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Prep Hockey: Exeter Invitational Notes and Player Analysis

Exeter, NH -- Stanley Brenner scored twice and Bryan Botcher stopped over 30 shots to lead Philips Exeter Academy to the title of the Exeter Invitational. Dana Barbin's team, the host school, defeated The Gunnery, the defending New England prep runner-up, 2-1, in what was effectively the championship game.

Exeter defeated Kent, 7-4, while The Gunnery had downed Tabor, 4-1, in the first day of the Exeter Invitational on Saturday. Kent and Tabor skated to a 4-4 tie in the first game of the day on Sunday.

Brenner put Exeter on the board first with his first of the game at the 15:17 mark of the first period. The '96 from Boca Raton, Fla. roofed a shot right under the bar on a two-on-one as he was streaking into the zone down the left side.

The Gunnery answered just over a minute later on a beautiful two-on-one. '97 senior Noah Bauld finished off a nice pass from '96 senior defenseman Nick Quillan.

The difference in the game was Brenner's second goal just over midway through the second period. With The Gunnery's top defensive pairing running around its defensive zone, Brenner swooped in and swept a turnaround wrist shot into the back of the net.

Exeter was playing without the services of '97 junior forward and leading scorer Devin Moore who was seen walking around with crutches with an apparent lower body injury. Sunday's one-goal victory was the first game the Big Red (6-0) have won by less than three goals.

In the first game of the day, Andrew Provost scored twice for Kent while Nick Godin tallied two markers for Tabor in a back-and-forth game that was fairly entertaining despite the inferior overall talent compared to the second game of the day.

Exeter was an older team with quite a few '96s who impressed including some post graduates while there were some '98s and '99s who stood out on Gunnery and Tabor. NESCAC schools were by the far most well represented in the stands on Sunday, but Harvard and a few NHL teams also had representation on hand.

Here's a look, school-by-school, of the players who this observer believes should be highlighted from Sunday's action. In full disclosure, these rankings are only based on Sunday's two games and not the whole weekend.

Phillips Exeter

Peter Christie, Jr., LD, 10/16/97 - The Durham, NH native really stood out as a solid, but not flashy blue line prospect. He didn't have the physical tools that some of the highly regarded defensemen on the opposing team had, but he was very sound in his defensive zone. He made some nice looks on the breakout and only made one obvious mistake that this observer noted.

Teddy Hart, Sr., RC, 2/20/96 (Providence) - He has eight goals on the season including two in Saturday's win over Kent so it might have just been catching the Cumberland, Maine native on a down day, but he didn't wow with any offensive highlights on Sunday. He did exhibit strong play in all three zones, speed and tenacity in the corners and down low that have become the trademark of Nate Leaman recruits.

Andy Espinoza, Sr., LW, 8/6/96 - Skates very well for a big kid and with his two assists on Sunday he equaled his point total from a season ago. He's one of those kids who could really see his stock rise as an experienced forward in prep hockey this winter. His speed and ability to push the pace of play are his biggest assets.

Stanley Brenner, Sr., RW, 1/15/96 - Scored both of the Big Red's two goals on Sunday, he has a quick release, an accurate shot as evident by his first strike and possesses above average speed. He's a fourth year player for Dana Barbin who looks like is on pace to make another progression in his development. He's most likely a strong NESCAC prospect, but he might get a look from some ECAC Hockey schools.

Max Roche, PG, LC, 3/20/96 - The post graduate from the Team Illinois program has a nice little game. He's got good quickness, vision and hockey IQ. He was flying all over the ice Sunday and should be a player to keep an eye on as the season goes along. He's another fringe player who most likely will end up at a very good NESCAC school.

Trevor Cosgrove, Jr., LD, 6/4/97 - He was very solid defensively all game long and moved laterally well. He's got good vision and did a good job moving the puck around from the point on the power play.

The Gunnery

Cameron Donaldson, Jr., LC, 7/14/98 - Despite being undersized he had the most upside of any player on the ice all day in Exeter. He flies around the ice, he's got great speed and good hands and is agile on his feet. He was the catalyst of a very good young line that Chris Baudo threw out there with '99 Zach Pellegrino and '98 Matt Danner. Donaldson does a terrific job of distributing the puck and being patient enough and skilled enough to draw defenders his way before finding open teammates.

