This year’s crop of US High School East draft eligibles from NEPSIHA (New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association) features some tremendously talented players that are bound for NCAA schools in the ECACHL and Hockey East conferences.
Hockey’s Future takes a closer look at ten of the best that NEPSIHA has to offer for this year’s NHL draft. It is important to note here that players both between September 16, 1986 and September 15, 1987 must “opt in” to be eligible for the draft as stated under NCAA rules.
1) Keith Yandle, D (Cushing Academy)
Ht: 6’2 Wt: 203 lbs. DOB: 1986-09-09
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 53rd among North American skaters
Yandle is considered one of, if not the top player coming out of the USHSE eligible for this year’s draft. Yandle was eligible for the 2004 Draft, but, to the surprise of many, chose not to opt-in. He had originally committed to the University of New Hampshire, but will not be in Durham this fall. While there has been some speculation that he could be playing in either the Canadian Major League (the Moncton Wildcats holds his Canadian Major Junior rights) or the USHL (the Omaha Lancers hold his USHL rights) this fall, Yandle is likely headed to Hockey East rival school Maine instead.
Yandle is a highly talented blueliner who captained the Cushing Penguins to the New England Division I National Championship game before falling to eventual champions Avon Old Farms. He finished the season with 54 points (14 goals, 40 assists) in 34 appearances. His outstanding season performance earned him a spot on the All-New England Division I East First Team.
Cushing head coach Steve Jacobs’ insights on Keith Yandle: “Keith is the total package of skating, size, skill, hockey sense, vision and leadership ability. He is a clutch performer who is at his best in highly competitive situations. He is especially strong quarterbacking the power play. He is very strong passing the puck with hard accurate passes. He is also very strong in his own end.”
2) Jonathan Quick, G (Avon Old Farms)
Ht: 6’1 Wt: 190 lbs. DOB: 1986-01-21
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 14th among North American goaltenders
The University of Massachusetts will have an outstanding addition to their roster this fall when goaltending sensation Jonathan Quick arrives. He posted some excellent numbers with Avon Old Farms this past season, going 25-2-0, a record that included nine shutouts in 27 appearances. Quick led the Winged Beavers to their second consecutive New England Division I National Championship and was named to the All-New England Division I West First Team. He set new AOF school records in shutouts (9) and goals against average (1.19) in 2004-05. One of the most telling stats about Quick’s performance this past season is the fact that he allowed one goal or less in 19 of his 27 outings.
AOF head coach John Gardner’s insights on Quick: “Jon’s best attributes are his athleticism, competitiveness and confidence.”
Quick is one of two incoming freshman goaltenders to be invited to Team USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp this August for the upcoming 2006 IIHF U-20 WJC in Vancouver.
3) Benn Ferriero, C (Governor Dummer Academy)
Ht: 5’11 Wt: 175 lbs. DOB: 1987-04-29
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 80th among North American skaters
Ferriero just completed his senior season at Governor Dummer Academy, where he posted 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) in 27 appearances. He was a much sought after player by the U. S. National Team Development Program but chose to play his entire high school hockey career at GDA. Ferriero was twice an ISL (Independent School League) All-league selection and was a member of the US Select 16 and 17 teams. He was also a member of Team USA’s gold-medal winning IIHF U-18 WJC squad that played in the Czech Republic back in April. Ferriero, a Boston College recruit, was named the 2005 recipient of the Boston Bruins’ John Carlton Award. The award recognizes the top eastern Massachusetts high school player who excels both athletically and academically.
GDA head coach Peter Kravchuk’s insights on Benn Ferriero: “Benn is a tenacious competitor and he loves having the puck on his stick. He’s plays bigger than his 5’11/ 175 lbs frame and is never afraid to play physically or with an edge. He is strong on his skates and is a very good skater. Of the players I’ve coached he has the best lateral movement and the ability to change directions in an instant. Benn has a good understanding of the game. He played regularly here as a freshman primarily because he was reliable in his own end. He never lost that conscientiousness to play at both ends of the ice. For the past couple of years we used him in every situation and he is equally effective as an offensive or defensive presence.”
