Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Parker Wheeler Honored As A Top Collegiate Sports Broadcaster

UNH's Parker Wheeler
Ranked #15 Collegiate Sports Broadcaster

Every year since 2009, the Sports Talent Agency of America (STAA) has selected the top collegiate sports broadcasters through it's Jim Nantz Award and All-America Program. The STAA assembles a panel of judges, including top representatives from the professional sports broadcasting industry, to review the work of candidates from a broad spectrum of colleges and universities. I am very pleased to acknowledge that Parker Wheeler was named the #15 Collegiate Sports Broadcaster in America. Here's a video describing the All-America Program and naming the honorees:

Throughout the 2015-16 UNH men's hockey season, we were very fortunate to feature Parker's game reports and analysis on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog. As the play-by-play announcer of men's hockey for WUNH 91.3 FM and a former New Hampshire All-State goalie, Parker provided unique, entertaining pieces on the ups and downs of the Wildcats' season. From his first game report titled "Despite High Scoring Win Over AIC, UNH Wildcats Have Work To Do" to his final report called "UNH’s Season Draws to a Close; Merrimack Wins Game Three 2-1", Parker helped UNH hockey fans understand the strengths and weaknesses of the 2015-16 team.

Last weekend, Parker Wheeler graduated from UNH with a major in Kinesiology and a minor in Journalism. In his senior year, he was the Sports Director of the WUNH Sports Department and on-air host of Wildchats, the Thursday night sports talk show. Parker also was the play-by-play broadcaster of UNH women's soccer, volleyball, and field hockey for America East TV.

UNH fans can follow Parker Wheeler's career in sports broadcasting and analysis on his website parkerwheeler.com and his twitter account. He has a very bright future.

Monday, May 23, 2016

UNH Commit Liam Blackburn, West Kelowna Warriors Win RBC Cup

Liam Blackburn
Leading Scorer in RBC Cup

Liam Blackburn and the West Kelowna Warriors completed an incredible playoff run by capturing the top prize in Canadian Junior A hockey - the Royal Bank of Canada Cup. Blackburn helped seal the deal by netting a short-handed goal in the third period of the 4-0 win over the Lloydminster Bobcats in the Championship Game on Sunday evening. The Canadian Junior A season began with 131 teams in 10 leagues across the nation and now, the West Kelowna Warriors are #1.

West Kelowna qualified for the RBC tournament by first winning the BCHL Fred Page Cup Championship then the Western Canada Cup. The RBC Cup competition includes the winners of the Eastern (Carleton Place Canadians) , Central (Trenton Golden Hawks), and Western (West Kelowna) Championships, plus the Western Runnerup (Brooks Bandits) and host team (Lloydminster Bobcats). En route to winning the RBC Cup, the Warriors defeated all 5 teams and finished with a record of 5-1-0.

Liam Blackburn was the leading scorer in the RBC Cup competition. In six games, Blackburn scored 4 goals, including 2 shorthanded, 1 even strength, and one shootout tally, plus 4 assists. Here are the video highlights of his 4 goals:

Prior to the tournament, the International Scouting Services identified Liam Blackburn as one of the "Players to Watch" at the 2016 RBC Cup. They wrote:
"Skilled offensive forward … good vision … very good agility … can handle the puck in traffic … good hockey sense … dangerous on the power play and penalty kill."
He certainly lived up to the billing. Blackburn signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of New Hampshire in November, 2014. He is on track to enroll at UNH this Fall.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

UNH Commit Lucas Bahn Selected in USHL Draft

Defenseman Lucas Bahn
Drafted by Waterloo Black Hawks

On Tuesday, the United States Hockey League held its Phase II Draft for players born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2000. The 16 USHL teams used 24 rounds to select players who could compete for spots on the 2016-17 roster. The players came from a wide variety of teams including high school, prep, and junior teams from both the United States and Canada. Three players committed to the University of New Hampshire - Lucas Bahn (defenseman), Mike Robinson (goalie), and Charlie Kelleher (center/winger) - were drafted by USHL teams.

Lucas Bahn - Defenseman

Lucas Bahn (DOB: 9/11/1999), a right-shot defenseman was selected by the Waterloo Black Hawks in the 7th Round of the USHL Entry Draft. Waterloo did not have a pick in the first two rounds so Bahn was their 5th selection. Overall, he was the 112th pick in the draft.

