Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Quick hits

Just a couple of notes from around major junior training camps.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who Bemidji discovered last year in the lesser-scouted Maritime Junior league, played his way onto the roster of the Moncton Wildcats and has elected to give up his '06 scholarship to Bemidji.

Tabor center Kief Orsini, fresh off an all-star performance at the Beantown Classic tourney (, had his major junior rights aquired by the Halifax Mooseheads. The Montreal, Quebec native has not yet made up his mind about which route to take, and had drawn interest from Colgate, Union and UNH. His linemate, Bobby Butler, was named tourney MVP, and he too continues to draw interest from UNH.

Out west, Mario Lamoureux has left the training camp of the Red Deer Rustlers in order to think over his options. His older brother, Philippe, is a goalie with North Dakota, and his other brother, Pierre-Paul, plays for Red Deer. Mario has an '07 offer to North Dakota on the table.

In Ontario, notables who have determined to keep their NCAA options open are St.Mike's first round OHL Bantam draft pick, defenseman Brendon Smith, who is suiting up for St.Mike's Junior A squad. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, he alread has made a summer tour of Wisconsin, along with BU, Michigan and Miami-Ohio.

Also on the plus side, Windsor's 2nd round pick, 6'2 defenseman Robert Bortuzzo from Thunder Bay, has rebuffed Windsor's offers, and did not attend training camp. His Thunder Bay teammate, center Travis Oleksuk, also looks to be headed the NCAA route, and therefore fell in the draft to the 6th round.

Finally, Waterloo defenseman Josh Duncan has committed to Quinnipiac.

Monday, August 29, 2005

That 90s Show

Paul Shaheen's informative Research on Ice (available by email at reports that Michigan received its third commitment this month from a homestate 1990 player, when David Wohlberg joined Robbie Craznick and A.J. Jenks as part of Michigan's Class of 2008. Also committing this month -- to Northern Michigan -- was another 1990 Michigan native, Justin Florek. That means that all of the 2008 commitments are from Michigan natives. So, what gives? Well, the Michigan group of 1990s stood out during the Summer's Select 15 Festival, and their play there helped secure the scholarships. (Czarnik and Wohlberg also stood out at last year's Select 14 Festival.) Also a potential factor is that the 1990 group follows the 1989 Michigan group that has not distinguished itself as clearly, as Andrew Yarber, Matt Rust and Anthony Maiani -- although strong college prospects -- have not attained the same star status as the '90 group.

It's likely that other schools will wait some time to secure commitments from the remainder of the 1990 class. Phil McRae also stood out, and parlayed his performance at the Festival into an invite to play as an under-age player with the USA National Development Team, but being from Missouri, has less exposure to the college scene. Minnesota's top ranked players, Jordan Schroeder and defenseman Nick Pryor will only be freshmen, so would take spots on the 2009 class. Out east, Jr.Bruins player Michael Cichy repeated his strong performance in the 2004 Select 14 Festival, but no 1990 defenseman established himself as warranting an early commitment. While few eastern 1990 forwards have cemented their 2008 standing, power forward Jimmy Hayes heads the 2008 wish list for nearly every eastern program, and solidified his top 1989-forward ranking during the recent International Under-17 tourney in Switzerland. Conventional wisdom has Harvard and BU gaining Hayes's attention, although others have offered.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Big Men Not Yet On Campus

Two towering defensemen are sure to make big splashes on the NCAA recruiting scene when they announce their college choices. Eric Gryba, a 6'4 farm boy was a second round pick in the 2003 WHL Bantam draft by the Portland Winter Hawks. He spent the last two seasons playing midget hockey with the Saskatoon Contacts, leading them this past season to the Canadian Midget championships. Gryba rebuffed the advances of the Winter Hawks, and the plan was for Gryba to make the oft-travelled path from Saskatchewan midgets to the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL. However, new Hockey Canada rules prevent midget-aged players from moving out of their home province, and rejected Gryba's attempts to circumvent that rule by moving in with a relative living in British Columbia. As a result, it looks that the NCAA recruiters will have to drive to Melfort Saskatchewan, where he'll suit up for the Mustangs of the SJHL.

