November NCAA prospect report

By DJ Powers





NCAA: NOVEMBER PROSPECTS REPORT

Now that all 58 NCAA Division I teams have officially begun
regular season play, November has been a month of much activity. Below is a
look back at the month and the flurry of activity that has taken place among
NHL prospects.

 

 

A “golden” trio of Gophers

 

Sophomore Ryan
Potulny
(PHI) continues scoring at a torrid pace with Minnesota. His
three-goal outing this past weekend helped propel the Golden Gophers to a
convincing sweep of Michigan and Michigan State in the College Hockey Showcase.
Potulny currently leads the
nation in goals (15) and co-leads the nation in power play goals (8). His
linemate, fellow sophomore Danny Irmen
(MIN) earned WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors after a four-point outing
(three goals, one assist) that included scoring on a penalty shot to lead
Minnesota to a sweep of their “border battle” rivals Wisconsin back on November
5th and 6th.

 

Freshman Alex
Goligoski
(PIT), who has been off to a very impressive start, was also
instrumental in helping to lead Minnesota in the College Hockey Showcase. In
this past Saturday’s game versus Michigan State, he notched a goal and an
assist. His performance also earned him WCHA Rookie of the Week honors.
Goligoski currently leads all Minnesota rookies in scoring with ten points (two
goals, eight assists).

 

No stopping UMass-Lowell’s Walter

 

Ryan Potulny may be leading the nation in goals right now,
but UMass-Lowell junior Ben Walter
(BOS) is hot on his heels. Walter is currently second in the nation in goals
with 13 and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down either. In UML’s six games
during the month of November, Walter has scored six goals, including his second
hat trick on the season that came in the 8-0 pounding of Bentley this past
Saturday. Like Potulny, Walter has also been potent on the power play. His
seven power play goals ranks him tied for third in the nation in that category.

 

McElhinney perfect for CC

 

The Colorado College Tigers are off to an excellent start.
In the month of November, they’ve put together a 6-2-0 record and have done it
in convincing fashion. One of the main reasons behind the success of the Tigers
has been their outstanding goaltending tandem of senior Curtis McElhinney (CGY) and sophomore Matt Zaba (LA). McElhinney has amassed a perfect 7-0-0 thus far
this season. His .946 save percentage currently ranks second in the nation,
while his 1.57 goals against average ranks fourth in the nation. While Zaba has
been sacked with CC’s two losses on the season, he has amassed very respectable
numbers in save percentage (.900) and goals against average (2.61).

 

In addition to stellar goaltending, Colorado College has
also been equally stellar on offense. In their eight games in the month of
November, the Tigers have outscored their opponents 31-17. During that same
stretch, they have allowed three or more goals twice. They currently possess
the top ranked offense in the nation that’s averaging 4.17 goals per game. A
trio of players that have been on hot streaks recently are juniors Brett Sterling (ATL) and defenseman Mark Stuart (BOS) and senior Scott Polaski (PHX). Sterling currently
leads CC in goals with ten. In the Tigers last four games he had four points
(two goals, two assists). Stuart, who serves as CC’s team captain, has racked
up five points (two goals, three assists) in five of the team’s last six games.
After missing three games due to surgery on his left index finger, Polaski
returned to the CC lineup on November 19th. In the four games since
his return, Polaski has seven assists. He has yet to register a goal this
season.

 

One Tigers rookie who made a big splash during the month of
November was Scott McCulloch (CHI).
He notched his first collegiate goal back on November 12th versus
in-state rival Denver. But it was his first career hat trick versus conference
rival Michigan Tech on November 19th that made people take notice.
His performance during the weekend series versus MTU also earned him WCHA
Rookie of the Week honors. This past Friday versus UMass, McCulloch sustained a
shoulder injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game versus Boston University.
His return date has yet to be determined.

 

Team Teal prospects among the nation’s top performers

 

The San Jose Sharks may not have the most prospects in the
NCAA right now, but they have some of the top performers. Vermont’s Torrey Mitchell, Wisconsin’s Joe Pavelski and Harvard’s Tom Cavanagh have all put together
impressive numbers during November. In doing so, they have all helped propel
their respective teams to a successful month.

