December college prospects notebook

By DJ Powers

Despite the holiday break from school and academics, the world of collegiate hockey prospects has been quite busy. Whether it’s college hockey holiday tournaments, the start of the World Junior Championship in Vancouver or simply wrapping up the first half season of play. Here’s a look back at what happened during the last month of 2005. Statistics are current as of January 1, 2006.

Collegians at the WJC

The IIHF World Junior Championship was held December 26th – January 5th in British Columbia. The NCAA was well represented as both Team USA and Team Canada featured several collegians on their squads. Team USA featured 15 current NCAA players, while Team Canada featured four. All players except Minnesota freshman Phil Kessel and North Dakota freshman Jonathan Toews have been drafted. Kessel finished the tournament as the scoring leader, 11 points in seven games.

Holiday Tournaments Roundup

This year’s holiday tournaments featured a little of just about everything and many NHL prospects figured prominently for their respective teams.

Providence College kicked things off with their holiday tournament that also featured Sacred Heart, Colgate and Brown. Providence junior and Edmonton Oilers prospect Colin McDonald chipped in four assists to help lead the Friars to a 5-2 win over Sacred Heart and claim their own tournament championship. Earlier in the month, McDonald’s three-point (one goal, two assists) performance propelled Providence to defeat in-city rival Brown to capture the team’s first Mayor’s Cup since 2003.

The biggest upset in this year’s holiday tournaments came in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup when Princeton defeated host #13 Denver 4-1 in their opening match of the tournament. Senior Eric Leroux was outstanding in goal for the Tigers, stopping 23 of 24 shots in the win. Princeton’s brother act of juniors Kevin and Brett Westgarth, both of whom were named to the All-Tournament team, also turned in memorable performances for Princeton. Junior Glenn Fisher (EDM) stopped 25 of 28 shots and notched an assist in the losing cause.

The tournament’s other opening match featured one of a trio of holiday tournament games that made for some fantastic finishes. Towering Los Angeles Kings prospect, junior Brian Boyle notched the game-winner for #4 Boston College in the shootout over Ferris State beating sophomore goaltender Derek MacIntyre (SJ). While the game will go down officially as a 3-3 tie, the shootout win propelled the Eagles to the tournament championship game to face Princeton. Junior Joe Pearce (TB) notched his first win in two years in Boston College’s 5-1 victory over the Tigers and earned the tournament’s MVP honor.

In the Ohio Holiday Classic, the tournament championship between in-state rivals (and tournament co-hosts) Miami and Ohio State also ended in a shootout. Minnesota Wild prospect and Miami sophomore Ryan Jones notched the game-winner in the fourth round of the shootout to lead the second-ranked RedHawks to a thrilling finish over #19 Ohio State and claimed the tournament championship. The official final score goes down as a 1-1 tie.

The third game decided by a shootout (and also officially ending in a 1-1 tie) among the holiday tournaments came in the Florida College Hockey Classic down in Estero, Florida between #8 Cornell and Minnesota-Duluth in the tournament championship game. Senior Cam Abbott notched the game-winner in the shootout to go along with his short-handed tally to lead the Cornell Big Red to claim to the Ned Harkness Cup and the tournament championship. Senior Matt Moulson (PIT) and junior defenseman Ryan O’Byrne (MON) were also selected to the All-Tournament Team from Cornell, along with Abbott and Tournament MVP, junior goaltender David McKee.

#7 Colorado College put on a special teams clinic en route to their convincing two-game series win to claim the Great Lakes Invitational championship. The Tigers were absolutely deadly on special teams, going 7-for-16 on the power play and notching three short-handed tallies in their two-game set versus Michigan and Michigan State respectively. Colorado College senior and New York Rangers prospect Joey Crabb was sensational in the GLI, notching seven points (four goals, three assists) and earned the tournament MVP honor.

Michigan Tech freshman goaltender Michael Lee Teslak set a new GLI record by stopping 57 of 60 shots in the losing cause in their opening match versus Michigan State.

Crabb’s performance in the GLI was perhaps rivaled only by the brilliant performance of Vermont sophomore goaltender and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Joe Fallon. He posted back-to-back shutouts over Dartmouth and Clarkson respectively to lead the host Catamounts to win the Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup Championship. Fallon stopped a combined 37 shots in the two-game set to earn the tournament’s MVP honor. Vermont sophomore Torrey Mitchell (SJ), who notched a goal and an assist in the series, joined Fallon on the All-Tournament Team.

