WCHA prospect watch

By Christa Moore





WCHA DEC 5-6


While
much of the NCAA hockey world was focused on the big game rivalries in the
Hockey East and CCHA, the attention of prospect fans was focused on the WCHA
over the weekend. The two series between Denver University vs. Wisconsin and
Colorado College vs. St Cloud boasted a lineup of 26 drafted players, five WJC
invitees and eight new names on the Central Scouting Bureau preliminary list.

 

Friday Denver University vs. Wisconsin

After a 10 game unbeaten
streak the No. 11 ranked Wisconsin Badgers finally received some respect with
their first appearance of the year on the national polls. Much of Wisconsin’s
turn around can be credited to an impressive group of freshman. This group
includes three drafted players, Ryan
Suter
D (Nashville), Brian Elliot G
(Ottawa), and Andrew Joudrey F (Washington) and four 2004 CSB listees, Jeff Likens D, Jake Dowell F, Robbie Earl F
and Mark Heatley F. This display of
future talent drew several scouts including a large group from the Colorado Avalanche
organization. Not only did this give the Avs management a chance to view future
training camp invitees it also gave them an opportunity to see the progression
of Tom Gilbert. Gilbert’s most
impressive skill is his ability to get the puck out of his own zone with either
an accurate outlet pass or by simply taking charge and leading the rush up the
ice from behind his own net.

 

A glimpse of what might be
expected from Team USA in the World Junior Tournament in Finland was on
displayed at Magness arena. Badgers coach Mike Eaves has paired up defensemen
and WJC players Suter and Likens and will more than likely do this when he
leads Team USA in Finland. It was these two freshmen who helped contributed to
the Badgers stifling defense and held the Pioneers to only four shots on goal
in the first period.

 

On the other end of the ice,
DU fans witness probably the best single period performance in the career of
Chicago prospect goalie Adam Berkhoel.
The large majority of the19 shots that he faced were quality shots that took
lightning quick pad saves to turn away.

 

While the defense of the
Badgers continued to clog up the slot it was future draftee Robbie Earl who showed the most
offensive talent and finally put the first goal on the board in the third period.

 

Almost without notice,
junior goalie and Philadelphia prospect Bernd
Bruckler
also put on an impressive net minding outing, stopping 31 of 33
shots.

 

Three Stars

*** Robbie Earl (13th CSB)

  **Bernd Bruckler (Philadelphia)

     * Adam Berkhoel (Chicago)

                                                                 

Friday Colorado College vs St. Cloud

South of
Denver it was the same story as a defensive battle took place between the
Tigers and the Huskies in Colorado Springs. Ever since junior goalie Curtis McElhinney (Calgary) has be out
of the line up with an illness, freshman goalie Matt Zaba (Los Angeles) has stepped into the net minding duties
with authority. Having stopped 111 of 118 shots in November and registering a
.941 save percentage, he earned the title of NCAA Rookie of the Month. He
continued to hold his team in the game by stopping 29 of 30 shots but the
Tigers could not get on the scoreboard. With a four on four opportunity the
Huskies finally got the only goal they would need past Zaba as Pittsburgh
sophomore prospect Joe Jensen
tallied in the middle of the second period. An empty netter was added by Ottawa
sophomore draft pick Brock Hooton to
end the game at a 2-0 score.

 

Saturday
Denver University vs. Wisconsin

Once
again it was defense that was the story on Saturday and this time it was the
defenseman that were also successful offensively. As on Friday, Berkhoel turned
away double-digit shots in the first period of this game. Finally in the
second, it was the Badgers defenseman Tom Gilbert with a power play goal in the
middle of this stanza. While most of the opposing team and his own teammates
were still at center ice Gilbert was in the slot for a top shelf wrist shot
goal. Next it was a DU defenseman’s turn to register a goal on the power play.
Vancouver sophomore prospect Brett
Skinner
received the puck at the point and one timed it through a sea of
players. 

   

Again, the
Badgers smothering defense kept DU from any more scoring. Early in the third
with a 3 on 3 open situation, sophomore and St. Louis prospect Ryan MacMurchy took to the open ice for
a break away goal. A diving effort by senior defenseman Ryan Caldwell (Islanders) who had just sat out the entire second
period due to a head injury was not enough to stop this goal.

