Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An Interview With UNH Goalie Adam Clark

UNH Freshman Goalie Adam Clark

Freshman goaltender Adam Clark has brought stability and durability to the UNH hockey program at a time of unprecedented challenges. Midway through the 2014-15 season, there are only 9 Division I goalies who have started every game for their team and Adam Clark is the only freshman in the group. As the following table shows, Clark has been in the UNH net for nearly every minute of every game. The 98.2% reflects the 6 minutes he did not play near the end of the UMass Lowell game at the Tsongas Center.

Player Class Team Conf Game Starts Team Games % Min
Steve Michalek SR Harvard ECAC 12 12 99.9
Jamie Phillips JR Mich Tech WCHA 18 18 99.7
Adam Wilcox JR Minn B1G 14 14 99.7
Matt Ginn SR Holy Cross Atlantic 16 16 99.5
Jake Hildebrand JR Mich State B1G 18 18 98.9
C.J. Motte SR Ferris St WCHA 19 19 98.3
Adam Clark FR UNH HockeyEast 16 16 98.2
Rob Nichols SO UConn HockeyEast 17 17 96.9
Chris Truel SO Air Force Atlantic 19 19 93.7

When Clark arrived at the Durham campus in late August, he was slated to be the backup goalie to senior Casey DeSmith. The suspension left UNH with two goalies - Clark and junior Jamie Regan. Clark earned the starting job and has been in net ever since. He has been joined by a relatively inexperienced defensive core owing to the departure of top defenders Trevor van Riemsdyk, Eric Knodel, and Justin Agosta at the end of last season. To make matters worse, UNH lost Brett Pesce, its best defenseman, for 5 games due to a leg injury.

All things considered, Adam Clark has performed admirably for UNH. Of the 12 Hockey East goalies who have played in at least half of their teams' games, Clark is ranked 9th in Goals Against Average (2.79) and 10th in Save Percentage (.900). The opposing teams have scored just 2 goals against Clark in 8 of the 16 games. He allowed only 1 goal in two other games. Of UNH's ten loses, they have lost by 1 goal in five of them.

I had an opportunity to interview Adam about the first half of his freshman season:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): 1) Congratulations on the gutsy win against Maine up in Portland. Would you describe the play in the second period in which you injured your finger?
Adam Clark: Thank you. I slid across the net and stretched my arm out and turned my hand over and took a shot off of my finger and broke it. Unfortunately the ref didn't blow the whistle, I tried getting back to the net but they scored on the wrap around.

Mike Lowry: Did the injured finger hamper any aspect of your mechanics for the remainder of the game?
Adam Clark: For the rest of the game it was a little bit difficult holding my stick but we managed to pull out a great win for our team heading into the break.

Lowry: Do you think you'll be ready to play in the Nebraska-Omaha games at the end of the month?
Clark: Yes, coming back from break it feels great and doesn't bother me anymore on or off the ice. Im excited to get down there and get the second half of our season started against a good hockey team.

Lowry: How would you compare playing against BCHL vs NCAA competiton?
Clark: The competition is obviously a big step up from the BCHL. They take the best players from every league like the BCHL, and put them all on the ice together...makes for a lot more skill and speed. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to play in a league like the NCAA and hope to continue to make the most of it.

Lowry: What adjustments have you made in your goaltending mechanics and style, if any?
Clark: I think if anything I have been working on adjusting to the speed and skill of the players. Playing juniors I was able to get away with a few minor things, but players here take advantage of everything that you give them. So I believe for me it has been mostly attention to details and working with our coaches to help the team win.

Lowry: Are their aspects of your game that you are focusing on improving?
Clark: I would say something I am always working to improve is my speed and skating. It is one of the most important aspects of goaltending and it is important to continue to grow as a player in all aspects.

Lowry: How has the team defense improved since the beginning of the season and what are the goals for the second half?
Clark: Our defense​ this year has had a really big impact on my transition to the NCAA. They have been very solid in front of me and its been great seeing some of the younger guys in my class getting opportunities and growing as players.

