College Prospects Notebook: February 2012

By DJ Powers
Photo: Jaden Schwartz has been one of the most consistent forwards in all of college hockey this season. (Photo courtesy of Tim Vizer/Icon SMI)

With three of the five conferences (Atlantic Hockey, CCHA and ECAC) wrapping up regular season play last weekend, and Hockey East and the WCHA doing so this coming weekend, the fight is now for NCAA tournament automatic bids and at-large berths. The final (full) month of the NCAA 2011-12 regular season featured some fantastic finishes and memorable performances. Hockey’s Future looks back at some of them. Unless otherwise noted, all stats are current as of February 28.

NHL trade deadline sees many former collegians on the move

The recent NHL trade deadline saw a number of former NCAA players going to new teams.

Perhaps the biggest deal saw former Michigan Wolverines standout defenseman Jack Johnson going to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeff Carter a few days prior to the deadline on February 23.

Three former collegians were involved in a five-player, one draft pick deadline deal between Colorado and San Jose. Among the players that went to the Avalanche was Mike Connolly, who helped guide Minnesota-Duluth to their first-ever National Championship last April. Going to the Sharks were former Dartmouth Big Green forward T.J. Galiardi and former New Hampshire Wildcat Daniel Winnik.

Two deals on deadline day saw involved swaps of former collegiate defensemen. The first saw 2009 Hobey Baker recipient and former Boston University Terrier Matt Gilroy heading to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for former North Dakota rearguard Brian Lee, who went to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The second deal saw former Michigan Wolverine Steven Kampfer going to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for former Nebraska-Omaha Maverick Greg Zanon, who went to the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Overall, the month of February saw over 20 former NCAA players change teams.

Two prospects among top conference regular season finishers

Colgate senior Austin Smith (DAL) finished atop the ECAC in points in regular season conference play, while Notre Dame sophomore T.J. Tynan (CBJ) finished CCHA regular season play co-leading the conference in points.

Smith, the nation’s goal-scoring leader with 34 goals, completed ECAC regular season play leading the conference with 34 points (25 goals, nine assists) in 22 games. His linemate, sophomore Chris Wagner (ANA) finished behind him with 32 points (ten goals, 22 assists).

Tynan shared the CCHA’s regular season scoring title with 29 points (nine goals, 20 assists) with Michigan State junior defenseman Torey Krug. He became the first Notre Dame player to accomplish the feat. Overall, Tynan currently leads the Fighting Irish with 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) in 35 games.

Minnesota Wild prospect among finalists for Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award

Notre Dame senior defenseman and team captain Sean Lorenz is among the ten finalists for this year’s Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The award recognizes the top senior who has demonstrated excellence both on and off the ice in four areas: community, classroom, character, and competition. Lorenz has played in 35 games for the Fighting Irish to date, posting 13 points (three goals, ten assists). Two of his three goals have been game-winners.

The winner of the 2011-12 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award will be announced during the Frozen Four in April at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FLA.

Seven prospects among semi-finalists for 60th Walter Brown Award

Seven prospects representing the ECAC and Hockey East are among the 21 semi-finalists for this year’s Walter Brown Award. The award recognizes the top American-born college player in New England.

Harvard forward Colin Blackwell (SJ) is the lone prospect representing the ECAC among the semi-finalists. He is also the lone freshman to be recognized among the 21 players. The North Andover, MA native has posted 15 games (five goals, ten assists) playing in all 29 games for Harvard to date.

The other six prospects named semi-finalists are Merrimack senior goaltender Joe Cannata (VAN), Boston University sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening (CHI), Maine senior defenseman Will O’Neill (WPG), Northeastern junior Steve Quailer (MON) and Boston College juniors Chris Kreider (NYR) and defenseman Brian Dumoulin (CAR).

The finalists and winner of this year’s Walter Brown Award will be announced in March prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Good things come in small packages

For Boston College, good things do indeed come in small packages.

Along with junior Steven Whitney, freshman sensation Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) is the smallest player on the Eagles roster at just 5’7. The Carneys Point, NJ native may be small in stature, but he is developing into an elite, big-time player for Boston College.

February saw Gaudreau enjoyed his best month on the season thus far. In the seven games during the month, he exploded for 13 points (seven goals, six assists) and was named the Beanpot Tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Overall, Gaudreau leads Boston College in rookie scoring with 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) playing in all 34 games to date. His plus-10 and three game-winning goals both rank tied for third on the team.

Knapp helps Miami clinch first round bye in the CCHA Tournament

Senior Connor Knapp (BUF) continued his stellar play in February, backstopping the RedHawks to a fourth-place finish and a first-round bye in the CCHA Tournament.

In his six starts during February, the York, NY native has allowed more than one goal in just one game. That came on February 4th in the 0-3 loss to Michigan. Since then, Knapp has posted a perfect 5-0 record that includes two shutouts. What makes the feat even more remarkable is that the three goals that he has allowed during the stretch have all come on the power play, two of which came on two-man advantages. Knapp finished the CCHA regular season with the conference’s best goals against average (1.41) and save percentage (.945) in CCHA play. Overall, Knapp has posted a 13-6-0 record that includes four shutouts in 20 appearances to date. His 1.53 goals against average currently leads the nation, while his .939 save percentage ranks second.

