Sunday, October 06, 2019

UNH Freshman Nolan McElhaney: An Offensive Defenseman

Nolan McElhaney
UNH Defenseman #7
"Nolan is someone who sees the ice well and will add size to our back end. He has showed tremendous will power in battling back from injury." Mike Souza, UNH Head Coach
"Nolan is an offensive defenseman and is constantly looking to activate into the offensive rush." Neutral Zone
Nolan McElhaney UNH Jersey #7
Defenseman, 6'3", 190 lbs. Shoots Right
Hometown: Natick, Massachusetts
DOB: 4-22-1999 Turned 20 in April
Neutral Zone Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Last Team: Omaha Lancers (USHL)
                      ~ Right/Left Defenseman **Season-ending Injury in 5th Game
Commits to UNH: January, 2018 at Age 18 years, 9 months.
"Nolan McElhaney: Cushing Academy Defenseman Commits to UNH"

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Nolan McElhaney at the UNH Hockey Media Day on September 25th.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What would you like UNH fans to know about you, both as a person and a hockey player?

Nolan McElhaney: On the ice, I think I'm an offensive minded defenseman. I like to push the pace playing with the puck on my stick and jumping into the play as much as possible - to create offense and help to score. Defensively, I like to shut down the top lines. I like playing against the best players on the other team to help us win games.

I would call myself a quiet guy in the locker room. But if I need to be, I can be a talkative guy. I like to make sure that everyone knows what they're doing on the ice before the game starts. On the ice, I like to lead by example and do whatever I need to do to help the team win and hopefully, everyone else will figure that out.

Mike Lowry: Do you see yourself as similar to any of the upperclass defensemen on the team in terms of style and skill set?

Nolan McElhaney: I think I'm similar to Benton Maass. I try to imitate how he plays. He's been teaching me a lot over the past month, giving me a lot of pointers. He's drafted in the NHL and he'll be there soon and hopefully I'll follow not far behind. I'm trying to get as much from him now and implement that into my game as much as I can.

Lowry: Can you give an example of one of the things he's conveyed to you that's been helpful?

McElhaney: Like in 2-on-1 situations, good sticks like jumping at the guy and then back and then staying in the middle. He's a good stick in the defensive zone. He knows where he needs to be and where his stick placement is. On the blueline, he knows how to walk the puck along the blueline very well. He's been teaching me how to do that and it's coming along real well.

Winter 2017 Highlight Reel



Neutral Zone Scouting Report

Battle of Boston, May, 2018
"Nolan had a breakout year at Cushing this year and his development hasn’t slowed. He is an offensive defensemen and is constantly looking to activate into the offensive rush. He is long and lean and will need to continue to develop strength so that he is tougher to play against in his own zone. He sees the ice well and is at his best with the puck on his stick through the neutral zone. Heavy shot from the point. Sees shooting angles well."

Youth, Prep & Junior Hockey Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Nolan McElhaney  (D) 2018-19 Omaha Lancers USHL 5 0 0 0 2
2017-18 Cushing Academy NE Prep 14 9 15 24 14
EMass Senators MHSL U18 18 7 6 13 24
2016-17 Cushing Academy NE Prep 32 5 10 15 -
EMass Senators MHSL U18 14 1 8 19 15
2015-16 Cushing Academy NE Prep 31 3 4 7 -
Junior Bruins MHSL U16 11 4 2 6 10

Thursday, October 03, 2019

UNH Freshman Chase Stevenson: A Speedy, One-on-One Battler

Chase Stevenson
UNH Forward #15
"Chase plays a 200-foot game and we feel he's someone that can be trusted in all situations." Mike Souza, UNH Head Coach
"Chase’s skating is start and go. He can really pick up speed and stop on a dime. He creates space with his speed capitalizing on a one-on-one opportunity." Neutral Zone
Chase Stevenson UNH Jersey #15
Forward, 5'11", 175 lbs. Shoots Left
Hometown: West Kelowna, British Columbia
DOB: 1-13-1999 Turns 21 in January
Neutral Zone Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars
Last Team: Trail Smoke Eaters (BCHL)
                       ~ Center/Winger
Commits to UNH: October, 2017 at Age 18 years, 9 months.
"Chase Stevenson From British Columbia Commits to UNH"

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Chase Stevenson at the UNH Hockey Media Day on September 25th.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What would you like UNH fans to know about you, both as a person and a hockey player?

Chase Stevenson: As a person, I'm super passionate. I think, hopefully, they'll notice, on and off the ice, that I'm a hard worker. I'm here to take school very seriously and, obviously, hockey is my main passion so I'm here to make the NHL.

Some things I enjoy off the ice - I'm a big surfer. I love surfing so at home, I'm a big surfer in the summer. I love doing all types of sports. I play a little soccer in the offseason and fun things like tennis.

On the ice, in terms of things I'd like fans to know about me, I want to be an exciting player. Somebody who plays with a lot of skill, a lot of pace, somebody that's fun to watch. I take pride in that and I'm excited to get things going.

Mike Lowry: Do you see yourself as similar to any of the upperclass forwards on the team in terms of style and skill set?

Chase Stevenson: I wouldn't say there's one guy that I play exactly like. We've got a lot of great players. If there's one guy I would pick out it would be Charlie Kelleher. We're obviously a similar size and just the way he controls the puck and plays with a lot of skill. He's responsible at both ends of the ice which is something I take pride in as well.

