College Prospects Notebook: November 2011

By DJ Powers
Photo: Seth Ambroz struggled mightily during the month of November to produce offense. Through 17 games, Ambroz has five points. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)

In this edition of the notebook, Hockey’s Future takes a look back at some of the high (and low) points of the month, including a couple of milestones.

Miami wins Denver Cup

Junior Reilly Smith (DAL) posted a pair of goals and was named the tournament MVP in leading the RedHawks to their second Denver Cup championship on November 26th. Miami defeated host Denver 4-2 in the championship game. The Denver Cup, now in its 20th year, kicked off the 2011-12 college hockey holiday tournament season over the Thanksgiving weekend. The tournament also featured Princeton and Providence College. Smith, who also posted a goal in the RedHawks’ 6-2 win over Providence College the previous night, currently is second on the team with 14 points (11 goals, three assists) in 16 games.

Joining Smith on the All-Tournament team was junior Drew Shore (FLA), who posted a goal and an assist in the tournament for Denver. Shore currently is second on the Pioneers with 19 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 14 games.

Penguins getting mileage out of collegiate prospects

In the month of November, no NHL team got more points collectively out of their NCAA prospects than the Pittsburgh Penguins. This season, the Penguins have eight prospects playing college hockey. And while Pittsburgh does not have the nation’s current top scorers or goaltenders, the collective production that they have gotten from their collegiate prospects in November was excellent.

During the month, Penguins prospects amassed an astounding 55 points (32 goals, 23 assists) collectively. All eight players posted at least one point during the month, and seven of the eight posted at least two goals.

Juniors Ben Hanowski and Nick D’Agostino, and sophomore Ken Agostino led the way with 10 points apiece.

Hanowski currently leads St. Cloud State with 18 points (12 goals, eight assists) overall in 18 games to date. Of his ten goals, seven came in November, which led all Penguins prospects. With senior Drew Leblanc out indefinitely due to a broken leg, Hanowski has led the Huskies offensive charge and hasn’t disappointed.

D’Agostino currently leads Cornell with 13 points (seven goals, six assists) overall in 11 games to date. He is also one of three defensemen nationally who either lead or co-lead their team in scoring as well.

All of Agostino’s points with Yale have come in the month of November. His 10 points (six goals, four assists) through 10 games to date currently leads the Bulldogs.

Perhaps the best story thus far among the Penguins’ current collegiate prospects is freshman Scott Wilson. The Oakville, ONT native was somewhat of an afterthought at the NHL Draft last June, but he has been impressive in his first collegiate season at UMass-Lowell. Wilson has become one of the keys behind the early success and resurgence of this year’s River Hawks. He is second on the team with 12 points (five goals, six assists) overall in 12 games to date. Of Wilson’s 12 points, eight came in the month of November.

Schultz continues torrid scoring pace

This past off-season Justin Schultz had the opportunity to sign with the Anaheim Ducks after leading the nation in defenseman scoring with 47 points as a sophomore in 2010-11. He opted to return to Wisconsin for his junior campaign and has simply picked up from where he’s left off. And as good as Schultz was last season, he looks to be even better this season.

Now, just two months into the 2011-12 season, Schultz not only leads the nation in defenseman scoring with 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 16 games, but his 25 points is third in the league as well.

The Kelowna, BC native is currently averaging 1.56 points per game and is on pace to break the 53-point plateau this season. Should Schultz be able to accomplish the feat, he’ll become the first Badgers rearguard to do so in 21 years. The last Wisconsin defenseman to lead the team in scoring and break the 50-point plateau was former Badgers great and NHLer Sean Hill, who led the team with 51 points during the 1990-91 campaign.

In the 16 games that he has appeared in to date, Schultz has only been held without a point in two games and has posted multiple points in seven games.

Cannata and Merrimack undefeated through November

Merrimack College is the smallest, in terms of enrollment (2,000), of all the D-I schools that have Men’s Ice Hockey. They sport just two NHL prospects on their current roster as well. But through November, the Warriors were the nation’s only undefeated team with a near-perfect record of 9-0-1, as well as the nation’s current top-ranked team – another milestone accomplishment for the North Andover, MA institution.

The Warriors success thus far can be attributed in part to their top-ranked defense, which has allowed just 20 goals through 12 games. And the main man behind those stingy numbers is senior netminder Joe Cannata (VAN).

Like his team, Cannata has been stellar. In his 11 starts to date, the Wakefield, MA native has posted an 8-2-1 record that includes one shutout. Cannata currently sports a 1.81 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.