Bahn, a native of Hendersonville, Tennessee, verbally committed to UNH a little over a month ago on March 27. Last season, the 5'9", 150 lbs., right-shot defenseman played for the Skipjacks Hockey Club 16U and 18U teams. In 26 regular season games with the Skipjacks 16U, Bahn scored 3 goals including 1 power play goal and 1 game-winning goal, and dished out 13 assists including 5 on the power play. He was the 8th leading scorer among all defensemen in the USPHL 16U League. He also scored a goal in the USPHL 16U Playoffs and posted 2 goals in 9 regular season games with the 18U team.

When Lucas Bahn committed to UNH in March, his plan was to play for the Skipjacks 18U in the USPHL next season. Now he will have the opportunity to try out for the Waterloo Black Hawks this summer. His target date for enrollment at UNH is the Fall of either 2018 or 2019.

I had an opportunity to interview Lucas, via email, on his selection by the Waterloo Black Hawks:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on being selected by the Waterloo Black Hawks in the 7th round of the 2016 USHL Phase II Draft. Do you plan on attending Waterloo's tryout camp in June and their training camp in late August to compete for a spot on their 23-player active roster for 2016-17?

Lucas Bahn: Thank you very much, I appreciate that! Yes, it is an incredible opportunity to be drafted by Waterloo, and I look forward to participating in their tryout camp as well as competing for a spot on the roster! The coaching staff has given me an unbelievable opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it!

Mike Lowry: What would the opportunity to play in the USHL offer you in terms developing specific areas of your game?

Lucas Bahn: The USHL is obviously an incredible league, not only for exposure but also development. Personally, it would be incredibly effective in terms of my development as a player because the players in the USHL are bigger, faster, and stronger therefore providing the best players to play against and improve myself. I would like to continue to improve my speed, and the USHL is the perfect place to do that.

Friday, May 06, 2016

UNH Commit Mike Robinson Chosen in USHL Draft

Goalie Mike Robinson
Drafted by Dubuque Fighting Saints

On Tuesday, the United States Hockey League held its Phase II Draft for players born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 2000. The 16 USHL teams used 24 rounds to select players who could compete for spots on the 2016-17 roster. The players came from a wide variety of teams including high school, prep, and junior teams from both the United States and Canada. Three players committed to the University of New Hampshire - Mike Robinson (goalie), Charlie Kelleher (center/winger), and Lucas Bahn (defenseman) - were drafted by USHL teams.

Mike Robinson - Goalie

Mike Robinson (DOB: 3/27/1997), a left-catching goalie, was selected by the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the 2nd Round of the 2016 USHL Entry Draft. He was the 30th overall pick and the third goaltender selected.

Last summer, Robinson was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. In July, he participated in the Sharks' Prospect Camp but injured his wrist. Robinson had committed to play for the Boston Junior Bruins Premiere team but his recovery kept him out of their lineup until January 2, 2016.

Robinson, a native of Bedford, NH, was the goalie of record for the Jr Bruins in 12 regular season games. The 6'4", 200 lbs. goalie won 7 games and lost 5. He posted a Goals Against Average of 2.97 and a Save Percentage of .910. He only played for 8 minutes in one of the Jr Bruins' 4 USPHL Playoff games.

Before Robinson injured his wrist, he had planned to play one season with the Junior Bruins in the USPHL and enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2016. Last November, he signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH. However, as Michael explains in this interview, he, his family, and the UNH coaches have decided to move his enrollment to the Fall of 2017.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on being selected by the Dubuque Fighting Saints as the 30th overall pick in the 2016 USHL Phase II Draft. The Saints' starting goalie Hunter Miska plans to enroll at Minnesota-Duluth next fall and their backup Jaxon Castor is committed to Arizona State for 2017 or 2018. Do you plan on attending Dubuque's tryout camp in June and/or their training camp in late August to compete for a spot on their 23-player active roster for 2016-17?

Mike Robinson: Yes, I plan on attending their camp this summer and plan on playing in Dubuque for the 2016-17 season.

Mike Lowry: What does the opportunity to play in the USHL offer you in terms developing specific areas of your game?