 

In their last ten games going back to the last weekend in
October, Vermont has strung together an impressive 7-0-3 record. One player who
has been a big part of the Catamounts success, particularly in November, has
been freshman sensation Torrey Mitchell.
Mitchell has racked up eight points (five goals, three assists) in Vermont’s
eight games in November. He capped off his superb month with his first career
hat trick this past Saturday versus New Hampshire. His stellar performance also
earned him ECACHL Rookie of the Week honors. Mitchell leads all Vermont rookies
in scoring with 13 points (six goals, seven assists).

 

Freshman Joe Pavelski
has continued to be as one of the WCHA’s top rookies. Pavelski, along with
sophomore Robbie Earl (TOR) and
junior Adam Burish (CHI), make up
one of the league’s most exciting line combinations to watch. In the eight
games that Wisconsin played in November, Pavelski racked up seven points (two
goals, five assists). In addition, he currently ranks second in the nation
among rookies in points per game with 1.21.

 

After a slow start to the season, the Harvard Crimson
finally got their act together and began getting in the win column in rather
convincing fashion. After starting the month of November 0-2, the Crimson went
on to win five of their next six games. Leading the way has been senior Tom Cavanagh. In Harvard’s last six
games, Cavanagh has racked up an astounding 13 points (three goals, ten
assists). His best outing came back on November 13th in Harvard’s
wild 8-6 win over Ivy League rival Princeton where he notched three points (two
goals, one assist). Cavanagh currently ranks fifth in the nation in points per
game with 1.56. One of the most impressive attributes about Cavanagh has been
his ability to stay healthy. During his entire Harvard career thus far, he has
never missed a game.

 

Denver’s blueline “awesome twosome”

 

The reigning national champion Denver Pioneers have two top
defensemen in sophomore Matt Carle
(SJ) and junior Brett Skinner (VAN)
that has gotten many people’s attention this season. The duo has been a big
part of the success of the Pioneers, particularly in the month of November.
Both co-lead the team’s defensemen in points (12). Skinner also leads the team
in assists with 11. Carle had his best outing of the season back on November 13th
versus in-state rival Colorado College, where he notched three points (one
goal, two assists). Skinner had his best outing of the season this past
Saturday in Denver’s 6-1 win over UMass, where he had four points (one goal,
three assists).

 

The “stunning” Flyers goaltending prospects

 

Two Philadelphia Flyers goaltending prospects have helped
their respective teams pull off two stunning wins in the month of November.
Wisconsin senior Bernd Brückler has been one of the nation’s top
goaltenders thus far. In his 11 starts, he has gone 7-3-0. In his last five
starts, Brückler hasn’t allowed more than two
goals per game. His best outing of the month came back on November 12th
when he handed then fifth-ranked North Dakota a stunning 2-0 shutout loss in
North Dakota. In the weekend sweep of North Dakota, Brückler
stopped 55 of 57 shots and went on to earned WCHA Defensive Player of the Week
honors.

 

Harvard senior Dov
Grumet-Morris
continues to rewrite the school’s goaltending record books.
Among some of the records he currently holds include single season games played
(33), games started (32), and minutes played in a game (96:11). He has started
in all but one game this season. In the month of November, he went 4-3-0. His
best outing of the month (and season) came back on November 16th
versus Boston College. He went the distance making 20 saves that included a
Dave Spina penalty shot to upset the then top-ranked Eagles 3-1.

 

Capital Gains

 

Two Washington Capitals prospects in Minnesota State-Mankato
sophomore Travis Morin and Union
College freshman goaltender Justin
Mrazek
enjoyed an outstanding month of November.

 

Morin, who is having a superb season thus far with Minnesota
State-Mankato, currently ranks second on the Mavericks teams with 11 points
(six goals, five assists). His pairing on the Mavericks top line with fellow
sophomore David Backes (STL) has
given Minnesota State-Mankato an excellent offensive one-two punch this season.
Backes had his most memorable outing to date this season back on November 12th
when he notched his first career hat trick to lead the Mavericks to a 6-3 win
over conference rival Alaska-Anchorage. He added another goal the following
night to help Minnesota State-Mankato complete the sweep of the weekend series.
His performance earned him WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors as well.