4) Philippe Paquet, D (Salisbury School)
Ht: 6’3 Wt: 200 DOB: 1987-03-01
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 65th among North American skaters
Paquet enjoyed an outstanding senior season at the Salisbury School, where he posted five points (one goal, four assists). His stellar performance in the Flood-Marr Holiday Tournament earned Paquet a selection to the All-Tournament team. Several ECACHL schools heavily recruited the Ste. Augustin, Quebec native. He has committed to playing for Clarkson University this fall.
Salisbury head coach Dan Donato’s insights on Philippe Paquet: “Phil is a very good two-way defenseman who is good at both ends of the ice. He’s as good of a 6’3 skater as I’ve ever seen at this stage. There’s nobody even comparable. He is a very fluid skater and just a beautiful kid to watch skate. He moves the puck very well and has a quick shot. I think that he’s going to be one of those rare cases where a particular player is better suited for the NHL than college. The reason why I think he’s going to be a really good NHL prospect is because he’ll be able to skate and do all of the things that he can do now later on as well when he fills into his body.
“He’s a player whom I’d love to have as a defensive partner because he makes good decisions with the puck. He moves it to you when he has to move it to you. He’ll pick for you and do whatever he needs for you as his partner. He’s a guy that’s reliable and won’t cough up the puck. He anticipates well and also has very good on-ice vision. He does a good job of not allowing opposing players to get to the slot. He uses his enormous size and long reach very well in that respect. Phil is a guy that will get bigger and stronger and that will only add to the impact that he will have on his team. I don’t think that Phil really has a weakness other than to get bigger and stronger. As soon as he understands his role on his (college) team, then he’ll just get better and better at it. I think he could be a steal in the NHL draft.”
5) Anthony Aiello, D (Thayer Academy)
Ht: 6’1 Wt: 187 lbs. DOB: 1986-05-19
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 179th among North American skaters
Having not opted into the 2004 NHL draft hasn’t hurt Anthony Aiello’s stock for this year’s draft much. The Braintree, MA native enjoyed an outstanding season at Thayer Academy that culminated with his selection to the All-New England Division I East First Team. He posted 34 points (7 goals, 27 assists) in 25 appearances for the Tigers this past season.
Aiello, a player heavily recruited by Hockey East schools, will join fellow USHSE draft eligible players Benn Ferriero and Kyle Kucharski at Boston College this fall. Aiello is an immensely talented offensive-minded defenseman noted for his fluid skating, great instincts and outstanding play at both ends of the ice.
6) Patrick Cullity, D (Berkshire School)
Ht: 6’1 Wt: 190 lbs. DOB: 1987-01-26
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 181st among North American skaters
Cullity is an up and coming defenseman who turned more than a few heads at last summer’s Select-17 Festival in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He was a much sought after player by NCAA schools throughout New England, particularly among Hockey East schools. Cullity has accepted a full scholarship to Boston University, where he is expected to join the Terriers in the fall of 2006.
Cullity enjoyed a stellar junior season with the Berkshire Bears that was capped off with his selection to the All-England Division I West First Team as well as being named team MVP. The Tewksbury, MA native finished his junior season with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in 30 appearances. He is known for being a smooth skating defenseman who combines superb offensive abilities with a very physical style of play.
Cullity is the son of former University of Vermont standout Tom Cullity. The elder Cullity holds UVM’s school record for power play goals in a season (19) and career (38).
7) Kyle Kucharski, C (Phillips Academy-Andover)
Ht: 6’3 Wt: 195 lbs. DOB: 1987-03-06
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 102nd among North American skaters
Kucharski wrapped up a superb senior year at Phillips Academy-Andover with being named co-recipient of the school’s Sumner Smith Hockey Award, which recognizes the top boys and girls players in the sport of hockey that demonstrate excellence in academics, the sport and representation of the school. Kucharski led the Big Blue in scoring with 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists). His 22 goals also led the team. Kucharski is a member of Boston College’s sensational incoming freshman class this fall.
