On Saturday, we posted rankings and scouting reports of the top prep and high school players in New England. There are certainly some good players who don't play prep or high school in New England, but are deserving of consideration for Phase I of the USHL Draft.
Here's a look at six players with ties to the New England region that this observer has seen over the past year.
Logan Cockerill, Detroit Belle Tire U16, Shoots Left, 5-8/155, 3/3/99 (Boston University) - He was a kid this observer first noticed at last summer's Select 15 Festival. He had good hands, skated well and exuded confidence with the puck. However, it didn't look as if his skill set was high end. Fast forward eight months and the Brighton, Mich. native took the Beantown Spring Classic Pre-Draft Division by storm. He was the talk of the division. He was flying all over the ice, distributing the puck and finishing. BU assistant coach Albie O'Connell spent a good amount of time watching Cockerill, who committed to the Terriers just a few days after leaving Marlborough.
Ethan DeStefani, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs U18, Shoots Right, 6-2/170, 2/16/99 - He didn't really stand out at Select 15s last summer, but in a few viewings this winter, he was much improved. He had a nice offensive zone presence at the Beantown Spring Classic. He's a big body that will likely continue to develop and become more of a force on the ice once he grows into that frame. He'll have that chance next winter for Chris Baudo's Gunnery squad at the prep level.
Matthew Guerra, Fr., Hillside School, Shoots Right, 5-8/140, '99 - He's a kid who had been playing in Florida who impressed at last summer's Select 15s. He didn't put up huge numbers, but did some nice things with the puck, buzzed around the ice and had a high compete level. He spent this winter playing for Dave Beecher at Hillside, a school similar to Cardigan Mountain and Eaglebrook. Several well-known prep schools wanted him for next season, and he ended up choosing to play for Rob Gagnon at Cushing Academy.
Christian Thomas, Northern Cyclones U16, Shoots Right, 5-9/150, 8/27/99 (Vermont) - After a big weekend at the EJEPL All-Star Game at Brown's Meehan Auditorium, he committed to play for Kevin Sneddon's Catamounts. He's small, but he's got an engine. He has good hands and foot work. He can score and set up and has a good head for the game.
Ben Pirko, Selects Hockey Academy U16, Shoots Left, 6-0/155, 2/2/99 (Union) - He's a smart defenseman who is usually solid on gap control. He's not flashy, but he goes about his business out there and gets the job done in his own zone. He's a recent commit to Rick Bennett's Dutchmen.
Nicholas Hale, Carolina Junior Hurricanes U16, Shoots Left, 5-10/155, 5/7/99 - He's a very solid defenseman who will be headed to Andrew Will's Salisbury program in the fall. He's sound fundamentally, makes crisp, clean passes in transition and exudes confidence and poise with and without the puck. His skating isn't elite, but he skates well enough to do the job in all zones.