 

The Union College Dutchmen have become one of the best
stories coming out of the NCAA. One of the main reasons behind their early
season success has been the stellar play of the freshman Mrazek. The Regina,
Saskatchewan native currently splits time with junior Kris Mayotte in goal.
Mrazek has played in six games thus far, posting a 3-3-0 record. While his
win-loss-tie record may not be all that impressive, his goals against average
and save percentage are. Mrazek’s 1.68 goals against average currently ranks
fifth in the nation in that category, while his .935 save percentage currently
ranks eighth in the nation.

 

New Hampshire trio making news

 

Back on November 18th, it was reported that
sophomore defenseman John Doherty
(TOR) was leaving UNH due to a lack of ice time. According to various reports,
Doherty will finish out the semester before heading off to play with the Des
Moines Buccaneers (USHL). Doherty will be able to retain his college
eligibility. If he decides to return to the NCAA, he will not be eligible to
play again until the 2006-07 season.

 

Sophomore Daniel
Winnik
(PHX) has already begun to establish himself as a force to be
reckoned with on the Wildcats roster. He currently ranks tied for fifth on the
team in scoring with 11 points (six goals, five assists). He had his most
memorable outing of the season thus far back on November 5th versus
Hockey East foe Boston University. In that contest, Winnik bagged his first
career hat trick and earned Hockey East Offensive Player of the Week honors for
his performance.

 

Freshman goaltender Kevin
Regan
(BOS) has played in only four games for UNH thus far. Two of the
starts he got came in the month of November. The first came back on November 16th
versus Merrimack and the second came four days later on November 20th
versus Northeastern. In the two games against the conference rivals, Regan
stopped a combined 67 of 72 shots he faced to post wins in both games. His
performance didn’t go unnoticed as he was named Hockey East’s Defensive Player
of the Week. Regan, who serves as junior Jeff
Pietrasiak’s
(PHX) backup, has put up some very respectable numbers. He has
amassed a 3-1-0 record with a 3.00 goals against average and a .925 save
percentage.

 

Milestones

 

NHL prospects reaching milestones during the month of
November.

 

         
Cornell sophomore defenseman and
Montreal Canadiens prospect Ryan O’Byrne
scored his first collegiate goal back on November 5th in the Big
Red’s 2-0 win over archrival Harvard. The goal, which was scored on the power
play, came in O’Byrne’s 34th career game in a Cornell uniform.

         
Providence senior defenseman and
Colorado Avalanche prospect Eric
Lundberg
finally scored his first career goal back on November 6th
in the Friars 6-1 win over Wayne State. The goal, which was scored on the power
play, came in Lundberg’s 109th career game in a Providence uniform.

 

On the shelf

 

         
Dartmouth suffered literally a huge
loss when junior Hugh Jessiman (NYR)
sustained an ankle injury back on November 6th versus Ivy League
rival Princeton. According to the Dartmouth website, he is out for at least the
remainder of the regular season.

         
Providence sophomore Colin McDonald (EDM) continues to be
out of the Friars lineup after sustaining a sprained MCL in his right knee back
on October 30th versus Wayne State. He is not expected to return to
the Friars lineup until after Christmas.

         
Wisconsin freshman Matt Auffrey (ANA) remains out of the Badgers lineup after
sustaining a broken wrist back on October 30th versus Denver.

         
Minnesota senior Barry Tallackson (NJ) continues to be out of the Golden Gophers
lineup due to an ankle injury. He has not suited up for Minnesota since the
November 6th game versus Wisconsin.

         
Cornell sophomore Mitch Carefoot (ATL) is currently out of the Big Red lineup with an
undisclosed injury. He hasn’t played since the November 12th game
versus Michigan State.

