postseason play bodes well for UMD
postseason performances of some of Minnesota Duluth's recruits
serve as a sign of what’s to come in 2006 and beyond? If
so, folks in Duluth may well be appreciating a sight almost as
picturesque as Brighton Beach, a lovely stretch of Lake Superior
shoreline just minutes from the WCHA school's campus. To wit:
• Goaltender Alex Stalock (South St. Paul, Minn.) led Cedar
Rapids to the USHL playoff title with a 7-2 postseason record
and subterranean 1.44 goals-against average.
is such a competitor," said Cedar Rapids head coach and general
manager Mark Carlson, a former UMass Lowell player and assistant
coach. "He loves big games. He's very athletic, he never
gives up on the puck, and his concentration is tremendous.”
netminders are judged on results and not on style – Stalock
admits he didn’t cut his teeth at the Ken Dryden School
have said I play an unorthodox style," said Stalock, who
played for South St. Paul H.S. as a sophomore and junior. "I've
always loved playing the puck … sometimes too much. I've
had to work on cutting down angles more, and being in more control.”
Mason Raymond followed a 40-goal, 82-point effort for the Camrose
Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League – earning the
circuit’s MVP award in the process – with a dazzling
performance at Canada's Tier II junior A national championship.
The 19-year-old scored four goals and 10 points in five games
as Camrose finished second to the host Weyburn (Sask.) Red Wings.
all the tools," said Kodiak head coach Boris Rybalka. "He
works every shift and has all kinds of skills to match the effort
he puts forth on the ice."
According to NHL Central Scouting’s final prospect ratings
for this week’s entry draft, Raymond is 123rd among eligible
North American skaters.
• Shattuck St. Mary's won USA Hockey's Midget AAA national
championships in April with a 7-0 whitewash of the L.A. Selects.
The star of the show? UMD recruit Michael Gergen, a 5-11, 185-pound
forward who scored a goal and three assists in the title game
and led all tournament scorers with a 7-6—13 scoring line.
Said one scout
at nationals after witnessing Gergen’s performance, "He's
got talent, and is as tough as nails."
Perhaps Gergen earned his grit from his days working the family
farm near Hastings, Minn. Or perhaps it was out of necessity –
when you play for Shattuck, it’s like skating for Midget
AAA's version of the New York Yankees, Montreal Canadiens and
Manchester United … combined.
"I've got good foot speed and puck-handling ability,"
said Gergen, "but at the college level I'll have to push
everything up a notch. There will be so much less time and space.
I'll have to adjust quickly."
• Then there’s forward Cody Danberg, who won’t
debut in the Twin Ports until the 2006-07 season. The Canwood,
Sask., native helped the Saskatoon Contacts claim this year's
Canadian Midget AAA national championship with a two goals and
10 points in seven games. That showing came on the heels of a
34-goal regular season which, combined with his postseason efforts,
earned the 6-0, 180-pound Danberg a spot with the British Columbia
Hockey League's Nanaimo Clippers next season.
brings a great attitude," said Clippers' head coach and general
manager Bill Bestwick. "He's one of the finest two-way players
I have ever seen play with the ability to score and create offense."
Tall Cup 'o Joe
this for a summer itinerary: Finish your junior year of
high school, start summer school, earn senior status by
early June, take more classes via Internet and be on track
to graduate by August 1 in order to head off to college
in the fall?
like too much? Not for Joe Finley, the 6-7, 240-pound defenseman
from Edina, Minn., who played for the USHL's Sioux Falls
Stampede last year. This September, he’ll step into
the breach as a blueliner at North Dakota.
been a whirlwind," said the 18-year-old Finley, who
in 55 USHL games last year scored three goals and 18 points
and compiled 181 penalty minutes. "I knew what I had
to do to get this all done, but sometimes I wasn't sure
if I'd bitten off more than I could chew. But it looks like
everything's going to fall in place, and in the end, it's
been worth it."
notion of accelerating his studies became increasingly attractive
to Finley as his junior year progressed.
idea of accelerating had been on my mind for some time,"
said Finley, who played two seasons at Edina H.S. under
the tutelage of Hornets' head coach and 14-year NHL veteran
Curt Giles. "I know it takes mental maturity to do
this and I've been working hard in the classroom and also
on the ice."
Several schools battled for the chance to bring in Finley.
In the end, it came down to the Fighting Sioux and their
bitter rival, Minnesota.
look at North Dakota's tradition and you see they love big
defensemen, and I think I can fit that mold," said
Finley. "I took my official visit there recently and
I had a chance to meet a lot of the guys and see the campus.
I just had the feeling this was the place I wanted to be."
Fighting Sioux are naturally excited. So is Sioux Falls
head coach Kevin Hartzell, who was hired by the club after
the season but saw Finley play on several occasions.
is absolutely a fantastic prospect," said Hartzell,
who played at Minnesota in the late 1970's. "It's really
scary how good he could be. He has great hands, good feet
and he just keeps getting better.