Mike Robinson: Playing in the USHL next season will benefit my development and prepare me for the next level. The USHL is the top junior league in the country and for me, playing at such a high level like that, it will get me ready for college hockey.

Lowry: You have signed a National Letter of Intent to enroll at UNH and play for the Wildcats. Originally, you had planned to enroll in the Fall of 2016. Have you decided to defer your enrollment until the Fall of 2017?

Robinson: Due to the injury (wrist) I suffered at camp in San Jose and missing a good chunk of the season (Aug-Jan) I feel for my development, I should play another year of juniors to prepare myself for college hockey.

Lowry: Being drafted in the third round of the 2015 NHL draft by the San Jose Sharks means that there are a number of teams/organizations who have an interest in having you come play for them sometime in the next few years. In addition to the Dubuque Fighting Saints, the Rimouski Oceanics drafted you in the 2015 QMJHL Draft. Are you still on track to play NCAA hockey in 2016 or 2017?

Robinson: I talked to many teams leading up to the USHL draft and after ending up in Dubuque, I couldn't be happier. I have heard many great things about the organization and I am proud to be selected by them. I plan on attending UNH in the fall of 2017.

2016-17 UNH Roster

Although Mike Robinson will not be enrolling this Fall, the UNH Wildcats will have two veteran goaltenders on their squad. Danny Tirone enrolled midway through the 2014-15 season. As a freshman, the 5'11", 175 lbs. right-catching goalie compiled a 14-6-0 record with a 2.14 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.. He was named Hockey East Goaltender of the Month in March, 2015. Last season, Tirone's record was 9-19-6 with a 3.19 GAA and a .907 Save%. He was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week twice. Tirone will be a junior next season.

Adam Clark played in every game during the first half of his freshman season. The 6'5", 220 lbs. left-catching goalie accumulated 5-13-2 record in 2014-15 with a 2.94 goals against average and a .894 save percentage. Clark only played in two games last season before injuring his shoulder. In late October, he won against Union College and Merrimack College on successive weekends and compiled a 2.00 GAA and .939 Save%. Clark will also be a junior next season.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Meet Corson Green, 2018 UNH Commit

Defenseman Corson Green
2018 UNH Commit

The last time UNH qualified for the NCAA Hockey Tournament, the team featured one of the biggest and most skilled defensive corps in the program's history - Connor Hardowa (6'1" 210 lbs. Team Captain), Trevor van Riemsdyk (6'2", 185 lbs. All-American), Eric Knodel (6'6", 225 lbs. Maple Leafs draft pick), Brett Pesce (6'3", 175 lbs. Hurricanes draft pick), Justin Agosta (6'3", 200 lbs.) and Brett Kostolansky (5'10", 180 lbs.). That 2012-13 team had the second highest scoring defense in Hockey East and the second fewest goals allowed. In early December, 2012 they were ranked #1 in Division I hockey. Those Wildcats defeated Denver 5-2 in the opening round of the NCAA's and lost to UMass Lowell 2-0 in the "Elite Eight" round.

With the early departures of Trevor van Riemsdyk, now a regular defenseman with the defending NHL Champion Chicago Blackhawks, and Brett Pesce, a top 4 defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes, UNH is looking to reload with big, skilled defensemen. All indications are that 6'3", 207 lbs. Corson Green (DOB:3/4/1999) fits the bill.

On January 20th, left-shot defenseman Corson Green verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer to come to UNH in the Fall of 2018. Members of the scouting community were quick to sing his praises.
"6'3" with very strong mobility and puck skills. Major Pro upside." Matt Grainda - Amateur Scout for USHL Central Scouting and TheScout.ca.
"Good size, reach, hard shot, developing mobility & game." Russ Bitely - HockeyProspect.com.
"Green is a big body (6'3) who moves well and maintains balance. Nice point shot, can play QB on PP. Takes good angles on D." Mark Bilotta - OverTheBoards.net.
Green joined the Northern Cyclones hockey organization, based in Hudson, NH, for the 2015-16 season. He began the season playing for the Northern Cyclones 16U Tier 1 team. In early December, Green was promoted to the Northern Cyclones Premiere team in the Eastern Hockey League Premiere Division. In December and January, he played for both the Northern Cyclones 16U and Premiere teams.

