Another season of NCAA Division I hockey has come and gone, leaving fans across the country with many fond memories, especially Minnesota Golden Gopher fans, whose maroon and gold warriors took home the NCAA Championship at the X-cel Center in St. Paul in a come-from-behind overtime victory of the University of Maine Black Bears. But the Gophers weren’t the only team to have a good college hockey season. In fact, a certain Silicon Valley NHL franchise rather enjoyed the 01-02 NCAA DI college hockey season.
The San Jose Sharks boast one of the top collegiate prospect lists of any of the 30 NHL teams, evidenced by the performances of their eight NCAA DI prospects. Years of solid collegiate scouting by the Sharks scouting staff, especially by Tim Burke, Ray Payne, Cap Raeder and Brian Gross, has given the Sharks many collegiate prospects of whom the Sharks can boast. Burke is the Sharks’ Director of Amateur Scouting, Payne is the Sharks’ Chief Scout, Raeder provides color commentary for Fox Sports New England’s college hockey coverage (along with scouting the professional leagues on the east coast), and Gross is the Sharks’ Northeast United States scout.
The Sharks have tended to draft from Hockey East and the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) in recent years, after having a more diversified NCAA portfolio in the past, if not western-collegiate favoring. Cleveland Barons center Ryan Kraft attended Minnesota, and attentive Sharks fans may remember former Notre Dame Fighting Irish Shark draft picks Anikhet Dhadphale and Joe Dusbabek Currently, any Shark fan residing in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island would be centrally located to watch nearly any Shark collegiate prospect on any given weekend.
As follows is a recap of each of the Sharks’ collegiate prospects’ season:
Note: Seniors’ career stats will be listed to recognize their accomplishments.
D Jim Fahey-Senior
GPGATP+/-PEN/MINPPSHGWShots Conf.24102030+414/2840296 Total39143246+521/50811158 Career1432675111NANA/1941512NA
Fahey finished his senior year with Northeastern in style. Fahey was the Huskies’ captain this past season, playing in every NU game, and set a new NU single-season points record by a defenseman with 46 points. The highly competitive defenseman got off to a great start this season, and this accomplishment was recognized by Hockey East when they named him “Player of the Month” for October. Fahey’s conference play was far and away the best on NU. Fahey’s 30 points in conference play was 12 points ahead of the second highest NU conference scorer. (Chris Lynch) Fahey was one of the top scorers in the Hockey East scoring. Fahey tied for 3rd in overall scoring with Maine’s Peter Metcalf and Niko Dimitrakos (also a Shark prospect). Fahey also was 4th in assists and tied for 5th in power play goals with, among others, Niko Dimitrakos.
Fahey, a 1998 8th round pick by the Sharks (212th overall), was the Huskies’ “Team MVP” and also brought home the “Dog House Award,” the “Chicken Lou Award,” and the “Leading Scorer Award.” (As the leading scorer obviously)
Fahey earned raves on a regional and national level as well. At the regional level Fahey was named by the New England Hockey Writers (NEHW) All-Star Team and was also the NEHW’s “Outstanding Defenseman.” Fahey was also named to the Hockey East First Team All-Conference. On the national level Fahey was named to the All-American East First Team by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA). Fahey was also honored with the Walter Brown Award, which is awarded each season to the top American-born college hockey player playing for a team in New England. Also, Fahey was recognized as one 10 Hobey Baker Finalists this season.
Fans may be interested to know that Rob Blake is Fahey’s favorite current NHL player. His favorite player all-time is the famous puckrushing Boston Bruin defenseman who donned the number 4 on his sweater: Perry Sound, Ontario’s Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr.
