ASHBURNHAM, MASS. -- With numerous college coaches and NHL scouts in attendance Cushing Academy won the 2015 Watkins Tournament with a 4-1 victory over Culver Military Academy at the Iorio Arena. Jake Simons had two goals including the game winner and defenseman Matt Dillon had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Senior goaltender Joey Daccord wasn't tested much, but made a few key saves.
This observer took in most of the fifth place game between Thayer and Northfield Mt. Hermon and the entirety of the consolation and championship games. The Gunnery took third place with a 5-3 win over Dexter while Thayer downed NMH, 6-3, in a game where very little defense was played.
Here's a scouting report of the three games, starting with the championship game.
Championship Game - Cushing 4, Culver 1
The reason so many NHL scouts were in attendance for much of the weekend was due to Culver Academy's Karch Bachman (Miami) and Cushing's David Cotton (Boston College).
Karch Bachman, LW, 5-11/175, Sr., Culver, 3/10/97 (Miami) - He didn't do much here on Saturday, but his speed really stands out. He's quick and has an explosive first burst. To put it in common terms, he goes from 0 to 60 with lightning quickness. On a few shifts he showed some good hands in close.
David Cotton, LC, 6-3/205, Jr., Cushing, 7/9/97 (Boston College) - Others will have differing opinions, but this observer isn't sold on the Parker, Tx. native as an elite prospect. He's good. He's got tremendous size and is strong on pucks and makes a lot of things happen in prep hockey. It's said bigger guys take longer to develop and get their foot speed going, but his lack of speed is concerning.
Bailey Conger, RW, 6-1/195, Sr., Cushing, 5/1/97 (St. Lawrence) - He's a fringe NHL Draft prospect at best and quite frankly, didn't do much the first two periods, but he showed off some nice hands and moves on two early shifts in the third period. He dangled through a pair of Culver defensemen and hit the post on one shift and made a nice chip pass to Jake Simons for a goal a few minutes later.
Bachman and Cotton might have brought out the NHL scouts, but there were some younger players on the Penguins that really stood out.
Marc McLaughlin, RC, 6-0/180, Soph., Cushing, 7/26/99 - There were shifts where he just blew this observer away with his physical tools. He's big and it's hard to believe he's a '99. He's got good speed and awareness on the ice. He's got a hard shot and made a couple real nice passes. If there was one knock it was his decision making, but that's something bound to happen for someone his age playing against '95s-'97s on a very good team. It would seem to be just a matter of time before the Billerica, Mass. native commits to a major Division I school.
Max Brainin, RC, 5-11/185, Jr., Cushing, 5/14/98 - The Buffalo Grove, Ill. native was a very sound, complete player who was a solid 200-foot forward. He skates well and is someone that should be watched closely as he develops further this season and beyond.
Dakota Mulcay, LW, 6-1/175, Soph., Cushing, 6/17/98 - His speed is what stood out on Saturday. The Goffstown, NH native is in his second season in Ashburnham, but seeing more minutes this year, and flourishing.
Matt Dillon, LD, 6-1/160, Jr., Cushing, 11/20/97 - He's a junior who played, and dominated, Division 3 high school hockey in Massachusetts last winter. He was a high scoring defenseman for state champion Shrewsbury. His rush up the left side created the Penguins' first goal and then he joined the rush to score the goal that made it 3-0. His skating and stick skills are his strengths. He's a player that needs to play more within himself and keep it simple. If he does that and improves on his defensive zone coverage he'll be a D1 prospect.
Those were four uncommitted prospects who stood out. Senior goaltender Joey Daccord ('96) showed off what he usually does. He's fundamentally sound, athletic and has good size. He wasn't tested much, but made some key saves for the Penguins… Culver's '95 defenseman Ian Murdoch was the second oldest player on the ice and it showed. He's an imposing figure on the sheet and makes smart plays that show his maturity and experience.
Consolation Game - The Gunnery 5, Dexter 3
Boston Bruins 2014 pick and Harvard recruit Ryan Donato appeared disinterested out there. It's definitely hard for a player of his caliber to show up every game in prep school, but he just looked lost out there. He's much better than he showed on Saturday.
Dexter defenseman and BC recruit Luke McInnis, a '98, factored in on two of his team's goals, but also made a few defensive mistakes. He's a really good skater and always skates with his head up. He's got good vision and distributes the puck nicely. He's definitely capable of playing even better in his own zone.
McInnis was paired with one this observer's favorite uncommitted prospects in New England, Jack Rathbone. The '99 first jumped out at the USA Select 15 Festival and then again at the Beantown Summer Classic. He's a terrific skater, can quarterback the power play and has good skills with the puck on his stick. He's also deceptively strong defensively for a player his age.
As they have in each of my viewings of The Gunnery this year, Zach Pellegrino and Cameron Donaldson both stood out for their offensive abilities and speed. Both are undersized, but absolutely fly around and have good side-to-side movement.
He gave up three goals, but '97 junior Trevin Kozlowski stood out. It wasn't his best game, but he's going to keep Chris Baudo's team in most games this winter. He's got good size and athleticism, squares off shooters and is quick. His size (6-4/190) is a major reason scouts like him, but he's quicker than guys like Christian Short (Canterbury) and Rob McGovern (Thayer) who both received NHL Draft mention last season before moving on to junior hockey this year.
'97 defenseman McKay Flanagan, who stood out at Exeter, didn't see much ice time in this game for an unknown reason. Senior '96 defenseman Nick Quillan has some good skills, but this observer isn't sure if his defensive liabilities are enough to overlook. '97 junior Taylor Slade reportedly had a very good day on Friday and is starting to garner some ECAC Hockey interest. He't got an unique stride, but he's a good and reliable skater and is transitioning to the prep game well from the Junior Bruins 18U team last season.
Fifth Place Game - Thayer 6, Northfield Mt. Hermon 3
Defense was apparently optional in this game, but both goalies made some nice saves and played admirably considering the lack of support. NMH '97 senior Conor O'Brien is an intriguing fringe prospect for the NHL Draft. He's got good size and has been tested early and often this season. Thayer's '97 Mike Royer is on the other end of the spectrum, being very small, but he's got quick cat-like reflexes. He reminds me a little of KUA's Elijah Harris (Brown).
Northeastern recruit Lincoln Griffin had two goals and two assists. He's just a water bug type that flies all around the ice, has good hands and just plain makes things happen. Thayer's Monte Graham (Boston College) and Ty Amonte also had nice games.
This observer didn't make it in time, but Canterbury picked up its first win of the tournament, a 2-0 win over Lawrence Academy in the seventh place game.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.