Friday, October 09, 2015

UNH Recruits Update: Oct-9-2015

2016 Commit Liam Blackburn
(Photo: Lorne White/
2016 Commit Justin Fregona
Langley Rivermen

Player Spotlight - Liam Blackburn

What is a "top prospect"? When it comes to forwards, a top prospect is a player who excels in the offensive and defensive zones. Over the years, UNH has been fortunate to have several excellent two-way forwards who grew up playing hockey in British Columbia. Grayson Downing is a prime example. In his four years at UNH, Downing (Abbotsford, British Columbia) scored 40 goals - 11 were power play goals and 3 were short-handed. Last year, Downing played on UNH's top power play and penalty kill units.

Current UNH freshman Marcus Vela (Burnaby, BC) is another top prospect. In the exhibition game last Sunday, the San Jose Sharks' draft pick played substantial minutes on both the power play and penalty kill. He dished out 3 assists - one on a power play. Last season with the Langley Rivermen (BCHL), Vela scored 5 power play goals on their top power play unit and was a top penalty killer.

Liam Blackburn (Prince George, BC), who has already signed a National Letter of Intent to come to UNH next fall, looks to be the next outstanding two-way forward to come to Durham from British Columbia. Blackburn is the leading scorer with the West Kelowna Warriors (BCHL) with 4 goals and 7 assists in 9 games. Over the last three games, he has netted a power play and a short-handed goal. Over the first 9 games of this season, Blackburn has posted 2 power play goals, 3 power play assists, and this short-handed goal:

Blackburn's 6 special teams' points are the second most in the BCHL. He is also tied for 8th in BCHL scoring. During the regular season last year, Blackburn tied for 6th in BCHL scoring and posted the third most assists. In 51 regular season games with the West Kelowna Warriors, he scored 22 goals, including 8 power play goals, and dished out 51 assists.

Player Spotlight - Justin Fregona

BCHL rookie Justin Fregona jumped out to a fast start scoring 5 goals in the Langley Rivermen's first 4 games of the season. Last weekend, Fregona's play-making abilities came to the fore as he assisted on 3 goals and added one of his own in three games.

On October 2nd, Fregona assisted on the game-winning goal as the Rivermen downed the Chilliwack Chiefs 6-4. The next night, Fregona scored Langley's first goal and assisted on the game-tying goal during a 3-2 overtime victory over Chilliwack. Finally, on Sunday, he assisted on the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Langley is off to a strong start this season. They have a record of 6 wins and 2 losses and are in first place in the BCHL's Mainland Division. Justin Fregona is their leading scorer with 6 goals and 3 assists. He is tied for 4th in BCHL goal-scoring and tied for 10th in scoring. Fregona's target date for enrollment at UNH is the Fall of 2016.

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:
~ 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 9 4 7 11 10
Justin Fregona  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 8 6 3 9 11
Patrick Grasso  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 3 1 0 1 0
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 9 0 2 2 12
Brendan van Riemsdyk   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 7 4 3 7 4
Mike Robinson  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL - - - - -
2016 or '17 Recruits
Joe Cipollone  (F) Vernon Vipers BCHL 9 3 1 4 2
Liam Darcy  (D) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 5 0 2 2 0
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 2 0 2 2 0
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Tri-City Storm USHL - - - - -
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 3 0 1 1 12
Jason O'Neill  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL - - - - -

News & Notes

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ For the second consecutive year, the NHL Central Scouting Service has identified defenseman Liam Darcy as a "Player To Watch" for the NHL Entry Draft. According to the NHL CSS, the 5'11", 180 lbs. blueliner has the potential to be drafted in the 4th, 5th or 6th round of the 2016 draft next June. Darcy is a rookie with the Islanders Hockey Club in the Premiere Division of the USPHL. Last year, as a senior at Berwick Academy, Darcy was ranked as the 204th North American skater by the NHL CSS in their final rankings for the 2015 Draft. Although Darcy was not drafted last June, NHL scouts obviously still think he has potential.


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