Senators NCAA prospects season review

By DJ Powers

Tim Cook, D
Sophomore, University of Michigan

The towering sophomore continues to make strides in his collegiate career as a solid stay-at-home defenseman who keeps it simple. Cook has the unenviable distinction of being the only regular on the offensively deep Michigan Wolverines roster this season to not tally a single point, despite playing in 36 games. While Cook has shown some improvement in the area of puck-handling, particularly in outlet passes, there are still several areas of his game that will need to improve significantly. The two most glaring areas are offensive production and physical play. Cook possesses excellent size but hasn’t always used it to his advantage. With the loss of Brandon Rogers, Nick Martens and Eric Werner all to graduation, Cook will be relied upon more to help lead the defensive corps next season.

While Cook does have on-ice issues to address, off the ice it has been a completely different story. Cook was recently named the recipient of the Wolverines’ Carl Isaacson Award, which recognizes the team’s top scholar-athlete.

Joe Cooper, RW
Sophomore, University of Miami-Ohio

The rugged sophomore forward literally made his presence felt whenever and wherever he was on the ice this season. Cooper played in 36 games for the RedHawks this year, posting eight points (one goal, seven assists) and 43 penalty minutes. Injuries took such a toll on the Miami roster this season that Cooper was forced to play on a fourth line that also consisted of two defensemen in senior Joe Pomaranski and junior Stephen Dennis for nearly the entire second half of the year. Cooper enjoyed his best outing of the season back on December 3rd versus non-conference foe Robert Morris, where he had two assists in helping to lead the RedHawks to an 8-1 win over the Colonials.

While Cooper is not known for his scoring prowess, his ultra-aggressive physical style can’t be missed. He is a player who loves to deliver the hits and will do so as often as the opportunity presents itself. His energy coupled with his outstanding skating and play around the net made him a daunting player for the opposition to have to contend with throughout the season.

Patrick Eaves, RW
Junior, Boston College

The junior sensation enjoyed an outstanding season that culminated with the Hockey East Player of the Year honor as well as a selection to the ACHA All-American East First Team. He led Boston College in many statistical categories including points (48), shots (191) and plus/minus (+25). He also co-led the team in goals (19). Eaves had three or more points in a game seven times this season. One of his most memorable performances came back on October 15th in the season opener versus reigning national champion Denver, where he had four points (one goal, three assists) and was a +4. Eaves played in 36 of 40 games this season. He missed four games due to a bruised lung he suffered versus UMass on March 12th.

Eaves’ meticulous attention to every detail of his game along with his tremendous work ethic and impeccable skill level continues to make him one of the nation’s very best players. His leadership and maturity has grown steadily over the course of the season (as well as his career) and his team has reaped the benefits. Not surprisingly, there has been some speculation that the Senators may try to sign Eaves as soon as the NHL returns.

Brian Elliott, G
Sophomore, University of Wisconsin

As the backup to one of the nation’s top goaltenders, sophomore Brian Elliott didn’t see many starts, but when he did he made the most of them and became arguably the best backup goaltender in the NCAA this season. Elliott appeared in nine games this season and went 6-2-1 which included three shutouts. He posted an astounding 1.16 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. Elliott had his most memorable outings in October when he posted shutouts in two consecutive starts, becoming only the sixth goaltender in team history to accomplish such a feat.

One of Elliott’s greatest attributes is the fact that he is such a great student of the game, constantly striving to improve and develop in all facets of his position. It was for this that his team recently bestowed upon him Wisconsin’s Otto Breitenbach Award. The award recognizes the team’s Most Improved Player. Elliott will in all likelihood succeed Bruckler as the Badgers’ starter this coming fall. If his continued improvement and development is any indication, the Badgers won’t have much to worry about next season between the pipes.

Brock Hooton, RW
Junior, St. Cloud State University

Coming into the 2004-05 season, Hooton was one of several Huskies upperclassmen counted on to lead the team’s offensive production. Unfortunately, Hooton struggled to live up to the expectations. He finished his junior campaign with 12 points (five goals, seven assists). Hooton’s struggles were particularly felt in the first half of the year. He had a mere four points (two goals, two assists) through the first three months of the season. Hooton’s best performance of the season came back on January 14th versus in-state rival Minnesota-Duluth, where he notched three points (one goal, two assists) to help lead the Huskies to a 5-2 victory.