2018-19 Highlight Reel



Neutral Zone Scouting Report

Game Review, November, 2018
"Chase’s skating is start and go; he can really pick up speed and stop on a dime. He protects the puck well by keeping it close to his body, as well as uses his dangles to make it difficult to steal. He creates space with his speed, capitalizing on a one-on-one opportunity. He doesn’t shy away from the rougher parts of the area as his aggressiveness on the penalty kill resulted in heavy checks way down low."

Youth, Prep & Junior Hockey Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Chase Stevenson  (F) 2018-19 Trail Smoke Eaters BCHL 32 9 22 31 26
Playoffs 10 1 7 8 12
Surrey Eagles BCHL 25 10 12 22 37
2017-18 West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 40 12 11 23 25
Playoffs 4 1 0 1 2
2016-17 West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 33 10 10 20 15
Playoffs 4 1 3 4 4
Okanagan Rockets BCMML 6 4 8 12 2
2015-16 Penticton Vees BCHL 3 0 0 0 0
Okanagan Rockets BCMML 20 15 14 29 28
Playoffs 5 5 4 9 12
Okanagan Academy Prep CSSHL 20 4 3 7 6
Playoffs 3 0 0 0 6

UNH Freshman Robby Griffin: A Strong Skating, Playmaker

Robby Griffin
UNH Forward #17
"Robby is a strong skater and playmaker and someone we feel has a very big upside." Mike Souza, UNH Head Coach
"He pushes the pace offensively, especially through the neutral zone. Shows mobility and a quick stick near the net. Played two seasons in the National Collegiate Development Conference against older players where he learned to move without the puck and play in traffic. High IQ." Neutral Zone
Robby Griffin UNH Jersey #17
Forward, 6'0", 176 lbs. Shoots Right
Hometown: Burlington, Massachusetts
DOB: 1-8-2001 Turned 18 in January. A "true" Freshman
Neutral Zone Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Last Team: Boston Junior Bruins (NCDC)
                       ~ First Line Center; First Power Play Unit
Commits to UNH: May, 2019 at Age 18 years, 4 months.
"UNH Commit Robby Griffin: A High IQ, High Effort Player"

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Robby Griffin at the UNH Hockey Media Day on September 25th.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): What would you like UNH fans to know about you, both as a person and a hockey player?

Robby Griffin: Off the ice, I'm a person who works well with people, likes to be in big groups, and can read people real well in big group environments. So, I'm a good locker room guy and someone that people want to know. I'm usually friendly and like to keep it loose before a game but I'm dialed in when things are important.

On the ice, I like to model my game after players like Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins. I like to play like him. He's like my idol. He's a good two-way forward, completes his responsibilities in the D-zone, and wins faceoffs, but he's also good offensively.

Mike Lowry: He's sort of an understated guy and he's not very demonstrative on the ice. He just does his job. Are you similar or do you show your emotions more than he does?

Robby Griffin: I'm pretty calm on the ice. I wouldn't say I'm a flashy player and I just get the job done. It's not just an under the radar type thing because I still like to produce. It's just not for the show - it's like get your responsibilities done and produce whatever the team needs.

Lowry: Do you see yourself as similar to any of the upperclass forwards on the team in terms of style and skill set?

Griffin: Being a center, I'd say a role model on the team is Liam Blackburn. Watching him play in practice, it's the way I want to do it. He's very good at the faceoff dot. He's good in the D-zone and he puts up good numbers offensively. He wins a lot of puck battles in the corners - it's like impossible to take the puck off his stick. He just gets the job done. He's not the most flashy player but he always produces and does the job on both ends of the ice.

2018-19 Highlight Reel



Neutral Zone Scouting Report

From the NCDC Fall Beantown Classic, October, 2018
"Robby is the best prospect and probably the best player in the NCDC as a 2001. He does not jump off the ice at you as he does not force his skill on the game. He is really smart stays around the puck and jumps to chances. Stole a puck Saturday and quickly buried it top corner. Elite shot. Plays center and liked to be the F3. Sneaks in and out of scoring areas. Settles in scoring spots. His stride is excellent as he gets every bit of his legs. Pushed pace on the rush and in the zone made smart passes. He moved the puck board to board and stretched defenses to create space. He has improved getting to tough areas and has learned to carve out space in the net front and win pucks on the wall. High IQ, high effort player who is tough, talented and skilled. He is a hockey player who consistently makes plays. Lots more upside."

Youth & Junior Hockey Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Robby Griffin  (F) 2018-19 Boston Junior Bruins NCDC 50 8 34 42 22
Playoffs 8 2 7 9 8
USA Select 17 5 1 1 2 0
2017-18 Boston Junior Bruins NCDC 49 8 15 23 18
Playoffs 6 1 3 4 0
USA Select 16 5 3 2 5 2
2016-17 Boston Junior Bruins USPHL 16U 28 14 33 47 32
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 0
USA Select 15 3 1 2 3 0
2015-16 Boston Junior Bruins USPHL 16U 30 7 26 33 4
Playoffs 2 0 1 1 0

Monday, September 23, 2019

UNH Commits Update: 9-23-2019

The UNH Men's Hockey Blog


WELCOME to the 9th Season of UNH Commits Update on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog. The 2019-20 regular season has begun in most junior leagues, including the British Columbia Hockey League, North American Hockey League, and National Collegiate Development Conference. The United States Hockey League begins the regular season on September 26th. New England Prep Schools and United States High Schools begin in late November.