"He can play almost any type of game. I've seen him
play a very intimidating type of game and I've also seen
him [play with] more skills by moving his feet and really
handling the puck."
not the only Division I athlete in his family. His sister,
Kelly Rae, plays basketball at Northwestern.
a brain and a good athlete," said the younger Finley.
like brother and sister are a lot alike.
USA Hockey sponsors several "Select" festivals –
week-long tournaments in which top players in various age groups
come together for a series of exhibitions intent on showcasing
their talents for both college and pro scouts. Perhaps the most
watched of these is the Select 17 Festival, which took place earlier
this month in St. Cloud, Minn. Several of these 1988-born players
made lasting impressions, here's a few who caught our eye:
• Tysen Dowzak (D, 6-5, 223 pounds)
in street shoes and larger than life on skates. Six-foot-five
and still growing. Didn't have the best showing at the Select
17's, but it's obvious why everyone is drooling.
Shattuck standout will skate for the USHL's Lincoln Stars this
year before moving to college in the fall of 2006, quite possibly
to North Dakota. A top-10 prospect for the 2006 NHL Draft in the
opinion of most observers.
Palmer (G, 6-1, 195)
One of the top-rated goalies for the 2006 NHL Draft, his efforts
in St. Cloud showed why Palmer is held in such high regard. He's
big and athletic and can cut down angles and play the butterfly
with equal aplomb. Palmer had a 3.00 GAA in 138 minutes played.
Now with the U.S. National Team Development Program, he's already
committed to Ohio State for the fall of 2006.
• Patrick Kane (F, 5-10, 153)
Too small for the pro game? Perhaps, but his skill should translate
to an outstanding college career at the very least. He might just
keep developing and score at every level. The U.S. NTDP standout,
who scored one goal and seven points in six games at the Selects,
is considering schools such as Michigan and Boston University
for the fall of 2006 or '07.
Rowe (F, 6-2, 175)
be considered the second coming of Justin Abdelkader. After two
years at Mona Shores H.S. in Muskegon, Mich. – where Michigan
State discovered incoming recruit Abdelkader – Rowe wowed
onlookers with two goals in his very first game. He’ll play
for the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers next season.
Strait (D, 6-1, 195)
NTDP blueliner made incredible strides during the year and his
performance in St. Cloud in many ways mirrored his growth in recent
months. Extremely mobile and very skilled, Strait has committed
to Boston University for the fall of 2006.
• Michael Carman (F, 6-0, 180)
One of the week’s top two-way players, the former Academy
of Holy Angels star gives an honest shift every time he's on the
ice. Now a member of the NTDP, Carman scored five goals and seven
points in six games. He’s committed to Minnesota for the
fall of 2006.
• Nigel Williams (D, 6-4, 220)
A thoroughbred with all the tools who, as he continues to learn
the game a bit better, will become even more dominant. Williams,
who played with Team Illinois last year and has already committed
to Wisconsin for the fall of 2007, posted a 1-2—3 scoring
line at the tournament.
• Mike Forney (F, 6-3, 180)
Forney's size and strength piqued the interest of college and
pro scouts long before the Select 17's began and at the tournament
he showed why. Forney, who scored 33 goals and 66 points in 28
games for Lincoln HS in Thief River Falls, Minn., last season,
pumped in an impressive two goals and 11 points in six games in
St. Cloud. He has one more year of high school hockey and perhaps
a season or two in the USHL before moving on to D-I.
and Draft Eligible
With the NHL
lockout settled and the entry draft slated for Saturday in Ottawa,
Research On Ice – thanks to ROI's colleagues at Red Line
Report, the widely respected independent scouting service –
presents its top five NHL draft-eligible players who'll make their
D-I debuts this October.
1. Jack Skille (F, 6-1, 200, U.S. NTDP)
Put him down low and he owns the ice. Rugged and vastly skilled.
Off to Wisconsin this fall.
2. Jack Johnson (D, 6-1, 200, U.S. NTDP)
Arguably the most skilled and naturally talented defenseman in
this year's draft. Plays with a mean streak when he wants to.
Off to Michigan this fall
3. Andrew Cogliano (F, 5-9, 173, St. Michael’s-OPJHL).
49 games, 36 goals, 102 points. Need more? Speed and skill will
make him a fabulous collegian, if not a pro someday. Heading to
the Wolverines come September.
4. Brian Lee (D, 6-2, 202, Moorhead (Minn.) H.S.)
Playing against competition far below his level of ability at
the high school level, things will get a lot more interesting
this fall when he arrives at North Dakota. Though he struggled
at the 2005 World Junior Championships, he's a smooth skater and
great decision maker.
5. Matt Niskanen (D, 6-0, 193, Virginia, (Minn.) H.S.)
Think Duluth is fired up about Gergen, Stalock and Raymond? Get
ready for Niskanen, who has speed to burn and a great set of hands
is the publisher of Research on Ice and will contribute recruiting
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