D Doug Murray-Junior
GPGATP+/-PEN/PIMPPSHGWShots Conf.2251621NA16/51200NA Total 35112031NA24/67712NA
Murray, one of three assistant captains for the Cornell Big Red, is another Shark collegiate prospect who may have to consider purchasing a trophy case. Murray tied with the undrafted Sam Paolini for the team-lead in scoring. The physical defenseman also tied for the team-lead in scoring in conference play, but this time with Atlanta Thrashers’ prospect Ryan Vesce Murray finished the season tied for 10th in ECAC conferencee scoring and tied for first in the ECAC in conference assists. Murray was also a major reason as to why the Big Red were tops in the ECAC in conference team offense (3.36 GPA), first in conference team defense (1.55 G.AA), first in conference power play efficiency at 26.9 percent, and 3rd in conference penalty killing at 86.4 percent.
Murray’s exploits helped the Big Red reach the ECAC Finals, where they lost in double-overtime to Harvard 4-3. At the NCAA National Championship Tournament Cornell trounced Quinnipac of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (6-1) in the first round, in which Murray scored the 3rd of the Big Red’s goals. In the second round the Big Red lost to New Hampshire 4-3, giving Murray plenty of reason to work hard to help Cornell advance further next season.
Murray won the Nicky Bawlf Award as the Team MVP this season, but the awards also extend to regional and national in nature. Murray made the All-ECAC First Team and the All-Ivy League First Team. The Ivy League went even further by naming him the Ivy League “Player of the Year.” Murray’s play-off performances were rewarded with positions on the ECAC All-Tournament Team and the NCAA Regional Championship All-Tournament Team. The native of Bromma, Sweden, who played junior hockey for the New York Apple Core of the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) also made the AHCA’s All-American East First Team. Murray, along with Cornell goalie Matt Underhill, were the first two Big Red players to make the All-American Team since 1992. Murray, an 8th round pick (241st overall) by the Sharks in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, was also a Hobey Baker Award finalist. (Like the Sharks’ Jim Fahey)
Murray is another, largely unheralded, prospect who is further proof of the Sharks’ scouting/drafting prowess.
RW Niko Dimitrakos-Senior
University of Maine
GPGATP+/-PEN/PIMPPSHGWShots Conf.24131730+1014/3652188 Total43203151+1118/44722158 Career1395080130NA53/1361529NA
Niko Dimitrakos capped off his collegiate hockey career with his best year of the four. Late Maine head coach Shawn Walsh’s three year-old son Sean Niko Dimitrakos as one of his two favorite Black Bears during ESPN’s coverage of the NCAA Championship game with Minnesota, which the Black Bears lost in overtime 4-3. Sean isn’t alone though, as the right wing of Greek decent born in Somerville, Massachusetts has won over many Black Bear fans this season, after a certain amount of enigma his first three years. Dimitrakos was a vital cog for the Black Bears in the play-off this season. In Maine’s first Hockey East Quarterfinals game against Boston College, Dimitrakos had an assist in Maine’s 7-3 win. He also picked up an assist in the second game against BC in the Bears 4-3 win. The right winger scored the game-winner for the Bears in their 4-3 victory of Boston University in the Hockey East Semifinals. The Bears lost the Hockey East Championship game to New Hampshire 1-3, in which Dimitrakos did not score.
However, Maine faired a bit better at the NCAA National Tourament. Maine’s first round opponent was Harvard, whom the Bears defeated 4-3 in overtime; Dimitrakos scored Maines’ first goal against the Crimson. The Black Bears met up with Boston University again in the NCAA Quarterfinals, and once again, won 4-3. Dimitrakos did his best to score against BU’s goalie Sean Fields, but Fields saved Dimitrakos’ four shots. In an ugly game against New Hampshire in the Semifinals, in which Maine won 7-2, Dimitrakos picked up an assist on Ryan Lawson’s goal. Dimitrakos put up 2 assists in the Championship game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but heroics by Matt Koalska to tie the game with less than a minute remaining and the game-winner by Grant Potulny (the only Gopher on this seasons’ roster not from Minnesota: Grand Forks, North Dakota) in overtime spoiled the affair. (It should be noted that St. Louis prospect Johnny Pohl, a senior at Minnesota, had a goal and assisted on the Gopher’s final two goals)
During the regular season Dimitrakos led Maine in scoring and tied for 3rd in Hockey East conference scoring, was tied for 7th in Hockey East conference goals, tied for 4th in Hockey East conference assists, tied for 4th in Hockey East conference power play goals, and 3rd in Hockey East conference short-handed goals. Dimitrakos was a major reason the Black Bears power play was the second best in Hockey East with an efficiency of 22.4 percent against conference rivals.