While playing against the top 16U teams in the northeast and the nation, Corson Green tallied 22 goals and 36 assists in 59 games with the Northern Cyclone 16U. In October, 2015, they won the New Hampshire State Championship and advanced to the semifinal round of the New England Districts in November. Green tallied a goal and 4 assists in 4 games at the Districts. Jeff Cox, who covered the NE Districts tournament for SBNation College Hockey, came away impressed with Green's performance:
"He's a big time pro prospect. He's big and has all the physical tools. His skating is above average for a player his size and age. He has a long reach, is mobile and can really move the puck up ice. He's a little raw and could benefit from choosing his spots a little more wisely. He has a heavy shot and can play physically. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds own his OHL rights, but he's apparently committed to NCAA route."
During 17 games against opponents in the Eastern Junior Elite Prospect League, Green scored 12 goals and 5 assists and was named the Most Valuable Player in the EJEPL 16U All-Star game.

One predictor of a young player's potential is how he performs against older, more mature competition. As a 16-year-old member of the Northern Cyclones Premiere team, Green primarily competed against 19 and 20-year-old players in the EHL Premiere Division. He demonstrated his readiness to make the jump from midget to junior hockey. In 16 regular season games, Green scored 3 goals, including a game-winner, and distributed 6 assists including a power play and short-handed assist. The Northern Cyclones won the opening round of the EHL Playoffs but lost in the second round. Green posted 4 assists in 6 playoff games. Here are video highlights including Green's three goals with the Northern Cyclones Premiere team:

In the 2014-15 season, Corson Green was in a very different place. He moved away from his hometown of Potsdam, New York to enroll at the Canadian International Hockey Academy, a college prep school in Rockland, Ontario. The CIHA teams play in the Ontario East Minor Hockey League. Once again, Green was younger than many of his teammates and competitors. He was 15 years old and scored 6 goals and 18 assists in 25 games with the Minor Midget 16U team. He also played for the CIHA Major Midget 18U team scoring 2 goals and 5 assists in 19 games (regular and playoff).

Corson Green's play with the CIHA Voyageurs was closely followed by scouts of the Ontario Hockey League (a Canadian Major Junior league). Prior to the OHL Priority Selection Draft in April, 2015, Brendan Ross, a scout at TheScout.ca and contributor to McKeen's Hockey, ranked Green 26th overall and 8th defenseman in his 2015 OHL Priority Selection Draft Guide. He wrote:
"Big raw mobile defensive with intriguing tools…enjoys jumping into the rush and owns some underrated and developing puck skills…utilizes his size well to shield off checkers and also contain attackers defensively…able to read plays unfolding and identify the smart passing option on the breakout..very competitive and active defender who's always looking to make an impact...ceiling is very high ..Green is one of my favourite defenders of this draft class as his ranking indicates."
Sean Lafortune, former Director of Scouting at TheScout.ca and current scout for the OHL's Owen Sound Attack, provided this assessment of Green in his 2015 OHL Draft rankings:
"One of the most intriguing players in this draft. Playing on CIHA, his Minor Midget team missed the playoffs, however he has been up affiliating with the Major Midget's and has been performing well. A big, powerful defender with quick feet and good north to south abilities. His offensive tools intrigue, he can stretch the ice, run a powerplay and is big, strong and tough. As an American who is playing his first year of AAA hockey, he's incredibly raw, patience is needed. Given the parity in this draft it's fair to suggest that he could slot into the top 30 of the draft."
On April 15, 2015, the OHL held its Priority Selection Draft and Corson Green was selected in the 5th Round by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He was the 101st overall selection. On September 22, 2015, the United States Hockey League announced each team's final roster and affiliate list. The Chicago Steel placed Corson Green on their affiliate list. Players on a USHL affiliate list are the "property" of that team and develop at lower levels of hockey. Those players can be added to a USHL team’s active roster during the season, play a limited number of games in a call-up situation, or will be looked upon to make the roster in future seasons.

I had an opportunity to interview Corson Green, 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?

Corson Green: I chose UNH because of the coaching staff and the facilities. I like the size of the school and town. I also wanted to play Hockey East.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Did other schools verbally offer an athletic scholarship? If so, which ones?