UNH returns to action this weekend with a pair of road games against 12th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha. The Mavericks are ranked 4th in the nation in the PairWise Rankings. As expected, goalie Danny Tirone has enrolled for the second semester and has been added to the UNH roster. He will wear #35.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Joel Farabee Becomes UNH's Youngest Recruit

14-year-old Joel Farabee Commits to UNH

Enter "Joel Farabee" into Google Search and you'll see a link to a YouTube video labelled "Filthy Dangle and Snipe by 14-year-old kid". It shows Joel Farabee (Pronounced fair-uh-bee) zipping around a defender and wristing the puck into the top corner. What's more remarkable is Farabee's actual age at the time. The goal was scored on February 21, 2013 at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament. Farabee (DOB: 2/25/2000) was 12 years old, a few days shy of his 13th birthday.

The annual Quebec tournament, founded in 1960, attracts pee-wee teams from 16 countries and is considered the "Little League World Series" of hockey. In the 2013 tournament, Joel Farabee played for the Buffalo Junior Sabres 12U, an all-star squad representing Central and Western New York. He was a top player for the Syracuse Nationals Pee-Wee team. A native of Cicero, New York, Farabee grew up playing youth hockey with the Syracuse Nationals.

Farabee's highlight goal was the Jr. Sabres' 1st against the Detroit Honeybaked team who was ranked #2 in the United States. It marked the beginning of a dramatic, third-period comeback as the Buffalo squad downed Detroit 3-2. The Jr. Sabres 12U team won three out of four games in the Quebec International Tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals. Joel Farabee lead his team with 6 goals in 4 games.

Here's an updated video clip of Joel Farabee's goal in the 2013 Quebec International Pee-Wee Tournament. At the time, he was listed at 5'1" and 100 pounds.

Now, at the ripe old age of 14 years, 10 month, Joel Farabee has verbally accepted an offer to play for the University of New Hampshire. The 9th-grader becomes the youngest recruit to ever commit to UNH. Charlie Kelleher, the younger brother of UNH's second leading scorer Tyler Kelleher, previously held that distinction when he committed to UNH in August, 2012 at the age of 15 years, 6 months.

Farabee currently plays for the Selects Hockey Academy 16U team and attends the South Kent School in Connecticut. He has grown to 5'8" and 130 pounds. His team is a member of the United States Premiere Hockey League (USPHL) 16U division. In a league primarily composed of players 1 or 2 years older than he, Farabee is the Selects Academy's 5th leading scorer with 3 goals and 10 assists in 12 USPHL games. Here's a clip of his most recent goal scored in a 10-1 win over the P.A.L. Islanders on December 19th:

In addition to USPHL games, the Selects Academy U16 team plays an extensive schedule of non-league games. Last month, they won the New England Regional Tournament and earned a trip to the 2015 USA Hockey Tier I National Championships to be played next March in Buffalo. In the 16U Championship game, Farabee scored the Selects Academy's second goal in a 4-3 victory over the Connecticut Wolfpack. Here's that goal:

When Joel Farabee and the Selects Academy travel to Buffalo next spring, it will be his second consecutive trip to the National Championships. Last year, Farabee played his final season with the Syracuse Nationals organization. He played for the 1999 AAA Syracuse Nationals team that received an at-large bid to the 2014 USA Hockey Tier I 14U National Championship.

In the first game of the tourney, the Syracuse Nationals and Carolina Junior Hurricanes were tied 3-3 after regulation and overtime. Farabee assisted on two of the Nationals' goals. He was first up in the shootout and promptly scored. Then, in the shootout sudden death, Joel scored the game-winner. Here are both of his shootout goals:

The 14U Syracuse Nationals won one more game in the National Tournament, a 3-1 victory over the LA Junior Kings, but lost to the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and Belle Tire. Although Joel Farabee was a year younger than most competitors, he finished the National Tournament as Syracuse's third leading scorer with 2 goals (in addition to the 2 shootout goals) and 2 assists in 4 games. In their review of the 14U National Tournament, US Hockey Report provided this assessment of Joel Farabee:
"The ’00 from Cicero, NY put himself on the radar at Nationals, showing that despite his age he was able to stand out among kids a year older than he. Farabee reminds us of Patrick Harper (NJ Rockets) in that he is small but possesses great hockey sense and instincts, is skilled with the puck, and uses changes of speed to create separation. He looked a little timid at times, but was able to produce a 2-2-4 line in 4 games as one of the tournament’s youngest players."
I had an opportunity to interview Joel, via email, about his background, commitment to UNH, and future plans:

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?
Joel Farabee: Thank you, my family and I are both excited. I chose UNH because of their great campus and great coaching staff. UNH gives me the opportunity to be successful both on and off the ice. Lastly, I feel my hockey game fits right in.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering?
Joel Farabee: I visited a few ECAC schools, but it lastly came down to UNH and Cornell. I'm most confident in the decision I made because UNH will help me become a better hockey player and also I will be getting a great education.

