Friday, March 26, 2021

A Glimpse Into the Future: Robert Cronin Faces Tyler Muszelik

Robert Cronin
2021 UNH Commit
Tyler Muszelik
2022 UNH Commit


Winning college hockey championships requires goal scorers and an elite goalie. Looking down the road, UNH hopes to have both. Next August, right shot forward ROBERT CRONIN will turn 21 and enroll at the University of New Hampshire. In his second season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, Cronin is one of the top goal scorers in the United States Hockey League. His 18 goals in 35 games puts him in a tie for 6th in USHL goal-scoring. Six of the goals have come on the Fighting Saints' power play, good enough for a tie for 5th in USHL power play goals.

If all goes according to plan, the 2022-23 season will see the arrival of TYLER MUSZELIK, the first goalie from the elite United States National Team Development Program (NTDP) to play for UNH. The 6'2", 187 lbs., left-catch goalie from Long Valley, New Jersey, who turns 17 in July, has played in roughly half of the NTDP U-17 games. The U-17's play a total of 30 games against United States Hockey League opponents. The average age of USHL players is 18 and 1/2 years old. In 11 USHL games to date, Muszelik has posted a 5-5-1 record. His goals against average in USHL games is 4.82 with a save percentage of .860. These stats are comparable to the other two U-17 goalies.

Last night was a rare opportunity to watch Robert Cronin and the Fighting Saints face Tyler Muszelik and the NTDP U-17 (Team USA). The teams were tied 4-4 after regulation and after the 5-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period. Cronin had 3 shots on goal but no points and Muszelik faced 38 shots on goal and made 34 saves. Up for grabs were 2 points for a shootout win.

Lane Huston (BU commit) struck first for Team USA. Then came Robert Cronin with a head-to-head matchup against Tyler Muszelik. Cronin snapped a wrister over Muszelik's blocker to tie it up.



Maddox Fleming (Notre Dame commit) put Team USA back in front. That set the stage for Muszelik to face Matthew Savoie, Dubuque's leading scorer (14G, 11A, 22Games, 1.14Pt/Game). Neutral Zone scouting service rates Savoie a 5-Star prospect, their highest possible rating. As the video highlight shows, Muszelik moved laterally to his right preventing a straight on shot from Savoie then knocked away his backhand attempt.

Cutter Gauthier, a Boston College commit, sealed the win for Team USA with the third straight shootout goal. The U-17 and U-18 NTDP teams each play 30 USHL games. Overall, Team USA is the 4th place team in the USHL's Eastern Conference and Dubuque is 10 points behind in 5th place. The teams play a rematch tonight.

Friday, March 19, 2021

UNH Commits Update 3-19-2021

Robert Cronin
2021 UNH Commit
Damien Carfagna
2022 UNH Commit


Alex Gagne
2021 UNH Commit
Tyler Muszelik
Newest UNH Commit

News & Notes

United State Hockey League:

~ ROBERT CRONIN has regained his scoring touch. As a senior at The Gunnery two seasons ago, Cronin tallied the second most points (19G 35A 54Pts 31Gms) in New England Prep Hockey. Last season, his first for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL, Cronin's scoring tailed off to 8 points in 44 games. Now, he's a point-per-game player in his second USHL season. On a Saints squad with some high-end forwards such as Stephen Halliday (former North Dakota commit) and Connor Kurth (Minnesota commit), Robert Cronin has scored the most points - 16 goals, 14 assists in 31 games. 5-Star phenom Matthew Savoie, who left the WHL and joined the Saints in mid-January, has more points per game than Cronin (1.12 vs. 0.97).

Five of Cronin's goals have come on the power play and he is tied for 6th in power play goals in the USHL. Here's a sampling of Cronin's goals from February and March:



Cronin's improved play this season has been acknowledged by Neutral Zone scouting service which raised his rating to a 4-star prospect. Here's a Neutral Zone scouting report from January 29, 2021:
"Cronin is a skilled player for Dubuque that is dangerous on the rush and navigates the neutral zone well. He is smooth entering the offensive zone with the puck on his stick and takes advantage of any extra space defenders give him. The UNH commit has great vision and does an excellent job of finding teammates through seams. Cronin also has good one on one skill, which he used to beat a defender cleanly one time but missed the net with a close shot. Overall, he has smooth hands and is most dangerous when he gets room to work crossing over the offensive blueline."
~ DAMIEN CARFAGNA has made a smooth transition from New England Prep School hockey to the United States Hockey League. The 18-year-old, rookie for the Green Bay Gamblers has been the starting left defenseman in 4 of the 6 games in March. At 5'11", 168 lbs, Carfagna is an agile, mobile defenseman with offensive upside. In 37 games, he has scored 3 goals and 11 assists. Carfagna's +/- rating of +14 is the second best among all USHL rookie defensemen.