Top ranked Wisconsin had little trouble dispatching Western Michigan and Northern Michigan to win their ninth Badger Showdown title. The win was also Wisconsin’s first since 2002. Junior goaltender and Ottawa Senators prospect Brian Elliott was nearly impenetrable, stopping a combined 35 of 37 shots in the Badgers’ two-game set and earned the tournament MVP honor. Earlier in the month, Elliott was named the CSTV/Hockey Commissioners’ Association’s National Division I Player of the Month for November after posting a 8-0-1 record with a 1.36 goals against average and a .944 save percentage in the month.

Wisconsin sophomore Joe Pavelski (SJ) joined Elliott on the All-Tournament team. Pavelski notched three points in the tournament (two goals, one assist) and currently leads the Badgers in scoring with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists).

#3 Minnesota retained their Dodge Holiday Classic title. The Gophers had little trouble against Union College, beating the Dutchmen 8-0. However, they got quite a fight out of UMass-Lowell, when the RiverHawks staked out to a 3-0 lead before falling to them 5-4 in the championship game. Junior Ryan Potulny (PHI) continues to be one of the nation’s hottest players, notching five points (three goals, two assists) in Minnesota’s two-game set. Potulny’s stellar performance also earned him the tournament’s MVP honor. Sophomore defensemen Alex Goligoski (PIT) and Derek Peltier (COL) joined Potulny on the All-Tournament Team. Each tallied three points in the tournament.

Up north in Alaska, the Nanooks of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks claimed their fifth straight Governor’s Cup after sweeping the second and final series over their in-state rival Alaska-Anchorage. Sophomore goaltender Wylie Rogers was excellent in goal, stopping a combined 59 of 61 shots in the final two-game set to lead the Nanooks to victory. UAF freshman defenseman and New Jersey Devils prospect Tyler Eckford saw limited time in the first game and missed the second game due to illness. He didn’t tally a point but did register three shots on goal.

A month of firsts

It took nearly two seasons and two months into his collegiate career, but St. Cloud State junior defenseman and Carolina Hurricanes prospect Casey Borer finally notched his first non-exhibition career goal. The goal, the game-winner, came back on December 18th in the Huskies 6-2 win over non-conference foe Robert Morris.

St. Louis Blues prospect and North Dakota freshman sensation T. J. Oshie notched his first collegiate hat trick in the Fighting Sioux’s 5-1 win over Bemidji State back on December 17th. Two of his three goals, including the game-winner, came on the power play.

Miami freshman and Colorado Avalanche prospect Justin Mercier notched his first collegiate goal back on December 2nd in the RedHawks 4-2 win over conference rival Michigan. The tally came short-handed.

New Hampshire freshman defenseman and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Joe Charlebois notched his first collegiate goal (the game-winner) in the Wildcats’ 4-3 win over non-conference rival St. Lawrence back on December 3rd.

Rugged Alaska-Anchorage sophomore defenseman and Florida Panthers prospect Luke Beaverson tallied his first collegiate goal back on December 30th in the Seawolves 4-2 loss to Alaska-Fairbanks in the first game of the second set in the battle for the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup.

Florida Panthers prospect and Northern Michigan freshman defenseman Spencer Dillon notched his first collegiate point when he tallied an assist on freshman Nick Sirota’s game-winning goal in the Wildcats’ 5-2 win over Western Michigan back on December 18th.

A pair of Boston College freshmen in forward Andrew Orpik (BUF) and defenseman Tim Kunes (CAR) each notched their first collegiate goals in the month of December. Orpik notched his first goal back on December 9th in the Eagles’ 7-0 shutout win over UMass. Kunes notched his in Boston College’s 5-1 win over Princeton in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup championship game on December 31st.

Two prospects return

Calgary Flames prospect and Boston University senior David Van der Gulik made his long-awaited 2005-06 season debut back on December 30th versus Merrimack after missing nearly the entire first half with a condition called Osteitis Pubis (inflammation of the pubic bone). The Terriers co-captain notched an assist to help lead BU to a 4-2 win over the Warriors.

Buffalo Sabres prospect and Michigan State freshman Tim Kennedy made his return to the Spartans lineup on December 29th in the team’s opening GLI match versus Michigan Tech. Kennedy missed nearly two months of action due to a hand injury.

Injuries Update

Northeastern junior and San Jose Sharks prospect Mike Morris has officially taken a medical redshirt and will not see action this season. Morris has been battling post-concussion syndrome.

Los Angeles Kings prospect and Minnesota-Duluth freshman defenseman Josh Meyers is out indefinitely with a broken arm. Meyers has been out of the UMD lineup since mid-November.

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