Friday, March 11, 2016

UNH Recruits Update: March-11-2016

Forward Aaron O'Neill
Strong Finish to BCHL Season

Player Spotlight - Aaron O'Neill

By age 15, UNH commit Aaron O'Neill had developed into one of the top hockey prospects to come from the State of Tennessee. He was drafted in the 10th Round of the 2013 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection but chose to play for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League. Since then, O'Neill's hockey road has been winding and sometimes bumpy.

During the 2013-14 season, at age 16, O'Neill was one of the youngest players in the USHL and he registered a goal and an assist for Green Bay in 32 games. That's when the first bump came along. O'Neill played throughout the second half of the season with a sore shoulder and underwent surgery in May 2014. He did not return to the Green Bay lineup until November, 2014. For the rest of the 2014-15 season, he did not recapture the scoring touch evident during his Tier 1 midget hockey days. In 41 games, O'Neill tallied a goal and an assist.

During the 2015 off season, O'Neill was traded to the Tri-City Storm - the USHL team based in Kearney, Nebraska. However, when the season began, O'Neill was placed on the injured reserve list with a lower body injury. He was out of the Storm's lineup throughout September and October. In the final game of October, he returned to action as the center on Tri-City's second line. O'Neill played just 8 games with Tri-City and was transferred to the Chilliwack Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League on December 10, 2015.

Aaron O'Neill scored a goal in his first BCHL game and as the regular season wound down, he appeared to be settling into a comfort zone. Over the final two games, O'Neill scored 3 goals for Chilliwack. On February 27th, he potted 2 goals in the Chiefs' 8-4 win over the Coquitlam Express and earned the #2 Star of the Game. Chilliwack finished the regular season with the second most points in the BCHL and in first place in the Mainland Division.

All indications point to Aaron O'Neill being back on track. In the opening round playoff series against the Coquitlam Express, O'Neill was the starting center for the Chilliwack Chiefs. He plays with Kohen Olischefski, a Denver commit, on his right wing and Jesse Lansdell, a Notre Dame commit, on his left wing. He also plays on Chilliwack's second power play and penalty kill units.

After winning Game 1, Chilliwack jumped on top in Game 2 thanks to a nifty goal by Aaron O'Neill early in the 1st period. Just 5 minutes later, O'Neill put the Chiefs ahead 3-0 on his second goal of the game. This video highlight of O'Neill's goals shows his ability to get to the front of the net and quick puck control:

O'Neill also picked up an assist in Game 2 of the playoffs and earned the #3 Star. Chilliwack swept Coquitlam in four games and advanced to the BCHL Mainland Division championship round. When Aaron O'Neill committed to UNH in September, 2013, he hoped to enroll as early as the Fall of 2015. However, given the setbacks he's endured, he is now expected to enroll in Fall 2017.

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 4 1 2 3 2
Justin Fregona*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 51 24 25 49 45
Playoffs 1 0 0 0 0
Patrick Grasso*  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 49 15 16 31 12
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 54 2 8 10 58
Playoffs 5 0 1 1 2
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 48 2 14 16 18
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 40 6 3 9 14
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 40 6 8 14 70
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Chilliwack Chiefs BCHL 20 7 0 7 8
Playoffs 4 2 1 3 0
Tri-City Storm USHL 8 0 1 1 2
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 39 1 6 7 32
Jason O'Neill  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 47 7 14 21 2
Playoffs 4 1 1 2 4
2018 Recruits
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 Premiere Hockey League Playoffs:

~ UNH Commits Brendan van Riemsdyk, Liam Darcy and the Islanders Hockey Club defeated the Rochester Junior Americans and South Shore Kings in the first two rounds of the 2016 USPHL Playoffs. The IHC lost the championship series to the Jersey Hitmen in a two-game sweep. BvR posted a goal and 5 assists in the 6 playoff games, good enough for a tie for 3rd in assists among all USPHL playoff players and a tie for 4th in scoring. Liam Darcy dished out 3 assists in the 6 games.

~ UNH Commits Charlie Kelleher, Mike Robinson, and the Junior Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round of the USPHL Playoffs but lost to the Jersey Hitmen in the second round. Kelleher scored a goal and 4 assists, including 2 power play assists, in 4 games. This placed him in a tie for 4th in assists, T-2 in power play assists, and T-5 in scoring. Robinson only played in goal for 8 minutes in the first game against the Hitmen.

Eastern Hockey League Playoffs:

~ UNH commit Corson Green and the Northern Cyclones defeated the Valley Junior Warriors in the best-of-three, opening round of the EHL Playoffs. The Cyclones were defeated 2 games to 1 by the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the second round. Defenseman Corson Green posted 4 assists in 6 playoff games.

British Columbia Hockey League Playoffs:

~ All 6 UNH Commits who play in the BCHL - Liam Blackburn, Justin Fregona, Nick Nonis, Joe Sacco, Aaron O'Neill, and Jason O'Neill - are participating in the opening round of the 2016 BCHL Playoffs. A full report on their progress will be included in the next "UNH Recruits Update".


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