Boston -- A trio of future Terriers made it a miserable night for the current Terriers.
Clayton Keller, Jake Oettinger and Kieffer Bellows were the three stars of the game as the US National Team Development Program Under-18 Team defeated Boston University, 7-4, on Friday night at Agganis Arena.
It's phenomenal the strides the NTDP U-18 Team has made from last year when the group skated together for the first time in their 17-year. Several players, including Trent Frederic who scored twice Friday night, have made drastic improvements.
Having seen the NTDP U-18s play twice in Pittsburgh, once tonight and as two different units in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Buffalo, there is beginning to be a clear picture of the true standouts.
The following is this observer's game report with scouting analysis on each player, listed by forwards and defensemen. Players are ranked in order of how well they played tonight.
Kieffer Bellows, LW, 6-0/195, Edina, Minn. (Boston University) - He's not the fastest player, but he keeps up and he knows where to go to find the puck and get off shots. He also has a quick and strong stick that allows him to get shots off in traffic. His release is incredibly quick and he has a heavy shot. He scored twice by driving the net and letting line mate and fellow BU recruit Clayton Keller find him. He took a slap shot in the third period that went high and wide, but it took off so fast from his stick, it was hard to believe.
Clayton Keller, LC, 5-10/168, Swansea, Ill. (Boston University) - He's a smooth skater with incredible vision and soft hands that allow him to be such a terrific set up guy. On all three goals Keller assisted, he smoothly carried the puck deep into the zone before dishing it out front or out to the point. He doesn't possess blazing speed, but he's quick and agile. He has an active stick and caused a couple of turnovers by playing pesky. His offensive creativity and special hands let him create time and space to distribute the puck. He made a couple of real nice touch, saucer passes.
Graham McPhee, LW, 6-0/174, Bethesda, Md. (Boston College) - He was held off the score sheet, but his hard forecheck and puck pursuit directly led to the NTDP's first goal. He really gets low, skates well on his edges and makes good cuts. His dogged pursuit and overall play away from the puck is elite. He's a smart player who is around the puck a lot in all three zones.
Trent Frederic, LC, 6-2/201, St. Louis, Mo. (Wisconsin) - He scored twice tonight, including the first tally of the night on a goal that accurately describes his style of play. He went to the net hard and a bouncing puck hit off his shin or top of the skate and found its way into the back of the net. He's always around the net and in the dirty areas. He's found his game since last year. He's realized what he needs to do to be a good player. He wins face-offs, is solid on puck pursuit, stays on his man and plays with an edge. He also scored the final NTDP goal of the game on the power play, zipping off a quick, low wrist shot.
Joey Anderson, RW, 5-11/192, Roseville, Minn. (Minnesota Duluth) - He had an assist and was +2, but what stood out the most was his speed and skating ability. He's a great skater who is strong on his feet. Neither his hands nor his offensive instincts are elite, but his speed creates problems for opposing teams and generates chances for his teammates.
Will Lockwood, RW, 5-11/172, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (Michigan) - He's a good skater who has a good first stride. He is rugged and won a couple of key battles along the right wall. He makes quick decisions with the puck and has good hands, but isn't an elite offensive talent. He made a nice head pass to set up Casey Mittelstadt's breakaway goal and redirected a Keenan Suthers shot for a goal.
Zach Walker, RW, 6-0/198, Boise, Idaho (Boston College) - This was the best game this observer has ever seen him play. He's going to be a really solid four-year college player, something each program needs. He's going to be a good third or fourth line player who does his job. He's not going to find the score sheet often, but if he plays like he did tonight, he'll still have an impact. He came out buzzing all over the ice, forechecked hard and did a good job getting in on pucks below the goal line. He has some patience and played a smart game Friday night.
Keeghan Howdeshell, LC, 6-0/200, Brighton, Mich. (Ferris State) - There were two first period penalty kills where he really stood out. He blocked two shots on one sequence and is a deceivingly good player. Despite being on the fourth line, he's the type of player that could generate some offense if given the right linemates.
James Sanchez, RW, 6-1/184, Northbrook, Ill. (Michigan) - Playing on his off wing, he did a good job away from the puck. He's an above average skater who has a powerful stride.
