting in the hockey hotbed of Minnesota. This is a testament to his recruitment efforts as Minnesota has several storied programs and prides itself in retaining it’s top High School talent; nevermind stealing a Mr. Hockey Finalist.
According to Fournier’s article:
“The Black Bears received two commitments from Eagan High School teammates Will Merchant and Sam Wolfe.
Merchant, a 6’1 180 pound forward, is a Mr. Hockey finalist, an award given to the best senior high school hockey player in Minnesota, and was ranked the 155th North American skater for the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He has 22 goals, 20 assists for 42 points in 23 games with the Wildcats.”
Maine’s stellar recruiting headlines weren’t limited to Wolfe, Merchant and Lomberg as the OJHL announced the following:
“The OJHL announced Devin Shore, Maine recruit, was named to the league’s first team all-prospect team. He had 29 goals, 19 assists for 48 points on the season. He’s the 75th ranked North American Skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau for the 2012 Draft.”
- The OHJL announced its official all star roster which includes abit more on Devin Shore.
According to New England Hockey Journal’s Bill Keefe, Boston College will once again be reloading its perenially potent offense as the Eagles have added C Frankie Vatrano from the US Under 18 National Team. The 5’10” 215 lb forward has 10 goals and 20 points on the year and was recently ranked 218th among North American skaters for June’s draft according to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.
Scout Danton Cole had this to say about Vatrano:
“He has an NHL-level shot,” said Danton Cole, who has coached Vatrano for both seasons with the NTDP. “He can really hum a puck.”
As long as Indiana Ice stalwart goaltender, John Gillies (Portland, ME), honors his commitment to Northeastern and isn’t tempted by the ways of the CHL (QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts own his rights), the Huskies will not miss a beat when the job is transitioned from incumbent netminder, Chris Rawlings. Kirk Luedeke wrote a feature on Gillies and BU recruit F Robbie Baillargeon (Enfield, CT) in the NEHJ today. The hulking 6ft4″ 205 lb Gillies (18-5-4 2.29 GAA) has backstopped the Indiana Ice to 2nd place in the Eastern Conference (USHL).
The Boston University Terriers featured several players on NEHJ’s top five 2012 NHL Draft prospect list including the aformentioned, Robbie Baillargeon (Indiana Ice – USHL). Massachusett’s Catholic Conference talents Sam Kurker (St. John’s Prep) and Malden
Catholic’s Brendan Collier were 2nd and 5th on the NEHJ prospect list respectively. The Terriers will no doubt remain strong for years to come and it’s certainly nice to see some home grown Massachusett’s talent at the top of their recruit list.
UMass recruit Shane Walsh is finding his return to the EJHL to his liking as he is scoring on a goal a game clip in the six games with the South Shore Kings. The NEHJ also had a brief synopsis on Walsh’s (West Roxbury, MA) deal from Dubuque (USHL) to the Kings. Check out Fear The Triangle’s Recruit update from earlier this week for a full look at all of the future Minutemen.
- Last but certianly not least this evening, check out the illustrious and ever informative Chris Peter’s article “American Prospect’s Update” – including a write up on UNH recruit, Tyler Kelleher.