Wild NCAA prospects update

By DJ Powers

The Minnesota Wild has three prospects – two defensemen and one forward, currently playing in the NCAA. The two defensemen both play in Hockey East, while the forward plays in the CCHA.

Ryan Jones, RW

Senior, Miami University
Drafted in 2004.  Fourth round, 111th overall

The top-ranked Miami RedHawks are enjoying an outstanding season thanks in part to senior team captain Ryan Jones. The Chatham, ON native leads a deep, well-balanced Miami team that currently ranks first in the nation in both team offense and defense, despite being without the services of Jones’ regular linemate Nathan Davis (CHI), who is currently out with an injury.

Jones’ contributions both offensively and defensively have helped to make the RedHawks a contender for the national championship this year as well as making him one of the top candidates for this year’s Hobey Baker Award. He currently ranks tied for fifth in the nation in scoring with 35 points (22 goals, 13 assists). His 22 goals currently rank second, while his 1.25 points per game ranks tied for tenth.

One area where Jones has firmly established himself among college hockey’s elite has been in his ability to score timely goals. His seven game-winners lead the nation and he currently holds Miami’s career record in that category. He needs just two more to tie the NCAA record, which is currently held by former Colorado College sniper Brett Sterling. If Jones tallies three more this season, he would set a new NCAA single-season record with ten.

In addition to being a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, Jones is also in the running for CCHA Player of the Year. He has already garnered three CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors this season, the most recent of which came back on Dec. 17.

Jones had the opportunity to sign with the Wild this past off-season but chose to return to the Oxford, OH campus to complete his collegiate career. The move has and continues to pay huge dividends for the RedHawks, and could potentially do the same for the Wild down the road.

Anthony Aiello, D

Junior, Boston College
Drafted in 2005. Fifth round, 129th overall

After a somewhat uneventful sophomore campaign that saw him limited to just 22 games, junior Anthony Aiello is making a strong comeback and very good progress in his development this season with the Eagles. Last season, Aiello missed eight crucial late-season games due to a hip injury.

Earlier this season, Boston College indefinitely suspended defensemen Brett Motherwell and Brian O’Hanley (SJ) for unspecified violation of team rules. Motherwell has since left Chestnut Hill to sign with the AHL‘s Syracuse Crunch, while O’Hanley remains at Boston College and continues to serve his suspension. The opportunity has allowed Aiello to see regular ice time, gradually blossoming into a reliable defenseman at both ends of the ice for the Eagles.

The Braintree, MA native has played in 25 games and posted ten points (three goals, seven assists). His ten points are a career-high and leads Boston College in scoring among defensemen. His plus-15 currently ranks third on the team. Aiello was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Dodge Holiday Classic back in December after posting assists against Air Force and RIT respectively.

His most memorable game however came in the recent Beanpot Tournament semi-final versus archrival Boston University on Monday. In the contest, Aiello notched a power play goal to help propel the Eagles to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win and an appearance in next week’s championship game against Harvard. Aiello and his Boston College team will be looking to win their 14th Beanpot Championship.

Kyle Medvec, D

Freshman, University of Vermont
Drafted in 2006. Fourth round, 102nd overall

The first half of his first collegiate season has been quite the learning experience for the towering young rearguard. He has been in and out of the Catamounts lineup, but looks to have settled in nicely. Medvec, a former Mr. Hockey finalist, is one of four rookies on a predominantly young but talented Vermont blueline.

The Burnsville, MN native has appeared in 16 games and has posted three points (one goal, two assists). All of his points have come against Hockey East opponents. Medvec tallied his first collegiate point back on Oct. 21 versus Boston College and notched his first career goal on Feb. 1 versus New Hampshire.

Though it has taken awhile, Medvec is already showing glimpses of what he can potentially become – a great skating two-way defenseman. His lack of strength is one of his prime weaknesses right now. As he gets stronger a number of areas should start to improve as well, most notably more effective use of his enormous frame. Medvec is definitely a project, but as he matures and develops the various aspects of his game that were evident in both his USHL and Apple Valley high school days will become more and more noticeable at the collegiate level as well.