After watching a lot of high school, prep school and junior hockey games this winter, I have compiled a list of the top 15 uncommitted goaltending prospects in the New England region.
I admittedly didn't see as much prep school and junior games as I would have liked, having covered more Massachusetts high school games. However, I saw all the top prep school teams at least once and several USPHL games. I also saw several EHL teams and saw the top players at the USPHL All-Star Games at Merrimack. I've seen every goaltender on this list at least once, some obviously more times than the others.
Editor's Note: Next week I will release my lists of top uncommitted forwards and defensemen.
1. Andrew Farrier, '97 G, Taft - The freshman from Montreal came into the season as an afterthought in the crease for the Rhinos, but he took away minutes from established junior Joseph Lissak. He's a terrific athlete who seems to be a gamer. He has a lot of tools and has good size, but what impressed me was his composure and ability to prevent big rebounds.
2. Conor O'Brien, '97 G, Northfield Mt. Hermon - Last summer the Pinellas Park, Fla. native attended the Warren Strelow National Goaltending Camp put on by USA Hockey. He's a tall goaltender that has yet to fill out his frame. He split time with a PG early in the season, but took over basically full-time in the latter stages of the year. He's got a lot of potential and upside if he can play more consistently.
3. Elijah Harris, '97 G, Austin Prep - Harris hit the scene last summer with his terrific play at the USA Select 16 Festival and the Beantown Classic. He has performed well in the postseason for Louis Finnochiaro's Cougars. He's undersized, but has quick reflexes and is very acrobatic in the crease. He isn't the most fundamentally sound goaltender, but he gets the job done. He works with goaltending guru Brian Daccord, the father of another goaltender on the list. The Haverhill, Mass. native is a great student of the game and has a keen awareness of what's going on around him at all times.
4. Joel Daccord, '96 G, Cushing - The son of former Merrimack goaltender and Bruins goaltending consultant Brian Daccord, he took over between the pipes full-time at Cushing this winter and did a terrific job. His size is the thing that stands out, but he does a good job of being square to shooters. And, with his pedigree he is a sure bet to be constantly improving and fundamentally sound.
5. Kevin Resop, '97 G, Jr. Bruins (U18) - The St. Petersburg, Fla. native played for Shattuck St. Mary's bantam and midget teams before heading out east this year to play in the USPHL U18 Division. He was sensational in the USPHL All-Star game at Merrimack in late January. He has good size and is someone who could continue to make a name for himself. If, Hockey East proved anything this year, it was that the game is becoming less of a regional sport. Two of the best goaltenders in the league were from California and Florida.
6. Nick Sorgio, '98 G, Salisbury - He didn't see much action behind senior Mitchell Datz, but he's an athletic goaltender who challenges the shooters and has size to cover a lot of the net. The West Hartford, Conn. native has played split-season midget hockey with the CT Wolfpack. Sorgio was another invitee to last summer's Strelow Goaltending Camp. He's a goalie that could skyrocket up these rankings as he was impressive in limited action.
7. Christian Short, '95 G, Canterbury - The senior had a coming out party in his final year of prep school hockey, earning several accolades, such as inclusion on NHL Central Scouting's Final Draft Rankings in the limited viewing category. He was an integral part of a Canterbury team that didn't get much attention due to being overshadowed by some of the more tradition prep powerhouses. The Woodbrige, Ontario native is a big-bodied goaltender who has a lot of raw tools that can develop into a solid Division I goaltender.
8. Andrew Tucci, '96 G, Choate - The junior from Toronto, Ontario came into the season being overshadowed by classmate and Yale commit Sam Tucker. The pair ended up splitting the minutes in goal, but Tucci's numbers were vastly better. He's undersized, but moves well in the crease and is quick. His potential will always be questioned due to his size, but he's a good example of a player who could prove the doubters wrong.
9. Craig Pantano, '95 G, South Shore Kings - The Bridgewater, Mass. native, who grew up playing in the Boston Advantage program, really came on strong down the stretch for Scott Harlow's team. He had a terrific showing at last August's Beantown Classic. He's got some size, but needs to fill out somewhat. He will be the go-to goaltender for the Kings from the beginning next season and should garner some Division I interest.
10. Brandon Collett, '98 G, Catholic Memorial - The sophomore from Easton, Mass. had the least help in front of him of any of the teams in this year's Super 8. It was an off-year for the program of legendary bench boss Bill Hanson. Collett was the major reason behind the team's minimal success. He has a quick glove and is very athletic, but it is tough to judge his true potential without seeing how he plays in back of a more sound defense. He'll be an interesting player to keep an eye on in this summer's various showcases. According to his coach, he has great perseverance and has dealt with some adversity away from the ice that has made him mature beyond his years.
11. Max Prawdzik, '97 G, Brooks School - The Andover, Mass. native plays prep school hockey in the next town over and has become a terrific leader for Dave Ries team. He plays split-season midget hockey for the Neponset Valley River Rats and has been on an up-and-coming Brooks squad. He is a big goaltender with the physical tools, but in some games he struggles to put it all together. There is certainly some untapped potential. He's been selected in both the QMJHL and USHL Drafts.
12. Matthew Schneider, '95 G, Gunnery - The Manlius, NY native played for the Syracuse Stars organization in the Empire League before manning the crease for Chris Baudo's team this season. He doesn't have great size, but he's a player who could develop into a solid second string goaltender for one of the western New York schools in ECAC Hockey.
13. Brandon Payzant, '98 G, BC High - The young sophomore goaltender from Somerville, Mass. did a terrific job in his first season as a starter after replacing the graduated Peter Cronin (Bowdoin commit). The defense in front of him was without a doubt the best and most well-coached in Massachusetts high school hockey, but that doesn't take away from the fact Payzant was often described as the best player on the ice by his coach, John Flaherty. He's got good size and is positionally sound, but one possible weakness was his tendency to let in a soft goal occasionally. The Eagles defense was so dominant it was difficult for him to stay focused throughout each game.
14. Bailey MacBurnie, '95 G, St. Mary's - The Beverly, Mass. native returned to the high school ranks after playing a season at Brewster Academy. He is a big goaltender with a quick glove and good feet. He's good about coming out to challenge shooters and is squared off most of the time. He's such a great competitor and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He was the unquestioned MVP of Mark Lee's Spartans club, a team that most observers felt got a raw deal by being left out of the Super 8. He will be heading for a year of PG at a Connecticut prep school in the fall.
T-15. Aidan Murphy, '98 G, Xaverian - The freshman was terrific at times this season for Dave Spinale's Hawks, but he struggled with consistency as many young goaltenders often do. He was quick in net and kept Xaverian in some games where they did not belong. The Walpole, Mass. native has experience playing in the South Shore Kings organization and could be a name to keep an eye on over the next few years.
T-15. Robert McGovern, '95 G, Thayer - The big-bodied Weymouth, Mass. product garnered some interest from NHL scouts heading into the season, but he didn't have quite the senior year many expected. He's an interesting prospect as his size stands out, but he lacks the quickness and agility of some of the goaltenders higher up on this list. As a '95, the other question is how much more room is there for him to reach his ceiling. He'll most likely end up at a NESCAC school.