As of today, there are 15 young players who have verbally committed to the University of New Hampshire. Three of them - Aidan Curran (Salmon Arm Silverbacks, BCHL), Will Margel (Madison Capitols, USHL) and Connor Sweeney (Trail Smoke Eaters, BCHL) - are on track to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2020. Seven others - Nicolas Ardanaz (West Kelowna Warriors, BCHL), Nicholas Cafarelli (Wenatchee Wild, BCHL), Robert Cronin (Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL), Alex Gagne (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, USHL), Carsen Richels (Blaine High School, Minnesota), Jack Ring (Northeast Generals, NAHL), and David Sacco (Lawrence Academy, NE Prep) - are projected for 2020 or 2021.

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2020 or '21 UNH Commit Nick Cafarelli's debut in junior hockey has been very impressive. In his first six BCHL games, the 5'10", 185 lbs. right-shot center for the Wenatchee Wild scored 5 goals, including the game-winner in his first game and another last night, and contributed 3 assists. He is tied for 2nd in BCHL goal-scoring and tied for 5th in scoring. Last season, as a junior at Cushing Academy (New England Prep School Hockey), Cafarelli lead the team in scoring with 18 goals, 27 assists in 33 games. Here are Cafarelli's game-winning goals:



~ 2020 UNH Commit Aidan Curran made the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) 30-player roster, played in their first preseason game, but was released. Last Thursday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks announced that Curran had joined the team. In his first BCHL game, Curran was credited with an assist. Last season, as a center for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, Curran tallied the 6th most assists (37 in 55 regular season games) in the National Collegiate Development Conference.

National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ 17-year-old Cy LeClerc, a senior at Exeter, New Hampshire High School, got off to a fast start in his first two games of junior hockey with the Islanders Hockey Club (IHC). The 5'8", 163 lbs., right-shot center scored a goal in his first game and the game-winner in his second. He also chipped in 2 assists. LeClerc is projected to enroll at UNH in Fall, 2021. Here's LeClerc's first game-winning goal in the NCDC:



North American Hockey League:

~ 2020 or '21 UNH Commit Jack Ring scored his first NAHL goal in his second game this season with the Northeast Generals.

United States Hockey League:

~ In USHL preseason action, 2020 UNH Commit Will Margel tallied 2 goals, including the game-winner for the Madison Capitols with just 18.8 seconds left in his first game in junior hockey.

~ 2020 or '21 UNH Commit Robert Cronin also scored 2 goals including the game-winner in his first USHL preseason game. He also scored a goal in the Dubuque Fighting Saints' 5-2 win over Green Bay last Friday.

Note:

~ Marek Wazny is no longer committed to the University of New Hampshire.

2019-20 Statistics


Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2020 Commits
Aidan Curran
1/22/01 (F)
Salmon Arm Silverbacks BCHL 2 0 1 1 0
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL^^ 1 0 0 0 0
Will Margel*
3/16/01 (F)
Madison Capitols USHL^^ 3 2 0 2 2
Connor Sweeney
5/5/00 (F)
Trail Smoke Eaters BCHL 8 0 1 1 6
2020 or '21 Commits
Nicolas Ardanaz
5/30/02 (D)
West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 7 0 2 2 0
Nicholas Cafarelli
12/31/01 (F)
Wenatchee Wild BCHL 6 5 3 8 8
Robert Cronin
8/15/00 (F)
Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL^^ 2 3 1 4 0
Liam Devlin
1/7/01 (F)
Chicago Steel USHL^^ 4 0 1 1 2
Alex Gagne
8/12/02 (D)
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL^^ 4 0 0 0 2
Carsen Richels 10/3/01 (F) Blaine High School Minn HS - - - - -
MPLS ST PAUL UMidwest HSELH 5 3 3 6 0
Jack Ring
12/18/00 (F)
Northeast Generals NAHL 6 1 1 2 0
David Sacco
1/3/02 (F)
Lawrence Academy NE Prep - - - - -
Cape Cod Whalers U18 EHF Selects 4 2 0 2 18
2021 Commits
Cy LeClerc
8/17/02 (F)
Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 5 2 2 4 0
2021 or '22 Commits
JP Turner
1/31/03 (F)
Avon Old Farms NE Prep - - - - -
NV River Rats 16U Beast Series 5 1 6 7 4
Morgan Winters
12/8/01 (F)
Tabor Academy NE Prep - - - - -
NV River Rats 18U Beast Series 4 1 0 1 2
2022 or '23 Commits
Nick Ring
10/26/03 (F)
Boston Advantage U18 ECEL - - - - -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent
^^ = USHL Preseason
NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the above table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2020 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2020. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Friday, September 20, 2019

UNH Commits Update: 9-20-2019

The UNH Men's Hockey Blog


WELCOME to the 9th Season of UNH Commits Update on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog. The 2019-20 regular season has begun in most junior leagues, including the British Columbia Hockey League, North American Hockey League, and National Collegiate Development Conference. The United States Hockey League preseason ends on September 21st and the regular season begins September 26th. New England Prep Schools and United States High Schools begin in late November.

As of today, there are 15 young players who have verbally committed to the University of New Hampshire. Three of them - Aidan Curran (Salmon Arm Silverbacks, BCHL), Will Margel (Madison Capitols, USHL) and Connor Sweeney (Trail Smoke Eaters, BCHL) - are on track to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2020. Seven others - Nicolas Ardanaz (West Kelowna Warriors, BCHL), Nicholas Cafarelli (Wenatchee Wild, BCHL), Robert Cronin (Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL), Alex Gagne (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, USHL), Carsen Richels (Blaine High School, Minnesota), Jack Ring (Northeast Generals, NAHL), and David Sacco (Lawrence Academy, NE Prep) - are projected for 2020 or 2021.

