September 22, 2005
Early-Season Scouting

Big tournaments in Iowa and Boston yield top prospects

By Paul Shaheen

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You think the college season is long? Try following juniors or midget AAA for a while. Just as the collegians are setting foot on campus in September (and are about a month away from hitting the ice) the junior, bantam and midget icers are well into training camp. Many, in fact, had already seen meaningful game action, be it preseason, regular season, or in various showcase tournaments throughout the U.S. and Canada. Regardless of the location, the pro and D-I scouts were there.

And so were we.

Passing the Buc

A must-see on any scout's priority list, the Buc Bowl in Des Moines is arguably the United States Hockey League's crown jewel event, even though games don't count in the standings. For years, the tournament has allowed D-I talent hounds to get a first look at some of the new (and improved) prospects the USA's top junior A circuit offers. While a number of players stood out, here are a few names worth keeping in your memory bank:

D Eric Gryba ('88/6-4, 195/Green Bay Gamblers)
From Saskatoon and the Canadian midget AAA champion Saskatoon Contacts, the 17 year-old Gryba showed a great mixture of skills and potential. Through Green Bay's first two (of three total) games, Gryba had a goal and two points, was +2, and had 10 PIMs.

Scout's take: "I honestly believe he has the potential to be a first-round NHL draft pick. He's huge, he plays huge, but he's very poised and offensively gifted."

F Trevor Lewis ('87/6-1, 185/Des Moines Buccaneers)
Entering his second season in Des Moines, Lewis appears ready to build on his lofty accomplishments from last year, when he scored 10 goals and 22 points in 52 games for the Buccaneers.

Scout's take: "This kid's amazing. He's the total package. He competes, he has a nose for the net, he's physical, and he has the ability to finish."

F Garrett Roe ('88/5-8, 160/Indiana Ice)
Through the Buc Bowl's first two games, Roe had two goals and was +2, showing solid offensive gifts and a dependable all-around game along the way.

F Andy Bohmbach ('87/6-2, 175/Waterloo Black Hawks)
Bohmbeck was challenged to have a solid off-season in the weight room, and he responded with an excellent training camp, and an even better Buc Bowl. He skated hard in every area of the ice.

F Matt Arhontas ('87/5-6, 142/Waterloo Black Hawks)
Scout's take: "For a guy who's only 5-6, he's pretty determined. "He doesn't back down, and has all kinds of skill. Exciting and very smart."

D Mike Beck ('86/6-0, 200/Sioux City Musketeers)
Two goals, four points and a +3 rating. Not a bad start for the three-year veteran from Long Beach, Calif.

Scout's take: "He has tremendous skill." ... "He can really handle the puck, makes the right first pass, and can work the power play effectively."

G Max Strang ('89/6-1, 174/Green Bay Gamblers)
From Gilbertsville, Pa., Strang looked exceptional with 29 saves in a 6-1 win over Chicago. Tall, lanky and knows how to get from side to side.

D Nick Petrecki ('89/6-3, 205/Omaha Lancers)
So far, the realtiy's matched the hype that's come with Petrecki since he decided to play this year in the USHL (INCH Recruiting Notebook, June 2005).

Scout's take: "He's even better than advertised." ... "And from what I've heard, he really wants to get better. He looked very much at home on the power play."

Note: Late last week, Petrecki gave a verbal commitment to Boston College.

F Andy Miele ('88/5-8, 150/Cedar Rapids RoughRiders)
Through the first two games of the Buc Bowl, the Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native scored two goals and was +2 for the defending USHL playoff champions.

Scout's take: "He has tremendous skill and poise with the puck. He has excellent puck presence and on-ice vision."

The Best of Beantown

Just a few weekends before the Buc Bowl, the Beantown Classic tournament took place in, well, Boston of course. Much like the Buc Bowl that proceeded it, the annual east coast showcase did much to enhance the reputations and D-I chances of many a player. Again, a sampling:

The top three scoring players at this year's event were teammates last year at prestigious Tabor Academy (Marion, Mass.)

Keeping His Concentration

For most people, losing concentration is only a minor irritation, but for 18 year-old Tabor Academy center Kief Orsini, it's an issue he's had to work hard to overcome.

"When I was growing up and going to school, especially in the large schools I used to attend, where there were, say, 30 kids to a classroom, I'd find myself easily distracted," said Orsini, a Montreal native who will be entering his second (and senior) season at Tabor Academy this fall. "After a while, it became a real problem for me."

Not just a problem, but a full-fledged (and diagnosed) learning disability, which doctors attributed to 'secondary noise.' Said Orsini: "I sometimes even had troubles studying at home."

No matter; Orsini's head and heart have always been academically inclined, so much so that despite having twice flirted with the notion of playing Major A in Canada, the 5-11, 170-pound pivot chose to keep at his studies and continue to play prep hockey in the states.

"Two years ago, I was drafted by Rouyn-Nornada," Orsini explained. "Even though I grew up bilingual, I'd been attending English schools since I was in sixth grade and there weren't any English schools that far north in Quebec. They tried to trade me, but that never happened, so I opted to go to Tabor."

Then this past summer, the QMJHL took one last crack at him.