On Tuesday night, Carfagna lead the Gamblers with 2 goals and an assist in a 6-4 win over Dubuque. His second goal, an empty-netter, iced the game and he was awarded the #1 Star. Here are both of Carfagna's goals and another one from March 5th:



The NHL Central Scouting Service included Carfagna on their January Players to Watch list. He's rated a "C" prospect meaning a candidate to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round of the 2021 NHL Draft

~ ALEX GAGNE's +/- rating of +26 is the best among all USHL defensemen and 2nd best overall. This achievement is particularly noteworthy since Gagne plays on the Muskegon Lumberjacks #1 penalty kill unit and only occasionally plays on the power play. The 6'3", 207 lbs., left-shot defenseman, who turns 19 in August, is in his second season in the USHL.

In the offensive zone, Gagne has nearly tripled his production since last season. In 37 games with the third place Lumberjacks, he has scored 3 goals and distributed 18 assists. As these highlights from February and March show, Gagne's offensive contributions include an accurate wrist shot and the ability to join the rush and make a tape-to-tape centering pass:



TYLER MUSZELIK, the 16-year-old goalie for the United States National Team Development Program (NTDP), committed to the University of New Hampshire last week. The 6'2", 187 lbs., left-catch goalie from Long Valley, New Jersey, is the first NTDP goalie ever to commit to UNH. Look for an interview with UNH's newest commit coming soon on the blog. Here's just one example of Muszelik's goaltending skills:



National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ CONNOR SWEENEY, a 2021 UNH Commit, joined the Islanders Hockey Club (IHC) in mid-January. Sweeney played for the Trail Smoke Eaters during the BCHL preseason but that league has been idle due to the COVID pandemic. Earlier this week, Sweeney and the Islanders won the first round matchup against the South Shore Kings in the 2021 NCDC Playoffs. Fellow UNH Commits David Sacco and Cy LeClerc also play for the IHC. Sweeney scored this game-winning goal late in the deciding third game:



British Columbia Hockey League:

~ Due to the COVID-19 pandamic, there has not been a single regular season game played in the BCHL to date. The current plan is for a much abbreviated season beginning in the first week of April. Consequently, UNH commit Nick Ardanaz has missed nearly an entire season of competition in what would have been his second year with the West Kelowna Warriors.