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?
Farabee: We have not since I am only 14.

Lowry: As a 14-year-old - one of the youngest players in the USPHL 16U - you are the Selects Academy's 5th leading scorer with 3 goals and 10 assists. At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?
Farabee: I feel like the strengths in my game are my play making abilities. I make good passes and can see the ice pretty well. Some areas I'd like to improve on are using my speed more and, since I'm only 5'8, to get a little stronger.

Lowry: Last year, you played near your hometown (Cicero, NY) with the Syracuse Nationals U14 team that advanced to the National Championships. What were the main reasons you chose to enroll at the South Kent School (CT) this year and compete against older players with the Selects Hockey Academy team?
Farabee: Well, I've always played against kids older than me but every summer I'd play my age with the East Coast Selects summer program and (Selects Academy) Head Coach Devin Rask was one of the summer coaches. He introduced me to South Kent/Selects Academy and after seeing the campus and watching a couple games, I knew it would be a perfect fit.

Lowry: Do you plan on returning to Selects Academy to play next season and if so, will you play for the U18 team?
Farabee: Yes, I do plan on returning to Selects Academy. I do not anticipate playing U18 next year because I am so young.

Lowry: Do you anticipate playing junior hockey before coming to UNH? If so, what leagues would you consider playing in?
Farabee: Yes I do, I hope to one day make the NTDP (National Team Development Program) team. If not, I hope to play in the USHL.

Lowry: What grade are you in at the South Kent School and what are your academic strengths?
Farabee: I am in 9th grade, I feel like my academic strength is my work ethic. If I have a grade I don't like, I push myself and talk to my teachers to get the grade up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Goalie Danny Tirone Brings Quick, Athletic Style to UNH

Danny Tirone Set to Join UNH Roster

When goaltender Danny Tirone verbally committed to UNH back in March, 2013, he had just completed his senior season with the Loomis-Chaffee School and been named the Prep School Player of the Year by US Hockey Report. In my interview with Tirone (Pronounced Ti-row-knee) at the time, he described the plan to play a couple of seasons, probably in the United States Hockey League, and enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2015.

A couple months later, Tirone was drafted by the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL and he went on to a successful rookie season last year. In 44 regular season games, Tirone posted a 2.63 goals against average (8th best in USHL) and a .917 save percentage (6th best in USHL).

Throughout this past summer, UNH's plan for an orderly goalie succession was on track. Incoming freshman Adam Clark, a 6'5" veteran goalie from the British Columbia Hockey League, would be the backup for senior Casey DeSmith. Danny Tirone would play one more season with Cedar Rapids and come to UNH next fall. However, that plan was sidetracked on August 31st when DeSmith was arrested by Durham Police and charged with domestic assault and resisting arrest. The University subsequently suspended DeSmith from the UNH hockey team pending further investigation.

Adam Clark became the #1 goalie and has started every game since the UNH season began. Meanwhile, preliminary steps were taken to admit Tirone to UNH for the second semester. Head Coach and General Manager of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Mark Carlson, allowed Tirone (his #1 goalie) to come back to the Northeast and play for the Junior Bruins in the USPHL. As expected, Tirone has started nearly every game for the Junior Bruins (20 out of 28) and maintained a high standard of performance. His record was 14-5-1 with a goals against average of 2.24 and save percentage of .929.

On December 6th, Coach Umile announced that senior goalie Casey DeSmith, would not be returning to the team:
“Our student-athletes here at UNH are held to a higher standard than the general student body, and because of Casey’s actions the weekend of August 31, I’ve made the decision to dismiss Casey from the team.”
A December 12th press release provided by the parents of DeSmith presented their account of how the accusations were addressed in the Dover District Court and before the University's disciplinary hearing. DeSmith will reportedly be allowed to return to UNH as a student.