McKay Flanagan, Jr., RD, 2/3/97 - He's stepped in nicely after coming over to the prep ranks from the EHL's Connecticut Oilers. He has good vision, skates well and is fairly good defensively. His best moment of the game was when he dangled up the right boards from end-to-end on a nice rush. His defensive positioning is one area where he could become a little better. Overall, he's a very good prospect who should be scooped up by a Division I program shortly.

Nick Quillan, Sr., LD, 6/19/96 - The Halifax, Nova Scotia import is back for his second go around in prep hockey. He's a tremendous and agile skater. He's got poise and confidence with the puck. He's a little undersized, but he definitely makes up for it. He knows when to jump into the play and he has great vision.

Noah Bauld, Sr., RC, 1/2/97 - The top returning scorer, with the first seven having graduated or left for juniors, isn't big, but he's quick and feisty. He goes to the net and is a good center iceman. He scored the lone goal of the game for The Gunnery.

Jordan Robert, Jr., LW, 3/18/98 (Clarkson) - He's one of those guys under six-feet who plays a bigger game. He's a strong skater with a solid first burst. All similar attributes to what this observer saw at Select 16s last summer, but he should be a player who gets better as the year goes along. It's a big adjustment in the level of play from high school play last winter.

Trevin Kozlowski, Jr., G, 3/27/97 - He's a big backstop who moves from post to post well. He's got good sound positioning most of the time, but has a tendency to not come out and challenge the shooter as perhaps he should. With his size he's a guy who NHL scouts will certainly give at least a second look to this winter.

Tabor Academy

Max Suave, Fr., RW, 9/2/98 - Saw the prep rookie play a few times in split season midgets and he's got great speed, hands and ability with the puck on his stick. He also plays a heady game and isn't afraid to go up against guys bigger and older than him. Once he gets more accustomed to this level he should be even better. He's definitely the best Division I prospect on Gerry Dineen's team. He's starting to draw some interest from Hockey East schools.

Simon Leclerc, Soph., LD, 6/23/98 - The newcomer to Marion is a big defenseman with above average skating ability. He did a nice job pinching in for the Seawolves' goal that tied the score, 3-3.

Nick Godin, Jr., LW, 12/1/96 - He's a repeat junior who came to Tabor after leading his 18U NY-Clarance Mustangs to midget nationals last season. He's not the flashiest of players, or at least he wasn't on Sunday, but he's got good offensive instincts and seemed to be in the right place at the right time more often than not. He's most likely a NESCAC type recruit, but he's a good athlete worth keeping an eye on.

Ben Taylor, Jr., LC, 4/25/97 - He doesn't have great speed or hands, but he is a solid, complete player. He does a good job cycling and dished out a few good passes from in back of the goal line on Sunday including one that led to a goal. He's got good size and leadership qualities.

Kent School

Max Kaufman, Sr., LW, 6/26/96 (Vermont) - He's really small, but he's got good hands and is crafty. He kind of sneaks around the offensive zone under the radar and ends up in scoring areas. He has a nice accurate shot that found the five hole from in tight. He'll play a year of juniors following this season before matriculating to Burlington.

Satchel Clendenin, Jr., RW, 3/26/97 - The Bethesda, Md. native is a little snakebitten to start the season, but there is a lot to like. He was good on draws and had good vision in the offensive zone. He doesn't possess elite skill or speed, but has above average speed. He's a quality forward that could end up being a very nice NESCAC player or a fringe D1 type.

Greg Krisberg, Jr., LD, 6/16/97 - He's a good quarterback on the power play, skates the line well, distributes the puck even better. He's an above average skater who might find a spot on a Division I roster, but if not, he'd be a heck of a NESCAC talent.

Evan Gray, Soph., LW, 8/16/98 - A first year player from the Anaheim Jr. Ducks midget program, he's got good size and presence on the ice for his age. He didn't do much on Sunday, but it's easy to tell he could be a solid recruit down the road.

Andrew Provost, Sr., RC, 5/31/96 - Scored two very similar goals from in close on Sunday including one where he lifted a backhander right under the bar. He's got good size and strength and can bull his way to the net front, but his speed could hold him back from a substantial D1 offer.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.