2020-21 Statistics

Player NZ** Stars Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM +/-
2021 Commits
Robert Cronin*
8/15/00 (F)
4.0 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 31 16 14 30 28 +4
John Evans
4/8/02 (F)
4.5 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 17 3 5 8 0 +2
West Kelowna Warriors BCHLPre 13 6 9 15 6 -
Alex Gagne*
8/12/02 (D)
4.25 Muskegon Lumberjacks USHL 37 3 18 21 14 +26
Colton Huard
11/27/00 (D)
4.0 Chicago Steel USHL 41 3 15 18 12 +24
Will Margel*
3/16/01 (F)
3.75 Johnstown Tomahawks NAHL 19 10 11 21 2 +2
Lincoln Stars USHL 2 0 0 0 0 -2
Jack Ring
12/18/00 (F)
3.5 New Jersey Titans NAHL 35 5 13 18 10 -7
Connor Sweeney*
5/5/00 (F)
3.5 Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 26 1 11 12 10 -
Playoffs 3 1 3 4 0 -
Trail Smoke Eaters BCHLPre 9 4 6 10 6 -
2021 or '22 Commits
Nicolas Ardanaz*
5/30/02 (D)
4.25 West Kelowna Warriors BCHL Pod - - - - - -
BCHLPre 13 1 6 7 2 -
Jed Baliotti
2/7/02 (G)
3.75 Northern Cyclones NCDC 8 5 0 3.82 .879
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 0 - - - - -
Liam Devlin
1/7/01 (F)
3.75 Omaha Lancers USHL 38 8 3 11 79 -4
Chicago Steel USHL 1 0 0 0 6 0
Cade Penney*
3/23/01 (D)
3.5 New Jersey Titans NAHL 11 0 3 3 8 +3
Omaha Lancers USHL 3 0 0 0 0 0
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 14 0 2 2 0 +6
David Sacco*
1/3/02 (F)
3.75 Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 4 2 2 4 39 -
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 2 -
Waterloo Black Hawks USHL 6 0 0 0 2 +1
JP Turner*
1/31/03 (F)
4.25 Avon Old Farms NE Prep 4 3 2 5 - -
Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 4 0 4 16 +1
2022 Commits
Damien Carfagna*
12/12/02 (D)
3.75 Green Bay Gamblers USHL 37 3 11 14 8 +14
Cy LeClerc
8/17/02 (F)
3.75 Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 28 11 20 31 10 -
Playoffs 3 1 0 1 0 -
All Star Game 1 0 2 2 0 -
Wenatchee Wild BCHLPre - - - - - -
Tyler Muszelik
7/1/04 (G)
4.0 US National U17 USDP 15 8 8 0 4.29 .865
USNTDP Juniors USHL 9 3 5 1 5.32 .851
Morgan Winters
12/8/01 (F)
3.5 Kenai River Brown Bears NAHL 25 9 15 24 14 +4
Tri-City Storm USHL 4 1 0 1 0 +1
2022 or '23 Commits
Brendan Fitzgerald
10/26/03 (D)
4.25 Governor's Academy NE Prep - - - - - -
Nick Ring
10/26/03 (F)
3.75 Boston Advantage NCDC 43 13 8 21 10 -
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 2 -
All Star Game 1 2 2 4 0 -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent
** = Neutral Zone 5-Star Rating
NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the above table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2021 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2021. I have based these projections on the following factors:
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.

Monday, March 15, 2021

UNH Coach Souza Reacts to Season-Ending Playoff Loss

Mike Souza
UNH Head Coach


After Boston College scored three unanswered goals in the first period of the 2020-21 Hockey East Quarterfinal round, UNH stormed back with goals by senior Eric MacAdams and freshman Luke Reid in the second period. Despite several grade A scoring attempts, over the final two periods, UNH fell just short losing to #1-Ranked BC 3-2.

In the postgame press conference from Conte Forum, UNH Head Coach Mike Souza talked about the game, the challenges of the season, and his appreciation of the senior class. Here are some excerpts:

Mike Souza (UNH Head Coach): Clearly, they're (BC) a scary team; it's three nothing and I'm like "oh boy", but we never thought we were playing poorly. By our staff's count, our 5-on-5 scoring chances were even after one period. So we said "boy fellas, there's nothing we can do, it's three nothing, trust the process", all the boring coach talk but we talk about it all the time.

I thought we had so many good efforts by so many players. It's heart breaking for these guys. It's been a long arduous year, for a lot of programs. I'm just thankful we had an opportunity to compete this year when others didn't.

I feel for the seniors. It's a surreal feeling when you go in after the end of the season and see guys crying their eyes out, it's...(pause) all of us coaches have been there at some point and it's hard. You want more for these guys, you want them to keep playing. I think in a trying year...you get to Wednesday (win over Maine in opening round) and we really saw something to build on...it's disappointing.

Mike Lowry (The UNH Men's Hockey Blog): Speaking of the seniors, would you comment on, as a group and individually, how the seniors played in what might be their last game for UNH, for some or all of them?

Coach Souza: You know, we had one guy in a shoulder harnass, he could barely lift his arm...We had another guy who really, really fought through a difficult injury all year, in Charlie Kelleher.

You know, you love those kids. I've been around them for the whole time here and you see them grow as players, but for me, more importantly, you see them grow as people. A kid like Charlie Kelleher, who's been around the program for, seems like forever, 10 years or something, when his brother (Tyler) was here. The Kelleher family has invested so much...I'm optimistic Charlie's going to be back next year.

