The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim currently have six prospects playing in the NCAA. Prior to the start of this season, it looked as if there would be eight. However, Shane Hynes, formerly a member of the Cornell Red, made the surprising jump to professional hockey. He’s currently playing with the Portland Pirates in the AHL. Meanwhile, Matt Auffrey waited until October before deciding to leave his second year at the University of Wisconsin and join the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL.
Jason Bailey, RW
University of Michigan (CCHA), Freshman
Drafted 63rd overall (3rd round) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft
A grinder, Jason Bailey is endearing himself to Wolverine fans with his hard-nosed play and willingness to play the body. He’s currently listed as week-to-week with a rib injury that he suffered against Michigan State in late January, however, prior to his injury he lined up alongside Andrew Ebbett and Brandon Kaleniecki, the captain and one of the assistant captains for Michigan. They form the shutdown line, often called upon to play against the opposition’s offensive threats. But the line known for its defensive prowess has shown to be no slouch offensively either. In one notable display of skill in the attacking zone, Bailey scored two goals and added an assist in December in a game versus Nebraska-Omaha. In total, the 18-year-old has five goals and seven points in 22 games and his 47 penalty minutes are second only to fellow freshman Jack Johnson (CAR).
After losing ten seniors from last year as well as having key players like Al Montoya (NYR) and Jeff Tambellini (LA) turn pro a year early, wins in Michigan are a little harder to come by than in years past. The team has a respectable 16-10-3 record and they have the third-best record against teams in their own conference. Michigan is ranked in the top 10.
Matt Christie, LW
Miami University (Ohio) (CCHA), Junior
Drafted 236th overall (8th round) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Miami University may not be in Florida, but it’s all sunny days for the RedHawks this season. They are arguably the top team in the NCAA, with a rosy 20-5-4 record. They also are icing a balanced attack, with five different players having more than 20 points so far. Matt Christie is poised to join that group very soon. He has six goals and 19 points in 29 games and his eight penalty minutes are the least on the team for players who have appeared in the majority of Miami’s games. Although the 20-year-old’s offensive output is down slightly from his previous two seasons (36 and 35 points respectively), there’s no doubt he’s more than pleased with how his team is faring this year. His own personal highlights this year include two three-assist outings, once in October versus Omaha-Nebraska and once in January versus Northern Michigan and a two-goal game in November against Bowling Green.
Kyle Klubertanz, D
University of Wisconsin (WCHA), Sophomore
Drafted 74th overall (3rd round) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft
Kyle Klubertanz is following up his outstanding freshman year with a repeat performance, solidifying him as one of the top offensive defensemen in the WCHA. In 28 games so far this season, the 20-year-old has tallied three goals and 14 points, second in team defensive scoring only to Tom Gilbert, an Edmonton prospect who is also his usual partner on the blue line. Quarterbacking the Badgers power play, two of Klubertanz’s goals have come with the man advantage. Statistically, his best game this year would be a December match against Michigan Tech where he scored two goals and added another two assists for four points.
Wisconsin currently leads the WCHA with a 14-6-2 record. Overall in the NCAA, their record is 19-7-2 and they can be found within the top five of most rankings lists. A hiccup to their season’s fortunes has been the injury to star netminder Brian Elliott (OTT). Since suffering a knee injury in practice in mid-January, the team has won only one game in the last six.
Drew Miller, LW
Michigan State University (CCHA), Junior
Drafted 186th overall (6th round) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft
The captain for the Michigan State Spartans, Drew Miller is once again playing on the ‘ER’ line with sophomore Chris Mueller and senior Colton Fretter (ATL). Not only is the line responsible for containing the top talent on the other team, but they are also capable of chipping in offensively. Miller currently leads his team in scoring with 10 goals and 29 points in 32 games, as well as 22 penalty minutes. He also leads the team in power-play goals with seven and is a key part of the Spartans penalty killing.
The Spartans are a win away of surpassing last season’s 27-point season. They have a record of 10-7-6 against other CCHA teams and overall they are 16-10-7. This has placed them second in their conference for the time being, although they have a number of games in hand on third place Michigan.
Brian Salcido, D
Colorado College (WCHA), Junior
Drafted 141st overall (5th round) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft
After breaking out in the 2004-05 season, Brian Salcido is continuing to improve his play for the Colorado College Tigers. His 30 points in 38 games last year, a huge improvement over his single point in his freshman campaign, gained the attention of NHL scouts and led to him being drafted. So far this year the 20-year-old blueliner has shown that his previous totals were no enigma. In just 30 games, Salcido has already tallied 31 points, including six goals, five of them coming on the power play. He leads Tiger defensemen in almost all offensive categories. He would do better to spend less time in the penalty box though. His 57 minutes are third on the team, who count on him to lead the blue line, a difficult task when you’re sitting in the sin bin.
With three of Colorado College’s top blueliners gone from last year, this year is no walk in the park for the Tigers. Despite a hot start, going 6-1-1 at the beginning of the season, the Tigers’ fortunes have changed considerably. Their current record is 18-11-1 and have the sixth best record against teams in their own conference. While they are still within the top ten in rankings, they have also just broke out of their worst losing streak in the past two years (five straight losses).
For his part, Salcido has contributed plenty on the offensive side of things. For a while, he led all NCAA defensemen in scoring, his best night being against Air Force, where he tallied four assists. Unfortunately, there is also another side of the game that is just as important for defensemen. Colorado College is scoring plenty, in fact, their top two scorers are top five in the NCAA, but something more has to be done to stop their slide.
Dirk Southern, C
Northern Michigan University (CCHA), Senior
Drafted 218th overall (7th round) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft
The only senior out of all of Anaheim’s college prospects, Dirk Southern is finishing strong and on his way to a career season. He currently leads the Wildcats with 28 points in 30 games, including 10 goals. He also has 28 penalty minutes and offensively, his most productive night would be a four-point outburst against Ferris State in January, as well as a hat trick recently in early February against Wayne State. A talented playmaker, Southern has to hope that he catches the eye of Anaheim’s management if he wants a pro contract. Interestingly, last season Southern was tied for NCAA lead in game winning goals with seven, but this season has just one game-winner.
After finishing last season third in the CCHA with a 22-11-7 record overall, Northern Michigan’s winning percentage is down a bit this year. They are currently tied for sixth in the CCHA with a 10-10-2 record against other CCHA teams, and a 16-12-2 record overall in the NCAA. One big reason for this change was the graduation of star goaltender Tuomas Tarkki. Last year, Tarkki was one of the NCAA’s top goaltenders.
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