The Fargo Force also held their tryout camp this past weekend at the St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. I was the final day's Young Guns game and camp All-Star game on Sunday. It would have been nice to get out earlier in the weekend, but apparently the Force weren't making rosters available to the public.]I guess paper is a really big expense?
In any case, like I mentioned yesterday in my Sioux Falls write-up, the Force had a couple really high-end players, and a ton of young talent, but depth appears to be a bit of a concern. There were a lot of good '95s and '96s that were good enough to make the final roster, but at a certain point, how many kids that young can you play and still expect to win in the USHL? It could be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Force, but the future definitely looks quite bright if they can keep this core together.
Individual player notes/thoughts after the jump.
Goalies- They rotated six goalies through in the all-star game, with each getting a 15-minute period of action. That's not really enough to make any judgements.
Justin Wade(Notre Dame)- Wade is on the borderline of being an NHL draft pick this summer. There's a lot to like. He's a really strong kid, and moves pretty well. He's not going to provide anything offensively, but should be a horse for the Force this year defensively. I would lean towards saying he won't get drafted this year, but he does seem like he has the physical tools to take things to the next level somewhere down the road and become a pro prospect.
Butrus Ghafari(Western Michigan)-Fargo's one '96 tender this year, and he should make the roster. A bit of a short skating stride, but he's really strong and anticipates the play well. He also has a really heavy snapshot from the point.
CJ Garcia- Another '96, a Futures pick from Ontario. Smart, solid player that moved well laterally and wasn't afraid to throw his weight around. Garcia was a 3rd round pick of the Barrie Colts, and seemed open to playing for the Colts.
River Rymsha-A little overshadowed by the other two high-end '96 defensemen, but he played smart, quiet hockey. He's probably a year or two away from playing in the USHL, but a nice Affiliate list addition.
Teemu Kivihalme- Really stood out in the Young Guns game. The group of '95 defensemen in Minnesota in incredibly deep. I had mentioned in the past that I felt Blake Heinrich was really overlooked because of so many talented players in that group making commitments ahead of him. Now that Heinrich is committed, Kivihalme may be the next one in line.
Austin Douglas- A huge 6'6" '96 from Winnipeg. A 2nd round pick of the Seattle Thunderbirds last year, but hasn't signed with them yet. Surprising skill and poise for a kid that is that big, that young. I'd expect Seattle to put the full court press on him to sign, because he looks like he could turn into a really nice player.
Chase Priskie(Quinnipiac)- A '96 that is already has a college commitment. A smooth skater with really nice footwork.
Gabe Guertler(Minnesota)- Not surprisingly, the best player at the camp. A great skater with tremendous balance. He's not very big, but does play with a little bit of an edge. It will be interesting to see how his draft year plays out next year. He doesn't have prototypical size, but there's too much talent there to ignore. He'll likely be expected to carry the Force offensively, and his success at that will likely shape how the NHL views him.
Alex Iafallo(Minnesota-Duluth)- Crashed hard into the boards early in the game and had to be helped off the ice. Hopefully that's not anything serious.
Dave Gust(Ohio State)- Recent commit to the Buckeyes. Played on a line with Guertler most of the time, and looked pretty good.
Jay Dickman-One of the other borderline NHL Draft prospects here. It's tough to say. As much as I'd like to see this kid make it, I'm not really sure the skating is there. He did pick up an assist in the scrimmage, and it's worth noting that there's no special teams at these things, and he would really shine on the power play.
Dom Toninato(Minnesota-Duluth)-Played a nice solid game here. I'm more of a believer that his name will get called in Pittsburgh in a couple weeks than I was before the camp.
Brett Heikkila(Northern Michigan)-I was really impressed with this kid. He doesn't quite have the offensive skills as Guertler, but was probably just as fast, and showed great hustle all weekend. He should definitely make the final roster.
Matt Pohlkamp(Bowling Green)-Started a little slow, but finished strong. He didn't look quite as impressive as he did at the end of the high school season, but still good enough to make the team.
Gage Torrel-Playing last year in the NAHL looks to have really benefited him. He's a much better player than he was when I saw him at the NAHL Showcase last September, and he looks ready to take the next step to the USHL.
Hudson Friesen(Alaska-Anchorage)-Kind of quiet, but a smart, veteran junior hockey player.
Michael Booth-Fargo's 2nd pick in this year's Futures Draft. Ideally, he would probably be an affiliate that gets his 10 games this year to get his feet wet, before becoming a regular next season, but it sounds like he could end up just making the roster. A really nice, solid all-around player that has a bright future.
Mason Morelli-Fargo's first round Futures pick. He's got a ton of potential. Again, he's probably an affiliate list player that is a year away from being to contribute significantly. But with his other options being going back to Minot HS, or playing for the Minot Minotauros, who were kind of a mess last year, playing with the Force may be the best option for his development. He's got a ton of University of North Dakota and would love to play there. I think he's got the talent to do so, though it will probably take another year or two to determine just what type of role he'd play with the Sioux.
Mikey Eyssimont- Futures pick that made the main camp all-star game. He's got to add a lot of weight, but showed some nice talent. A nice addition to the affiliate list.
Tyler Cline-Really impressive in the Young Guns game. Never going to score a lot, but is just a fantastic skater.
Aaron Herdt-Also stood out in the Young Guns game.