You see Eric MacAdams tonight, he wears his heart on his sleeve all the time and I thought he was outstanding tonight. I thought (Kohei) Sato played hard. (Mike) Robinson, I thought, competed...you know, it's the crazy thing about college sports, you get attached to these kids and they move on...it's hard. Hopefully, we'll see some of them back in Durham again.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Coach Souza Comments on Playoff Win

Mike Souza
UNH Head Coach


UNH's convincing 7-2 victory over perineal rival Maine in the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament was Mike Souza's first playoff win as a head coach. In the postgame press conference, Coach Souza reflected on the team's performance.

Mike Souza (UNH Head Coach): We're really excited. I thought that was the best team win of the year. I thought our special teams came through when they had to, made saves when they had to, made plays when we had to.

They (Maine) play hard, they're a big heavy team and physical. Our guys did a really good job tonight playing in a building that's not easy to play in, whether there's fans here or not, it's still a tough place to play. I'm very proud of the way our team competed for 60 minutes. We got contributions from everyone. Our best team win of the year.

Mike Lowry (The UNH Men's Hockey Blog): Congratulations coach on your first Hockey East Playoff win at the University of New Hampshire as the head coach.

Coach Souza: Thanks Mike.

Mike Lowry: Maine came in with the 9th best power play team in the country. What adaptations did you make in the penalty kill to effectively shut them down?

Coach Souza: Well, I think it's no secret to anyone that we've struggled killing penalties this year. We made some adjustments on what we were going to do. That was one of the added benefits of having the extra time off, extra practice time. So, we made some adjustments, the kids adjusted.

It was nice to get a shorthanded goal. There hasn't been a lot of shorthanded goals by way of the Wildcats the last several years. That was a huge play by (Tyler) Ward and (Filip) Engarås. They executed what they were asked to execute and I'm proud of the guys and their effort.

Hayden Choate (The Portsmouth Herald): (Mike) Robinson made 38 saves. How important was it for him to be solid tonight?

Coach Souza: I didn't realize he made that many saves. I thought we defended well. We did a good job playing inside the dots defensively. Michael (Robinson) made saves when he needed to. I was happy for him. He had a great week of practice in preparation and carried it over into tonight's game.

Jim Wrobel (UNH Athletic Communications): Just a note on Mike Robinson. He now has over 2,000 career saves. He went over that today.

Mike Lowry: Could you comment on the job that your defensive core did with Benton (Maass) down and no extra defenseman in the lineup tonight?

Coach Souza: That was one of my comments to the guys after the game. I thought the D-core stepped up. Hope to have Benton back for Sunday, but you never know.

It's one of those things I always wrestle with - always having an extra defenseman in the lineup. We dressed the extra forward (Carsen Richels) for a particular reason tonight. It almost came back to bite us a little bit, but the guys stepped up.

It's hard to single out one of the five guys, that played the bulk of the minutes, but the players recognized Luke Reid after the game, with the game ball. I thought that was very apropos.



Because of the single elimination format, UNH's victory ended Maine's season and advanced the Wildcats to the Hockey East Quarterfinals. They will face Boston College, currently ranked #1 in NCAA Division I hockey, on Sunday, 4:30 at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA. The game will be covered by NESN and live streamed on Hockey East on CBS. In early January, UNH played two games against Boston College. Both ended in overtime with UNH winning 4-3 at Conte Forum and BC winning 3-2 at the Whittemore Center.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

UNH Commit Colton Huard: A Big, Solid Defenseman

Colton Huard
2021 UNH Commit
"Huard is a really solid, big defenseman..high end on both sides of the puck..uses his big frame and reach well to take up space and deter opponents..strong in puck battles..plays with his head up and makes good, hard decisions with the puck." Neutral Zone
Colton Huard (HUE-ard) Defense, 6'4", 196 lbs. Shoots Right
Birthplace: Welland, Ontario
Hometown: Foothill Ranch, California
DOB: November 27, 2000 Turned 20 in November
Neutral Zone Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Current Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
                       ~ Defense
Commits to UNH: February, 2021 at Age 20 years, 3 months.