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2020 UNH Commit Aidan Curran made the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL) 30-player roster, played in their first preseason game, but was released. Yesterday, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks announced that Curran has joined the team. Last season, as a center for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, Curran tallied the 6th most assists (37 in 55 regular season games) in the National Collegiate Development Conference.

~ 2020 or '21 UNH Commit Nick Cafarelli is tied for 4th in BCHL scoring. In his first three BCHL games, the 5'10", 185 lbs. right-shot center for the Wenatchee Wild scored 3 goals, including the game-winner in his first game, and 3 assists. Last season, as a junior at Cushing Academy, Cafarelli lead the team in scoring with 18 goals, 27 assists in 33 games.

National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ 17-year-old Cy LeClerc, a senior at Exeter, New Hampshire High School, got off to a fast start in his first two games of junior hockey with the Islanders Hockey Club (IHC). The 5'8", 163 lbs., right-shot center scored a goal in his first game and the game-winner in his second. He also chipped in 2 assists. LeClerc is projected to enroll at UNH in Fall, 2021.

North American Hockey League:

~ 2020 or '21 UNH Commit Jack Ring scored his first NAHL goal in his second game this season with the Northeast Generals.

United States Hockey League:

~ In USHL preseason action, 2020 UNH Commit Will Margel tallied 2 goals, including the game-winner for the Madison Capitols with just 18.8 seconds left in regulation. It was his first game in junior hockey.

~ 2020 or '21 UNH Commit Robert Cronin also scored 2 goals including the game-winner in his first USHL preseason game. He also tallied an assist as the Dubuque Fighting Saints downed Cedar Rapids 5-2.

2019-20 Statistics


Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2020 Commits
Aidan Curran
1/22/01 (F)
Salmon Arm Silverbacks BCHL - - - - -
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL^^ 1 0 0 0 0
Will Margel*
3/16/01 (F)
Madison Capitols USHL^^ 1 2 0 2 0
Connor Sweeney
5/5/00 (F)
Trail Smoke Eaters BCHL 5 0 0 0 0
2020 or '21 Commits
Nicolas Ardanaz
5/30/02 (D)
West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 5 0 2 2 0
Nicholas Cafarelli
12/31/01 (F)
Wenatchee Wild BCHL 4 3 3 6 8
Robert Cronin
8/15/00 (F)
Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL^^ 1 2 1 3 0
Liam Devlin
1/7/01 (F)
Chicago Steel USHL^^ 2 0 0 0 0
Alex Gagne
8/12/02 (D)
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL^^ 2 0 0 0 0
Carsen Richels 10/3/01 (F) Blaine High School Minn HS - - - - -
MPLS ST PAUL UMidwest HSELH 5 3 3 6 0
Jack Ring
12/18/00 (F)
Northeast Generals NAHL 5 1 1 2 0
David Sacco
1/3/02 (F)
Lawrence Academy NE Prep - - - - -
Cape Cod Whalers U18 EHF Selects 4 2 0 2 18
2021 Commits
Cy LeClerc
8/17/02 (F)
Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 2 2 1 3 0
2021 or '22 Commits
JP Turner
1/31/03 (F)
Avon Old Farms NE Prep - - - - -
NV River Rats 16U Beast Series 5 1 6 7 4
Morgan Winters
12/8/01 (F)
Tabor Academy NE Prep - - - - -
NV River Rats 18U Beast Series 4 1 0 1 2
2022 or '23 Commits
Nick Ring
10/26/03 (F)
Boston Advantage U18 ECEL - - - - -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent
^^ = USHL Preseason
NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the above table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2020 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2020. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Tim Stützle, Former UNH Commit, Turns Pro

Tim Stützle
Former 2020 UNH Commit


German hockey player Tim Stützle, a projected first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, will not be pursuing a college education or playing hockey at the University of New Hampshire. On June 26th, just four days after the 2019 NHL Draft was completed, Adler Mannheim (the Mannheim Eagles) of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) announced that Stützle had signed a three-year contract. I had an opportunity to interview Tim Stützle, via email, about his decision to turn professional and not follow through on his verbal commitment to UNH:

Interview

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on signing your first professional contract with Adler Mannheim in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the top hockey league in Germany. As a former member of the Jungadler Mannheim U19 and U20 teams, what does it mean to be able to remain in Germany and play for the Mannheim organization?

Tim Stützle: Germany is my home country and to sign a contract with the current German Champions is very special.

Mike Lowry: On June 21st, Moritz Seider, your former teammate on the 2017-18 Jungadler Mannheim U19 and Germany U18 teams and the 2018-19 Germany U20 team, became the first Germany-born defenseman ever selected in the first round of an NHL Draft. He initially expressed "shock" when the Detroit Red Wings made him the 6th overall choice. Seider, who is a year older than you, chose to remain in Germany last season and play professionally for Adler Mannheim. Was he a factor in your decision to follow the same route toward a career in the NHL?

Tim Stützle: Myself and Moritz are very good friends. I am very proud of him and wish him all the best for the future. Seeing him go so high in the draft did show that it is possible to stay in your own country and still be seen by NHL scouts.

Lowry: What other factors went into your decision to sign with Adler Mannheim for the 2019-20 season?

Stützle: My family and friends are close for support.

Lowry: It's still a year away, but do you see yourself as a potential first round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft?

