Predators NCAA prospects season review

By DJ Powers

Kaleb Betts, C
Sophomore, University of Nebraska-Omaha

This year the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks enjoyed their best season since 2001-02 and Kaleb Betts was an integral part of that success. He finished the season with 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) playing in 32 games. The feisty sophomore forward, who saw ice time primarily in a checking role, led the team in penalty minutes this season with 88. Betts’ speed and ability to create chaos in front of the net made him a difficult for opposing players to have to play against.

Betts’ best performance of the season came back on November 19th in the brawl-filled game versus conference rival Ohio State where he notched a goal and an assist, both on the power play. He also notched two points in the Mavericks’ 4-2 win over non-conference rival Wayne State back on January 29th.

Mike McKenna, G
Senior, St. Lawrence University

Senior Mike McKenna wrapped up his stellar collegiate career with a 15-17-2 record that included three shutouts in 35 appearances for the Saints this season. He leaves SLU having set new school career goaltending records in appearances (95), minutes played (5235:30) and saves (2,483). He finished the season ranked ninth in the nation in minutes played with 2022:04. Recently, McKenna was named co-winner of St. Lawrence’s Most Valuable Player Award.

He led the Saints to a 4-3-1 record in their first eight games that earned him three consecutive ECAC Goaltender of the Week honors. McKenna’s most memorable performances came both at the beginning and near the end of the 2004-05 season. The first came back on October 22nd where he posted a 34-save, 1-0 shutout win over Hockey East powerhouse Maine in a game that featured one of the best goaltending duels in the opening month of the season. The second came back on March 4th and 5th in the opening round of the ECAC Playoffs versus Princeton. McKenna was superb, stopping a combined 43 of 45 shots in the Saints’ sweep of the Tigers.

Mike Santorelli, RW
Freshman, Northern Michigan University

Mike Santorelli enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign that culminated with a spot on the CCHA All-Rookie Team. He finished the season third on the Wildcats team with 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) playing in all 40 games. Fourteen of his 16 goals came in conference play. His 14 CCHA goals led all conference rookies in that category. Santorelli’s 16 overall goals rank second on the Wildcats team. He also led NMU in shots with 114. Santorelli was one of only three Wildcats who played in all 40 games this season.

Santorelli notched his first career goal and assist back on October 16th versus non-conference rival St. Cloud State. His best outing of the season came back on October 31 and November 1 versus Notre Dame, where he notched three goals in the series and earned the CCHA’s Offensive Player of the Week honor. He would later add a Rookie of the Week honor as well. Most recently, Santorelli’s excellent season performance was recognized by his team when he was named the recipient of the Don Waddell Award as the team’s best freshman at the Wildcats season-ending awards ceremony.

Kevin Schaeffer, D
Sophomore, Boston University

After a stellar rookie season, the talented two-way defenseman didn’t have the offensive season that many had hoped for. Nevertheless, he continues to be one of Boston University’s most reliable, all-purpose defensemen. Two areas where he continues to progress nicely are in his outstanding positional play and anticipating opposing players. Schaeffer was paired with junior Dan Spang (SJ) on the Terriers’ top blueline unit, a tandem that proved to be one of the best in Hockey East play this season.

Schaeffer finished the 2004-05 season with 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists). He was one of only six Terriers to have played in all 41 games this season. Both of Schaeffer’s goals came during the second half of the season. The first was an empty-netter in BU’s 3-1 win over Northeastern back on January 7th. The second came back on March 3rd in BU’s 4-4 tie with New Hampshire.

Craig Switzer, D
Freshman, University of New Hampshire

Switzer was outstanding in his freshman season for the New Hampshire Wildcats, playing alongside senior Robbie Barker on the Wildcats’ second defensive pairing. He was one of several highly touted players from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks to debut in the NCAA this season. Switzer finished the 2004-05 season with 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists), playing in 41 games. He notched his first career point back on October 10th in his collegiate debut versus St. Lawrence in the Icebreaker Tournament Championship game. His first career goal (and only one of the season) came on a power play back on January 29th versus UMass-Lowell.

While Switzer has yet to really show his offensive capabilities, his smooth skating and excellent on-ice vision were evident throughout the season. New Hampshire utilized his talents in a variety of situations this season, including special teams. With the departure of seniors Barker and Tyson Teplitsky along with sophomore John Doherty (TOR), Switzer is likely to a see greater role on the Wildcats defensive corps this coming fall.

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