February 2021 Highlight Reel

Colton Huard is in his second full season in the United States Hockey League. He wears #5 for the Chicago Steel. Huard has been the starting right defenseman in several Steel games. On the offensive side of the ledger, Huard has posted 3 goals, 12 assists in 33 games. That's impressive considering he gets limited power play time and none of the points were scored on the Chicago power play. The first clip in the highlight reel shows Huard's game-winning goal against Des Moines on Feb 11th. He carries the puck to the faceoff circle and snaps a wrister to the top corner. The next two clips are primary assists from a February 6th win against Green Bay. The first shows Huard's slap shot from just inside the blueline and the second clip shows a nice stretch pass to begin a scoring sequence.

One indicator of Huard's defensive strengths is his +/- rating of +19. That's the third best rating among all USHL defensemen. The final two clips demonstrate some of the skills described in the Neutral Zone scouting report from the February 6th game. In the first clip, Huard effectively backchecks resulting in a steal. The final clip on the highlight reel shows Huard using his size, strength, positioning and stickhandling to keep opponents away from the front of the net.

Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Colton Huard, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

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? Freshman UNH defenseman Luke Reid was your teammate last season with the Chicago Steel. Was that one of the reasons you were interested in UNH?

Colton Huard: Thank you. I am very excited to become a Wildcat. I called Luke before I made my decision and he talked about the team and the program in a positive way which I liked. For me UNH just seemed like a great spot and a good fit on and off the ice.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs did you consider during the recruiting process? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Colton Huard: With COVID-19 it was hard going through the recruiting process this year because I couldn’t go on any visits but I did have a few zoom calls. For me it was only between Clarkson and UNH and I just felt that UNH was the right fit.

Lowry: Since 2020-21 is your last season of eligibility to play junior hockey, I assume you plan to enroll as a freshman at UNH next fall. Is that correct? Do you anticipate signing a National Letter of Intent with UNH?

Huard: Yes, I will be going into UNH next year and look forward to signing my NLI.

Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the main strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

Huard: I would say my strength is that I’m able to contribute on both ends of the rink. I think I’m very good at breaking the puck out whether that be in the defensive zone or neutral zone. One area I’m looking to improve is my skating, specifically backwards to forwards transitions.

Lowry: Your Dad, Bill Huard, played 223 NHL games including stints with the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Nordiques, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings. He was a big, physical left winger. What's some of the best advice he's given you about playing hockey?

Huard: My Dad always gives me advise pretty much everyday, he’s been a huge part of my career so far. I would say the best advice he’s given me is to never give up and believe in yourself.

Lowry: When you were 15 years old, you left your home in California to play hockey with the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, British Columbia. Since then, you've played for the Aberdeen Wings (South Dakota), Fargo Force (North Dakota), and Chicago Steel (Illinois). What pluses and minuses were associated with moving around so much?

Huard: I’ve learned so much from each team I’ve been on and made so many friendships that will last forever. POE was a great spot for me at the time because it was all about development similar to Chicago where I am now. Aberdeen was amazing and really helped me defensively and getting stronger playing older guys in the NAHL. Chicago’s organization is like no other, the way they treat us and help us improve our game is incredible.

Lowry: During the 2018-19 season, you tallied 3 goals and 18 assists in 66 games with the Aberdeen Wings. You also posted an impressive +/- rating of +39. Aberdeen had the best regular season record in the North American Hockey League (47-10-3) and went on to win the Robertson Cup in the NAHL Playoffs. Based on that experience, what do you think it takes to be a championship team?

Huard: That year was the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey so far. I just think the way we went about our business and the brotherhood we had there truly separated us from every team.

Lowry: What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

Huard: I’m still not 100% sure yet but I think Business.

Neutral Zone Scouting Report

February 6, 2021
"Huard is a big-bodied defenseman who was great in his own zone and added two assists in the game. He uses his stick efficiently and closes space fast with his reach. He was physical in front of his own net and below the goal line in his defensive zone. Huard did a great job of boxing out, letting his goaltender see shots easily, and picking up sticks to prevent second-chance opportunities. In the offensive zone, he is calm and simple on the blueline. He makes the smart play and makes it hard consistently. Overall, Huard played a reliable and steady game for the Steel."