Stützle: I hope to have a solid season in the DEL. If it is enough to get drafted in the first round will be a decision made by other people, I can only focus on my game.

Lowry: In early January, 2018, you verbally committed to accept an athletic scholarship offer to the University of New Hampshire. How did you first hear about UNH and what were the main reasons you chose to verbally commit to UNH?

Stützle: I was at a summer hockey camp in which Mike Souza was helping. We talked a lot during the camp and I decided to fly over to see the University in which I liked very much.

Lowry: At what point did you decide you were not going to play NCAA hockey at UNH? Was it a difficult decision for you?

Stützle: It was a very difficult decision. I made my final decision in June after spending many hours and days thinking about it.

An NHL First-Round Prospect

No doubt, it must have been difficult for members of the UNH hockey program to hear of Stützle's decision, particularly for head coach Mike Souza. In the Summer of 2017, when he was a UNH associate head coach, Souza traveled to Germany, recognized the potential of the 15-year-old Stützle, and successfully secured a verbal commitment. Fast forward to this summer and Stützle has become a consensus first-round prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft. Here's where Stützle ranks on Top 31 NHL Draft Prospects Lists published this summer by several scouts and hockey writers:

Future Considerations - Ranked 6th
Hockey Prospect - 15th
Prospect Pipeline - 11th
Chris Peters, ESPN - 15th
Larry Fisher, The Hockey Writers - 17th
Ben Kerr, Last Word on Hockey - 10th
Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst - 17th

Future Considerations scouting service's profile of Tim Stützle, which came out on June 24th, includes these descriptions of his skills:
"A fantastic skater who’s highly skilled and can contribute as a goal scorer or playmaker, Stützle is an all-around offensive forward with high upside heading into the 2020 NHL Draft...an excellent skater...can quickly react to game situations not only with learned movements but natural footwork...incredibly quick hands...lightning quick release and accuracy on his shots with some power behind them...biggest positives offensively are his goal scoring instincts and offensive awareness...is still young and continually improving."
In late March, Stützle and Jungadler Mannheim won the DNL U20 Playoffs. Tim averaged 2.20 points per game throughout the playoffs which tied him for second in scoring. He scored the game-winning goal in the Championship Game. These video highlights illustrate some of his elite offensive skills:

Stützle's Achievements

Tim Stützle developed rapidly during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. He went from a 15-year-old player with NHL potential to a consensus 2020 first-round prospect in preliminary rankings. Here are some of his accomplishments along the way:

2017-18
DNL U19:
~ 1.88 Points per Regular Season Game - 4th in DNL
~ 1.60 Points per Playoff Game - 3rd in DNL
~ Scored OT Game-Winner in Championship Game
2018 IIHF U18 World Championship - Division I Group A:
~ 0.80 PPG - Tied 4th, Team Germany won Silver

2018-19
DNL U20 - Regular Season:
~ 1.08 Goals per Game - 1st in DNL
~ 1.52 Assists per Game - 1st
~ 2.50 Points per Game - 1st
DNL U20 - Playoffs:
~ 2.20 Points per Game - Tied 2nd
~ Scored Game-Winner in Championship Game
2019 IIHF U18 World Championship - Division I Group A:
~ 1.80 PPG - Tied 1st
~ 1.40 Assists per Game - 1st
~ Best Forward Award
~ Team Germany won Gold, Promoted to Top Group

What Might Have Been

Tim Stützle remained verbally committed to the University of New Hampshire for a year and a half. Given his exceptional talent and likely status as a first-round NHL pick, one wonders how he might have impacted the UNH hockey program had he followed through on his commitment. Since he is a senior in high school this season, he would have entered UNH in the Fall of 2020. He had also planned to play for the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL this season.

There's little doubt Stützle would have been one of the most dynamic offensive players ever to wear a UNH jersey. He would have been a big draw for the Whittemore Center and other Hockey East arenas. But would he have spearheaded a UNH return to the Hockey East Championship or the NCAA Frozen Four, or put UNH over the top for their first National Championship? Although it's tempting to think so, in reality, it's unusual for a first-round NHL pick to lead their team to the Hockey East and/or National Championship.

Impact of Former UNH Players Who Were NHL First-Rounders

Historically, two NHL first-rounders have played for the UNH men's hockey program - Normande Lacombe ('82 & '83) and James van Riemsdyk ('08 & '09). Both attended UNH for 2 seasons and were members of UNH teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year they played.

Lacombe, a 6'0", 205 lbs. right-winger was drafted 10th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1983 NHL Draft. As a freshman in the 1981-82 season, Lacomb was UNH's 5th leading scorer with 18 goals, 16 assists in 35 games. That team, lead by All-American Andy Brickley (26G, 27A), lost in the semifinals of both the 1982 ECAC Tournament and NCAA Frozen Four.

In his sophomore season, Lacomb was the 4th leading scorer on the team with 18 goals, 25 assists in 35 games. The leading scorer on the '82-'83 team was Steve Lyons (20G, 35A), a 6th-Round pick of the Boston Bruins. That UNH team lost in the semifinals of the 1982 ECAC Tournament and lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Overall, Norm Lacombe was a top player for UNH in his two seasons. He was named ECAC Rookie of the Year and made the ECAC All-Star Team as a sophomore. However, the UNH Most Valuable Player Award in 1982 and '83 went to goalie Todd Pearson. Lacombe was not an NCAA All-American.

