January college prospects notebook

By DJ Powers

The month of January kicked off the beginning of the battles for conference crowns as well as the race for the coveted bids into the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a look back at some of the month’s highlights involving the many NHL prospects around the league.

O Canada

In the first week of the month, University of Michigan sophomore and Edmonton Oilers prospect Andrew Cogliano notched two assists versus Russia to help Team Canada capture the WJC gold medal in front of the home crowd in Vancouver. Cogliano was one of four NCAA prospects who took home the gold for Canada. The other three were Boston College sophomore forward Dan Bertram (CHI), Cornell sophomore defenseman Sasha Pokulok (WSH) and North Dakota freshman and 2006 NHL draft eligible forward Jonathan Toews. Cogliano finished the tournament with five points (one goal, four assists). Toews finished with two points (both assists), while Bertram led Canada with 22 penalty minutes.

Hobey Hopefuls

The competition for the 2006 Hobey Baker award is heating up and there are many excellent NHL prospects garnering serious consideration in the fan-voting phase. Wisconsin junior goaltender Brian Elliott (OTT) and Colorado College senior forward Brett Sterling (ATL) are among the leading candidates on a list that also includes Denver junior defenseman Matt Carle (SJ), Minnesota junior forward Ryan Potulny (PHI) and Nebraska-Omaha junior Scott Parse (LA).

Fans who wish to cast votes for their favorite players can now do so at the Hobey Baker Website at hobeybaker.com.

Parse pushes his way to the top

Los Angeles Kings prospect Scott Parse is turning more than a few heads these days. The Nebraska-Omaha junior currently leads the nation with 46 points (14 goals, 33 assists) and shows no sign of slowing down. This past weekend, Parse racked up five points (two goals, three assists) in helping the Mavericks to take three out of a possible four points out from Alaska-Fairbanks at the Carlson Center. Up until this past weekend, the Nanooks home rink has been a house of horrors for the Mavericks, having either lost or tied all of their previous 14 meetings there.

Elliott’s injury has Badgers in a tailspin

It was perhaps the worst possible news that the Badger Nation could have received. During practice nearly three weeks ago, Wisconsin starting goaltender and Ottawa Senators prospect Brian Elliott went down with a devastating knee injury that will force him to be sidelined for another two to possibly three weeks.

Elliott, whose spectacular season has earned him numerous accolades as well as being a leading candidate for the Hobey Baker award, had been the backbone of the Wisconsin Badgers team that was noted for its stingy defense. Prior to Elliott’s injury, Wisconsin allowed just three or more goals in only two of their 22 games. In the four games since his injury, the Badgers are 0-4 and have been outscored 13-7. During the stretch, the Badgers have allowed three or more goals in three of the four games.

Capital Punishment

Two Washington Capitals prospects that have been beating up opponents on the scoresheet these days are Minnesota State-Mankato junior Travis Morin and St. Cloud State sophomore Andrew Gordon.

Morin currently co-leads the Mavericks in scoring with 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists). During the month of January, Morin racked up 11 points (five goals, six assists). He notched points in all but the January 20th game versus North Dakota during the month. That game also halted Morin’s nine-game point streak that included a hat trick in Minnesota State’s 6-2 win over Alabama-Huntsville on December 31st.

Gordon currently leads the surging St. Cloud State Huskies in scoring with 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists). In the month of January, he racked up seven points (five goals, two assists). He notched at least a point in six of the eight games during the month. Statistically, his best outing of the month came in St. Cloud State’s 2-5 loss to Denver back on January 14th. In that game, Gordon had a hand in both Huskies goals, recording a goal and an assist.

Roche giving the Terriers some bite

Boston University is the nation’s hottest team right now, riding a seven-game winning streak. One big reason behind the team’s success could be attributed to the stellar play of junior forward and New York Rangers prospect Kenny Roche.

After posting just seven points in the first three months of the season, Roche went on a tear in January posting 11 points (seven goals, four assists). He recorded a point in six of the eight games during the month. His best performance came on his four-point night in BU’s 5-2 win over Merrimack back on January 20th that included a hat trick.

Overall on the season, Roche is fifth on the team with 18 points (ten goals, eight assists). His ten goals co-lead the Terriers.

Schneider and Fallon shutting out opponents

It is one thing to post a shutout. It is another when it is twice or three times in a row. Such was the case not once but twice in Hockey East play this month.

The disappointment of returning home from the WJC without a medal didn’t hinder the performance of Vancouver Canucks prospect Cory Schneider for Boston College. He simply picked up right where he left off and just got better in the process.

In his seven starts during January, the Boston College sophomore backstopped the Eagles to a 6-1 record that included an astounding three shutouts in a row. In the games on January 14th, 20th and 21st versus Merrimack and Vermont, Schneider was a perfect 92 for 92 in combined shots saved. Schneider’s shutout streak of over 220 minutes spanning 11 periods ended when Boston University junior defenseman Kevin Schaeffer (NSH) scored a power play goal at the 4:30 mark of the second period in Boston College’s 3-4 loss to the Terriers on January 27th.

On the season, Schneider has posted a 15-5-1 record that includes five shutouts. He has also posted a 1.95 goals against average (eighth in the nation) and a .930 save percentage (ninth in the nation). Schneider’s .738 winning percentage ranks tied for sixth in the nation.

