College Prospects Notebook: December

By DJ Powers

As the first half of the 2010-11 season drew to a close and the second half just beginning, the month of December featured some great performances, fantastic finishes, and a few surprises. Hockey’s Future takes a look back at what happened in the final month of the 2010 calendar year. Unless otherwise noted, all stats are current as of Jan. 5.

Michigan victorious in front of world record crowd in the Big Chill

Senior Carl Hagelin (NYR) and freshman defenseman Jon Merrill (NJ) each netted a pair of goals to lead Michigan in shutting out archrival Michigan State 5-0 in the Big Chill at the Big House in front of a world record crowd. While the announced attendance was 113,411, according to a news report the Guinness Book of World Records has officially (for now) announced the attendance at 85,451 with the final count to be announced at a later date.

The Wolverines dominated the game right from the puck drop and never looked back. Merrill opened the scoring for Michigan with two goals in a span of 2:50 with power play and even strength tallies in the first period. Two of the Wolverines’ three power play goals were scored by Hagelin in the second and third periods. Hagelin also added an assist in the game. Junior David Wohlberg (NJ) closed out the scoring at the 10:45 mark of the third to seal the win for Michigan.

Senior Shawn Hunwick got the surprising start in goal for the Wolverines when fellow senior Bryan Hogan suffered an injury during warm-ups. Hunwick was outstanding, stopping all 34 shots he faced to earn his third win of the season and his second career shutout.

NCAA well-represented at the IIHF U-20 World Junior Championship

24 players and coaches with NCAA ties representing 16 schools participated in the recent 2011 World Junior Championship (WJC) in Buffalo. The 24 individuals represented four nations – Canada, Finland, Norway and the United States. Boston College and the University of Minnesota led all collegiate teams with three members apiece. The Eagles had three sophomores – forward Chris Kreider (NYR) and defensemen Brian Dumoulin (CAR) and Patrick Wey (WSH) playing for Team USA. Three players have ties to the University of Minnesota in freshman forward Nick Bjugstad (FLA) and former Golden Gophers defenseman Nick Leddy (CHI) that represented the US, while freshman forward Erik Haula (MIN) represented Finland.

In addition to Leddy, two other former collegians in forwards Kyle Palmieri (ANA) and Jerry D’Amigo (TOR) donned the red, white and blue in the tournament. Palmieri played at Notre Dame last season, while D’Amigo played at RPI.

Sophomore defenseman Dylan Olsen, who recently opted to leave the University of Minnesota-Duluth to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks, along with former Harvard Crimson standout Louis Leblanc (MON) and Colorado College freshman sensation Jaden Schwartz (STL) represented a formidable Canadian squad in this year’s tournament.

Northeastern University recruit Rasmus Juell, playing this season with Cedar Rapids (USHL), represented Norway.

University of Denver’s high-flying linemates of sophomore Drew Shore (FLA) and freshman Jason Zucker (MIN) were reunited, albeit briefly, with Team USA. Now-former University of Minnesota-Duluth defensive partners Justin Faulk (CAR) and Dylan Olsen faced one another in the semi-final game with the United States and Canada respectively.

Two of Team USA’s coaches – head coach Keith Allain and assistant coach Mark Osiecki also have NCAA ties. Allain serves as the head coach at Yale University, currently the nation’s top-ranked team, while Osiecki is the new bench boss at The Ohio State University.

New Year’s tournaments roundup

The second round of collegiate holiday tournaments kicked off on Dec. 29 with seven tournaments on the slate as well as the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game.

In Storrs, CT, the Princeton Tigers claimed the championship in the 18th annual Toyota UConn Hockey Classic in convincing style, defeating Bowling Green 4-2 and host UConn 4-1 respectively. Freshman defenseman Jeremy Goodwin netted his first career goal which proved to be the championship-winner at the 1:42 mark of the second period. Sophomore defenseman Michael Sdao (OTT) chipped in an assist in the opening game versus the Falcons before being handed a Game-Disqualification and an automatic one-game suspension for fighting.

At Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the 46th annual Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) took place. Coming off a stellar performance in the Big Chill, the Michigan Wolverines emerged as champions once again despite playing without freshman defenseman Jon Merrill (NJ) and sophomore forward Chris Brown (PHO). The Wolverines defeated co-host Michigan Tech 4-2 before defeating Colorado College 6-5 in overtime in one of the most thrilling games in this year’s holiday tournaments. Senior Carl Hagelin (NYR) posted four assists over two games to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Michigan’s archrival Michigan State emerged victorious in the GLI third-place game after downing Michigan Tech 5-3. Sophomore Derek Grant (OTT) netted a pair of assists in the win and currently leads the Spartans with 18 points and 15 assists, playing in all 20 games to date.