Corson Green: I visited other schools, but the coaching staff at UNH was my deciding factor. I want to play for a coach who wants me there and wants to develop me into a better player. After visiting UNH I knew I wanted to play hockey for Coach Souza and Coach Stewart.

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?

Green: We talked about a Fall 2018 start date.

Lowry: A number of amateur scouts have written that you are a pro prospect. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve??

Green: I think my strength is my vision on the ice and my ability to be an offensive defensive player. I want to improve on my overall development to become a bigger and stronger player both on the ice and off.

Lowry: This time last year, you participated in the Ontario Hockey League Development Combine and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds drafted you in the 5th Round of the 2015 OHL Priority Draft. Gabe Vilvardi, your teammate at the Canadian International Hockey Academy (CIHA), was drafted by the Windsor Spitfires and signed with them. Why did you decide not to play major junior hockey in Canada?

Green: I wanted to play Tier I hockey in the states and see if there was any interest from D1 schools and then decide between OHL and NCAA.

Lowry: You subsequently left CIHA, moved farther away from your hometown of Potsdam, New York, and joined the Northern Cyclones hockey organization based in Hudson, New Hampshire. What factors lead you to choose to play for the Cyclones?

Green: Coach O'Connor recruited me to play Tier 1 hockey with the Cyclones. I wanted to play competitive Tier 1 hockey and work on improving my grades. Coach O'Connor gave me the opportunity to do both.

Lowry: You began this season playing for Coach Frank O'Connor on the Cyclones U16 team and advanced to Coach Bill Flanagan's EHL Premiere Team. What was it like to play against older, more seasoned players in the EHL? What were the most important lessons you learned from Coach O'Connor and Flanagan?

Green: I liked being pushed to play against older players. The game is faster and a higher skill level, so it forced me to become more physical and faster in my game. I am thankful for Coach O'Connor and Coach Flanagan giving me the opportunity to play with the Premiere team. Both coaches believed in me and have pushed me to become a better player.

Lowry: In September, the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League added you to their "Affiliate List". The USHL is conducting their combines over the next few weeks and will be holding their 2016 Draft in the first week of May. What are your prospects for playing in the USHL next season or in 2017-18?

Green: I will be attending the Chicago Steel camp in June. Playing in the USHL with and against the top Tier 1 kids in the country would be a great opportunity for me.

Lowry: Last summer, you participated in USA Hockey Select 16 Festival. How would you rate your performance against the top 16-year-old American players? Do you anticipate being invited to the Select 17 camp?

Green: I thought I played well with the other players from the camp. I really hope to be invited to the Select 17 camp this year. The tryouts are held in May.

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? What are your academic strengths and interests?

Green: I plan to graduate in June 2017. I have an interest in Business and will major in that in college.

Friday, April 15, 2016

UNH Recruits Update: April-15-2016

2016 Commit Liam Blackburn
West Kelowna Warriors
2016 Commit Patrick Grasso
Des Moines Buccaneers

Player Spotlight - Liam Blackburn

2016 UNH Commit Liam Blackburn and the West Kelowna Warriors have advanced to the BCHL Championship Round. In the "Double Round Robin" series, West Kelowna and the Chilliwack Chiefs won three games thereby eliminating the Nanaimo Clippers. Blackburn scored 2 goals and 4 assists in the 6 games of that round.

So far, Blackburn has scored 7 goals and 10 assists in 18 games of the 2016 BCHL Playoffs. He is tied for 3rd in scoring, goals and assists. In addition, Liam is tied for 1st in power play assists. The battle for the BCHL Fred Page Cup begins tonight. West Kelowna and Chilliwack will play a best-of-seven series.

Player Spotlight - Patrick Grasso

On April 9th, Patrick Grasso played his final game in a Des Moines Buccaneers uniform. Grasso went out in style. He scored the game-winning goal, added 2 assists, and was awarded the #1 Star in the 5-4 victory over the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Bucs missed qualifying for the USHL Playoffs by 11 points.

In his third and final full season in the USHL, Grasso was the captain of the Bucs, played in every game of the 60 game schedule, and scored 22 goals and 21 assists. Among all USHL players, Grasso tied for 13th in goals and tied for 18th in scoring during the regular season. His 3 game-winning goals placed him in a tie for 5th in the USHL.

