NCAA Prospects Notebook, November, 2014: Several prospects fuel Harvard run

By DJ Powers
Alex Kerfoot and Patrick McNally - Harvard University

Photo: Harvard University players Alex Kerfoot (L, NJD ’12) and Patrick McNally (R, VAN ’10) are two of the reasons that the Crimson turned in a strong month of November (courtesy of Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

 

The 2014-15 NCAA hockey season is now in full swing and there were a number of fantastic performances by NHL prospects in the month of November. Hockey’s Future takes a look back at several of those notable outings in this month’s prospect notebook. Unless otherwise noted, all stats are current as of Dec. 7th.

Crimson rising

Harvard was one of the hottest college teams in November, going 7-1-2 in 10 games. Two reasons behind the Crimson’s success can be attributed to the re-emergence of senior defenseman Patrick McNally (VAN) and the strong goaltending of senior Steve Michalek (MIN).

No NHL defensive prospect put up more points in November than McNally. In Harvard’s 10 games during the month, he posted 13 points (four goals, nine assists). McNally’s 15 points is currently tied for third among all defensemen nationally and his +14 co-leads all NCAA defensemen. One notable aspect of McNally’s play this season has been his ability to balance his offensive prowess with a more sound defensive game.

Michalek is off to a terrific start, having already matched his career-high seven wins from his freshman season. The Glastonbury, CT native sports a 9-1-2 record that includes two shutouts among his 12 starts to date. His .944 save percentage currently ranks third nationally, while his 1.72 goals-against average ranks fourth. Two areas that have made Michalek so good this season have been his improved lateral movement and ability to track pucks. Most recently, Michalek was named the ECAC Goaltender of the Month for November.

Another key to Harvard’s success so far has been getting increased scoring throughout their lineup. The Crimson’s most notable contributor has been sophomore Alex Kerfoot (NJD). After battling injuries last season, the West Vancouver, BC native is now healthy. Kerfoot currently leads Harvard with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 10 games.

Junior Colin Blackwell (SJS) finally made his long-awaited return on Nov. 21st versus Bentley. Although it was his only appearance so far, Blackwell could likely play more games as the season progresses, but Harvard also remains cautious about his health.

Meanwhile, sophomore Sean Malone (BUF) was not in the lineup in October or November due to injury, but has now played in two games with encouraging results. Malone chalked up four points in his two outings, notching two goals and two assists to get his season off on the right foot.

Islanders goaltending prospects shine in November

The New York Islanders’ two collegiate goaltending prospects put on impressive performances during November.

After losing his starting job last season, Minnesota State-Mankato junior Stephon Williams has regained it this season. The Fairbanks, AK native is one of the nation’s hottest goaltenders right now, playing with a renewed sense of confidence. Williams currently is third in the NCAA with a .846 winning percentage and sports an 11-2-0 record that includes two shutouts. His best outing during the month came in the Nov. 21-22 weekend series versus then top-ranked Michigan Tech. In that series, he stopped a combined 55 of 58 shots in backstopping the Mavericks to a sweep and handing the Huskies their first two losses of the season. That performance earned Williams the first of his two consecutive WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Despite having only played in four games so far this season, Penn State sophomore Eamon McAdam had the best month of his collegiate career in November. The Perkasie, PA native currently sports a 3-1-0 record with a solid .908 save percentage. McAdam posted his first career win on Nov. 15th versus UMass-Lowell, but had his best game of the month the following weekend on Nov. 21st versus Michigan. In that contest, McAdam stopped 38 of the Wolverines’ 40 shots to give the Nittany Lions a 3-2 victory. One notable area where McAdam has shown marked improvement has been in his ability to read and react to plays. If he can develop some consistency and provide more of the goaltending that he did in the aforementioned games, McAdam could see more playing time and give Penn State another potential number one netminder.

Broncos win Shillelagh Tournament

In this season’s only Thanksgiving tournament, Western Michigan claimed the championship in the 5th annual Shillelagh Tournament hosted by Notre Dame in South Bend, IN on Nov. 28-29. The Broncos defeated Ohio State and Union College by a combined score of 14-4. Junior Justin Kovacs was named the tournament’s MVP after posting seven assists in the tournament. Freshman Frederik Tiffels and junior Nolan LaPorte each posted hat tricks for the Broncos in the tournament and joined Kovacs on the All-Tournament Team.