The second towering '88 defenseman is Simon Danis-Pepin, a 6'6 defenseman from Gatineau, Quebec. The two met up in the Canadian Midget tourney, and like Gryba, Danis-Pepin rejected overtures from the Quebec League, where he would have been a top-5 pick in the midget draft. Late this summer he was one of 40 players selected to try out for the Canadian Under-18 team. Although Danis-Pepin failed to make the cut, his selection as one of only five 5 amateur players in his age bracket, speaks well of his abilities. He will be playing this year in the EJHL for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs in Manchester, NH, has narrowed his college choices to two, and should be committing to a Hockey East school before the early signing period. He'll become the second tallest college player, behind North Dakota's 6'7 Joe Finley and next to BU's 6'6 Tom Morrow.

Update: With Keith Yandle's decision to move to Moncton, Maine moved quickly and secured a commitment from Danis-Pepin for this coming season.

*Gryba won the Saskatchewan Midget League's top defenseman award this past season. The player who won the award the prior year, Kris Fredheim, moved on to the Notre Dame Hounds, and played well enough to become a 6th round pick of his home-town Vancouver Canucks. Fredheim is a well-rounded player, but with decent offensive upside, and also will commit to a college program in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Welcome to the initial posting on my new web log. In the coming months I hope to add some notes, commentary and features on the potential recruits that are listed on my NCAA Recruiting listing (

As major junior camps open, a lot of potential NCAA recruits have made the decision to forgoe the NCAA route and instead sign professional contracts. Among them are Todd Chinova, a 16 year old from Connecticut, who decided to join the Quebec Remparts rather than the offer by the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. Still up in the air is U.Mass recruit Vladimir Nikiforov, who is at the training camp of the OHL's Barrie Colts. St.Lawrence's Derek Keller also went east with his twin brother Jared so check out the Moncton Wildcats' training camp. As was expected, both left after 48 hours and will return to the Saskatchewan league. Moving on to the Moncton camp, however, is former UNH and Maine recruit, Keith Yandle. Moncton will be hosting the Memorial Cup this year, meaning it will have an automatic berth in the tourney. It's team, however, is far from formidable, and with Chris Bourque looking less likely to join the team, Moncton was a deep pocket team with few marquee players. Combine Yandle's academic struggles with Moncton's assets, and the offer was too good to pass up.

Some last minute shuffling by St.Cloud resulted in Craig Gaudet deferring his commitment for a season, and John Swanson leaving the Chicago Steel (USHL) a year earlier than expected to move up to St.Cloud. Chicago also suffered a late loss of goalie Greg Barrett, who moved on to Nebraska-Omaha when Chris Holt signed a pro contract with the NY Rangers. Combined with the late (although expected) loss of Billy Sauer to Michigan when Alvaro Montoya also signed with the Rangers, the Steel now have little experience in goal.

The Denver Pioneers scored a big coup for 2007 by netting fleet centerman Kyle Ostrow. Ostrow will play for Nanaimo of the BCHL, moving up from the Calgary Flames midget team of the Alberta Midget League. There he finished second overall in scoring, behind Chris Barton. Barton is the younger brother of Ohio State's David Barton, and will attempt to follow the scholarship route of Dan Bertram and Tyler Swystun, who blazed their path through the AJHL's Camrose Kodiaks. Barton's goal and assist per game average in midgets should make him a premier AJHL rookie this year, and a hot scholarship candidate.

Year Team GP G A PTS PM League
2002-03Calgary Flames40 1 1 0 AMHL
2003-04 Calgary Flames34 18 10 28 16 AMHL
2004-05Calgary Flames34 25 32 5742 AMHL

Year Team GP G A PTS PM League
2003-04 Calgary Buffaloes36 17 1027 32 AMHL
2004-05 Calgary Buffaloes 3634356946 AMHL