In all, Grasso played 196 games for Des Moines and tallied 43 goals and 63 assists for a total of 106 points. He signed his National Letter of Intent last November and will enroll at UNH this Fall.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2016 Recruits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2016. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the recruit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the recruit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The recruit'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.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2016 Recruits
Liam Blackburn*  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 58 27 47 74 51
Playoffs 18 7 10 17 10
Justin Fregona*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 51 24 25 49 45
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso*  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 60 22 21 43 14
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 54 2 8 10 58
Playoffs 10 0 2 2 6
Brendan van Riemsdyk*   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 43 20 27 47 50
Playoffs 6 1 5 6 4
Joe Sacco  (F) Vernon Vipers BCHL 56 10 9 19 16
Playoffs 4 0 0 0 0
Anthony Wyse*  (D) Lincoln Stars USHL 54 2 17 19 18
Playoffs - - - - -
2016 or '17 Recruits
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 38 17 36 53 40
Playoffs 4 1 4 5 0
Mike Robinson*  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 12 7W 5L 2.97 .910
Playoffs 1 - - 0 1.00
2017 Recruits
Joe Cipollone  (F) Tri-City Storm USHL 47 7 3 10 16
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
Vernon Vipers BCHL 12 4 3 7 2
Liam Darcy  (D) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 34 2 11 13 2
Playoffs 6 0 3 3 0
Eric MacAdams  (F) Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 51 10 8 18 87
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 48 2 8 10 36
Jason O'Neill  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 47 7 14 21 2
Playoffs 5 1 1 2 4
2018 Recruits
Lucas Bahn  (D) Skipjacks 16U USPHL 26 3 13 16 0
Playoffs 4 1 0 1 0
Skipjacks 18U USPHL 9 2 0 2 2
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
Angus Crookshank  (F) BWC Prep CSSHL 35 42 19 61 56
Langley Rivermen BCHL 4 1 0 1 0
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
Corson Green  (D) Northern Cyclones EHL 16 3 6 9 20
Playoffs 6 0 4 4 14
Northern Cyclones 16U EJEPL 17 12 5 17 55
* = Signed National
Letter of Intent

News & Notes

United States Hockey League:

~ 2016 UNH Commit Anthony Wyse and the Lincoln Stars finished the regular season in 2nd place in the Western Conference of the USHL. Wyse scored 2 goals and 17 assists in 54 games. Among all USHL defensemen, he tied for 7th in power play assists with a total of 10. The Stars begin the best-of-five opening round series of the USHL Playoffs tonight in a match-up with the Waterloo Black Hawks. Anthony Wyse signed his National Letter of Intent with UNH on Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period.

~ 2017 UNH Commit Eric MacAdams and the Sioux Falls Stampede finished in 4th place in the USHL Western Conference and earned a berth in the playoffs. MacAdams finished his first season in the USHL with 10 goals and 8 assists in 51 games. The Stampede lost the first game in the best-of-five series against the Tri-City Storm.

~ 2017 UNH commit Joseph Cipollone and the Tri-City Storm had the best record in the USHL Western Conference. Cipollone tallied 7 goals and 3 assists in 47 regular season games. The Storm defeated the Stampede in the first game of the opening round of the USHL Playoffs.

~ 17-year-old Eric Esposito and the Youngstown Phantoms finished in 5th place in the Eastern Conference of the USHL and did not qualify for the playoffs. Esposito finished his rookie season with 2 goals and 8 assists in 48 games.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Angus Crookshank Commits to UNH

16-year-old Forward
Angus Crookshank

At nearly 2,500 miles, the talent pipeline between British Columbia and Durham, New Hampshire is one of the longest in college hockey. It's also one of the most enduring. Hobey Baker Award winner Jason Krog came to UNH from Fernie, BC in the Fall of 1995. In recent years, the stream of highly skilled forwards has continued to flow.

Angus Crookshank
Burnaby Winter Club Prep
Grayson Downing from Abbotsford played four years at UNH, joined the Century Club with 56 goals and 56 assists, and currently plays for the AHL Iowa Wild. Marcus Vela from Burnaby was drafted by the San Jose Sharks last summer and scored 7 goals and 9 assists in his freshman season at UNH. 2016 UNH commit Liam Blackburn from Prince George has potted 66 goals and 122 assists in three seasons with the West Kelowna Warriors in the British Columbia Hockey League. And now, 16-year-old Angus Crookshank (DOB: 10/2/1999) from North Vancouver has verbally accepted an athletic scholarship offer to come to UNH in the Fall of 2018.