Casey Mittelstadt, LW, 5-11/195, Eden Prairie, Minn. (Minnesota) - Playing up with the NTDP this weekend, it was a big jump up from the Upper Midwest Elite League that he had been tearing up this fall. He was one of my favorite players at Select 17s this summer. He's a late '98 so he's not eligible for the 2016 draft. He looked out of place on a few shifts, but he had his moments, including a nice finish on a breakaway goal.
Keenan Suthers, LW, 6-7/221, Macomb, Mich. (Western Michigan) - He's big. There's no getting around that. He's an alright skater for his size and when he uses it to his advantage, he does good things. He's good, but there are other draft eligibles with similar size in the USHL and CHL that are better prospects. His shot from high on the right side was tipped home for a goal by Lockwood, his only point of the night.
Nick Pastujov, LC, 6-0/199, Bradenton, Fla. (Michigan) - He doesn't look out of place, but there just isn't that much that sets him apart from other players. He's good, but others have caught up to his skill set compared to when he was picked for the NTDP.
Chad Krys, RD, 5-11/184, Ridgefield, Conn. (Boston University) - His skating ability and mobility allow him to cover a ton of space in the defensive zone. A left shot, he has a good active stick and did a good job most of the time in his own zone Friday. He did a good job of getting in shooting and passing lanes. There were a couple of spots where he got beat or was caught in no-man's land, but that's to be expected for a 17 year-old kid out against a premier college program. He has good footwork and is nimble carrying the puck up ice.
Ryan Lindgren, LD, 6-0/196, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota) - He was +2 on the night, but there was one shift in particular that stood out. It was about halfway through the first period. His skating ability helped him bail out his defensive partner who had been beaten cleanly. Lindgren picked up the puck once he broke up the play and was off to the races. He made a nice end-to-end rush that he eventually cut in from the right boards towards the net. His low center of gravity allowed him to get a shot off despite three BU jerseys in the vicinity.
Adam Fox, RD, 5-10/183, Jericho, NY (Harvard) - He's an outstanding skater. A mobile defenseman, he really moves the puck up ice and pushes the pace in transition. He sometimes makes one too many moves with the puck, but overall does a very good job with breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and gaining zone entry moving forward. He has a good stick and good hand-eye coordination.
Michael Campoli, LD, 6-2/191, Rumson, NJ (Boston College) - He's one of those defensemen that you have to try to hard to notice, which is meant as a compliment. He makes very few mistakes, is very solid on his gaps and keeps opposing forwards to the perimeter. There were a couple of times tonight where he was out-muscled by a BU forward in the front of his own cage, but he showed signs of being a very responsible and reliable defender at the next level.
Luke Martin, RD, 6-2/201, St. Louis, Mo. (Michigan) - He skates decently, makes nice outlet and lead passes, but sometimes seems a little rushed almost like he lacks poise and confidence. However, he has good vision and picked up two assists on the evening. He's another late '98 who isn't eligible until 2017.
J.D. Greenway, LD, 6-4/205, Potsdam, NY - The only uncommitted player on the team, he's the brother of BU freshman Jordan. He's a little bit of an awkward skater who sometimes gets beaten to loose pucks. Despite that, he's athletic and will surprise with some moves from time to time. He has a long reach and can use his size to fend off opposing players from the puck.
Griffin Luce, LD, 6-3/214, Williamsville, NY (Michigan) - He's a player who hasn't quite developed into the player some projected. That being said, there is still time and he has plenty of physical tools. He needs to tone it down and realize he's a shutdown defender and not get carried away trying to be too fancy, despite his goal Friday. He'll make a good play defensively, using his size and physical ability, but then will just be caught and cleanly beaten the next shift.
Matthew Hellickson, RD, 6-0/177, Rogers, Minn (Notre Dame) - It was a tough night for the right-shot Hellickson, who couldn't seem to catch up with the speed of the game. He made a nice play, sliding down and breaking up a BU chance in the third period, but overall, it was a night to forget for him.
Jake Oettinger, 6-4/201, Lakeville, Minn. (Boston University) - He made 41 saves on 45 shots and made most of it look effortless. He's a big goaltender that covers a lot of net. He's a hybrid butterfly goalie who makes quick lateral movement in the crease. He's graceful and smooth in front of his cage. He challenges shooters and covers up rebounds quickly. A late '98, he's not eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Joseph Woll, 6-3/196, St. Louis, Mo. (Boston College) - Did not play. Will get the nod in net Saturday night in Hanover against Dartmouth. Missed time at beginning of season with injury.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.