While Hooton brings some outstanding puck skills along with a very good work ethic and a willingness to be physical, his overall play this season has been inconsistent and his statistics have reflected that. One area where his contributions have been more positive has been in the area of team leadership. At the recent Huskies team awards banquet, Hooton was selected by his peers to serve as one of the team’s assistant captains for the 2005-06 season.

Jim McKenzie, RW
Freshman, Michigan State University

If the phrase “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” could be applied to anyone, it’s likely to be applied to Michigan State freshman Jim McKenzie. McKenzie was virtually non-existent early on in the Spartans’ season, but he certainly didn’t end that way. He tallied at least a point in 10 of Michigan State’s final 15 games of the season. He wrapped up his rookie campaign with 18 points (11 goals, 7 assists) playing in 34 games. McKenzie’s most memorable performance of the season came back on February 18th, when he notched his first career hat-trick to lead the Spartans to a 6-3 victory over conference rival Ohio State. Two weeks later, McKenzie earned his lone CCHA Rookie of the Week honor after posting two goals in the series to help MSU sweep Notre Dame.

Perhaps the main reasons for McKenzie’s late season success was his ability to make excellent use of his 6’2/205 lbs. frame and his tremendous strength, particularly around the net. So effective was his play in the latter stages of the season that he was given a regular shift alongside seniors Jim Slater (ATL) and Mike Lalonde.

Matt McIlvane, C
Freshman, Ohio State University

Freshman Matt McIlvane earned a regular spot on a tough Ohio State Buckeyes team as a grinding fourth liner who works hard and isn’t afraid to mix it up with opposing players. He was one of only five Ohio State players to play in all 42 games this season. McIlvane finished the season with six points (one goal, five assists) and 30 penalty minutes. Four of his six points, including his lone goal on the year all came in his best performance of the season. It happened back on October 21st in the Buckeyes’ 9-3 victory over in-state rival Miami-Ohio.

With few graduating seniors, McIlvane could continue to see ice time in a support role with Ohio State next season. Despite not showing much of it this season, McIlvane does have offensive capabilities and it’s likely only a matter of time before he becomes a regular contributor on the score sheet as well.

Neil Petruic, D
Senior, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Like his team, the senior defenseman didn’t have the stellar ending to his season (and collegiate career) that he had hoped for. Injuries to both ankles limited Petruic to just 32 games and nine points (one goal, eight assists). He also finished the season second on the team in penalty minutes with 63. His lone goal of the season came back on October 15th versus Michigan Tech. Petruic enjoyed his best outing of the season a week later on October 22nd versus Minnesota State-Mankato, where he notched two assists.

Petruic played much of the season with freshman Travis Gawryletz (PHI) on the Bulldogs top defensive unit. Petruic’s greatest contributions to the team this season were his solid defensive play and steadying leadership presence. He concludes his collegiate career with 46 points (14 goals, 32 assists) playing in 157 games.

Shawn Weller, LW
Freshman, Clarkson University

Weller’s collegiate debut was delayed to due academic eligibility issues. After everything was settled, Weller made a memorable debut for Clarkson back on October 29th versus non-conference rival Niagara when he notched his first two collegiate goals, both on the power play. After the spectacular start to his rookie campaign, Weller’s offensive production dropped off significantly. It wasn’t until the third and deciding game of the ECAC Quarterfinals versus Union College that Weller would score his final goal of the season. Like his first two goals, Weller’s final goal of the season was also scored in dramatic fashion, as he tallied the game (and series) winner in overtime. He finished the season with 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) playing in 33 games. Weller led the Golden Knights in penalty minutes with 77. The power forward was also a member of the 2005 USA U-20 WJC squad.

While his offensive production wasn’t spectacular, Weller’s overall performance was. His great work ethic coupled with his strong, physical play and relentless puck pursuit made him a difficult player for opposing players to defend against this season. With three key departing senior forwards, Weller will be relied upon heavily to not only pick up the scoring but help lead Clarkson next season.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.