Last Wednesday, I traveled to the New England Sports Center to watch Danny Tirone play in his final game with the Junior Bruins. They downed the Islanders Hockey Club (fellow UNH recruit Brendan van Riemsdyk plays for them) 4-1 and Tirone stopped 45 out of 46 shots on goal. It was my first opportunity to see Tirone play in person. In the interview back when he committed to UNH, I asked him about his strengths. He said:
"I think that the strongest aspects of my goaltending skills are my speed, my athleticism, and my overall compete level when I am in the net."
In this sequence of highlights from last Wednesday's game, notice how quickly Tirone skates laterally to block and control the puck:

On these plays, Tirone's athleticism is evidenced by how quickly he can go down into the butterfly position and spring back up:

Danny Tirone is listed as 5'10" and 168 pounds. That's a stark contrast with Adam Clark who is 6'5", 220 pounds. Needless to say, it's relatively easy for Clark to cover large sections of the net when a shooter is approaching him head-on. Tirone compensates for his smaller stature, in part, by standing tall and holding his catching glove away from his body:

The contrasts between Adam Clark and Danny Tirone may translate into an effective goalie tandem for UNH over the next few years. At the risk of oversimplification, Clark is a big goalie who economizes his movement in the crease while Tirone uses his quickness to cover the net space. It will be interesting to see how the UNH coaches utilize Clark and Tirone during the second half of this season and the subsequent three years.

Over the past decade, UNH coaches have identified a #1 goalie who played the bulk of minutes and a backup who played in the occasional game. Even when two talented goalies were on the roster, one was in net for the majority of games. For example, in the 2007-08 season, senior Kevin Regan played in 32 games while sophomore Brian Foster only played in 6. Both were NHL draft picks - Regan a 9th round pick of the Boston Bruins in 2003 and Foster a 5th round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2005.

Will UNH change the way it utilizes its goalies over the next four years? The combination of Clark and Tirone is relatively unique. They are close to the same age - Clark is 21 and Tirone is 20. An unpredictable set of circumstances has lead both to be freshmen in the same season. They are very different goalies both in stature and style. They are even exact opposites in handedness - Clark catches with his left hand and Tirone with his right.

At the extreme, one can imagine UNH playing Clark in one game of a weekend series and Tirone in the other. The opposing team would need to adapt their scoring strategies, to some degree, from one night to the next. Granted, that type of goalie tandem is rarely used at the NCAA or professional levels. Regardless of how Clark and Tirone are ultimately utilized, it is true that UNH will have more options with them both on the roster.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-16-2014

Skipjacks U18 Forward
Jason O'Neill
Selects Academy U18 Forward
Joey Cipollone

Player Spotlight - Jason O'Neill & Joey Cipollone

The United States Premiere Hockey League's 18U League is in it's second season of operation. Since the inception of the league, hockey enthusiasts have wondered how the USPHL 18U players and teams would stack up against the Tier I Elite League teams from other parts of the US. Over the December 7-9 weekend, six USPHL 18U and 16U teams travelled to Chicago to compete in the first Tier 1/USPHL Showdown. Two UNH Recruits - Jason O'Neill of the Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U team and Joey Cipollone (pronounced Sip-ih-LOAN) of Selects Hockey Academy 18U - competed in the showdown. Each played in 4 games against teams ranked in the top 50 in the MYHockey USA Midget 18U Tier 1 Rankings.

17-year-old Jason O'Neill (DOB: 3/23/97), a 5'11", 170 lbs., left-shot forward and the Skipjacks defeated the LA Jr Kings (4-3), Dallas Stars Elite 18U (4-1), and Chicago Fury (4-3), but lost in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 18U (3-2). O'Neill scored the game-winning goal in the Dallas and Chicago games. Overall, Jason posted 2 goals and an assist over the four games. The Skipjacks' successful play moved them up to #52 in the US 18U rankings.

Joey Cipollone (DOB: 3/29/97) is just 6 days younger than Jason O'Neill and also a left-shot forward (5'10", 165 lbs.). He and the Selects Academy at South Kent School 18U team also won three games in the Showdown defeating the Colorado Thunderbirds (10-1), LA Jr Kings (4-0), and Dallas Stars Elite 18U (3-1). They lost to the St. Louis Blues 18U team (0-3) who were ranked #14 in the country. Cipollone scored a goal and added 3 assists at the Showdown. The Selects Academy moved up to the 11th-ranked 18U team in the country.

