Friday, September 16, 2011

UNH Recruits Prepare for USHL: Part II

Part I of this series chronicled the efforts of 5 UNH Recruits to make the roster of two USHL teams. All five - Casey Thrush, Jordan Masters, Michael McNicholas (Muskegon Lumberjacks), Mike Vecchione, and Dylan Maller (Tri-City Storm) - made the teams' 25-player active roster coming out of the tryout camps in June. This summer, an additional 6 UNH Recruits also pursued their dream to play in the USHL. These are their stories.

Waterloo Black Hawks

Jamie Hill - Both Jamie Hill and current UNH sophomore, Nick Sorkin, were drafted by the Waterloo Black Hawks in the 4th Round of the 2009 USHL Entry Draft. The 17-year-old Hill and 18-year-old Sorkin made the Black Hawks roster for the 2009-10 season. Over his first two seasons in Waterloo, Hill posted 23 and 26 points, respectively. His total penalty minutes increased from 69 to 119 (an average of 2 penalty minutes per game). As expected, Jamie Hill made the 25-man active roster coming out of the Black Hawk's tryout camp and will be a third-year veteran this season. Hill is committed to UNH for the fall of 2012.

Matias Cleland - Every spring, the USHL conducts its " Futures Draft" for prospects who will be 16 years old during that calendar year. The teams attempt to identify young players who have the most potential to make the active roster within a 3-year window. Players selected in the Futures Draft are often placed on the team's "Affiliate List" - a group of 14 players (in addition to the active roster) that the team protects. An affiliated player can not play for any other USHL team unless he is traded. In the 2010 Futures Draft, the Black Hawks selected defenseman Matias Cleland in the third round and he was placed on their affiliate list. Last season, Cleland played for the Colorado Thunderbirds, an Under-18 Tier 1 team. In 38 regular season games, he scored 5 goals and 26 assists and was the 3rd leading scorer among defensemen in the Tier 1 Elite League. The Thunderbirds advanced to the 2011 USA National Championship series in April and lost in the semifinals. Overall, Cleland had a goal and no assists in the 5 playoff games. In June, he had a successful tryout with the Black Hawks and made the 25-man active roster. On Sept. 14, 2011, Matias Cleland played his first game in a Black Hawk uniform in a preseason game against Cedar Rapids. He has committed to UNH for the fall of 2013.

Sioux City Musketeers

Maxim Gaudreault - In May 2010, the Musketeers selected Maxim Gaudreault in the 2nd round of the 2010 USHL Entry Draft (19th overall selection). A month later, Gaudreault earned a slot on the Musketeers' roster just prior to his 18th birthday. In his rookie season in the USHL, he scored 6 goals and 18 assists in 45 games, including 2 short-handed goals. Not surprisingly, Gaudreault has made the Musketeers' roster for the upcoming season. He is scheduled to join UNH in the fall of 2012. He will join his former teammates from Team Maryland - Nick Sorkin and Casey Thrush.

Kyle Smith - Over the last two seasons, forward Kyle Smith has put up solid numbers with the Boston Junior Bruins of the Eastern Junior Hockey League. He was the 8th leading scorer in the EJHL last year with 15 goals and 38 assists in 45 games. In May 2011, Smith was drafted by the Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) in the 15th round of the Entry Draft. Arrangements were made for Smith to try out for the Sioux City Musketeers instead of the Saints. In a few intrasquad games at the Musketeers' tryout camp in June, Kyle Smith scored a goal and an assist. However, he did not make either the 25-man Active Roster or 14-player Affiliate List. Smith rejoined the EJHL as a member of the All-Star team that played in the Junior World Cup Tournament in Omsk, Russia over the last week of August. Kyle Smith will be a third-year veteran on the Junior Bruins this season. He is committed to UNH for the fall of 2012.

Andrew Poturalski - During the 2010 USHL Futures Draft, center Andrew Poturalski was selected 87th overall by the Sioux City Musketeers. At the time, Poturalski was 16 years old and had just completed his sophomore season at the Nichols Prep School in Buffalo, NY. Nichols plays in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association (CISAA) with 5 Canadian prep schools in the Toronto/Lake Ontario region. In his junior year last season, Poturalski led the CISAA in scoring with 13 goals and 10 assists in 14 regular season games and scored a remarkable 5 goals (including the overtime, game-winning goal) in the CISAA Championship game. In June, Poturalski had a strong performance at the Musketeers' Tryout Camp. He scored some goals in intrasquad games and made one of the all-star teams for the final day of camp. However, Poturalski did not make the Musketeers' 25-man active roster. In mid-July, arrangements were made for him to try out with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (see below).

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

Andrew Poturalski - The middle of June is the time for all USHL teams to run their tryout camps. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders held an additional tryout camp in mid-July and Andrew Poturalski was there. Poturalski impressed Head Coach and General Manager Mark Carlson and his staff and he earned a spot on the RoughRiders' protected, affiliate list. In a correspondence, Coach Carlson provided me with this assessment of Andrew Poturalski:
"We feel Andrew could join us at anytime. He has great hockey sense, vision, shooting. Like all young players he will continue to work on his strength and conditioning."
As an affiliate player of the RoughRiders, Andrew Poturalski is eligible to be called up for one or more games during the upcoming USHL season.

I have just learned from Coach Jamie Printz of the Nichols School that Andrew is playing for the Buffalo Junior Sabres of the Ontario Junior Hockey League this season and he will complete his senior year of studies at the Nichols School. He is committed to UNH for the Fall of 2013.

US Under-17 National Team Development Program

Tyler Kelleher - USA Hockey operates two prestigious, intense development programs in Ann Arbor, MI - one for players under 17 years of age and another for the under-18 group. The U-17 team plays 36 games against USHL teams throughout the season as well as three international tournaments. Last season, as a freshman for the Deerfield Academy hockey team, Tyler Kelleher was one of 40 players invited to try out for the U-17 team. Although the tryout camp was held at the end of March, 2011, the final roster was not announced until the middle of August. Tyler Kelleher earned a spot on the Under-17 NTDP roster and has already begun training with the team. Chris Peters, former Communications Director with USA Hockey and current editor of "The United States of Hockey" offered this assessment of Kelleher:
"While most of his counterparts are huge forwards, Tyler Kelleher is one of two diminutive scorers the U.S. has picked. At just 5-6, 147, Kelleher needs to be dynamic to be a factor, and by most accounts he is. US Hockey Reports had glowing reviews for the small forward. Additionally, size wasn’t an issue for the University of New Hampshire, which earned a commitment from Kelleher. The NTDP has had luck in the past with small scorers before with Rocco Grimaldi and Nathan Gerbe being the most notable."
Tyler Kelleher is committed to UNH for the 2014-15 season.


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