James van Riemsdyk was drafted 2nd overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2007 NHL Draft. There have been only five #2 NHL picks to play NCAA hockey, the last being Jack Eichel. Similarly, only three #1 NHL Picks - Joe Murphy (1986, Red Wings/Michigan State), Rick DiPietro (2000, Islanders/Boston University), and Erik Johnson (2006, Blues/Minnesota) - played college hockey.

During his two seasons at UNH, JvR was a 6'3", 190 lbs., left winger (and occasional centerman). As a freshman in the 2007-08 season, JvR was UNH's 3rd leading scorer with 11 goals, 23 assists in 31 games. Midseason, he missed 5 UNH games while leading Team USA in the 2008 World Junior Championship. Senior Matt Fornataro (38 Games, 18G, 28A) was UNH's leading scorer. The Wildcats won the Hockey East Regular Season Title but lost to Boston College in triple overtime in the Hockey East Tournament semifinals. As the #4 Seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, UNH was defeated by Notre Dame in the opening round of 16.

As a sophomore, JvR lead UNH in scoring with 17 goals, 23 assists in 36 games. He tied for 14th in scoring among all NCAA players. The 2008-09 Wildcats did not claim the Hockey East Regular Season Title and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East Tournament. They did advance to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament but lost to Boston University, the eventual National Champion.

JvR's individual accolades were similar to those achieved by Norm Lacombe. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and made Hockey East's Second All-Star Team as a sophomore. In JvR's two seasons, the UNH Most Valuable Player Trophy was awarded to All-American goalies - Kevin Regan in 2008 and Brian Foster in 2009. Like Lacombe, van Riemsdyk was not an NCAA All-American.

Impact of NHL First-Rounders in College Hockey

The College Hockey Inc. database shows that over the last 10 seasons, 65 NHL First-Rounders played NCAA hockey and 21 of them played in Hockey East.
These teams had 3 or more first-rounders play for them, each for at least one season, since the 2009-10 season:
Boston University - 10
Boston College - 7
Michigan - 7
Minnesota - 7
North Dakota - 7
Wisconsin - 6
Denver - 3
Michigan State - 3

Here's a list of the National Champions since the 2009-10 season and the NHL First-Rounders on the team:

2009-10: Boston College - Chris Kreider (19th overall pick, NY Rangers, 2009 NHL Draft) - 9th Scorer on BC (15G, 8A).
2010-11: Minnesota Duluth - Dylan Olsen (28th overall pick, Chicago Blackhawks 2009) - Left team midseason to turn pro.
2011-12: Boston College - Chris Kreider (19th overall pick, 2009) - BC's leading scorer (23G, 22A), T-11th in NCAA.
Kevin Hayes (24th overall pick, Philadelphia Flyers, 2010) - T-7th scoring on BC (7G, 21A).
2012-13: Yale - No NHL First-Rounders on team.
2013-14: Union - No NHL First-Rounders on team.
2014-15: Providence - Mark Jankowski (21st overall pick, Calgary Flames, 2012) - T-4th scoring on PC (8G, 19A), NCAA All-Tournament Team.
2015-16: North Dakota - Brock Boeser (23rd overall pick, Vancouver Canucks, 2015) - ND's leading scorer (27G, 33A), 3rd in NCAA, NCAA All-Tournament Team, All-American.
Nick Schmaltz (20th overall pick, Chicago Blackhawks, 2014) - 3rd Scorer on ND (11G, 35A).
2016-17: Denver - Henrik Borgstrom (23rd overall pick, Florida Panthers, 2016) - Denver's 2nd leading scorer (22G, 21A), T-14th in NCAA, All-American.
2017-18: Minnesota-Duluth - Riley Tufte (25th overall pick, Dallas Stars, 2016 NHL Draft) - 3rd leading scorer on Duluth (16G, 13A).
2018-19: Minnesota-Duluth - Riley Tufte (25th overall pick, 2016) - T-8th scoring on Duluth (9G, 10A).


Here are my observations on the impact NHL First-Rounder have had on winning the NCAA National Championship over the last 10 seasons:

(1) Of the 65 First Round NHL draft picks to play college hockey in the last 10 years, only 8 played on a National Championship team.
(2) Only one First-Rounder was a dominant player for his team throughout the regular season and in the NCAA Tournament. Brock Boeser (North Dakota, 2016) was the third leading scorer in the nation. He scored 2G, 6A in the NCAA Tournament, was named to the All-Tournament Team, and was a First Team All-American.
(3) Two First-Rounders had an outstanding regular seasons and performed well in the National Tournament. Henrik Borgstrom (Denver, 2017) was the Pioneers' second leading scorer in the regular season (T-14th in NCAA). He scored 1G, 4A in the NCAA Tournament but was not named to the All-Tournament Team. He did earn First Team All-American honors. Chris Kreider (Boston College, 2012) was the Eagles' regular season leading scorer (T-11th in NCAA) and scored 3G, 1A in the National Tourney. He was not on the All-Tournament team and did not earn All-American honors.
(4) Mark Jankowski (Providence, 2015) had an average regular season but came on strong in the National Tournament. He scored 2G, 2A in the NCAA tourney and made the All-Tournament team.
(5) Three Champions had a single first-rounder who was not among the top scorers on the team and did not stand out in the NCAA Tournament (Boston College/Krieder-2010, Minnesota-Duluth/Tufte-2018 & 2019).
(6) Two National Champions had no first-rounders on the team (Yale-2013, Union-2014).
(7) One Champion only had a first-rounder for the first-half of the season (Minnesota-Duluth, 2011).

