A quartet of prospects are making sweet music in the collegiate ranks for the Montreal Canadiens – but it’s a duet that’s powering one of the nation’s top-ranked squads that has to have Habs’ brass smiling.
All four of the Canadiens’ National Collegiate Athletic Association prospects are conveniently located in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hockey League, which makes it easier for the parent club to keep their eyes on the foursome.
Defensemen Ryan O’Byrne (2003, 79th overall) and Jon Gleed (2004, 212th overall) are manning the blue line for the Cornell Big Red and trying to follow in the NHL footsteps of another Cornell grad – former netminder Ken Dryden.
The Big Red is 11-3-2 and the steady blue line prowess that O’Byrne and Gleed provide is a big part of their success. With five goals and five assists in 20 games, the junior O’Byrne has chipped in offensively while keeping opposing forwards honest by throwing his weight around the tune of 17 penalties for 42 minutes. A much improved player over his sophomore campaign, he plays on the first power play unit and is second on the team with four power play goals. In December he was named to the all-tournament team in the Florida College Classic. O’Byrne has missed the past few weekends out with injury.
Gleed, a physical defenseman, has had a series of injuries himself this season, including one to his knee in November. A senior who was named an assistant captain of the squad this year, he has but four assists in 16 games, but when he’s played he has been a big part of the steadying veteran presence on the blue line that’s propelled – and held — the Big Red at the top of the national rankings. The team now leads the ECACHL after a win over Colgate last weekend.
Hot on the heels of his Cornell cohorts, J.T. Wyman (2004, 100th overall) is powering the Dartmouth Big Green in sophomore season to a 9-5-2 conference record and a third place ECACHL standing. He’s firing at a much higher clip than last season (11 points in 33 games), with seven goals and nine assists in 22 games and finds himself fifth on the team in point production. He was playing on the second line with Tanner Glass (FLA) and Eric Przepiorka, but was moved up to the top line with Mike Ouellette and David Jones (COL).
Unlike his Habs’ cohorts, defenseman Philippe Paquet (2005, 229th overall) hasn’t been able to taste the same success. Tied for ninth in a 12-team league, Clarkson’s fortune appears to be affecting the freshman Paquet as he’s been filling up the penalty box more often than the score sheet. To date, he has but four points in 27 games to accompany 77 penalty minutes.
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