One of the best tournament performances took place down in Estero, FL in the 11th annual Florida College Classic. After struggling through an inconsistent first half of the season, St. Cloud State got the second half off to a terrific start claiming the tournament championship. The Huskies earned the title after defeating co-host Cornell 4-3 in overtime before handing CCHA powerhouse Miami a stunning 3-4 loss, despite getting only 11 shots on goal. Freshman Nic Dowd (LA) turned in a sensational performance, netting the championship-winner and adding three assists in two games to earn the tournament’s MVP honor.

After going down to Miami in the opening game, the Maine Black Bears got things back on track and defeated Cornell 3-2 in overtime in the tournament’s third-place game. Freshman netminder Martin Ouellette (CLB) turned in a solid outing, stopping 21 of the Big Red’s 23 shots for his second career win. Junior defenseman Will O’Neill (ATL) chipped in three assists in two games to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Up in Hanover, NH, defending national champion Boston College took the title in the 22nd annual Ledyard National Bank Classic with a hard-fought 6-5 overtime victory over Colgate and a 4-1 win over Mercyhurst respectively. Despite playing without sophomore regulars Chris Kreider (NYR) and defensemen Brian Dumoulin (CAR) and Patrick Wey (WSH), the Eagles continued to show their sheer depth and resilience. Junior Paul Carey (COL) earned the tournament’s MVP honor after a stellar performance, posting two goals and two assists to lead Boston College.

Carey’s linemate, junior Cam Atkinson (CLB) is among the nation’s hottest point producers and currently on a torrid point streak. In his last seven games, Atkinson has posted 14 points (seven goals, seven assists), which includes a five-point (one goal, four assists) performance in the tournament. In his 18 games to date, Atkinson has been held pointless in just three games and goal-less in just six. He currently leads Boston College with 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists).

After a heartbreaking shootout loss to Mercyhurst in the tournament opener, host Dartmouth needed overtime to defeat ECAC-rival Colgate in the third-place game. Senior defenseman Joe Stejskal (MON) netted the game-winner at the 2:31 mark of overtime for his first goal of the season.

One of the wildest of this year’s holiday tournaments took place in Minneapolis in the 20th annual Dodge Holiday Classic. Newest WCHA member Bemidji State emerged as the tournament’s champions after defeating Ferris State 3-2 and Union College 3-1 respectively. Tournament MVP Dan Bakala was brilliant between the pipes for the Beavers. The junior from Calgary, AB stopped 65 of the 68 combined shots he faced to guide Bemidji State.

In the third-place game, Ferris State and host Minnesota skated to a 2-2 tie after the conclusion of overtime. While it was announced that there would be a shootout if the scored remained tied at the end of the overtime session, Golden Gophers head coach Don Lucia had opted not to go to a shootout, much to the dismay of the Mariucci Arena crowd in attendance. Senior Jay Barriball (STL) netted the game-tying, power play goal at the 7:38 mark of the third period. He currently leads the Golden Gophers with 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists), which includes his team-best seven power play tallies in 20 appearances.

The final two tournaments got underway on New Year’s Day.

At Hoffman Estates, Ill, another of the holiday’s best tournaments took place as the 3rd annual Shillelagh Tournament got underway. The opening day saw two of the nation’s most talent-rich teams go down in defeat as Brown downed Boston University in a resounding 6-1 win, while host Notre Dame fell to Minnesota State-Mankato 4-3. Minnesota State-Mankato’s late-game surge that worked so well against the Fighting Irish continued in the championship game versus Brown as the Mavericks posted three goals in the final stanza. Junior Michael Dorr earned the tournament’s MVP honor after a sensational five-point (three goals, two assists) performance.

After being humbled by Minnesota State-Mankato in the tournament opener, Notre Dame bounced back in the tournament’s third-place game to defeat Boston University in a shootout. Senior Calle Ridderwall netted the lone shootout goal. Officially, the game goes down as a 3-3 tie. Junior Corey Trivino (NYI) posted an assist on all three Boston University goals in the loss.

Up in Burlington, VT, the 15th annual Catamount Cup was taking place. The Ohio State Buckeyes, playing without the services of head coach Mark Osiecki, won the tournament’s championship after defeating host Vermont 3-1 and Army 5-3 respectively. Senior C.J. Severyn (CGY) tallied the eventual championship-winner over the Black Knights at the 10:27 mark of the second period.