The Skipjacks were on the road again this past weekend while the Selects Academy returned home to South Kent, CT. Jason O'Neill and his teammates traveled from Chicago down to Huntsville, Alabama to play the Thunder AAA midget teams. O'Neill missed the Saturday game due to illness but he came up big for the Skipjacks 18U in their victory on Sunday. O'Neill scored two goals during regulation including the game-tying goal with less the 2 seconds remaining. Then he scored in the shootout as the Skipjacks downed the Thunder.

Joey Cipollone and the Selects Academy teams played a pair of home games against the Northwood School from Lake Placid, NY. The match-ups were played at the brand-new Admiral James and Sybil Stockdale Arena on the campus of the South Kent School. The Selects Academy 18U team downed the Northwood School Junior Hockey team 4-0 on Saturday and Cipollone posted an assist. In the 2-2 game on Sunday, Cipollone scored one of the Cardinals' goals.

Both O'Neill and Cipollone are among the top scorers in the USPHL 18U League. Jason O'Neill's 20 points in 15 games makes him the 5th leading scorer in the league. Joey Cipollone has 4 goals and 10 assists in only 8 games. Though he has played in several fewer games than other USPHL 18U players, he is still tied for 7th in assists.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2015 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Bloomington Thunder USHL 13 0 2 2 12
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 11 3 4 7 4
USHL 8 0 3 3 18
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 4 0 1 1 14
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 13 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 13W 6L 2.31 .925
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 32 14 35 49 18
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 6 1 3 4 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 24 5 10 15 8
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 24 3 6 9 8
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 31 0 2 2 24
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 27 18 6 24 44
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 28 5 19 24 32
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 8 4 10 14 0
Non-League 6 2 4 6 -
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 5 4 1 5 4
Non-Conf 16 9 9 18 18
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 8 13 21 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 10 0 0 0 4
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 23 2 2 4 6
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 2 1W 0L/1T 3.00 .918
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 5 4 3 7 -
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 15 10 10 20 21
Non-League 5 4 2 6 -

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ Marcus Vela and Canada West played their first game in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge last Sunday night. Canada West lost a close game with Denmark 3-2. Vela was the starting right wing and played substantial minutes on Canada West's penalty kill and power play. In a preview of the WJAC, the NHL Central Scouting Service selected 3 "Players to Watch" from each of the 6 international teams. This is what they said about Marcus Vela:
"Key on the power play and penalty kill … plays a responsible two-way game … very strong on the puck … solid on face-offs … brings a physical element … plays with a purpose … good vision … high compete level."
~ 2015 or '16 UNH recruit Liam Blackburn competed for, but did not make the Canada West squad for the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. Since returning to the West Kelowna Warriors' lineup, Blackburn has added a goal and 2 assists to his scoring totals. He is still the second leading scorer in the BCHL and his 35 assists are 7 more than the BCHL player with the second most assists.

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ Both Charlie Kelleher and Christopher Miller have been out of the Junior Bruins' lineup for an extended period. Kelleher had mononucleosis and has not played since November 11th. He was cleared to play on December 8th. Miller was out of the lineup from October 24th until last Thursday with a mild concussion.

Prep School Hockey:

~ 2017 or '18 recruit Eric Esposito, a sophomore at Loomis-Chaffee, is putting up impressive numbers in the 2014-15 New England Prep School season. Esposito has 4 goals and 3 assists in 5 games. As a freshman last season, he scored 5 goals and 6 assists in 28 games. Loomis-Chaffee is undefeated and Eric Esposito is tied for second in scoring on the team.

~ Goalie Mike Robinson, a 2017 recruit, won his first ever New England Prep School game last Wednesday. Robinson faced 35 shots on goal and made 33 saves as Lawrence Academy downed Milton Academy 4-2. According to US Hockey Report, the 6'5", 200 lbs., Robinson is being watched by NHL scouts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UNH Recruit Marcus Vela Makes Canada West Team

Langley's Marcus Vela Named to Canada West Team

Hockey Canada has announced the 22-player roster for Canada West and UNH Recruit Marcus Vela is on it. Vela, a 2015 or '16 UNH recruit, is one of 9 players selected from the British Columbia Hockey League. Canada West also includes players from the Junior A leagues from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Superior International. They will compete in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge on December 14-20 in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. Canada West will face teams from Canada East, the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

From December 7-9, Vela (Langley Rivermen), and fellow UNH recruit Liam Blackburn (West Kelowna Warriors) competed with 60 players at the Canada West selection camp. 25 of the players represented BCHL teams while the other 35 players represented the Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Superior International Leagues.