Crookshank, a 5'10", 170 lbs. left-shot forward recently completed a breakthrough season with the Burnaby Winter Club Hockey Academy Prep team. BWC Prep is a member of the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, a conference of 13 elite athletic and academic programs in British Columbia, Alberta, and Idaho. The Prep Division is for 15, 16, and 17-year-old players striving to play Canadian Junior A or Major Junior hockey. In 35 regular season games, Angus scored 42 goals and 19 assists and earned the CSSHL Prep Most Valuable Player Award.

Here's a video profile of Angus Crookshank produced by BWC Hockey Academy in August, 2015:

Crookshank's progress last season was rewarded by a call-up to the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL in January. In all, he played in 4 regular season games and 1 BCHL Playoff game. On the first shift of his first game on January 21st, Angus scored this goal:

Maco Balkovec is the Director of the Burnaby Winter Club Hockey Academy and Head Coach of the Prep team. Balkovec played 4 years for the University of Wisconsin in the early 1990's and was selected in the 5th Round of the 1991 NHL Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks. When Angus Crookshank's commitment to UNH was announced, Coach Balkovec said:
"We are incredibly happy and proud of this accomplishment for Angus. It’s great for our league, our program, and the Crookshank family. It shows that the CSSHL is about development and that practice matters. I don’t know anyone who works harder than he does; none of this is by accident. His work ethic and his desire to get better are exemplary, he is an “everyday” player. Angus has that burn to win and that willingness to put in the time to get better. We talked yesterday and the last thing he said to me was, ‘Now the real work begins.’ We are all so excited to see where he goes from here and to watch his development path. UNH has had great success with BC players and we hope this continues with Angus."
I contacted Langley Rivermen Head Coach and General Manager Bobby Henderson and he offered these thoughts on Angus' commitment to UNH:
"We are extremely excited for Angus and his commitment to UNH. He is a phenomenal kid. We expect him to develop into a high end Division I player."
I had an opportunity to interview Angus Crookshank, 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?

Angus Crookshank: Thank you very much. I am very excited about the opportunity to play at UNH. I toured the campus two years ago and I fell in love with the energy here and the feel of the East Coast. (A little ironic since I am born and raised in Vancouver on the west coast). My first choice has always been to play in Hockey East. The level of hockey is excellent - it’s a great collection of teams and solid, tough competition. The coaching staff at UNH are very passionate about their program and they made the final decision very easy for me.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Did other schools verbally offer an athletic scholarship? If so, which ones?

Angus Crookshank: One of the best things about playing for the BWC U18 Academy was the strong academic focus of our head coach, Maco Balkovec. He made sure that we had exposure to a variety of NCAA schools and toured multiple campuses whenever the opportunity arose. I looked very hard at the University of Denver, Providence, Ohio State and Wisconsin and had conversations with several of those schools, as did Coach Balkovec on my behalf. We were still early in those discussions when the offer came from UNH.

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?

Crookshank: We are planning to have me join the team for the 2018/19 season as a freshman. That will allow me to play two full seasons in the BCHL for the Langley Rivermen.

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

Crookshank: My hockey IQ is one of my biggest strengths. I see the ice well and have the ability to quickly scan the ice and set up a play. My shot is strong and I am an innovative thinker when faced with the opportunity to put the puck on net. I am known for my gritty work ethic and competitive desire to succeed. Hockey is a game that is constantly changing. It takes steady work and determination to continue to improve and be successful. My focus this summer is on improving my first step and continuing to build on my physical strength.

Lowry: Last season, as a member of the Burnaby Hockey Club's Prep team, you scored the most goals (42) and assists (61) in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, the elite high school conference in British Columbia and Alberta, and earned the CSSHL's Most Valuable Player award. Your coach was Maco Balkovec, a top defenseman for the University of Wisconsin in the early 1990's and two-year pro in the East Coast Hockey League. What was the most important lesson you learned from Coach Balkovec?