In addition to various holiday tournaments, the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (USHHOF) game took place on Dec. 30 with the opening of the brand-new ASMOIL Arena in Duluth as host Minnesota-Duluth faced off against WCHA foe North Dakota. The depleted Fighting Sioux team spoiled the Bulldogs grand opening by handing their host a 5-0 shutout loss. North Dakota won in convincing fashion without freshmen Brock Nelson (NYI) and defenseman Derek Forbort, as well as injured juniors Jason Gregoire (NYI) and Brett Hextall (PHO).

North Dakota’s "Pony Express" line of seniors Matt Frattin (TOR), Brad Malone (COL) and Evan Trupp combined for five points (three goals, two assists) in the win. Malone joins Boston College’s Cam Atkinson as one of the hottest point producers in the country. He has amassed 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his last five games, which included a pair of goals in the USHHOF game.

Not to be outdone, Frattin has been equally as hot. In his last seven games, the Edmonton, AB native has amassed 11 points, including goals in each of his last six games. Frattin currently leads the nation with 18 goals and leads North Dakota with 26 points. A model of offensive consistency this season, Frattin has been held pointless in just six of the 21 games that he has appeared in thus far.

Blues prospect injured in World Junior Championship

Fresh off of their second-place finish at the Great Lakes Invitational to start the second half of the season, Colorado College now turns its attention to making a push up the WCHA standings. And that push will be tested without co-leading scorer Jaden Schwartz (STL). The freshman standout suffered a fractured ankle on Dec. 28 versus the Czech Republic at the recent World Junior Championship and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks. Schwartz, one of the top scoring freshmen in the nation, currently co-leads the Tigers with 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) through 17 games.

Three defensive NHL prospects have left their respective programs.

Dylan Olsen (CHI), playing with Team Canada in the recent World Junior Championship, has left Minnesota-Duluth to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Olsen, along with freshman Justin Faulk (CAR), made up one of the WCHA’s best defensive pairings in the first half of the season. The Calgary, AB native appeared in 17 games for the Bulldogs this season, posting 13 points (one goal, 12 assists).

Providence College recently lost Alex Velischek (PIT), who opted to go to the USHL where he will suit up for Sioux City. As Friars head coach Tim Army explains, one reason for Velischek’s departure was due to lack of playing time.

"Ultimately, Alex didn’t think that he was playing enough. He wanted to play more minutes because he didn’t think that he was playing enough. We had actually had several discussions about his game and how it could get better. We were about to play Alabama-Huntsville when Alex was able to return from his injury. I didn’t want to disrupt our lineup, in part because the defensemen already playing were playing really well.

Alex won’t be coming back to the program and we’ve already begun to move into another direction. It’s disappointing because I don’t like to see players leave, but it was his decision."

Velischek was hampered by an ankle injury earlier in the season, which in part, limited him to just nine games. In that span, he posted a goal and an assist.

The third player to leave the collegiate ranks was University of Denver sophomore William Wrenn (SJ), who has opted to play for the WHL‘s Portland Winterhawks. The Anchorage, AK native appeared in 18 games for the Pioneers this season, posting just an assist.

Senior Podge Turnbull (LA) is on pace to have the best year of his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin.

Turnbull’s chaotic career in Madison looks to have finally settled down. As a result, the Badgers have gotten a more focused contributor that adds some offensive depth to their lineup this season. The Hayward, WI native is coming off of one of his best career performances, after posting three goals in the recent weekend series versus non-conference foe UMass. In Turnbull’s 19 appearances to date, he has posted 11 points (eight goals, three assists). His eight goals currently rank fourth on the team and are the most in his collegiate career thus far. His 11 points to date ties his career-best offensive output from his freshman season.

On the shelf

University of Denver freshman Beau Bennett (PIT) continues to be out of the lineup due to a knee injury he suffered back on Dec. 4 versus Minnesota-Duluth. The Gardena, CA native was originally slated to return to the Pioneers lineup after the holiday break versus Northern Michigan. Denver will be in conference play for the remainder of the regular season, and it is expected that Bennett will return to the lineup when the team travels to Minnesota State-Mankato on Jan. 14/15.

Already without their top defensive pairing due to the World Junior Championship, Minnesota-Duluth is missing another NHL prospect in freshman Joe Basaraba (FLA). The Fort Frances, ONT native is currently out of the Bulldogs lineup due to the flu and is listed as week to week.

Minnesota senior goaltender Alex Kangas (ATL) has been out of the lineup due to a leg injury that he suffered in practice back on Dec. 11.