17-year-old Marcus Vela, has scored 5 goals and 19 assists in 28 games. He is the 4th leading scorer on the Langley Rivermen squad. Liam Blackburn is currently the second leading scorer in the BCHL. So far this season, he has scored 13 goals and 33 assists in 29 games. His 33 assists are the most for any BCHL player. Like Vela, he is on target to enroll at UNH in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016.

Since the World Junior A Challenge was first played in 2006, 7 players, who would later play for UNH, have participated (see table below). The most recent was Shane Eiserman who scored 2 goals for the USA team that won the gold medal in 2013. Two UNH players have represented the BCHL on Canada West teams. Both Grayson Downing (2009, 2010) and Damon Kipp (2006, 2007) played in two World Junior A Challenges. The leading scorer among UNH players who have played in the Challenge was Blake Kessel who scored 2 goals and 5 assists in the 2007 Tournament.

UNH Player Year Team Medal GP Goals Asst Pts
Shane Eiserman 2013 USA Gold 4 2 0 2
Grayson Downing 2010 Canada West - 5 2 2 4
2009 Canada West Silver 5 0 0 0
Casey DeSmith 2010 USA Gold 2/3 1W 0L -
Nick Sorkin 2009 USA Gold 5 0 1 1
Greg Burke 2008 USA Gold 5 1 1 2
Blake Kessel 2007 USA Bronze 4 2 5 7
Damon Kipp 2007 Canada West Gold 5 0 2 2
2006 Canada West Gold 4 - - -

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

UNH Recruits Update: Dec-2-2014

Marcus Vela - NHL CSS Player to Watch
(Photo Credit: Garrett James Photography)

Player of the Week - Marcus Vela

November was a memorable month for 17-year-old Marcus Vela (DOB: 3/3/1997). On the 20th, the NHL Central Scouting Service released its Preliminary 2015 November Players to Watch list and Vela (pronounced VELL-a) was on it. He was rated as a "C" prospect meaning he's a candidate to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round in the 2015 NHL Draft next June.

Then, last Friday, Hockey Canada announced the list of 60 players invited to the Canada West selection camp on December 7-9. Marcus Vela is one of 25 players from the BCHL who will attend the camp. The other 35 players represent the Junior A leagues from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Superior International. All will compete for the 22 roster slots on the Canada West team in advance of the 2014 World Junior A Challenge. The Challenge, to be played in Kindersley, Saskatchewan Dec. 14-20, includes teams from the United States, Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and two from Canada.

Vela's on-ice accomplishments with the Langley Rivermen have also stood out over the last couple weeks. In the last 6 games, he has scored a goal and added 5 assists. In a 4-3 victory over the West Kelowna Warriors, Vela posted 2 assists and was awarded the #2 Star of the Game. When the Rivermen downed the Surrey Eagles 5-2 on November 21st, Vela scored a goal and an assist and was named the "Energy Player of the Game".

In just 27 games this season, Vela has already matched his total point output (22 points) from last season (54 games). His 18 assists is tied for 9th place in the BCHL. Vela leads the Rivermen in assists and is tied for 3rd in scoring. Recently, Vela has been the centerman on Langley's first line and logged substantial time on the power play. In his second season in the BCHL, Marcus Vela is on track to double his production from a year ago.

Here are some of the highlights from Vela's recent games:

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the table, are categorized by the year the player and UNH coaches have targeted for enrollment in UNH. For example, the "2015 Recruits" have a target of the Fall of 2015 to begin playing for UNH.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2015 Recruits
Jason Kalinowski  (F) Bloomington Thunder USHL 9 0 3 3 8
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders USHL 5 0 0 0 4
Joseph Masonius  (D) USA U18 Team NCAA 10 3 4 7 4
USHL 6 0 2 2 16
NAHL 1 0 0 0 0
Int'l. 4 0 1 1 14
Christopher Miller  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 12 3 4 7 6
Danny Tirone  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 16 11W 5L 2.32 .926
2015 or '16 Recruits
Liam Blackburn  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 27 13 30 43 14
Liam Darcy  (D) Berwick Academy NEPSHC 2 1 2 3 -
Islanders Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 4 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 20 4 9 13 8
Ara Nazarian  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 20 3 4 7 6
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 26 0 1 1 18
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 23 17 5 22 44
Marcus Vela  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 27 4 18 22 30
2016 Recruits
Joey Cipollone  (F) Selects Academy 18U USPHL 18U 8 4 10 14 0
Justin Fregona  (F) St. Andrews College CISAA 4 4 1 5 2
Non-Conf 12 8 6 14 16
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 18 8 13 21 8
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Green Bay Gamblers USHL 6 0 0 0 0
Jake Ryczek  (D) Sioux City Musketeers USHL 20 2 1 3 6
2017 Recruits
Mike Robinson  (G) Boston Jr Rangers EHL 8 4W 4L 2.35 .937
Lawrence Academy NEPSHC 0 0 0 0 0
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) CT Wolfpack U16 Split CT HC 34 17 15 32 44
Loomis Chaffee NEPSHC 1 1 1 2 -
Jason O'Neill  (F) Skipjacks Hockey Club 18U USPHL 18U 15 10 10 20 21

News & Notes

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ On November 19th, Liam Blackburn signed a National Letter of Intent to play for UNH. He will enroll in either the Fall of 2015 or 2016. Blackburn was also invited to the Canada West tryout camp. He and fellow UNH recruit Marcus Vela will be trying to earn a spot on the Canada West team which will compete in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge in mid-December. Over his last 5 games with the West Kelowna Warriors, Blackburn has scored 3 goals and 3 assists. He currently has the most assists (30) of any BCHL player and is the second leading scorer (43 points) in the league.

United States Hockey League:

~ In a game between the Des Moines Buccaneers and Omaha Lancers on Sunday night, 2015 or '16 UNH recruit Patrick Grasso scored the game-tying goal with just 55 seconds left in regulation. The Bucs went on to win the shootout. In that same game, fellow UNH recruit Ara Nazarian scored the Bucs' second goal and was awarded the #2 Star of the Game. Des Moines, who missed the USHL Playoffs last season, is currently in 2nd place in the Western Conference. Here's Patrick Grasso's dramatic goal:

Team USA:

~ Over the last couple weeks, 2015 UNH recruit Joseph Masonius and the US National Team Development Program Under-18 team have competed against NCAA teams. On November 21st, Team USA defeated 4th-Ranked Minnesota 5-4 in overtime. Masonius, a 6', 180 lbs. defenseman, scored the team's third goal and assisted on the game-tying 4th goal. Last Saturday, the US National U-18 team defeated the NCAA Division III team from Neumann University (Aston, Pennsylvania) 7-1. Masonius registered a goal and 2 assists.

Prep School Hockey:

~ Liam Darcy, a Senior Captain at Berwick Academy, scored the first goal of the season for the Bulldogs in the first period of the first game. Berwick shut out North Yarmouth Academy 4-0. Darcy scored two assists in the 6-0 shutout of the Moses Brown School. In the opening weeks of the New England Prep School season, Darcy is the 3rd leading scorer among all defenders. Like fellow UNH recruit Marcus Vela, Liam Darcy was included on the NHL Central Scouting Service's Preliminary 2015 November Players to Watch list. He too was rated as a "C" prospect with the potential to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round in the 2015 NHL Draft.

~ 2017 or '18 recruit Eric Esposito posted a goal and an assist in Loomis-Chaffee's first game of the New England Prep School season. The Pelicans defeated Groton Academy 9-0 at the St. Paul's School Jamboree. Eric Esposito, a sophomore, and his older brother Alex (a Vermont Commit), a senior, are forwards on the Loomis-Chaffee team. Against Groton, the Esposito brothers did not play on the same line. This video shows Eric's first goal of the season:

~ 2016 recruit Justin Fregona is off to a fast start for St. Andrew's College in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Conference. In 4 league games, Fregona has scored 4 goals and an assist. He is tied for 1st in CISAA goals and tied for 3rd in scoring. Last season, Fregona and current UNH freshman Warren Foegele were teammates on the St. Andrew's squad.

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