Crookshank: Coach Balkovec is a tough, competitive coach and he holds his players to a high standard of conduct and work ethic. You can’t take days off. You have to be working at your game every day whether it be through dryland training, on-ice skills, nutritional choices or mental focus exercises. He pushed me to become a better player and to work on all areas of my game. He was a steady support to not only myself but to every member of our team. As a former teacher, he demands not only athletic performance but academic performance as well. Like I said, no days off!

Lowry: Last January, you got called up to play several games with the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL and scored a goal on your first shift. What was that experience like?

Crookshank: That was crazy and I will never forget it. We were up in Prince George and it was my very first game with them. I was a little nervous but once you step onto the ice, all of that just falls away and instinct takes over. Ryan Barrow took the puck wide and threw it on net. I drove the net hard and was fortunate to find the puck on my stick and put it in the net.

Lowry: Do you plan on playing full time for the Rivermen next season? What are the biggest adjustments you will need to make as you move from high school hockey to Junior A?

Crookshank: I was fortunate to be an early commit for the Rivermen and I am looking forward to playing for them next season. I have skated with them for the past two seasons and the chance to become a full time player for Coach Henderson is a great opportunity to move my game to the next level. The biggest adjustment will be to the speed of the game. Junior A is filled with incredible skaters and the game is consistently faster and at a higher skill level. I am looking forward to that part.

Lowry: Although you were not selected in the Western Hockey League's Bantram draft, you are on the Victoria Royals' Player Protected List. Do you have any interest in foregoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?

Crookshank: I was very honoured to be protected by the Victoria Royals. They are a class organization and very well coached and managed. I thought long and hard about going the WHL route. For years leading up to the Bantam Draft, it was all that players talked about. I was a smaller sized forward during my draft year and size definitely plays a role in the draft selection process. Even before the draft occurred, I had accepted the opportunity to come East with a former coach to tour a number of schools on the East Coast and play in a tournament in the Boston area. That was an eye opening experience and it immediately felt like the right route for me to go.
My dad (George Crookshank, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Class of 1983) played in the NCAA and he always spoke highly of the experience of being a college athlete. When the opportunity presented itself with the Victoria Royals, he allowed me the space to consider both options and make my own decision in terms of my future direction. In the end though, the decision was an easy one and I think he’s pretty happy about the choice that I made (I know that my mom is!)

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? Will you continue to go to school in Burnaby or transfer to a Langley school?

Crookshank: I will be graduating in 2017 from Langley Secondary. It is the campus that all of the school age players on the Rivermen attend and it will be great to have some teammates with me in my final year of classes.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests?

Crookshank: I have a keen interest in biology and human kinetics, along with business (marketing/communications) and social sciences. I was a French immersion student through Grade 9 when I transferred to Burnaby and I would like to try and keep those language skills up as well.

Anthony Wyse Signs NLI With UNH

Defenseman Anthony Wyse
Signs NLI

Anthony Wyse has signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of New Hampshire. A graduate of Newton North High School is his hometown of Newton, Massachusetts, Anthony is playing his first season with the Lincoln Stars in the United States Hockey League.

Wyse, a 6'4", 225 lbs left-shot defenseman, recently completed the USHL regular season with the Stars. In 54 games, he scored 2 goals and 17 assists, including 10 power play assists. He tied for 7th in most power play assists among all USHL defensemen. Here's a video of one of his goals:

Wyse and the Lincoln Stars finished the regular season in second place in the Western Conference of the USHL. Anthony missed several games in March due to the passing of his Dad. He returned to the Stars lineup on March 25th in time for their final push toward the playoffs. Over the final 6 games, Wyse dished out 3 assists and posted a +/- rating of 0. In the next to the last game, Wyse registered an assist as the Stars clinched home-ice advantage in the opening round of the USHL Playoffs. They will face the Waterloo Black Hawks in a best-of-five series beginning on Friday night.

Wyse verbally committed to UNH on February 24th. He had originally committed to play for Dartmouth College. He will be 20 years old when he enrolls next Fall.

Anthony Wyse is the sixth UNH recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent. Liam Blackburn, Justin Fregona, Patrick Grasso, Brendan van Riemsdyk, and Mike Robinson have also signed their NLI with UNH.

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