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Midget Minor Tier 1 Massachusetts State Championship Tournament Report

The Cape Cod Whalers 16U won the Midget Minor Tier 1 Massachusetts State Championship on Sunday and will represent the Bay State at the 2016 USA Hockey Nationals in San Jose, Calif.

This observer took in the action at the New England Sports Center in Marlboro Friday and Sunday, taking Saturday to check in on the New England District out at Berkshire School.

The following is a listing of players who stood out in the division, graded A, B or C prospects, based partially on projection, but mostly on the play from the two days.

"A" Forwards

Saariluoma, Vilho
Boston Jr. Bruins #19 - LW - Cushing Academy - 6'3" 200 - 7/14/99

The Finnish native was dominant with the puck when he wanted to be over the weekend. He's a big power forward who can pick up speed and momentum as he barrels around the offensive zone. He had a few goals where he just overpowered his way into the slot and fired a heavy shot past the goaltender. He could be an absolute monster down the road. He comes to Ashburnham from HIFK U-16 team in his native Finland.

McLaughlin, Marc
Cape Cod Whalers #26 - RC - Cushing Academy - 5'11" 165 - 7/26/99 (St. Lawrence)

His size and strength is heads and shoulders above just about everyone else in this division. He has a heavy shot and a quick release. He released an absolute snipe from just over the blue line in the final. He can really move out on the ice, is strong on his skates, wins battles and plays with an edge.

O'Brien, Jay
Cape Cod Whalers #19 - RC - Dexter School - 5'10" 155 - 11/4/99 (Providence)

He just keeps getting better and better. He's fast, forechecks well and gets on pucks quickly. He has good closing speed and made a nice power move to the net showing off his lower body strength.

Rand, Max
Neponset Valley River Rats #16 - LW - Brooks School - 5'11" 160 - 4/13/99

He scored a couple of real nice goals Friday night, including one that he positioned himself well in the slot waiting for a Jack Nisbet pass. He has an elite skater with a great first push which gives him terrific acceleration. His hockey sense and fundamentals are top notch.

Moynihan, Patrick
Neponset Valley River Rats #7 - RC - Nobles - 5'9" 150 - 1/23/01 (Boston College)

He thinks the game well beyond his years and has elite skill. He makes players around him even better. He's a good skater and has incredible hands.

Shea, Neil
Neponset Valley River Rats #20 - LW - Marshfield HS - 6'1" 180 - 7/29/99 (Maine)

His hockey IQ is terrific. He plays well with and away from the puck. He makes very good passes. He has above average speed. His vision and awareness allow him to create offense. He's a player who is only going to get better.

Needham, Craig
Neponset Valley River Rats #19 - LC - Lawrence Academy - 5'10" 170 - 3/31/99

He had an absolute snipe to tie the game with under a minute to go in the semifinals against the Boston Jr. Bruins. He came out from digging the puck out of the right corner and absolutely sniped one top shelf with hardly any room. He's a complete player who doesn't stand out to the casual observer. He's not flashy, but he just goes about his business. He makes his linemates better and is a player that can skate up and down the ice with anyone.

"B" Forwards

Nisbet, Jack
Neponset Valley River Rats #12 - RW - Dexter School - 5'11" 170 - 3/3/99

He's a good skater and made several great passes as he played the right side on a line with Max Rand and Pat Moynihan. As in past viewings, his vision and awareness of the offensive zone are impressive.

Huss, Eric
Boston Jr. Bruins #9 - LC - Cushing Academy - 5'8" 165 - ‘99

He played on Cushing's B team last winter after coming up from the Dallas Stars Elite program. He plays far bigger than his physical stats on the roster showed. He played with no fear, was willing to go into the dirty areas and had offensive creativity. He's a solid player who skates well and is strong on pucks. He was around the play a lot and is just a good hockey player.

Guerra, Matt
Boston Jr. Bruins #17 -RC/RW - Cushing Academy - 5'8" 155 - '99

He has elite speed and utilizes that quickness to generate offense. The newcomer to Cushing has good hands and can really be a force up and down the ice. If the Floridian can learn to put it all together and play with a little more composure, he could be a big time player.

Harding, Jerry
Cape Cod Whalers #9 - RW - Nobles - 6'1" 185 - 3/22/99

He's a solid hockey player that plays the game the right way. He's a physical, strong, rugged player who isn't afraid to throw his weight around. He's strong on pucks and competes at both ends of the ice.

Gould, Matthew
Quincy 67's #19 - LC - Weymouth HS - 5'10" 150 - 6/26/00

He was dynamite in his team's comeback to force overtime against the Junior Bruins on Friday night. He's fast, creates offense by himself and generates time and space for his linemates and himself. His speed was a major factor.