 

As if the North Dakota Fighting Sioux haven’t had enough
trouble coping with the loss of sophomore Brady
Murray
(LA), now comes word that fellow sophomore Drew Stafford (BUF) could be joining him on the injured list.
Stafford suffered what is being called an “upper body injury” in last Friday’s
game versus Michigan Tech. He sat out of Saturday’s contest and is questionable
for the upcoming weekend series versus Alaska-Anchorage.

 

Just as the Miami-Ohio RedHawks got sophomore sniper Marty Guerin (LA) back in the lineup
after a leg injury, they suffered another injury setback in their other
sophomore sniper Matt Christie
(ANA). Christie, who had been leading Miami-Ohio in scoring with 17 points (six
goals, 11 assists), has been out of the RedHawks lineup since November 20th
with an undisclosed injury.

 

Long awaited season debuts

 

Three prospects have finally made their season debuts
after being out with injuries.

 

         
Michigan State junior defenseman Corey Potter (NYR) made his season
debut on November 12th versus Cornell. He had missed the first eight
games of the season due to a separated shoulder.

         
Cornell sophomore Byron Bitz (BOS) made his season debut on November 14th
versus Michigan State after missing the first five games of the season to a
heel injury.

         
Wisconsin freshman Matt Ford (CHI) made his season debut on November 26th
in the first game of the College Hockey Showcase versus Michigan State. He missed
the Badgers first 12 games due to recovering from offseason leg surgery.

 

Signed, sealed and delivered

 

The month of November in the NCAA means the early signing
period for incoming players for the following season. Schools that require them
begin receiving National Letters of Intent (NLOIs) in the early signing period.

 

To no real surprise, the following NHL drafted players have
signed NLOIs with schools that they have previously given verbal commitments
to: Forward Brian Gifford (PIT) –
Denver,

forward Blake Wheeler
(PHX) and defenseman R. J. Anderson
(PHI) – Minnesota.

 

Among the top 2005 draft eligible players who have signed
NLOIs during the early signing period include defenseman Jack Johnson
(Michigan) and forwards Jack Skille (Wisconsin) and Ryan Stoa (Minnesota).

 

See you at the Ralph

 

Back on November 3rd, USA Hockey announced Team
USA’s preliminary roster for the upcoming U-20 World Junior Championships at
Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Five current NCAA players
from last year’s gold medal squad have been named to the preliminary roster:
Michigan junior goaltender Al Montoya
(NYR), Michigan sophomore defenseman Matt
Hunwick
(BOS), Wisconsin sophomores defenseman Jeff Likens and forward Jake
Dowell
(CHI) and North Dakota sophomore forward Drew Stafford (BUF). Two other current NCAA players have also made
the preliminary roster: Michigan sophomore forwards Mike Brown (VAN) and T. J.
Hensick
. Former Wisconsin defenseman Ryan Suter (NSH) and former
Boston College forward Adam Pineault (CBJ) also made the roster. The
final Team USA roster will be announced next week.

 

And
the winner is…

 

The College Hockey Showcase is not a tournament in the
traditional sense, but rather a showcase as its name implies. However, if it
had to name a winner this year, it would be the Minnesota Golden Gophers. They
swept the Michigan teams in convincing fashion, outscoring the two CCHA teams
10-1. Sophomore goaltender Kellen Briggs stopped 47 of 48 combined shots to
lead the Gophers. Briggs’ performance earned him WCHA Co-Defensive Player of
the Week honors while his team earned the top spot in this week’s national
polls.

 

The Merrimack Warriors now have something to cheer about, as
they defeated host Providence 5-2 to win the second annual Coffee Pot
Tournament. Sophomore goaltender Jim Healey’s 36-save effort and three power
play goals were the keys to the Warriors win.

 

The Air Force Falcons handed host RPI a stunning 1-0 loss to
win the RPI/Bank of America Holiday Tournament. Outstanding sophomore
goaltender Peter Foster made 32 saves to notch his nation-leading fourth
shutout. Sophomore defenseman Brian Gineo’s power play goal at the 18:37 mark
of the third period was the lone tally of the game.

 

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editorial staff.