"I'm friends with Angelo Esposito (who earlier this summer signed with the Quebec Remparts), and I was invited to attend a summer tryout camp with the Remparts," Orsini continued. "I went to the camp, and the team was very interested in me, but then they traded me to Halifax. There would have been English schools there, but in the end, I had to make a quick decision, and I thought it was best to return to Tabor.

"As a young man, you always wonder what you might have done in a league like the 'Q,' but the environment at Tabor has been great for me, and I have no regrets at all."

With a student body of around 490, Tabor, located in Marion, Mass., has been an academic God-send of sorts for Orsini.

"Here, I've never had more than 15 kids in a class," said Orsini, "and it's usually more like six, so it's really helped me focus, and I've done better as a result."

Last year, Orsini improved his SAT score by well over 100 points.

Think Orsini's worked hard in the classroom? He's done every bit as much on the ice.

"Kief's a great skater with a tremendous skill set," said Tabor coach Gary Dineen, who played collegiately at Middlebury College and is now entering his seventh season as head coach of the Seawolves. "He's good with the puck, he's gritty, and plays with a lot of heart."

All to what Dineen spoke of is why a number of eastern schools had their eyes on Orsini for the fall of 2006. New Hampshire and Vermont had a good deal of interest, but Union made the strongest pitch, and it's the Dutchmen, in the end, who will have Orsini's services starting next fall.

"There were some tremendous schools out there," Orsini admitted, "but coach (Nate) Leaman has been great to me. I went on an unofficial visit there, and it seems like a great place. Union has a trimester system, which means I'd only be taking three classes a term. I like that. I need to weigh whatever other offers there are out there, but Union seemed very magnetic."

— P.S.

In Kief Orsini ('87/5-11, 170), Steve Silva ('87/5-8, 168) and Bobby Butler, the Beantown witnessed three players who put up, respectively, seven goals and 15 points, three goals and 12 points, and five goals and 11 points all in a five-game span.

Orsini's off to Union next fall (see our sidebar), while Silva will likely get plenty of D-I interest while skating for Green Bay (USHL) in 2005-06.

Fourth in scoring was 6-0, 205-pound Berkshire School forward Josh Rabbani, an '88 from California who himself chipped in with a 5-5—10 scoring line and was named the tournament's "Biggest Surprise" prospect.

While the scouts may have felt him a surprise, the performance came as no surprise at all to Berkshire School head coach Alex Moody.

"He's a very solid kid," said Moody, a former Division III goaltender for Colby College. "He has an NHL shot, soft hands, and is a terrific playmaker. And he loves to bang. In so many ways, he reminds me of (former Boston University Terrier) Mike Grier."

High praise indeed for a kid going only into his junior year of prep school.

Other top-end performers at the Beantown included '86 born defenseman Barry Goers from the Eastern Junior Hockey League's Green Mountain Glades of Burlington, Vermont. At 5-8 and 165 pounds, Goers was exceptionally smooth, and his late-August efforts in Boston paid dividends only a month later. The Philadelphia area native accepted a scholarship from UMass Lowell for the fall of 2006.

The tournament's top netminder was Bow, N.H., native and Vermont recruit Mike Spillane, an '86 who went 3-0-1 for the tournament with a .906 save percentage. Between now and joining the Catamounts, the 6-0, 180-pound Spillane will further his skills with the USHL's Omaha Lancers.

The Home Of The Braves

Junior A clubs come and go, but for seniority's sake, few Canadian clubs have been around longer than the CJHL's Brockville (Ont.) Braves, who in a preseason event played at Mercyhurst in early September and posted an umblemished 4-0 record, knocking off clubs such as the EJHL's New Jersey Hitmen (Hitmen? Owned by Tony Soprano are they?) and the AAA Philadelphia Junior Flyers.

The Braves first came on the scene 42 years ago, and are currently coached by one-time St. Lawrence captain Mike McCourt, who skated for Joe Marsh and the Saints back in the early 1990s. McCourt knows how to get the best out of his players, and he has a bumper crop again this year, many of whom have done well in the season's early going. Here's a few:

F Jordan Cyr (5/86, 5-9, 175)
Comitted to RPI for the fall of 2006, Cyr joins the Braves for this season after scoring aplenty for Manitoba Junior Hockey League side Selkirk, which benefitted greatly from Cyr's 23-goal, 56-point effort in 2004-05. "He's a skilled guy who sees the ice well," said McCourt, "he really competes."

G Tyler Owens ('85/5-9, 160)
Last year Owens, a Michigan native, put up a 22-4-1 record and a .913 save percentage in Brockville. "He's very athletic, and very quick, and what you really like about him is his competitiveness," said McCourt. "He never ever gives up on the puck."

G Charles Long ('86/5-11, 170)
A CJHL rookie this year, Long, a Cleveland native, will challange Owens for ice time. "Handles his rebounds and is very efficient and tidy," said McCourt. "Charles is a very focused kid with excellent grades. Many Ivy League schools already have their eye on him."

LW Shawn Cox ('87/6-1, 195)
In his rookie CJHL season, the Ottawa-bred Cox impressed with 10 goals and 21 points in 49 games. "He's a strong power forward people should keep their eye on," said McCourt. "He does lots of little things well, and is great down low and along the wall."

Paul Shaheen is the publisher of Research on Ice and contributes recruiting updates to Inside College Hockey throughout the year. To subscribe to Research on Ice's free daily recruiting e-mail newsletter, contact Paul at