Youth & Junior Hockey Statistics

Player Season Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM +/-
Colton Huard (D) 2020-21 Chicago Steel USHL 33 3 12 15 12 +19
2019-20 Chicago Steel USHL 18 1 7 8 2 +5
Fargo Force USHL 22 1 5 6 12 +6
2018-19 Aberdeen Wings NAHL 54 2 14 16 16 +32
Playoffs 12 1 4 5 4 +7
2017-18 Aberdeen Wings NAHL 14 0 0 0 4 +3
Pursuit of Excellence 18U NAPHL 15 1 4 5 8 -
Pursuit of Excellence Prep CSSHL 20 2 5 7 16 -
2016-17 Pursuit of Excellence 18U NAPHL 22 1 6 7 31 -
Playoffs 4 0 1 1 2 -
Pursuit of Excellence Prep CSSHL 29 1 9 10 26 -
Playoffs 3 0 2 2 2 -
2015-16 LA Jr Kings 15U T1EHL 15 1 0 1 0 -
Playoffs 5 0 2 2 0 -

Thursday, February 18, 2021

UNH Commit JP Turner Discusses Challenging Year

UNH Commit JP Turner
Signing NLI


A few days ago, UNH Commit JP Turner (DOB: 1/31/2003) turned 18. He navigated the twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic as a 17-year-old trying to advance his hockey career while working to graduate from high school. Turner's junior season at Avon Old Farms (Connecticut) ended in early March, 2020 just as the pandemic began it's hold on the United States. Earlier this week, JP returned to action with his Avon teammates. As my interview with JP shows, his year-long journey included unexpected challenges and opportunities to grow and mature as a hockey player and student. Here's our interview:

Interview

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on scoring 2 goals and an assist against Canterbury in your triumphant return as the captain of the Avon Old Farms (AOF) Winged Beavers. Would you describe what it meant to rejoin your teammates for the first time since last March?

John 'JP' Turner: It was awesome. I’ve been with most of these guys for three years and especially since such a heart breaking loss last year against Salisbury it was really refreshing to be back home and compete with these guys.

Mike Lowry: In late April, 2020, your AOF teammates named you Captain for the 2020-21 season. Were you planning to return to AOF for your senior year?

JP Turner: It was such an awesome moment being named one of the team captains at Avon. We have such a great group of guys and for them to name me one of the leaders of the team meant a lot to me. I was set on returning for my senior year and was really looking forward to competing for an Elite 8 championship with the guys while playing for Coach Gardner. Him and Coach Pereira have helped grow my game so much and shape me into the player I am now and will be in the future. I have the upmost respect for both of them and look up to them very much.

Lowry: Last season, you were the leading goal scorer for Avon (19 goals in 27 games) and helped lead the team to the semifinals of the New England Prep School Elite 8 Championship. A few days after that March 7th semifinal game, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 and the sports world was turned upside down by the pandemic. How has the ongoing pandemic effected important decisions like where to play hockey this season and how to meet the academic requirements of your senior year?

Turner: To be honest I thought the virus was going to blow over in a month or two. I expected to return to campus by April and finish the year at school last year. Once summer came around and the virus was still big, I kind of had a few ideas of what hockey season was going to look like while remaining optimistic to having a real prep season.
On the academic side, I knew Avon was going to provide an online option and thinking realistically that I’d have to consider that at some point. I’m a student who needs to be in class and engaged and online school is something I knew I’d struggle with.

Lowry: In late October and early November, you faced a fast-paced series of important events:
~ October 23: The New England Prep Founders League, which includes Avon Old Farm, cancelled all competition for winter season sports.
~ October 27: The National Hockey League Central Scouting Service named you to the Preliminary Players to Watch List for the 2021 NHL Draft.
~ November 5: Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News named you the #22 USHL Player to Watch with NHL potential.
~ November 14: You played your first game of the 2020-21 season with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United States Hockey League.
In the ensuing 19 games with Sioux Falls, you scored 4 goals and compiled a +/- rating of +1. Overall, how would you describe your play in the USHL and your level of satisfaction with your performance?



Turner: The USHL was a big jump for me and I knew that going into it. I like to score goals and create offense and I hadn’t produced as much as I would’ve liked to. With that being said, I understand how big the jump is and how every level you go up it will only get harder and harder to score goals.