University of Vermont sophomore and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Joe Fallon fared well early in January but struggled the rest of the way. He posted a 2-4-1 record during the month. His two wins came by identical shutouts (3-0) over Northeastern. In the weekend series versus the Huskies, Fallon stopped a combined 33 shots to post the back-to-back shutouts.

After posting consecutive shutouts, he and his team were on the losing end of consecutive shutouts by his counterpart at Boston College. Despite his recent setbacks, Fallon still sports some impressive numbers. He has posted a 13-8-2 record that includes a nationwide-best six shutouts. He has also posted a .920 save percentage and a 1.64 goals against average. His 1.64 GAA ranks fifth in the nation.

Gophers distribute the offensive wealth

The Minnesota Golden Gophers aren’t just getting offense they’re getting a lot of it and from just about everywhere on their roster. The Gophers have the #2 ranked offense (averaging four goals per game) and the nation’s top power play (23.5 percent) right now. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that 15 players on the roster have racked up ten or more points and all but three current players have notched at least one goal this season.

Of Minnesota’s 13 NHL prospects, not including freshman goaltender Jeff Frazee (NJ), only three defensemen – senior P.J. Atherton (TB), freshman R.J. Anderson (PHI) and currently injured sophomore Nate Hagemo (CAR) have not reached double digits in points.

Leading the way has been the Gophers “awesome twosome” of juniors Ryan Potulny (PHI) and Danny Irmen (MIN). In the month of January, Potulny had at least a point in six of the eight games while Irmen had a point in all but one game. For the month, the two combined for 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists). Overall, Potulny and Irmen have collectively amassed 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists) through 28 games.

The Big Red Machine rolling along in the ECACHL

The Cornell Big Red have put together an impressive 5-1-1 record in the month of January. The ‘bump in the road’ came courtesy of Princeton back on January 14th when the Tigers handed the Big Red their only loss (0-3) during the month.

One reason behind Cornell’s success during January is the fact that the Big Red is getting scoring from every forward line as well as their defense. This is especially evident among their nine NHL prospects. All of them have accumulated at least two points during the seven games.

The top line of senior Matt Moulson (PIT) and juniors Byron Bitz (BOS) and Mitch Carefoot (ATL) have combined for 22 points (ten goals, 12 assists) during the month. Junior Mark McCutcheon (COL) and sophomore Raymond Sawada (DAL) have combined for eight points (four goal, four assists) playing on separate lines.

The quartet of defensemen who are NHL prospects in seniors Ryan O’Byrne and Jon Gleed (MTL), junior Dan Glover (NJ) and sophomore Sasha Pokulok (WSH) have figured prominently on the scoresheet this month, racking up a combined 14 points (five goals, nine assists).

For Fisher and Cook, it was well worth the wait

Edmonton Oilers prospect and Denver junior goaltender Glenn Fisher had something missing from his collegiate career stats, a shutout. In the two and half years that he has been with Denver, he has never posted a shutout.

That would change on January 20th against the top team in the nation in their home building.

Fisher went the distance posting a 28-save performance to shutout #1 Wisconsin at the Kohl Center. The 1-0 victory also earned Fisher the week’s WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Ottawa Senators prospect and Michigan senior defenseman Tim Cook doesn’t score many goals, in fact he has yet to score one as a Wolverine.

That was until January 21st.

In that day’s game, Cook finally notched his first collegiate goal and it only took 83 games to do it in. The goal came short-handed and helped propel Michigan to a 6-1 win over visiting Bowling Green.

More firsts

Providence College freshman right wing Pierce Norton (TOR) notched his first collegiate goal on January 6th in the Friars 5-1 win over Boston University.

Minnesota-Duluth freshman left wing Matt Greer (CBJ) notched his first collegiate goal on January 13th in the Bulldogs 2-4 loss to Michigan Tech. The unassisted goal came with just 31 seconds left in regulation time.

Denver freshman defenseman T. J. Fast (LA) notched his first collegiate goal on January 14th in the Pioneers 5-2 win over St. Cloud State. The goal was an unassisted shorthanded tally.

On the Shelf

The Wisconsin Badgers weren’t the only team in recent weeks to get some bad news from the injury front. Here are some other teams’ NHL prospects that are currently out as well.

University of Minnesota junior Danny Irmen (MIN) suffered a separated shoulder in the Golden Gophers 3-1 win over Wisconsin on January 28th. He is expected to be out for three to five weeks.

Boston University senior John Laliberte (VAN) is currently out of the lineup with a knee injury. He is listed week to week.

St. Cloud State senior Joe Jensen (PIT) suffered a knee injury in the Huskies 5-5 tie at Colgate back on January 7th and has been out of the lineup ever since. He is listed as week to week.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are currently without the services of two of their NHL prospects. Junior defenseman Tyson Strachan (CAR) suffered a wrist injury in the Buckeyes 0-2 loss to Nebraska-Omaha back on January 13th. He is expected to be out of action until late February. Sophomore goaltender Ian Keserich (COL), who has been starter Dave Caruso’s backup this season, is out with an ankle injury. His status is week to week.

Odds and Ends

Detroit Red Wings 2004 draft selection Johan Ryno has verbally committed to playing for Minnesota State-Mankato beginning in the fall of 2006. The 6’4 right wing participated in the recent WJC with Team Sweden and currently plays for the IK Oskarshamn Eagles (Hockey Allsvenkan League).

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.