Tuesday, March 04, 2014

UNH Recruits Charlie Kelleher & Brendan van Riemsdyk Face Off in USPHL Playoffs

Charlie Kelleher
Brendan van Riemsdyk

Last weekend was a UNH family affair at the Lawler Arena on the campus of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. The Wildcats, battling to finish the regular season in the top 4 of Hockey East, were in town for a critical, two-game series against Merrimack. All-American defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, recovering from a broken ankle, endured another weekend as a spectator on crutches in the stands. Freshman forward Tyler Kelleher, recovering from a persistent case of the flu, sat out the Friday night game - a 4-2 loss to MC - but managed to suit up for the Saturday finale.

Coincidentally, Trevor's younger brother Brendan and Tyler's younger brother Charlie were also in town to play in the United States Premier Hockey League-18U Semifinals. Brendan van Riemsdyk (BvR), who turned 18 in February, is a left winger for the Jersey Hitmen 18U team. The Hitmen finished the regular season in 2nd place in the USPHL 18U's Southern Division. Brendan played for both the Hitmen and his Christian Brothers Academy team where he is a senior in high school. In November, 2012, BvR committed to play for UNH, following in the footsteps of older brothers James and Trevor.

Charlie Kelleher is a center/right winger for the Boston Junior Bruins 18U team. The Jr. Bruins won the regular season title in the Northern Division. Charlie turned 17 in January and is a junior at Longmeadow (MA) High School. He played exclusively for the Jr. Bruins organization this season, primarily for the 18U team as well as a couple of games with the Premiere team. Charlie made a verbal commitment to UNH in August, 2012. There's a chance that Charlie could play with brother Tyler in UNH's 2015-16 season when he would be a freshman and Tyler a senior.

On Saturday afternoon, the Junior Bruins faced the Jersey Hitmen in a USPHL 18U semifinal game. The contest took place on the Islanders Hockey Club's home rink adjacent to the main rink of the Lawler Arena, home of the Merrimack Warriors. Later that evening, UNH downed Merrimack 5-2 and finished in 4th Place in Hockey East. The matinee was the feature event for the youngest sons of the Kelleher and van Riemsdyk families.

Charlie Kelleher, who scored 4 goals and 11 assists in 22 USPHL games, started Saturday's game at right wing for the Junior Bruins and also logged major time on the power play and penalty kill. Brendan van Riemsdyk played left wing primarily on the Hitmen's third line and left point on their power play. At 5'8" and 195 lbs., Kelleher plays a very different style than the 6'4", 190 lbs., van Riemsdyk. I've put together highlight videos of Charlie's and BvR's play during the USPHL semifinal game to show their skill sets.

Charlie Kelleher

Some of Charlie Kelleher's strengths, evident in the video, are:
~ Quick Hands -> Allows him to stick handle through and around traffic.
~ Quick Feet -> Results in fact acceleration to create space and chase down opponents.
~ Outstanding Vision -> Has a knack for finding the open man.
~ Persistance -> Often steals the puck in 1-on-1 battles.
~ Scoring Touch:
In the 4th sequence in the video, Kelleher finds an open space to the right of the Hitmen goalie and tips a teammate's shot from the top of the circle, which hits the post.
The final sequence, from the second period of the game, shows Kelleher scoring the Jr. Bruins only goal. He rushes the puck through the neutral zone, into the Hitmen zone, and to the endwall. After backhanding a pass around the boards, he sneaks in front of the net and knocks in a rebound.

Brendan van Riemsdyk

BvR's talents include:
~ Quick Release and Accurate Shot -> The video shows 4 of his shots on goal.
~ Long Strides -> Covers a lot of ice in short time.
~ Strong Net Presence -> Moves strong to the net and difficult to knock out of position.
~ Soft, Accurate Passer.

It would have been fun to watch how Kelleher and van Riemsdyk matched up head-to-head. Unfortunately, except for a few shifts, they were not on the ice at the same time. Here's one sequence in which BvR appears to win a faceoff but Kelleher swoops in to steal the puck and is off to the races:

Overall, the semifinal matchup between the Hitmen and Junior Bruins was closely contested. The Hitmen held a 2-1 lead entering the third period. Neither team scored through most of the final stanza. This last video shows the final minute and 1/2 of the game. BvR and Kelleher are on the ice throughout and the Jr. Bruins eventually managed to pull their goalie. The Jr. Bruins keep the puck in the Hitmen zone for a while and at one point, BvR disrupts Kelleher's attempted shot on goal. Finally, BvR pounces on a loose puck and banks a pass off the sidewall to Grant Jozefek who finds the empty net.

With the 3-1 victory over the Jr. Bruins, the Hitmen advanced to the USPHL 18U Championship Game against the Selects Academy at the South Kent School. The Selects won the championship with a 6-0 victory.

It will be interesting to see where Charlie Kelleher and Brendan van Riemsdyk end up playing next season. Kelleher was drafted by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the United States Hockey League. BvR was drafted by the Sioux City Musketeers. Presumably, each will also have the option to move up to the Premiere Team of the Junior Bruins and Jersey Hitmen, respectively. Kelleher has one more year of high school remaining while van Riemsdyk is scheduled to graduate from Christian Brothers Academy this spring. Kelleher is on target to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2015 while van Riemsdyk is targeting the Fall of 2015 or 2016.


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