GILL, MASS. -- It took just six seconds for Oliver Chau to score the first of his three goals on the afternoon to lead Northfield Mount Hermon past Taft School, 6-0, on a brisk afternoon at the school's outdoor rink.
Chau, the junior left wing on NMH's top line, had two assists to go with his hat trick. Center Ben Freeman (UConn) had three helpers and right wing Peter Owen Hayward had a goal and three assists. Senior goaltender Conor O'Brien, ranked No. 35 by NHL Central Scouting among North American draft eligible goaltenders, stopped all pucks flung his way.
NMH Prospect Notes:
Conor O'Brien, Sr., Goaltender (5/1/97) - Granted it wasn't against the best competition, but the Pinellas Park, Fla. native looked solid between the pipes. It's a down year for Taft, but he looked good in the six or seven quality scoring chances. The six-foot-two O'Brien covers a lot of the net and goes down some, but is more of a hybrid butterfly goaltender. There are a lot of things to like about how he plays. He's quiet, he's not moving around a lot. He does a good job squaring up to shooters and challenging shooters at the top of the crease. He gets low and sees pucks through traffic well. He made a few good kick saves including one where he didn't bite on a deke on a breakaway. He appeared to have solid reflexes and remain focused. If there was one critique it was that he sometimes overplayed the shooter.
Peter Owen Hayward, Sr., Right Shot Center (5/16/97) - The Brattleboro, Vt. native had a goal and three assists, but even outside his scoring chances, he had a real solid game. He's six-foot-one and is a strong skater. He stops and starts well and is good with his edges. He has a nice initial burst and an explosive stride. He's a player who does a lot of the little things well, blocking shots and picking up sticks in the defensive zone. After a year or two of juniors he could be a nice late pickup for a Division I school or a high-end D3 type.
Ben Freeman, Sr., Right Wing (1/21/96) - The UConn recruit is tall and skates very upright. He won't blow anyone away with his speed or agility on the ice, but he is smart and gets into the right scoring positions more often than not. He made a few real good reads, anticipating plays well. He'll likely need a year of junior hockey before heading to Storrs.
Oliver Chau, Jr., Left Wing (8/21/97) - It was a five-point night for the Oakville, Ont. native. He's shifty, quick and has good hands, but he doesn't have blazing speed. He's an economical player who doesn't overuse his resources out there. It will be interesting to see how he progresses leading into next year, but as of now, he looks to be a potentially nice Division III pickup.
Taft Prospect Notes:
It was a tough day for most players on this Taft squad from the net out, but one player that did impress was '96 senior defenseman T.J. Schultz. The Evanston, Ill. native isn't flashy, but he's strong and stands up opposing forwards well. He doesn't have terrific speed, but he did get back a few times when he was caught up ice.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.