Dimitrakos’ play caught more than the attention of Black Bears fans. The AHCA named Dimitrakos the All-American East Second Team. The NEHW named Dimitrakos to their New England All-Star Team as well. Dimitrakos’ career at Maine left him as the 24th leading scorer in Maine history, behind ex-Sharks Jim Montgomery (1st overall), and Dave Capuano (4th overall).
Dimitrakos, who missed only one game this season, now looks forward to negotiating a contract with the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him 155th overall in the 5th round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
RW Jon DiSalvatore-Junior
GPGATP+/-PEN/MINPPSHGWShots Conf24111728NANA322NA Total38162642NA3/662NANA
Despite a disappointing Hockey East conference season by the Providence College Friars (of which former Sharks Rob Gaudreau is an alumni), co-captain Jon DiSalvatore had a strong season, playing in every Friar game. DiSalvatore led the Friars in scoring this season, finished 8th in Hockey East conference scoring, tied for 11th in Hockey East conference goals, and tied for 5th in conference assists. For his exploits, DiSalvatore garnered the Lou Lamorello Award as the Team MVP. DiSalvatore’s penchant for sportsmanship earned him the Hockey East’s Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award.
DiSalvatore was also a finalist for the Walter Brown Award, which was won by Shark prospect Jim Fahey. The month of January was an especially good month for DiSalvatore, as he won the Hockey East/Koho Player of the Month Award for January in recognition of his 4 goals and 11 assists in 8 games. A weekend against Northeastern in November won DiSalvatore the Hockey East Offensive Player of the Week award on November 14. United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) also recognized DiSalvatore for his 4 goals on 5 shots against Northeastern on November 10 by naming him their Offensive Player of the Week.
Although the Friars were escorted out of the Hockey East Play-offs early by Boston University, DiSalvatore picked up 2 assists in the first game, 2-3 loss, and a goal in the second game, a 2-4 loss. The 104th overall selection of the 2000 NHL Entry (a 4th round selection for the Sharks) has another season left at Providence, where he will be relied upon to help the Friars move up in the Hockey East standings if at all possible.
G Nolan Schaefer-Junior
GPMINGAENG.AASVSV%WLT Conf. 22 NA NA03.25NA.9067123 Total35 2062:13113 0 3.29 1072 .905 11 18 5
Nolan Schaefer, teammate to Jon DiSalvatore, has been putting together quite the collegiate career in his three years at Providence College (PC). Schaefer is currently 7th All-Time in career saves at PC with 2,140. Perhaps most telling is that, currently, Schaefer’s PC career G.AA is 3.00, which is the best of any PC goalie, including former Friar Chris Terreri. (Terreri is currently 3rd All-Time in career G.AA at PC, and 4th in saves)
Schaefer won the Ronald Wilson Award as PC’s top defensive player and led Hockey East in conference minutes played out of all goalies. Schaefer finished 6th in Hockey East in conference save percentage, and 9th in G.AA. Schaefer, a 5th Round selection in the NHL Entry Draft by the Sharks (166th overall) has one season remaining with the Friars, and with any luck he can build on his solid three years of goaltending for the Friars.