NHL prospects help Quinnipiac earn home-ice in first round of ECAC Tournament

The Quinnipiac Bobcats have only two NHL prospects on their roster, but both have been instrumental in guiding the team to a strong fifth-place finish in the ECAC and earning home ice in the first round of the upcoming conference playoffs. Sophomore Kellen Jones (EDM) and freshman Matthew Peca (TB) comprise two-thirds of one of the ECAC’s most exciting top lines, and both players enjoyed a strong month.

Jones enjoyed his best month of the season to date in February, posting 11 points (six goals, five assists) in eight games. His month was highlighted by his first career hat-trick in Quinnipiac’s wild 7-6 win over Clarkson on Feb. 11. Overall, Jones is tied for second on the team with 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) in 30 games. His plus-8 and three game-winners both co-lead the team.

Equally impressive in February was Peca. The Petawawa, ONT native posted 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in the Bobcats’ eight games during the month. His most memorable performance came on February 24 versus Brown when he had a hand in all four goals in the Bobcats’ 4-1 win. Overall, Peca is tied with Kellen Jones with 30 points (seven goals, 23 assists) in 33 appearances.

Who’s Hot

February was a good month for St. Cloud State, who went 4-2-0 during that stretch. The two losses that the Huskies posted were by one goal. One reason behind St. Cloud State’s success during February can be attributed to the play of sophomore defenseman Nick Jensen (DET). In the Huskies’ six games during the month. Jensen posted nine points (one goal, eight assists). He posted at least one point in each game during the month. One area where Jensen helped St. Cloud State excel during the month was on the power play. The Huskies were 5-for-17 on the man advantage during the month. Overall, Jensen ranks third on the team with 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) playing in all 34 games to date. His 22 assists lead St. Cloud State.

Senior Alex Killorn (TB) helped guide Harvard to a third-place finish and a first-round bye heading into the ECAC Tournament. In the Crimson’s eight games during February, Killorn posted ten points (four goal, six assists), which includes a pair of the goals in the Beanpot Tournament. Where Killorn has been particularly good this season has been on Harvard’s stellar power play, where half of his goals have been scored this season. His nine power play tallies current rank tied for second nationally. Overall, Killorn leads the Crimson with 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) playing in all 29 games to date.

Offensive production throughout much of their lineup has been a key reason behind UMass-Lowell’s success this season. Freshman Scott Wilson (PIT) has been among the River Hawks leading the charge this season and that continued in February. The Oakville, ONT native posted 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in eight games during the month. His most memorable game on February 18th, where he netted a pair of goals to help propel UMass-Lowell to a crucial 4-2 win over Boston University in the hotly contested Hockey East race. Overall, Wilson ranks second on the team with 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 30 games this season. His 15 goals co-lead the River Hawks.

Sophomore Jaden Schwartz (STL) may not lead the WCHA in points, but he’s been one of the conference’s most consistent players all season. Despite the Tigers winning only two of eight games during February, Schwartz has been able to continue his strong play. In Colorado College’s eight games during the month, he posted 11 points (four goals, seven assists). Schwartz posted two goals and an assist in propelling the Tigers to a win and a tie versus archrival Denver back on February 3rd and 4th to reclaim the Gold Pan, the trophy that the two teams annually battling for. Overall, Schwartz current ranks second on the team with 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists). In the 26 games that he has played to date, Schwartz has been held pointless in just three of them.

Who’s Not

Freshman Zach Hyman (FLA) hasn’t posted many points for Michigan this season, but it isn’t for a lack of trying. Points have simply been hard to come by. The Toronto, ONT native posted his last point (an assist) on January 13th versus Ohio State. His last goal came back on November 12th versus Miami. While Hyman hasn’t been on the scoresheet much, where he has been very good for the Wolverines throughout the season has been on face-offs, winning roughly 54 percent of his draws. Overall, Hyman has posted nine points (two goals, seven assists) playing in all 36 games to date.

After what looked to be an offensive breakout weekend back on December 2nd and 3rd versus Bemidji State, St. Cloud State freshman Nick Oliver (NSH) hasn’t been on the scoresheet since. Oliver, who has been utilized as a more of a grinding and checking line winger for the Huskies this season, isn’t likely to post many points. But his aforementioned two goals are all the points that he has put up in 29 games on the season thus far. Oliver missed three games after a taking a hit from Badgers defenseman John Ramage (CGY) on February 3rd versus Wisconsin.

Junior defenseman Nick D’Agostino (PIT) was one of Cornell’s most consistent point producers throughout much of the season. However, his point-producing pace slowed significantly in February. D’Agostino was held to just one assist, which came back on February 2nd versus RPI. While he has made strides in his defensive zone play, D’Agostino continues to be relied upon for his offensive production from the Big Red’s blue line. Overall, D’Agostino has posted 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 28 games.