 

 

Saturday Colorado College vs. St Cloud

A
surprise guest turned up on the bench on Saturday night. After a long bout with
mononucleosis, Curtis McElhinney dressed as the third goalie for CC. He told
Hockey’s Future regarding his return, “I was really excited actually. It was
kind of my idea. I just wanted to be with the team, be on the bench and support
them as much as possible. I was kind of getting a little bit sick of sitting in
the press box. It was nice to be out there.”   
For now it is Zaba that will continue to be between the pipes until McElhinney
is fully recovered. However his puck stopping talent was not needed on this
night as he and his team went on an offensive explosion.

      

Last
weekend also saw another CC comeback with the return of sophomore sniper and
Atlanta prospect Brett Sterling
after a hand injury had kept him out for most of the first part of the season.
On the power play, Sterling bolted into the slot virtually all alone as he used
the defenseman as a screen and let go of a blazing wrist shot to get past the
Huskies goalie. An assist was given to Zaba on this goal.

   

The Tigers
continued this on slot with three more goals including one from a CSB “limited
viewing” prospect and freshman forward Scott
Thauwald
who swept the goal into the open basket as he was crashing the net
on the goalies blocker side.

   

With a
new goalie in net, the Huskies held off the Tigers for what looked like the
entire period. With the clock winding down Sterling had a breakaway chance that
first rebounded off the pads and then with the second effort he lifted the puck
over the goalies blocker to score with 0.9 seconds left in the period.

   

After a
full night of working along the boards and centering several perfect passes to
the slot, sophomore forward and Rangers prospect Joey Crabb’s hard work finally paid off. After stealing the puck
from a Huskies defenseman he circled the net for what seemed like an eternity
until teammate Weston Tardy could
get into the perfect position for Crabb to slip him the puck for the final
tally of the night.

 

Three
Stars

***Brady
Greco (Tampa Bay)

 **Brett Sterling (Atlanta)

   * Trevor Frischmon

 

Weekend
Stats

Players
on Team USA WJC roster are starred.

 

Colorado College

John Brunkhorst
F, Fr (CSB Players to watch) no points

Joey Crabb F, So
(Rangers) 1 assist

Brady Greco D,
So (Tampa Bay) 2 assists  +3

Curtis
McElhinney G, Jr (Calgary) dressed but
did not play

Richard
Petiot D, Jr (Los Angeles) +/- Even

Scott
Polaski F, Jr (Phoenix) no points

Brian
Salcido D, Fr (CSB Players to Watch) did not play

Brett Sterling
F, So (Atlanta) * 2 goals

Colin Stuart
(C) F, Sr (Atlanta) injured

Mark Stuart D, So  (Boston) 
* +1

Scott Thauwald
F, Fr   (CSB Players to watch) 1 goal

Matt Zaba G, Fr
(Los Angeles) 1 assist, 56 shots with 54 saves and .964 weekend
save
percentage

 

Denver
University

Ryan Caldwell
(C) D, Sr (Islanders) 1 assist -1

Matt Carle D, Fr (San
Jose) * left after first period on Friday

Connor James F,
Sr (Los Angeles) 1 assist

Brett Skinner D,
So (Vancouver) 1 goal -2

Adam Berkhoel
Sr, G (Chicago) 73 shots with 69 saves
and .945 weekend save
percentage

 

St. Cloud

Casey Borer D,
Fr (9th on CSB NCAA rankings) no points

Tim
Conboy D, So (San Jose) -1

Matt Hendricks
(C), F, Sr (Nashville) 1 assist

Joe Jensen F, So
(Pittsburgh) 1 goal

Matt Gens D, Jr Vancouver -1

Brock Hooton F, So Ottawa
1 goal

 

Wisconsin

Adam Burish F,
So (Chicago) no points

Jake Dowell F,
Fr (12th on CSB NCAA rankings) 1 goal

Robbie Earl F,
Fr (13th on CSB NCAA rankings) 1 goal, 1
assist

John
Eichelberger F, Sr (Philadelphia) no points

Tom
Gilbert D, So (Colorado) 1 goal

Mark Heatley F, Fr (29th
on CSB NCAA rankings) no points

Andrew Jourdry
F, Fr (Washington) no points

Jeff Likens D, Fr (18th on
CSB NCAA rankings) * 1 assist

Ryan MacMurchy
F, So (St Louis) 1 goal 1 assist

Ryan Suter D, Fr
(Nashville) * +1

Bernd Bruckler
G, Jr (Philadelphia) 56 shots with 53
saves and .946 weekend save
percentage

 

* on Team USA WJC roster