Lowry: Avon has a couple games scheduled against the Salisbury School this weekend. Do you plan to play in these games and any other AOF games that might be added to the schedule? Do you anticipate returning to the Sioux Falls Stampede for their finish to the 2020-21 season?

Turner: Yes I plan to play in those games. I played on Monday against Canterbury school and I continue to play the rest of the games here at Avon. With how crazy the world is I understand how important it is to find a sense of normalcy and even being at Avon for a short amount of time has given me that.
I left Sioux Falls because I was struggling academically and knew I needed to get back and be in class and get my grades up to par. It’s not fair to my parents and myself to slack off in school especially for all that they’ve sacrificed for me to be able to go to Avon.
Since I left for academic reasons, I do not plan on returning after the next month at Avon. I returned for school and being with my best friends, being away from these guys had a toll on me. These guys are some of the best friends I’ve had and I couldn’t be happier going to class, the rink, and everywhere else on campus with them.

Lowry: You signed a National Letter of Intent with the University of New Hampshire on November 11th. Do you anticipate enrolling at UNH in Fall 2021 or 2022?

Turner: As for an enrollment, I don’t know whether I’ll enroll this fall or next. That’s still up in the air. UNH is such a special place and I’d like to get there and experience everything it has to offer as soon as I’m able to, but I have to prove that I’m ready to go and that starts with school.
The schoolwork at UNH will be challenging and I think Avon has done a great job preparing me for doing school while living at school. On the hockey side, I need to continue to improve all aspects of my game especially getting more explosive feet. UNH has done a fantastic job developing players and I look forward to continuing my development there.

Friday, February 05, 2021

UNH Commits Update 2-5-2021

Damien Carfagna
NHL Draft Prospect

News & Notes

United State Hockey League:

~ Last season, Damien Carfagna was the highest scoring defenseman (7 Goals, 22 Assists, 27 Games) for Lawrence Academy, the 3rd-ranked New England Prep School team. He decided to forego a senior year at Lawrence to join the Green Bay Gamblers this season. In his first 20 USHL games, Carfagna has posted 5 assists and an impressive +9 rating (tied for 2nd among USHL rookies). NHL scouts have taken notice. The NHL Central Scouting Service included Carfagna on their January Players to Watch list. He's rated a "C" prospect meaning a candidate to be drafted in the 4th, 5th, or 6th round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

~ 20-year-old Robert Cronin (DOB: 8/15/00), the 5'10", 185 lbs., right-shot forward for the Dubuque Fighting Saints, signed a National Letter of Intent with UNH. In his second USHL season, Cronin has tallied 8 goals and 8 assists in 20 games. This is his final year of junior hockey eligibility (i.e., no older than 20 as of the 31st day of December of the current season of competition).

Robert Cronin Signs NLI


~ Earlier this week, UNH picked up a commitment from 20-year-old, right-shot defenseman Colton Huard (DOB: 11/27/00) of the Chicago Steel. So far this season, the 6'4", 196 lbs., blueliner has posted 2 goals and 10 assists in 25 games. Among all USHL defensemen, Huard has the second best +/- rating (+14). Fellow UNH Commit Alex Gagne, the 6'3", 207 lbs., defenseman for the Muskegon Lumberjacks, has the best +/- rating (+21) among all USHL defensemen.

Neutral Zone scouts have evaluated Huard three times this season and here are some excerpts:
"big, poised, moves well, and plays mature brand of hockey..high end on both sides of the puck..physical..good job of boxing out his net front..uses reach well, disrupting plays in defensive zone..has really good instincts especially during extended offensive zone play"
Huard will age out of junior hockey at the end of this season so is on track to matriculate next fall at UNH.

Colton Huard
Commits to UNH


British Columbia Hockey League:

~ In November, the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia imposed restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandamic. The limits have prevented the BCHL from starting it's regular season. Earlier today, the PHO announced that the restrictions will continue at least until the end of February. Two UNH Commits, Connor Sweeney and John Evans, left their BCHL teams for junior leagues in the United States. Sweeney went from the Trail Smoke Eaters to the Islanders Hockey Club in the NCDC and Evans left the West Kelowna Warriors for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL. To date, Nick Ardanaz has remained with the West Kelowna Warriors.