Since the 2009-10 season, two other notable NHL First-Rounders, who did not win the NCAA Championship, were dominant college players.

Jack Eichel (Forward, Boston University, 2015) - #2 overall pick, Buffalo Sabres, 2015 NHL Draft.
~ NCAA Leading Scorer (26G, 45A)
~ Lead BU to Hockey East Championship. Tournament MVP
~ Scored 2G, 2A in NCAA Tournament. BU lost to Providence in Championship Game 3-4
~ Named to All-Tournament Team
~ First Team All-American
~ Won Hockey Baker Award

Cale Makar (Defenseman, UMass Amherst, 2019) - #4 overall pick, Colorado Avalanche, 2017 NHL Draft.
~ NCAA 2nd Leading Scorer (16G, 33A)
~ Lead UMass Amherst to 1st Frozen Four
~ Scored 1G, 2A in NCAA Tournament. UMass lost to Minnesota-Duluth in Championship Game 0-3
~ First Team All-American
~ Won Hockey Baker Award

Final Thoughts

Judging by the last decade in NCAA ice hockey, first-round NHL draft picks usually do not propel their college team to the National Championship. Brock Boeser did it for North Dakota in 2016. Jack Eichel almost accomplished the feat for Boston University in 2015. The same for Cale Makar and UMass-Amherst in 2019.

If the summer of 2020 had seen Tim Stützle selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft followed by his arrival on the UNH campus in August, would he have returned the Wildcats to national prominence? Would he have been more like Boeser, Eichel, and Makar? Or more like most NHL first-rounders - very good college hockey players but not transformative?

Having watched a lot of live and on-demand video feeds of Jungadler Mannheim over the last year and a half, I think Tim Stützle would have dramatically increased UNH's goal-scoring. He has a lot of room to develop defensively but with his elite skating and the proper coaching, that will improve. Given how rapidly he has progressed playing against older, stronger players in Germany and in International competition, he probably would have stayed at UNH for one season then signed an NHL contract.

Crashing back to reality, that train has already left the station and is racing ahead. In his first two official, professional games, Tim Stützle potted a goal in each for Adler Mannheim. Here's a link to some video highlights from his second game put together by Daniel Gee Scouting. What might have been, indeed.

Friday, July 26, 2019

UNH Commit Carsen Richels: A Powerful, Dual-Threat Winger

Carsen Richels
2020 or '21 UNH Commit
"Has size, strength, reach, hands and can think the game. Workhorse below the dots and plays through contact. Can break down the defense." Neutral Zone
"He's a good get for UNH. Likely an NHL Draft pick a year from now." George Ross, Director of US Scouting, Spokane Chiefs, Western Hockey League
"Powerful dual-threat winger with size, speed and excellent overall hockey sense. His finishing skills around the net are almost pro-like." Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
Carsen Richels Forward, 6'2", 200 lbs. Shoots Left
Hometown: Ham Lake, Minnesota
DOB: 10-3-2001 Turns 18 in October
2019 United States Hockey League Phase II Draft: 2nd Round, 28th Overall by Waterloo Black Hawks
2017 United States Hockey League Phase II Draft: 16th Round, 253rd Overall by Des Moines Buccaneers
Neutral Zone Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars
2018-19 Team: Blaine (Minnesota) High School
                       ~ First Line Left Winger; First Power Play & Penalty Kill Units
Commits to UNH: June, 2019 at Age 17 years, 8 months.

2018-19 Minnesota HS Highlight Reel

Minnesota High School hockey is loaded with talent. Sixty-five players, active in the 2018-19 season, are committed to NCAA Division I schools such as the University of Minnesota (17), Wisconsin (8), and Minnesota Duluth (5). Last month, Carsen Richels (DOB: 10-3-2001), the fourth leading scorer in the Minnesota State High School League, committed to the University of New Hampshire. As a 17-year-old junior at Blaine High School, Richels tallied 35 goals, including 4 game-winners, and 34 assists in 23 regular season games.

Richels, the starting left winger for Blaine, and centerman Bryce Brodzinski formed the most potent scoring duo in the state. Brodzinski, a University of Minnesota commit, was the second leading scorer with 32 goals and 44 assists and he won the 2019 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award. At the end of the regular season, the Blaine Bengals were 19-2-2 and ranked 3rd in the state.

Blaine won the three-game Class 2A (the top HS league), Section 5 Playoffs. Richels scored the game-winning goal in the decisive game against Maple Grove. Overall, he lead the Bengals in goals (4) and tied Brodzinski for top scorer with 8 points. Blaine advanced to the State Tournament as the #2 Seed.

The Minnesota State Hockey Tournament is a very big deal. Held at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, the semifinal and championship games routinely draw 16 to nearly 18 thousand fans. In the quarterfinal game, Blaine defeated White Bear Lake 4-2 and Carsen Richels scored a goal and 2 assists. The semifinal game against Eden Prairie drew a near capacity crowd of 17,459. With Blaine trailing 2-4 late in the third period, Richels' second goal of the tourney brought the Bengals to within a goal but it was the last goal of the game. Richels lead the team with 6 shots on goal and also added an assist. Blaine won the third place game 5-1 over St. Thomas Academy and Richels added another goal. In all, Carsen Richels posted 3 goals and 3 assists and was named to the All-Tournament Team.

These video highlights show a sample of Carsen Richels' goals and assists from the 2018-19 season plus an example of his play on the penalty kill:

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Carsen Richels, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?