Phillips Academy-Andover head coach Dean Boylan’s insights on Kyle Kucharski: “Kyle is a big kid with very good skills. He loves to play the physical game and is at his best when he is banging. He is hard to move from in front of the net. He had a good shot. Kyle is a strong skater with good hands. Understands his defensive responsibilities, but can improve on that at the next level. Kyle is also a player of outstanding character.”
8) Shea Guthrie, C (St. George’s School)
Ht: 6’0 Wt: 187 lbs. DOB: 1987-07-30
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 175th among North American skaters
Guthrie enjoyed an excellent senior year with St. George’s, playing a vital role in leading the Dragons to their first ever ISL/New England Division II title. He finished his final season at St. George’s with 50 points (26 goals, 24 assists). Guthrie earned numerous honors for his outstanding season that included the ISL’s Eberheart Division MVP, a selection to the All-England Division II First Team as well as the NEPSIHA and U. S. Hockey Report (USHR) Division II Player of the Year awards. He was also named to the Boston Globe’s All-Scholastic Team for the second year in a row. Guthrie is a Clarkson University recruit.
St. George’s head coach Ryan Mulhern’s insights on Shea Guthrie: “He is one of the best players that I’ve seen at his age and what sets him apart from most kids is his natural speed. He is extremely explosive but glides faster than most high school players going all out. He is
extremely agile and can stop and go all day. He has a great set of hands, a nose for the net, and exceptional passing skills. He is a competitor, a leader, and one of the classiest players that I’ve ever seen. Shea is a great hockey player and an even better person. He has really improved his defensive play over the last three years and has a great understanding of the game. Whatever team drafts Shea will be lucky to have him and he will do whatever it takes to play in the NHL.”
9) Jerry Pollastrone, LW (Salisbury School)
Ht: 5’10 Wt: 190 lbs. DOB: 1986-3-10
Pollastrone enjoyed an outstanding senior season at the Salisbury School. He led the Crimson Knights in several statistical categories including points (53), goals (31), assists (22) and shots (135). Pollastrone was just the second player in Salisbury School history to reach the 50-point mark in a single season. Pollastrone was recently named to the All-New England West First Team as well as garnered NEPSAC (New England Preparatory School Athletic Council) All-Prep honors. In 2004, he set a new school single season record with 34 assists. He was also a member of Team USA’s gold medal winning U-18 squad in 2003.
Pollastrone is a University of New Hampshire recruit that was heavily recruited by several Hockey East teams. While he did not appear on the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s mid-term rankings, Pollastrone is definitely well worth checking out.
Salisbury head coach Dan Donato’s insights on Jerry Pollastrone: “I’d say that Jerry will probably be one of the best skaters eligible for the draft. He’s an explosive skater. He’s got a great burst speed, particularly in two-on-one situations. He’s very quick and he’s got absolutely incredible hands. He can do some amazing things in the corner one-on-one. He’s also got a good shot. But I’d say that his greatest attribute, no question, is his skating. He’s a solid two-way player. He absolutely moves well laterally too. Another one of his greatest attributes is his ability to make the nice tape-to-tape passes out of his own (defensive) zone. He’s not afraid of the physical play. Two other great attributes that Jerry has is the bigger the game, the better he plays and the fact that he’s as mean and competitive as you’d want any player to be on the ice but at the same time, he’s someone that his team can show off as a positive role model in their community. I think that his style of play does fit really well into UNH’s system and the large ice at the Whittemore Center is very well suited for Jerry. I will not be surprised if he’s a very important part of their offense right away this fall.”
10) Patrick Brosnihan, RW (Worcester Academy)
Ht: 6’4 Wt: 210 lbs. DOB: 1986-08-20
Central Scouting Mid-Term Ranking: 231st among North American skaters
Brosnihan finished his final season at Worcester Academy with a stellar performance that earned him a selection to the All-New England Division II First Team. He led all NESPHIA Division II players, as well as his team, with 64 points (20 goals, 44 assists) in 27 appearances. This was the fourth consecutive year that Brosnihan led the Hilltoppers in scoring. He’ll likely be remembered at Worcester Academy for being a crucial part of the program’s building process.
Brosnihan is a Yale University recruit and will join the Bulldogs this fall. He is noted for his big frame, strong skating, soft hands and possesses an outstanding work ethic.
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