What may be perhaps Cannata’s most impressive stat is the fact that he has allowed just 20 goals on the 272 shots that he’s faced to date. Furthermore, he has allowed one goal or less in five of his 11 appearances.

Avalanche prospect sets new school record

For just over two years, Kent Patterson quietly bided his time as the Golden Gophers backup netminder. Then in November 2010, Patterson took over the starting goaltending duties from Alex Kangas and never looked back.

Now a senior and just two months into the current season, Patterson has already reached new heights and etched his name in the University of Minnesota hockey record books. The Plymouth, MN native reached a milestone on November 19th in his 30-save, shutout performance of St. Cloud State. The shutout, which was his nation-leading sixth of the season, set a new school single-season record. The previous record was held by former Golden Gophers standout and NHLer Robb Stauber, who recorded five shutouts in the 1987-88 season.

In addition to leading the nation in shutouts, Patterson also currently leads the nation with 13 wins. He has started all of the Golden Gophers’ 18 games to date, posting an 13-4-1 record that includes a 1.99 goals against average and a .923 save percentage.

What has been most impressive about Patterson thus far has been his ability to keep his team in games. In Minnesota’s four losses to date, only one was by more than a one-goal margin.

Who’s hot

No NHL collegiate prospect was hotter in the month of November than Minnesota sophomore Nick Bjugstad (FLA). The Blaine, MN native posted a whopping 13 points (nine goals, four assists) in the Golden Gophers’ eight games during the month. Of those eight games, Bjugstad has posted multiple points in five of them, including his first career hat-trick versus St. Cloud State on November 19th. Bjugstad currently co-leads the nation in points (25) and goals (15) playing in all 16 games to date.

One of the early pleasant surprises coming out of Cornell has been the stellar play of freshman Brian Ferlin (BOS). The 11 points (five goals, six assists) that he has amassed on the season thus far all came in the month of November. Ferlin’s seven-game point streak came to a halt on November 26th in the "Red Hot Hockey" game versus Boston University at New York’s Madison Square Garden in Cornell’s 1-2 loss. During his initial streak, Ferlin posted three multi-point games. He currently ranks second on the Big Red squad with 12 points playing in all 11 games to date.

Senior Austin Smith (DAL) has been the guiding force behind Colgate’s fast start this season. The Dallas, TX native posted ten points (eight goals, two assists) in the Raiders’ seven games during November, which included his second career hat-trick on November 18th versus Quinnipiac. Smith, who is one of the nation’s best clutch scorers, currently leads the nation with four shorthanded goals and co-leads in overall goals (15) and game-winning goals (4). He has appeared in all 16 games to date and leads Colgate with 27 points (18 goals, nine assists).

After posting just four goals as freshman last season, sophomore Chris Crane (SJ) has doubled his goal-scoring total just two months into this season. The West Chester, OH native has been a key component behind the surging Ohio State Buckeyes, who is one of the nation’s hottest teams at the moment. Crane posted seven points (two goals, five assists) in the Buckeyes’ six games during the month of November. He currently leads Ohio State with 17 points (ninegoals, eight assists) playing in all 16 games to date.

…and who’s not

Minnesota freshman Seth Ambroz (CBJ) started his collegiate career with a bang, posting two goals in the Golden Gophers’ season-opener versus Sacred Heart back on October 7th. Since then, he posted just three points, none of which came during the month of November. Ambroz played in seven of Minnesota’s eight games during November.

After posting ten points in the opening month of the season for Michigan, senior David Wohlberg (NJ) saw his point-production hit the skids in November. The lone goal (and point) he posted during the month came in a 3-6 loss to Union College on November 27th. The goal was just Wohlberg’s fourth of the season. He currently has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) playing in all 18 games to date.

Sophomore Charlie Coyle (MIN) has been an anomaly of sorts during the month of November. While his overall play for Boston University has been quite good, he’s struggled mightily to put up points. In the Terriers’ six November games, Coyle posted an assist and a goal that came midway through the month versus Boston College and Vermont respectively. He currently has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) playing in all 14 games to date.

On the shelf

North Dakota freshman center Rocco Grimaldi (FLA) is out six to eight weeks due to a knee injury. He is expected to return to the Fighting Sioux lineup sometime in early 2012.

St. Cloud State junior goaltender Mike Lee (PHO) is out for the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery for a lower body injury he sustained near the end of October.

Clarkson sophomore center Ben Sexton (BOS) is out indefinitely due to a concussion. His last appearance was back on October 29th versus Bentley University.