C Tom Cavanaugh-Freshman
GPGATP+/-PEN/MINPPSHGW Shots Conf.224913NA2/4010NA Total3481725NA2/4211NA
Cavanaugh, the Sharks 6th round selection in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft (182nd overall), had a good rookie season for the Harvard Crimson. Cavanaugh finished 5th among all scorers for Harvard, and tops among all freshman. Cavanaugh was also one of two Crimson players to play in every game. (Undrafted sophomore forward Tim Pettit was the other)
Perhaps best exhibiting Cavanaugh’s progress over the season was his ability to contribute to Crimson victories during the play-offs. In the ECAC 1st Round Play-offs Cavanaugh scored the first goal and assisted on the second goal in Harvard’s 4-1 victory over Brown. Cavanaugh’s name did not appear in the scoring recap of the second game against Brown, a 2-1 double-overtime victory for the Crimson. Harvard’s overtime heroics didn’t end there. In Harvard’s next game, in the semi-finals against Clarkson, Cavanaugh scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat the Golden Knights 3-2. In the ECAC Championship game, the Cornell Big Red took Harvard to double overtime, but Harvard won the game 4-3 with Cavanaugh contributing an assist. However, Harvard’s overtime fortune expired against Maine in the NCAA Regional Tournament, where the Crimson lost 3-4 in overtime to the Black Bears. But Cavanaugh scored the power play goal in the third period to send the game into overtime.
Shark fans have three more years to monitor Cavanaugh’s development and considering his start, the next three years could be enjoyable for Cavanaugh, Crimson fans, and Shark fans alike.
RW Willie Levesque-Senior
GPGATP+/-PEN/MINPPSHGWShots Conf.17 2 5 7 -5 6-12 2 0 027 Total30 6 10 16 -3 17-42 3 0 055 Career133 40 49 89 NANA/187 14 0 4 NA
Willie Levesque served as an assistant captain for the Northeastern Huskies this season, playing with fellow Shark prospect Jim Fahey. Levesque missed one game with an abdominal injury suffered against Providence on Nov. 9 and later missed eight games after he broke a finger against UMass-Lowell on Jan.18. Although Levesque had a tough season, his performance in the play-offs in the Huskies’ series against UMass-Lowell gave reason for optimism. The hard-working right winger, who battles hard along the boards, had an assist in the first game, a 2-5 NU loss, an assist in the second game, a 4-2 NU victory, and Levesque scored NU’s only goal in a 1-3 loss to the River Hawks, ending Northeastern’s season.
Levesque, a 4th round Shark selection in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft (111th overall), now has to hope the Sharks sign him so he can ply his hard-working trade in Gund Arena for the Cleveland Barons (the Sharks’ American Hockey League affiliate). If the Sharks do not, another team looking for minor league depth may sign him instead.
LW Mark Concannon-Junior
University of Massachusetts at Lowell
GPGATP+/-PEN/MINPPSHGWShots Conf.244711NANA100NA Total3881321+469200NA
Concannon played in every game for the UMass-Lowell River Hawks this season, which is a large improvement over last season, in which he missed substantial time due to injury. Concannon finished the season strong with 2 goals against Northeastern on Feb. 27 and a goal against Providence College on March 1, the River Hawks’ last two regular season games. In the play-offs, Concannon was one of the River Hawks’ best players. In the Hockey East Quarterfinals Concannon had two assists in the River Hawks’ first game against Northeastern, a 5-2 River Hawk victory. The River Hawks lost the second game of the series 2-4, but Concannon had a power play goal. But the River Hawks but the Huskies away in the third game 3-1, in which Concannon had an assist. In the Hockey East Semi-Finals the River Hawks lost to New Hampshire 3-4, but Concannon had a goal and an assist in the effort again the Wildcats, who would eventually make it to the NCAA National Tournament Frozen Four against Maine. (A 7-2 Wildcat loss)
Concannon still has a season remaining in Lowell, and hopefully the 3rd round pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Sharks (82nd overall) can convince the Sharks he was worth the selection. If he plays like he finished the season, the odds may be in his favor.
Note: Thanks to each of the players’ teams’ websites for supplying much of the statistical information and also United States College Hockey Online for statistical information.