North American Hockey League:

~ Three UNH Commits have transferred from the USHL to the NAHL. Will Margel moved from the Lincoln Stars to the Johnstown Tomahawks. Cade Penney went from the Omaha Lancers to the New Jersey Titans. Morgan Winters left the Tri-City Storm for the Kenai River Brown Bears.

National Collegiate Development Conference:

~ Two UNH Commits, Cy LeClerc and Nick Ring, were selected to play in the NCDC All-Star game on January 18th. LeClerc distributed 2 assists and Ring scored a goal and 2 assists.

~ Goalie Jed Baliotti, formerly with the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL), is now playing for the Northern Cyclones.

New England Prep School:

The Lakes Region Conference begins a two-month season this weekend. To date, the ISL Keller Conference, which includes Governor's Academy and UNH Commit Brendan Fitzgerald, has not begun a 2020-21 season.

2020-21 Statistics

Player NZ** Stars Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM +/-
2021 Commits
Nicolas Ardanaz*
5/30/02 (D)
4.25 West Kelowna Warriors BCHLPre 13 1 6 7 2 -
Timo Bakos
7/28/00 (F)
3.75 Starbulls Rosenheim Germany3 18 0 3 3 0 -
EHC Königsbrunn Germany4 3 0 1 1 0 -
Robert Cronin*
8/15/00 (F)
3.75 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 20 8 8 16 18 +2
John Evans
4/8/02 (F)
4.5 Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL 7 1 4 5 0 +1
West Kelowna Warriors BCHLPre 13 6 9 15 6 -
Alex Gagne*
8/12/02 (D)
4.25 Muskegon Lumberjacks USHL 26 3 11 14 8 +21
Colton Huard
11/27/00 (D)
3.75 Chicago Steel USHL 25 2 10 12 8 +14
Will Margel*
3/16/01 (F)
3.75 Johnstown Tomahawks NAHL 9 3 5 8 2 -3
Lincoln Stars USHL 2 0 0 0 0 -2
Jack Ring
12/18/00 (F)
3.5 New Jersey Titans NAHL 25 4 11 15 8 -11
Connor Sweeney*
5/5/00 (F)
3.5 Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 18 1 8 9 10 -
Trail Smoke Eaters BCHLPre 9 4 6 10 6 -
2021 or '22 Commits
Jed Baliotti
2/7/02 (G)
3.75 Northern Cyclones NCDC 3 1 2 0 2.70 .906
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 0 - - - - -
Liam Devlin
1/7/01 (F)
3.75 Omaha Lancers USHL 22 5 0 5 34 -2
Chicago Steel USHL 1 0 0 0 6 0
Cade Penney*
3/23/01 (D)
3.75 New Jersey Titans NAHL 1 0 1 1 0 +2
Omaha Lancers USHL 3 0 0 0 0 0
Green Bay Gamblers USHL 14 0 2 2 0 +6
David Sacco*
1/3/02 (F)
3.75 Waterloo Black Hawks USHL 6 0 0 0 2 +1
JP Turner*
1/31/03 (F)
4.25 Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 19 4 0 4 16 +1
2022 Commits
Damien Carfagna*
12/12/02 (D)
3.75 Green Bay Gamblers USHL 20 0 5 5 4 +9
Cy LeClerc
8/17/02 (F)
3.75 Islanders Hockey Club NCDC 21 7 14 21 6 -
All Star Game 1 0 2 2 0 -
Wenatchee Wild BCHLPre - - - - - -
Morgan Winters
12/8/01 (F)
3.5 Kenai River Brown Bears NAHL 11 3 7 10 8 +6
Tri-City Storm USHL 4 1 0 1 0 +1
2022 or '23 Commits
Brendan Fitzgerald
10/26/03 (D)
4.0 Governor's Academy NE Prep - - - - - -
Nick Ring
10/26/03 (F)
3.75 Boston Advantage NCDC 34 11 7 18 8 -
All Star Game 1 2 2 4 0 -
* = Signed National Letter of Intent
** = Neutral Zone 5-Star Rating
NOTE
The statistics for the commits, presented in the above table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2021 Commits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2021. I have based these projections on the following factors:
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the commit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the commit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The commit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
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