McDonough, Aidan
Cape Cod Whalers #20 - LW - Thayer - 5'11" 165 - 11/6/99

This was the best viewing to date for the prep sophomore. He was all over the puck and finished. He had a goal Friday night and then potted a couple in the championship game. He also made a real nice play to gain control of a loose puck and make a swift pass for a Jay O'Brien goal Friday.

"C" Forwards

Murphy, Ian
Cape Cod Whalers #12 - RW - BC High - 6'0" 175 - 4/6/99

He looked better here than in any previous viewing. His speed and ability to make plays with the puck were improved. In the final while shorthanded, he beat out a defender for a puck behind the goal line and fed it out front for an easy goal.

Moran, Reilly
Boston Jr. Bruins #15 - RC/RW - Thayer Academy - 5'9" 140 - 4/24/00

He's undersized, but he's quick and crafty out there. He stayed a little to the perimeter this weekend, but he has good hands and made some clever plays with the puck, especially setting up his teammates.

Caprio, A.J.
Boston Jr. Bruins #10 - LC - Dexter - 5'10" 175 - 1/25/00

He got his feet wet in prep hockey last season and should see more ice time this year for Dan Donato's squad. He's an elusive skater who is quick and makes good moves laterally.

Graham, Blake
Boston Jr. Bruins #16 - LC - BC High - 5'9" 150 - 6/20/99

He's a complete player who plays with an edge. He projects as more of an energy player on the third or fourth line. He's willing to throw his weight around and get in shot lanes and body opposing players off the puck.

Miller, Chris
Junior Bruins #8 - RW - 5'10" 160 - 1/10/99

He was a good skater who had a heavy shot. He had above average hockey IQ and played the point on the power play.

Carpenter, Ian
Junior Bruins #94 - LW - 5'8" 140 - 6/22/00

He's undersized, but was quick, sneaky and got shots off. He was able to create time and space.

Murphy, Shane
Quincy 67's #14 - LW - Pembroke HS

He had a strong and quick stick, decent skill and was around the puck a lot. He finished a few chances in Friday's overtime loss against the Junior Bruins.

"A" Defensemen

Walsh, Riley
Neponset Valley River Rats #2 - RD - Proctor Academy - 5'10" 170 - 4/21/99 (Harvard)

His skating and ability to move the puck is just fun to watch. He's so fast, skates with his head up and distributes the puck. He has a heavy shot and gets pucks off quickly. He has a good one-timer and has incredible footwork. He's just a game changer - plain and simple.

Callahan, Michael
Cape Cod Whalers #24 - LD - Roxbury Latin - 6'2" 190 - 9/23/99 (Providence)

He's going to be a very good player and projects to be a pro down the road. He has good size. He skates well for his frame and has an impact in all three zones. He doesn't have overwhelming speed, but he gets the job done. He makes heady lead passes, has composure and is solid in his own end.

Rathbone, Jack
Cape Cod Whalers #5 - LD - Dexter School - 5'10" 165 - 5/20/99 (Harvard)

His detractors cite his lack of size and his decision-making on the defensive side of the puck. Sure, there were a couple of times where he made the wrong read defensively, but his skating is elite. He's so good moving the puck, pushing the pace in transition and quarterbacking the power play to overlook. To this observer, the positives to his game far, far outweigh the negatives.

"B" Defenseman

Kim, Noah
Boston Jr. Bruins #8 - RD - Cushing - 5'11" 184 - 5/9/00

Fullerton, Calif. native comes to the Penguins from the LA Jr. Kings bantam program. He's a mobile defender who skates well, has good vision and quarterbacks the power play. He was a force in transition, skated with his head up and made good lead passes.

"C" Defensemen

Murray, John
Boston Jr. Bruins #5 - LD - Nobles - 5'11" 170 - ‘00

He was a rugged defenseman who had good mobility and was effective on zone entries. He was a decent skater, had a good stick and was solid in his own end.

Ioannou, Niko
Junior Bruins #5 - LD - 5'11" 175 - 12/10/99

Floridian is poised, has good vision and appears rugged in own zone.

Daly, Alex
GBL Bruins #5 - RD - BB&N - 6'0" 175 - 2/20/99

A former forward, he had good vision and made some good looks from the top of the point in the offensive zone as well as in transition. He was an above average skater who moved well.

"B" Goaltender

Zafonte, Alex
Neponset Valley River Rats #30 - G - St. Sebastian's - 6'0" 175 - 1/21/99

Even in Friday night's game when he gave up a lot of goals to the CC Whalers, he made several very nice saves. His lower body is very good. He made quite a few good kick saves. He also has a quick glove. He's athletic, has decent size and is graceful in the crease.