Carsen Richels: I have a good relationship with the coaches and am confident they will continue to develop me as a hockey player when I get there. They also are very personable and it was easy to develop the relationship between us over the phone and through my visit. I’m excited that hockey is the main sport at UNH. Seeing videos of the fans at the Whittemore Center was super cool to see how crazy they went for the team.

Mike Lowry: The top Minnesota High School hockey players, such as yourself, are often recruited by elite midwestern schools such as the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. What other college programs did you consider during the recruiting process? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Carsen Richels: I considered all of the midwest schools and I believe I was coming very close to an offer with them as well if I wouldn’t have decided to come to UNH. I had one other offer from Northern Michigan.

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?

Richels: We have talked about it and we agreed on waiting to make that decision until we can decide when I would be most ready to come in. Either the 2020-2021 season or 2021-2022 season.

Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the main strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

Richels: I have a big frame and I like to be offensive. I’m working to get more physical and improve my speed.

Lowry: In the 2017-18 season, as a sophomore forward for Blaine (Minnesota) High School, you scored 14 goals and 18 assists in 27 games. This past season, you nearly tripled your scoring to 42 goals and 41 assists in 29 games. What factors lead to your increased scoring?

Richels: I took lifting way more seriously and got a lot stronger. That helped me in all aspects of the game. I also gained confidence after a couple games of putting up a good amount of points.

Lowry: In 2000, Blaine won the Minnesota High School Class AA Hockey Championship. It was the first, and only time the Blaine Bengals played in the championship game. Last season, Blaine lost in the semifinal game, but won the third place game, and you made the All-Tournament Team. Would you describe how big the State Tournament is for Minnesota hockey fans and what it meant for you to play in it?

Richels: The State Tournament in Minnesota is definitely every youth hockey player in Minnesota’s dream. Every kid goes to the tourney to watch their high school or just to watch good hockey. As a high school hockey player there is nothing cooler than playing for your school with 18,000 people watching you.

Lowry: In the 2019 United States Hockey League Phase II Draft, you were selected by the Waterloo Black Hawks in the 2nd Round (28th Overall) and you participated in their Tryout Camp in early June. What was the competition like and how well did you think you performed? Have you been invited back to Waterloo's Orientation Camp in August?

Richels: It was very high tempo hockey and I thought I fit right in. I did get invited back to the Orientation Camp and will attend Orientation Camp in mid-August.

Lowry: If you earn a spot on the Waterloo Black Hawks' 23-player final roster, would you consider foregoing a senior season at Blaine High School? Would you consider an alternative path chosen by some Minnesota high school players such as current UNH defenseman Benton Maass - that is, play for a junior team in the Fall and Spring and play Minnesota high school hockey from December to early March?

Richels: My plans for next season are still much in the air and I haven’t decided what I will do. My parents and I will have to talk soon to see what is the best fit for me and my hockey development.

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

Richels: I will graduate high school in the Spring of 2020. As far as academics I haven’t decided what I will enroll in at UNH.

Scouting Reports
"Carsen has a ton of tools and he showed them off during the tournament. He has size, strength, reach, hands and can think the game. Below the dots he was a workhorse while shrugging off checks and taking pucks to the net. He was able to roll off of defenders and get the puck to the net or find the open man quickly. His game should only grow in time as he has all the attributes to play at a high level." Neutral Zone from the 2019 Minnesota ‘AA’ State High School Hockey Tournament
"Carsen is a skilled winger who possesses natural goal-scoring ability. He is a threat to create a scoring chance from anywhere in the offensive zone and has given goalies fits in Minnesota the past two seasons. Often overshadowed by his Blaine linemate Bryce Brodzinski, Carsen was often the one driving play for their line. He can make plays in tight spaces and through opponents' sticks. He sees the ice well and is always aware of his passing options when he has the puck on his stick. If he returns to Blaine for his senior season, he will be contend for the Mr. Hockey award in Minnesota." George Ross, Director of US Scouting, Spokane Chiefs, Western Hockey League
"Powerful dual-threat winger with size, speed and excellent overall hockey sense, Richels was Blaine’s top-line mainstay along with senior Bryce Brodzinski and fellow 2020 draft prospect Cole Hansen. Richels made it difficult to determine whether it was he or Brodzinski who drove that bus because he was on the puck with his head up practically every shift. He was undoubtedly the benefactor of quality set-ups, but his finishing skills around the net are almost pro-like. Richels’ stick always is in the right position, and he finds a way to evade defenders in the slot even after they’ve marked him for coverage. As a primary goal scorer, Richels’ chemistry with his linemates and point men is excellent. He seems to know the precise moments when its time to either establish himself as a net-front presence or when to give-and-go his way to an opening for a one-timer. The conundrum he presents to opponents is his stickhandling and playmaking, especially off the cycle. Goalies are forced to respect his accurate shot, thus leaving the backdoor wide open for a clean, crisp pass." Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst, from the 2019 Minnesota ‘AA’ State High School Hockey Tournament

Youth Hockey & High School Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
Carsen Richels  (F) 2018-19 Blaine High School Minnesota HSL AA 23 35 34 69 10
Playoffs 6 7 7 14 0
Team Northeast Upper Midwest HS Elite 19 7 6 13 4
Playoffs 3 0 1 1 2
2017-18 Blaine High School Minnesota HSL AA 25 12 17 29 10
Playoffs 2 2 1 3 0
Minnesota Blades 16U Tier I National 30 - - - -
2016-17 Minnesota Flyers MN Bantam Elite League 14 1 4 5 -
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