The lone non-Western Michigan player to be named to the All-Tournament was Union College sophomore defenseman Jeff Taylor (PIT). The Clifton Park, NY native posted a goal and two assists in the tournament. Taylor currently is the NCAA’s top offensive defenseman with 19 points (four goals, 15 assists).

Who’s Hot

Two of the month’s hottest prospects are property of the San Jose Sharks.

Boston University junior Danny O’Regan turned in a stellar performance in November. The Needham, MA native posted 11 points (six goals, five assists) in the Terriers’ nine games during the month. The only game in which he was held pointless was in the Nov. 30th game versus Dartmouth. Overall, O’Regan has posted 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in 15 games. O’Regan is part of one of the nation’s most lethal lines that also features freshman phenom Jack Eichel and defenseman-turned-forward Ahti Oksanen.

It should also be noted that Eichel is currently the leading scorer in NCAA hockey with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 15 games. After a second strong month for the Terriers, Eichel was named the Warrior Hockey Player of the Month in Hockey East.

Meanwhile, junior Sean Kuraly has established himself as one of Miami’s clutch scorers this season. The Dublin, OH native posted eight points (five goals, three assists) in the RedHawks’ seven games in November. Overall, he currently leads Miami with 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in 16 games. Kuraly has been especially dangerous on the RedHawks’ special teams. Of his 10 goals, half have come on special teams – four on the power play and one shorthanded.

Minnesota State-Mankato junior Teddy Blueger (PIT) had arguably the best month of his collegiate career in November. The Riga, Latvia native posted seven points (five goals, two assists) in the Mavericks’ seven games during the month. His most memorable weekend came on Nov. 7-8 versus Bemidji State. In the Nov. 7th game, Blueger posted his first career shorthanded goal. He followed that up with his first career hat trick the following night. The performance also earned Blueger his first WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honor on the season. Overall, Blueger has posted 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 16 games.

After getting off to a rather slow start in October, Michigan junior captain Andrew Copp (WPG) hit his stride in November. The Ann Arbor, MI native posted nine points (five goals, four assists) in the Wolverines’ seven games. The only game in which he was held pointless during the month was on Nov. 28th versus RPI. One of Copp’s most memorable performances came on Nov. 14th versus American International. In that game, he posted a pair of goals and an assist for his first multi-point game of the season. Overall, Copp has posted 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 14 games.

Providence College junior Jon Gillies (CGY) was one of the nation’s hottest goaltenders in the month of November. The South Portland, ME native posted a 5-2-0 in seven appearances during the month. Even more impressive is the fact that he allowed two goals or less during that stretch. Gillies’ most memorable performance came on Nov. 29th versus Boston College. In that game, he stopped all of the Eagles’ 43 shots to earn his third shutout of the season. The performance also earned Gillies his second Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honor on the season. Overall, Gillies sports a 7-6-1 record that includes a 1.82 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. Most recently, Gillies was named the Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for November.

Denver freshman Danton Heinen (BOS) is coming off of an impressive November, posting nine points (five goals, four assists) in six games. Overall, the Langley, BC native has posted 13 points (six goals, seven assists) and is currently the only rookie in the NCHC that leads his team in scoring. Heinen started the month off with a bang when he posted both of the Pioneers’ goals in the team’s 2-1 overtime victory over Boston College on Nov. 1st. The performance also earned Heinen his second NCHC Rookie of the Week honor on the season.

On the shelf

Colorado College senior defensemen and Winnipeg Jets prospects Aaron Harstad and Peter Stoykewych suffered undisclosed injuries on Nov. 21st versus Wisconsin. Both are listed as week to week.

RPI freshman Lou Nanne (MIN) suffered a shoulder injury on Nov. 15th versus Quinnipiac and is out indefinitely.

North Dakota senior Brendan O’Donnell (TBL) is currently out with an undisclosed injury. He suffered the injury on Nov. 22nd versus St. Cloud State.

Cornell senior defenseman Joakim Ryan (SJS) is out with an upper body injury. He suffered the injury back on Oct. 31st versus Nebraska-Omaha.

Wisconsin junior defenseman Eddie Wittchow (FLA) is out indefinitely with a broken finger. He suffered the injury on Nov. 7th versus North Dakota.

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF